Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Pacifist Impulse in Historical Perspective

The Pacifist Impulse in Historical Perspective

Edited by HARVEY L. DYCK
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 444
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Pacifist Impulse in Historical Perspective
    Book Description:

    This volume of twenty-three essays appears in recognition of the emergence of peace history as a relatively new and coherent field of learning. Together the essays in this book explore the ideas and activities of persons and groups who, for over two millennia, have rejected war and urged non-violent means of settling conflicts.

    The essays, organized in four parts, concentrate on the main areas of contemporary scholarship in peace history. `Approaches to Peace History' explores conceptual issues and methods. `Christian Traditions of Pacifism and Non-resistance' covers topics from the problem of non-violence and war in the early church, through Mennonite and Brethren traditions in the sixteenth century, to the present-day Quaker peace testimony. `Gandhi and the Indian Tradition of Non-violence' looks at the role of violence and non-violence in Hindu and Buddhist thought and practice as well as the development of Gandhi's intellectual and moral outlook. `Pacifism and Peace Movements in the Modern World, 1890-1955' considers various aspects of the interrelationship between pacifists and internationalists and the broader movement advocating world peace. Also considered is the role of women in peace movements. The opening and closing chapters pay tribute to the pioneering leadership and scholarly accomplishments of Peter Brock and include a complete bibliography of his work in the field of peace history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8200-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. 1 Peter Brock as a Historian of World-wide Pacifism: An Appreciation
    (pp. 3-12)

    In the living-room of his midtown Toronto duplex, Peter Brock, widely esteemed as the worldʹs leading historian of worldwide pacifism, reflects on his recent scholarship. He does so typically with a self-deprecating aside. We are joined briefly by his wife, Carmen, a Quaker volunteer involved in the settlement of Central American refugees. The doorbell rings. A colleague deposits luggage for a mainland Chinese student who will live with the Brocks while he seeks permanent housing. An electrician repairs the range in the kitchen, a puzzling contrivance for Peter (who does not drive a car). I have caught the Brocks just...


    • 2 Ten Distinctions for Peace Historians
      (pp. 17-35)

      No ideology owes more to one academic than pacifism owes to Peter Brock. That the scope and richness of its historical tradition can now be recognized is largely the result of Brockʹs sympathetic and dedicated scholarship, which was begun, moreover, at a time when pacifism was an unfashionable subject, particularly when compared with equivalently radical viewpoints in domestic politics. When I started research on the 1930s British peace movement in 1969, just a year after the appearance of BrockʹsPacifism in the United States: From the Colonial Era to the First World War, I was struck not only by the...

    • 3 Thinking about Peace in History
      (pp. 36-51)

      This essay has an intentionally ambiguous title, for it addresses both how we think about peace in historical terms (thinking about peace-in-history) and how peace has been considered historically (thinking-about-peace in history). My own thought has been stimulated in each respect by Martin Ceadelʹs critical analysis of the positions taken in what he has called the war-and-peace debate, notably by the typology he advanced inThinking about Peace and Warand by his subsequent essay, ʹTen Distinctions for Peace Historians.ʹ

      In each case Ceadel develops categories for the purpose of offering interpretive distinctions with which to clarify our discourse and...

    • 4 Jacob ter Meulen and Bart de Ligt as Pioneers of Peace History
      (pp. 52-72)

      Even though in recent years the reputation of Sir Basil Liddell Hart as a serious historian of warfare has been somewhat tarnished, this need not detract from the value of much of his writing.Why Donʹt We Learn from History?, first published in 1944, is regarded as a classic in the philosophy of history. Two of the lessons that this ʹCaptain who teaches Generalsʹ (J.F. Kennedy) learned from history may be recalled here because of their bearing on our general theme: ʹWe learn from history that the critics of authority have always been rebuked in self-righteous tones – if no...


    • [PART II: Introduction]
      (pp. 73-78)

      Two major traditions have been present in the history of Christian pacifism, the ʹseparational' and the ʹintegrationalʹ (to adopt the typology formulated some years ago by Peter Brock). Both traditions have drawn their inspiration from the record of the New Testament and from the example of the early Church.

      In her essay, ʹNon-violence and Women's Resistance in Early Christianity,' Luise Schottroff, on the basis of a feminist analysis, examines several documents of early Christianity, including the Sermon on the Mount and the little known Acts of Thekla, and then briefly discusses the implications of the non-violent resistance on the part...

