Anarcho-pacifism (also pacifist anarchism or anarchist pacifism) is a tendency within the anarchist movement which rejects the use of violence in the struggle for social change. The main early influences were the thought of Henry David Thoreau and Leo Tolstoy while later the ideas of Mohandas Gandhi gained importance. It developed "mostly in Holland, Britain, and the United States, before and during the Second World War".
In the 1840s, the American abolitionist and advocate of "nonresistance" Henry Clarke Wright, and his English follower Joseph Barker, rejected the idea of governments and advocated a form of pacifist individualist anarchism.  At some point anarcho-pacifism had as its main proponent Christian anarchism. The first large-scale anarcho-pacifist movement was the Tolstoyan peasant movement in Russia. They were a predominantly peasant movement that set up hundreds of voluntary anarchist pacifist communes based on their interpretation of Christianity as requiring absolute pacifism and the rejection of all coercive authority. They were active throughout Russia and followed a strict Vegetarian diet. Because of their refusal to recognize the authority of the Tsarist state they were targeted for severe repression and many were killed outright or relocated to Siberia. After the Bolshevik Revolution they were again targeted for repression because they refused to recognize the authority of the new socialist state, just as they had refused to recognize the authority of its predecessor. Most of them were killed in the purges under Lenin and Stalin.
Violence has always been controversial in anarchism. While many anarchists during the 19th century embraced violent propaganda of the deed, Leo Tolstoy and other anarcho-pacifists directly opposed violence as a means for change. He argued that anarchism must be nonviolent since it is, by definition, opposition to coercion and force, and that since the state is inherently violent, meaningful pacifism must likewise be anarchistic. His philosophy was cited as a major inspiration by Mohandas Gandhi, an Indian independence leader and pacifist who self-identified as an anarchist. Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis was also instrumental in establishing the pacifist trend within the anarchist movement. In France anti-militarism appeared strongly in individualist anarchist circles as Émile Armand founded "Ligue Antimilitariste" in 1902.
"Dutch anarchist-pacifist Bart de Ligt’s 1936 treatise The Conquest of Violence (with its none-too-subtle allusion to Kropotkin’s The Conquest of Bread) was also of signal importance." "Gandhi's ideas were popularised in the West in books such as Richard Gregg's The Power of Nonviolence (1935), and Bart de Ligt's The Conquest of Violence (1937). The latter is particularly important for anarchists since, as one himself, de Ligt specifically addressed those who lust for revolution. 'The more violence, the less revolution,' he declared. He also linked Gandhian principled nonviolence with the pragmatic nonviolent direct action of the syndicalists. (The General Strike is an expression of total noncooperation by workers, though it should be added that most syndicalists believed that the revolution should be defended by armed workers.)"
As a global movement, anarchist pacifism emerged shortly before World War II in the Netherlands, Great Britain and the United States and was a strong presence in the subsequent campaigns for nuclear disarmament. The American writer Dwight Macdonald endorsed anarcho-pacifist views in the 1940s and used his journal Politics to promote these ideas.  A leading British anarcho-pacifist was Alex Comfort who considered himself "an aggressive anti-militarist," and he believed that pacifism rested "solely upon the historical theory of anarchism." He was an active member of CND.
Among the works on anarchism by Comfort is Peace and Disobedience (1946), one of many pamphlets he wrote for Peace News and the Peace Pledge Union, and Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State (1950). He exchanged public correspondence with George Orwell defending pacifism in the open letter/poem "Letter to an American Visitor" under the pseudonym "Obadiah Hornbrooke."
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"In the 1950s and 1960s anarcho-pacifism began to gel, tough-minded anarchists adding to the mixture their critique of the state, and tender-minded pacifists their critique of violence.". Within the context of the emergence of the New Left and the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) "several themes, theories, actions, all distinctly libertarian, began to come to the fore and were given intellectual expression by the American anarcho-pacifist, Paul Goodman."
For An Anarchist FAQ "the attraction of pacifism to anarchists is clear. Violence is authoritarian and coercive, and so its use does contradict anarchist principles." "(Errico) Malatesta is even more explicit when he wrote that the "main plank of anarchism is the removal of violence from human relations".
Anarcho-pacifism tend to see the state as 'organised violence' and so they see that "it would therefore seem logical that anarchists should reject all violence".. Anarcho-pacifism criticizes the separation between means and ends. "Means,...must not merely be consistent with ends; this principle, though preferable to 'the end justifies the means', is based on a misleading dichotomy. Means are ends, never merely instrumental but also always expressive of values; means are end-creating or ends-in-the making".
