By Aloysus Okoye
Conditional pacifism: Conditional pacifism is against war and violence in principle, but it accepts that there may be circumstances when war will be less bad than the alternative. Conditional pacifists usually base their moral code on Utilitarian principles – it’s the bad consequences that make it wrong to resort to war or violence.
Selective pacifism: it holds that it is a matter of degree, and only oppose wars involving weapons of mass destruction, nuclear or chemical and biological weapons either because of the uniquely devastating consequences of such weapons, or because a war that uses such weapons is not ‘winnable’.
Active pacifism: holds that pacifists are heavily involved in political activity to promote peace, and to argue against particular wars. During a war, many pacifists will refuse to fight, but some will take part in activities that seek to reduce the harm of war; e.g. by driving ambulances, but other pacifists will refuse to take part in any activity that might support the war. The brief examination of the types of pacifism, has made it easier to comprehend that pacifism is not always on the absolute sense but has conditional status of application.
Review on pacifism in relation to Just War Theory
Philosophical and scholarly discussions of pacifism have clarified the concept by distinguishing the more general commitment to nonviolence from a narrower anti-war position. A related term, “non-violentism,” has been coined by Holmes to describe a position that goes beyond anti-war pacifism in its opposition to violence in all of its forms.3 Pacifism has often been defined dialectically in relation to the idea of justified violence that is found in the Western just war tradition.
Pacifism is often located on a continuum for assessing the morality of war that includes realism, just war theory, and pacifism. Indeed, there is an ongoing debate about the proper relation between just war theory and pacifism that focuses on the question of whether the just war theory begins with a pacifist presumption against war. Sterba James records that some authors have used the just war theory to derive a version of pacifism described as “contingent pacifism” or “just war pacifism”
Authors such as Cheyney Ryan and Robert Holmes, more strongly maintain that the just war framework is flawed. Holmes argues that the just war tradition typically ignores the central moral issue in war, which is about the presumptive immorality of the “massive, systematic and deliberate killing of human beings” that occurs in war. Ryan argues that although the just war tradition and pacifism developed through “mutual critique” pacifism has often been marginalized as an “outcast tradition” Some have tried to distinguish “pacificism” from pacifism, where pacificism is a commitment to peace and peacefulness that is not strictly opposed to war while pacifism is a more principled or absolute rejection of violence.
But this distinction is not widely accepted. William James used the term “pacific-ism” in 1910 to describe his rejection of militarism. The shorter term, “pacifism,” has become more common in English usage to describe a variety of views that are critical of war. Generally, pacifism is thought to be a principled rejection of war and killing. Oddly enough, terminology related to pacifism has occasionally been used to describe a pragmatic commitment to using war to create peace. Thus a term like “pacification” can be employed in military usage to describe a violent process of suppressing violence, as when an enemy territory is “pacified” by killing or disabling the enemy.
George Orwell, complained about such euphemistic descriptions of violence, the just war tradition does hold that war can be a suitable means to bring about peace”9. Despite these complications, pacifism generally connotes a commitment to making peace that rejects violent means for obtaining this end. One reason to reject violent means is the fact, that it might not make right. While violence can destroy an enemy, victory does not amount to justification. In contrast to the just war tradition, pacifism rejects war as an acceptable means for obtaining peace.
Pacifists will often refuse to serve in the military. And some refuse to support political and social systems that promote war by, for example, withholding their taxes. Pacifists have been associated with quietistic withdrawal from political life and even outright anarchism. But we do not think that pacifists need not be “passive”: many committed pacifists have been actively involved in nonviolent social protest. Pacifism can be used to describe a commitment to nonviolence in one’s personal life that might include the attempt to cultivate pacific virtues such as tolerance, patience, mercy, forgiveness, and love. It might also be extended to include nonviolence toward all sentient beings and thus result in a commitment to vegetarianism and what Albert Schweitzer called, “reverence for life.”
Pacifism can be connected to a larger project of spiritual transformation, as in Gandhi’s commitment to ahimsa or nonviolence. Andrew Fiala, agreeing with the possible diverse use of pacifism vis-à-vis the Just War theory has argued, “That pacifism can be understood as offering a comprehensive normative framework.” The implication of this then, is that some authors are on the side that general pacifism is not totally against the Just War theory that permits conditional quest for peace through justified war or violence but the absoulute pacifism that rejects any form of violence. Hence pacifism relates to Just War theory on the conditional or teleological sense. Thus, they seem to advocate on what this work calls “flexible pacifism.” Are there religious and non-religious concepts on pacifism?
Flexible pacifism here means the intelligent/careful use of war in the accomplishment of peace when several peaceful alternatives have proven to be futile. Flexible pacifism then gives room for use of violence on basis self-preservation of the citizens and communities in such circumstance. Thus flexible pacifism excludes absolute form of pacifism.