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Title: "The Kingdom of God Is Within You" - Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life
Author: Tolstoy, Leo, graf, 1828-1910
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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New York, 1894


The book I have had the privilege of translating is, undoubtedly,
one of the most remarkable studies of the social and psychological
condition of the modern world which has appeared in Europe for
many years, and its influence is sure to be lasting and far
reaching.  Tolstoi's genius is beyond dispute.  The verdict of the
civilized world has pronounced him as perhaps the greatest
novelist of our generation.  But the philosophical and religious
works of his later years have met with a somewhat indifferent
reception.  They have been much talked about, simply because they
were his work, but, as Tolstoi himself complains, they have never
been seriously discussed.  I hardly think that he will have to
repeat the complaint in regard to the present volume.  One may
disagree with his views, but no one can seriously deny the
originality, boldness, and depth of the social conception which he
develops with such powerful logic.  The novelist has shown in this
book the religious fervor and spiritual insight of the prophet;
yet one is pleased to recognize that the artist is not wholly lost
in the thinker.  The subtle intuitive perception of the
psychological basis of the social position, the analysis of the
frame of mind of oppressors and oppressed, and of the intoxication
of Authority and Servility, as well as the purely descriptive
passages in the last chapter--these could only have come from the
author of "War and Peace."

The book will surely give all classes of readers much to think of,
and must call forth much criticism.  It must be refuted by those
who disapprove of its teaching, if they do not want it to have
great influence.

One cannot of course anticipate that English people, slow as they
are to be influenced by ideas, and instinctively distrustful of
all that is logical, will take a leap in the dark and attempt to
put Tolstoi's theory of life into practice.  But one may at least
be sure that his destructive criticism of the present social and
political RÉGIME will become a powerful force in the work of
disintegration and social reconstruction which is going on around
us.  Many earnest thinkers who, like Tolstoi, are struggling to
find their way out of the contradictions of our social order will
hail him as their spiritual guide.  The individuality of the
author is felt in every line of his work, and even the most
prejudiced cannot resist the fascination of his genuineness,
sincerity, and profound earnestness.  Whatever comes from a heart
such as his, swelling with anger and pity at the sufferings of
humanity, cannot fail to reach the hearts of others.  No reader
can put down the book without feeling himself better and more
truth-loving for having read it.

Many readers may be disappointed with the opening chapters of the
book.  Tolstoi disdains all attempt to captivate the reader.  He
begins by laying what he considers to be the logical foundation of
his doctrines, stringing together quotations from little-known
theological writers, and he keeps his own incisive logic for the
later part of the book.

One word as to the translation.  Tolstoi's style in his religious
and philosophical works differs considerably from that of his
novels.  He no longer cares about the form of his work, and his
style is often slipshod, involved, and diffuse.  It has been my
aim to give a faithful reproduction of the original.

January, 1894


In the year 1884 I wrote a book under the title "What I Believe,"
in which I did in fact make a sincere statement of my beliefs.

In affirming my belief in Christ's teaching, I could not help
explaining why I do not believe, and consider as mistaken, the
Church's doctrine, which is usually called Christianity.

Among the many points in which this doctrine falls short of the
doctrine of Christ I pointed out as the principal one the absence
of any commandment of non-resistance to evil by force.  The
perversion of Christ's teaching by the teaching of the Church is
more clearly apparent in this than in any other point of

I know--as we all do--very little of the practice and the spoken and
written doctrine of former times on the subject of non-resistance to
evil. I knew what had been said on the subject by the fathers of the
Church--Origen, Tertullian, and others--I knew too of the existence of
some so-called sects of Mennonites, Herrnhuters, and Quakers, who do not
allow a Christian the use of weapons, and do not enter military service;
but I knew little of what had been done by these so-called sects toward
expounding the question.

My book was, as I had anticipated, suppressed by the Russian
censorship; but partly owing to my literary reputation, partly
because the book had excited people's curiosity, it circulated in
manuscript and in lithographed copies in Russia and through
translations abroad, and it evolved, on one side, from those who
shared my convictions, a series of essays with a great deal of
information on the subject, on the other side a series of
criticisms on the principles laid down in my book.

A great deal was made clear to me by both hostile and sympathetic
criticism, and also by the historical events of late years; and I
was led to fresh results and conclusions, which I wish now to

First I will speak of the information I received on the history of
the question of non-resistance to evil; then of the views of this
question maintained by spiritual critics, that is, by professed
believers in the Christian religion, and also by temporal ones,
that is, those who do not profess the Christian religion; and
lastly I will speak of the conclusions to which I have been
brought by all this in the light of the historical events of late

May 14/26, 1893.














         "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you
       free. "--John viii. 32.

         "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to
       kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to
       destroy both soul and body in hell."--MATT. x. 28.

         "Ye have been bought with a price; be not ye the servants
       of men."--I COR. vii. 23.




Of the Book "What I Believe"--The Correspondence Evoked by it--Letters
from Quakers--Garrison's Declaration--Adin Ballou, his Works, his
Catechism--Helchitsky's "Net of Faith"--The Attitude of the World to
Works Elucidating Christ's Teaching--Dymond's Book "On War"--Musser's
"Non-resistance Asserted"--Attitude of the Government in 1818 to Men who
Refused to Serve in the Army--Hostile Attitude of Governments Generally
and of Liberals to Those who Refuse to Assist in Acts of State Violence,
and their Conscious Efforts to Silence and Suppress these Manifestations
of Christian Non-resistance.

Among the first responses called forth by my book were some letters from
American Quakers. In these letters, expressing their sympathy with my
views on the unlawfulness for a Christian of war and the use of force of
any kind, the Quakers gave me details of their own so-called sect, which
for more than two hundred years has actually professed the teaching of
Christ on non-resistance to evil by force, and does not make use of
weapons in self-defense. The Quakers sent me books, from which I learnt
how they had, years ago, established beyond doubt the duty for a
Christian of fulfilling the command of non-resistance to evil by force,
and had exposed the error of the Church's teaching in allowing war and
capital punishment.

In a whole series of arguments and texts showing that war--that
is, the wounding and killing of men--is inconsistent with a
religion founded on peace and good will toward men, the Quakers
maintain and prove that nothing has contributed so much to the
obscuring of Christian truth in the eyes of the heathen, and has
hindered so much the diffusion of Christianity through the world,
as the disregard of this command by men calling themselves
Christians, and the permission of war and violence to Christians.

"Christ's teaching, which came to be known to men, not by means of
violence and the sword," they say, "but by means of non-resistance
to evil, gentleness, meekness, and peaceableness, can only be
diffused through the world by the example of peace, harmony, and
love among its followers."

"A Christian, according to the teaching of God himself, can act
only peaceably toward all men, and therefore there can be no
authority able to force the Christian to act in opposition to the
teaching of God and to the principal virtue of the Christian in
his relation with his neighbors."

"The law of state necessity," they say, "can force only those to
change the law of God who, for the sake of earthly gains, try to
reconcile the irreconcilable; but for a Christian who sincerely
believes that following Christ's teaching will give him salvation,
such considerations of state can have no force."

Further acquaintance with the labors of the Quakers and their
works--with Fox, Penn, and especially the work of Dymond
(published in 1827)--showed me not only that the impossibility of
reconciling Christianity with force and war had been recognized
long, long ago, but that this irreconcilability had been long ago
proved so clearly and so indubitably that one could only wonder
how this impossible reconciliation of Christian teaching with the
use of force, which has been, and is still, preached in the
churches, could have been maintained in spite of it.

In addition to what I learned from the Quakers I received about
the same time, also from America, some information on the subject
from a source perfectly distinct and previously unknown to me.

The son of William Lloyd Garrison, the famous champion of the
emancipation of the negroes, wrote to me that he had read my book, in
which he found ideas similar to those expressed by his father in the
year 1838, and that, thinking it would be interesting to me to know
this, he sent me a declaration or proclamation of "non-resistance" drawn
up by his father nearly fifty years ago.

