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Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America
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Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  711 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
"This extraordinarily important book cuts to the heart of one of the central reasons movements to bring about social and environmental justice always fail. The fundamental question here is: is violence ever an acceptable tool to help bring about social change? This is probably the most important question of our time, yet so often discussions around it fall into clichés and ...more
Paperback, 228 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by AK Press (first published 1998)
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Apr 17, 2008 rated it liked it
I’m not quite sure what to make of this book. On the one hand, it’s the most compelling and concise criticism of Euroamerican pacifist/nonviolence movements I’ve read to date, and as someone who is not a pacifist I agree with many of the points made by Churchill (as well as Ed Mead of the George Jackson Brigade and Men Against Sexism, and Mike Ryan, a Canadian anti-racist activist). I think Churchill is absolutely right that symbolic rather than material resistance has come to dominate nonviolen ...more
Jun 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
Really not a Ward Churchill fan, especially after reading this book. The point that he makes throughout the book is legitimate; however, his tone is moralistic and very self-righteous and reeks of privilege, which I found extremely off-putting. His definition of resistance as armed revolt and armed revolt only is excessively narrow, and it invisibilizes countless profound liberation movements and tactics that were not pacifistic but under his definition would have been labeled so. I appreciate t ...more
Nov 01, 2009 rated it liked it
To read this book with an open mind, one must begin by acknowledging the fact that the luxuries and lifestyles enjoyed in the first world are dependent upon violence and destruction propagated in the third world. As Churchill says “Pacifists, no less than their unpacifist counterparts, are quite aware that violence already exists as an integral component in the execution of state policies and requires no provocation” (70). A horrible example of this is occurring in Peru as I write this. A “fair ...more
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book speaks truth to power, although many would like to believe that non-violence and cooperation with the state is the only way, it is historically inaccurate. I liked this one particular paragraph, They tell us that by wanting to fight back, we are being dualistic, separating the world into us and them. “Pacifists tell us the ends never justify the means. This is a statement of values disguised as a statement of morals. A person who says ends don’t justify means is simply saying: I value p ...more
Nov 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Churchill makes a very powerful argument against certain types of Western pacifism. It's certainly easy to be a pacifist you're not the target of the system's violence. The biggest "wow" moment for me was when Churchill took on academic pacifist-types who support violent anti-imperial struggles abroad. Churchill brilliantly argues how their positioning of their role as the discursive attackers of the system allied with subaltern populations fighting imperialism abroad reproduces the dynamics of ...more
Jul 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Hippies who feel cheated out of a revolution and want to know why
This most recent edition of Ward Churchill's essay "Pacifism as Pathology" includes not only the original text, but three additional essays/reflections on Churchill's work, by other authors.
I can't explain how valuable, necessary and timely this collection is. Churchill's essay is a poignant and scathing description of how major pacifict movements have not only failed to fulfill any meaningful political agenda, but have only served to protect those in power while undermining those who they clai
Tyler Anderson
Mar 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bash-the-fash
Ward Churchill has the nerve to point out that if Jews, Queers, Communists and Freemasons had capped one Nazi Gestapo officer each, when they roundups began, Hitler's Germany would have run out of Gestapo long, long before the Holocaust got underway. Could'a Should'a Would'a, I know, but the point is taken.

For violating the dogma that states "It is best to just let the government kill you and your children, because violence is bad," (and for pointing out that White America needs to stop acting
Bricoleur  (David) Soul

We can simply watch our systems collapse.
We can try to design successor systems before the collapse.
Or we can try to hasten the collapse with no idea of what might replace that which we have.

This book maintains the 3rd is right and that protest that delays the "right timing", are wrong while itself failing to attempt reflection on if the proposed solution is in itself a very special pathology prohibiting the building of better systems to replace what was.
Jan 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Love the critique of the "violence begets violence" attitude of the bourgeois-liberal American "left". His argument of it as a pathological condition leaves something to be desired, but his therapeutic solution is downright hilarious.
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
interesting take on non-violence as white entitlement
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American Indian writer, political activist and former professor of ethnic studies in Colorado at Boulder from 1990 till 2007.

Churchill`s writings are mostly about the history of the American Indians and what he calls the genocide on the indigenous people of North America.

An essay of him where he claimed the 9/11 attacks on the world trade center were a response to America`s foreign policy, sparked
More about Ward Churchill...
“The desire for a nonviolent and cooperative world is the healthiest of all psychological manifestations. This is the overarching principle of liberation and revolution. Undoubtedly, it seems the highest order of contradiction that, in order to achieve nonviolence, we must first break with it in overcoming its root causes. Therein lies our only hope.” 3 likes
“The Jews who participated in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, including those who went on what they thought were suicide missions, had a higher rate of survival than those who went along. Never forget that.
The only way out of a double bind is to smash it. Never forget that either.
--Derrick Jensen”
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