28 Jun 04 12:23 AM
Reply To: 27917
I, too, have my doubts that a true pacifism would emerge in M-e, if by "pacificsm" one means a fundamental opposition to the concept of defending values with force. This simply seems unlikely, which is why when I wrote "The Making of Boys", I couldn't give Ioreth a straightforward, modern pacifist position but had to embed her opposition to taking up arms, for herself or the boys, in the context of there being no time to do what needed to be done to transform herself or anyone else into a warrior proper. Ergo why make the attempt and impose such suffering when it's an impossible task? Ioreth is probably the easiest person to give a quasi-pacifist worldview to, given her exchange with Éowyn, yet even so, it's not something one can just transplant.
When push comes to shove in M-e, there is no clear example of someone refusing to strike back that I can think of—even Frodo allowed that killing might occur in the Shire, but he wished to minimize it as much as possible and did not personally go armed after a certain point. It is not clear that this is a decision of conscience or whether this is the result of war-weariness and trauma that requires Valinor to overcome. There may be personal cases of refusing to lift a hand in one's own defense, but there is no repudiation of the principle that either force can be justly employed against injustice *or* that peace is the highest value, to be pursued even if it means surrender in the face of the enemy. Elves, too, live in a world of force, and as Haldir notes, "our hands are more often on the bowstring than the harp". Elves accept that force may be necessary and justified in the defense of values; ergo, they are not pacifists as a group. I do not know of any particular Elf who explicitly espoused pacifism on a personal level, either.
As a sort of example of how a refusal to strike back against injustice might still allow for the use of force, take a look at this quote:
"[A]mong so many arguments this one alone survives refutation and remains steady: that doing what's unjust is more to be guarded against than suffering it, and that it's not seeming
to be good but being
good that a man should take care of more than anything, both in his public and his private life; and if a person proves to be bad in some respect, he's to be disciplined, and that the second best thing after being just is to become just by paying one's due, by being disciplined.... So, listen to me and follow me to where I am, and when you've come here you'll be happy both during life and at its end.... Let someone despise you as a fool and throw dirt on you, if he likes. And, yes, by Zeus, confidently let him deal you that demeaning blow. Nothing terrible will happen to you if you really are an admirable and good man, one who practices excellence...." (Gorgias
Notice that force is not ruled out—discipline may be imposed, and among the excellence (virtues) practiced in the common ethos of Athens at the time, courage in battle was the manly virtue par excellence. This makes it unclear whether war can be a means of disciplining a people that has wronged another population, but certainly it does not rule out using force against an individual in the form of the correct disciplining of that individual. But this is not pacifism as we know it, nor is Socratic civil disobedience what we would mean by that term. So it's not to say that in a certain sense, one might be deemed more pacifistic than not, but the sort of thing we mean by that term seems unlikely to crop up very frequently as it requires one to say that force of any kind
absolutely perverts the very values one seeks to defend, and so, in the end, cannot at all defend them and so certainly cannot *legitimately* defend them.
What you seem to be talking about, Marta, is more along the lines of "selective conscientious objection", whereby a person objects to a specific war on the basis that it is not just, rather than on the basis of pacifism per se. This, I would think, would be much more common in all ages—there have always been people who objected to a particular war because it was unjust or because they personally felt the cost was not worth the gain, or they disputed that there would be a real gain.