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 Chatham Islands pacifism by Moriori

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Caro
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PostSubject: Chatham Islands pacifism by Moriori   Thu 24 Aug 2017, 07:56

I read for my bookclub a novel about the Chatham Islands (Rekohu in Moriori) about the inhabitants, early Maori who left the mainland to settle there.  (I think that's right; unless they were there from the start of Maori settlement in NZ).  The book focussed on the mixed-up identities of Moriori/the Maori tribe who overtook them and European blood (Pakeha).

But what is of most interest about the Moriori is that they eschewed war, any form of violence really.  And it wasn't by chance - apparently it was a very deliberate decision by a person or group over 600 years ago.  They could only go as far as drawing blood, then that was an end to any conflict.  When Maori invaded them in 1835, they didn't offer any resistence and survivors were taken as slaves to Aotearoa.  It was the end of Moriori to all intents and purposes, though anyone with Solomon as a surname is probably of Moriori ancestry.  The last full-blooded one died about 1933. He was Tommy Solomon. Mind you there aren't any full-blooded Maori left either and as for Pakeha, even totally British ones would have a real mixture of cultural ancestors. 

But I wondered if any other civilization had as strong a commitment to pacifism as this.  They also have tree carvings dating back 300 years, though the trees are now becoming old and diseased and the Department of Conservation is trying to ensure their preservation.  The impression I had is that some of these trees help to tell the story of the invasion.
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PostSubject: Re: Chatham Islands pacifism by Moriori   Thu 24 Aug 2017, 15:46

I'm sadly reminded of lines from the Margaret Atwood poem which ferval posted on another thread:


Sekhmet, the Lion-Headed Goddess of War

Margaret Atwood

He was the sort of man
who wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Many flies are now alive
while he is not.
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PostSubject: Re: Chatham Islands pacifism by Moriori   Sat 26 Aug 2017, 17:09

I can't think of any civilizations that have been genuinely committed to pacifism as such. There have, however, been countries and societies which have been pacific in outlook or at least have been committed to non-aggression. 

The most obvious examples in modern times would be Switzerland, Sweden, Tibet and Costa Rica as states and the Quakers and the Amish as groups and individuals. In the case of Costa Rica, then that country officially abolished its military in the 1940s. That said, it does maintain a heavily tooled-up police force and coastguard including an air wing so maybe it's a case of plus ca change.

The House of Habsburg liked to think of itself as pacific. It even had a motto - 'Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube' - 'Leave war to others, you happy Austria do wed'. By which it meant that the growth of the empire was due mainly to dynastic marriages rather than through armed conquest.
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PostSubject: Re: Chatham Islands pacifism by Moriori   Sat 26 Aug 2017, 20:36

But of course whether a state is neutral or non-aggressive, it still doesn't necessarily follow that their society is pacific and has eschewed violence. Both Sweden and Switzerland have long-declared traditions of international neutrality ... but both, in the absence of any military treaties or alliances with other states, maintain their own, quite formidable, armed forces. (Hasn't Sweden just reintroduced compusory military service? And I believe Switzerland has more firearms per head held by the civillian population, than does the notoriously gun-toting USA.)

Amongst modern European states the only one outside of micro-states (and even the Vatican, Monte Carlo and San Marino maintain military units) that doesn't have an army is Andorra. Andorra does have a dedicated "colour guard" unit of about two dozen policemen who are used for ceremonial functions, although about half of this force actually comprises the brass band. Andorra's gendarmes, perhaps like Costa Rica's, are actually well-armed and equipped, but they nevertheless have no offensive capability outside of their state's borders and their efforts are entirely focussed on tackling domestic crime, smuggling, illegal narcotics, counterfeit goods, and terrorism.

That said however, throughout the 20th century Andorra was actually at war for more years than many other European states. In support of their neighbour, France, Andorra declared war against Imperial Germany in August 1914. But other than restricting financial services, there wasn't really much they could do to support the allied war effort, and so inevitably WW1 rather passed them by. It was only in 1939 when France declared war on Germany that Andorra looked again into the matter ... only to find that, having never beeen invited to be a signatory to the Treaty of Versailles, that they were still formally at war with Germany. So a few days after France and Britain declared war on Germay, Andorra hastily concluded a belated peace treaty with the Nazis, and then immediately opted for neutrality.

But I guess that is the thing with peaceful societies who have chosen to avoid all war and violence ... they rarely last very long. Sadly they almost inevitably get taken advantage of, annexed, invaded, occupied or simply taken over by their more belligerant neighbours, and so cease to exist independently.
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