This declaration came about under the following circumstances:
William Lloyd Garrison took part in a discussion on the means of
suppressing war in the Society for the Establishment of Peace
among Men, which existed in 1838 in America.  He came to the
conclusion that the establishment of universal peace can only be
founded on the open profession of the doctrine of non-resistance
to evil by violence (Matt. v. 39), in its full significance, as
understood by the Quakers, with whom Garrison happened to be on
friendly relations. Having come to this conclusion, Garrison
thereupon composed and laid before the society a declaration,
which was signed at the time--in 1838--by many members.

   "Boston, 1838.

   "We the undersigned, regard it as due to ourselves, to the
   cause which we love, to the country in which we live, to
   publish a declaration expressive of the purposes we aim to
   accomplish and the measures we shall adopt to carry forward the
   work of peaceful universal reformation.

   "We do not acknowledge allegiance to any human government.  We
   recognize but one King and Lawgiver, one Judge and Ruler of
   mankind.  Our country is the world, our countrymen are all
   mankind.  We love the land of our nativity only as we love all
   other lands.  The interests and rights of American citizens are
   not dearer to us than those of the whole human race.  Hence we
   can allow no appeal to patriotism to revenge any national
   insult or injury...

   "We conceive that a nation has no right to defend itself
   against foreign enemies or to punish its invaders, and no
   individual possesses that right in his own case, and the unit
   cannot be of greater importance than the aggregate.  If
   soldiers thronging from abroad with intent to commit rapine and
   destroy life may not be resisted by the people or the
   magistracy, then ought no resistance to be offered to domestic
   troublers of the public peace or of private security.

   "The dogma that all the governments of the world are
   approvingly ordained of God, and that the powers that be in the
   United States, in Russia, in Turkey, are in accordance with his
   will, is no less absurd than impious.  It makes the impartial
   Author of our existence unequal and tyrannical. It cannot be
   affirmed that the powers that be in any nation are actuated by
   the spirit or guided by the example of Christ in the treatment
   of enemies; therefore they cannot be agreeable to the will of
   God, and therefore their overthrow by a spiritual regeneration
   of their subjects is inevitable.

   "We regard as unchristian and unlawful not only all wars,
   whether offensive or defensive, but all preparations for war;
   every naval ship, every arsenal, every fortification, we regard
   as unchristian and unlawful; the existence of any kind of
    standing army, all military chieftains, all monuments
   commemorative of victory over a fallen foe, all trophies won in
   battle, all celebrations in honor of military exploits, all
   appropriations for defense by arms; we regard as unchristian
   and unlawful every edict of government requiring of its
   subjects military service.

   "Hence we deem it unlawful to bear arms, and we cannot hold any
   office which imposes on its incumbent the obligation to compel
   men to do right on pain of imprisonment or death.  We therefore
   voluntarily exclude ourselves from every legislative and
   judicial body, and repudiate all human politics, worldly
   honors, and stations of authority.  If we cannot occupy a seat
   in the legislature or on the bench, neither can we elect others
   to act as our substitutes in any such capacity.  It follows
   that we cannot sue any man at law to force him to return
   anything he may have wrongly taken from us; if he has seized
   our coat, we shall surrender him our cloak also rather than
   subject him to punishment.

   "We believe that the penal code of the old covenant--an eye for
   an eye, and a tooth for a tooth--has been abrogated by Jesus
   Christ, and that under the new covenant the forgiveness instead
   of the punishment of enemies has been enjoined on all his
   disciples in all cases whatsoever.  To extort money from
   enemies, cast them into prison, exile or execute them, is
   obviously not to forgive but to take retribution.

   "The history of mankind is crowded with evidences proving that
   physical coercion is not adapted to moral regeneration, and
   that the sinful dispositions of men can be subdued only by
   love; that evil can be exterminated only by good; that it is
   not safe to rely upon the strength of an arm to preserve us
   from harm; that there is great security in being gentle,
   long-suffering, and abundant in mercy; that it is only the meek
   who shall inherit the earth; for those who take up the sword
   shall perish by the sword.

   "Hence as a measure of sound policy--of safety to property,
   life, and liberty--of public quietude and private enjoyment--as
   well as on the ground of allegiance to Him who is King of kings
   and Lord of lords, we cordially adopt the non-resistance
   principle, being confident that it provides for all possible
   consequences, is armed with omnipotent power, and must
   ultimately triumph over every assailing force.

   "We advocate no Jacobinical doctrines.  The spirit of
   Jacobinism is the spirit of retaliation, violence, and murder.
   It neither fears God nor regards man.  We would be filled with
   the spirit of Christ.  If we abide evil by our fundamental
   principle of not opposing evil by evil we cannot participate in
   sedition, treason, or violence.  We shall submit to every
   ordinance and every requirement of government, except such as
   are contrary to the commands of the Gospel, and in no case
   resist the operation of law, except by meekly submitting to the
   penalty of disobedience.

   "But while we shall adhere to the doctrine of non-resistance
   and passive submission to enemies, we purpose, in a moral and
   spiritual sense, to assail iniquity in high places and in low
   places, to apply our principles to all existing evil,
   political, legal, and ecclesiastical institutions, and to
   hasten the time when the kingdoms of this world will have
   become the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It appears to us
   a self-evident truth that whatever the Gospel is designed to
   destroy at any period of the world, being contrary to it, ought
   now to be abandoned.  If, then, the time is predicted when
   swords shall be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning
   hooks, and men shall not learn the art of war any more, it
   follows that all who manufacture, sell, or wield these deadly
   weapons do thus array themselves against the peaceful dominion
   of the Son of God on earth.

   "Having thus stated our principles, we proceed to specify the
   measures we propose to adopt in carrying our object into

   "We expect to prevail through the Foolishness of Preaching.  We
   shall endeavor to promulgate our views among all persons, to
   whatever nation, sect, or grade of society they may belong.
   Hence we shall organize public lectures, circulate tracts and
   publications, form societies, and petition every governing
   body.  It will be our leading object to devise ways and means
   for effecting a radical change in the views, feelings, and
   practices of society respecting the sinfulness of war and the
   treatment of enemies.

   "In entering upon the great work before us, we are not
   unmindful that in its prosecution we may be called to test
   our sincerity even as in a fiery ordeal.  It may subject us to
   insult, outrage, suffering, yea, even death itself.  We
   anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation,
   and calumny.  Tumults may arise against us.  The proud and
   pharisaical, the ambitious and tyrannical, principalities and
   powers, may combine to crush us.  So they treated the Messiah
   whose example we are humbly striving to imitate.  We shall not
   be afraid of their terror.  Our confidence is in the Lord
   Almighty and not in man.  Having withdrawn from human
   protection, what can sustain us but that faith which overcomes
   the world?  We shall not think it strange concerning the fiery
   trial which is to try us, but rejoice inasmuch as we are
   partakers of Christ's sufferings.

   "Wherefore we commit the keeping of our souls to God. For every
   one that forsakes houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father,
   or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for Christ's sake,
   shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting

   "Firmly relying upon the certain and universal triumph of the
   sentiments contained in this declaration, however formidable
   may be the opposition arrayed against them, we hereby affix our
   signatures to it; commending it to the reason and conscience of
   mankind, and resolving, in the strength of the Lord God, to
   calmly and meekly abide the issue."

Immediately after this declaration a Society for Non-resistance was
founded by Garrison, and a journal called the NON-RESISTANT, in
which the doctrine of non-resistance was advocated in its full
significance and in all its consequences, as it had been expounded
in the declaration.  Further information as to the ultimate
destiny of the society and the journal I gained from the excellent
biography of W. L. Garrison, the work of his son.

The society and the journal did not exist for long.  The
greater number of Garrison's fellow-workers in the movement for
the liberation of the slaves, fearing that the too radical
programme of the journal, the NON-RESISTANT, might keep people
away from the practical work of negro-emancipation, gave up the
profession of the principle of non-resistance as it had been
expressed in the declaration, and both society and journal ceased
to exist.

This declaration of Garrison's gave so powerful and eloquent an
expression of a confession of faith of such importance to men,
that one would have thought it must have produced a strong
impression on people, and have become known throughout the world
and the subject of discussion on every side.  But nothing of the
kind occurred.  Not only was it unknown in Europe, even the
Americans, who have such a high opinion of Garrison, hardly knew
of the declaration.

