Pacifism (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
The rejection of war as a means of settling disputes. The earliest known instances of pacifism can be traced to Eastern religions and philosophies—including Confucianism and Buddhism—and to ancient Greek theorists who sought to apply the civil order of the polis to the war-torn Greek peninsula. While some Western theorists have argued that war deviates from natural law—that it goes against human nature—religious and humanitarian concerns have been the main forces behind pacifism. Mennonites, Quakers, and certain other Christian denominations abhor war, for it denies the biblically justified doctrine of nonresistance. Many more—from eighteenth century intellectuals to young twentieth century activists—have seen war as inhumane, as a great fount of unnecessary suffering. The proliferation of nuclear arms and the looming threat of mutually assured destruction fueled widespread pacifism during the years of the Cold War (1947-1991).
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Pacifism (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
A belief or policy in opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes. Pacifists maintain that unswerving nonviolence can bestow upon people a power greater than that achieved through the use of violent aggression.
Over the years, pacifism has acquired different meanings. As a consequence, it is practiced in a variety of ways. For example, pacifists may make an individual vow of nonviolence. They may also organize and actively pursue nonviolence and peace between nations. They may even assert that some form of support for selective violence is sometimes necessary to achieve worldwide peace.
The earliest form of recorded pacifism appear in the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who became known as the Buddha. The Buddha, or the Enlightened One, left his family at a young age and spent his life searching for a release from the human condition. Before dying in northeast India between 500 and 350 B.C., the Buddha taught the paths to elevated existence and inspired a new religion. Buddhism eventually spread from India to central and Southeast Asia, China, Korea, Japan, and the United States.
The teachings of Jesus Christ continued the attachment of nonviolence to organized religion.
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Pacifism (Political Theories For Students)
Although the goal of almost every political system or theory is peace, many thinkers and politicians regard pacifism as an unrealistic strategy for achieving that end. International peace, they argue, can only be attained by a combination of hardeaded diplomacy and military preparedness. Domestic peace, they claim, will only be achieved with a strong police force and a tough court system. Pacifism, say many thinkers, belongs not in the domain of politics but in the realm of religious ideology. At best, pacifists are seen as hopeless idealists or as otherworldly dreamers. Thus, pacifism is recognized in standard political philosophy by its rejection.
Very often, pacifism is equated with passiveness, even though there is no linguistic link between the two words. Therefore, the application of pacifism, or anything approaching pacifism, is regarded as disastrous. Mention the word "pacifism" and Neville Chamberlain's (1869940) failed effort to appease Adolf Hitler (1889945) at Munich is recalled and condemned as an example of what...
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