you can’t be a pacifist if you haven’t got a war to fight

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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7 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    There needs to be a militant wing as well as a political wing.

    Whenever the militant wing does something crazy/stupid/evil, the political wing needs to step up and explain something to the effect of “of course this was awful and of course we cannot condone and are actually debating the wording of our condemnation of these acts, we feel we must sit down and explain the root causes behind such acts.”

    Be part of the political wing. You don’t have to be a warrior at all.Report

  2. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Can I be a part of the cultural wing instead? Director of Arts & Literature or something?Report

  3. Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

    I agree that declaring oneself a pacifist in a given conflict doesn’t necessarily legitimize the conflict. The culture wars, however, arise from a metaphorical way of thinking about those conflicts. “Culture war pacifist” seems to sustain that metaphor, whereas I think it would be better to advocate and use terms from a different metaphorical framework, such as your culture of compassion or a culture of hospitality.

    I suppose my objection may be little more than a quibble; however, I’ve seen “culture war pacifist” used by culture warriors to categorize those opposed to the culture wars, and I’ve thought that the description, while in a sense accurate, defines me in those very terms of the culture war metaphor that I find troubling.Report

  4. Avatar Rodak says:

    It would seem to me (who is, btw, a card-carrying Vietnam-era pacifist and conscientious objector), that being (or, better, “becoming”) a pacifist is contingent upon there being a war (or, at the very least, strong rumors of war) to prompt that decision. That is, being a pacifist doesn’t somehow define the war; it is the other way ’round. To become a hawk is to add many complicated behaviors to one’s repertoire. To become a pacifist is to refuse to make those additions. Simple is good.Report

  5. Avatar scott says:

    May I ask, as a way to get more information from all of you involved with this discussion: Do you believe that there is a constant ‘war’ going on between the City of God and the City of Man?

    -I can accept that Kyle dislikes the metaphor…but I do not see how anyone can argue that there has not always been some form of ‘warfare’ within the human soul and within society at large which seeks to make and shape each society’s culture into some sort of image. The beef I have is the image many current ‘culture warriors’ want to engrave into society. There are many versions of the city of man and many distortions of the city of God.

    Kyle, and the others, do you have a problem with the term ‘spiritual warfare?’

    Also, what importance do you think culture has in history and society? I hold that culture is THE driving force of history. But a ‘poor’ culture is not a citadel to which you simply lay siege, laying siege to a culture is mere social engineering, aka manipulation. But is the culture which must be swayed to improve the plight of man in this day and age and in every day and age.Report

  6. Avatar scott says:

    Sorry that last sentence should read: But IT is the…Report

  7. Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

    “Spiritual warfare” isn’t my preferred paradigm of spirituality, but I don’t have a problem with it per se. When we talk about spiritual warfare, we speak about a battle between good and evil that takes place in each and every person’s heart and soul. Evil isn’t something exterior to me or “out there” among other people. The culture wars, however, tend to compartmentalize evil. The other is demonized as an evil the good culture warriors have to defeat.Report