In the memory of the war that would have ended all further wars
1914 - 1918
Credo of pacifism:
"War and violence are unjustifiable, conflicts should be settled in a peaceful way." See http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/war/against/pacifism_1.shtml
An absolute pacifist believes that it is never right to take part in war, even in self-defence. They think that the value of human life is so high that nothing can justify killing a person deliberately.
Conditional pacifists are against war and violence in principle, but they accept 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.
Other pacifists believe that it is a matter of degree, and only oppose wars involving weapons of mass destruction either because of the uniquely devastating consequences of such weapons, or because a war that uses such weapons is not 'winnable'.
Pacifists are heavily involved in political activity to promote peace, and to argue against particular wars. Nowadays most democratic countries accept that people have the right of conscientious objection to military service, but they usually expect the objector to undertake some form of public service as an alternative.
Pasifisti Arndt Pekurisen muistopäivä 5.11.
(Source: Aamulehti, Nov. 5, 2013)
The memorial day of the Finnish pacifist Arndt Pekurinen on November 5. Arndt Pekurinen was executed on November 5, 1941, in Suomussalmi, Finland, after having been brought to the frontline of the war between the Soviet Union and Finland. There, he was ordered to take a weapon but when he refused to obey the order, he was executed.
Arguments against pacifism
Pacifism cannot be national policy
Pacifism as national policy will only work if no-one wants to attack your country, or the nation with whom you are in dispute is also committed to pacifism. In any other circumstances adopting a pacifist stance will result in your country rapidly being conquered.
However, the idea of pacifism, and of seeking non-violent solutions to disputes between nations, plays a significant part in international politics, particularly through the work of the United Nations.
The logical case against Pacifism
Those who oppose pacifism say that because the world is not perfect, war is not always wrong. They say that states have a duty to protect their citizens, and that citizens have a duty to carry out certain tasks in a Just War. It doesn't matter that pacifists are motivated by respect for human life and a love of peace. The pacifists' refusal to participate in war does not make them noble idealists, but people who are failing to carry out an important moral obligation.
A second argument says that pacifism has no place in the face of extreme evil. The war against Nazi Germany was a war against extreme wickedness.
Pacifism and remembrance
Because most societies regard going to war as fulfilling a citizen's ethical duty, they honour and remember those who give their lives in war. If we believe that war is governed by ethics we should only honour those who give their lives in a Just War, and who followed the rules of war.
Give peace a chance!
Civil disobedience, civil resistance, civilized human beings, e.g. Czechoslovakians on 20 August, 1968
Non-violent resistance is more effective
than the violent and armed resistance.
Si vis pacem para mentes
If you want peace, prepare human minds