Another champion of non-resistance has been overlooked in the same
way--the American Adin Ballou, who lately died, after spending fifty
years in preaching this doctrine. Lord God, to calmly and meekly abide
the doctrine. How great the ignorance is of everything relating to the
question of non-resistance may be seen from the fact that Garrison the
son, who has written an excellent biography of his father in four great
volumes, in answer to my inquiry whether there are existing now
societies for non-resistance, and adherents of the doctrine, told me
that as far as he knew that society had broken up, and that there were
no adherents of that doctrine, while at the very time when he was
writing to me there was living, at Hopedale in Massachusetts, Adin
Ballou, who had taken part in the labors of Garrison the father, and had
devoted fifty years of his life to advocating, both orally and in print,
the doctrine of non-resistance. Later on I received a letter from Wilson,
a pupil and colleague of Ballou's, and entered into correspondence with
Ballou himself. I wrote to Ballou, and he answered me and sent me his
works. Here is the summary of some extracts from them:

   "Jesus Christ is my Lord and teacher," says Ballou in one of
   his essays exposing the inconsistency of Christians who allowed
   a right of self-defense and of warfare.  "I have promised
   leaving all else, to follow good and through evil, to death
   itself.  But I am a citizen of the democratic republic of the
   United States; and in allegiance to it I have sworn to defend
   the Constitution of my country, if need be, with my life.
   Christ requires of me to do unto others as I would they should
   do unto me.  The Constitution of the United States requires of
   me to do unto two millions of slaves [at that time there were
   slaves; now one might venture to substitute the word
   'laborers'] the very opposite of what I would they should do
   unto me--that is to help to keep them in their present
   condition of slavery.  And, in spite of this, I continue to
   elect or be elected, I propose to vote, I am even ready to be
   appointed to any office under government.  That will not hinder
   me from being a Christian.  I shall still profess Christianity,
   and shall find no difficulty in carrying out my covenant
   with Christ and with the government.

   "Jesus Christ forbids me to resist evil doers, and to take from
   them an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, bloodshed for
   bloodshed, and life for life.

   "My government demands from me quite the opposite, and bases a
   system of self-defense on gallows, musket, and sword, to be
   used against its foreign and domestic foes.  And the land is
   filled accordingly with gibbets, prisons, arsenals, ships of
   war, and soldiers.

   "In the maintenance and use of these expensive appliances for
   murder, we can very suitably exercise to the full the virtues
   of forgiveness to those who injure us, love toward our enemies,
   blessings to those who curse us, and doing good to those who
   hate us.

   "For this we have a succession of Christian priests to pray for
   us and beseech the blessing of Heaven on the holy work of

   "I see all this (i. e., the contradiction between profession and
   practice), and I continue to profess religion and take part in
   government, and pride myself on being at the same time a devout
   Christian and a devoted servant of the government.  I do not
   want to agree with these senseless notions of non-resistance.
   I cannot renounce my authority and leave only immoral men in
   control of the government.  The Constitution says the
   government has the right to declare war, and I assent to this
   and support it, and swear that I will support it.  And I do not
   for that cease to be a Christian. War, too, is a Christian
   duty.  Is it not a Christian duty to kill hundreds of thousands
   of one's fellow-men, to outrage women, to raze and burn towns,
   and to practice every possible cruelty?  It is time to dismiss
   all these false sentimentalities.  It is the truest means of
   forgiving injuries and loving enemies.  If we only do it in the
   spirit of love, nothing can be more Christian than such

In another pamphlet, entitled "How many Men are Necessary to
Change a Crime into a Virtue?" he says: "One man may not kill.  If
he kills a fellow-creature, he is a murderer.  If two, ten, a
hundred men do so, they, too, are murderers.  But a government or
a nation may kill as many men as it chooses, and that will not be
murder, but a great and noble action.  Only gather the people
together on a large scale, and a battle of ten thousand men
becomes an innocent action.  But precisely how many people must
there be to make it so?--that is the question.  One man cannot
plunder and pillage, but a whole nation can.  But precisely how
many are needed to make it permissible?  Why is it that one man,
ten, a hundred, may not break the law of God, but a great number

And here is a version of Ballou's catechism composed for his


   Q. Whence is the word "non-resistance" derived?

   A. From the command, "Resist not evil." (M. v. 39.)

   Q. What does this word express?

   A. It expresses a lofty Christian virtue enjoined on us by

   Q. Ought the word "non-resistance" to be taken in its widest
   sense--that is to say, as intending that we should not offer
   any resistance of any kind to evil?

   A. No; it ought to be taken in the exact sense of our Saviour's
   teaching--that is, not repaying evil for evil.  We ought to
   oppose evil by every righteous means in our power, but not by

   Q. What is there to show that Christ enjoined non-resistance in
   that sense?

   A. It is shown by the words he uttered at the same time.  He
   said: "Ye have heard, it was said of old, An eye for an eye,
   and a tooth for a tooth.  But I say unto you Resist not evil.
   But if one smites thee on the right cheek, turn him the other
   also; and if one will go to law with thee to take thy coat from
   thee, give him thy cloak also."

   Q. Of whom was he speaking in the words, "Ye have heard it was
   said of old"?

   A. Of the patriarchs and the prophets, contained in the Old
   Testament, which the Hebrews ordinarily call the Law and the

   Q. What utterances did Christ refer to in the words, "It was
   said of old"?

   A. The utterances of Noah, Moses, and the other prophets, in
   which they admit the right of doing bodily harm to those who
   inflict harm, so as to punish and prevent evil deeds.

   Q. Quote such utterances.

   A. "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be
   shed."--GEN. ix. 6.

   "He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to
   death... And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life
   for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for
   foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."
   --Ex. xxi. 12 and 23-25.

   "He that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.  And if
   a man cause a blemish in his neighbor, as he hath done, so
   shall it be done unto him: breach for breach, eye for eye,
   tooth for tooth."--LEV. xxiv. 17, 19, 20.

   "Then the judges shall make diligent inquisition; and behold,
   if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely
   against his brother, then shall ye do unto him as he had
   thought to have done unto his brother... And thine eye shall not
   pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth,
   hand for hand, foot for foot."--DEUT. xix. 18, 21.

   Noah, Moses, and the Prophets taught that he who kills, maims,
   or injures his neighbors does evil.  To resist such evil, and
   to prevent it, the evil doer must be punished with death, or
   maiming, or some physical injury.  Wrong must be opposed by
   wrong, murder by murder, injury by injury, evil by evil.  Thus
   taught Noah, Moses, and the Prophets.  But Christ rejects all
   this.  "I say unto you," is written in the Gospel, "resist not
   evil," do not oppose injury with injury, but rather bear
   repeated injury from the evil doer.  What was permitted is
   forbidden.  When we understand what kind of resistance they
   taught, we know exactly what resistance Christ forbade.

   Q. Then the ancients allowed the resistance of injury by

   A. Yes. But Jesus forbids it. The Christian has in no case the
   right to put to death his neighbor who has done him evil, or to
   do him injury in return.

   Q. May he kill or maim him in self-defense?

   A. No.

   Q. May he go with a complaint to the judge that he who has
   wronged him may be punished?

   A. No. What he does through others, he is in reality doing

   Q. Can he fight in conflict with foreign enemies or disturbers
   of the peace?

   A. Certainly not. He cannot take any part in war or in
   preparations for war.  He cannot make use of a deadly weapon.
   He cannot oppose injury to injury, whether he is alone or with
   others, either in person or through other people.

   Q. Can he voluntarily vote or furnish soldiers for the

   A. He can do nothing of that kind if he wishes to be faithful
   to Christ's law.

   Q. Can he voluntarily give money to aid a government resting on
   military force, capital punishment, and violence in general?

   A. No, unless the money is destined for some special object,
   right in itself, and good both in aim and means.

   Q. Can he pay taxes to such a government?

   A. No; he ought not voluntarily to pay taxes, but he ought not
   to resist the collecting of taxes.  A tax is levied by the
   government, and is exacted independently of the will of the
   subject.  It is impossible to resist it without having recourse
   to violence of some kind.  Since the Christian cannot employ
   violence, he is obliged to offer his property at once to the
   loss by violence inflicted on it by the authorities.

