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    Chapter 11

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    Chapter 12
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    THE CHRISTIAN CONCEPTION OF LIFE HAS ALREADY ARISEN IN OUR
    SOCIETY, AND WILL INFALLIBLY PUT AN END TO THE PRESENT
    ORGANIZATION OF OUR LIFE BASED ON FORCE--WHEN THAT WILL BE.

    The Condition and Organization of our Society are Terrible, but
    they Rest only on Public Opinion, and can be Destroyed by it--
    Already Violence is Regarded from a Different Point of View; the
    Number of those who are Ready to Serve the Government is
    Diminishing; and even the Servants of Government are Ashamed of
    their Position, and so often Do Not Perform their Duties--These
    Facts are all Signs of the Rise of a Public Opinion, which
    Continually Growing will Lead to No One being Willing to Enter
    Government Service--Moreover, it Becomes More and More Evident
    that those Offices are of No Practical Use--Men already Begin to
    Understand the Futility of all Institutions Based on Violence, and
    if a Few already Understand it, All will One Day Understand it--
    The Day of Deliverance is Unknown, but it Depends on Men
    Themselves, on how far Each Man Lives According to the Light that
    is in Him.

    The position of Christian humanity with its prisons, galleys,
    gibbets, its factories and accumulation of capital, its taxes,
    churches, gin-palaces, licensed brothels, its ever-increasing
    armament and its millions of brutalized men, ready, like chained
    dogs, to attack anyone against whom their master incites them,
    would be terrible indeed if it were the product of violence, but
    it is pre-eminently the product of public opinion. And what has
    been established by public opinion can be destroyed by public
    opinion--and, indeed, is being destroyed by public opinion.

    Money lavished by hundreds of millions, tens of millions of
    disciplined troops, weapons of astounding destructive power, all
    organizations carried to the highest point of perfection, a whole
    army of men charged with the task of deluding and hypnotizing the
    people, and all this, by means of electricity which annihilates
    distance, under the direct control of men who regard such an
    organization of society not only as necessary for profit, but even
    for self-preservation, and therefore exert every effort of their
    ingenuity to preserve it--what an invincible power it would seem!
    And yet we need only imagine for a moment what will really
    inevitably come to pass, that is, the Christian social standard
    replacing the heathen social standard and established with the
    same power and universality, and the majority of men as much
    ashamed of taking any part in violence or in profiting by it, as
    they are to-day of thieving, swindling, begging, and cowardice;
    and at once we see the whole of this complex, and seemingly
    powerful organization of society falls into ruins of itself
    without a struggle.

    And to bring this to pass, nothing new need be brought before
    men's minds. Only let the mist, which veils from men's eyes the
    true meaning of certain acts of violence, pass away, and the
    Christian public opinion which is springing up would overpower the
    extinct public opinion which permitted and justified acts of
    violence. People need only come to be as much ashamed to do deeds
    of violence, to assist in them or to profit by them, as they now
    are of being, or being reputed a swindler, a thief, a coward, or a
    beggar. And already this change is beginning to take place. We
    do not notice it just as we do not notice the movement of the
    earth, because we are moved together with everything around us.

    It is true that the organization of society remains in its
    principal features just as much an organization based on violence
    as it was one thousand years ago, and even in some respects,
    especially in the preparation for war and in war itself, it
    appears still more brutal. But the rising Christian ideal, which
    must at a certain stage of development replace the heathen ideal
    of life, already makes its influence felt. A dead tree stands
    apparently as firmly as ever--it may even seem firmer because it
    is harder--but it is rotten at the core, and soon must fall. It
    is just so with the present order of society, based on force. The
    external aspect is unchanged. There is the same division of
    oppressors and oppressed, but their view of the significance and
    dignity of their respective positions is no longer what it once
    was.

    The oppressors, that is, those who take part in government, and
    those who profit by oppression, that is, the rich, no longer
    imagine, as they once did, that they are the elect of the world,
    and that they constitute the ideal of human happiness and
    greatness, to attain which was once the highest aim of the
    oppressed.

    Very often now it is not the oppressed who strive to attain the
    position of the oppressors, and try to imitate them, but on the
    contrary the oppressors who voluntarily abandon the advantages of
    their position, prefer the condition of the oppressed, and try to
    resemble them in the simplicity of their life.

