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Pacificism is the general term for ethical opposition to violence or war, except in cases where force is deemed absolutely necessary to advance the cause of peace.
It falls between pacifism, which usually states that killing, violence or war is unconditionally wrong in all cases, and defensivism, which accepts all defensive wars and acts of deterrence as morally just. Pacificism states that war can only ever be considered as a firm "last resort", condemning both aggression and militarism. In the 1940s, the two terms were not conceptually distinguished and pacificism was considered merely as an archaic spelling, although less 'barbarous' than the more common and shorter form.
The distinct theory was first put forward by A. J. P. Taylor in The Trouble-Makers (1957) and was subsequently defined by Martin Ceadel in his 1987 book, Thinking About Peace and War. It was also discussed in detail in Richard Norman's book: Ethics, Killing and War.
The largest national peace association in history, the British League of Nations Union, was pacificist rather than pacifist in orientation. Historically, the majority of peace activists have been pacificists rather than strict pacifists.
^‘By ‘pacificism’ I mean the advocacy of a peaceful policy; by ‘pacifism’ (a word invented only in the twentieth century) the doctrine of non-resistance. The latter is the negation of policy, not an alternative, and therefore irrelevant to my theme. Hence my disregard for the Peace Societies.’ AJP Taylor, The Trouble-Makers, London: H Hamilton, 1957, p. 51