   Q. Can a Christian give a vote at elections, or take part in
   government or law business?

   A. No; participation in election, government, or law business
   is participation in government by force.

   Q. Wherein lies the chief significance of the doctrine of

   A. In the fact that it alone allows of the possibility of
   eradicating evil from one's own heart, and also from one's
   neighbor's.  This doctrine forbids doing that whereby evil has
   endured for ages and multiplied in the world.  He who attacks
   another and injures him, kindles in the other a feeling of
   hatred, the root of every evil.  To injure another because he
   has injured us, even with the aim of overcoming evil, is
   doubling the harm for him and for oneself; it is begetting, or
   at least setting free and inciting, that evil spirit which we
   should wish to drive out.  Satan can never be driven out by
   Satan.  Error can never be corrected by error, and evil cannot
   be vanquished by evil.

   True non-resistance is the only real resistance to evil.  It is
   crushing the serpent's head.  It destroys and in the end
   extirpates the evil feeling.

   Q. But if that is the true meaning of the rule of non-resistance,
   can it always put into practice?

   A. It can be put into practice like every virtue enjoined by
   the law of God.  A virtue cannot be practiced in all
   circumstances without self-sacrifice, privation, suffering, and
   in extreme cases loss of life itself.  But he who esteems life
   more than fulfilling the will of God is already dead to the
   only true life.  Trying to save his life he loses it.  Besides,
   generally speaking, where non-resistance costs the sacrifice of
   a single life or of some material welfare, resistance costs a
   thousand such sacrifices.

   Non-resistance is Salvation; Resistance is Ruin.

   It is incomparably less dangerous to act justly than unjustly,
   to submit to injuries than to resist them with violence, less
   dangerous even in one's relations to the present life.  If all
   men refused to resist evil by evil our world would be happy.

   Q. But so long as only a few act thus, what will happen to

   A. If only one man acted thus, and all the rest agreed
   to crucify him, would it not be nobler for him to die in the
   glory of non-resisting love, praying for his enemies, than to
   live to wear the crown of Caesar stained with the blood of the
   slain?  However, one man, or a thousand men, firmly resolved
   not to oppose evil by evil are far more free from danger by
   violence than those who resort to violence, whether among
   civilized or savage neighbors.  The robber, the murderer, and
   the cheat will leave them in peace, sooner than those who
   oppose them with arms, and those who take up the sword shall
   perish by the sword, but those who seek after peace, and behave
   kindly and harmlessly, forgiving and forgetting injuries, for
   the most part enjoy peace, or, if they die, they die blessed.
   In this way, if all kept the ordinance of non-resistance, there
   would obviously be no evil nor crime.  If the majority acted
   thus they would establish the rule of love and good will even
   over evil doers, never opposing evil with evil, and never
   resorting to force.  If there were a moderately large minority
   of such men, they would exercise such a salutary moral
   influence on society that every cruel punishment would be
   abolished, and violence and feud would be replaced by peace and
   love.  Even if there were only a small minority of them, they
   would rarely experience anything worse than the world's
   contempt, and meantime the world, though unconscious of it, and
   not grateful for it, would be continually becoming wiser and
   better for their unseen action on it.  And if in the worst case
   some members of the minority were persecuted to death, in dying
   for the truth they would have left behind them their doctrine,
   sanctified by the blood of their martyrdom.  Peace, then, to
   all who seek peace, and may overruling love be the imperishable
   heritage of every soul who obeys willingly Christ's word,
   "Resist not evil."


For fifty years Ballou wrote and published books dealing
principally with the question of non-resistance to evil by force.
In these works, which are distinguished by the clearness of their
thought and eloquence of exposition, the question is looked at
from every possible side, and the binding nature of this command
on every Christian who acknowledges the Bible as the revelation of
God is firmly established.  All the ordinary objections to the
doctrine of non-resistance from the Old and New Testaments are
brought forward, such as the expulsion of the moneychangers from
the Temple, and so on, and arguments follow in disproof of them
all.  The practical reasonableness of this rule of conduct is
shown independently of Scripture, and all the objections
ordinarily made against its practicability are stated and refuted.
Thus one chapter in a book of his treats of non-resistance in
exceptional cases, and he owns in this connection that if there
were cases in which the rule of non-resistance were impossible of
application, it would prove that the law was not universally
authoritative.  Quoting these cases, he shows that it is precisely
in them that the application of the rule is both necessary and
reasonable.  There is no aspect of the question, either on his
side or on his opponents', which he has not followed up in his
writings.  I mention all this to show the unmistakable interest
which such works ought to have for men who make a profession of
Christianity, and because one would have thought Ballou's work
would have been well known, and the ideas expressed by him would
lave been either accepted or refuted; but such has not been the

The work of Garrison, the father, in his foundation of the Society
of Non-resistants and his Declaration, even more than my
correspondence with the Quakers, convinced me of the fact that the
departure of the ruling form of Christianity from the law of
Christ on non-resistance by force is an error that has long been
observed and pointed out, and that men have labored, and are still
laboring, to correct.  Ballou's work confirmed me still more in
this view.  But the fate of Garrison, still more that of Ballou,
in being completely unrecognized in spite of fifty years of
obstinate and persistent work in the same direction, confirmed me
in the idea that there exists a kind of tacit but steadfast
conspiracy of silence about all such efforts.

Ballou died in August, 1890, and there was as obituary notice of him in
an American journal of Christian views (RELIGIO-PHILOSOPHICAL JOURNAL,
August 23). In this laudatory notice it is recorded that Ballou was the
spiritual director of a parish, that he delivered from eight to nine
thousand sermons, married one thousand couples, and wrote about five
hundred articles; but there is not a single word said of the object to
which he devoted his life; even the word "non-resistance" is not
mentioned. Precisely as it was with all the preaching of the Quakers for
two hundred years and, too, with the efforts of Garrison the father, the
foundation of his society and journal, and his Declaration, so it is
with the life-work of Ballou. It seems just as though it did not exist
and never had existed.

We have an astounding example of the obscurity of works which aim
at expounding the doctrine of non-resistance to evil by force, and
at confuting those who do not recognize this commandment, in the
book of the Tsech Helchitsky, which has only lately been noticed
and has not hitherto been printed.

Soon after the appearance of my book in German, I received a
letter from Prague, from a professor of the university there,
informing me of the existence of a work, never yet printed, by
Helchitsky, a Tsech of the fifteenth century, entitled "The Net of
Faith."  In this work, the professor told me, Helchitsky expressed
precisely the same view as to true and false Christianity as I had
expressed in my book "What I Believe."  The professor wrote to me
that Helchitsky's work was to be published for the first time in
SILENCE.  Since I could not obtain the book itself, I tried to
make myself acquainted with what was known of Helchitsky, and I
gained the following information from a German book sent me by the
Prague professor and from Pypin's history of Tsech literature.
This was Pypin's account:

   "'The Net of Faith' is Christ's teaching, which ought to draw
   man up out of the dark depths of the sea of worldliness and his
   own iniquity.  True faith consists in believing God's Word; but
   now a time has come when men mistake the true faith for heresy,
   and therefore it is for the reason to point out what the true
   faith consists in, if anyone does not know this.  It is hidden
   in darkness from men, and they do not recognize the true law of

   "To make this law plain, Helchitsky points to the primitive
   organization of Christian society--the organization which, he
   says, is now regarded in the Roman Church as an abominable
   heresy. This Primitive Church was his special ideal of social
   organization, founded on equality, liberty, and fraternity.
   Christianity, in Helchitsky's view, still preserves these
   elements, and it is only necessary for society to return to its
   pure doctrine to render unnecessary every other form of social
   order in which kings and popes are essential; the law of love
   would alone be sufficient in every case.

   "Historically, Helchitsky attributes the degeneration of
   Christianity to the times of Constantine the Great, whom he
   Pope Sylvester admitted into the Christian Church with all his
   heathen morals and life.  Constantine, in his turn, endowed the
   Pope with worldly riches and power.  From that time forward
   these two ruling powers were constantly aiding one another to
   strive for nothing but outward glory.  Divines and
   ecclesiastical dignitaries began to concern themselves only
   about subduing the whole world to their authority, incited men
   against one another to murder and plunder, and in creed and
   life reduced Christianity to a nullity. Helchitsky denies
   completely the right to make war and to inflict the punishment
   of death; every soldier, even the 'knight,' is only a violent
   evil doer--a murderer."

