A. J. Muste

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There is no way to peace; peace is the way.

A. J. Muste (January 8, 1885February 11, 1967) was a Dutch-born American clergyman who eventually became a Quaker, Christian pacifist, socialist and social activist involved in the U.S. labor and civil rights movements.

Quotes[edit]

The psychological basis for the use of nonviolent methods is the simple rule that like produces like, kindness provokes kindness, as surely as injustice produces resentment and evil.
There is a certain indolence in us, a wish not to be disturbed, which tempts us to think that when things are quiet, all is well.
Human beings acquiesce too easily in evil conditions; they rebel far too little and too seldom. There is nothing noble about acquiescence in a cramped life or mere submission to superior force.
In a world built on violence, one must be a revolutionary before one can be a pacifist.
  • The psychological basis for the use of nonviolent methods is the simple rule that like produces like, kindness provokes kindness, as surely as injustice produces resentment and evil. It is sometimes forgotten by those whose pacifism is a spurious, namby-pamby thing that if one Biblical statement of this rule is "Do good to them that hate you" (an exhortation presumably intended for the capitalist as well as for the laborer), another statement of the same rule is, "They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind." You get from the universe what you give, with interest! What if men build a system on violence and injustice, on not doing good to those who hate them nor even to those who meekly obey and toil for them? And persist in this course through centuries of Christian history? And if, then, the oppressed raise the chant:
Ye who sowed the wind of sorrow,
Now the whirlwind you must dare,
As ye face upon the morrow,
The advancing Proletaire!
In such a day, the pacifist is presumably not absolved from preaching to the rebels that they also shall reap what they sow; but assuredly not in such a wise as to leave the oppressors safely entrenched in their position, not at the cost of preaching to them in all sternness that "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
  • "Recent Gains in the Quest for Peace" in The World tomorrow Vol. 11, No. 1 (January 1928), p. 8; including a quote from the Communist song "The Advancing Proletaire."
  • The problem after a war is the victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?
    • Statement of 1941, as quoted in A People's History (1980) by Howard Zinn, p. 416; also in The Twentieth Century : A People's History (2003) by Howard Zinn, p. 159.
  • There is no way to peace; peace is the way.
    • As quoted in "Debasing Dissent" in The New York Times (16 November 1967), p. 46; later quoted as "There is no way to peace, peace is the only way." in The Peasant's Revolt : McCarthy 1968 (1969) by William P. McDonald and Jerry G. Smoke: these statements have also become widely attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.
  • There is a certain indolence in us, a wish not to be disturbed, which tempts us to think that when things are quiet, all is well. Subconsciously, we tend to give the preference to 'social peace,' though it be only apparent, because our lives and possessions seem then secure. Actually, human beings acquiesce too easily in evil conditions; they rebel far too little and too seldom. There is nothing noble about acquiescence in a cramped life or mere submission to superior force.
    • "Pacifism and Class War" in The Essays of A. J. Muste (1967) edited by p. 179-85; also quoted in American Power and the New Mandarins (2002) by Noam Chomsky, p. 160.
  • We cannot have peace if we are only concerned with peace. War is not an accident. It is the logical outcome of a certain way of life. If we want to attack war, we have to attack that way of life.
    Disarmament cannot be achieved nor can the problem of war be resolved without being accompanied by profound changes in the economic order and the structure of society.
    • As quoted in Our Generation Against Nuclear War (1983) by Dimitrios I. Roussopoulos.
  • [Their foremost task] … is to denounce the violence on which the present system is based, and all the evil — material and spiritual — this entails for the masses of menu throughout the world.... So long as we are not dealing honestly and adequately with this ninety percent of our problem, there is something ludicrous, and perhaps hypocritical, about our concern over the ten percent of violence employed by the rebels against oppression.
    • As quoted in American Power and the New Mandarins (2002) by Noam Chomsky, p. 160.
  • Those who can bring themselves to renounce wealth, position and power accruing from a social system based on violence and putting a premium on acquisitiveness, and to identify themselves in some real fashion with the struggle of the masses toward the light, may help in a measure — more, doubtless, by life than by words — to devise a more excellent way, a technique of social progress less crude, brutal, costly and slow than mankind has yet evolved.
    • As quoted in American Power and the New Mandarins (2002) by Noam Chomsky, p. 160.
  • In a world built on violence, one must be a revolutionary before one can be a pacifist.
    • As quoted in American Power and the New Mandarins (2002) by Noam Chomsky, p. 160.

Quotes about Muste[edit]

  • [He made] remarkable effort to show that pacifism was by no means passivism and that there could be such a thing as a non-violent social revolution.
    • Norman Thomas, in "On the Death of A.J. Muste" in New America Vol. 6, No. 9 (February 16, 1967), p. 2.

External links[edit]

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