has been a preacher of non-resistance; he has also practised
it. And the habit of his life has influenced his temperament,
so that an atmosphere of calm dignity is everywhere
transparent in these luminous pages. Whether he is depicting
the heartrending horrors of life, as it is lived by
many wage workers in our own day, or expounding the
remedy for these terrible evils-the only remedy that
seems to him possible-he is alike unmoved. And this
peaceful manner ought to go far to win our sympathy.
The man has so evidently an open mind, a single and
tranquil soul, that we say instinctively: "Surely
there is truth here." And I think if we lay aside
all our prejudice for an hour we shall be strangely
drawn to his way of thinking.
book, which is published by the Free Age Press in England,
has been translated from the Russian by Aylmer Maude.
And a word of praise must be said for Mr. Maude's introduction,
which shows in its temperate criticism much of Tolstoi's
own humane temper and composure of spirit. I think one
is the more struck with this characteristic of Tolstoi's
writing because of the feverish violence usually so
apparent in Socialists and their literature. They lash
themselves to pieces against the prejudices and wrongs
and tyrannies they are trying to demolish. And their
bitterness and passion, so unlovely in any character,
and so ruinous to any art, have always seemed to me
to make full sympathy with them impossible. Or rather,
one might retain sympathy, but one's faith was shaken.
Was it possible that truth could be presented in so
unlovely a guise? Must there not have been some flaw,
some defect, in the theory which could show its supporters
so wanting in the graces of character? One felt usually
that the socialistic advocate, even in his writings,
was a fighter and not a scientist nor an artist. It
is impossible to yield unqualified assent to obstreperous
and boisterous persons.
Tolstoi does not believe in force, and his disbelief
is so thorough that he has ceased to use it even in
his writing. He has gone beyond the Socialists, who
have always proposed to do away with one form of government
merely to substitute another. Naturally their plans
have always seemed somewhat illogical, but Tolstoi has
gone a step further than that, and traced social wrong
not merely to the form of government, but to the existence
do not know that Christian Anarchy has ever been claimed
as a specific creed or doctrine, like Christian Socialism,
but I should think the term Christian Anarchist a very
good one to apply to Tolstoi. True, he is as far removed
from the Nihilists as day is from night. All his teaching
is in direct opposition to theirs. He would have no
violence whatever, no resistance to governments whatever;
he simply would have nothing to do with governments.
And if all men would act so, of course in time there
would be no governments. When we speak of anarchy, we
are usually thinking of a state in which savage force
would rule; but anarchy actually means absence of all
rule. And in this sense you might call Tolstoi an anarchist.
there is nothing to be afraid of in Tolstoi's teaching,
if we would all follow it. And how, indeed, are we all
to follow it, unless some of us begin?
should, perhaps, only give a wrong impression of "The
Slavery of Our Times" if I tried to epitomize it,
and, certainly, one cannot feel its full weight of conviction
except by a personal perusal. Tolstoi begins by establishing
the fact that the greater number of persons in the world
are not free to work as they wish, but are driven to
work as others wish them to; that is, they are practically
slaves. Further he proceeds to show that this state
of things is brought about by the tenure of land in
the hands of a few, and by the tenure of capital in
the hands of a few. And this tenure of land and capital
is maintained by force of law. Laws are enacted by governments
and enforced by mercenaries hired by those governments.
Governments pretend to exist for the public good, but
as a matter of fact, they only exist to maintain the
idle supremacy of the few, and all their works are evil.
It is the governments that make war and waste the wealth
which they have extorted from the people in taxes. We
must govern ourselves, we must not govern others. And
we must not let others govern us, and the way to be
rid of governments is to let them alone. If every one
simply refused to have anything to do with governing,
there would be no government. And since the great mass
of people derive no good from government, but only harm
and industrial tyranny and violence, why should governments
is not necessary for the abolition of governments; it
is only necessary that people should perceive the slavery
in which they exist, and the fraudulent usurpation of
governments. For governments are maintained by armed
dupes, who even feel loyalty to their oppressors, and
when the humbug of government is perceived universally
government will have no power to enforce its violation
of men's rights. Government only exists because men
have blindly and voluntarily yielded to it all their
natural right to land and the product of their labor.
is an interesting and dangerous book. In Emerson's words,
"Beware when God lets loose a thinker on this planet."
The truth is always dangerous to the established order
of things, and it ought to be for only through change
do we grow.