The same account is given by the German book, with the addition of
a few biographical details and some extracts from Helchitsky's

Having learnt the drift of Helchitsky's teaching in this way, I
awaited all the more impatiently the appearance of "The Net of
Faith" in the journal of the Academy.  But one year passed, then
two and three, and still the book did not appear.  It was only in 1888
that I learned that the printing of the book, which had been
begun, was stopped.  I obtained the proofs of what had been
printed and read them through.  It is a marvelous book from every
point of view.

Its general tenor is given with perfect accuracy by Pypin.
Helchitsky's fundamental idea is that Christianity, by allying
itself with temporal power in the days of Constantine, and by
continuing to develop in such conditions, has become completely
distorted, and has ceased to be Christian altogether.  Helchitsky
gave the title "The Net of Faith" to his book, taking as his motto
the verse of the Gospel about the calling of the disciples to be
fishers of men; and, developing this metaphor, he says:

   "Christ, by means of his disciples, would have caught all the
   world in his net of faith, but the greater fishes broke the net
   and escaped out of it, and all the rest have slipped through
   the holes made by the greater fishes, so that the net has
   remained quite empty.  The greater fishes who broke the net are
   the rulers, emperors, popes, kings, who have not renounced
   power, and instead of true Christianity have put on what is
   simply a mask of it."

Helchitsky teaches precisely what has been and is taught in these
days by the non-resistant Mennonites and Quakers, and in former
tunes by the Bogomilites, Paulicians, and many others.  He teaches
that Christianity, expecting from its adherents gentleness,
meekness, peaceableness, forgiveness of injuries, turning the
other cheek when one is struck, and love for enemies, is
inconsistent with the use of force, which is an indispensable
condition of authority.

The Christian, according to Helchitsky's reasoning, not only
cannot be a ruler or a soldier; he cannot take any part in
government nor in trade, or even be a landowner; he can only be an
artisan or a husbandman.

This book is one of the few works attacking official Christianity
which has escaped being burned.  All such so-called heretical
works were burned at the stake, together with their authors, so
that there are few ancient works exposing the errors of official
Christianity.  The book has a special interest for this reason
alone.  But apart from its interest from every point of view, it
is one of the most remarkable products of thought for its depth of
aim, for the astounding strength and beauty of the national
language in which it is written, and for its antiquity. And yet
for more than four centuries it has remained unprinted, and is
still unknown, except to a few learned specialists.

One would have thought that all such works, whether of the
Quakers, of Garrison, of Ballou, or of Helchitsky, asserting and
proving as they do, on the principles of the Gospel, that our
modern world takes a false view of Christ's teaching, would have
awakened interest, excitement, talk, and discussion among
spiritual teachers and their flocks alike.

Works of this kind, dealing with the very essence of Christian
doctrine, ought, one would have thought, to have been examined and
accepted as true, or refuted and rejected.  But nothing of the
kind has occurred, and the same fate has been repeated with all
those works.  Men of the most diverse views, believers, and, what
is surprising, unbelieving liberals also, as though by agreement,
all preserve the same persistent silence about them, and all that
has been done by people to explain the true meaning of Christ's
doctrine remains either ignored or forgotten.

But it is still more astonishing that two other books, of
which I heard on the appearance of my book, should be so little
known, I mean Dymond's book "On War," published for the first time
in London in 1824, and Daniel Musser's book on "Non-resistance,"
written in 1864.  It is particularly astonishing that these books
should be unknown, because, apart from their intrinsic merits,
both books treat not so much of the theory as of the practical
application of the theory to life, of the attitude of Christianity
to military service, which is especially important and interesting
now in these clays of universal conscription.

People will ask, perhaps: How ought a subject to behave who
believes that war is inconsistent with his religion while the
government demands from him that he should enter military service?

This question is, I think, a most vital one, and the answer to it
is specially important in these days of universal conscription.
All--or at least the great majority of the people--are Christians,
and all men are called upon for military service.  How ought a
man, as a Christian, to meet this demand?  This is the gist of
Dymond's answer:

   "His duty is humbly but steadfastly to refuse to serve."

There are some people, who, without any definite reasoning about
it, conclude straightway that the responsibility of government
measures rests entirely on those who resolve on them, or that the
governments and sovereigns decide the question of what is good or
bad for their subjects, and the duty of the subjects is merely to
obey. I think that arguments of this kind only obscure men's
conscience.  I cannot take part in the councils of government, and
therefore I am not responsible for its misdeeds..  Indeed, but we
are responsible for our own misdeeds.  And the misdeeds of our
rulers become our own, if we, knowing that they are misdeeds,
assist in carrying, them out.  Those who suppose that they are
bound to obey the government, and that the responsibility for the
misdeeds they commit is transferred from them to their rulers,
deceive themselves.  They say:  "We give our acts up to the will
of others, and our acts cannot be good or bad; there is no merit
in what is good nor responsibility for what is evil in our
actions, since they are not done of our own will."

It is remarkable that the very same thing is said in the
instructions to soldiers which they make them learn--that is, that
the officer is alone responsible for the consequences of his
command.  But this is not right.  A man cannot get rid of the
responsibility, for his own actions.  And that is clear from the
following example.  If your officer commands you to kill your
neighbor's child, to kill your father or your mother, would you
obey?  If you would not obey, the whole argument falls to the
ground, for if you can disobey the governors in one case, where do
you draw the line up to which you can obey them?  There is no line
other than that laid down by Christianity, and that line is both
reasonable and practicable.

And therefore we consider it the duty of every man who thinks war
inconsistent with Christianity, meekly but firmly to refuse to
serve in the army.  And let those whose lot it is to act thus,
remember that the fulfillment of a great duty rests with them.
The destiny of humanity in the world depends, so far as it depends
on men at all, on their fidelity to their religion.  Let them
confess their conviction, and stand up for it, and not in words
alone, but in sufferings too, if need be.  If you believe that
Christ forbade murder, pay no heed to the arguments nor to the
commands of those who call on you to bear a hand in it.  By such a
steadfast refusal to make use of force, you call down on
yourselves the blessing promised to those "who hear these sayings
and do them," and the time will come when the world will recognize
you as having aided in the reformation of mankind.

Musser's book is called "Non-resistance Asserted," or "Kingdom of
Christ and Kingdoms of this World Separated."  This book is
devoted to the same question, and was written when the American
Government was exacting military service from its citizens at the
time of the Civil War.  And it has, too, a value for all time,
dealing with the question how, in such circumstances, people
should and can refuse to enter military service. Here is the tenor
of the author's introductory remarks:

   "It is well known that there are many persons in the United
   States who refuse to fight on grounds of conscience.  They are
   called the 'defenseless,' or 'non-resistant' Christians.  These
   Christians refuse to defend their country, to bear arms, or at
   the call of government to make war on its enemies.  Till lately
   this religious scruple seemed a valid excuse to the government,
   and those who urged it were let off service.  But at the
   beginning of our Civil War public opinion was agitated on this
   subject.  It was natural that persons who considered it their
   duty to bear all the hardships and dangers of war in defense of
   their country should feel resentment against those persons who
   had for long shared with them the advantages of the protection
   of government, and who now in time of need and danger would not
   share in bearing the labors and dangers of its defense.  It was
   even natural that they should declare the attitude of such men
   monstrous, irrational, and suspicious."

