Originally written during the mid-1980s, the seminal essay Pacifism as Pathology was prompted by veteran activist Ward Churchill’s frustration with what he diagnosed as a growing—and deliberately self-neutralizing—"hegemony of nonviolence” on the North American left. The essay’s publication unleashed a raging debate among activists in both the U.S. and Canada, a significant result of which was Michael Ryan’s penning of a follow-up essay reinforcing Churchill’s premise that nonviolence, at least as the term is popularly employed by white “progressives,” is inherently counterrevolutionary. This book challenges the pacifist movement's heralded victories, suggesting that their success was in spite of, rather than because of, their nonviolent tactics. Along with a preface by Ed Mead, postscripts by both Churchill and Ryan, and a new foreword by leading oppositionist intellectual Dylan Rodríguez, these essays are being released in a fresh edition.
About the Author
Ward Churchill is a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and of the elders council of the original Rainbow Coalition. Among his two dozen books are Agents of Repression and The COINTELPRO Papers, both coauthored with Jim Vander Wall; A Little Matter of Genocide, and Acts of Rebellion. Michael Ryan is a Montreal-based translator and copy editor. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, Ryan was active in Montreal's Marxist and antiauthoritarian left. Dylan Rodriguez is professor and chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Riverside. He is the author of two books: Forced Passages and Suspended Apocalypse. Ed Mead is a cofounder of Prison Legal News. His memoir Lumpen was published in 2015.
“This extraordinarily important book cuts to the heart 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 bring about social change? This is probably the most important question of our time, yet so often discussions around it fall into clichés and magical thinking: that somehow if we are merely good and nice enough people, the state will stop using its violence to exploit us all. Would that this were true.” —Derrick Jensen, author, Endgame
"Although Churchill couches his psychological analysis in much more polite terms than I would, he believes that some white upper-middle-class activists are deeply conflicted about whether they really want to dismantle capitalism and give up their position of privilege." —Greanville Post
"The book's main thrust is to analyze and tear apart the ideology of pacifism, explaining how it is, in many ways, a counter-revolutionary ideology." —Irish Republican News