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TolstoyPatriotismandGovernment

PatriotismandGovernment
byLeoTolstoy

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Ihaveseveraltimeshadoccasiontoexpresstheideathatpatriotismisinourtimeanunnatural,
irrational,andharmfulsentiment,whichcausesthegreaterpartofthosecalamitiesfromwhich
humanitysuffers,andthat,therefore,thissentimentoughtnottobecultivated,asitnowis,but,on
thecontrary,oughttoberepressedanddestroyedwithallmeansthatsensiblepeoplecancommand.
But,strangetosay,inspiteoftheevidentandincontestablerelationshipbetweenuniversal
armamentsanddestructivewars,whichruinthenations,allmyargumentsastotheobsoleteness,
untimeliness,andharmofpatriotismhavebeenmeteitherwithsilenceorwithintentional
misunderstanding.Or,theyhavebeenmetwiththesamestrangeretort:Whatissaidisthatthereis
harminthebadpatriotism,jingoism,andchauvinism,butthereal,goodpatriotismisaveryelevated,
moralsentiment,whichitisnotonlysenseless,butevencriminaltocondemn.Butastowhatthis
real,goodpatriotismconsistsin,eithernothingissaid,or,insteadofanexplanation,theyutter
pompous,highfalutinphrases,orsomethingwhichhasnothingincommonwithpatriotismisputin
theplaceofthispatriotism,whichweallknowandfromwhichwesuffersocruelly.

Theygenerallysaythatthetrue,goodpatriotismconsistsinwishingrealgoodforonesnationor
state,agoodthatdoesnotimpairthatoftheothernations.

Theotherday,whilespeakingwithanEnglishmanaboutthepresentwar,Itoldhimthatthereal
causewasnotanyselfishaims,asisgenerallyassumed,butpatriotism,aswasevidentfromthe
moodofallEnglishsociety.TheEnglishmandidnotagreewithme,andsaidthatifthatwastrue,it
wasduetothefactthatthepatriotismwhichwasnowanimatingtheEnglishwasafalsepatriotism,
butthatthegoodpatriotism,withwhichhewaspermeated,consistedintheprinciplethatthe
English,hisfellowcitizens,shouldnotactbadly.

DoyouwishthatonlytheEnglishshouldnotactbadly?Iasked.

Iwishthistoall!heanswered,showingplainlybythisanswerthatthepropertiesofbenefitsbe
theymoral,scientific,orevenappliedandpracticalarebytheirnaturesuchthattheyextendover
allmen,andsothedesireforsuchbenefitsforanyoneisnotonlynotpatriotism,butevenexcludes
it.

Similarly,thepeculiaritiesofeverynation,whichsomeotherdefendersofpatriotismintentionally
substituteforthisconcept,arenotpatriotism.Theysaythatthepeculiaritiesofeachnation
constituteanindispensableconditionfortheprogressofhumanity,andsopatriotism,whichstrives
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aftertheretentionofthesepeculiarities,isagoodandusefulsentiment.Butisitnotobviousthat,if
atsometimethepeculiaritiesofeachnationitscustoms,beliefs,andlanguageformedan
indispensableconditionofthelifeofhumanity,thesesamepeculiaritiesserveinourtimeasthechief
impedimenttotherealizationoftheidealofthebrotherlyunionofthenations,whichisalready
understoodbymen?Andso,themaintenanceandpreservationofthepeculiaritiesofanynationality
Russian,German,French,orAngloSaxonprovokingasimilarmaintenanceandpreservationnot
onlyonthepartoftheHungarian,Polish,andIrishnationalities,butalsoonthepartoftheBasque,
Provenal,Mordvinian,Chuvash,andahostofothernationalities,doesnotmakeforthecloser
friendshipandunionofmen,butfortheirevergreaterestrangementanddivision.

Thustherealpatriotism,andnottheimaginaryone,isadesirethatthisnationorstateenjoythe
greatestwelfareandgreatness,whichcanbeobtainedandalwaysareobtainedonlyattheexpense
ofthewelfareandgreatnessofothernationsandstates.Itisthepatriotismthatweallknow,the
majorityofthemenofourtimeareunderitsinfluence,andhumanitysufferscruellybecauseofit.It
isnotadesireforspiritualbenefitsforonesnation(itisimpossibletowishforspiritualbenefitsfor
onlyonesownnation),orthepeculiaritiesofnationalindividualities(thatisaquality,andbyno
meansasentiment),butaverydefinitefeelingofpreferringonesownnationorstatetoalltheother
nationsandstates.

Itwouldseemtobeobviousthatpatriotismasasentimentisbadandharmful.Asadoctrineitis
stupid,sinceitisclearthatifeverynationandstateshallconsideritselfthebestofnationsand
states,thenallofthemwillfindthemselvesinagrossandharmfulerror.

Onewouldthinkthattheharmfulnessandirrationalityofpatriotismoughttobeobvioustomen.But,
strangetosay,enlightened,learnedmennotonlyfailtoseethis,butalsowiththegreatest
persistencyandfervor,thoughwithoutanyrationalfoundations,refuteeveryindicationofthe
harmfulnessandirrationalityofpatriotism,andcontinuetolauditsbeneficenceandexalted
condition.

Whatdoesthatmean?

Onlyoneexplanationofthisremarkablephenomenonpresentsitselftome.Thewholehistoryof
humanity,fromthemostremotetimestothepresent,maybeviewedasthemotionofthe
consciousnessofseparateindividualsandofhomogeneousaggregatesofthemfromlowertohigher
ideas.

