Box 21, Item 708: Draft of War and peace IV: Tao and deep-green

Title

Box 21, Item 708: Draft of War and peace IV: Tao and deep-green

Subject

Printout of draft, with emendations and annotation, dated 1992. Handwritten above title: Old. Diagrams. Draft includes multiple versions of page 22 (2 versions ) and 23 (3 versions). Later title: On extirpating war: Tao and deep-green pacifism.

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One of eight papers digitised from item 708.

Creator

Source

The University of Queensland's Richard Sylvan Papers UQFL291, Box 21, Item 708

Date

1992

Contributor

This item was identified for digitisation at the request of The University of Queensland's 2020 Fryer Library Fellow, Dr. N.A.J. Taylor.

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For all enquiries about this work, please contact the Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library.

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[26] leaves. 61.54 MB.

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Manuscript

Text

WAR AND PEACE IV:
TAO AND DEEP-GREEN
Taoism and deep-green environmental theory, although closely aligned on very many
issues, diverge over war. For Taoism, by contrast for instance with Buddhism, is not a pacific
doctrine, but is committed to skilful defensive militarism. While it does not espouse a fortress
mentality, Taoism certainly condones limited defensive military operations for specific
purposes, a sort of guerilla warfare. By contrast, deep-green theory, while acknowledging the

role of organised social defence, stands opposed to professional militarism, and thereby to
military defence, and is committed to a principled pacifism. Conveniently a route through
Taoism, philosophically fascinating in its own right, will lead us to problems of pacifism and
towards deep-green theory.
7. Fca/ar^y o/ % Tao/s/

q/ war an<?

War did not receive a favourable press in ancient Chinese philosophy. Generally
aggression and war were to be avoided. Even Confucius imposed very demanding conditions:

for example, 'when good men have instructed the people [in morals, agriculture, military
tactics] for seven years, they way be allowed to bear arms/ Tf a ruler ... does not set himself
right, even his commands will not be obeyed' (SB p.41, italics added). Mo Tzu went much

further than Confucius, roundly condemning war - on utilitarian grounds, that war yields no
net benefit at any level (SB p.227). What is more, he backed his heavy condemnation
practically (unlike some conspicuous contemporary theoretical utilitarians); 'he did not hesitate
to walk for ten days and ten nights in an effort to dissuade a ruler from making war' (SB

p.212). But none, it is said, went as far, in a detailed and sophisticated criticism of war, as Lao
Tzu; 'none has condemned war more strongly than Lao Tzu'. '[T]he opposition of Taoism to
the use of force is well-known, and the most bitter attack on militarism if found in the Lao 7za'
(Chan, p.154, p.17.)

But, after that splendid build-up, the text is slightly disappointing. Lao Tzu does not
assert outright that war is an abomination, or even roundly condemn it. His critique of war,
militarism, and military technology, is subtle and oblique, and, on the surface, far distanced
from pacifism. For he does not recommend an end to war - in that genuine Taoists, those who
possess Tao, will never participate in them - but expects wars to continue as tmavoi<7a&/e gvfAy.
Worse, he even goes so far as to outline proper attitudes to war and conduct in war, and indeed
to suggest military techniques and strategies, some of which look decidedly devious. Among
the classical works of Taoism, we focus on the Lao 7za because, by contrast with other works,
a remarkable component of that book is devoted to war and militarism.

The apparent deviousness of the tactics Lao Tzu allocates serves to highlight what has
been seen as 'the most troublesome element' in his philosophy (Chan p.17) - not so much
however because they concern military operations, but because they are taken to apply much

2

more widely, 'to life in general' (p.17). But why should military activity obtain some special
dispensation? Why should what is no? tolerated more generally be exonerated there? But given
that Taoism has here the virtue of consistency (i.e. uniformity on principles) and of
universalizability, that simply leaves
* PMzz/ay/br

explaining to be done.

and wars as M/tavafda&Ze evf/s

There are fwa puzzles here in Taoism rather than one. There is the zm/ffary-pracac^s

paradox, and, varying and generalising on that, there are /Z/g-prac^c^s paradoxes. The special
paradox is generated by the following incompatible elements: on the one side, 'the most bitter
attack on militarism', the well-known opposition of Taoism to the use of force (p.17) and to the
possession and use of smart military weapons and technology - implying that war is far from
all tight - and on the other, advocacy of certain (devious) military tactics, outlines of (deceitful)
conduct in war, and so on - implying that war is all right after all. A straightforward
generalisation of this paradox would look at other morally-sensitive parts of life, where some
practice was strongly condemned yet engaged in (for many examples, see the dilemmas
assembled in MD). But the variation of concern to Chan and the neo-Confucians concerns the
conjunction of upright with devious practices in life, in particular in the life of the sage. For a
Taoist sage is presumed to lead an upright straightforward life, yet appears to engage in devious
and even deceitful practices incompatible with such a life-style. Call this the 7%oLyf-ZZ/&y?y/e

paradox.
Evidently a good deal of explaining is required, as to how Taoism can coA^nfZy take the

positions it appears to presume, both on war and peace, and on life more generally. A desirable
preliminary would seem to be a little investigation of what position taken, especially on war

and militarism. One key pasage runs:
Fine weapons are instruments of evil
Weapons are instruments of evil, not the instruments of a good ruler.
When he uses them unavoidably, he regards calm restraint as the best
principle
Even when he is victorious, he does not regard it as praiseworthy,
For to praise victory is to delight in the slaughter of men.
He who delights in the slaughter of men will not succeed in the empire. ...
For a victory, let us observe the occasion with funeral-ceremonies
(LT p.154).

Wars, which involve the use of weapons, instruments of evil, are accordingly themselves evil.
They are also evil because they involve the slaughter of men. But they are also sometimes
unavoidable (also p.152). Therefore such wars are unavoidable evils. Such discourse,
obtained by almost immediate inference from the passage, is within the standard orbit of
dilemma talk. But Taoism lacks, through deliberately eschewing deontic talk, the discourse

which enables direct expression of such dilemmas, or even direct condemnation of wars or

cleaver weapons. Instead the points are made by

what the possesser of Tao

3

does, how the good ruler conducts himself, or by awa/ogy, of victory in war with death.
Unavoidable evils are the very stuff of deontic dilemmas (though many theories,

underpinned by shonky logic, lack the resources for representing this stuff properly). Where
something is unavoidably evil, it is bof/i
because evil,
also no?
doing it is

excusable, because it is unavoidable. So, given such an argument (which has its weaknesses),
an unavoidable evil is a genuinely dilemmatic object with inconsistent features. Certain wars
have looked, since ancient times, like such dilemmatic objects.
Revealingly, Chan tries to explain that "most troublesome element* in Taoism, the
military-practice paradox, through the following exercise in lateral thinking:

It can ... be argued that Lao Tzu uses warfare to illustrate his principles of
taking no action and weakness because warfare is among the most dynamic
and critical of human experiences, just as the Indian classic, the
chooses fighting as the theme on which to discuss the terrible dilemma
whether one should fulfil his duty, as in the case of a soldier, and kill, or
should fail in his duty and refrain irom killing (p. 17).

