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Why I am not a pacifist

I was never a pacifist ever since I was old enough to think at all about such things – while I was still at school. In practice though I avoided violence whenever possible.

But an exercise I am engaged in now, courtesy of Brighton University, is making me think more about what I believe about this; not to say that I will be any more certain at the end of it. Just because I have had to accept that the traditional just war criteria are extremely difficult, if not downright unrealistic, I have very reluctantly decided that I have to allow killing or injuring of innocents (as customarily defined) as excusable, otherwise I have to rule out any war and any abortion, no matter what the circumstances of the case.

The two thinkers I am in contact with offer a (frankly vague) principle for justifiable violence, whether for personal situations or social/political ones, in terms of assault and hurt on one’s personhood, where a non-violent (civil) response is prevented or ignored. (I hope I have understood that correctly.) Broadly I find myself going along with that. But I worry about the dangerous issue of whether capitalism can be counted among affronts to people’s dignity and ability to live properly, which Marxists in particular claim. It seems to me that became more plausible with the social and economic changes from the 1980s onward. I suggest Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and their followers should be seen as undercover Marxists.

This is a crazy test.

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