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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 3
    whole nations for the sake of conquest or for dynastic religious or fanatic aims to behead torture quarter imprison destroy and enslave whole nations But in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries subjugated people enlightened by Christianity or by the humanitarian teachings which have grown up out of it can no longer submit without pangs of conscience to the powers which demand that they should participate in the slaughter of men defending their freedom as was done in the Chinese Boer and Philippine wars They can no longer with quiet consciences as formerly know themselves to be participants in the deeds of violence and the executions which are being committed by the governments of their countries Thus force using power destroys itself in two ways It destroys itself through the ever growing depravity of those in authority and the consequent continually increasing burden borne by the ruled and through its ever increasing deviation from the ever developing moral perception of the ruled Therefore where force using power exists a moment must inevitably come when the relation of the people towards that power must change This moment may come sooner or later according to the degree and the rapidity of the corruption of the rulers to the amount of their cunning to the quieter or more restless temperament of the people and even from their geographic position helping or hindering the interaction of the people among themselves But sooner or later that moment must inevitably come to all nations To the Western nations which arose on the ruins of the Roman Empire that moment came long ago The struggle of people against government began even in Rome It continued in all the states that succeeded Rome and still goes on To the Eastern nations of Turkey Persia India and China that moment

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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 4
    the Bourbons the Convention the Directory Bonaparte the Empire again the Bourbons a Republic Louis Philippe again a Republic again a Bonaparte and again a Republic The substitution of new powers for old ones took place among other nations too though not so rapidly as in France These changes in most cases did not improve the condition of the people and therefore those who made these changes could not help coming to the conclusion that the misery they suffered did not so much depend on the nature of the persons in power as on the fact that a few persons exercised power over many The people therefore tried to render the power harmless by limiting it and such limitation was introduced in several countries in the form of elected chambers of representatives But the men who limited the arbitrariness of the rulers and found the assemblies becoming themselves possessors of power naturally succumbed to the depraving influence that accompanies power and to which the autocratic rulers had succumbed These men becoming sharers in power even though not singly perpetrated jointly or separately the same kind of evil and became as great a burden on the people as the autocratic rulers had been Then to limit the arbitrariness of power still more monarchical power was abolished altogether in some countries and a government was established chosen by the whole people In this way republics were instituted in France America and Switzerland The referendum and the initiative were introduced giving every member of the community the possibility of interfering and participating in legislation But the only effect of all these measures was that the citizens of these states participating more and more in power and being more and more diverted from serious occupations grew more and more depraved The calamities from which

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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 5
    have certainly become more secure comfortable agreeable and aesthetic than they used to be But is the life of most of the people in those countries more secure freer or above all more reasonable and moral I think not Under the despotic power of one man the number of persons who come under the corrupting influence of power and live on the labor of others is limited and consists of the despot s close friends assistants servants and flatterers and of their helpers The infection of depravity is focused in the court of the despot whence it radiates in all directions Where power is limited i e where many persons take part in it the number of centers of infection is augmented for everyone who shares power has his friends helpers servants flatterers and relations Where there is universal suffrage these centers of infection are still more diffused Every voter becomes the object of flattery and bribery The character of the power itself is also changed Instead of power founded on direct violence we get a monetary power also founded on violence not directly but through a complicated transmission Thus under representative governments instead of one or a few centers of depravity we get a large number of such centers There springs up a large class of people living idly on others labor the class called the bourgeois people who being protected by violence arrange for themselves easy and comfortable lives free from hard work When arranging an easy and pleasant life not only for a monarch and his court but also for thousands of little kinglets many things are needed to embellish and to amuse this idle life It results that inventions appear whenever power passes from a despotic to a representative government which facilitate the supply of objects

