Pacifism

pacifism
Figure 1.--Socialist leaders hoped that the Second International and worker solidarity could prevent a major European War. In the end national socialist parties and workers in those parties remained loyal to their governments. The appeal of nationalism proved stronger than socialist internatinalism. The Second International broke down under the force of nationalist sentiment. World War I (1914-18) proved to be one of the most destructive in world history. The failure of the world socialist movement to do so has always been considered one of the great failures of the world socialist movement.

There were many historic example of pacifist thought, although rare in the full sweep of human history. Modern examples of pacifism appeared in European churches like the Amish, Mennonites, Quakers, and others. These groups were important, especially the Quakers who did not separate themselves from the wider society like the Mennites. The Quakers were especially important in the anti-slavery movement. Their impact on war and militarism was, however limited. Potentially more important was the world Socialist movement that developed in Europe during the second half of the 19th century. Socialism developed as a strongly anti-militarist, anti-war movement. Socialists saw war and colonialism as natural outgrowth of capitalism that would be swept away in a new socialist future. War was another way in which captalist class divided and exploited the working class. The militarism of 19th century Europe was one of the driving forces of the emigrant outflow during the late 19th-century. Socialist leaders pointed out that most of the dieing and suffering was experienced by the workers who formed the bulk of the waring armies while capitaliss made great fortunes selling arms. The Socialist movement was still in its infancy when the Franco-Prussian War broke out (1870). The movement by the early 20th century had become an important political force throughout Europe, especially Western Europe. As military rvalries developed among the great powers, Socialist leaders were hopeful that worker solidarity could prevent a major war in Europe. The failure of the movement to do so has always been considered one of the great failures of the world socialist movement. In the wake of the World War I disaster, anti-militarism grew un both Europe in America. This sentiment was one of the major reasons that Britain and France did not effectively contront the NAZIs and America remained staunchly isolationist until Pear Harbor. After the World War II, the Soviets used pacifist sentiment in Western Europe to weaken European resistance to Soviet military expansion.

Early Pacifist Thought

Pacifism is the belief that war and violence as a means of settling disputes is morally wrong. From an early point, the idea of individuals killing othr was seen as morally wrong. This idea that is expressed inHamurabi's code, the Hebrew Torah and other legal codes in the ancient world. The idea that the state should not kill or wage war is, however, does not appear in ancient socities, at least none tha we have yet found. There have since been many historic example of pacifist thought, although rare in the full sweep of human history.

Buddhism (7th century BC)

The earliest acifist movement that we have noted is Buddhism. Buddha Shakyamuni was the founder of Buddhism. He was norn a wealthy prince in Lumbini, northern India (now part of Nepal) (624BC). He insused that his followers absolutely abstain from any act of violence against their fellow creatures. This affected individual behavior, but does not seem to have had any apreciable affect on state behavior. And Buddhist thought was unkniown in the West.

Classical Thought

The ancient Greeks had a concept of pacifism, butwhich only applied to individuals rather than the conduct of state. Individual prowess in war conducted by city stateswas highly valued in Greece. Nowhere is this more throughly expressed than in the Homeric legends--universally acclaimed throughout Greece. The Romans conceived of pax, or peace, as a covenant between states or kingdoms to create a just situation based on mutual recognition. This was, however, only ngotiated with states that were militarily capable of resisting the Romans. The famous PAX Romana had nothing to do with with pacifim. It was a peace imposed upon defeated peoples.

Christianity

Jesus' teaching as recorded in the New Testament can be ould be interpreted as an early form of pacifism. And many early followers did just that. Jesus and his early followers were, however, Jews and gentiles subject of the Roman state and persecuted by it. As such, aind of pacifism was the only option opened to them. The Romans demonstrated with the Jewish Rebellion what happened to those who openly defied the the Empire. This changed when Constantine sesignated Christianity as the official religion of the Empire. And the Church supported the armies of the Empire abd the subsequent kingdomsof the medieval successor states. Military force was used to both wage wars, but also to compel belief in accepted dogma approved by a series of Church councils.

