The belief and, consequently, conduct of those who believe that war and the employment of organized armed force are unjustifiable. Until the 20th century this was a view held only by minority Christian groups such as the Quakers. The word 'pacifism' first came into use at the beginning of the 20th century to describe movements advocating the settlement of disputes by arbitration and the reduction of armaments. Efforts to influence national policy in favour of the unilateral renunciation of war have continued in groups such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; in the face of the objection that a nation which adopted such a policy would be more likely to encourage than discourage aggressive action. From the time of World War I, the word has also been used to describe the refusal of individuals, on grounds of conscience, to undertake military service, whatever the consequences to themselves. States have varied a great deal in their treatment of such a refusal. Until recently only a small number of countries has the right to conscientious objection been recognized; in the majority it is treated as a breach of the law and often harshly punished.
Pacifism (præ'siftz'm). 1901. [For pacificism (see prec.), after Fr. pacifisme, f. pacifier; see next, -ISM.] The doctrine or belief that it is desirable and possible to settle international disputes by peaceful means. So Pa .cifist (also attrib.).
To come to terms, one must understand what fear means: what it implies and what it rejects. It implies and rejects the same fact: a world where murder is legitimate, and where human life is considered trifling. This is the great political question of our times, and before dealing with other issues one must take a position on it. Before anything can be done two questions must be put: “Do you, or do you not, directly or indirectly, want to be killed or assaulted? Do you, or do you not, directly or indirectly want to kill or assault? All who say No to both questions are automatically committed to a series of consequences, which must modify their way of posing the problem.
PACIFIST READER >