A host of orators and writers, our author tells us, arose to oppose this
attitude, and tried to prove the sinfulness of non-resistance, both from
Scripture and on common-sense grounds. And this was perfectly natural,
and in many cases the authors were right--right, that is, in regard to
persons who did not renounce the benefits they received from the
government and tried to avoid the hardships of military service, but not
right in regard to the principle of non-resistance itself. Above all,
our author proves the binding nature of the rule of non-resistance for a
Christian, pointing out that this command is perfectly clear, and is
enjoined upon every Christian by Christ without possibility of
misinterpretation. "Bethink yourselves whether it is righteous to obey
man more than God," said Peter and John. And this is precisely what
ought to be the attitude to every man who wishes to be Christian to the
claim on him for military service, when Christ has said, "Resist not
evil by force." As for the question of the principle itself, the author
regards that as decided. As to the second question, whether people have
the right to refuse to serve in the army who have not refused the
benefits conferred by a government resting on force, the author
considers it in detail, and arrives at the conclusion that a Christian
following the law of Christ, since he does not go to war, ought not
either to take advantage of any institutions of government, courts of
law, or elections, and that in his private concerns he must not have
recourse to the authorities, the police, or the law. Further on in the
book he treats of the relation of the Old Testament to the New, the
value of government for those who are Christians, and makes some
observations on the doctrine of non-resistance and the attacks made on
it. The author concludes his book by saying: "Christians do not need
government, and therefore they cannot either obey it in what is contrary
to Christ's teaching nor, still less, take part in it." Christ took his
disciples out of the world, he says. They do not expect worldly
blessings and worldly happiness, but they expect eternal life. The
Spirit in whom they live makes them contented and happy in every
position. If the world tolerates them, they are always happy. If the
world will not leave them in peace, they will go elsewhere, since they
are pilgrims on the earth and they have no fixed place of habitation.
They believe that "the dead may bury their dead." One thing only is
needful for them, "to follow their Master."

Even putting aside the question as to the principle laid down in these
two books as to the Christian's duty in his attitude to war, one cannot
help perceiving the practical importance and the urgent need of deciding
the question.

There are people, hundreds of thousands of Quakers, Mennonites,
all our Douhobortsi, Molokani, and others who do not belong to any
definite sect, who consider that the use of force--and,
consequently, military service--is inconsistent with Christianity.
Consequently there are every year among us in Russia some men
called upon for military service who refuse to serve on the ground
of their religious convictions.  Does the government let them off
then?  No.  Does it compel them to go, and in case of disobedience
punish them?  No. This was how the government treated them in
1818.  Here is an extract from the diary of Nicholas Myravyov of
Kars, which was not passed by the censor, and is not known in

   "Tiflis, October 2, 1818.

   "In the morning the commandant told me that five peasants
   belonging to a landowner in the Tamboff government had lately
   been sent to Georgia.  These men had been sent for soldiers,
   but they would not serve; they had been several times flogged
   and made to run the gauntlet, but they would submit readily to
   the cruelest tortures, and even to death, rather than serve.
   'Let us go,' they said, 'and leave us alone; we will not hurt
   anyone; all men are equal, and the Tzar is a man like us; why
   should we pay him tribute; why should I expose my life to
   danger to kill in battle some man who has done me no harm?  You
   can cut us to pieces and we will not be soldiers.  He who has
   compassion on us will give us charity, but as for the
   government rations, we have not had them and we do not want to
   have them.'  These were the words of those peasants, who declare
   that there are numbers like them Russia.  They brought them
   four times before the Committee of Ministers, and at last
   decided to lay the matter before the Tzar who gave orders that
   they should be taken to Georgia for correction, and commanded
   the commander-in-chief to send him a report every month of
   their gradual success in bringing these peasants to a better

How the correction ended is not known, as the whole episode indeed
was unknown, having been kept in profound secrecy.

This was how the government behaved seventy-five years ago--this
is how it has behaved in a great cumber of cases, studiously
concealed from the people.  And this is how the government behaves
now, except in the case of the German Mennonites, living in the
province of Kherson, whose plea against military service is
considered well grounded.  They are made to work off their term of
service in labor in the forests.

But in the recent cases of refusal on the part of Mennonites to
serve in the army on religious grounds, the government authorities
have acted in the following manner:

To begin with, they have recourse to every means of coercion used
in our times to "correct" the culprit and bring him to "a better
mind," and these measures are carried out with the greatest
secrecy.  I know that in the case of one man who declined to serve
in 1884 in Moscow, the official correspondence on the subject had
two months after his refusal accumulated into a big folio, and was
kept absolutely secret among the Ministry.

They usually begin by sending the culprit to the priests, and the
latter, to their shame be it said, always exhort him to obedience.
But since the exhortation in Christ's name to forswear Christ is
for the most part unsuccessful, after he has received the
admonitions of the spiritual authorities, they send him to the
gendarmes, and the latter, finding, as a rule, no political cause
for offense in him, dispatch him back again, and then he is sent
to the learned men, to the doctors, and to the madhouse.  During
all these vicissitudes he is deprived of liberty and has to endure
every kind of humiliation and suffering as a convicted criminal.
(All this has been repeated in four cases.)  The doctors let him
out of the madhouse, and then every kind of secret shift is
employed to prevent him from going free--whereby others would be
encouraged to refuse to serve as he has done--and at the same time
to avoid leaving him among the soldiers, for fear they too should
learn from him that military service is not at all their duty by
the law of God, as they are assured, but quite contrary to it.

The most convenient thing for the government would be to kill the
non-resistant by flogging him to death or some other means, as was
done in former days.  But to put a man openly to death because he
believes in the creed we all confess is impossible.  To let a man
alone who has refused obedience is also impossible.  And so the
government tries either to compel the man by ill-treatment to
renounce Christ, or in some way or other to get rid of him
unobserved, without openly putting him to death, and to hide
somehow both the action and the man himself from other people.
And so all kinds of shifts and wiles and cruelties are set on foot
against him.  They either send him to the frontier or provoke him
to insubordination, and then try him for breach of discipline and
shut him up in the prison of the disciplinary battalion, where
they can ill treat him freely unseen by anyone, or they declare
him mad, and lock him up in a lunatic asylum.  They sent one man
in this way to Tashkend--that is, they pretended to transfer to
the Tashkend army; another to Omsk; a third him they convicted of
insubordination and shut up in prison; a fourth they sent to a
lunatic asylum.

Everywhere the same story is repeated.  Not only the government,
but the great majority of liberal, advanced people, as they are
called, studiously turn away from everything that has been said,
written, or done, or is being done by men to prove the
incompatibility of force in its most awful, gross, and glaring
form--in the form, that is, of an army of soldiers prepared to
murder anyone, whoever it may be--with the teachings of
Christianity, or even of the humanity which society professes as
its creed.

So that the information I have gained of the attitude of the
higher ruling classes, not only in Russia but in Europe and
America, toward the elucidation of this question has convinced me
that there exists in these ruling classes a consciously hostile
attitude to true Christianity, which is shown pre-eminently in
their reticence in regard to all manifestations of it.



Fate of the Book "What I Believe"--Evasive Character of Religious
Criticisms of Principles of my Book--1st Reply: Use of Force
not Opposed to Christianity--2d Reply: Use of Force Necessary
to Restrain Evil Doers--3d Reply: Duty of Using Force in
Defense of One's Neighbor--4th Reply: The Breach of the Command
of Non-resistance to be Regarded Simply as a Weakness--5th
Reply: Reply Evaded by Making Believe that the Question has
long been Decided--To Devise such Subterfuges and to take
Refuge Behind the Authority of the Church, of Antiquity, and of
Religion is all that Ecclesiastical Critics can do to get out
of the Contradiction between Use of Force and Christianity in
Theory and in Practice--General Attitude of the Ecclesiastical
World and of the Authorities to Profession of True
Christianity--General Character of Russian Freethinking
Critics--Foreign Freethinking Critics--Mistaken Arguments of
these Critics the Result of Misunderstanding the True Meaning
of Christ's Teaching.

The impression I gained of a desire to conceal, to hush up, what I
had tried to express in my book, led me to judge the book itself

On its appearance it had, as I had anticipated, been forbidden,
and ought therefore by law to have been burnt.  But, at the same
time, it was discussed among officials, and circulated in a great
number of manuscript and lithograph copies, and in translations
printed abroad.