    Not to speak of the duties and occupations now openly despised,
    such as that of spy, agent of secret police, moneylender, and
    publican, there are a great number of professions formerly
    regarded as honorable, such as those of police officials,
    courtiers, judges, and administrative functionaries, clergymen,
    military officers, speculators, and bankers, which are no longer
    considered desirable positions by everyone, and are even despised
    by a special circle of the most respected people. There are
    already men who voluntarily abandon these professions which were
    once reckoned irreproachable, and prefer less lucrative callings
    which are in no way connected with the use of force.
    And there are even rich men who, not through religious sentiment,
    but simply through special sensitiveness to the social standard
    that is springing up, relinquish their inherited property,
    believing that a man can only justly consume what he has gained by
    his own labor.

    The position of a government official or of a rich man is no
    longer, as it once was, and still is among non-Christian peoples,
    regarded as necessarily honorable and deserving of respect, and
    under the special blessing of God. The most delicate and moral
    people (they are generally also the most cultivated) avoid such
    positions and prefer more humble callings that are not dependent
    on the use of force.

    The best of our young people, at the age when they are still
    uncorrupted by life and are choosing a career, prefer the calling
    of doctor, engineer, teacher, artist, writer, or even that of
    simple farmer living on his own labor, to legal, administrative,
    clerical, and military positions in the pay of government, or to
    an idle existence living on their incomes.

    Monuments and memorials in these days are mostly not erected in
    honor of government dignitaries, or generals, or still less of
    rich men, but rather of artists, men of science, and inventors,
    persons who have nothing in common with the government, and often
    have even been in conflict with it. They are the men whose
    praises are celebrated in poetry, who are honored by sculpture and
    received with triumphant jubilations.

    The best men of our day are all striving for such places of honor.
    Consequently the class from which the wealthy and the government
    officials are drawn grows less in number and lower in intelligence
    and education, and still more in moral qualities. So that
    nowadays the wealthy class and men at the head of government do
    not constitute, as they did in former days, the ÉLITE of society;
    on the contrary, they are inferior to the middle class.

    In Russia and Turkey as in America and France, however often the
    government change its officials, the majority of them are self-
    seeking and corrupt, of so low a moral standard that they do not
    even come up the elementary requirements of common honesty
    expected by the government. One may often nowadays hear from
    persons in authority the naïve complaint that the best people are
    always, by some strange--as it seems to them--fatality, to be
    found in the camp of the opposition. As though men were to
    complain that those who accepted the office of hangman were--by
    some strange fatality--all persons of very little refinement or
    beauty of character.

    The most cultivated and refined people of our society are not
    nowadays to be found among the very rich, as used formerly to be
    the rule. The rich are mostly coarse money grubbers, absorbed
    only, in increasing their hoard, generally by dishonest means, or
    else the degenerate heirs of such money grubbers, who, far from
    playing any prominent part in society, are mostly treated with
    general contempt.

    And besides the fact that the class from which the servants of
    government and the wealthy are drawn grows less in number and
    lower in caliber, they no longer themselves attach the same
    importance to their positions as they once did; often they are
    ashamed of the ignominy of their calling and do not perform the
    duties they are bound to perform in their position. Kings and
    emperors scarcely govern at all; they scarcely ever decide upon an
    internal reform or a new departure in foreign politics. They
    mostly leave the decision of such questions to government
    institutions or to public opinion. All their duties are reduced
    to representing the unity and majesty of government. And even
    this duty they perform less and less successfully. The majority
    of them do not keep up their old unapproachable majesty, but
    become more and more democratized and even vulgarized, casting
    aside the external prestige that remained to them, and thereby
    destroying the very thing it was their function to maintain.

    It is just the same with the army. Military officers of the
    highest rank, instead of encouraging in their soldiers the
    brutality and ferocity necessary for their work, diffuse education
    among the soldiers, inculcate humanity, and often even themselves
    share the socialistic ideas of the masses and denounce war. In
    the last plots against the Russian Government many of the
    conspirators were in the army. And the number of the disaffected
    in the army is always increasing. And it often happens (there was
    a case, indeed, within the last few days) that when called upon to
    quell disturbances they refuse to fire upon the people. Military
    exploits are openly reprobated by the military themselves, and are
    often the subject of jests among them.

    It is the same with judges and public prosecutors. The judges,
    whose duty it is to judge and condemn criminals, conduct the
    proceedings so as to whitewash them as far as possible. So that
    the Russian Government, to procure the condemnation of those whom
    they want to punish, never intrust them to the ordinary tribunals,
    but have them tried before a court martial, which, is only a
    parody of justice. The prosecutors Themselves often refuse to
    proceed, and even when they do proceed, often in spite of the law,
    really defend those they ought to be accusing. The learned
    jurists whose business it is to justify the violence of authority,
    are more and more disposed to deny the right of punishment and to
    replace it by theories of irresponsibility and even of moral
    insanity, proposing to deal with those they call criminals by
    medical treatment only.