Thewholepathtraversedbothbyeachindividualpersonandthehomogeneousgroupsofmenmay
beconsideredasaconsecutiveseriesofsteps,fromthelowest,whichisonalevelwiththeanimal
life,tothehighest,whichatagivenhistoricalmomentmaybereachedbytheconsciousnessofman.

Everyman,liketheseparatehomogeneousgroupsthenations,thestateshasalwayswalked,asit
were,overthestepsofideas.Somepartsofhumanitymarchon,othersfallfarbehind,andothers
again,themajority,moveinthemiddle.Butallofthem,nomatteronwhatsteptheymaybe
standing,havingbehindthemtheobsoleterecollectionsofthepast,andaheadofthemtheidealsof
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thefuture,arealwaysinaprocessofstrugglingbetweentheobsoleteideasofthepastandtheideas
ofthefuture,whicharejustenteringintolife.Whatgenerallytakesplaceisthatwhenanidea,which
inthepastwasusefulandevenindispensable,becomessuperfluous,thisidea,afteramoreorless
prolongedstruggle,giveswaytoanewidea,whichheretoforewasanideal,butnowbecomesthe
ideaofthepresent.

Butitalsohappensthattheobsoleteidea,whichintheconsciousnessofmenhasalreadygivenway
tothehigheridea,issuchthatthemaintenanceofthisobsoleteideaisadvantageousforpeoplewho
havethegreatestinfluenceinsociety.Andthenithappensthatthisobsoleteidea,inspiteofitssharp
contradictiontothewholestructureoflife,whichischangedintheotherrelations,continuesto
influencemenandtoguidethemintheiracts.Sucharetardationofanobsoleteideahasalways
takenplaceinthesphereofreligion.Thereasonisthatthepriests,whoseadvantageouspositionis
connectedwiththeobsoletereligiousidea,makinguseoftheirpower,intentionallyretainthe
obsoleteideainthemindsofmen.

Thesametakesplace,andforthesamereason,inthepoliticalsphere,inrelationtotheideaof
patriotism,onwhicheverystatestructureisbased.Menwhoprofitbyitartificiallymaintainthisidea,
whichnolongerhasanysenseoruse.Theyareabletodoso,sincetheyareinpossessionofthemost
powerfulmeansforinfluencingmen.

InthisdoIfindanexplanationofthestrangecontradictionbetweentheobsoleteideaofpatriotism
andthewholecontrarytrainofideas,whichinourtimehavealreadypassedintotheconsciousness
oftheChristianworld.

Patriotism,asasentimentofexclusiveloveforonesnationandasadoctrineaboutthevirtuous
sacrificeofonespeace,property,andevenlifeforthedefenseoftheweakagainstthe
murderousnessandviolenceoftheirenemies,wasthehighestideaofatimewheneverynation
considereditpossibleandjust,forthesakeofitsowngoodandgreatness,tosubjectthemenof
anothernationtomurderandpillage.Butasfarbackastwothousandyearsago,thehighest
representativesofthewisdomofhumanitybegantorecognizethehigherideaofthebrotherhoodof
men,andthisidea,enteringtheconsciousnessmoreandmore,hasinourtimereceivedthemost
variedrealization.Thankstothegreatereaseofcommunicationandtheunificationofindustry,
commerce,thearts,andthesciences,themenofourtimearesounitedamongthemselvesthatthe
dangerofconquests,slaughter,andviolenceonthepartofneighboringnationshasentirely
disappeared.Allthenations(thenations,notthegovernments)liveamongthemselvesinpeaceful,
mutuallyadvantageous,amicable,industrial,commercial,mentalrelations,whichtheyhaveno
reasonandnoneedtoviolate.Andsoitwouldseemthattheobsoletefeelingofpatriotismoughtto
bedestroyedmoreandmoreandtovanishcompletely,assuperfluousandincompatiblewiththe
vitalizedconsciousnessofthebrotherhoodofthemenofthevariousnationalities.However,the
reversetakesplace.Thisharmfulandobsoletesentimentnotonlycontinuestoexist,butiseven
fannedmoreandmore.

Thenations,withoutanyrationalfoundationandcontrarytotheirconsciousnessandtheir
advantages,notonlysympathizewiththegovernmentsintheirattacksuponothernations,intheir
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seizuresofthepossessionsofothers,andintheuseofviolenceindefendingwhathasalreadybeen
seized,butthemselvesdemandtheseattacks,seizures,anddefenses,andrejoiceinthemandare
proudofthem.Theminoroppressednationalities,whichhavefallenintothepowerofthelarger
states(thePoles,theIrish,theBohemians,theFinns,theArmenians),reactingagainstthepatriotism
oftheconquerors,whichiscrushingthem,havetosuchanextentbecomeinfectedbytheoppressing
nationswiththeobsolete,useless,senseless,andharmfulsentimentofpatriotismthattheirwhole
activityiscentereduponit.Theythemselves,sufferingfromthepatriotismofthepowerfulnations,
arepreparedoutofthesamepatriotismtodototheothernationsthesamethatthenationsthat
haveconqueredthemhavebeendoingtothem.

Thisisduetothefactthattherulingclasses(meaningbythisnotmerelythegovernmentswiththeir
officials,butalsoalltheclasseswhichenjoyanexclusive,advantageouspositionthecapitalists,
journalists,themajorityofartistsandscholars)areabletoretaintheirexclusiveandadvantageous
position,ascomparedwiththepopularmasses,onlythankstothepoliticalstructurewhichis
supportedbymeansofpatriotism.Byhavingintheirhandsallthemostpowerfulmeansof
influencingthemasses,theyalwaysunswervinglymaintainthepatrioticfeelingsinthemselvesandin
others,themoreso,sincethesesentiments,whichsupportthepowerofthestate,aremorethanany
otherrewardedbythatpower.

