A Midwestern Assessment of Russell's "Extreme Pacifism"
Russell: the Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies
and disarmam~nt as realistic approaches to the 'abolition of war in a world dominated by force. As the editor put it: In brief, he [Russell] urges that Britain disarm and then "if Hitler marched his troops into this country, when~e were undefended, they should be welcomed like tourists and greeted in a friendly way." Russell claims that such tactics would "take the starch"'out of any invading army, reducing militarism to a simple absurdity. The theory sounds attractive. But the trouble is it
... he trouble is it runs counter to human nature. No self-respecting people would allow their homes and communities to be overrun by foreign forces without offering some kind of indignant resistance. 'Despite his rejection of Russell's basic premise, the editor did find some value in the philosopher's call for disarmament. However, it is a good thing to have men like Russell propose honest and thoroughgoing adoption of disarmament as the only real road to peace. The impracticality of the idea for immediate application does not minimize its potency as a means of calling attention to the inevitable connection between arms and war. The editor's refusal to accept pacifism and disarnlament as practical solutions despite his admission of the causal relationship between arms and warfare exemplifies the credibility gap which Russell and numerous other advocates of pacifism failed to bridge in their pleas for non-violent solutions to human conflict. Many, like the editor of the McPherson Republican praised the nobility of the pacifists' intentions while rejecting their means. The pacifist was consigned to the ideal rather than the real world. As the foregoing indicates, the examination of editorial responses to Lord Russell's public pronouncements does provide scholars with one means, though certainly not in itself a definitive one, to measure the impact of his thinking on public issues on various individuals and groups in different cultural, social, and economic contexts at different times in his career. The identification and collection of different responses to Russell's thought by the staff of the Russell Archives would certainly enhance the value of its collection for those scholars interested in assessing Russell's impact more precisely than has heretofore been possible. Could it be that the time is ripe for a collective scholarly effort in such an undertaking? '