[Marxism] Post

Ambrose Andrews ambrose-bulk at vrvl.net
Fri Oct 23 00:51:34 MDT 2009

2009/10/23 Ryan Neighbors <rneighb at uark.edu>:
> Hello,
> I'm new to the study of Marxist theory, so I was hoping some of you
> could help me.  I need to know (for a paper) a few Marxist theorists
> who deal extensively with the ideas of war, pacifism, and/or
> revolution.  I'm primarily interested in the idea of pacifism (and
> even more specifically pacifism in cultural texts) from a Marxist
> standpoint.  Can anyone point me in the right direction?
> Thanks,
> Ryan

Here's a fairly recent talk describing a marxist approach to war:


the following on Pacifism comes from the above:

The Marxist approach to war differs radically from the pacifist
approach. In his classic pamphlet, Socialism and War, Lenin
distinguished between the Marxist and pacifist oppositions to war:

Socialists [Lenin wrote] have always condemned wars between nations as
barbarous and brutal. Our attitude towards war is fundamentally
different from that of the bourgeois pacifists … in that we understand
the inevitable connection between wars and the class struggle within a
country; we understand that wars cannot be abolished unless classes
are abolished and socialism is created; we also differ in that we
regard civil wars, i.e., wars waged by an oppressed class against the
oppressor class, by slaves against slaveholders, by serfs against
landowners, and by wage workers against the bourgeoisie, as fully
legitimate, progressive and necessary. We Marxists differ from
pacifists … in that we deem it necessary to study each war
historically (from the standpoint of Marx’s dialectical materialism)
and separately. There have been in the past numerous wars which,
despite all the horrors, atrocities, distress and suffering that
inevitably accompany all wars, were progressive, i.e., benefited the
development of mankind.1

We Marxists reject an absolute position on war. We examine each war
concretely and separately, locating each in its distinct historical
context. We disagree with pacifists that all war is bad, immoral and
harmful to those who engage in it. Those are ahistorical, moralistic
dogmas divorced from material reality. Indeed, from our working-class
viewpoint, rejecting necessary or liberating violence is inherently
immoral. A gun used in war by a Warsaw Ghetto fighter aimed at a
German soldier was an instrument of liberation. The same gun in the
hands of a German soldier aimed at a Jew in the Warsaw Ghetto was an
instrument of Nazi terror. An abstract disgust with guns and violence
cannot see this truth — only politics and class morality can.

We Marxists don’t equate the violence of the oppressor with the
violence of the oppressed. We don’t agree with pacifists that the
violence of oppressed people or workers’ revolution debases the human
spirit by practising hatred, and that it should be replaced by a
strategy of winning over enemies through nonviolent reconciliation,
Christian love or moral witness. Pacifists preach peaceful
reconciliation of differences between oppressor and oppressed —
“nonviolent conflict resolution” — not the class hostility and hatred
workers should feel for their exploiters.

Ruling classes have never in all of recorded human history paid the
slightest attention to pacifist or moral pleadings to peacefully give
up their wealth and power. Pacifists consequently direct their appeals
to the oppressed, which disarms and weakens successful resistance and
contributes to the maintenance of the system which causes war.


Ambrose Andrews
LPO box 8274 ANU Acton ACT 0200 Australia
mailto:ambrose at vrvl.net
xmpp:ambrose at jabber.fsfe.org
CE38 8B79 C0A7 DF4A 4F54  E352 2647 19A1 DB3B F823
556A 6D19 0904 827C 9DB8  3697 32D0 1E11 403F 2BE1

More information about the Marxism mailing list