Created By: Earnest on December 9, 2009
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Suicidal Pacifism

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This is what happens when the Martyr Without a Cause decides to try suicide by Pacifism.

More seriously, when a person or (heaven help them, an entire people) believe that actual pacifism is an ideology worth living... and dying by. They believe that violence is intolerable, so fighting back is completely unjustified, much less killing. This is fine for relatively rational bullies and oppressors, who they might be able to shove off with peaceful efforts, which they may have done in the past. For plot purposes however, the threat they will face is manifestly tyrannical or genocidal/murderous.

When the hero tries to point this out and convince them to defend themselves, they will preachily snip at him that he can't convince them to abandon their ways when he himself has hands full of blood-- err, hands full of bloodless violence? If he tries to argues that peace and liberty must be defended, they will say it's not worth killing for. Of course, once the tyrant arrives he will waste no time kicking them around and thanking them for rolling over so he can trample them more easily. Only heroes take guff, after all.

Typically, the hero has to convince him/them to learn to get angry or Training the Peaceful Villagers. Depending on the specifics, the suicidal pacifist(s) may be a Straw Man against pacifism.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • December 9, 2009
    Raven Wilder
    • In Sluggy Freelance the Dimension of Lame (which is populated entirely by sickeningly sweet, naive, and innocent people) gets invaded by demons from the Dimension of Pain, who proceed to kill, devour, and rip out the souls of every human being who crosses their path. However, when a resistance group tries to organize, even the most psychotically violent individual on the planet can't do anything more than stub a demon's toe in self-defense without feeling unbearable guilt.
  • December 10, 2009
    Dcoetzee
    • The Tuatha'an (Tinkers or Traveling People) in the Wheel Of Time series. One of them, Aram, abandoned their Pacifist ways and soon became a Knight Templar.
    • The people of Bandakar in the Sword Of Truth series, pacifists who are fortunately immune to magical attacks, and not so fortunately helpless against the Imperial Order's dudes with swords. They eventually got over their pacifism and started defending themselves.
  • December 10, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    How exactly is this different from Actual Pacifist or Perfect Pacifist People?

    Also, abstaining entirely from violence - even if it leads to your own death - is kinda what it means to be a pacifist. Your description just sounds like regular pacifism to me, and should thus fall under Actual Pacifist. Suicidal pacifism would be actively going out and throwing yourself on someone's sword to make a point (which has been known to happen!).
  • December 10, 2009
    Dcoetzee
    I think the point here is that this describes pacifists who actively get attacked and slaughtered because of their beliefs during the story.
  • December 10, 2009
    Earnest
    Pretty much, but there's also a bit of Too Dumb To Live thrown in. Usually the oncoming aggressor is Always Chaotic Evil or simply can not be reasoned with and will slaughter them all. At this point, even a staunch pacifist should realize they need to avoid the narrative natural disaster is headed their way. The suicidal pacifist won't even run or hide, they won't do anything at all.

    That is, unless the hero can somehow convince them to take an active part in their survival.
  • December 10, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Ghandi?
  • December 10, 2009
    ArkBlitz
    Present in the apocryph book of the Maccabbees, where Jews would rather let themselves be killed in Sabbath than defending their lives. The family of the Maccabbees (from where the book is named from) decide to skip that rule in order to defend their country.
  • December 10, 2009
    Deboss
    Ghandi was taking a controlled risk.

    I think we should name this Straw Pacifist. How often do you see these guys run away? Or build Some Kind Of Force Field? There do exist ways to defend yourself without resorting to violence. Effectiveness is debatable.

    There was one of these groups in Star Wars The Clone Wars.
  • December 10, 2009
    Squall
    At the danger of Godwinsing (...as opposed to calling it 'Godwinning'), this trope would describe the overall (im)policies of League of Nations during the 1930s, and the rise of the Axis powers.
  • December 10, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    "The suicidal pacifist won't even run or hide, they won't do anything at all. "

    Okay, that might be tropeable (Passive Pacifist?), but in that case I think the description should be changed to better emphasize that these pacifists aren't just abstaining from violence, they're refusing to do anything to protect themselves, including non-violent options like barricading the doors or just running away. The current description seems to imply that they're considered suicidal merely for being pacifistic even in the face of death, or at least that's how I read it.
  • December 10, 2009
    Dcoetzee
    I think Straw Pacifist is a good name, and illustrates their purpose well (Terry Goodkind, in particular, wanted to use Bandakar as a straw man to demonstrate the folly of pacifism). The Tuatha'an, on the other hand, are depicted much more sympathetically - they aren't straw pacifists, and they often travel to avoid danger.
  • December 10, 2009
    Morgie
    I don't believe Straw Pacifist would fit it that well. That title would probably better fit an over-the-top pacifist. Suicidal Pacifist works fine.

    Definitely a good idea, however. Should be launched.
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