Everyofficialsucceedsinhisserviceinproportiontohispatriotism;evensoamilitarymancan
advanceinhiscareeronlyinawar,whichisprovokedbypatriotism.Patriotismanditsconsequences,
thewars,giveagoodincometothenewspapermenandadvantagestothemajorityofmerchants.
Everyauthor,teacher,andprofessorwillmakehispositionmoresecurethemorehepreaches
patriotism.Everyemperorandkinggainsgloryinproportiontohisdevotiontopatriotism.

Thearmy,themoney,theschool,thereligion,andthepressareinthehandsoftherulingclasses.In
theschoolstheyfanpatriotisminthechildrenbymeansofhistory,bydescribingtheirnationasthe
bestofallthenationsandalwaysintheright.Intheadults,thesamesentimentisrousedbymeans
ofspectacles,celebrations,monuments,andapatriotic,lyingpress.

Butpatriotismischieflyrousedinthembycommittingallkindsofunjustactsandcrueltiesagainst
othernationsandprovokinghatredinthesenationsfortheirownnation,andthenusingthishatred
forprovokingsuchahatredintheirownnation.

ThefanningofthisterriblesentimentofpatriotismhasproceededintheEuropeannationsina
rapidlyincreasingprogression,andinourtimehasreachedastagebeyondwhichitcannotgo.

Withinthememoryofall,notmerelyoldmenofourtime,theretookplaceaneventthat,inthemost
obviousmanner,showedthestrikingstupefactiontowhichthemenoftheChristianworldwere
broughtbymeansofpatriotism.

TheGermanrulingclassesfannedthepatriotismoftheirpopularmassestosuchanextentthat,in
thesecondhalfofthecentury,alawwasproposedtothepeoplethatallmenwithoutexception
weretobecomesoldiers.Allsons,husbands,andfathersweretostudymurderandtobecome
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submissiveslavesofthehighestrank,andtobepreparedforthemurderofthosewhomtheywould
beorderedtokillthemenoftheoppressednationalitiesandtheirownlaborerswhoshoulddefend
theirrightsincludingtheirfathersandbrothers.Themostimpudentofallrulers,WilliamII,publicly
announcedthis.

Suchaterriblemeasure,whichintherudestwayoffendsallthebestsentimentsofmen,was,under
theinfluenceofpatriotism,acceptedwithoutamurmurbythenationofGermany.Theconsequence
ofthiswasthevictoryovertheFrench.ThisvictorystillmorefannedthepatriotismofGermany,and
laterofFrance,Russia,andotherpowers.Allthepeopleofthecontinentalpowerssubmittedwithout
amurmurtotheintroductionofuniversalmilitaryservice,thatis,toslavery,whichforthedegreeof
degradationandlossofwillcannotbecomparedwithanyoftheancientconditionsofslavery.After
that,theslavishsubmissionofthemassesinthenameofpatriotism,andtheimpudence,cruelty,and
madnessofthegovernmentsknewnobounds.Therebeganamadrace,provokedpartlybylust,
partlybyvanity,andpartlybygreedfortheseizureofforeignlandsinAsia,Africa,andAmerica,anda
greaterandevergreatermistrustandfuryofthegovernmentsagainstoneanother.

Thedestructionofnationsonseizedlandswastakenassomethingselfevident.Theonlyquestion
waswhowasgoingtobethefirsttoseizethelandandtodestroyitsinhabitants.Alltherulershave
notonlyviolatedthemostprimitivedemandsofjusticeagainstthevanquishednationsandagainst
oneanotherinthemostobviousmanner,buthavealsopracticedallkindsofdeceptions,rascalities,
briberies,forgeries,espionage,pillage,andmurder.Thenationshavenotonlyfailedtosympathize
withallthat,buthaveevenrejoiced,becausetheirstates,andnotforeignstates,havebeen
committingtheseevildeeds.Themutualenmityofthenationsandstateshasoflatereachedsuch
wonderfuldimensionsthat,althoughthereisnoreasonwhyonestateshouldattackotherstates,all
knowthatallthestatesarestandingoppositeoneanotherallthetimeextendingtheirclawsshowing
theirteeth,andjustwaitingforsomeonetofallintomisfortuneandgrowfeeble,inordertobeable
withtheleastdangertoattackhimandtearhimtopieces.

AllthenationsofthesocalledChristianworldhavebeenbroughtbypatriotismtosuchadegreeof
bestializationthatnotonlythemenwhoareputtothenecessityofkillingorbeingkilledwishforand
rejoiceatmurder,butalsothemenwhocalmlyliveintheirhousesinEurope,whoarenot
threatenedbyanyone,thankstotherapidandeasymeansofcommunicationandtothepressall
meninEuropeandinAmericaduringanywarareinthepositionofspectatorsinaRomancircus,
andjustlikethemrejoiceattheslaughter,andjustasbloodthirstilycry,Polliceverso!1

Notonlytheadults,butalsothechildren,thepure,wisechildren,accordingtothenationalityto
whichtheybelong,rejoicewhentheyhearthatnotsevenhundred,butonethousandEnglishmenor
Boerswerekilledandtorntopiecesbyhighexplosiveshells.Andtheparents,Iknowsuch,encourage
theirchildreninsuchbestiality.

Butmorethanthat,everyincreaseofthearmyofonestate(andeverystate,beingonaccountof
patriotismindanger,wishestoincreaseit)compelstheneighboringstatetoalsoincreaseitsarmyfor
thesakeofpatriotism,whichagaincallsforthanewincreaseofthefirst.Thesameistrueofthe
fortressesandfleets.Onestatebuildstenironclads,sotheneighboringonesbuildeleven.Thenthe
firstbuildstwelve,andsooninanendlessprogression.

