Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Si vis pacem, para bellum

More on violence…this time, regarding self-defense, and how it doesn’t come naturally to some of us; and then, an example of how pacifism once worked out in Africa. From the ChiefIO…. Many worthwhile comments follow.

Si vis pacem, para bellum

Posted on 2 January 2013 by E.M.Smith

There are times when you run into such a stellar example of something that it really cries out for a more prominent place in history and teaching.

One of the ongoing broken ideas that constantly circulates is the “Pacifist” ideal. Just refuse to fight and everything will be better. I was crippled by well meaning folks (my Mom, mostly, but also some religious sorts) telling me that “fighting is wrong”. And that “turn the other cheek” was the right way to handle things. That, mostly, got me beat up until most of my way through High School when I decided to ‘try the other way’. A “showdown” followed and, well, I didn’t even have to hit one person. Just making it clear that I was “prepared for war” and, in a way, looking forward to some well deserved “pay back” promptly ended things. NEVER to return.


  1. RAB says:

    Well if talking of Pacifism, here’s an odd one…

    Yes Facebook took out an entire page for quoting the arch Nappy-Rasher Pacifist Gandhi (supposedly) on British Gun Control in India. What an odd thing for an avowed Pacifist to say? Surely he would be all for it? “We will fling cow dung at our oppressors… it is Holy! and the only peaceful way”.

    But then he was an arch hypocrite in so many ways, wasn’t he?

  2. Julie near Chicago says:

    Well, RAB, you know what they say…fortunately for India, she was being oppressed by the British….

    Of course Facebook (ought to) have the right to accept or reject whomever they please, for whatever reason. But I will say that if they’re trying to censor that Gandhi quote, they don’t deserve to be operating in a country that (at least theoretically) honors that right.

    Still, Guns Are Evil, don’tcha know. Can’t allow any hint that some supposed icon of history would have thought them rightful to use.

    “Nappy-rasher”? as in ki**ie-fiddler? I didn’t know! I thought to you folks, “rashers” are bacon strips. :>)

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    Um, that’s ‘in New Zealand” not Africa. The article is about the New Zealand Maori killing (and eating some of) their pacifist cousins. Though you can likely find the same story in form most anywhere on the planet.

  4. RAB says:

    No, not as in ki**ie-fiddler? Though he had some strange sleeping habits like supposedly being celibate and sleeping with naked virgins just to see if he could be tempted (and who was going to tell on him if he was, Jimmy Savile?)

    More the rash incontinent children get when wearing Nappies that haven’t been changed for a while. Look at how he dressed ;-)

  5. Julie near Chicago says:

    LOL!! Yes, I’m familiar with that sort of rash myself. (Little brother & sister. MY offspring, of course, was always lily-sweet and fresh.)

    Well…Lord, make me pure, but not yet. I guess the Big Guy got to him too early. (Or not, of course, as you say.) ;>)

  6. John Galt says:

    My thoughts on pacifism comes down to this…

    “If I can tell the difference between a fox hole and a rabbit hole, which one am I most nervous about sticking my fingers in?”



    You should know that there’s nowt so cunning as a Middle Temple lawyer.


    Hmm. Yes. Old Mohandas K. was a bit dubious on the sexual front it has to be said. Rumours abound that he had a homosexual relationship with Hermann Kallenbach and that the Indian government paid 60 million rupees (~$1-million USD) to obtain letters where Gandhi ‘expresses his love’ for young Herman.

    However, as Rule #32 goes “Pics or It Didn’t Happen”.

    For myself as a committed (but closeted) member of Team Pink, I’m dubious and suspect that reading letters from 1908-1910 in the current climate would be to read things into them that aren’t there. The concept of “Love” between two gentlemen of that period would be understood as a spiritual rather than physical / sexual matter and as Gandhi proved he was as spiritual as a butterfly when the fancy took him.

    Of the argument that he was a paedophile, this also has been taken out of context. Firstly he was married at the age of 13, which in our modern eyes is something left to those from Norfolk (UK)/ The Ozarks (US), but the marriage itself was only a religious ceremony and it seems that the marriage was consummated sometime during 1887 when Ghandi would have been 18.

    On the matter of sleeping naked with young women, this was (allegedly) “In order to “perfect” his celibate state”. This was commonly his grand-niece Manu and the wife of his grand-nephew Kanu. You will have to make of that what you will, but Ghandi’s stenographer resigned upon finding the two in bed together. In Ghandi’s defence, he always said that “…he never felt aroused while he slept beside her…”.

    Not sure that this would go down very well in front of a modern jury though.

  7. Julie near Chicago says:

    Well…to be honest, if I were really interested in the sex lives of the Names to Conjure With, I could easily start a whole lot closer to home. For one thing, I think some sort of interesting foible in that department is a requirement for holding public office here, and then there’s always Hollyweird.