Protestant Pacifism

Modern examples of pacifism appeared in European Protesant churches like the Amish, Mennonites, Quakers, and others. They were a small part of the overall Protestant movement. These groups were important, especially the Quakers who did not separate themselves from the wider society like the Mennites. The Quakers were especially important in the anti-slavery movement. Their impact on war and militarism was, however limited.

German Pacifism

Germany since the failure to unify in the early Medeivil era was under the Holy Roman Empire a collection of separate states and principalities. While potentially the nost powerful force in Europe, its division greatly reduced German influence in Europe. The Reformation can be seen as am early manifestation of German nationalism. A real demand for unification did not come until French occupation during the Napoleonic Wars (1899-1815). The question emerging after the Congress of Vienna (1815) was who would unify Germany and no longer should Germany be unified. The Revolutions of 1848 almost succeeded in unifiying Germany under a democratic, liberal regime. Ther was a stroing anti-militarist thread within European loberalism, in part because the military forces serving monarchial governments were the major force impeding democratic reforms. The failure of the 1848 Revolutons in Germany resulted in a wave of emigration to America. This was one reason for a strong pacifist commitment among German-Americans which became the core of the World War II Isolationist Movement opposing American involvement in World war II. Rather than a liberal unified Germany, it was the Prussian Holenzollern monarchy guided by Count Von Bismarck that succeeded in uniting the German Empire and cast the new state in its highly militarized Prussian Junker ethos.

The Enlightenment (17th-18th centuries)

Europen thinkers began a very modern debate which included pacifist ideas. After the terrible religious wars following the Refornmation (17th century). Mixed in with the religious wars were dynastic wars. Most of the many wars following the religious wars were a century of dynastic war (18th century). The idea began to surface that these dynastic wars could be prevented by a transfer of of soverignity to the people. It was widely believed in the vurtue of the people who would prevent future war. Many Enligtenment thinkers saw war as the result of monarcial ambitions and pride.

World Socialist Movement

The central themne of socialism is that the goods produced in society should be held in common and distrubuted equally. This basic idea is not new. Idealized socialist concepts can be identified as early as ancient Greece in Plato's Republic, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, and the millenarian movements of medieval Europe. Socialist concepts were expressed as Europe entered the modern era. They can be found in Sir Thomas More's Utopia. We also see Socialist princioles present among the Levellers and other sects that emerged during the English Civil War (1640s). Socialist thought was rife among the Sans-culottes in the early period of the French Revolution, although these principles never became a main focus of the Revolution (1790s). It was not until after the Napoleonic Wars that the term "socialism" appeared and the mocement began to develop as a political force. A primary factor here was the Industrial Revolution which began in Britain during the mid-18th century and spread to Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. From the beginning, Siocialism was closely associated with European liberalism. The term Socialism first appeared in France and was quickly adopted by English social reformers (1820s). While the Socialist mobement was an outgrowth of social disparities resulting from the industrial Revolution, early Socialist leaders were wealthy men who expoused utopian concepts, esoecially the idea that men did not meed to be motivated by material rewards and that society could be orgamized around cooperative socities in which workers produced for the benefit of the community as a whole and the produce was distributed equitably. Some of the prominent Socilist utopins were Robert Owen, Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Alexander Herzen and Ferdinand Lassalle. The New Lanark community was one of the early Socialist utopinn communities. The English reformers were more concerned with reordering society than un seizng political power. Liberals in Germany set out to seize power and created a unig=fied, democratic Germany in the Revolutions of 1848. They almost suceeded, but in the end failed. This defeat generated a new train of Socialist thought premised on the ideq of workers seizing political power. Karl Rodbertus-Jagetzow was one of the early theoreticians. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote the "Manifesto of the Communist Party" (1848). Marx and Engels developed the foundation for what became known as scientific socialism and which has become referred to as Marxism. Mark developed his ideas in great detail in Das Kapital (1867). The book The book is the Socialist analysis of capitalism. Marx saw socialism as the stage of history and class structure following the inevitable revolution in which the urban proletariat would seize power. After this the state would "wither away" as an unecessary institution. Splits developed in the Socialist movement. The main thread in Western Europe were democratic socialists who believed that power could be achieved democratically through elections. Another group believed tht capatlists would never turn over power and believed that a violent worker uprising was necessary. They became known as Communists. And even more radical offshoot was Anarchism. Socialism did not begin to have a major political impact even after the Revolution of 1848, although liberals wre umportant in some countries. The First International (International Working Men's Association--IWA) was founded in London. Marx addressed the conference. The groups that attemded the conference had little real influence, but serious organizing began--especially in France and Germany. The working class of Paris actually seized power in the city as the Paris Commune after the Franco-Prussian War (1871), althoiugh they were quickly suppressed by the mew French Republic. Cracks began to appear in the First International. Bakunin's IWA was expelled at the Hague Congress (1872) which resulted in the Jura federation. The Marxists eventually abandoned the IWA to the Anarchists, and founded the Second or Socialist International in Paris (1893). Socialist parties by this time were active in most European countries and were beginning to achieve some importance in some countries, especially those in which free elections were held. These were the most modern industrial countries (Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden). The one country in which Scocialist countries had no political success was the United States. Anarchists achieved some success within the trade union movement in some countries (France, Italy, and Spain).