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Illpinchyou.AndIllstrikeyouwithmyfist.Illwhipyou.AndIllclubyou.Illshootyou.
Badchildren,drunkenmen,andanimalsquarrelandfightinthismanner,andyetthissamethingis
takingplaceinthemidstofthehighestrepresentativesofthemostenlightenedstates,thesame
oneswhoareguidingtheeducationandmoralityoftheirsubjects.

Thestateofaffairsisgettingworseandworse,andthereisnopossibilitywhateverofarrestingthis
degeneration,whichisleadingtocertainruin.Theonlywayoutfromthissituation,ascredulous
peoplethought,isnowclosedbytheeventsofrecenttimes.IamspeakingoftheHagueconference,
andthewarbetweenEnglandandtheTransvaal,whichfollowedimmediatelythereafter.

Ifpeoplewhothinklittleoronlysuperficiallywereabletoconsolethemselveswiththeideathat
internationaltribunalscanremovethecalamitiesofwarandevergrowingarmaments,theHague
conference,withthewarwhichfolloweduponitsheels,showedinthemostobviousmannerthe
impossibilityofsolvingthequestioninthismanner.AftertheHagueconferenceitbecameobvious
thatsolongasthereshallexistgovernmentswitharmies,thecessationofarmamentsandwarsis
impossible.Foranagreementtobepossible,itisnecessaryforthepersonsagreeingtobelieveone
another.Butforthepowerstobelieveoneanother,theymustlaydowntheirarms,asdobearersof
truce,whentheycometogetherforaconsultation.

Butsolongasthegovernmentsdonotbelieveoneanother,donotdestroyordiminishtheir
armaments,keepincreasingtheirarmiesinconformitywiththeincreaseamongtheirneighbors,and
usespiestounswervinglywatcheverymovementofneighboringarmies,knowingthateverypower
willattacktheneighboringoneassoonasitshallhaveachancetodoso,noagreementispossible,
andeveryconferenceiseitherapieceofstupidity,aplaything,adeception,apieceofimpudence,or
allthesethingstakentogether.

ItbehoovedtheRussiangovernment,morethananyother,tobecometheenfantterribleofthis
conference.TheRussiangovernmentissospoiledbythefactthatnoonerepliesathometoallthose
obviouslylyingmanifestoesanddecrees.Havingwithouttheleastscruplesruineditsownnationby
meansofarmaments,havingchokedPoland,robbedTurkestanandChina,andstrangledFinlandwith
particularfury,itproposedtothegovernmentstodisarmthemselves,withthefullconvictionthatit
wouldbebelieved.

But,nomatterhowstrange,howunexpected,andhowindecentthispropositionwas,especiallyata
timewhenordershadbeengiventoincreasethearmies,thewords,enunciatedinthehearingofall,
weresuchthatthegovernmentsoftheotherpowerscouldnotdeclinetoparticipateinthecomical
andpatentlydeceptiveconsultations.Thedelegatescametogether,knowinginadvancethatnothing
couldcomeofit,andinthecourseofseveralmonths,duringwhichtheyreceivedgoodsalaries,
thoughtheylaughedintheirsleeves,allofthemgoodnaturedlypretendedthattheywerebuy
establishingpeaceamongthenations.

TheHagueconference,whichendedinterriblebloodshedtheTransvaalwar,whichnoonehas
triedtostopwasnonethelessuseful,thoughinadifferentwayfromwhatwasexpectedfromit.It
wasusefulinthatitshowedinthemostobviousmannerthattheevilfromwhichthenationssuffer
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cannotbemendedbythegovernments,andthatthegovernments,eveniftheywishedtodoso,are
unabletoabolisheitherarmamentsorwars.Inordertobeabletoexist,thegovernmentsmust
defendtheirnationsagainstattacksfromothernations.Nonationwantstoattackanother,orever
doesattackanother,andsothegovernmentsnotonlydonotwishforpeace,butalsoevenmake
effortstorousethehatredoftheothernationstowardtheirown.

Havingrousedthehatredoftheothernationstowardtheirown,andpatriotismintheirownnations,
thegovernmentsassuretheirpeoplethattheyareindangerandmustdefendthemselves.Havingthe
powerintheirhands,thegovernmentsareabletoirritatetheothernationsandtoevokepatriotism
intheirown,andtheyuseeveryefforttodoboth.Theythemselvescannothelpdoingso,because
uponthisistheirexistencebased.

Ifthegovernmentswereneededbeforetodefendtheirpeopleagainstattacksfromothernations,
now,onthecontrary,thegovernmentsartificiallyviolatethepeacethatexistsamongthenations,
andprovokehostilitiesamongthem.

Whenitwasnecessarytoplow,inordertobeabletosow,plowingwasasensiblething.Butitis
evidentthatitissenselessandharmfultoplowafterthecropshavegrownup.Andyetitisprecisely
thisthatthegovernmentsmaketheirnationsdodestroythatunionwhichexistsandwouldnotbe
impairedbyanything,iftherewerenogovernments.

Indeed,whatarethosegovernments,withoutwhichitseemsimpossibleformentobeabletoexist
inourtime?Iftherewasatimewhenthegovernmentswereanecessaryandlesserevilthantheone
whichresultedfromdefenselessnessinrelationtoorganizedneighbors,thegovernmentshavenow
becomeanunnecessaryandmuchgreaterevilthanallthatwithwhichtheyfrightentheirnations.

