A friend of mine has mooted the possibility of visiting the Quaker bookshop in Euston where he proposes pocketing the Journal of George Fox. He then intends to ask the staff whether they are going to to do anything to stop him. He’s never done it, of course, partly because he has a healthy respect for private property, and partly because he’s worried that the Quakers might actually call the police, who would then use violence on the Quaker’s behalf, to recover their property.
My suspicion is that, were he ever to carry out his plan, the Quakers would let him keep the book, in the hope that he will learn something valuable from it. The Quakers I have met are rather nice people, whose example – at least in matters of personal conduct – are worth emulating. I’d rather share a house with a pacifist than with some of the more bloodthirsty proponents of the Iraq war who you encounter on the blogosphere. In any case, its hard not to smile when you remember the response of Lytton Strachey, who – when asked what he would do if he found a German soldier raping his sister – responded:
“I would endeavour to interpose my body between them.”
I mention this because Oliver Kamm has a series of posts at his blog which recall the manner in which other pacifist groups, including the Peace Pledge Union – which ran the anti-war White Poppy campaign in an attempt to persuade people that Hitler should not be opposed in a violent fashion – have run anti-war campaigns in the past.
I suppose that – given the sort of odd alliances we have seen on the left in the last few years – that I shouldn’t be shocked to discover that the national council of the Peace Pledge Union included the Marquess of Tavistock, founder of the pro-Nazi and antisemitic British People’s Party. Likewise, I shouldn’t be surprised at John Middleton Murry’s explanation of the justifiability of Nazi racism, which he suggested was simply a reaction to:
… the very serious provocation which many Jews have given by their avarice and arrogance when exploiting Germany’s financial difficulties, by their associations with commercialized vice, and by their monopolization of certain professions.
Read them in full.