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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 6
    when elected he will maintain on various articles certain monopolies or import duties which are advantageous to them and which will enable them to recoup the cost of the election a hundredfold And this corruption with all its accompanying phenomena the desire to avoid hard work and to benefit by comforts and pleasures provided by others interests and cares inaccessible to a man engaged in work concerning the general business of the state the spread of a lying and inflammatory press and above all animosity between nations classes and men has grown and grown It has reached such dimensions that the struggle of all men against their fellows has become so habitual a state of things that science the science that is engaged in condoning all the nastiness done by men has decided that the struggle and enmity of all against all is a necessary unavoidable and beneficent condition of human life That peace which seemed the greatest of blessings to the ancients who saluted each other with the words Peace be unto you has now quite disappeared from among the Western peoples Not only has it disappeared but men try to assure themselves by the aid of science that man s highest destiny lies not in peace but in the strife of all against all And really among the Western nations an unceasing industrial commercial and military strife is continually waged a strife of state against state class against class labor against capital party against party and man against man Nor is this all The chief result of this participation of all men in power is that men being more and more drawn away from direct work on the land and more and more involved in diverse ways of exploiting the labor of others have lost their independence and are forced to lead immoral lives by the position they live in Having neither the desire nor the habit of living by tilling their own land the Western nations were forced to obtain their means of subsistence from other countries They could do this only in two ways by fraud that is by exchanging things for the most part unnecessary or depraving such as alcohol opium or weapons for the foodstuffs indispensable to them or by violence that is by robbing the people of Asia and Africa wherever they saw an opportunity of doing this with impunity Such is the position of Germany Austria Italy France the United States and especially Great Britain which is held up as an example for the imitation and envy of other nations Almost all the people of these nations having become conscious participators in deeds of violence devote their strength and attention to the activities of government industry and commerce which aim chiefly at satisfying the demands of the rich for luxuries They subjugate partly by direct force partly by money the agricultural people both of their own and of foreign countries who have to provide them with the necessaries of life Such people

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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 7
    the earth to catch those who are still leading rational lives Vying with one another they increase their armaments more and more and more and more cunningly under various pretexts seize the land of those who still live rational lives and force these people to feed them They have been able to do this until now But the limit to the acquirement of markets to the deception of buyers to the sale of unnecessary and injurious articles and to the enslavement of distant nations is already apparent The peoples of distant lands are themselves becoming depraved are learning to make for themselves all those articles which the Western nations supplied them with and are above all learning the not very cunning science of arming themselves and of being as cruel as their teachers Thus the end of such immoral existence is already in sight The people of the Western nations see this coming and feeling unable to stop in their career comfort themselves as people half aware that they are ruining their lives always do by self deception and blind faith Such blind faith is spreading more and more widely among most of Western nations This faith is a belief that those inventions and improvements for increasing the comforts of the wealthy classes and for fighting that is slaughtering men which the enslaved masses have been forced to produce for several generations are something very important and almost holy called in the language of those who uphold such a mode of life culture or even more grandly civilization Just as every creed has a science of its own so this faith in civilization has a science sociology the one aim of which is to justify the false and desperate position in which the people of the Western world now find themselves The object of this science is to prove that all these inventions ironclads telegraphs nitroglycerine bombs photographs electric railways and all sorts of similar foolish and nasty inventions that stupefy the people and are designed to increase the comforts of the idle classes and to protect them by force not only represent something good but even something sacred predetermined by supreme unalterable laws Therefore they consider that the depravity they call civilization is a necessary condition of human life and must inevitably be adopted by all mankind This faith is just as blind as any other faith just as unshakable and just as self assured Any other position may be disputed and argued about but civilization meaning those inventions and those forms of life among which we are living and all the follies and nastiness that we produce is an indubitable blessing beyond all discussion Everything that disturbs faith in civilization is a lie and everything that supports this faith is a sacred truth This faith and its attendant science cause the Western nations not to wish to see or to acknowledge that the ruinous path they are following leads to inevitable destruction The so called most advanced among

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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 8
    Eastern nations it has been brought by submission to despotic power On the other hand it sees that among the Western nations the limitation of power and its diffusion among the people has not remedied the miseries of the people but has only depraved them and put them in a position in which they have to live by deceiving and robbing other nations Thus the Russian people must naturally alter its attitude towards power but not as the Western nations have done The Russian nation now stands like the hero of the fairy tale at the parting of two roads both leading to destruction It is impossible for the Russian nation to continue to submit to its government It is impossible because having freed itself from the prestige which has hitherto enveloped the Russian government and having once understood that most of the miseries suffered by the people are caused by the government the Russian people cannot cease to be aware of the cause of the calamities they suffer or cease to desire to free themselves from it Besides the Russian people cannot continue to submit to the government because now a true government a Government that gives security and tranquility to a nation no longer exists in reality There are two envenomed and contending parties but no government to which it is possible to quietly submit For Russians now to continue to submit to their government would mean to continue not only to bear the ever increasing calamities that they have suffered and are suffering lack of land famine heavy taxes and cruel useless and devastating wars but also and chiefly it would mean taking part in the crimes this government is now perpetrating in its evidently useless attempts at self defense Still less reasonable would it be for