    Jailers and overseers of galleys generally become the champions of
    those whom they ought to torture. Police officers and detectives
    are continually assisting the escape of those they ought to
    arrest. The clergy preach tolerance, and even sometimes condemn
    the use of force, and the more educated among them try in their
    sermons to avoid the very deception which is the basis of their
    position and which it is their duty to support. Executioners
    refuse to perform their functions, so that in Russia the death
    penalty cannot be carried out for want of executioners. And in
    spite of all the advantages bestowed on these men, who are
    selected from convicts, there is a constantly diminishing number
    of volunteers for the post. Governors, police officials, tax
    collectors often have compassion on the people and try to find
    pretexts for not collecting the tax from them. The rich are not
    at ease in spending their wealth only on themselves, and lavish
    it on works of public utility. Landowners build schools and
    hospitals on their property, and some even give up the ownership
    of their land and transfer it to the cultivators, or establish
    communities upon it. Millowners and manufacturers build
    hospitals, schools, savings banks, asylums, and dwellings for
    their workpeople. Some of them form co-operative associations in
    which they have shares on the same terms as the others.
    Capitalists expend a part of their capital on educational,
    artistic, philanthropic, and other public institutions. And many,
    who are not equal to parting with their wealth in their lifetime,
    leave it in their wills to public institutions.

    All these phenomena might seem to be mere exceptions, except that
    they can all be referred to one common cause. Just as one might
    fancy the first leaves on the budding trees in April were
    exceptional if we did not know that they all have a common cause,
    the spring, and that if we see the branches on some trees shooting
    and turning green, it is certain that it will soon be so with all.

    So it is with the manifestation of the Christian standard of
    opinion on force and all that is based on force. If this standard
    already influences some, the most impressionable, and impels each
    in his own sphere to abandon advantages based on the use of force,
    then its influence will extend further and further till it
    transforms the whole order of men's actions and puts it into
    accord with the Christian ideal which is already a living force in
    the vanguard of humanity.

    And if there are now rulers, who do not decide on any step on
    their own authority, who try to be as unlike monarchs, and as like
    plain mortals as possible, who state their readiness to give up
    their prerogatives and become simply the first citizens of a
    republic; if there are already soldiers who realize all the sin
    and harm of war, and are not willing to fire on men either of
    their own or a foreign country; judges and prosecutors who do not
    like to try and to condemn criminals; priests, who abjure
    deception; tax-gatherers who try to perform as little as they can
    of their duties, and rich men renouncing their wealth--then the
    same thing will inevitably happen to other rulers, other soldiers,
    other judges, priests, tax-gatherers, and rich men. And when
    there are no longer men willing to fill these offices, these
    offices themselves will disappear too.

    But this is not the only way in which public opinion is leading
    men to the abolition of the prevailing order and the substitution
    of a new order. As the positions based on the rule of force
    become less attractive and fewer men are found willing to fill
    them, the more will their uselessness be apparent.

    Everywhere throughout the Christian world the same rulers, and the
    same governments, the same armies, the same law courts, the same
    tax-gatherers, the same priests, the same rich men, landowners,
    manufacturers, and capitalists, as ever, but the attitude of the
    world to them, and their attitude to themselves is altogether
    changed.

    The same sovereigns have still the same audiences and interviews,
    hunts and banquets, and balls and uniforms; there are the same
    diplomats and the same deliberations on alliances and wars; there
    are still the same parliaments, with the same debates on the
    Eastern question and Africa, on treaties and violations of
    treaties, and Home Rule and the eight-hour day; and one set of
    ministers replacing another in the same way, and the same speeches
    and the same incidents. But for men who observe how one newspaper
    article has more effect on the position of affairs than dozens of
    royal audiences or parliamentary sessions, it becomes more and
    more evident that these audiences and interviews and debates in
    parliaments do not direct the course of affairs, but something
    independent of all that, which cannot be concentrated in one
    place.

    The same generals and officers and soldiers, and cannons and
    fortresses, and reviews and maneuvers, but no war breaks out. One
    year, ten, twenty years pass by. And it becomes less and less
    possible to rely on the army for the pacification of riots, and
    more and more evident, consequently, that generals, and officers,
    and soldiers are only figures in solemn processions--objects of
    amusement for governments--a sort of immense--and far too
    expensive--CORPS DE BALLET.

