1-5 April 2021
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Can we change the world peacefully? The Marxist critique of pacifism


About this session

Capitalism is the most violent social system in history. There are constant wars, police brutality, and billions face the structural violence of poverty. Pacifists reject violence in all its forms and argue that political movements should be non-violent to embody the qualities they desire from society. But what do ‘violence’ and ‘peace’ mean in a society divided into classes? Is it possible to confront power through purely peaceful means? This session will critique pacifism from a Marxist perspective, arguing that abstract moral concepts like ‘non-violence’ can’t be universally applied in capitalism, and that a pacifist approach can’t lead the movement necessary to rid the world of violence.

Recommended Reading

Pacifism and Warin International Socialist Reviewby Paul D’Amato
Non-violence, social change and revolutionin International Socialismby Martin Empson
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