I would just like to point out that I am aware there are people who consider themselves pacifists but who believe in self-defence and there are those who themselves believe they would never raise a fist for any reason, but would not judge others for doing so. This is why I use the word “utter”.
So with no further ado:
Utter pacifism is selfish bullshit. The tone with which Gandhi wrote an open letter to the Jews of Germany, this whole attitude of outright refusal to engage in “violence” (an incredibly ambiguous term). Firstly, the preaching to others who are in a position you cannot possibly even imagine, telling them they must “maintain the moral highground” by remaining “peaceful”. That in itself is inherently oppressive and judgmental and to be so certain that you would remain “peaceful” in such a situation is naïve at best!
Secondly, there is the sheer selfishness in the idea of seeing a person being brutalised and yourself remaining “peaceful” so as not to earn any bad karma, or whatever, because, let’s face it, the afterlife and eternity, etc — whether it’s in a figurative or a literal sense — will be what many pacifists are worried about. They want to be able to sleep at night and they believe they will sleep better if they refuse to lay a finger on anyone under any circumstances. Seriously, fuck it, you have a whole eternity to earn enough good points to reach Nirvana. This is an incredibly selfish and egotistical position because it is just one person concerned with saving their own soul as opposed to saving another from suffering. If I were the divine deity or whatever it is, you know, the person in charge of the guestlist to Heaven, I’d take such people off the list until they earn themselves some real points.
Finally, there is the potential hypocrisy of it all, that a person believes they would not resort to “violence” if their life depended on it and that they would rather die a martyr. Again, it’s naïve at best, egotistical at worst.
At the end of the day, look at where all that pacifism got old mate Jesus. I don’t fancy dying up on that hill. The Establishment will encourage admiration of those who allegedly preached non-violence (I say allegedly because King’s quotes on rioting would suggest he wasn’t as opposed to violence as we are often led to believe. Mandela also did not consider himself a pacifist). However, people such as Malcolm X are more or less left out of school history lessons.
Let’s face it, putting your hand up and politely asking someone who’s repeatedly kicking you in the face, to stop doing so if it’s not too inconvenient for them, isn’t going to work.