Governments,notonlythemilitaryones,butgovernmentsingeneralcouldbe,Idonotsayuseful,
butharmless,onlyincasetheyconsistedofinfallible,holypeople,asisassumedtobethecasein
China.Butgovernments,bydintoftheirveryactivity,whichconsistsinthepracticeofviolence,are
alwayscomposedofelementswhicharetheveryoppositeofholyofthemostimpudent,coarse,
andcorruptedmen.Forthisreasoneverygovernment,andespeciallyeverygovernmenttowhichthe
militarypowerisdelegated,isamostdangerousinstitutionintheworld.

Thegovernment,initsbroadestsense,withtheinclusionofcapitalistsandthepress,isnothingbut
anorganizationsuchthatthegreatmajorityofmenareinthepoweroftheminority,whichstands
abovethem.Thisminoritysubmitsitselftothepowerofastillmorerestrictedminority,andthis
againtoastillmorerestrictedminority,andsoforth,reachingatlastonemanorafewmen,whoby
meansofmilitaryviolencegainthepoweroveralltherest.Thusthiswholestructureislikeacone,all
thepartsofwhichareinthefullpowerofthefewpersons,ortheperson,attheapexofthecone.But
theapexofthisconeisseizedbythosemen,orbythatman,whoismorecunning,bolder,andmore
unscrupulousthantherest,oranaccidentalheirofthosewhowerebolderandmoreunscrupulous.

TodayitisBorsGodunv,tomorrowGrigriOtrpev;todaytheharlotCatherine,whowithher
paramoursstrangledherhusband,tomorrowPugachv,thedayaftermadPaul,Nicholas,and
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AlexanderIII.TodayNapoleon,tomorrowBourbon,Orleans,Boulanger,oracompanyof
Panamaists;todayGladstone,tomorrowSalisbury,Chamberlain,andRhodes.

Anditissuchgovernmentsthatareinvestedwithfullpower,notonlyoverpropertyandlife,butalso
overthespiritualandmoraldevelopment,theeducation,andthereligiousguidanceofallmen.

Menproducethisterriblemachineofpower,lettinganyonewhopleasesseizethispower(andallthe
chancesarethatitwillbeseizedbytheonewhoismorallyworst),slavishlysubmittoit,andmarvel
thattheyarefaringbadly.Theyareafraidofminesandofanarchists,butarenotafraidofthat
terriblestructurewhichthreatensthemanyminutewiththegreatestcalamities.

Menfoundthat,todefendthemselvesagainstenemies,itisusefulforthemtotiethemselves
together,astheCircassiansdo,whendefendingthemselves.Butthereisnodanger,andmenstill
continuetotiethemselves.Theycarefullytiethemselvesinsuchawaythatonemanisenabledtodo
withthemwhathepleases.Thentheyallowtheendoftheropethatbindsthemtodangleabout,
leavingittothefirstrascalorfooltotakeitupanddowiththemwhathewants.

Isitnotpreciselywhatthenationsaredoing,whentheysubmit,establish,andsupportagovernment
thatisorganizedwithmilitarypower?

Tofreepeoplefromthoseterriblecalamitiesofarmamentsandwars,whichtheysuffernow,and
whichkeepgrowinggreaterandgreater,wedonotneedcongresses,conferences,treaties,or
tribunals,buttheabolitionofthatimplementofviolencethatiscalledgovernment,andfromwhich
originatesallthegreatestcalamitiesofmen.

Toabolishthegovernmentsonlyonethingisneeded.Itisnecessarythatmenshouldunderstandthat
thesentimentofpatriotism,whichalonemaintainsthisimplementofviolence,isacoarse,harmful,
disgraceful,bad,andaboveall,immoralsentiment.Itiscoarse,becauseitischaracteristicofonly
suchmenasstandontheloweststageofmoralityandwhoexpectfromothernationsthesameacts
ofviolencethattheywanttopracticethemselves.Itisharmful,becauseitviolatestheadvantageous
andjoyouspeacefulrelationswithothernations,and,aboveall,producesthatorganizationofthe
governments,inwhichtheworstmancanacquireandalwaysacquiresthepower.Itisdisgraceful,
becauseittransformsthemannotonlyintoaslave,butalsointoafightingcock,abull,anda
gladiator,whoruinshisforcesandhislife,notforhisownpurposes,butforthoseofhisgovernment.
Itisimmoralbecause,insteadofrecognizinghimselfasthesonofGod,asChristianityteachesus,or
atleastasafreeman,whoisguidedbyhisreason,everyman,undertheinfluenceofpatriotism,
recognizeshimselfasthesonofhiscountryandtheslaveofhisgovernment,andcommitsactswhich
arecontrarytohisreasonandtohisconscience.

Menneedbutunderstandthis,andtheterriblebondageofmen,calledthegovernment,willfall
apartofitsownaccord,withoutanystruggle,andwithitwillfallthatterrible,uselessevilwhichis
causedbyittothenations.

Menarebeginningtoseethis.Thisis,forexample,whatacitizenoftheUnitedStateswrites:
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Theonethingwhichweall,farmers,mechanics,merchants,manufacturers,and
teachersaskistherighttoattendtoourownbusiness.Wehaveourhomes,loveour
friends,aredevotedtoourfamilies,anddonotinterfereintheaffairsofourneighbors.
Wehaveourwork,andwewanttowork.

Leaveusalone!

Butthepoliticianswillnotleaveusalone.Theyimposetaxesuponus,eatupour
sustenance,keepacensusofas,andcallouryouthstotheirwars.

