Anarchist pacifism emerged shortly before World War II in Holland, Great Britain and the United States and was a strong presence in the subsequent campaigns for nuclear disarmament. The absence of pacifist sentiment before this time was such that propaganda of the deed was a prevalent form of anarchist activity in the 19th century and that as late as 1881, anarchists were agreed on the general inevitability of violence. Leo Tolstoy, though he opposed the label "anarchism", was a major early influence on anarcho-pacifists, and on Mohandas Gandhi, an Indian independence leader and pacifist who self-identified as an anarchist. However, Tolstoy and his followers never fully embraced the organized anarchist movement, being to some extent hostile towards it, and it was Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis who established the pacifist trend within the anarchist movement.
Among late 20th-century anarcho-pacifists was autarchist Robert LeFevre, who based his pacifism on his belief in the inviolability of property rights. LeFevre also spoke out against war, which he considered to be a product of the state, and was convinced of the power of non-violent resistance.
Other notable anarcho-pacifist historical figures include Ammon Hennacy and, for a brief period between 1939 and 1940, Jean-Paul Sartre. Ursula K. Le Guin has identified pacifist anarchism as the major utopic element in her novel The Dispossessed.
While anarcho-pacifism is most commonly associated with religious anarchism such as Tolstoyian Christian anarchism and Buddhist anarchism, irreligious or even anti-religious tendencies have emerged. The anarcho-punk band Crass polemicised a variant of anarcho-pacifism whilst at the same time explicitly rejecting all religions, especially the symbols of 'establishment' Christian mythology. Opposition to the use of violence has not prohibited anarcho-pacifists from accepting the principle of resistance or even revolutionary action provided it does not result in violence; in fact it was their approval of such forms of opposition to power that lead anarcho-pacifists to endorse the anarcho-syndicalist concept of the general strike as the great revolutionary weapon.
Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward
Jul 01, 2008; Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward David Goodway...