'Just as*? The Indian classic prevents a classic moral dilemma, a dilemma represented in
contemporary philosophy (following its rediscovery by Sartre), where there are incompatible
duties: the duty to kill, because of one's role as a soldier, and the duty not to kill, because of
one's human condition, and the supervenient dilemma of failing in and fulfilling one's duties.
These dilemmas for an individual (male, as it then was) are replicated in dilemmas regarding
war for group institutions: at bottom, the obligation to engage in war (for one set of compelling

reasons) as contraposed with the obligation not to engage in war (for another, perhaps
overlapping, set of reasons).
A theory of moral dilemmas (as worked out for example in MD) is crucial for an adequate
treatment of major issues in war and peace, especially (as will become evident) for a viable
strong pacifism. But Taoism, eschewing deontic discourse, lacks the apparatus to state or

develop moral dilemmas. Hence it is logically excluded from giving a full or adequate account
of what is going on conceptually. One of the philosophically fascinating feature of Taoism is
the fashion in which it manages to avoid deontic discourse, and to substitute for direct deontic

discourse or improvise circumlocutions when deontic discourse would otherwise appear
inevitable (cf. UT bn examples). But there are costs. One is inability to display the mechanism
of deontic dilemmas, or to show what reasons and argument lie behind Taoist prounouncements

and conclusions (the shortage of Taoism on argument is another philosophically conspicious
feature, observed in UT). As conceptual apparatus for analysizing moral dilemmas is missing,

most of the machinery involved has to be passed over. Only the outcomes, as Taoism sees
them, are presented, as if from a black box. Taoism blacks out the story on deontic dilemmas
that deep-green theory can tell, as the following diagram tries to show:

4

Diagrams . C/%zr%Kg

"r&w/v^".

procawmg

Dggp-grgg/Y c/Mrr
Arguments to
incompatible
prescriptions

Processing of dilemma,

directive

situational procedures

output

CorrasppMJing 7%<9i\f c/M!rr:

Black

directive

Box

output

input

It is evident that Taoism can be
information can be put into the Black Box
rendering it less opaque. That extension can be made so as to conform to deep-green theory,

i.e. so that the extended Taoist chart, a neo-Daoist chart, looks like the deep-green one. That is
indeed essentially how neo-Daoism get characterised, in terms of conformity of the extension to
deep ecological theory (see UT).
We are now placed to explain how to dissolve, or at least neutralize, the paradoxes

deriving from repudiation of militarism, an awkwardly qualified repudiation in the case of

Taoism. In a significant sense there is no resolving of genuine deontic dilemmas. The
principles delineating the fix may stand, incompatible, signalling the persisting suboptimality
(or better, sublimenality) of the dilemmatic situation. Where there is a dilemma, involved
parties should try to do well enough in the sublimenal circumstances (for a much fuller account,
see MD). Thus where there is a war, itself a non-Taoist process, engaged or caught up Taoists
will not abandon Taoism. Taoist methods will be applied, Taoist strategies pursued.

So much for theoretical representation and (non-)resolution of life-practices and other
dilemmas, details of which are readily elaborated in deep-green extensi^s of Taoism. A prior
substantive issue is whether dilemmas always are generated: not whether wars are evil
(typically they are, an issue we shall come to), but whether wars are unavoidable. Analysis of

wars does not bear that familiar claim out decisively. Many wars could have been avoided,
through conciliation, negotiation, restraint, etc., and no worse results apparently obtained,
through sanctions, exchange, trade, etc. Through a typology of wars (coming up) that
conjecture can be given some substance. Consider, for instance, what would be walk-overs.
Then there is little point in making a military response. So war can be avoided. Certainly an
occupation, to be met in a different way, may still occur. And so on, perhaps, for various other
types of war. But, more generally, try this:-

5
Every war involves an aggressor, who makes an aggressive move. Such an aggressor

could always avoid that move, taking a different (or a do-nothing) course of action. Therefore,
every war can be avoided. No war is entirely unavoidable.

Setting aside determinism (which renders aZZ actual wars along with all other events
unavoidable), it could be argued that a war sometimes simply boils up, without an aggressor,
an intensification of a conflagatory situation. There are grounds for scepticism regarding such
examples; for such intensification can only occur if provocative military moves are made, for
instance troops are stationed in provocative or risky positions.
The presumption that certain wars are unavoidable typically derives from a one-sided
perspective on war, a defender's perspective. A defender has no option, so it is routinely
averred, but to respond to a determined aggressor. Even if that should be so sometimes, when

there is no running away or going underground, it does not establish that such a war is
unavoidable; for it neglects the role of the aggressor. By a smarter formulation, relevant
features of unavoidability can be captured. Although wars may not be unavoidable, defensive

action in wars that have been initiated may be unavoidable. At least such action may be
unavoidable if unacceptably high costs (death, enslavement, etc.) are not to be avoided.
Thereupon another highly relevant feature emerges: the linkage of avoidability to costs. For

whether an action is unavoidable then depends upon what costs a party is prepared to incur

before and when insisting on action: but this appears entirely unacceptable. How can what is
"unavoidable" cease to be so when some further costs are absorbed? However with basics like
survival, a certain liberty, and so on, we do reach such bounds. An important (ype of
unavoidability. We also reach scenarios, unavailable to Lao Tzu but kindly brought within
range by modem technology, which may appear to justify aggressive strikes.
State Z, while not an aggressor, is carrying out practices which will impose unacceptably
high costs upon peoples of other states and implacably refuses to desist. It could, for example,
be poisoning air or water flowing to other states. But",to make the case vivid, let us suppose
that state Z is constructing, for reasons Zeders find convincing (they are committed to a faith

which depicts all humans as incorrigible sinners and unworthy of life), an effective doomsday

machine. Would an (aggressive) preemptory strike designed to disable or destroy the machine
be unavoidable?* In a sense, No; in another Yes. For different modalities can operate.

Physically outsiders need to do nothing, but watch Zeders go about their zealous work. But
deontically they are under heavy moral pressure, because of the costs of standing by idly: if the

human race is worth anything very substantial, then they are obliged to act, action is deontically

1

Whether it would be justifiable, or just, are separate issues. But it is evident enought that
such scenarios further damage the obsolescent idea of
war. For, according to received
doctrine, a just war is defensive. (How such a war can be fought at all is another matter;
coherence requires relativization to 'just warybr party d'.)

6

unavoidable. Here is a situation where a proposed reduction of deontic logic proves
illuminating. Obligation is explicated through not implying, or necessitating, the sanction, i.e.
excessive ethical costs such as extermination. Let us explain deontic unavoidability
analogously: an action is so unavoidable if not undertaking it would result in excessive ethical
costs. Then i/* it can be established that there is no other way than a military strike, an act of
war, to ensure that the Zeders desist (and certainly we can envisage scenarios like that), then
that is deontically unavoidable. It is also
for those committed to, or inclined
towards pacifism; and it is, for them at least, but paradoxically justifiable, as the negation is
also justifiable, on pacific grounds.

Scenarios like that sketched, that appear to render certain wars deontically unavoidable
require but little or no elaboration to render them evil. Evil indeed is such a standard feature of
standard wars that at least its great presence call for little supporting evidence. But it has taken
to vast stretch of human history to reach this general point of recognition.
The manifold evils of war Lao Tzu very early recognised and emphasized:
Wherever armies are stationed, briars and thorns grow.
Great wars are always followed by famines (p.152).
And nowadays followed by great tides of refugees. This passage includes not only recognition

of the widely-observed socio-environmental consequences of war, but, more striking, very

early recognition of the severe environmental impact of military forces. That critique is not
however developed in Taoism.^ Only recently has it been pushed substantially further. And
only recently could a new, most significant twist occur, the merging of resource security, long a
military objective, with environmental security.

The appalling idea has recently been floated that the military, in need of new work and
roles with the apparent warming of Wept-East relations and cooling of the Cold War, should
exchange usual military illness for meddling in environmental matters: regulation and policing

-

of environmental resources, ensurance of environmental security of powerful states, and
similar. This is a bit like reassigning those imprisoned for child abuse to managing

kindergartens; for consider the impressive military record of environmental vandalism. What
the military is alleged to offer is a structure appropriate and available for handling such matters.
But, to the contrary, it is precisely the sort of hierarchical, authoritarian expensive structure that
should be wound down and up as soon as the opportunity appears, as (briefly) now, rather than
being retained and shockingly reoriented (as a state-serving "Greenwar").

But a bridge to deep-green theory can be made through neo-Daoism, an updating of Taoism in
confirmity with deep ecology (which however is somewhat thin and threadbare on war; for
what there is so far, see Naess p.160). On neo-Daoism, see UT.

;

7
2.

On

divergence of deej?-green fron: Taoisn!.

Having arrived, by better or worse arguments, at the conclusion that wars, though
generally evil, may be sometimes unavoidable, it is evidently important to say something about
how they - those of the theoretical residue - are to be conducted. By appropriate conduct the
damage they do may be reduced; also the conduct should be appropriate to the funereal nature
of wars (to exceed Taoist resources for stating this sort of point). It is at this stage that deep­

green theory begins to diverge from Taoism.