    • 5 Non-violence and Womenʹs Resistance in Early Christianity
      (pp. 79-89)

      In this essay I pursue the question of non-violent resistance on the part of women in early Christianity. To begin with I focus on the particular history of womenʹs resistance during this period in comparison with menʹs resistance and go on to examine how womenʹs resistance and their gender role in a patriarchal society relate. In conclusion I present, to my thinking, basic consequences for pacifism and non-violent resistance of both women and men. My approach is based on a critical feminist analysis of Christian theological discussion on non-violence and the andro-centrism of particular text passages in the Sermon on...

    • 6 War as a Moral Problem in the Early Church: The Historianʹs Hermeneutical Assumptions
      (pp. 90-110)

      There has been no significant new information on the topic of war as a moral problem in the early Church for a long time. When Peter Brock began his 1972 history with twenty-two pages on early Christianity, the sources he summarized, written from 1905 to the 1960s, added little to what had already been treated by Harnack¹ and Cadoux² generations before. Some new authors came to the same old material with new perspectives, but there was even very little of that. Most new authors brought the same old perspectives, although the tone changed as Roman Catholic historians joined the discussion....

    • 7 Anabaptists and the Sword Revisited: The Trend from Radicalism to Apoliticism
      (pp. 111-124)

      Michel Foucaultʹs ʹWhat Is an Author?ʹ² expresses the standpoint of a new theory of criticism that insists that texts should stand on their own merits, without being tied to their authors. At the same time the trend in intellectual history has been to move away from forcing the writings of people in the past into systematic consistency. Instead of assuming that any thinker worth studying is consistent, the assumption now is that most interesting thinkers change their minds (which is not to say or imply that someone qualifies as an interesting thinker by changing his or her mind).

      Anabaptists and...

    • 8 The Brethren and Non-resistance
      (pp. 125-144)

      On 16 June 1705 the Swiss Reformed pastor and the mayor of the village of Frenkendorf, near Basel, complained to the Basel city council that a certain Andreas Boni (1673–1741) was causing trouble. A native of Frenkendorf and a weaver by trade, Boni had as a journeyman lived in Heidelberg, where he came into contact with Radical Pietist views. After his wifeʹs death, Boni returned to his home, where he communicated his new convictions to others, first of all to his family. The local officials expressed fear that a dissenting movement would spread rapidly unless it were immediately checked.¹...

    • 9 The ʹLambʹs Warʹ and the Origins of the Quaker Peace Testimony
      (pp. 145-158)

      The title of this essay suggests the need to see the roots of the Quaker peace testimony in the early Friendsʹ central message about the nature of evil and how evil is overcome, not simply in conscientious objection and international peacemaking. What is clear is that the story of the Quaker peace testimony has been studied in much detail and remains complex.

      Forty years ago, James Maclear and Alan Cole explored the responses of the Quakers to the traumatic years after Naylerʹs ride into Bristol in 1656, amid the Puritansʹ backlash against toleration in Cromwellʹs Commonwealth.¹ They maintained that, except...

    • 10 ʹThe Things That Make for Peaceʹ: The Context of Pacifism in Quaker Pennsylvania
      (pp. 159-181)

      The bumper sticker said, ʹIf you want peace, work for justice.ʹ¹ It was intended as political advice, but it suggested an appropriate way to write the history of pacifism. While historians have never ignored the context of pacifism and pacifists, we have more often than not written histories of pacifist thought and ethics or pacifist sects or minorities, and neglected their historical circumstances. Social critics might allege that while writing the history of peace we insufficiently appreciate that we may be writing the history of repression, especially Westerners pacifying Third World peoples. Without conceding their case, I propose in this...

    • 11 Quaker Women and the Pacifist Impulse in Britain, 1900–1920
      (pp. 182-206)

      In late May 1918 John Henry Barlow, Clerk of the London Yearly Meeting, left this annual gathering of the Religious Society of Friends and made his way from Quaker Headquarters at Devonshire House, Bishopsgate, to the London Guildhall. Barlow wanted to be physically as well as spiritually united with three members of the Friends Service Committee (FSC) who were on trial there for violating the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) by refusing to submit a pamphlet called ʹA Challenge to Militarismʹ to the official censor.¹ After Barlowʹs dramatic departure, the presiding assistant clerk, Mary Jane Godlee, adjourned the business...

