The purpose of the present study is to analyze the various positions found within the pacifist movement itself in regard to the use of non-violent techniques of bringing about social change in group relationships. In its attempt to differentiate between them, it makes no pretense of determining which of the several pacifist positions is ethically most valid. Hence it is concerned with the application of non-violent principles in practice and their effectiveness in achieving group purposes, rather than with the philosophical and religious foundations of such principles.
lence as a principle.
The whole absolutist argument is this: (1) Since violence to any human personality is the greatest evil, I can never commit it. (2) But, at the same time, it is fortunate that non-violent means of overcoming evil are more effective than violent means, so I can serve my highest value--respect for every human personality--and at the same time serve the other values I hold. Or to say the same thing in positive terms, I can achieve my other ends only by employing means which are consistent with those ends.
On the other hand, many pacifists do in fact hold the position that John Lewis is attacking, and base their acceptance of pacifism entirely on the fact that it is the best means of obtaining the sort of social or economic or political order that they desire. Others, in balancing the destruction of violent conflict against what they concede might be gained by it, say that the price of social achievement through violent means is too high--that so many of their values a