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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 11
    of them have assumed a right to rule over men by means of threats of murder and others have consented to submit to these people and to participate in their rule By the very act of submitting these men have denied God and exchanged His law for human law Forgetting their relation to the Infinite most men have descended in spite of all the subtlety of their mental achievements to the lowest level of consciousness where they are guided only by animal passions and by the hypnotism of the herd That is the cause of all their calamities Therefore there is but one escape from the miseries with which people torment themselves It lies in re establishing a consciousness in themselves of their dependence on God and thereby regaining a reasonable and free relation towards themselves and towards their fellows Thus it is just this conscious submission to God and the consequent abandonment of the sin of power and of submission to it that now stands before all nations that suffer from the consequence of this sin The possibility and necessity of ceasing to submit to human power and of returning to the laws of God is dimly felt by all men and especially vividly by the Russian people just now And in this dim consciousness of the possibility and necessity of re establishing their obedience to the law of God and ceasing to obey human power lies the essence of the movement now taking place In Russia What is happening in Russia is not as many people suppose a rebellion of the people against their government in order to replace one government by another but a much greater and more important event What now moves the Russian people is a dim recognition of the wrongness and unreasonableness of all

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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 12
    deter men from crimes on the contrary it increases crime by always disturbing and lowering the moral standard of society Nor can this be otherwise since always and everywhere a government by its very nature must put in the place of the highest eternal religious law not written in books but in the hearts of men and binding on everyone its own unjust man made laws the object of which is neither justice nor the common good of all but various considerations of home and foreign expediency Such are all the existing evidently unjust fundamental laws of every government laws maintaining the exclusive right of a minority to the land which is the common possession of all laws giving some men a right over the labor of others laws compelling men to pay money for purposes of murder or to become soldiers themselves and go to war laws establishing monopolies in the sale of stupefying intoxicants or forbidding the free exchange of produce across a certain line called a frontier and laws regarding the execution of men for actions which are not so much immoral as simply disadvantageous to those in power All these laws and the exaction of their fulfillment by threats of violence the public executions inflicted for the non fulfillment of these laws and above all the forcing of men to take part in wars the habitual exaltation of military murders and the preparation for them all this inevitably lowers the moral social consciousness and its expression in public opinion Thus governmental activity not only does not support morality but on the contrary it would be hard to devise a more depraving action than that which governments have had and still have on the nations It could never enter the head of any ordinary scoundrel to commit all those horrors the stake the Inquisition torture raids quarterings hangings solitary confinements murders in war and the plundering of nations which have been and still are being committed and committed ostentatiously by all governments All the horrors of Sténka Rázin Pougatchéf 2 and other rebels were but results and feeble imitations of the horrors perpetrated by the Johns Peters and Birons 3 which have been and are being perpetrated by all governments If the action of government does deter some dozens of men from crime which is very doubtful hundreds of thousands of other crimes are committed only because men are educated in crime by governmental injustice and cruelty If men taking part in legislation in commerce in industries living in towns and in one way or other sharing the advantages of power can still believe in the beneficence of that power people living on the land cannot help knowing that government only causes them all kinds of suffering and deprivation was never needed by them and only corrupts those of them who come under its influence To try to prove to men that they cannot live without a Government and that the injury the thieves and robbers among

    Original URL path: http://www.nonresistance.org/docs_htm/Tolstoy/~Meaning_of_Russian_Revolution/MRR_chapter12.html (2016-04-28)
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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 13
    things would be in part distributed among the liberated peasants and in part kept for common use One would think it was evident that on an estate of that kind neither the houses clothes nor conservatories of the rich proprietor would be suitable for the liberated peasants and that they would not continue to keep them up In the same way when the working people are emancipated from the power of government and capital they will not continue to maintain the arrangements that have arisen under these powers and will not go to work in factories and works which could only have come into existence owing to their enslavement even if such factories could be profitable and pleasant for them It is true that when the workers are emancipated from slavery one will regret all this cunning machinery which weaves so much beautiful stuff so quickly and makes such nice sweets looking glasses and the like But in the same way after the emancipation of the serfs one regretted the beautiful racehorses pictures magnolias musical instruments and private theatres that disappeared Just as the liberated serfs bred animals suited to their way of life and raised the plants they required and the racehorses and magnolias disappeared by themselves so also the workmen freed from the power of government and capital will direct their labor to quite other work than at present But it is much more profitable to bake all the bread in one oven than for everybody to heat his own and to weave twenty times as quickly at a factory than on a handloom at home say the supporters of civilization speaking as if men were dumb cattle for whom food clothing dwellings and more or less labor were the only questions to solve An Australian savage knows very well that it would be more profitable to build one hut for himself and his wife yet he erects two so that both he and his wife may enjoy privacy The Russian peasant knows very decidedly that it is more profitable for him to live in one house with his father and brothers yet he separates from them builds his own cottage and prefers to bear privations rather than obey his elders or quarrel and have disagreement Better but a pot of broth and to be one s own master I think the majority of reasonable people will prefer to clean their own clothes and boots carry their own water and trim their own lamps than go to a factory and do obligatory labor for one hour a day to produce machines that would do all these things When coercion is no longer used nothing of all these fine machines that polish boots and clean plates nor even of those that bore tunnels and forge steel will probably remain The liberated workmen will inevitably let everything that was founded on their enslavement perish and will inevitably begin to construct quite other machines and appliances with other aims of other