In further explaining the Taoist and deep-green critiques of war, and diverting objections
to them, a roMg/t and preliminary ryp<?/<9gy of wars is important. It is also of passing interest in
its own philosophical right. War, according to English Dictionaries, is a 'contest carried on by
force of arms, typically between nations or states'. More exactly, war is a gawc - in the

generous technical sense of game-theory, with players, rules, goals, strategies, and so on carried on in significant part by military means, normally between states or substates. Call the
contestants, (warring) parfzay. They typically represent of course larger populations. The set­
up between parties resembles the arrangements of players in game theory. There are several
analogical extensions of the term war to cover games where one of the parties is an object,
construed as hostile (an enemy of the state), such as Crime, Drugs, Poverty or Nature. These
we can set aside as a/za/ogfca/ wars. Of course wars form only a part of military activities.

Military interests and objectives have always stretched significantly further than war, to include
surveillence and security, easily extended to resource security, environmental security and life­
style security, and beyond that to political stability and other political matters. Evidently
military ambitions have far over-extended themselves in bagging such democratic concerns.
An anarchist solution to the whole problem of war, which some have seen Taoism as
reaching towards, is immediate: eliminate the source of war, -yfafe.y. Unfortunately it is not
quite that simple (and that's not simple). For wars can also occur between nations, cultures,
races or tribes (which are not such artifices as states, and not so readily or desirably abolished),
between inhabited regions, and between factions within states (thus civil wars) or, perhaps by
extension, between factions within other social structures (thus, for instance, gang wars). But
undoubtedly eliminating states and aspiring states would abolish most wars and virtually all the
worst wars.
While "nonviolent wars" are excluded by definition, by virtue of 'force of arms', token

wars, limited wars, and so on, are not: for instance, wars fought by small armed teams
representing competing sides (cf. medieval and science fiction war games). As wars are
hemmed in by conventions and agreed rules, there is no reason in principle why they should

not be reduced to two person contests, fought under strict rules like boxing or gladiatorial
contents. But in modern times wars have never taken such sensible forms, but have been

much larger affairs, making heavy (though fortunately restricted) use of latest technology. Let
us distinguish such wars as

wars. They have, directly or indirectly (for the

8

technology may be bought or bartered), a heavy research and development support structure
(indeed the bulk of contemporary science is devoted - misdirected - in one way or another to
this effort).

Among wars, an important distinction is that between
and
wars. An
offensive war is one which ventures off a given party's territory or recognised pad, "invading"
that of another party or parties; correlatively defensive parties, if they have not also invaded.
Force projection typifies offensive practice. Plainly, offensiveness and defensiveness are not
strictly features of a war, but of parties to a war. In a two-party war, while both parties can
easily act offensively, the possibility of both parties proceeding defensively is excluded, unless
they share territory. (Even then issues may arise as to which party, if any, was the aggray-yor,
which started it, was responsible for starting it, and so on.) Thus mutually defensive wars
between contemporary states are impossible (but would be possible if states shared territory,
e.g. if Eire and Britain shared the territory of Northern Ireland). Tao-accredited wars were
defensive wars, never wars aiming at domination: last-resort wars, in which no pride was taken
(LT p. 152)3,
The pretence that offensive wars are defensive is widespread, and reflected in the
subterfuge that departments or ministries of war are those of defence, security or whatever. (If
they really were what they purport to be, we should be well on the way to an end to war.)
Offensive practices are rendered defensive ones by shabby redefinitional strategems, such as
redefining "defensive* to include defence of ideals like democracy or liberty, infringed (or

allegedly infringed) on territories abroad, or to include ""defence** of a third party or place
(whence every offensive war is ""defensive**). In the present war in which part of Arabia is
engulfed (February 1991), one party claims to be defending what really was (or should be) part
of its territory, namely Kuwait, another party to be defending (what Kuwait did not enjoy)
democracy. It is a doubly offensive war presented in this guise as jointly defensive.
Aggressive wars are waged for a variety of reasons, but usually for resources or access to

resources or markets, a matter often disguised by appeal to ideology (thus a war for oil is

represented as a war of liberation). But there are other reasons than narrowly economic ones,
such as religion (as with crusades), power and aggrandisement (as in building an empire), and
so on. Nor are those reasons necessarily far separated; Marxist and market capitalism, for

3

There is one line in LT that way suggest that attack was sometimes justifiable, namely Tor
deep love helps one to win in the case of attack' (p.219). But how can c<?wpa.y.Hon be
appropriate unless this attack is wif/un a defensive setting, a larger context of unavoidability
or such like. A passage shortly below confirms this interpretation:
I dare not take the offensive but I take the defensive:
I dare not advance an inch but I retreat a foot (p.222).
These are advances and attacks within a defensive setting.

9
example, exhibit many of the features of religion.

The economic reasons for war appear to have become much more complex with the

advent of an integrated world economy. At the same time many of the independent reasons for
economic wars are now obsolete. For to powerful states accrue the advantages of war without
war. At least most of the former economic advantages of war can be obtained without
expensive wars, through trade, institution of economic dependence, etc. Small medieval wars
were sometimes instituted for the collection of neighbouring riches and booty, a kind of piracy
meeting conditions of war. "Small" contemporary wars can be waged for a remarkable mix of
political-economy ends: to establish a regime favourable to economic penetration and profit
repatriation, to subjugate markets and to remove competition, to boost a sagging weapons

economy by using up old stocks and also testing new equipment, to restart a depressed
economy, and so on. Such wars, along with the economic aims which motivate them, are in
effect heavily castigated by Lao Tzu:
When Tao prevails in the world, galloping horses are turned back to
fertilize (the fields ...).

When Tao does not prevail in the world, war horses thrive in the suburbs.
There is no calamity greater than lavish desires. (LT p.181).
But it does exceed evidential warrant to claim that Tao is not only sufficient, but

for

cessation of such practices.
The practice of regularly stimulating complex military-saturated economies through war is
reminiscent of older, much ridiculed practices in simpler societies. They now ridicule the
Tsembaga, who proceeded to destroy much of their surplus product by going to war every 5-15
years (cf Rapaport). But they do not similarly ridicule the most powerful nation on the Earth,
the USA, which proceeds to write off a colossal amount of surplus in war every 10-20 years
-the
(pulf war liquidated some ^1.7 billion per day). Taoists would. For ridicule was a favoured
method, an important rhetorical strategem, and war and its idiocy were favourite targets.

Some classification of defensive wars is also important, for various reasons: reducing and
abolishing wars, their costs and damage, restructuring societies away from war and military

practices, and, not least, for appreciating Taoism.

A main distinction is between

* conventional defence, maintained by armies of armed soldiers, many of them professionals,

and
* social defence, where there are no such armies or but fragments of them, and defence is
carried out through social networks of a significant part of society.4

It is here that Taoism and deep-green theory part company. Under Taoism, the state wz'Z/

4

Details of social defence are presented in Sharp and in Martin.

10

have a standing army, but a defensive army operating by strange, surprise tactics (p.201). No
doubt defensive wars are to remain last resort action. Nonetheless the state will operate in

secrecy, in a way incompatible with decentralised
defence; people will be kept in the dark
about smart weapons of the state; and they too will be surprised, along with presumed enemies
of the state. By contrast, under deep-green theory, there should be no hidden smart weapons
of state; information would flow more freely and not be hidden from the people (who should
retain influence in informed decision making). Under deep-green, standing armies, and more
generally military organisation, will be wound down altogether.
Taoism should have pushed its searching criticism further. For military objectives, easily
acquired by standing armies with time on their hands, are frequently incompatible with Taoism.