An anarcho-pacifist critique of capitalism was provided by Bart de Ligt in his The conquest of Violence. An Anarchist FAQ reports how "all anarchists would agree with de Ligt on, to use the name of one of his book's chapters, "the absurdity of bourgeois pacifism." For de Ligt, and all anarchists, violence is inherent in the capitalist system and any attempt to make capitalism pacifistic is doomed to failure. This is because, on the one hand, war is often just economic competition carried out by other means. Nations often go to war when they face an economic crisis, what they cannot gain in economic struggle they attempt to get by conflict. On the other hand, "violence is indispensable in modern society. . . [because] without it the ruling class would be completely unable to maintain its privileged position with regard to the exploited masses in each country. The army is used first and foremost to hold down the workers. . . when they become discontented." [Bart de Ligt, Op. Cit., p. 62] As long as the state and capitalism exist, violence is inevitable and so, for anarcho-pacifists, the consistent pacifist must be an anarchist just as the consistent anarchist must be a pacifist".
A main component of anarcho-pacifist strategy is civil disobedience as advocated by the early anarchist thinker Henry David Thoreau in the essay of the same name from 1849. Leo Tolstoy was influenced by it and he saw that a "great weapon for undermining (rather than overthrowing) the state was the refusal by individuals to cooperate with it and obey its immoral demands". Also the concepts of passive and active resistance have relevance as they were developed later by Mohandas Gandhi.
For anarchist historian George Woodcock "the modern pacifist anarchists,...have tended to concentrate their attention largely on the creation of libertarian communities -- particularly farming communities -- within present society, as a kind of peaceful version of the propaganda by deed. They divide, however, over the question of action.". Anarcho-pacifists can even accept "the principle of resistance and even revolutionary action (Nonviolent revolution), provided it does not incur violence, which they see as a form of power and therefore nonanarchist in nature. This change in attitude has led the pacifist anarchists to veer toward the anarchosyndicalists, since the latter's concept of the general strike as the great revolutionary weapon made an appeal to those pacifists who accepted the need for fundamental social change but did not wish to compromise their ideal by the use of negative (i.e., violent) means."
Ideological variance 
While anarcho-pacifism is most commonly associated with religious anarchism such as Tolstoyan Christian anarchism and Buddhist anarchism, irreligious or even anti-religious tendencies have emerged. The anarcho-punk band Crass polemicised a variant of anarcho-pacifism whilst at the same time explicitly rejecting all religions, especially the symbols of 'establishment' Christian theology. Opposition to the use of violence has not prohibited anarcho-pacifists from accepting the principle of resistance or even revolutionary action provided it does not result in violence; in fact it was their approval of such forms of opposition to power that lead anarcho-pacifists to endorse the anarcho-syndicalist concept of the general strike as the great revolutionary weapon. Later anarcho-pacifists have also come to endorse to non-violent strategy of dual power, as championed by Mutualism.
Peter Gelderloos is a popular critic of the idea that nonviolence is the only way to fight for a better world. Pacifism as an ideology is said to serve the interests of the state and is hopelessly caught up psychologically with the control schema of patriarchy and white supremacy.
See also 
- George Woodcock. Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements (1962)
- "Resisting the Nation State, the pacifist and anarchist tradition" by Geoffrey Ostergaard
- Woodstock, George (1962). Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements. "Finally, somewhat aside from the curve that runs from anarchist individualism to anarcho-syndicalism, we come to Tolstoyanism and to pacifist anarchism that appeared, mostly in Holland, Britain, and the United states, before and after the Second World War and which has continued since then in the deep in the anarchist involvement in the protests against nuclear armament."
- Brock, Peter, Pacifism in Europe to 1914, Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1972, ISBN 0691046085 (p. 395-6).
- Woodcock, George (2004). Anarchism: a History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements. Peterborough: Broadview Press. ISBN 1-55111-629-4.
- "Anarchism and the Movement for a New Society: Direct Action and Prefigurative Community in the 1970s and 80s" by Andrew Cornell
- Resisting the Nation State. The pacifist and anarchist tradition by Geoffrey Ostergaard
- Wald, Alan M. The New York Intellectuals: The Rise and Decline of the Anti-Stalinist Left From the 1930s to the 1980s. UNC Press Books, 1987 ISBN 0807841692, (p.210).
- Rayner, Claire (28 March 2000). "News: Obituaries: Alex Comfort". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- For discussions of Comfort's political views, see Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism (1992) by Peter Marshall, and Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow (2006) by David Goodway.
- Complete Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell volume II, pg. 294-303
- Taylor, John, "Abandoning Pacifism: The Case of Sartre", Journal of European Studies, Vol. 89, 1993
- 2A.3 What types of anarchism are there?" in An Anarchist FAQ
- Aitch, Iain (2007-10-19). "'Why should we accept any less than a better way of doing things?'". Guardian Unlimited Arts (London: The Guardian). Retrieved 2007-12-26.
- Gelderloos, Peter (2007). How Nonviolence Protects the State. Cambridge, MA: South End Press. p. 128. ISBN 9780896087729.
- Doherty, Brian (2007) Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement
- Ostergaard, Geoffrey (1991) Resisting the Nation State: the pacifist and anarchist tradition
- Tolstoy, Leo. The Kingdom of God Is Within You.
- Anarchists and War Tax Resistance and Death and Taxes - 30 minute film about War Tax Resisters and their motivations by the NWTRCC