    More seriously–our age seems obsessed with sex. More so than the Victorians ever were, I often think. Yes, you’re right about letters of that era being misunderstood today. I sometimes wonder if every age is given to moral panics.

    Anyway, thanks for the info. Filed, for the next time somebody asks me. :>)

  8. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    “fortunately for India, she was being oppressed by the British…”

    I take great pleasure in annoying some leftie Indians I know with this one. After listening to the usual meme about how we were all colonial oppressors and only now has ‘freedom’ been achieved, I ask them if the railways and the legal system and property rights and the roads and a rudimentary banking system were of any use, or should we have left ‘em like Afghanistan?

  9. John Galt says:

    “…I ask them if the railways and the legal system and property rights and the roads and a rudimentary banking system were of any use…”

    …err… “Romanes eunt domus”?


  10. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    Mrs SAoT and I disagree on how our son (nearly four) should deal with the school playground.

    We both agree on non-aggression, but this is very different from pacifism. At this point our paths diverge. She is of the opinion that if he is subject to aggression he should tell a higher authority, in this case the teacher. I say ‘give ‘em one really stern warning’ and I have to say, for a three-year old, he does a passable ‘Charles Bronson’ and looks pretty hardcore. We practice this with a big ‘Mickey Mouse’ toy he has.

    If that fails, I’ve told him to go Terminator. No proportionate response, no one-for-one hitting, just keep smacking them in the face until they are wailing for mercy. Being an ex-small boy, I recall the playground and William Golding had it exactly right. We’ve also practised this on the unfortunate Mickey Mouse toy.

    This horrifies the Mrs and indeed the rest of the middle class mummies in his school. We were at party recently and one mummy says to the boy “What should you do if someone hits you” and the boy says “tell ‘em not to” general smiles of approval

    “and what should you do if the keep hitting you?”

    “Smack em in the face until they cry”

    It was one of those juke-box freezing moments, the mummies were aghast. The Mrs kicked me to death over it ‘the other parents will think you are a thug’ etc But since our practice, he has not had a single issue.

  11. Julie near Chicago says:

    “Tell the teacher” is generally a terrible idea, it seems to me. Maybe once in awhile, with a really savvy teacher or principal…but otherwise, I think it breeds mistrust in the very character of adults (because they never DO anything) and also trains the kids to look to Authority to deal with trouble.

    I sure wasn’t taught to stick up for myself. In my house, I was told that I misunderstood, or the kids were “teasing me because they liked me” or some such happy hooey. And I knew it was hooey, and felt resentful and also utterly let down–not even “there there, I know it’s a pain.” (Mind you, this was out of love and the lack of any real idea of how to help, I think. There was no intent to be cruel, that I’m certain of.)


    My husband was Jewish and grew up on the border of a Jewish-and-German neighborhood and an Italian/Irish/Other neighborhood. As it happens the grade school was in the IIO neighborhood.

    He found himself more and more being bullied by certain boys from across the frontier, so to speak.

    For Christmas (yes–his mom was Jewish, his dad Lutheran-atheist, they did Christmas) of the year he was in 8th grade, he received a pair of boxing gloves.

    And a couple of lessons. And mind you, my father-in-law, the German immigrant, was absolutely the MOST gentle person I’ve ever known in my life. Anyway, it made all the difference.

    Actually, the person who taught me that it’s all right to look after myself was — Ayn Rand, when I was 20.

    So I think, SAoT, that you are doing the right thing for the Young Master.

  12. Mr Ed says:

    A lot of Lefties have a pacifist streak, they don’t believe that their enemies should fight back.

  13. Julie near Chicago says:

    I’ve noticed that too! :)

  14. John Galt says:

    A lot of Lefties have a pacifist streak, they don’t believe that their enemies should fight back.

    To make sure, they disarm the populace (e.g. UK), but make sure the police and the army are fully tooled up, especially around the places where the elite live, work and travel (Islington, Westminster and Heathrow specifically).

    Repeat after me “The state is your mother, the state is your father, everything is within the state, nothing exists without the state”.

  15. Sam Duncan says:

    “To make sure, they disarm the populace (e.g. UK), but make sure the police and the army are fully tooled up, especially around the places where the elite live, work and travel (Islington, Westminster and Heathrow specifically).”

    I’ve been sitting on a post about that for almost a week. Must get round to it. It isn’t much: just a link really, but it deserves more than a comment.

  16. John Galt says:


    Go for it, even if it is minimalist. At the very least it can act as a discussion point.

    “When all is said and done, Westminster is just the Palatine Hill with bad weather, worse scenery, more corrupt guards and even venal politicians / patricians.

    Where’s a hoard of screaming Visigoths when you need one?”

  17. John Galt says:


    “even venal” = “even more venal”

  18. Julie near Chicao says:


    Yes, New Zealand…mea culpa, I just had Africa on the brain. Thanks for the correction–didn’t mean to misrepresent. But it was another excellent article!


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: