who will say with


And, above all, why should I contribute, whether in person or by paying for military service, to the enslavement and destruction of my brothers and parents? Why should I scourge myself? All this is of no use to me; on the contrary, it does me harm. It is altogether degrading, immoral, mean, and contemptible. Why, then, should I do all this? If I am told that I shall be made to suffer in any event, I reply that in the first place, there can be no possible suffering greater than that which would befall me were I to execute your commands. And in the second place, it is perfectly evident to me that if we refuse to scourge ourselves, no one else will do it for us. Governments are but sovereigns, statesmen, officials, who can no more force me against my will, than the stanovoy could force the peasants; I should be brought before the court, or thrown into prison, or executed, not by the sovereign, or the high officials, but by men in the same position as myself; and as it would be equally injurious and disagreeable for them to be scourged as for me, I should probably open their eyes, and they would not only refrain from injuring me, but would doubtless follow my example. And in the third place, though I were made to suffer for this, it would still be better for me to be exiled or imprisoned, doing battle in the cause of common sense and truth, which must eventually triumph, if not to-day, then to-morrow, or before many days, than to suffer in the cause of folly and evil. It would rather be to my advantage to risk being exiled, imprisoned, or even executed, than remain, through my own fault, a life-long slave of evil men, to be ruined by an invading enemy, or mutilated like an idiot, or killed while defending a cannon, a useless territory, or a senseless piece of cloth called a flag. I have no inclination to scourge myself, it would be of no use. You may do it yourselves if you choose—I refuse

and is there a chance that it is possible?

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

12 thoughts on “who will say with

  1. shelldigger says:

    I have no desire for war, or being trampled by a brutal dictator (you hear me Trump?). However if it came down to it, I would defend my home, my family, and my country however I could.

    You had a recent post where love of humanity was the topic? I may not particularly care for many of my countrymen, I would still see not see them befall the fate of an invading force anymore than I would want to suffer the same outcome.

    I can get the sense of what Tolstoi is getting at, but my first thought was, is he French? 😉


    • makagutu says:

      Tolstoy was Russian.
      And he was critical of the French ideals of Fraternity Equality and Liberty because there was a difference between what was said and what was done.
      It is not always the case that your neighbors are intent on attacking you. You might actually discover it is because of how the government runs things that so many are destitute.


  2. renudepride says:

    I agree with Tolstoy. There is no compelling reason for me to do the bidding of others. Naked hugs, my Kenyan brother!


  3. basenjibrian says:

    Obsolete, folks. The rulers will simply use drones and robots to enforce their rule.


  4. Tolstoi’s reasoning works in a nation without the rule of law and without the consent of the governed. Conceptually, a republic (or representative democracy and other similar forms of government) operate under the theory that it is an expression of the people. Thus, there’s no difference between a government’s acts and an act of the people.

    An additional problem arises in that demilitarizing a nation is not guaranteed to promote peace. Opportunistic neighbors with armies could recognize their ability to just go in and conquer without any serious consequence. Even if that wasn’t a case, private arms are also an issue that needs dealing with.

    I don’t think Tolstoi describes the issue broadly enough. Peace is possible when all means of human violence in the aggregate can be thwarted or overcome. Law (under certain circumstances) takes care of violence of the few, but we have nothing that similarly prohibits the violence of the many.


    • makagutu says:

      Tolstoi imagines a future where there are no armies so the question of boundaries or nations attacking another is moot. A utopian dream, I know.

      I agree the government is assumed to be an expression of the will of the people. Tell me, is this the case in reality? Of the eligible voters in your country, how many voted? How can you justify the argument that the government as it exists is an expression of their will?

      Liked by 1 person

      • The theory of this expression relies on ideas regarding consent (which kind of hearken back to Hobbes and Locke and other Enlightenment ideas). One might argue that by not voting, one is simply consenting to whatever the rest of the group decides. A glaring problem, then, is that it assumes stuff about non-voters without actually asking them.

        I think this highlights one fundamental flaw with the structure of modern governments: voting doesn’t necessarily reflect what the public wants. Theoretically, a government could express the public’s will without any votes. The Kingdom of Utopia could have a parliament which analyzes what the public’s interests are and then acts accordingly.


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