Socialist Worker Pacifism

Potentially more important was the world Socialist movement that developed in Europe during the second half of the 19th century. Socialism developed as a strongly anti-militarist, anti-war movement. Socialists saw war and colonialism as natural outgrowth of capitalism that would be swept away in a new socialist future. War was another way in which captalist class divided and exploited the working class. The militarism of 19th century Europe was one of the driving forces of the emigrant outflow during the late 19th-century. Socialist leaders pointed out that most of the dieing and suffering was experienced by the workers who formed the bulk of the waring armies while capitaliss made great fortunes selling arms. The Socialist movement was still in its infancy when the Franco-Prussian War broke out (1870). The movement by the early 20th century had become an important political force throughout Europe, especially Western Europe. As military rvalries developed among the great powers, Socialist leaders were hopeful that worker solidarity could prevent a major war in Europe. Patriotism and nationalism proved, however, to be a much stronger force than socialist worker solidarity. French socialist leader Jean Jaurès's was assisanated on the eve of war (July 31, 1914). The Second International broke down under the force of nationalist sentiment. World War I (1914-18) proved to be one of the most destructive in world history. The failure of the world socialist movement to do so has always been considered one of the great failures of the world socialist movement.

Inter-War Pacifism

The iniitial sentiment in the Allied Nation after the War was one of elation. But this soon changed as ar elization of the cost set in with the public, especially the huge casualties. Anti-war sentiment grew. The "Never again" sentiment became prounounced. One aspect of the growing anti-war sentiment was a declining appreciation of the military. In the wake of the World War I disaster, anti-militarism grew in both Europe and in America. This sentiment was one of the major reasons that Britain and France did not effectively contront the NAZIs. Hitler understood better perhaps than anyone in Europe that democratic governments would avoid war so as to avoid casualties. This was a calculation that did not burden him or for that matter Stalin. American attitudes were in part pacifism , but and even stroinger sentiment was a desire to disassociate from Europe which was seen as the source of endless political strife. Pacifism was an elemement in isolationist sentiment in America. The Congress launched a major investigation designed to prove that American arms manufacturers had help involve the United States in the War. It is ironic that the industry that would save Western civilization was during the inter-wars year was being being investigated for disloyalty by Congress. The Committee became known as the Dyes Committee led by Congressman Martin Dyes. After a huge investigation, no evidence was found to justify the charges. While Socialist inspired pacifism had weakened the Allied response to Hitler, socialist leaders in Germany and occupied countries were targeted by the NAZIs. Some how Hitler and the nationalists managed to shift the war blame from German militarists to the Socialist politicans who signed the peace. Anti-war feeling was strong in Germany after the War, but so was resentment toward the Versailles treaty. The future of Germany would be decided on which of these two sentiments would prevail. The Socialists warned that Hitler and the NAZIs would bring war. And they were right. Even so, after 6 years of NAZI propaganda, were not enthusiastic as Hitler moved Germany toward war.