    • 12 The Quaker Peace Testimony and the Nobel Peace Prize
      (pp. 207-222)

      When the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced on 31 December 1947 that the peace prize would go to the Friends Service Council of London (FSC) and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) of Philadelphia, the OsloDagbladettold its readers that ʹthe Quaker religion consists of relief work.ʹ¹ What of the peace testimony? Were the Quakers given the prize simply for their good works? This essay will seek to ascertain the part played by the Quaker peace testimony in the thinking of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, in the attitude of the Quakers towards the prize, and the public interpretation of it...


    • [PART III: Introduction]
      (pp. 223-226)

      No volume dealing with the pacifist impulse in history could possibly omit the figure of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869–1948) and his contribution to the theory and practice of non-violence. The literature on Gandhi is vast. The four essays in this section deal with selected aspects of his non-violence and its background in Indian and Western traditions. Gandhi always emphasized that he was a Hindu, and his thinking and lifestyle remained embedded in Hinduism, whatever Western accretions he acquired over his lifetime. From early times the Hindu religion preached ahiṁsā, or non-violence, but at the same time, as did Christianity,...

    • 13 Hiṁsā and Ahiṁsā Traditions in Hinduism
      (pp. 227-239)

      For many Westerners Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) was the true representative of the essence of Hinduism. He embodied the spirit of non-violence (ahiṁsā) and the faith that truth/God (satya) will ultimately prevail.¹ His lessons of non-violent resistance were taken up by the leaders of the American civil rights movement and praised, belatedly, by some recent popes. Those who have studied Indian thought under the guidance of the statesman-philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888–1975) will have learned from his writings that Hinduism is the religion of peace and tolerance, which neither has the need nor the ambition to employ violence in any...

    • 14 Peace and Non-violence in Buddhism
      (pp. 240-259)
      ROY C. AMORE

      An ethic of non-violence was central to Buddhism from its inception. Buddhism, as we know it, arose in the Ganges region of northern Indian approximately twenty-five hundred years ago. To the people of the day this area was known as the Middle Region, lying between the oceans of the Jambu Continent (Jambudvipa) – jambu are a fruit still to be found in the markets of India. During the seventh and sixth centuries BCE this Middle Region had undergone political transformation in the form of a consolidation from a region with numerous small kingdoms and republics to a region consisting of...

    • 15 Gandhi, Tolstoy, and the Tolstoyans
      (pp. 260-277)

      In June 1910 Mohandas K. Gandhi created Tolstoy Farm, a rural community outside Johannesburg, South Africa, as a vehicle for his struggles against racial legislation. The name was not a casual homage to a famous writer; it was the acknowledgment of a powerful presence in Gandhiʹs life. Tolstoy, who not only advocated non-resistance to evil but also a wide range of initiatives in individual ethics and social reform, was a major and prophetic voice among those who were disturbed by the trends evident in modern industrial societies.

      Gandhiʹs relation with Tolstoy has been examined many times, most notably by Dr...

    • 16 Gandhiʹs Non-violence: Metaphysical, Moral, Political, and International Aspects
      (pp. 278-296)

      Mohandas K. Gandhiʹs rationale for courageous non-violent action, orahiṁsā, was complex, and to comprehend it fully we must first grasp his four most basic assumptions about the nature of God and human souls. They were: that God was immanent, rather than transcendent; that souls, in each of which a part of God resided, were immortal and passed through many reincarnations, into higher or lower forms of life; that souls could be enmeshed by their karma in three constituent elements or qualities of character – one bad, one intermediate, and one best; and thatmoksha, or release from endless rebirths,...


    • [PART IV: Introduction]
      (pp. 297-302)

      From the emergence of an international peace movement in 1815 the history of pacifism became in many areas closely intertwined with the history of the broader movement advocating world peace. This movement included peace advocates who were not absolute pacifists alongside those who could be considered pacifists in the stricter meaning of that term. The last section of this book considers, therefore, various aspects of this interrelationship between pacifists and internationalists of various kinds who, under certain conditions, were ready to support war. The book ends in the mid-1950s when, with the launching of the first broadly based anti-bomb campaigns,...

