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+2 votes
Could someone possibly explain what anarcho-pacifists mean by the term violence? It's not clear to me if violence to them means more something like physical harm or property destruction, or both, or one but not the other?

Also, are there any historical examples of pacifism being solely successful without any assistance from more militant actions?
by (4.7k points)
violence is a term that means different things to different people, including people who would use the same label (like "anarcho-pacifist"). I have had people argue that violence isn't violent if it is just directed at property (I think that is bullshit, personally). I have also had a ridiculous conversation with an anarcho-pacifist who, in referencing some ELF actions back in the day suggested it might've been more tactically effective to spray paint a message on the hoods of the cars instead of burning them. Then he retracted - spray paint was too violent. Maybe they could just have a sign and sit next to the cars to communicate their message?

In a world where non-violence/violence means anything from spray paint to busted windows to newspaper boxes in the street to the satellite precision of a drone blowing up a birthday party, trying to universalize a definition seems really unimportant. I would rather that anarchists embrace that there is violence, and that we sometimes employ it, in varying degrees.
Thanks. I suppose the question doesn't really have an answer or is unanswerable perse. Whenever I've talked to someone that's identified as a pacifist, they give different definitions for what they mean by violence, sometimes an individual will use two different definitions in the same conversation.

I suppose the second question I posted would be easier to answer.

1 Answer

+4 votes

i don't think anarcho-pacifists are any different than other kinds of pacifists in terms of how they see the term "violence". As ingrate pointed out there seems to be a fear for pacifists (and this has permeated non-activist american mindset to a great degree) of general chaos and conflict, or as hippy-dippy morons around here say "bad vibes". For me personally violence means doing physical harm/damage to another person, but people in the developed world seem to have a fear of any kind of social upset or danger, and will in fact yell angrily in some situations if something offends them. I don't claim to know for sure why people do this but it's certainly taught in schools, that any calm situation is "peaceful".

oh and the second question? depends how you define "success". lots of situations in life can be fixed with non-violent solutions, but in terms of political i guess the only way to get rid of a tyrant is to kill them

rs666, good answer which i think ties into your question some months ago some months regarding 'positivity.' to me, once again, it's a matter of silencing, social control, and scapegoating any deep sense of individual/unique autonomy manifesting as rebelliousness. what's fucked up about this type of silencing is that it takes place in a context of controlled and commidified narcissism; loud music, loud colors, loud (approved) opinions, etc, all marketed as 'individual taste,' whereas the reality of it all stinks of Brian's crowd (

as an aside, this is also partly why i tend to make the distinction between narcissism and 'egoism' (the latter of which i'm working toward a better term).