For example, Taoism is opposed to domination (LT p.152), whereas military operations
frequently seek or involve domination; and military structure is invariably hierarchical and
authoritarian. Taoism aims for self-regulation, wherever feasible (cf. p.201); so does deep­

green theory, which is one reasons why it aims to dispose of standing armies, as an important
preliminary to the withering away of states themselves (military forces being major props of
state control and power, and often maintained primarily for internal state security). Taoism has
no project for ending the era of wars; deep-green theory does. That project involves an
elimination of standing armies, too often poised for fighting or political interference.
A recommended route to

war consists in progressive scaling down: reduction of the

means and manpower. The initial stages are well-known, and include

* elimination of nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry, and
* force reduction. It can hardly be pretended that the Earth's states have managed to proceed
very far on even this complex of stages. The next stage consists in

* contraction to defensive capacities only, and the Anal stage consists in
* elimination of remaining military defensive forces, and adoption, so far as required, of social
defence practices. The complete route thus involves complete demilitarisation.
Reasons why deep-green aims to proceed the /%// distance are readily grasped by
considering the environmental shallowness of an otherwise cogent traditional case for the

sharp curtailment of wars and militarism. The traditional Western case against wars has been
primarily along two dimensions: social and moral. Wars are highly disruptive of the social
fabric; wars may be unjust. From these joint features, it was argued that wars should be a

matter of last resort, to be fought to ensure peace. It was argued further that only just wars

should be fought. Just wars were rare objects. But as there was little evidence of the decline
and fall of wars, much effort was expended, more practically and unsuccessfully, upon
endeavouring to improve the calibre of wars, and more theoretically, upon trying to characterize
war satisfactorily, or rather to bend the nation in an effort to approximate the gory unjust
facts.

Progress was long hindered, furthermore, because there was always a rival positive

11

perspective on wars, which encouraged the exaltation of wars and military feats. It also
facilitated the transfer of the favourable image of war to other problem areas, whence the long
and apparently successful war against nature (but the short-term successes are turning into
long-term problems), the short and unsuccessful war against poverty, and so on. Behind all
this is the complex idea of war as rejuvenating, even cleansing, like fire; of war as heroic, and
glorious, of war as the supreme testing ground of men. These pictures of war - finally
shattered by the first World War (where even the poets began to tell of horrors and atrocities)
and subsequent technological wars - though no longer in assendency, have by no means
vanished. The notion of war as rejuvenating a flagging economy persists, along with the

practice of keeping capitalism running smoothly by integrating substantial military components

into the industrial engine.
With the development of highly technological wars - the celebrated development of the
dirty industrial age is substantially military - the traditional negative case has grown in strength.
Wars have become much more damaging, with the potential for much more that is significantly

worse, and the possibility of a just war has correspondingly contracted, virtually to zero. The
opposition to war has likewise grown, but more than correspondingly with the rise of women
in social and political influence. Wars have almost always and everywhere been Men's affairs;

likewise conquest.
Deep-green theory accepts much of the traditional negative case, but would further

strengthen it. For example, the stricture against unjust wars, as out and out immoral, can be
strengthened, through the following syllogism:
All wars should be fully just wars.
Modem wars cannot be fully just wars.
Therefore, there should be no modern wars.
A fully just war is not merely a just war, but a war those just character can be reliably
forecast in advance. A modem war is of course a war that deploys modem technology, at least

that available this century. The evidential basis for the second premiss derives from much
information that collateral damage, damage to innocent bystanders and involved citizens is
always likely and cannot be excluded. Such wars are always liable to violate uncontroversial
requirements for a just war, even if they are purely "conventional" wars, not throwing radiation
or chemical or biological weapons around.

From a contemporary viewpoint the traditional doctrine of a just war, really of a just

war, is seriously out of date. The reasons for this reach wider than the new features
introduced by modem technological wars and the character of modem civilization, with its giant
cities littered with dangerous and vulnerable military targets. They have also to do with the

chauvinism of the justice proposed, which is shallow human justice, not natural or

environmental justice. There is no consideration of justice to other creatures or to the Earth (cf
thlaess p.160). Two troubles are really intertwined here: conceptual difficulties with too narrow

12
a notion of justice, and ideological difficulties with too narrow a vision of what is an object of

value, of what counts.
The deep-green case against war adds to the traditional case a further dimension,
neglected until very recently: the environmental dimension. It has suddenly been seen that wars
are typically environmental atrocities. Earlier, of course, environments were simply

backgrounds, backdrops in paintings and plays, to the real drama.
Contemporary technological wars tend to be not merely social tragedies but environmental
ones as well. There is a doctrine of just war, but it is a human chauvinistic affair. There is no

similarly developed doctrine of an eco/ogica/Zy son/M? war, a deep ecological war. Unless any
such war were literally different from modern wars, that is from contemporary technological
wars, it would overstep permitted bounds. For such wars are characteristically ecological
disasters. Hardened military people, desensitized by a rigorous unethical training, feel even
less compunction about degrading or destroying environments or members of other species
than they do of maiming or killing civilians through "collateral" activity.

Matching the no-just-war syllogism is a no-sound-war syllogism:
All wars should be environmentally sound wars.
Modem wars cannot be environmentally sound.
Therefore, there should be no modern wars.

The argument for the second premiss has of course to be different. It looks to the
information accumulating on what wars do to natural and built environments. The Vietnam and
Gulf wars both inflicted immense damage on natural environments or what was left of them.
The environmental effects of war are not confined to direct and collateral damage. There
are indirect effects also. Thus, for instance, war also supplied the mechanism of, and the
technology for, modem environmental destruction: explosives, bulldozers from tanks, etc. As
well, training for war and engagement in war have much fostered, along with attitudes that

make for social callousness or ruthlessness, those that contribute to environmental insensitivity

and cruelty.

3. PuzzZes

Tao/sf s/ra/egy anJ f/s endues o/ fec/tnoZogy an*/ woZence

Tt is surprising how much of the Lao Tza is devoted to military strategy'. Which
strategies? Surprise, above all. But why such strategies? 'Do they not contradict the Taoists'
strong opposition to the use of force' (Chan p.222), the implied commitment to quietism?

Briefly, Taoism is not committed to quietism, and while certainly antagonistic to violence, does

not oppose certain uses of force (only really ///-forcing, as will be explained). Even so, the

emphasis on military strategy remains puzzling.
The strategies, many of them relevant to social defence, include

*
*

not 'making light of the enemy' (p.222)
and nonvisibility (p.201). The defensive strategy involves guerilla tactics:

13

marching without formation, holding weapons without seeming to have them, confronting
enemies without seeming to meet them (p.222). But even in times of peace, "smart weapons of
the state should not be displayed to the people* (p.164). Such recommendations helped to fuel
the charge of deviousness lodged against Lao Tzu. But look at part of the reason for concealing
smart weapons: "The more smart weapons the people have, the more troubled the state will be*
(p.201). Smart weapons are carried in corrupt states, where the rich engage in conspicuous
consumption and the people are suppressed, not where Tao is practiced (LT p. 194).
* advance from weaATt&M, flexibility but firmness. Weakness is the principle of life and will
overcome strength (LT p.164, p.233).
* coolness and noncompetition (LT p.233, p.164). Like these, most of the general strategies

are standard Taoist practices simply applied to military conduct. For these standard practices
the charge of deviousness looks feeble.
The response applies more generally to other allegedly devious political strategies. For
the strategies are but application of Taoist principles and techniques to warfare, politics and
elsewhere. Nothing excludes application of these techniques to what are accounted, in general,
unnecessary evils (which must sometimes, on other Taoist grounds, be countered). Nor, to

meet the main criticism, need any deceit or deviousness be involved; nor is it. In particular, the
legalist tactic, "In order to grasp, it is necessary first to give* (LT p.164), is cited as invoking "an
element of deceit* "undeniably*, and "worse* it is "morally questionable* (Chan p.17). But in
order for me to grasp your hand in a normal handshake, it is necessary first for me to give my
hand. There is no deceit here, nothing morally questionable. All the tactics permit of benign
construals, of a Taoist kind. Consider, for instance, "In order to contract, it is necessary first to
expand* (LT p.164). In order to bend a copper pipe to the intended angle, it is better to bend it

first a little further than required. The transformation of water to ice (both favoured natural
items for symbolic purposes: natural processes which may look devious!) neatly illustrates the
Taoist principle (which is however hardly necessary), and shows softness and weakness turned

hardness and strength.