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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 9
    increase in number of those in power has drawn people from labor on the land which is natural to all men to factory labor for the production and over production of unnecessary and harmful things and has obliged most of Western nations to base their lives on the deception and enslavement of other nations The fact that in our days all this has become quite obvious in the lives of the Western nations is the first condition favorable to the Russian people who have now reached the moment when they must change their relation towards power For the Russian people to follow the path the Western nations have trodden would be as though a traveler followed a path on which those who went before him had lost their way and from which the most far sighted of them were already returning Secondly while all the Western nations have more or less abandoned agriculture and are living chiefly by manufacture and commerce the Russian people have arrived at the necessity of changing their relation towards power while the immense majority of them are still living an agricultural life which they love and prize so much that most Russians when torn from it are always ready to return to it at the first opportunity This condition is of special value for Russians when freeing themselves from the evils of power for men have the least need of government while leading an agricultural life Or rather an agricultural life less than any other gives a government opportunities of interfering with the life of the people I know some village communes that emigrated to the Far East and settled in places where the frontier between China and Russia was not clearly defined and lived there in prosperity disregarding all governments until they were discovered by Russian officials Townsmen generally regard agriculture as one of the lowest occupations to which man can devote himself Yet the enormous majority of the population of the whole world is engaged in agriculture and on it the possibility of existence for all the rest of the human race depends In reality the human race is made up of husbandmen All the rest ministers locksmiths professors carpenters artists tailors scientists physicians generals and soldiers are but the servants or parasites of the agriculturist Thus agriculture besides being the most moral healthy joyful and necessary occupation is also the highest of human activities and alone gives men true independence Most Russians are still living this most natural moral and independent agricultural life This is the second most important circumstance which makes it possible and natural for the Russian people now that they are faced by the necessity of changing their relations towards power to change them in no other way than by freeing themselves from the evil of all power and simply ceasing to submit to any kind of government These are the first two conditions both of which are external The third condition an inner one is the religious feeling

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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 10
    advantage Each one says I can t be the first to do what nobody else does Let others begin and then I too will cease to submit to power And so says a second a third and everybody All under the pretence that no one can begin instead of acting in a manner unquestionably advantageous to all continue to do what is disadvantageous to everybody and is also irrational and contrary to human nature No one likes to cease submitting to power lest he should be persecuted by power Yet he well knows that obeying power means being subject to all sorts of the gravest calamities in foreign or civil wars What is the cause of this The cause of it is that people do not reason when yielding to power but act under the influence of something that has always been one of the most widespread motives of human action and has lately been most carefully studied and explained It is called suggestion or hypnotism This hypnotism prevents people from acting in accordance with their reasonable nature and their own interest and forces them to do what is unreasonable and disadvantageous It causes them to believe that the violence perpetrated by people calling themselves the government is not simply the immoral conduct of immoral men but is the action of some mysterious sacred being called the state without which men have never existed which is quite untrue and can never exist But how can reasonable beings men submit to such a surprising suggestion contrary to reason feeling and to their own interest The answer to this question is that not only do children the mentally diseased and idiots succumb to hypnotic influence and suggestion but all persons to the extent to which their religious consciousness is weakened their consciousness of their relation to the supreme cause on which their existence depends Most of the people of our times more and more lack this consciousness The reason that most people of our time lack this consciousness is that having once committed the sin of submitting to human power and not acknowledging this sin to be a sin but trying to hide it from themselves or to justify it they have exalted the power to which they submit to such an extent that it has replaced God s law for them When human law replaced divine law men lost religious consciousness and fell under governmental hypnotism which suggests to them the illusion that those who enslave them are not simply lost vicious men but are representatives of that mystic being the state without which it is supposed that men are unable to exist The vicious circle has been completed Submission to power has weakened and partly destroyed the religious feeling in men and the weakening and cessation of religious consciousness has subjected them to human power The sin of Power began with the oppressors saying to the oppressed Fulfill what we demand of you If you disobey we will kill you

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