    • 17 The Reinvention of the ʹJust Warʹ among European Pacifists before the First World War
      (pp. 303-319)

      In 1914, as the peace in Europe fractured, nearly two decades of friendship and collaboration among European pacifist leaders, forged in twenty-one international congresses, ruptured as well.¹ Gaston Moch (1859–1935), president of the Délégation Permanente des Sociétés françaises de la Paix, Ludwig Quidde (1858–1941), head of the Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft, and Ernesto Teodoro Moneta (1833–1918), president of the Unione Lombarda per la pace and editor of Italyʹs most influential pacifist newspaper,La Vita Internazionale, ended their relationships, not because of government censorship, but because each viewed the war as defensible and necessary.² Official policy positions and military logic...

    • 18 Themes and Contradictions in the American Peace Movement, 1895–1917
      (pp. 320-340)

      The First World War, that ʹdark scar across the history of Europe,ʹ as Michael Howard has called it, continues to haunt us.² In its wake have come many of the most formidable problems with which the statesmen of the twentieth century have had to grapple – the Russian revolution, the Nazi revolution, and the disintegration of vast colonial empires.

      This fascination with the war has led many historians to view the early years of this century as essentially the overture to that conflict, strikingly expressed in the title of Barbara Tuchmanʹs bookThe Proud Tower(from which death looked down)....

    • 19 Pacifism and Revolution: Bertrand Russell and Russia, 1914–1920
      (pp. 341-361)

      Shortly after the March 1917 revolution Bertrand Russell invited his young mistress Constance Malleson to ʹcome to Russia with me after the war is over? We could get to know all the leading revolutionaries.ʹ She could ʹcatch the fire from ... Lenin, and bear the torch here in years to come.ʹ¹ Three years later, following a personal interview with Lenin, Russell remarked that the Bolshevik leader had ʹas little love of liberty as the Christians who suffered under Diocletian and retaliated [on heretics] when they acquired power.ʹ² These two comments encapsulate Russellʹs Russian odyssey and express the disillusionment of many...

    • 20 ʹTransnationalismʹ in the Early Womenʹs International League for Peace and Freedom
      (pp. 362-383)

      My focus in this essay is the response of a certain group of women, the founders of the Womenʹs International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), to the end of the First World War and to the immediate postwar settlement, as it emerged from Versailles in the spring of 1919. My aim is to show not only the passion and dedication of the women involved but also something of the hard work, solid study, ability, and, above all, the originality that characterized their efforts. I believe that the approach they took is significant, in terms both of international relations and...

    • 21 A Question of Respectability and Tactics: Vera Brittain and Food Relief for Occupied Europe, 1941–1944
      (pp. 384-396)

      The twentieth century has blurred the distinction once drawn – at least in theory – between the soldier and the civilian. During the Second World War allied bombs rained down upon cities, and the peoples of occupied Europe suffered starvation because of the occupation practices of the Nazis and the allied blockade. These policies have raised troubling questions about the nature and methods of modern warfare.² Of area bombing, much has been written.³ By contrast, the allied blockade has been comparatively neglected, though in some ways it demonstrated even more completely the totality of modern war.⁴ It effects were universal...

    • 22 Ambivalence in the Post–Second World War French Peace Movement, 1946–1952
      (pp. 397-412)

      The title of an article by Karl Holl in the German weeklyDie Zeitdescribes French pacifism of the interwar period as ʹpermanently discredited.ʹ¹ This is certainly the commonly held view in France where for the man on the street pacifism has become associated with defeatism, collaborationism, and the Vichy experience. As one French commentator has written, ʹIn denying the virtue of war, rendered sacrosanct by tradition, pacifism shakes established ideas. It is lumped together with defeatism, with cowardice, with treason. Pacifism has, therefore, often taken on a pejorative connotation. It is perversion. It is to peace what formalism is...

    • 23 The Dilemma of Canadian Pacifists during the Early Cold War Years
      (pp. 413-424)

      Following the Second World War, Canadian pacifists faced in inescapable dilemma. On the one hand, their optimistic hope for the postwar world was shattered by the threat of atomic weapons and, most particularly, by fear of a Third World War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Under such circumstances the moral relevance of pacifism was seriously questioned. On the other hand, as they attempted to face reality and to help avert atomic warfare, their support for efforts to ease East-West tensions and to promote disarmament made them extremely vulnerable to Cold War red-baiting, with a resulting loss of...

    (pp. 425-428)
  11. Index
    (pp. 429-444)