The Taoist critique of militarism is as much a critique of technology as of war. Sharp
weapons, "smart weapons* as we might now say, come in for much critical attention, as we
have already noticed. Only in corrupt and degenerate states are they displayed or flaunted
(p.194, p.164); in deep-green regions smart weapons of state* would not be retained
unexhibited. The people will not have them for they mean trouble (p.201); for similar reasons
deep-green regions will be free of them. So, it seems, will ideal Taoist regions: "Even if there
are arrows and weapons, none will display them* (LT p.238). Much technology, military and
other, is excluded under the Taoist edict against violence (a further facet of the military-practices

14

paradox)^

The powerful critique of militarism in the
C/wng is coupled with strong opposition
to violence. Some of the linkage is evident enough. Militarism as practised represents an
ultimate form of state (or party) violence. A basic theme is that violent practices will come to an
unnatural end, and accordingly to a non-Taoist end (generalising LT p.176). While force may
occur in spectacular, but satisfactory, natural forms, force is duly distinguished from violence.
To force the growth of life means ill omen.
For the mind to employ the vital force without restraint means violence
(LT p. 197).
One who follows Tao does not apply dominating force, which usually has had results bringing
requital (p.152). Dominating force, like power, is in general castigated, under doctrine of WMwef, no forced actions, no violence. To force natural growth is deviant, destroying harmony.
To stop natural growth is deviant. But there is a significant difference between force and
violence. To intentionally employ destructive force is to do violence. To so force things is
condemned. To remain in harmony with things one does not so force things or practice
violence. There is a non-interference principle at work, which also indicates types of non­
interference that are excluded.
However Taoism does not always get the distinction between force and violence quite

5

Under contemporary technology and technological arrangements, such as the storage of
quantities of oil and nuclear and chemical materials in great cities, wars have assumed new and
very destructive dimensions, to the point of being utterly irresponsible.

A different approach to technology, as to war, is now mandatory. These are no longer things
that can in principle be nicely confined and need not touch parties outside the fray. An
important part of ending wars, "winning the war against wars", is removing the technology of
war, above all from irresponsible state power.
As for which technology to try to jettison and which to try to retain or improve, it is not so
difficult to indicate, provided evaluative terminology is not outlawed. What is wanted is
technology that is good in its place, what should be excluded is technology that is indifferent
or bad or potentially so. Technology to be justified has to do something worthwhile, it has
to address identifiable respectable needs. That is why merely indifferent technology is out;
there is no virtue in technology for technology's sake, as it is a mere
technique. It is
because of the crucial evaluative component in choice oLtechnology that appropr^/zg^,
itself evaluative, comes closer to encapsulating the criterion^ 3ize, such as smallness, or
intermediateness, are not what matter, though modest and not excessive technology are likely
to fare better in satisfying appropriateness. In simpler societies, small technology is of
course more appropriate; for that is what is good there. From known criteria for what is good
these other features for locally appropriate technology can be read off: reliability, esp. in
maintenance, functioning well and safely under the expected range of operating conditions
(which may be difficult^ ease of repair, capital cgeapness and repair inexpensiveness,
environmental^ benignness, and meeting sound social needs.
/-C

^7^^7*//

/

right. 'Vital force without restraint', intentionally excessive force, is only part of what counts
as
which is more generally /orcg w/zzc/z vzo/af&y, i.e. transgresses, descrecrates,
profanes, injures, outrages, etc. It is thus a negatively connoted force, an evil force in some
specified intentional respect. There is a tendency for Taoist commentators, not Taoists, to
regard Taoism as condemning all uses, or even occurrences, of force, but this is not so. Rather
intentional ill-forcing is what is castigated, what is deviant. Thus Taoism does not exclude a
range of defensive practices, which make satisfactory use of natural forces, like letting the
machines of war industry stop.

Those who would abolish war and its machinery, substituting for it nonwarlike and ideally
nonviolent methods, technology, and strategies, have been confronted not merely with much
sub-rational abuse but with plenty of criticism and even some paradoxes. Here is a recent
paradox concerning war and nonviolence:

* War must be abolished. One reason is simply economic. We can no longer afford it, and

the opportunity costs and enormous. Along with other extraordinarily wasteful activities, it is
an anachronism.

* Doing so cannot be accomplished without violence, i.e. in effect, given the types of violence

involved, without what amounts to war. According to a fuller version of this premiss, the
process of abolishing a war would only be achieved through a revolution so profound that it
could not succeed without extensive and extreme violence, amounting to (civil) war.
° But then war cannot be abolished without war.

Therefore, war which must be abolished cannot be abolished.^
This "paradox" has been compared with the Liar paradox, but the parallel does not persist far.
For this paradox does not involve self-referential features, and is easily broken, as follows. Let
the "last war" be not the last standard war but the revolution abolishing war. Then, given that

the revolution is successful, war will be abolished therewith, i.e. with that last war. There need
be no regress, given again a successful outcome. All the premisses stand intact, but the

conclusion, following the 'therefore' is a nonsequitur. However, while the dissolution of the
argument is accordingly logically fine, the route is repugnant. Standard pacifism challenges the

6

Brian Medlin, who forcefully propounded this puzzle, set other analogous puzzles alongside it
- designed to reveal deep difficulties in contemporary political, and especially alternative,
thought. Another puzzle, concerning liberty and repression in the context of capitalism,
revolved around the following inconsistent triad:
* capitalism must be removed, but liberty retained.
* capitalism cannot be removed without repression.
* repression is antithetical to liberty.
The puzzle is resolved as with the analogous puzzle of abolishing. Let the "last capitalist"
action
the days of liberty be the repressive but liberating revolution overthrowing
capitalism.

;
/1

16
second premiss.
and worn/ /zacz/zszn.

Although Taoism is strongly opposed to war, and much in favour of peace - and

accordingly by prevailing standards a substantially pacz/zc position - it is not (nowhere in the
central texts) committed to pacifism in usual senses, for two different reasons: * It is not, by contrast with pacifism, opposed to all types of warfare, for example smart
defensive wars.
* It eschews deontology in terms of which moral pacifism is commonly stated, for instance
through the watershed thesis
P2,
It is morally wrong to use violence.
By contrast with Taoism, deep environmentalism does not avoid deontic claims, and is

committed zn prznczp/e to nonviolent technologies and ways and to pacifistic principles.
Moreover, certain forms of deep environmentalism are completely committed to pacifism,
notably European forms. Is deep green?
There is heavy contemporary opposition to pacifism, as there also was to Taoism in the
warring times when Taoism was first being promulgated. Many of the central institutions of
contemporary life are intricated in coercion, violence and war. The most prominent

contemporary institutions, states, are premissed on these elements of damaging force; they
claim entitlement to use them widely, and even claim a certain territorial monopoly on their use.
As a result they are having constantly to engage in them in attempt to maintain that monopoly.
They are certainly the main perpetrators of wars, and of violence. They are indeed inured to
wars, are in constant preparation for wars, yet propound dialectial (and normally dishonest and
cynical) doctrines of peace through war (for a recent example see the appendix).
Unremarkably then, the extensive propagandistic machinery of state has invested heavily
in "justificatory" exercises in favour of controlled use, zr^ own use, of destructive force, and.
inveighed against pacifism. Because a routine trick in this sophistical repetoire consists in
conflating pacifism with extreme, naive and inplausible, forms, an inevitable and important
early task commits in unscrambling senses of 'pacifism'. Semantical skulduggery can be
thwarted in this way.

Pacz/z^nz, as explained by English dictionaries, invariably concerns wars and warfare, and

contains two components, negative and, elaborating on that, positive:- The negative component
is, in Amauld's word, a/zzz-IVar-z^nz, opposition (in ways to be further specified) to all forms of

warfare (see OED). The positive component supplies alternative ways of settling disputes (what
it is supposed that wars with some semblance of justification involve), such as negotiation,
arbitration,... - and, adding to too narrow dictionary accounts - sanctions, substitutions (e.g.
of sporting events, operatic contests, cooperative ventures),.... In brief ^Zazzdard ^acz/z^nz is
opposition to all warfare and resolution of potential wars by other nonmilitary means.

/,

17

Plainly the oppojzfzon to warfare, like the sanctions and so on, cannot itself be military
(using soldiers and other devices of war), on pain of some incoherence. But otherwise the

ways of opposition can be many and various: they can certainly be acfzve, as with nonviolent
demonstrations, resistance movements, and so forth, and they may also be devious (e.g.
turning the forces of war upon themselves so they are neutralised). It quickly becomes evident,
then, that some of the dictionaries offer but loaded definitions which, by restricting the negative
components, reduce the initial appeal and plausibility of pacifism. Consider the Concz'-ye
Ezzg/z^/z definition of the negative component: "the doctrine of non-resistance to hostilities and
of total non-co-operation with any form of warfare'. Thereby excluded are forms of pacifism
which offer active and plausible alternatives to warfare such as social defence. The Cozzcz^
E/zg/zj/z tends to force pacifism into what the
Eng/zs/z Dzcfz'onafy lists as its final item:
'often, with depreciatory implication, the advocacy of peace at any price', 'in any
circumstance'. Pacifism can easily resist being forced into these sorts of circumstances: it has
many resources, as an extensive series of texts on alternatives to war, such as negotiation non­
violent action and social defence, from Taoism to contemporary environmentalism attest.

