July 09, 2005

Violence is not the Answer

John McGowan, Michael Bérubé's relief poster, has a magnificent post about why violence is such a poor response to the outrages of the terrorist attacks.

There are various arguments about why violence (in general) is counter-productive and why violence against terrorists (in particular) is counter-productive. I will assume that you are familiar with these and move on. The arguments here are empirical and, to say the least, open to debate. It would be very difficult to prove that not only was every historical instance of violence unable to achieve its aim, but also that violence necessarily (not just contingently) must fail instrumentally. Surely, the implausibility of such a sweeping argument partially explains why humans keep resorting to violence to get things done. But, at least, pacifism calls our attention to the fact that violence, to say the least, is a very uncertain means to accomplish anything. So if the end is something we care about deeply, we will be well advised to consider other means. Violence has a nasty habit of proving indiscriminate in its destruction.

And he notes, when we look at the consequences of violent reaction, we find that it hurts more than it helps. And thus, he weaves a compelling and humane call to pacifism.

Do read the whole thing and see what you think.

Posted by Mary at July 9, 2005 06:14 PM | Recommended Reading | Technorati links |
Comments

I want to apologize for accidently deleting the comment about "pacifism" while I was despamming our site of comment spam.

To answer the original comment: please read the piece by John McGowan to understand why he thought pacifism was a better answer in the long run.

Posted by: Mary at July 12, 2005 07:49 AM