Wholemyriadsofthosewholiveattheexpenseofthegovernmentaremaintainedby
theminordertoimposetaxesuponus.Buttotaxussuccessfully,permanentarmies
aremaintained.Theargumentthatthearmyisneededforthedefenseofthecountryis
anobviousdeception.TheFrenchgovernmentfrightensthepeoplebysayingthatthe
Germansareabouttoattackthem.TheRussiansareafraidoftheEnglish.TheEnglish
areafraidofeverybodyelse.AndnowweinAmericaaretoldthatitisnecessaryto
increasethefleetandtoaddtothearmy,becauseEuropemayatanymomentunite
againstus.Thatisadeceptionandalie.ThecommonpeopleinFrance,inGermany,in
England,andinAmericaareagainstwar.Allwewishistobeleftalone.Themenwho
havewives,parents,children,andhomeshavenodesiretogoawaytofightwith
anybody.Wearepeaceableandfearwar.Wehateit.

Allwewantisnottodotootherswhatwedonotwantotherstodotous.

Warisadirectconsequenceoftheexistenceofarmedmen.Acountrythatmaintainsa
largepermanentarmywillfightsoonerorlater.Amanwhoisproudofhisstrengthina
wrestlingmatchwillsomedaymeetamanwhoconsidershimselfachampionwrestler,
andtheywillfight.GermanyandFranceareonlywaitingforachancetotrytheir
strength.Theyhavefoughtseveraltimesandwillfightagain.Notthatthemasseswish
forwar,butthattheupperclassesfaninthemtheirmutualhatredandcompelpeople
tothinkthattheymustfightinordertodefendthemselves.

MenwhowouldliketofollowChriststeachingaretaxed,insulted,deceived,and
drawnintothearmy.Christtaughtmeekness,humility,forgivenessofsins,andthatitis
badtokill.Scriptureteachespeoplenottoswear,buttheupperclassescompelusto
swearontheScripture,inwhichtheydonotbelieve.

Howcanwebefreedfromthesespendthrifts,whodonotwork,butwhoaredressedin
fineclothwithbrassbuttonsandcostlyornaments;whoaresupportedbyourlabors,
forwhomwetillthesoil?

Shallwefightwiththem?

Butwedonotrecognizebloodshed,and,besides,theyhavethearmsandthemoney,
andtheycanstanditlongerthanwe.
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Butwhocomposesthearmythatwillfightus?

Thisarmyisformedbyus,ourdeceivedneighborsandbrothers,whohavebeenmade
tobelievethattheyareservingGodwhentheydefendtheircountryfromtheenemy.In
reality,ourcountryhasnoenemiesexcepttheupperclasses,whohavetakenupon
themselvestoguardourinterests,ifonlyweshallconsenttopaythetaxes.They
consumeoursustenanceandrouseourtruebrothersagainstus,inordertoenslave
anddegradeus.

Youcannotsendatelegramtoyourwife,yourfriend,oryourcommissiondealerunless
youfirstpayafee,whichisbeingcollectedforthemaintenanceofarmedmen,who
maybeusedforthepurposeofkillingyou,andwhowillunquestionablyputyouinjailif
youdonotpayit.

Theonlymeansofstoppingthisconsistsinimpressingpeoplewiththeideathatitis
badtokill,inteachingthemthatthewholelawandtheprophetsdemandthatwe
shouldnotdotootherswhatwedonotwishthatothersshoulddotous.Silently
disregardtheseupperclasses,andrefusetobowbeforetheirmartialidol.Stop
supportingpreacherswhopreachwarandputforwardpatriotismas
somethingimportant.

Letthemgoandwork,aswedo.

WebelieveinChrist,buttheydonot.Christsaidwhathethought.Theysaywhatthey
thinkwillpleasethemeninpowertheupperclass.

Wewillnotentermilitaryservice.Wewillnotshootattheircommand.Wewillnotarm
ourselveswithbayonetsagainstthegoodandmeekmasses.Wewillnotatthe
suggestionofCecilRhodesshootatshepherdsandagriculturists,whoaredefending
theirhearths.

Yourdeceptivecry,Wolf,wolf!doesnotfrightenus.Wepayourtaxesonlybecause
wearecompelledtodoso.Wewillpaythemonlysolongaswearecompelledtodoso.
Wewillnotpayanychurchtributetothehypocrites,orourtithesforyourhypocritical
philanthropy,andwewilloneveryoccasionexpress
ouropinion.

Wewilleducatethemen.

Andallthetimeoursilentinfluencewillgrow.Eventhesoldierswhohavebeendrafted
intothearmywillwaverbeforefighting.WewillpreachtheideathattheChristianlife
inpeaceandgoodwillisbetterthanalifeofstruggle,bloodshed,andwar.

Peaceonearthwillcomeonlywhenmenshallseparatethemselvesfromthearmies
andwillwishtodotootherswhattheywishthatothersshoulddotothem.
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ThuswritesacitizenoftheUnitedStatesofNorthAmerica,andonallsidesandinallformssimilar
voicesareheard.