Academic philosophers have much advanced the semantical strategy of some dictionaries,
of rendering pacifism more difficult from the very outset by narrow and biassed definitions.
They have stretched the term from its restricted setting of warfare, confined to state and
organised gang violence, to cover all forms of violence, from state and interstate to, what is
very different, personal and interpersonal violence. Call the resulting considerably stretched
notion of pacifism, according to which it is morally wrong to use violence, according to which
P2 holds, .yfrefc/z^ /?acz/z.M?z.7 While stretched pacifism certainly includes standard pacifism
(unless the notions of war and warfare are tampered with), the converse is very far from being
the case. A pacifist is in no way committed to stretched pacifism, which is a much more
problematic and difficult position than standard pacifism. There are several, substantially
different reasons for this, which will be picked up seriatim.
Stretched pacifism, also misleadingly called mora/ pacifism, has looked a very easy

critical target to moral philosophers. Many the effusive philosopher who, upon sighting such a

target, has charged, whooping such rhetoric as "incoherent", "inconsistent", "insensitive",
"fanatical". However, with improved logical technology now available for accommodating and
treating moral dilemmas, it is no great feat to resist such attacks, in the fashion of previous
investigations (see esp. Al, also MD). A main aim was to demonstrate that stretched pacifism

was not so stupid as it was made out to be or appeared to be to these inured to present dominant
violent ways. So far from being stupid, it is viable. In future gentler times sketched pacifism

7

In Al this notion was contrasted with standard pacifism as cowigrghgn.yzvg pacifism:
ovcrcomprgAe/MAe might have been better.

18
could even be realised for whole communities of creatures (as some genuinely Christian sects

envisaged); whence it will finally be seen to be feasible not merely for sages and supermen, and
many ordinary women, but much more extensively.
The method of philosophical accommodation was through moral dilemmas. The sort of

moral dilemma that stretched pacifism can induce derives as follows. On the one side stands
the theme P2, Wv, in convenient symbols, for Wrong V-ing, violencing. Now this implies to
WB, where B presents a case of of violence. On the other side, particular circumstances
develop which lead to W -B, because -B would produce in the circumstances considerable
wrong, for instance extensive violence, mass murder, etc. One stock example from the
literature concerns calling off the firing squad about to shoot several captives if the pacifist
shoots one of them (it is elaborated in Al p.13). Interestingly, another stock example from the
literature concerns standard pacifism (it can also be presented in terms of patriotism; for details

of both see MD p. 10).
Resolution of intractable moral dilemmas is, where it is required, situational. The agent
decides in the situation, wif/nn the fix, what to do. There are many ways in which such
decision making can proceed, less rational, such as those applying chance or involving bad
faith, or more rational, such as those applying consequentialist decision theory (for details see
MD, pp.32-9). A decision theory taking account of a// that should be included will not however
be purely consequential. It would also take account of relevant motivation.

This defence and rehabilitation of moral pacifism has been challenged, in particular by

Smith (hereafter JWS). JWS claims the defence offered is a 'failure because it trivializes
pacifism" (p. 153 twice). The rehabilitation
trivializes pacifism because it entails that pacifism doesn't substantially differ
from a form of acf/vw?! which holds that while violence is
wrong
one is -yowefwtay justified on consequentialist grounds for preferring violent
acts, if these acts are lesser evils than any other real alternatives. This is the
commonsense position which most people hold - yet - pacifism after all was
supposed to be radical moral doctrine - (p.153 rearranged).^
Par? of the criticism is, then, not so much that pacifism is trivialized - JWS "activism"" is

hardly trivial - as that pacifism is
deflated from a radical position to the
commonsense position most people hold (p.154 also). Yet not a shred of evidence is adduced
that JWS activism is such a populist position. Available evidence, for example from peace

movement:and oppositional opinion polls, suggests the very opposite: that, for instance, most
people support state-justified conventional wars with the military violence they incur, and

8

JWS now informs me that he has changed his position. Whether the move effects his
criticism, I don't know.

accordingly do not hold that violence is always wrong. From such a commonsense angle,
pacifism with its condemnation of conventional wars and the violence they involve remains a
radical doctrine.

As regards wars and other violence-incurring social authorities, contemporary pacificism
is, as previous explained (e.g. Al p.3), a form of activism. Pacifism does not imply utter
pacifity, but may actively involve social defence, resistance and so on. However a certain level
of misrepresentation enters into the JWS challenge in the details of what forms of activism
pacifism may include. That misrepresentation begins in the second clause concerning what is
said to be sometimes justified. For the situational procedure where dilemmas arise will not
generally be consequential applying a principle of lesser evil. In dilemmatic situations such
principles are suspended, and such a principle is in any case unacceptable to moral pacifists. A
small amount of violence may be less bad in its consequences than verbal offence, but a

principled pacifist will choose the slightly greater evil where other obligations do not exclude it.
A more serious distortion occurs in JWS's effort to force procedures in dilemma
situations into purely consequentialist form. In fact consequential decision theory was
deployed as a
only for how to proceed rationally in a situational setting where deontic
procedures were suspended (see MD p.38). What was said, still misleadingly retrospective
vision reveals, was this: 'what is done is a very consequentialist thing" (Al p.13), nof 'one acts
in a consequentialist fashion to do the sufficiently good thing in the circumstances" (JWS
p.152). Situationally
procedures than those resembling orthodox rational decision
making (modified from maximizing to satisizing objectives) may be adopted (MD p.38).

Further the orthodox consequentialist theory is inadequate because it leaves out, or tries to
reduce to consequences, nonconsequential elements, notably motives. It is not difficult, in

principle (in advance of attempted consequentialization of motives), to design situations where

motives, such as integrity or maintaining faith, enter to yield outcomes upsetting consequential

calculations. More elaborate decision making procedures than those of consequentialism,

sometimes at variance with consequentialism, are thus presupposed.

A further part of JWS's criticism accordingly goes by the board, the alleged appeal 'to
"second best"" consequentialist considerations,... already explicitly condemned" (p.154). What
was condemned was stock universal consequentialism, 'that <?n/y consequentialist
considerations carry argumentative weight" (quoted on p.152), so undercutting other deontic
principles, such as those of pacifism. It was not claimed, what is utterly different, that
consequentialist considerations can
enter into deliberation and decision making. The
conclusion JWS arrives at is therefore substantially astray.
After criticising modern moral philosophy for its reliance upon
consequentialist modes of thought, it is surprising, and inconsistent, to find
... [reliance] upon such modes of thought to escape logical difficulties raised
by moral dilemmas facing ... pacifis[m] (p.152)

20

There is no inconsistency. JWS has confused universal with particular. As well he has
wrongly contracted all situational decision making to consequentialist modes.

There is a third part to the criticism, that the defence is too easy; the "strategy will allow
foe
violence to be (perpetrated and) justified to suit the tastes of any real pacifist' (p.153).
This another part of the so-called trivialization, this time however
rather than

populatization, weakening the moral stand against violence. This third contention is premissed
on a mistake: that one can "justify on consequentialist grounds any number of violent acts,
providing that such acts are lesser evils than other real alternatives facing social agents' (p.153).
Moral pacifism offers no such licence; allowing such consequentialism to take over was never
part of the position. The slide to such consequentialism is made on the strength of a similarly
erroneous example. The potential victim of an aspiring rapist "is supposed to flee or wriggle
free if possible. But it is
to consequentially justify the use of violence by the woman to
prevent herself from being raped' (p.153 italics added). In the example so far described there is
no dilemma, and no such easy resort to consequentially "justified' violence.

