PEACE AND REVOLUTION: The Moral Crisis of American Pacifism by Guenter Lewy

PEACE AND REVOLUTION: The Moral Crisis of American Pacifism

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A scholarly ambush of American pacifism by Lewy (Pol. Sci./U. Mass, Amherst), author of Religion and Revolution and America in Vietnam (1978). Lewy argues that the American pacifist movement has since Vietnam been coopted by the radical Left, causing it to espouse the military causes of such as the Sandinistas and the Vietnamese NLF. He calls this a ""remarkable transformation,"" resulting in pacifism losing its credibility. While, in the past, Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded to such pacifists as Jane Addams and Emily Greene Balch, as well as to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), such an honor would be unseemly today, the author hints. Lewy's tactic is to analyze the intellectual development of four major pacifist groups: the AFSC, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the War Resisters League, and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. He shows the links of these groups to the peace movement in general, intimating some sort of conspiratorial network that has insidiously promoted such policies as a nuclear freeze. This probably gives more credit than is due, since Lewy seems to overlook the general enlightenment of a more educated populace and the universal fear of nuclear war that is native to both idelogical sides. Lewy depends heavily on the writings of individual pacifists to document this ""moral decline."" Naturally, this pick-and-choose method enables him to omit responsible pacifist writing. His condemnation, based upon guilt by association, also overlooks the simple principle that the ""enemy of my enemy is my friend."" Obviously, pacifists will not be waltzing with those on the right of the political spectrum, where militarism has a friendlier ear. Biased from the onset, spoiling an otherwise promising topic.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1988
Publisher: Eerdmans