And very quickly after the book, criticisms, both religious and
secular in character, made their appearance, and these the
government tolerated, and even encouraged.  So that the refutation
of a book which no one was supposed to know anything about was
even chosen as the subject for theological dissertations in the

The criticisms of my book, Russian and foreign alike, fall under
two general divisions--the religious criticisms of men who regard
themselves as believers, and secular criticisms, that is, those of

I will begin with the first class.  In my book I made it an
accusation against the teachers of the Church that their teaching
is opposed to Christ's commands clearly and definitely expressed
in the Sermon on the Mount, and opposed in especial to his command
in regard to resistance to evil, and that in this way they deprive
Christ's teaching of all value.  The Church authorities accept the
teaching of the Sermon on the Mount on non-resistance to evil by
force as divine revelation; and therefore one would have thought
that if they felt called upon to write about my book at all, they
would have found it inevitable before everything else to reply to
the principal point of my charge against them, and to say plainly,
do they or do they not admit the teaching of the Sermon on the
Mount and the commandment of non-resistance to evil as binding on
a Christian.  And they were bound to answer this question, not
after the usual fashion (i. e., "that although on the one side one
cannot absolutely deny, yet on the other side one cannot main
fully assent, all the more seeing that," etc., etc.).  No; they
should have answered the question as plainly as it was put
in my book--Did Christ really demand from his disciples
that they should carry out what he taught them in the Sermon on
the Mount?  And can a Christian, then, or can he not, always
remaining a Christian, go to law or make any use of the law, or
seek his own protection in the law?  And can the Christian, or can
he not, remaining a Christian, take part in the administration of
government, using compulsion against his neighbors?  And--the most
important question hanging over the heads of all of us in these
days of universal military service--can the Christian, or can he
not, remaining a Christian, against Christ's direct prohibition,
promise obedience in future actions directly opposed to his
teaching?  And can he, by taking his share of service in the army,
prepare himself to murder men, and even actually murder them?

These questions were put plainly and directly, and seemed to
require a plain and direct answer; but in all the criticisms of my
book there was no such plain and direct answer.  No; my book
received precisely the same treatment as all the attacks upon the
teachers of the Church for their defection from the Law of Christ
of which history from the days of Constantine is full.

A very great deal was said in connection with my book of my having
incorrectly interpreted this and other passages of the Gospel, of
my being in error in not recognizing the Trinity, the redemption,
and the immortality of the soul.  A very great deal was said, but
not a word about the one thing which for every Christian is the
most essential question in life--how to reconcile the duty of
forgiveness, meekness, patience, and love for all, neighbors and
enemies alike, which is so clearly expressed in the words of our
teacher, and in the heart of each of us--how to reconcile this
duty with the obligation of using force in war upon men of our own
or a foreign people.

All that are worth calling answers to this question can be brought
under the following five heads.  I have tried to bring together in
this connection all I could, not only from the criticisms on my
book, but from what has been written in past times on this theme.

The first and crudest form of reply consists in the bold assertion
that the use of force is not opposed by the teaching of Christ;
that it is permitted, and even enjoined, on the Christian by the
Old and New Testaments.

Assertions of this kind proceed, for the most part, from men who
have attained the highest ranks in the governing or ecclesiastical
hierarchy, and who are consequently perfectly assured that no one
will dare to contradict their assertion, and that if anyone does
contradict it they will hear nothing of the contradiction.  These
men have, for the most part, through the intoxication of power, so
lost the right idea of what that Christianity is in the name of
which they hold their position that what is Christian in
Christianity presents itself to them as heresy, while everything
in the Old and New Testaments which can be distorted into an
antichristian and heathen meaning they regard as the foundation of
Christianity.  In support of their assertion that Christianity is
not opposed to the use of force, these men usually, with the
greatest audacity, bring together all the most obscure passages
from the Old and New Testaments, interpreting them in the most
unchristian way--the punishment of Ananias and Sapphira, of Simon
the Sorcerer, etc.  They quote all those sayings of Christ's which
can possibly be interpreted as justification of cruelty: the
expulsion from the Temple; "It shall be more tolerable for the
land of Sodom than for this city," etc., etc.  According to these
people's notions, a Christian government is not in the least bound
to be guided by the spirit of peace, forgiveness of injuries, and
love for enemies.

To refute such an assertion is useless, because the very
people who make this assertion refute themselves, or, rather,
renounce Christ, inventing a Christianity and a Christ of their
own in the place of him in whose name the Church itself exists, as
well as their office in it.  If all men were to learn that the
Church professes to believe in a Christ of punishment and warfare,
not of forgiveness, no one would believe in the Church and it
could not prove to anyone what it is trying to prove.

The second, somewhat less gross, form of argument consists in
declaring that, though Christ did indeed preach that we should
turn the left cheek, and give the cloak also, and this is the
highest moral duty, yet that there are wicked men in the world,
and if these wicked men mere not restrained by force, the whole
world and all good men would come to ruin through them.  This
argument I found for the first time in John Chrysostom, and I show
how he is mistaken in my book "What I believe."

This argument is ill grounded, because if we allow ourselves to
regard any men as intrinsically wicked men, then in the first
place we annul, by so doing, the whole idea of the Christian
teaching, according to which we are all equals and brothers, as
sons of one father in heaven.  Secondly, it is ill founded,
because even if to use force against wicked men had been permitted
by God, since it is impossible to find a perfect and unfailing
distinction by which one could positively know the wicked from the
good, so it would come to all individual men and societies of men
mutually regarding each other as wicked men, as is the case now.
Thirdly, even if it were possible to distinguish the wicked from
the good unfailingly, even then it would be impossible to kill or
injure or shut up in prison these wicked men, because there would
be no one in a Christian society to carry out such punishment,
since every Christian, as a Christian, has been commanded to use
no force against the wicked.

The third kind of answer, still more subtle than the preceding,
consists in asserting that though the command of non-resistance to
evil by force is binding on the Christian when the evil is
directed against himself personally, it ceases to be binding when
the evil is directed against his neighbors, and that then the
Christian is not only not bound to fulfill the commandment, but is
even bound to act in opposition to it in defense of his neighbors,
and to use force against transgressors by force.  This assertion
is an absolute assumption, and one cannot find in all Christ's
teaching any confirmation of such an argument.  Such an argument
is not only a limitation, but a direct contradiction and negation
of the commandment.  If every man has the right to have recourse
to force in face of a danger threatening an other, the question of
the use of force is reduced to a question of the definition of
danger for another.  If my private judgment is to decide the
question of what is danger for another, there is no occasion for
the use of force which could not be justified on the ground of
danger threatening some other man.  They killed and burnt witches,
they killed aristocrats and girondists, they killed their enemies
because those who were in authority regarded them as dangerous for
the people.

If this important limitation, which fundamentally undermines the
whole value of the commandment, had entered into Christ's meaning,
there must have been mention of it somewhere.  This restriction is
made nowhere in our Saviour's life or preaching.  On the contrary,
warning is given precisely against this treacherous and scandalous
restriction which nullifies the commandment.  The error and
impossibility of such a limitation is shown in the Gospel with
special clearness in the account of the judgment of Caiaphas, who
makes precisely this distinction.  He acknowledged that it was
wrong to punish the innocent Jesus, but he saw in him a source of
danger not for himself, but for the whole people, and therefore he
said: It is better for one man to die, that the whole people
perish not.  And the erroneousness of such a limitation is still
more clearly expressed in the words spoken to Peter when he tried
to resist by force evil directed against Jesus (Matt. xxvi. 52).
Peter was not defending himself, but his beloved and heavenly
Master.  And Christ at once reproved him for this, saying, that he
who takes up the sword shall perish by the sword.

Besides, apologies for violence used against one's neighbor in defense
of another neighbor from greater violence are always untrustworthy,
because when force is used against one who has not yet carried out his
evil intent, I can never know which would be greater--the evil of my act
of violence or of the act I want to prevent. We kill the criminal that
society may be rid of him, and we never know whether the criminal of
to-day would not have been a changed man tomorrow, and whether our
punishment of him is not useless cruelty. We shut up the dangerous--as
we think--member of society, but the next day this man might cease to be
dangerous and his imprisonment might be for nothing. I see that a man I
know to be a ruffian is pursuing a young girl. I have a gun in my
hand--I kill the ruffian and save the girl. But the death or the
wounding of the ruffian has positively taken place, while what would
have happened if this had not been I cannot know. And what an immense
mass of evil must result, and indeed does result, from allowing men to
assume the right of anticipating what may happen. Ninety-nine per cent
of the evil of the world is founded on this reasoning--from the
Inquisition to dynamite bombs, and the executions or punishments of tens
of thousands of political criminals.

