Pacifism is the current of thought that defends that conflicts, whether between individuals or groups, must be resolved peacefully; without resorting to violence, and armed violence, in any case.


Pacifism promotes peaceful relationships. In this sense, that in solving problems and conflicts physical or armed violence is not used in any case. Since the violent resolution only generates violations of human rights, such as murder and torture. In addition, wars also kill civilians outside the conflict, such as children and the elderly.

What is peace?

Before continuing, and to better understand what pacifism implies and what it defends, it is convenient to know what peace is. According to the RAE, peace is the "situation in which there is no armed struggle in a country or between countries."

But this definition seems somewhat scarce, since it only refers to the military sphere. And it is that, although there is an absence of war, there may be civil tensions that are resolved through threats, looting and other undesirable practices. Also, in non-democratic regimes, the population is repressed by imprisonment for exercising rights that are included in democratic legal systems.

Therefore, peace, in the broad sense, extends to all areas, both public and private. It does not admit armed struggle, but neither does social conflict nor the repression of citizens through the imprisonment of those who do not follow the guidelines of a certain regime.

Where is pacifism born?

The pacifist movement was born in the United States in the 19th century.

Specifically, pacifism begins to develop after a period of warlike conflicts, where wars such as the one of 1812 stand out. After that period, the pacifist movement emerged. And this, on the occasion of ending these tensions that endangered social welfare.

Characteristics of pacifism

There are a number of characteristics common to the peace movement:

  • Rejection of war, both civil and between countries.
  • Rejection of any violent way in the resolution of conflicts.
  • Defense of dialogue and peaceful practices to solve any problem.
  • Promotion of diplomacy as a mechanism for negotiation and conflict resolution in international relations.
  • Active defense of human rights around the world.
  • Rejection of non-democratic forms of government and repressive techniques against the civilian population.
  • Promotion and defense of the military disarmament of nations, especially with regard to nuclear weapons.
  • Civil disobedience and conscientious objection as active methods of protest.

What does it mean to be a pacifist?

The pacifist person is one who defends and promotes the principles of pacifism.

Thus, we are talking about a person who promotes peace, as the only mechanism for the resolution of conflicts, whatever they may be. For this reason, the pacifist is against violence, both verbal and physical, and more fiercely against armed violence.

The pacifist, as a general rule, promotes pacifist dialogue and techniques as tools to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

Types of pacifism

Within pacifism, two main types of action are distinguished:

  • Absolute pacifism: This branch of pacifism rejects all kinds of violence or war, whatever the cause it defends. He advocates for peace to its last consequences, even to the point of rethinking the use of self-defense, or defense in flagrant cases of aggression.
  • Relative pacifism : This branch, unlike the previous one, can tolerate violence and even war; as long as it is in very extreme cases. In cases of flagrant abuse and rape, it does allow it to be answered with the same coin; this, in order to end the conflict. In order not to end up justifying all violent actions, it is subjected to numerous degrees and reviews of the use of force.

Relevant pacifists

There have been, throughout history, numerous figures who have fought for peace using unarmed techniques. These are two of the best known:

  • Gandhi : Mahatma Gandhi, born in India in 1869, is probably the best known pacifist in the world. A lawyer by profession and a peaceful activist by conviction, Gandhi starred in numerous pacifist actions in defense of justice. He was a staunch defender of the British independence of India. He used peaceful practices such as the hunger strike and active non-violence, which consisted of not cooperating with what the authorities dictated through numerous formulas. He was assassinated in 1948.
  • Martin Luther King : He was an African-American Baptist pastor born in 1929, whose achievements on the political and social level were very remarkable. Promoting peace as a central axis, he was one of the main activists when it comes to the demand for the equality of the black population in the United States. With this, he was pursuing the end of segregation. Also, he participated in numerous campaigns to end the Vietnam War. He advocated the end of the Cold War through the end of armed struggle and the promotion of peace.