you can’t be a pacifist if you haven’t got a war to fight
Kyle Cupp has this to say about my professed culture-war pacifism:
I share his assessment of where the culture wars lead and the need to abandon them, but I object to labeling one opposed to the culture wars as a pacifist. The description gives too much legitimacy to the idea of the culture wars. The culture wars are founded on a framework for interpreting others of differing culture positions, a framework that reduces others to enemies and is (dis)ordered toward their defeat. That defeat never comes with any finality. Not in a pluralistic and democratic society.
The label “culture war pacifist” defines an opponent of the culture wars within the culture war framework, but that framework itself has to be forsaken in order to end the culture wars.
I don’t know. It seems to me that declaring oneself a pacifist in any given conflict doesn’t so much legitimize the conflict as simply admit that yes, indeed, we are embroiled within [insert war here] but I personally will not take part.
Does this define my stance “within the culture war framework”? Essentially it does. However that is irrelevant unless we want to go purely rhetorical. The framework of the culture war is the one we’ve got to work with, and standing opposed to it – much like standing opposed to the Iraq war – can only be done in light of its existence. Thus I am a pacifist in the very real military wars going on today as well as in the culture war, and sadly the only way I can meaningfully express – or perhaps locate – my position is in terms of my opposition to those wars, rather than in some new framework that renders them obsolete. For now. In the future, Kyle is right to hope that we can do away with these notions altogether.
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
Can I be a part of the cultural wing instead? Director of Arts & Literature or something?Report
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
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
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
Sorry that last sentence should read: But IT is the…Report
“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