    The same lawyers and judges, and the same assizes, but it becomes
    more and more evident that the civil courts decide cases on the
    most diverse grounds, but regardless of justice, and that criminal
    trials are quite senseless, because the punishments do not attain
    the objects aimed at by the judges themselves. These institutions
    therefore serve no other purpose than to provide a means of
    livelihood for men who are not capable of doing anything more
    useful.

    The same priests and archbishops and churches and synods, but it
    becomes more and more evident that they have long ago ceased to
    believe in what they preach, and therefore they can convince no
    one of the necessity of believing what they don't believe
    themselves.

    The same tax collectors, but they are less and less capable of
    taking men's property from them by force, and it becomes more and
    more evident that people can collect all that is necessary by
    voluntary subscription without their aid.

    The same rich men, but it becomes more and more evident that they
    can only be of use by ceasing to administer their property in
    person and giving up to society the whole or at least a part of
    their wealth.

    And when all this has become absolutely evident to everyone, it
    will be natural for men to ask themselves: "But why should we keep
    and maintain all these kings, emperors, presidents, and members of
    all sorts of senates and ministries, since nothing comes of all
    their debates and audiences? Wouldn't it be better, as some
    humorist suggested, to make a queen of india-rubber?"

    And what good to us are these armies with their generals and bands
    and horses and drums? And what need is there of them when there
    is no war, and no one wants to make war? and if there were a war,
    other nations would not let us gain any advantage from it; while
    the soldiers refuse to fire on their fellow-countrymen.

    And what is the use of these lawyers and judges who don't decide
    civil cases with justice and recognize themselves the uselessness
    of punishments in criminal cases?

    And what is the use of tax collectors who collect the taxes
    unwillingly, when it is easy to raise all that is wanted without
    them?

    What is the use of the clergy, who don't believe in what they
    preach?

    And what is the use of capital in the hands of private persons,
    when it can only be of use as the property of all?

    And when once people have asked themselves these questions they
    cannot help coming to some decision and ceasing to support all
    these institutions which are no longer of use.

    But even before those who support these institutions decide to
    abolish them, the men who occupy these positions will be reduced
    to the necessity of throwing them up.

    Public opinion more and more condemns the use of force, and
    therefore men are less and less willing to fill positions which
    rest on the use of force, and if they do occupy them, are less and
    less able to make use of force in them. And hence they must become
    more and more superfluous.

    I once took part in Moscow in a religious meeting which used to
    take place generally in the week after Easter near the church in
    the Ohotny Row. A little knot of some twenty men were collected
    together on the pavement, engaged in serious religious discussion.
    At the same time there was a kind of concert going on in the
    buildings of the Court Club in the same street, and a police
    officer noticing the little group collected near the church sent a
    mounted policeman to disperse it. It was absolutely unnecessary
    for the officer to disperse it. A group of twenty men was no
    obstruction to anyone, but he had been standing there the whole
    morning, and he wanted to do something. The policeman, a young
    fellow, with a resolute flourish of his right arm and a clink of
    his saber, came up to us and commanded us severely: "Move on!
    what's this meeting about?" Everyone looked at the policeman, and
    one of the speakers, a quiet man in a peasant's dress, answered
    with a calm and gracious air, "We are speaking of serious matters,
    and there is no need for us to move on; you would do better, young
    man, to get off your horse and listen. It might do you good";
    and turning round he continued his discourse. The policeman
    turned his horse and went off without a word.

    That is just what should be done in all cases of violence.

    The officer was bored, he had nothing to do. He had been put,
    poor fellow, in a position in which he had no choice but to give
    orders. He was shut off from all human existence; he could do
    nothing but superintend and give orders, and give orders and
    superintend, though his superintendence and his orders served no
    useful purpose whatever. And this is the position in which all
    these unlucky rulers, ministers, members of parliament, governors,
    generals, officers, archbishops, priests, and even rich men find
    themselves to some extent already, and will find themselves
    altogether as time goes on. They can do nothing but give orders,
    and they give orders and send their messengers, as the officer
    sent the policeman, to interfere with people. And because the
    people they hinder turn to them and request them not to interfere,
    they fancy they are very useful indeed.

    But the time will come and is coming when it will be perfectly
    evident to everyone that they are not of any use at all, and only
    a hindrance, and those whom they interfere with will say gently
    and quietly to them, like my friend in the street meeting, "Pray
    don't interfere with us." And all the messengers and those who
    send them too will be obliged to follow this good advice, that is
    to say, will leave off galloping about, with their arms akimbo,
    interfering with people, and getting off their horses and removing
    their spurs, will listen to what is being said, and mixing with
    others, will take their place with them in some real human work.