HereiswhataGermansoldierwrites:

IhavetakenpartintwoexpeditionsofthePrussianGuard(1866,1870),andIhatewar
fromthedepthofmyheart,sinceithasmademeinexpressiblyunhappy.We,the
woundedwarriors,receiveforthemostpartsuchmiserablerewardsthatwereally
havetobeashamedofhavingeverbeenpatriots.I,forexample,receivedailyeighty
pfennigsformydisabledarm,whichwasshotthroughatthestormingofSaintPrivas,
onAugust18,1870.Manyahuntingdogneedsmoreforitsmaintenance.Ihave
sufferedforyearsfrommydisabledrightarm.Asearlyas1866Itookpartinthewar
againsttheAustrians,fightingatTrautenauandKniggrtz,andIhaveseenalotof
horrors.In1870I,beinginthereserve,wasagaincalledout,and,asIhavealready
said,IwaswoundedatthestormingofSaintPrivas.Myrightarmwastwiceshotdown
itswholelength.Ilostagoodposition(Iwasthenabeerbrewer),andafterthatI
couldnotgetitback.SincethenIhaveneverbeenabletogetonmylegsagain.The
intoxicationhaspassedaway,andtheinvalidwarriorhasnothingtoliveonbuta
beggarspittanceandalms

Inaworldinwhichmenrunaboutliketrainedanimalsandarenotcapableofany
otherideathanthatofoutwittingoneanotherforthesakeofmammon,Imaybe
consideredanoddperson.Inonethelessfeelinmyselfthedivineideaofpeace,which
issobeautifullyexpressedintheSermonontheMount.Accordingtomyinnermost
conviction,warisnothingbutcommerceonalargescaleacommerceofthe
ambitiousandmightyinthehappinessofthenations.

Whathorrorsonepassesthroughinconnectionwithit!Ishallneverforgetthem,
thosepitifulgroans,whichpenetratemetothemarrowofmybones.Menwhohave
neverdoneanyeviltooneanotherslayoneanotherlikewildanimals,andpettysouls
ofslavesdrawthegoodGodintoitasanaccompliceintheseacts.

Myneighborintherankshadhisjawsshatteredbyabullet.Theunfortunatemanwas
insanefrompain.Heranaboutlikeamadman,andintheburningsummerheatwas
unabletofindsomewaterwithwhichtocoolhisterriblewound.Ourcommander,
CrownPrinceFrederick(laterthenobleEmperorFrederick)wroteinhisdiaryatthat
time,WarisanironyontheGospel.

Menarebeginningtounderstandthedeceptionofpatriotism,inwhichallthegovernmentsaretrying
sozealouslytomaintainthem.

Butwhatwillhappenwhenthereshallbenomoregovernments?peoplegenerallyask.

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Therewillbenothing.Whatwillhappenwillbethis:thatwhichlongagoceasedtobeusefulandnow
issuperfluousandbadwillbedestroyed.Whatwillbedestroyedistheorganthat,havingbecome
useless,hasgrowntobeharmful.

Butifthereshallbenogovernments,peoplewillviolateandkilloneanother,peoplegenerallysay.

Why?Whywilltheabolitionofanorganization,whicharoseastheresultofviolenceandwhichhas
beentransmittedfromgenerationtogenerationforthepurposeofexertingviolencewhywillthe
abolitionofsuchanobsoleteorganizationcausepeopletoviolateandkilloneanother?Itwould
seem,onthecontrary,thatthedestructionoftheorganofviolencewouldhavetheeffectthat
peoplewouldstoppracticingviolenceandkillingoneanother.

Therearenowpeoplewhoarespeciallyeducatedandpreparedforkillingandviolatingmen,people
towhomtherighttocommitactsofviolenceisdelegated,andwhomakeuseofanorganizationthat
isestablishedforthepurpose.Suchviolenceandmurderisconsideredtobeagoodandvirtuousact.
Whengovernmentisabolished,peoplewillnotbeeducatedforthepurposeofviolence,noonewill
havetherighttodoviolencetoothers,therewillbenoorganizationofviolence,and,asisnotthe
casewiththemenofourtime,violenceandmurderwillalwaysandbyallmenbeconsideredtobea
badthing.

If,afterthedestructionofthegovernments,actsofviolenceshallbecommitted,itisevidentthat
theywillbelessthanthoseatthepresenttime,whenthereexistorganizationsspeciallyestablished
fortheproductionofviolence,andwhenthereareconditionswhenviolenceandmurderare
consideredgoodanduseful.Theabolitionofthegovernmentswillonlydestroythetraditional,
uselessorganizationofviolenceanditsjustification.

Therewillbenolaws,noproperty,nocourts,nopolice,nopopulareducation,peoplegenerally
say,intentionallyconfusingtheviolencewieldedbygovernmentalpowerwiththedifferentactivities
ofsociety.

Theabolitionoftheorganizationofgovernments,whichareestablishedforthepurposeofexerting
violenceagainstpeople,doesnotbringwithitthedestructionofwhatisrationalandgood,whatis
nonviolatinginthelaws,thecourts,property,policedefense,financialinstitutions,andpopular
education.Onthecontrary,theabsenceoftheerudepowerofthegovernments,whoseonlypurpose
istosupportthemselves,willcontributetoamorerationalandjustpublicorganization,whichisinno
needofviolence.Courts,publicaffairs,andpopulareducationwillcontinuetoexisttotheextentto
whichthenationsshallneedthem,andinaformwhichwillnotcontainanyevilthatisconnected
withthepresentgovernmentalorganization.Onlythatwillbedestroyedwhichwasbadandwhich
interferedwiththefreemanifestationofthewillofthenations.

Butevenifweadmitthat,withtheabsenceofthegovernments,therewilloccurdisturbancesand
innerconflicts,thestateofaffairswouldeveninthatcasebebetterthanwhatitisnow.Thepresent
conditionofthenationsissuchthatitishardtoimagineitworse.Themassesareallruined,andthe
ruinmustinevitablykeepgrowinggreater.Allthemenareturnedintomilitaryslaves,andmostawait
thecommandatanymomenttogooutandkillandbekilled.Forwhatelseshalltheywait?Thatthe
ruinednationsshallstarvetodeath?That,indeed,isnowtakingplaceinRussia,Italy,andIndia.Or
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TolstoyPatriotismandGovernment

thatnotonlythemen,butalsothewomenshallbedraftedintothearmy?IntheTransvaaltheyare
beginningtodoso.

