Commentary Magazine


An Absolute Pacifist

To the Editor:

The advantage in being an, absolute pacifist, I suppose, is that I can be what responsible people would call “irresponsible.” I don’t have to consider what I would do if I were in Nixon’s shoes, or how I can balance “realistically” my anti-authoritarianism (i.e., against opposing existing Communist structures) with my anti-militarism and non-violence. I can say that the Emperor is naked and not restrain myself worrying how that information would affect Lockheed’s solvency. . . .

Norman Podhoretz writes [“A Note on Vietnamization,” Issues, May]: “As one who has never believed that anything good would ever come for us or for the world from an unambiguous American defeat . . .” As a Gandhian, I too say that an unambiguous defeat for any person is painful and to be avoided. This I apply, very reluctantly, even to John Mitchell. But if our national community is cut down from its adolescent arrogance by a military defeat, might not that experience be of great value? How can we, in all responsibility, continue permitting one administration after another to force many of our wisest citizens into identifying the man in power with the best hopes and ideals of the American people? Universal franchise confers no more infallibility on the President than does Scripture on the Pope or the King of France. The citizen needs not only a considerable amount of skepticism but at least an equal amount of courage to act on that skepticism. . . .

Igal Roodenko
War Resisters League
New York City

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Correction

We regret that in Lionel Trilling’s “Authenticity & the Modern Unconscious” [September], several words were inadvertently dropped from the last sentence of Section I (p. 41). The sentence should read: “And perhaps the low status of narration has a significant connection with revisions of the child’s relations to the family—traditionally the family has been a narrative institution, with counsel to give and a tale to tell of how things began, including the child himself.”

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