What allows too much violence is the lesser evil JWS assumes is easily consequentially
justified; for example that the woman is entitled to inflict, and escalate, violence so long as it
remains "a lesser evil than the violence of attempted rape' (p.153). Since she may thereby
inflict quite unreasonable damage (esp. if she is a Kung Fu expert), the result is inconsistent
with "the basic principle of self-defence' which JWS earlier adduced according to which what is
"appropriate, in response is on/y that level of force necessary to defend oneself against the
threat' (p.150). There is evidence in JWS's work of some enthusiasm for levels of violence
which exceed his "basic principle', his appeal to "lesser evil' generates some instances. The
"basic principle', itself fraught with difficulties (cf. the contorted discussion of what weapons
are appropriate in response to what attacks, p.150), still exceeds what stretched pacifism would
enjoin; for instance, it may not be appropriate to respond with force. But in a technical sense
stretched pacifism is compatible with the "basic principle', since it only imposes the upper
bound on level of force.

As for easiness, moral pacifism is not an easy position to live by, or to justify. Removing

objections to pacifism is one thing; solidifying a positive case for it is quite another, and so far
hardly conclusive (as Al tried to explain, pp 29-31). Stretched pacifism was advanced,
to put it more precisely, as a still viable option. It was not presented as a morally

compulsory position, or, for that matter, as one that this defender adhered to or affirmed.

To reiterate, while a cumulative case can be made for stetched pacifism as principled non­

violence, that case was not conclusive, and is hard to improve. For, further, some serious
difficulties standing in the way of stretched pacifism were assembled, the most important of

which derives from the extent of violence apparent in transactions within the natural world.
Simply consider the practices of carnivores, essential to their natural way of life. In order to

meet their life needs for sustenance, these creatures do, and are often obliged to, engage

21
routinely in violent activity. While it can no doubt be argued, as some vegetarians may do, that
the natural order is an immoral order, and that remaining carnivores should be converted to
vegetarianism as rapidly as proves possible (in the way domestic dogs are converted to dog
biscuits), the difficulties with such proposals are immense. The task envisaged is gigantic, and
beyond human capacities - even if it were desirable. For there are millions of species to be
somehow converted to proper vegetarianism. Then there are millions of other species to be
converted to proper and well regulated contraceptive practices, else their numbers will get out of
hand (uncontrollably) with predation removed. Given humans lack of success in limiting their

own excessive numbers, such regulation appears entirely remote. Aside however from the
practical difficulties, is such a fully vegetarian order, with evolution further derailed, a desirable
improvement on the natural order? Is it morally obligatory? It is certainly not obligatory, as
alternative systems of morality in harmony with the prevailing natural order are feasible. Nor is

it desirable, for (to appeal to such alternative value systems) the natural order is more or less in
order as it is. Full vegetarianization would only reduce its value, vastly.
More generally, a defensible ethical framework should not, it would be rightly contended,
be right out of step with the natural order of other creatures, decently depicted. Decent

depiction is important, for some features of the natural order, such as competition, combat and
predation, so far from escaping attention, have been grossly exaggerated and exploited. Thus,
for instance, the ludicrous picture of nature red in truth and claw, so beloved of descendents of
orthodox Victorians and of orthodox economists. However, even under decent ^depiction, the

"natural order" is often not benign. That appears to be enough to induce a supervenient moral
dilemma for any stretched pacifism which is coupled to a deep ethic (e.g. which does not

separate humans out from the natural order) and which bschews the desperate vegetarian route:
The natural order is not an immoral order
The natural order contains (regular) instances of violence.
Therefore, instances of violence are not immoral in apparent defiance of P2 Moreover, there are too many instances of violence, too regularly

occurring, for them all to be plausibly shunted into the moral dilemma category (and predatory
carnivores face no dilemmas). Raptors that practice violence every week are not immoral
(neither are they clearly moral; the category of morality only significantly extends so far).
The main trouble lies however with P2 (which needs some finer adjustment, as was alrady

indicated in Al). While P2 is alright in context, within a particular, perfectly viable, ethical

framework, designed for the usual human round, the convendonal setting for ethical theories, it
stands in need of modification outside that setting. It is time to suggest the sort of modification
envisaged. Evidently P2 was addressed to moral agents. Which agents? Not to carnivores that
o
supply their own livelihood, nor really to morally degenerate humans, but to peace-sensitive

22

agents. With that semi-technical form, yet to be characterised, a suitably modified P2 results:
MP2. It is morally wrong, for a peace-sensitive agent, to use violence.^
To recover what amounts, in the prevous discussive context, to P2, it suffices to add the
proposition that every human agent ought to be peace-sensitive. Much as that proposition has
to recommend it, it appears too ethically advanced for many modem humans; it sets too high a
moral standard to be taken as a serious cjuic^ to practice. It seems wise to settle presently for

something less demanding, such as that every advanced moral agent ought to be peace
sensitive. To put essentially the same proposition alternatively:

Stretched pacifism (as modified) is supererogatory. While it is perhaps too late to hope
for much moral progress in humans, it is pleasant to contemplate alternative futures where what
is supererogatory became obligatory, and widely practiced.

Richard Sylvan
Append?*

I began drafting this essay at the time (January 17, midday Australian time) of the
American attacks upon Iraq. The optly named Prime Minister Hawke of Australia had just
made a statement to the nation-state, announcing (the) war. In this statement there was much
talk of peace. There was even - in what was effectively a declaration of war - reiteration of the
modem quest for 'a new world order of peace". Peace through war; so it rings out again and

again, through the centuries. 'War must be for the sake of peace" (Aristotle p.220). More than

two thousand years later, we have fought those wars to end all wars. But it is no use, Hawke
solemely pronounced, just fa/Amg aAoaf peace, and thinking about peace; we must work for
peace,/ig Ar for it - through war. Impeccable logic?
President Bush, supreme commander, convinced us with similar logic, speaking too with
many tongues. Of how he 'preferred to think of peace, not war". But now 'only force will
prevail", as 'all reasonable efforts to reach a peaceful solution are exhausted". 'What must be
done" must be done, or will be anyway. With God on side with the US offensive (as well as
on the other side), it will go well. As it was said to have, though it achieved comparatively little

that other efforts may not have yielded more satisfactorily, and thought it may now have to
followed with another invasion. Nor have we ever managed to glimpse much of what is now
supposed, when we are no longer engaged, to come 'out of the horror of war": a 'new world

order ... which governs the conflict of nations"; a 'rule of law", not war. How the one,

enforcable law, is achieved, unless backed by the the other, is not explained (Medlin's paradox

9

The generalization^ P2, suggested in Al, to cover also the parallel situation of environmental
vandalism, can be similarly modified. The anti-vandolence principle becomes^MP2°. It is
morally wrong, for a peace- and environmentally-sensitive agent, to use vandolence.

23

hits back). Similarly what we now hear from many militarists, as they rush to war, is that
"peace is a great good, war a great evil'. But, for the most part, only the rhetoric has shifted;
practice has scarcely changed at all.

REFERENCES
W.-T. Chan, A 5*oarce 2?oo% on C/zz'ae^e P/zZZo^op/zy, Princeton University Press, 1963;
referred to as ST.
W.-T. Chan (ed.), T/ze Way a/* Lao Tza(Tao-re C/zZag), Bobbs-Merrill, New York, 1963;
referred to as LT.

B. Martin, UproorZag War, Freedom press, London, 1984.
A. Naess, EcoZogy, coazazaaZry aa<% ZZ/e.yfy^, Cambridge University press, Cambridge UK,
1989.

R.A. Rapaport, PZg.y /or r/ze Anc&yfory : rituaLin the ecology of a New Guinea People, Yale
University Press, New Haven, 1967.
R. Routley, "War and Peace II. On the alleged inconsistency, moral insensitivity and fanaticism
of pacifism', DZjca^Zoa papery Za eavZroawzeafaZ p/zZZojop/zy #9, Research School of
Social Science, Australian National University, 1983 (also in /apaZry); referred to as Al.
R. Routley and V. Plumwood, "Moral dilemmas and the logic of deontic notions', DZ-yca&yZoa
papery Za eavZroaazearaZ p/aZo-yopAy #6, Research School of Social Science, Australian
National University, 1984 (also in Paracoa^z\yrearLogZc); referred to as MD.

