Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Problem with Pacifism and How to Fix It

Dustin Ells Howes, author of Toward a Credible Pacifism: Violence and the Possibilities of Politics, wrote to share some information on a couple of upcoming speaking engagements in Syracuse and Oswego, New York. Both events are open to the public. Dustin will also have a few books on hand for purchase and signing.

Here is the basic appearance info:

March 25th, 2pm
Lemoyne College
Grewen Auditorium
Sponsored by the Center for Peace and Global Studies. Co-Sponsored by the Department of Political Science and the Lectures Committee.

March 25th, 7pm
SUNY-Oswego, Hart Hall Basement
Sponsored by Peace and Conflict Studies, Political Studies, Global and International Studies, Civic Engagement Coalition, Interdisciplinary Programs and Activities Center

Talk Title: The Problem with Pacifism and How to Fix It (same talk at both locations).

Here is a brief description of what Dustin will be discussing:

Most pacifists argue that violence is immoral and making politics more ethical requires a more or less wholesale rejection of it. Yet nearly every political ideology besides pacifism – liberalism, conservatism, fascism, communism, and anarchism – remains unconvinced. Professor Howes argues that this is because pacifists too often try to tackle the problem of violence from an ethical as opposed to a political standpoint. Pacifists should cede that, at least on their own terms, the major ideologies have made an effective case for the legitimacy of violence. The political significance of Gandhi’s techniques is that he showed that violence is never necessary. A practical pacifism can concede that violence sometimes works and sometimes produces just results, but hold fast to the insight that there is almost always an alternative to violence that is more responsible. Gandhi demonstrated this by inventing a political technique that, even in the context of extreme instances of violence and oppression, has just as much of a chance of succeeding as violence.

Dustin Ells Howes is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Louisiana State University and the author of Toward a Credible Pacifism: Violence and the Possibilities of Politics. He studies political theory with a particular emphasis on the problem of violence and politics and has published articles in International Studies Quarterly, Human Rights Review, and Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He received the Tanner Award for Teaching Excellence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a contributor to the blog Waging Nonviolence.