Thus,eveniftheabsenceofgovernmentshouldactuallymeananarchyinthenegative,disorderly
senseoftheword(whichitdoesnotatallmean),nodisordersofanarchycouldbeworsethanthe
conditiontowhichthegovernmentshavealreadybroughttheirnationsandtowardwhichtheyare
leadingthem.

Andsotheliberationfrompatriotismandthedestructionofthedespotismofthegovernments,
whichisbaseduponit,cannothelpbutbeusefultopeople.

Examineyourselves,people,forthesakeofyourbodilyandspiritualgood,andforthesamegoodof
yourbrothersandsisters.Stop,think,andreflectonwhatyouaredoing!

ExamineyourselvesandunderstandthattheBoers,English,French,Germans,Bohemians,Finns,and
Russiansarenotyourenemies.Theonlyenemiesareyouyourselves,whowithyourpatriotism
supportthegovernments,whichoppressyouandcauseyourmisfortunes.

Theyundertooktodefendyouagainstdangers,andhavecarriedthisconditionofdefensetosuchan
extentthatyouhaveallbecomesoldiersandslaves,thatyouareallruined,thatyouarebeingruined
moreandmore,andthatyoumayandmustexpectatanymomentthebreakingofthestrainedstring
andtheterribleslaughterofyouandyourchildren.

Nomatterhowgreattheslaughtermaybeandhowitmayend,theconditionwillremainthesame.
Evensoandwithstillgreatertensionwillthegovernmentsarmanddestroyandcorruptyouandyour
children,andnoonewillhelpyoutostopitall,ifyouarenotgoingtohelpyourselves.

Thereisbutonehelp,andthatistodestroythatterribleconcentrationofviolence,withwhichthose
whosucceedingettingtotheheightofpowerdominatethewholenation,anddominatethemore
surely,themorecruelandinhumantheyare.ThishasbeenproventousbyNapoleon,NicholasI,
Bismarck,Chamberlain,Rhodes,andourowndictators,whorulethenationinthenameoftheCzar.

Thereisbutonemeansfordestroyingthisconcentrationofviolence,andthatistoawakenfromthe
hypnosisofpatriotism.

Youmustunderstandthatyouyourselvesarecausingalltheevilfromwhichyousuffer,inthatyou
submittothosesuggestionsbymeansofwhichyouaredeceivedbytheemperors,kings,membersof
parliaments,rulers,militarymen,capitalists,clergy,authors,andartistsbyallthosewhoneedthis
deceptionofpatriotisminordertobeabletolivebyyourlabors.

WhoeveryoumaybeaFrenchman,Russian,Pole,Englishman,Irishman,German,orBohemian
youmustunderstandthatallourrealhumaninterests,whatevertheybeagricultural,industrial,
commercial,artistic,orscientificalltheseinterests,likeallthepleasuresandjoys,innowayoppose
theinterestsoftheothernationsandstates.Youareunitedwiththemenoftheothernationsby
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meansofmutualinteraction,exchangeofservices,thejoyofabroadbrotherlycommunion,andthe
exchangenotonlyofwares,butalsoofsentiments.

YoumustunderstandthatthequestionsastowhosucceedsinseizingWeihaiwei,2PortArthur,or
Cubawhetheritisyourgovernmentoranotherarebynomeansamatterofindifferencetoyou,
butthateveryseizuremadebyyourgovernmentisdetrimentaltoyou.Itinevitablybringswithitall
kindsofinfluences,whichyourgovernmentwillexertagainstyouinordertocompelyoutotakepart
inrobberiesandactsofviolence,whicharenecessaryfortheseizuresandfortheretentionofwhat
hasbeenseized.YoumustunderstandthatyourlifecaninnowaybeimprovedbywhetherAlsace
willbeGermanorFrench,orbytheenslavingofIrelandandPoland.Nomatterwhosetheymaybe,
youcanlivewhereveryouplease,evenifyouareanAlsatian,anIrishman,oraPole.Youmust
understandthateveryfanningofpatriotismwillonlymakeyourpositionworsebecausethe
enslavementofyournationhasresultedonlyfromthestruggleofpatriotisms,andthatevery
manifestationofpatriotisminonenationincreasesthereactionagainstitinanother.Youmust
understandthatyoucansaveyourselvesfromallyourcalamitiesonlywhenyoufreeyourselvesfrom
theobsoleteideaofpatriotismandfromtheblindobediencetogovernmentthatisbaseduponit,
andwhenyoushallboldlyenterintothesphereofthathigherideaofthebrotherlyunionofthe
nations,whichhaslongagoenteredintolifeandiscallingyoutoitselffromallsides.

Letmenunderstandthattheyarenotthesonsofanycountriesorgovernments,butthesonsofGod,
andthat,therefore,theycannotbeslavesorenemiesofothermen,andallthosesenseless,now
quiteuseless,perniciousinstitutions,bequeathedbyantiquity,whicharecalledgovernments,andall
thosesufferings,actsofviolence,degradations,andcrimes,whichtheybringwiththem,will
disappearoftheirownaccord.

Pirgovo,May10,1900

=================================

1TranscribersnoteThephrasemeanswithaturnedthumb,andisusedinthecontextof
gladiatorialcombat.ItreferstothehandgestureusedbyAncientRomancrowdstopassjudgmenton
adefeatedgladiator.

2TranscribersnoteAlsoknownasWeihai,theWeihaiGarrison,andPortEdwardduringChinas
colonialperiod.

###

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