World War II Pacifism

World War I was a traumatic experience in Europe, both for the victors and the defeated. The people of Europe were determined to prevent another war. Losses were enormous, bioth in blood and material wealth. An entire generation had been desimated in many countries. Most thought that the War had been a huge mistake. The huge cost of the War made even the victors sharply cut back military expenses. Most people thought that the War had not only been costly, but pointless as well. Few stopped to consider what a German dominated Europe would have nmeant. Pacifist movements grew throughout Europe and had considerable impact on major political parties, especially the socialists. Inter-war pacifism had a major impact on World War II. In the democracies, pacifists significantly influenced public policy. Here the principal impact was to impede military spending and defense prepartions, leaving the democracies dangerously unprepared for aggressive nations where pacifists were excluded from the public arena. Public opinion in America remained staunchly against involvement in World war II until Pearl Harbor. In America the Isolationist movemnt grew in importance. While anti-war and pacifist movements were of great influence, there were other currents at play in Europe. The Soviet Union gave lip service to abnti-war sentiment, primarily to weaken potential adversaries while at the same time lavish enormous sums into military spending. The rise of Fascism also fueled oposition to the World War I settlement and glorified war. This began with Mussolini in Italy (1924), but did not become a real threat until Hitler seized power in Germany (1933). He quickly supressed the pacifist movenment in Germany and launched a massive rearmament program. The denmocraies were slow to respond to this threat because of the strength of the anti-war and pacifist movements. The primary impact of the pacifist movement was thus to lay the foundation for the most costly war in human history.

Cold War Pacifism

Pacifism, isolationisn. and neutrality suffered as aresult of World War II. These different but related policies had all played into Hitler's hands. France surcumed because of pacifist ant-War sentiment and and a terribly mismanaged military effort. The sanme was trur of Britain except the Channel stopped the Panzers at Calais. And America entered the War unprepared for military action. Pearl Harbor had fundamentally changed the American outlook. America afterWorld war II was not prepard to disarm as it had done after World war I, although milirary spending was cut substantially. Attuitudes in Euroope also shifted. The Belgiabs abnd Dutch having endured German occupation were nonlonger interested in neutrality. The British and French were also mot prepared to disarm as they had after World War I. And Soviet conduct, using the Red army abnd NKVD to carve out a Eastrern European empire oe only confirmed the concerns of Anericans and many Western Europeans. The result was the Nrth Atlantic Treaty Organizatin (NATO). Not all Europeans believed in a strong defense. Socialists and Communists still held pacifist beliefs. This was a major strain of thought among Socialists since the foundation of the world socialist movement (late-19th century). And Soviet foreign policy trumpeted this theme. The Soviets claimed to be commited to world peace and charged that it was the Americans who were pursuing agressive miitarist policies threatening peace. Some European sococialists were so devoted to Marxist thought that they simply ignored reality. Others dutifully followed orders from Moscow. They just ignired the fact that the Stalin they now thrumpeted as a force for peace was the sane Stalin who had signed the NATO-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (August 1939) and wuth Hitlerv launched Word War II and proceeded to arve up Europe between them. While non-sensical, the Soviets used pacifist sentiment in Western Europe to weaken European resistance to Soviet military expansion. They tried the same in America, albeit with less suceess. The Communists infiltrated left-ing and peace groups. The pacifist movement proved highly selective about what they protested. These groups not uncommonly simply repeated Sovuiet propagabnda. They criticised Anmerican and allied defense spending, but never Sovie defense spending. They criticised the American nuclear arsenal, but never the Soviet arsenal. There were also protests behind te IronCurtain, but like the protests in the West, only criticized American and Western military spending. The Soviets helped fund many of these movements and conductedan active oropagabnda effort in an effort to both reduce westerndefense speding ad to destabalization Western governments. It was only with the Vuietnam War that pacifism in the United States grew beyond left-wing groups. This could have had a major impact on the Cold War had it not been for three consrvative politicans (Presuident Reagan, Primeminister Thstcher, and Chancellor Kohl) and the nherent inefficenies of Communism began to underminethe Soviet economy.






CIH







Navigate the Children in History Website:
[Return to Main War Essay page]
[Return to Main military style page]
[Introduction] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Climatology] [Clothing] [Disease and Health] [Economics] [Geography] [History] [Human Nature] [Law]
[Nationalism] [Presidents] [Religion] [Royalty] [Science] [Social Class]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Children in History Home]






Created: 2:26 AM 10/12/2006
Last updated: 1:34 PM 3/24/2014