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Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America Paperback – April 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: AK Press (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904859186
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904859185
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 7.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ward Churchill (Keetoowah Cherokee) is professor of American Indian Studies and chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado/Boulder. A member of the leadership council of Colorado AIM, he is a past national spokesperson for the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. A prolific writer and lecturer, he has authored, co-authored or edited more than 20 books. Mike Ryan is a Canadian activist who has been involved with the peace movement and civil disobedience for nearly 30 years. Derrick Jensen is one of the leading voices of cultural dissent. He is the author of over half a dozen books, often tackling themes of environmental sustainability and resistance.

Customer Reviews

He doesn't mention Subhas Chandra Bose, Gandhi's most trenchant critic.
E. Martin
In this book the authors go through all of the arguments used by pacifists, and shoot them down, using tremendous scholarship and logic.
Derrick Jensen
This little book has changed the way I think about nonviolence as a be all end all strategy for social change.
Huby7

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Derrick Jensen on July 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an extraordinarily important little book that cuts to the heart of why our movements to bring about social and environmental justice always fail. The fundamental question 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 cliche and magical thinking: that somehow if we are merely good enough and nice enough people the state will stop using its violence to exploit us all. In this book the authors go through all of the arguments used by pacifists, and shoot them down, using tremendous scholarship and logic. Gandhi is often given as an example of a pacifist achieving his goal, but Gandhi's success comes at the end of a hundred year struggle--often violent--for independence by the Indians. How far could Martin Luther King Jr have gone were it not for the African-Americans taking to the streets? The authors don't, of course, argue for blind, unthinking violence, they merely argue against blind, unthinking nonviolence. A desperately important book
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful By P. Greanville on August 21, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the previous reviewers sums it up very well: In this book, and pulling no punches, Churchill lays out his case against white progressives-to be precise the liberal/social democratic complacent legions of mostly well-educated midlle and upper middle class activists-who are delusional not only in the ineffectual tactics and strategies they pursue (which the ruling elites are only too happy to accommodate as per a well-scripted minuet), but in the belief that they are actually performing revolutionary acts...So, like it or not, Churchill is correct in pointing out that these liberals will do everything except assume actual risk in opposing the system..and that, being mostly interested in practicing "comfort zone" politics, they will almost invariably indulge in essentially worthless "cathartic" posturizing instead of solid opposition. By the way, the same writer is NOT correct in saying that nonviolence has achieved huge transformations. The Iranian revolution (1979) was far from a nonviolent process: the Shah had been opposed for decades by above ground and underground groups, several of which practiced armed struggle and paid a horrific price for it, while the last month of his rule saw masses of people in most Iranian cities, but especially Tehran, literally storming strong points and tanks in the streets with their bare chests and being mowed down...until more and more soldiers simply gave up and melted away or switched sides. As for the collapse of the USSR (1991), that came about as a result of complex processes that did not involve invested CLASS PRIVILEGES, as we have here and in other corporate-dominated nations. As for South Africa, the end of apartheid did not issue from a nonviolent process.Read more ›
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Miguel A. Sanchez on June 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
Over the last few years, I have published articles about issues of US Imperialism and the social struggle movement. I came upon Ward Churchill's book "Pacifism and Pathology," as almost last minute. I had never read or taking seriously Ward Churchill's view, though I have affiliated myself as a member of the anarcho-syndicalist movement. But after reading his book, I realized my deep personnel connections with Dr. Churchill's frustrations and agony with the American social struggle movement. For some time, I affiliated myself with a social struggle movement in the University I am attending, and after almost a month I left. My reasons for leaving, where the same reasons Dr. Churchill explained in his book as the growing disorganization of these movements, and also the misunderstanding that state and private tyrannies; which have amassed great ideological confusion towards vast social and economic control, cannot be countered with the basic techniques used by the social struggle movement in the past. Indeed, Dr. Churchill warns the reader that there has been a tremendous misunderstanding with how non-violent resistance was actually used in the past. That it was a actually a mixture of both the practice of violence and non-violence, for which, if the use of non-violence was so much more tantamount, then the rewards of almost a decade and a half of resistance could not have been achieved.
Though I can connect with the social struggle movement on this university campus, it is deeply polarizing. Such polarization; I felt, was the reasons why on a number occasions they were unsuccessful in reaching out to others, and at the same time, form a coherent bases of action and influence on this campus i.e., they're not taking very seriously.
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30 of 44 people found the following review helpful By E. Martin on May 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
Nothing new here....
Start's with the stating the Pacifist ideal, and knocks it down for not being able to realized said ideal. It would be easy to accuse Churchill of knocking down strawmen, except that many dogmatic pacifists *are* that pie in the sky, refusing to do *anything* remotely confrontational.
After having dismissed the classic examples of success by pointing out how they did not live up to the ideal, he proceeds to assert the right to self-defense, which all but the most dogamtic would accept, and then by with a logicaly jump, concludes with a thumping assertion of "armed struggle" (i.e. the Jacobin-Blaquist conspiritorial model of a "revolutionary vanguard").
It's easy to poke holes in a position, particularly one so given to absolutist, sweeping pronouncements as pacifism; it's harder to ask what really works. Non-violent direct action is a means to change the potential of which has yet to be fully realized. *YES* it is not applicable in any and all situations. *YES* people have a legal and moral right to self-defense. *YES* non-violent campaigns are rarely, if ever *perfectly* non-violent. None of this takes away from the efficacy of non-violence in many if not most situations.
The irony is that Churchill's book doesn't mention the most interesting characters and events that severely qualify "non-violent successes" He doesn't mention Robert Williams (NEGROES WITH GUNS) tactical excercise of his 2nd Amendment rights against the KKK in the late 1950's. He doesn't mention Subhas Chandra Bose, Gandhi's most trenchant critic. No real thorough examination of the strengths and limitations of non-violence as a strategy and tactic, just hoary sloganeering of "new left" (turned old) cliches from AIM and the Black Panthers.
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