Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist,” George Orwell famously wrote in his 1942 essay “Pacifism and the War.” Orwell’s argument was straightforward; anyone not helping the war effort against fascism was hindering it and therefore helping the Nazis. His with-me-or-against-me formulation has been wheeled out to argue for intervention ever since . . . Unprincipled people, and leaders, sometimes do use pacifist and anti-war rhetoric as a shield. Anti-war activists and thinkers need to be consciously anti-fascist if they want to avoid being co-opted to the cause of violence, hatred, and war by both bad actors close to hand and authoritarian regimes abroad.
As pacifists, we do not reject conflict. Indeed, to be a pacifist is to be in conflict with society’s dominant values and many of its political structures. We seek to engage in conflict nonviolently, aiming at eventual resolution of the conflict, and with a focus on changing systems and practices rather than descending to personal hatred of individuals.