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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 14
    of a tendency inherent in all men to strive towards moral perfection attainable by the infinitely varied activity of millions and millions of human lives Therefore the relation in which men will stand towards one another and the forms into which they shape society depend entirely on the inner characters of men and not at all on forecasting this or that form of life which they desire to adopt Yet those who do not believe in God s law always imagine that they can know what the future state of society should be and not only define this future state but do all sorts of things they themselves admit to be evil in order to mold human society to the shape they think it ought to take That others do not agree with them and think that social life should be quite differently arranged does not disturb them Having assured themselves that they can know what the future of society ought to be they not only decide this theoretically but also act They fight seize property imprison and kill men to establish the form in which according to their ideas mankind will be happy The old argument of Caiaphas It is expedient that one man should die and that the whole nation perish not seems irrefutable to such people Of course they must kill not only one man but hundreds and thousands of men if they are fully assured that the death of these thousands will give welfare to millions People who do not believe in God and His law cannot but argue thus Such people live in obedience only to their passions to their reasoning and to social hypnotism and have never considered their destiny of life nor wherein the real happiness of humanity consists Or if they have thought about it they have decided that this cannot be known These people who do not know wherein the welfare of a single man lies imagine that they know and know beyond all doubt what is needed for the welfare of society as a whole They know it so certainly that to attain such welfare as they understand it they commit deeds of violence murders and executions which they themselves admit to be evil At first it seems strange that men who do not know what they themselves need can imagine that they know clearly and indubitably what the whole community needs And yet it is just because they do not know what they need that they imagine they know what the whole community needs The dissatisfaction they lacking all guidance for their lives dimly feel they attribute not to themselves but to the badness of the existing forms of social life which differ from the one they have invented And in cares for the rearrangement of society they find a possibility of escaping from consciousness of the wrongness of their own lives That is why those who do not know what to do with themselves are always particularly sure

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  • THE MEANING OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION - Chapter 15
    with aesthetic and social questions when already old uttered some strikingly prophetic words Truly the spirit of God blows wherever it pleases This is what he wrote The soul too is incessantly at work ever evolving toward light and truth And so long as it has not reached full light and conquered the whole truth it will continue to torment man Well The soul never so harassed man never so dominated him as is does today It is as though it were in the air we all breathe The few isolated souls that had separately desired the regeneration of society have little by little sought one another out beckoned one another drawn nearer united comprehended one another and formed a group a centre of attraction toward which others now fly from the four quarters of the globe like larks toward a mirror They have as it were formed one collective soul so that men in future may realize together consciously and irresistibly the approaching union and steady progress of nations that were but recently hostile one to another This new soul I find and recognize in events seemingly most calculated to deny it These armaments of all nations these threats their representatives address to one another this revival of race persecutions and these hostilities among compatriots are all things of evil aspect but not of evil augury They are the last convulsions of that which is about to disappear The social body is like the human body Disease in this case is but a violent effort of the organism to throw off a morbid and harmful element Those who have profited and expect for long or forever to continue to profit by the mistakes of the past are uniting to prevent any modification of existing conditions Hence these armaments and threats and persecutions But look carefully and you will see that all this is quite superficial It is colossal but hollow There is no longer any soul in it the soul has gone elsewhere These millions of armed men who are daily drilled to prepare for a general war of extermination no longer hate the men they are expected to fight and none of their leaders dares to proclaim this war As for the appeals and even the threatening claims that rise from the suffering and the oppressed a great and sincere pity recognizing their justice begins at last to respond from above Agreement is inevitable It will come at an appointed time and is nearer than is expected I know not if this is because I shall soon leave this earth and because the rays that are already reaching me from below the horizon have disturbed my sight but I believe our world is about to begin to realize the words Love one another without however being concerned whether a man or a God uttered them The spiritual movement one recognizes on all sides and which so many naive and ambitious men expect to be able to direct will

    Original URL path: http://www.nonresistance.org/docs_htm/Tolstoy/~Meaning_of_Russian_Revolution/MRR_chapter15.html (2016-04-28)
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