    The time will come and is inevitably coming when all institutions
    based on force will disappear through their uselessness,
    stupidity, and even inconvenience becoming obvious to all.

    The time must come when the men of our modern world who fill
    offices based upon violence will find themselves in the position
    of the emperor in Andersen's tale of "The Emperor's New Clothes,"
    when the child seeing the emperor undressed, cried in all
    simplicity, "Look, he is naked!" And then all the rest, who had
    seen him and said nothing, could not help recognizing it too.

    The story is that there was once an emperor, very fond of new
    clothes. And to him came two tailors, who promised to make him
    some extraordinary clothes. The emperor engages them and they
    begin to sew at them, but they explain that the clothes have the
    extraordinary property of remaining invisible to anyone who is
    unfit for his position. The courtiers come to look at the
    tailors' work and see nothing, for the men are plying their
    needles in empty space. But remembering the extraordinary
    property of the clothes, they all declare they see them and are
    loud in their admiration. The emperor does the same himself. The
    day of the procession comes in which the emperor is to go out in
    his new clothes. The emperor undresses and puts on his new
    clothes, that is to say, remains naked, and naked he walks through
    the town. But remembering the magic property of the clothes, no
    one ventures to say that he has nothing on till a little child
    cries out: "Look, he is naked!"

    This will be exactly the situation of all who continue through
    inertia to fill offices which have long become useless directly
    someone who has no interest in concealing their uselessness
    exclaims in all simplicity: "But these people have been of no use
    to anyone for a long time past!"

    The condition of Christian humanity with its fortresses, cannons,
    dynamite, guns, torpedoes, prisons, gallows, churches, factories,
    customs offices, and palaces is really terrible. But still
    cannons and guns will not fire themselves, prisons will not shut
    men up of themselves, gallows will not hang them, churches will
    not delude them, nor customs offices hinder them, and palaces and
    factories are not built nor kept up of themselves. All those
    things are the work of men. If men come to understand that they
    ought not to do these things, then they will cease to be. And
    already they are beginning to understand it. Though all do not
    understand it yet, the advanced guard understand and the rest will
    follow them. And the advanced guard cannot cease to understand
    what they have once understood; and what they understand the rest
    not only can but must inevitably understand hereafter.

    So that the prophecy that the time will come when men will be
    taught of God, will learn war no more, will beat their swords into
    plowshares and their spears into reaping-hooks, which means,
    translating it into our language, the fortresses, prisons,
    barracks, palaces, and churches will remain empty, and all the
    gibbets and guns and cannons will be left unused, is no longer a
    dream, but the definite new form of life to which mankind is
    approaching with ever-increasing rapidity.

    But when will it be?

    Eighteen hundred years ago to this question Christ answered
    that the end of the world (that is, of the pagan organization of
    life) shall come when the tribulation of men is greater than it
    has ever been, and when the Gospel of the kingdom of God, that is,
    the possibility of a new organization of life, shall be preached
    in the world unto all nations. (Matt. xxiv. 3-28.) But of that
    day and hour knoweth no man but the Father only (Matt. xxiv. 3-6),
    said Christ. For it may come any time, in such an hour as
    ye think not.

    To the question when this hour cometh Christ answers that we
    cannot know, but just because we cannot know when that hour is
    coming we ought to be always ready to meet it, just as the master
    ought to watch who guards his house from thieves, as the virgins
    ought to watch with lamps alight for the bridegroom; and further,
    we ought to work with all the powers given us to bring that hour
    to pass, as the servants ought to work with the talents intrusted
    to them. (Matt. xxiv. 43, and xxvi. 13, 14-30.) And there could
    be no answer but this one. Men cannot know when the day and the
    hour of the kingdom of God will come, because its coming depends
    on themselves alone.

    The answer is like that of the wise man who, when asked whether it
    was far to the town, answered, "Walk!"

    How can we tell whether it is far to the goal which humanity is
    approaching, when we do not know how men are going toward it,
    while it depends on them whether they go or do not go, stand
    still, slacken their pace or hasten it? All we can know is what
    we who make up mankind ought to do, and not to do, to bring about
    the coming of the kingdom of God. And that we all know. And we
    need only each begin to do what we ought to do, we need only each
    live with all the light that is in us, to bring about at once the
    promised kingdom of God to which every man's heart is yearning.
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