R. Routley, "War and Peace I. On the ethics of large-scale nuclear war and nuclear-deterrence
and the political fall-out', DZ^ca^Zoa papery Za eavZroawzearaZ p/zZZo^op/zy, #5, Research
School Of Social Science, Australian National University, 1984.
G. Sharp, 6*acZaZ Power aad PoZZrZcaZ Free&wi, Porter Sargent, Boston, 1980.
J.W. Smith, 77ze Woraz^ ar r/ze 7/earr o/T/zZag^ , Public Relations Unit, Flinders University,
1989.
R. Sylvan, "War and Peace III, Australia's defence philosophy', 5*ocZaZ P/zZZo^op/zy, for Nuclear
Conference, University of Queensland, 1985.

R. Sylvan and D. Bennett, "Of Utopias, Tao and Deep Ecology', DZ^ca^Zoa papery Za
eavZroaazearaZ p/zZZo^op/zy #19, Research School of Social Science, Australian National
University, 1990; referred to as UT.

22
To recover what amounts, in the previous discussive context, to P2, it suffices to add the
proposition that every human agent ought to be peace-sensitive. Much as that proposition has
to recommend it, it appears too ethically advanced for many modern humans; it sets too high a

moral standard to be taken as a serious guide to practice. It seems wise to settle presently for

something less demanding, such as that every advanced moral agent ought to be peace
sensitive. To put essentially the same proposition alternatively:

paci/Ly/H (as modified) is

While it is perhaps too late to hope for

much moral progress in humans, it is pleasant to contemplate alternative futures where what is
supererogatory became obligatory, and widely practiced.

Richard Sylvan*

I began drafting this essay at the time (January 17, midday Australian time) of the
American attacks upon Iraq. The 3ptly named Prime Minister Hawke of Australia had just

made a statement to the nation-state, announcing (the) war. In this statement there was much
talk of peace. There was even — in what was effectively a declaration of war — reiteration of the

modem quest for "a new world order of peace". Peace through war; so it rings out again and
again, through the centuries. "War must be for the sake of peace" (Aristotle p.220). More than

two thousand years later, we have fought those wars to end all wars. But it is no use, Hawke

solemely pronounced, just
peace,

and thinking about peace; we must work for

for it - through war. Impeccable logic?

President Bush, supreme commander, convinced us with similar logic, speaking too with
many tongues. Of how he 'preferred to think of peace, not war". But now 'only force will
prevail", as 'all reasonable efforts to reach a peaceful solution are exhausted". 'What must be
done" must be done, or will be anyway. With God on side with the US offensive (as well as
on the other side), it will go well. As it was said to have, though it achieved comparatively little

that other efforts may not have yielded more satisfactorily, and thought it may now have to

followed with another invasion. Nor have we ever managed to glimpse much of what is now

supposed, when we are no longer engaged, to come 'out of the horror of war": a 'new world
order ... which governs the conflict of nations"; a 'rule of law", not war. How the one,

enforcable law, is achieved, unless backed by the the other, is not explained (Medlin s paradox
hits back). Similarly what we now hear from many militarists, as they rush to war, is that

vandolence.
Thank to David Bennett for joint contributions (from UT) and to JWS for opposition (in
JWS)

23
'peace is a great good, war a great evil'. But, for the most part, only the rhetoric has shifted;
practice has scarcely changed at all.

REFERENCES
W.-T. Chan, A
on C%Zn^.y^ P/zZZo-yopZEy, Princeton University Press, 1963;
referred to as ST.
W.-T. Chan (ed.), 7%^ Way 0/L00 7za (7ao-z^ C/nng), Bobbs-Merrill, New York, 1963;
referred to as LT.
B. Martin, Uprooting War, Freedom Press, London, 1984.
A. Naess, EcoZogy, co/wmonZy an%Z ZZ/f^ZyZ^, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK,
1989.
R.A. Rapaport, PZg^ybr z/^^ Anc^^ror^ : rZzaaZ Zn Z/^^ ^coZogy o/ a ZV^w GnZn^a P^opZ^, Yale
University Press, New Haven, 1967.
R. Routley, 'War and Peace II. On the alleged inconsistency, moral insensitivity and fanaticism
of pacifism', DZ^cn^Zon papery Zn ^nvZronm^nfaZ p/zZZo-yop/zy #9, Research School of
Social Science, Australian National University, 1983 (also in /npaZry); referred to as Al.
R. Routley and V. Plumwood, 'Moral dilemmas and the logic of deontic notions', DZ-yca-MZoK
papery Zn ^nvZronw^HZaZ p/nZo-yopAy #6, Research School of Social Science, Australian
National University, 1984 (also in Paraco/MZ-yZ^/iZ LfgZc); referred to as MD.
R. Routley, 'War and Peace I. On the ethics of large-scale nuclear war and nuclear-deterrence
and the political fall-out', DZ-ycas-yZon papers Zn ^nvZron/M^nZaZp/zZZo^op/zy, #5, Research
School Of Social Science, Australian National University, 1984.

G. Sharp, &?cZ%Z Potter aA!^Z PoZZzZcaZ Fr^fJow, Porter Sargent, Boston, 1980.
J.W. Smith, 7%^ Wor^ty %Z z/z^ 7/^arZ p/77iZag^ , Public Relations Unit, Flinders University,
1989.
R. Sylvan, 'War and Peace III, Australia's defence philosophy', 5*ocZ#Z P%ZZo.yopZ!y, for Nuclear
Conference, University of Queensland, 1985.
R. Sylvan and D. Bennett, 'Of Utopias, Tao and Deep Ecology', DZ^ca^-yZan papers Zn
^HvZronm^nZaZ p/uZo-yop^y #19, Research School of Social Science, Australian National
University, 1990; referred to as UT.

23
'peace is a great good, war a great evil'. But, for the most part, only the rhetoric has shifted;
practice has scarcely changed at all.

REFERENCES
W.-T. Chan, A 6*az/rce Z3aa& on C/zinese P/ziZasap/zy, Princeton University Press, 1963;
referred to as ST.
W.-T. Chan (ed.), 77ze Way a/Eaa 7za (7aa-te C/zing), Bobbs-Merrill, New York, 1963;
referred to as LT.
B. Martin, (/proofing War, Freedom Press, London, 1984.
A. Naess, Eco/ogy, canznznnify aneZ Zi/esfyZe, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK,
1989.
R.A. Rapaport, Pigs^ar r/ze Ancesfars : rifzzaZ in f/ze ecaZagy a/a Aew Gzzinea PeapZe, Yale
University Press, New Haven, 1967.
R. Routley, 'War and Peace II. On the alleged inconsistency, moral insensitivity and fanaticism
of pacifism', Discassian papery in enviranznenfaZ p/ziZasap/zy #9, Research School of
Social Science, Australian National University, 1983 (also in /n^aizy); referred to as Al.
R. Routley and V. Plumwood, 'Moral dilemmas and the logic of deontic notions', Discassian
papers in enviranzzzenfaZ p/tiZo.yop/ty #6, Research School of Social Science, Australian
National University, 1984 (also in Paracon.yi.y^nf Lagic); referred to as MD.

R. Routley, 'War and Peace I. On the ethics of large-scale nuclear war and nuclear-deterrence
and the political fall-out', Discassian papers in enviranznenfaZp/ziZasap/zy, #5, Research
School Of Social Science, Australian National University, 1984.
G. Sharp, .SaciaZ Patter anJ PaZificaZ FreeJazn, Porter Sargent, Boston, 1980.

J.W. Smith, 77ze Warzzzs af f/ze Pfearf a/77zings, Public Relations Unit, Flinders University,
1989,
h 7^)5,
R. Sylvan, War and Peace IIL Australian defence philosophy',

P/ziZasap/zy 3 Zw)

R. Sylvan and D. Bennett, 'Of Utopias, Tao and Deep Ecology', Discassian papers in
enviranznenfaZ p/ziZasap/zy #19, Research School of Social Science, Australian National
University, 1990; referred to as UT.

/-//TirZcVf

Z^9/

Collection

Citation

Richard Sylvan, “Box 21, Item 708: Draft of War and peace IV: Tao and deep-green,” Antipodean Antinuclearism, accessed April 23, 2024, https://antipodean-antinuclearism.org/items/show/163.

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