Sunday, December 11, 2016

Einstein On Pacifism

Albert Einstein was a confirmed pacifist. But suddenly - he had a change of heart!!

Read on;

Einstein was a lifelong pacifist and believed that wars stood in the way of human progress. He believed that wars were the result of natural aggressive tendencies found within all organisms and that the aims and causes of war were simply justification for these tendencies. He advocated the creation of a supranational organization would make war as impossible in Europe as it was impossible between the former kingdoms that comprised the German Empire. Einstein was horrified by the destruction caused by World War I and promoted what he referred to as the "two percent plan". According to the plan, nations would be unable to wage war if one in 50 men refused to serve in the military.

Despite these views, following the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, Einstein became a vocal advocate for preparedness, recognizing the dangers of Nazi Germany gaining an advantage over the Western Allies. Alarmed at Hitler’s territorial ambitions, Einstein actively encouraged Belgians to join the military to protect European civilization. He explained the change in his outlook in 1941:

In the twenties, when no dictatorships existed, I advocated that refusing to go to war would make war improper. But as soon as coercive conditions appeared in certain nations, I felt that it would weaken the less aggressive nations vis-à-vis the more aggressive ones.

Einstein justified his letter to President Roosevelt recommending that an atomic bomb be produced by writing: seemed probable that the Germans might be working on the same problem with every prospect of success. I had no alternative but to act as I did, although I have always been a convinced pacifist.

When questioned about this position, Einstein wrote:

I did not say that I was an absolute pacifist, but rather that I has always been a convinced pacifist. While I am a convinced pacifist, there are circumstances in which I believe the use of force is appropriate – namely, in the face of an enemy unconditionally bent on destroying me and my people. ... I am a dedicated but not an absolute pacifist; this means that I am opposed to the use of force under any circumstances except when confronted by an enemy who pursues the destruction of life as an end in itself.

He further explained:

I have always been a pacifist, i.e. I have declined to recognize brute force as a means for the solution of international conflicts. Nevertheless, it is, in my opinion, not reasonable to cling to that principle unconditionally. An exception has necessarily to be made if a hostile power threatens wholesale destruction of one's own group.

This echoes what we quoted in the previous post from the letter of Rav Kook. It just doesn't work to negate war and violence when surrounded by barbarians. 

Since Einstein didn't have Torah and his views were made up as he went along [as are those of all secular people] he only came to this realization with the passing of time. [It must be noted that Einstein probably wouldn't have subscribed to the Torah command to destroy Amalek and the seven nations. But G-d doesn't need Einstein's haskama...].