By Richard Crockett
WWII was in full thunder when George Orwell wrote “Pacifism and the War.” Orwell seeks to point out that pacifism at home is wonderful for enemies abroad. He cites the fact that Germany and Japan actively promoted pacifism in the propaganda they used to break the fighting spirit of the allies. At the same time, they actively suppressed pacifism at home. Orwell mentions “… pacifist activities are not permitted in those countries (in both the penalty is or can be, beheading).”
He may have been referring to the Hans and Sophie Scholl who were beheaded by the Nazis in 1942 for distributing anti-Nazi literature. They founded the legendary White Rose Society, which is still active today. However, Orwell does not say.
Further, he gives an insider’s devilish view that Gandhi’s pacifism was extremely useful for the British, and far from being defeated by it, they employed it to good effect. Fascist regimes do not fear pacifism; they fear violence.
The classic quote you will see from this essay is: “Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other.”
He makes a strong case against pacifism. Given the situation at the time, he powerfully asserts that pacifism helps the Fascists. He coins a lovely word, “Fascifism,” to describe this.
It is a powerful critique, and I mainly agree. You may have heard me ridicule pacifism in similar terms. But this is not 1942. We are not fighting Japan, Germany, and Italy. We are fighting an internal war with a few who would usurp the democracy our ancestors worked so hard to achieve, flawed though it may be.
We are not fighting a Fascist state abroad. We are fighting a rising Fascist regime within, and they have not won. Not yet.
If it is true that Fascist regimes do not fear pacifism, why bother lopping off the heads of pacifists? Orwell defeats his own argument in that way. Further, it should be pointed out that the Brits gave up on trying to control India, Orwell’s ridicule of Gandhi notwithstanding.
As many, many people from across the political spectrum have observed, the ultra-rich have never liked democracy. They have always been terrified of the “rule of the people.” They have always been convinced that such a form of government will result in a bunch of moochers. In one form or another, we have been hearing the exact same rhetoric from them since 500 BCE as they trembled at the rise of the Athenian State.
Funny that Athens enjoyed the highest productivity per capita of any nation on Earth at the time. Ironic that they laid down their lives fighting for a nation they believed in. In that history, it took the combined power of all the other nations, including an alliance with an enemy — Persia — to bring them down, and even then, only just barely. It could have gone the other way.
In fact, the more democratic a state is, the richer and more deadly.
One does not get a nation of moochers when people see a chance to better their lives and the lives of their children through self-directed work and broad-based property distribution.
THAT, of course, is what they really fear, for THEY are the moochers, and if the people had their way, there would be long lines to the guillotines. We are dealing with some people who are guilty as hell, and tyrants never sleep easily.
We can thank the Athenians for that. They may have failed, but that fact of changed conditions remained, and it remains forever.
But let’s be honest. We are not going to have a civil war. There will be no armed revolution here. It’s a non-starter. I, personally, am NEVER going to take up arms against my country.I would frankly rather DIE. That cop or guardsman might be my neighbor. HE is NOT my enemy. My POC friends concur, and they have MUCH more reason to fear than I. It is not the way. We have to win them to our side. They are “just following orders.” So we have to change those orders by changing their bosses. There is not going to be a “proletariat uprising” in the US.
There ARE, however, ways to fight this current crop of Fascists, and in the White Rose Leaflets, many such methods are described.
There are other ways as well.
Our whole world economy runs on petroleum; thus, we can easily disrupt that by simply refusing to use or minimizing our use of gasoline. So stop using it! Walk. Ride a bicycle. Carpool. Take the bus. Don’t fly; ride the train. It’s a long list.
We can use cash and barter to evade taxes. That’s some pretty sweet sabotage right there.
We can learn to cook, grow our own food, and cease eating the toxic waste they sell us. Boycott all corporate “fast food,” but feel free to support street vendors.
In line with a rebellion against the “petrodollar,” we can simply cease to use disposable paper or plastic products. There are many ways to reduce your personal “carbon footprint.”
We can quit our meaningless and demoralizing jobs and do something else, or, we can stay at work and quietly sabotage production. Many people do that already, and in their secret hearts, they will admit it.
This current State is fantastically inefficient. Most of the “work” done among white-collar workers is internally generated and never yields sellable products. They are VERY ripe for efficient competition. Contrary to the Capitalist schtick of “free enterprise,” they are 100% opposed to truly free enterprise and routinely use the Big State to suppress competition and socialize liabilities. Getting around that requires some “gray” tactics, but, so what?
The industrial field remains wide open to small entrepreneurs who know how to enthuse tight and dedicated teams. In the poorest regions of Appalachia, for example, where my family is from, that spirit is alive and well! Small craft factories CAN be the thing that will make us independent of large employers. Most of the shit we import from China is exactly that — shit. Wouldn’t you rather have $300.00 pair of boots made by a friend that will last you twenty years rather than a $30.00 pair of boots from Walmart that will hardly last a season? Do the math! We don’t need that garbage in our lives. So do without it. Go minimal. Go barefoot if you have to! Enjoy honorable poverty rather than craven wealth.
We can hit them where it hurts: Their incomes.
You can do this without saying a word and never fearing arrest. They can’t fight that.
So far, we can still speak. You are reading this, aren’t you? You too can speak. You can spread the word. Mainly you will hear why “that won’t work” citing the inherent greed or complacency of human nature; yet, some seeds will fall in fertile soil. Those are the people in whom the life force burns bright, and those are the only ones you should care deeply about.
Silent non-cooperation is a deadly tactic. Arguably, this was exactly the tactic that brought down the former USSR. They were incapable of keeping pace with the Western Powers in the Cold War. Workers in the USSR simply would not work.
So, you see, despite Orwell’s fiery rhetoric to the contrary, pacifism is a Big Gun. Let’s not underestimate it.