A fourth, still more refined, reply to the question, What ought to
be the Christian's attitude to Christ's command of non-resistance
to evil by force? consists in declaring that they do not deny the
command of non-resisting evil, but recognize it; but they only do
not ascribe to this command the special exclusive value attached
to it by sectarians.  To regard this command as the indispensable
condition of Christian life, as Garrison, Ballou, Dymond, the
Quakers, the Mennonites and the Shakers do now, and as the
Moravian brothers, the Waldenses, the Albigenses, the Bogomilites,
and the Paulicians did in the past, is a one-sided heresy.  This
command has neither more nor less value than all the other
commands, and the man who through weakness transgresses any
command whatever, the command of non-resistance included, does not
cease to be a Christian if he hold the true faith.  This is a very
skillful device, and many people who wish to be deceived are
easily deceived by it.  The device consists in reducing a direct
conscious denial of a command to a casual breach of it.  But one
need only compare the attitude of the teachers of the Church to
this and to other commands which they really do recognize, to be
convinced that their attitude to this is completely different from
their attitude to other duties.

The command against fornication they do really recognize, and
consequently they do not admit that in any case fornication can
cease to be wrong.  The Church preachers never point out cases in
which the command against fornication can be broken, and always
teach that we must avoid seductions which lead to temptation to
fornication.  But not so with the command of non-resistance.  All
church preachers recognize cases in which that command can be
broken, and teach the people accordingly.  And they not only do
not teach teat we should avoid temptations to break it, chief of
which is the military oath, but they themselves administer it.
The preachers of the Church never in any other case advocate the
breaking of any other commandment.  But in connection with the
commandment of non-resistance they openly teach that we must not
understand it too literally, but that there are conditions and
circumstances in which we must do the direct opposite, that is, go
to law, fight, punish.  So that occasions for fulfilling the
commandment of non-resistance to evil by force are taught for the
most part as occasions for not fulfilling it.  The fulfillment of
this command, they say, is very difficult and pertains only to
perfection.  And how can it not be difficult, when the breach of
it is not only not forbidden, but law courts, prisons, cannons,
guns, armies, and wars are under the immediate sanction of the
Church?  It cannot be true, then, that this command is recognized
by the preachers of the Church as on a level with other commands.

The preachers of the Church clearly, do not recognize it; only not
daring to acknowledge this, they try to conceal their not
recognizing it.

So much for the fourth reply.

The fifth kind of answer, which is the subtlest, the most often
used, and the most effective, consists in avoiding answering, in
making believe that this question is one which has long ago been
decided perfectly clearly and satisfactorily, and that it is not
worth while to talk about it.  This method of reply is employed by
all the more or less cultivated religious writers, that is to say,
those who feel the laws of Christ binding for themselves.  Knowing
that the contradiction existing between the teaching of Christ
which we profess with our lips and the whole order of our lives
cannot be removed by words, and that touching upon it can only
make it more obvious, they, with more or less ingenuity, evade it,
pretending that the question of reconciling Christianity with the
use of force has been decided already, or does not exist at all.

    [Footnote: I only know one work which differs somewhat from
    this general definition, and that is not a criticism in the
    precise meaning of the word, but an article treating of the
    same subject and having my book in view.  I mean the pamphlet
    of Mr. Troizky (published at Kazan), "A Sermon for the
    People."  The author obviously accepts Christ's teaching in
    its true meaning.  He says that the prohibition of resistance
    to evil by force means exactly what it does mean; and the same
    with the prohibition of swearing.  He does not, as others do,
    deny the meaning of Christ's teaching, but unfortunately he
    does not draw from this admission the inevitable deductions
    which present themselves spontaneously in our life when we
    understand Christ's teaching in that way.  If we must not
    oppose evil by force, nor swear, everyone naturally asks,
    "How, then, about military service? and the oath of
    obedience?"  To this question the author gives no reply; but
    it must be answered.  And if he cannot answer, then he would
    do better no to speak on the subject at all, as such silence
    leads to error.]

The majority of religious critics of my book use this fifth method
of replying to it. I could quote dozens of such critics, in all of
whom, without exception, we find the same thing repeated:
everything is discussed except what constitutes the principal
subject of the book.  As a characteristic example of such
criticisms, I will quote the article of a well-known and ingenious
English writer and preacher--Farrar--who, like many learned
theologians, is a great master of the art of circuitously evading
a question.  The article was published in an American journal, the
FORUM, in October, 1888.

After conscientiously explaining in brief the contents of my book,
Farrar says:

   "Tolstoy came to the conclusion that a coarse deceit had been
   palmed upon the world when these words 'Resist not evil,' were
   held by civil society to be compatible with war, courts of
   justice, capital punishment, divorce, oaths, national
   prejudice, and, indeed, with most of the institutions of civil
   and social life.  He now believes that the kingdom of God would
   come if all men kept these five commandments of Christ, viz.:
   1. Live in peace with all men.  2. Be pure.  3. Take no oaths.
   4. Resist not evil.  5. Renounce national distinctions.

   "Tolstoy," he says, "rejects the inspiration of the Old
   Testament; hence he rejects the chief doctrines of the Church--that
   of the Atonement by blood, the Trinity, the descent of the
   Holy Ghost on the Apostles, and his transmission through the
   priesthood."  And he recognizes only the words and commands of
   Christ.  "But is this interpretation of Christ a true one?" he
   says.  "Are all men bound to act as Tolstoy teaches--i. e., to
   carry out these five commandments of Christ?"

You expect, then, that in answer to this essential question, which
is the only one that could induce a man to write an article about
the book, he will say either that this interpretation of Christ's
teaching is true and we ought to follow it, or he will say that
such an interpretation is untrue, will show why, and will give
some other correct interpretation of those words which I interpret
incorrectly.  But nothing of this kind is done.  Farrar only
expresses his "belief" that,

   "although actuated by the noblest sincerity, Count Tolstoy has
   been misled by partial and one-sided interpretations of the
   meaning of the Gospel and the mind and will of Christ."  What
   this error consists in is not made clear; it is only said:
   "To enter into the proof of this is impossible in this article,
   for I have already exceeded the space at my command."

And he concludes in a tranquil spirit:

   "Meanwhile, the reader who feels troubled lest it should be his
   duty also to forsake all the conditions of his life and to take
   up the position and work of a common laborer, may rest for the
   present on the principle, SECURUS JUDICAT ORBIS TERRARUM.  With
   few and rare exceptions," he continues, "the whole of
   Christendom, from the days of the Apostles down to our own, has
   come to the firm conclusion that it was the object of Christ to
   lay down great eternal principles, but not to disturb the bases
   and revolutionize the institutions of all human society, which
   themselves rest on divine sanctions as well as on inevitable
   conditions.  Were it my object to prove how untenable is the
   doctrine of communism, based by Count Tolstoy upon the divine
   paradoxes [sic], which can be interpreted only on historical
   principles in accordance with the whole method of the teaching
   of Jesus, it would require an ampler canvas than I have here at
   my disposal."

What a pity he has not an "ampler canvas at his disposal"! And what a
strange thing it is that for all these last fifteen centuries no one has
had a "canvas ample enough" to prove that Christ, whom we profess to
believe in, says something utterly unlike what he does say! Still, they
could prove it if they wanted to. But it is not worth while to prove
what everyone knows; it is enough to say "SECURUS JUDICAT ORBIS

And of this kind, without exception, are all the criticisms of educated
believers, who must, as such, understand the danger of their position.
The sole escape from it for them lies in their hope that they may be
able, by using the authority of the Church, of antiquity, and of their
sacred office, to overawe the reader and draw him away from the idea of
reading the Gospel for himself and thinking out the question in his own
mind for himself. And in this they are successful; for, indeed, how
could the notion occur to any one that all that has been repeated from
century to century with such earnestness and solemnity by all those
archdeacons, bishops, archbishops, holy synods, and popes, is all of it
a base lie and a calumny foisted upon Christ by them for the sake of
keeping safe the money they must have to live luxuriously on the necks
of other men? And it is a lie and a calumny so transparent that the only
way of keeping it up consists in overawing people by their earnestness,
their conscientiousness. It is just what has taken place of late years
at recruiting sessions; at a table before the zertzal--the symbol of the
Tzars authority--in the seat of honor under the life-size portrait of
the Tzar, sit dignified old officials, wearing decorations, conversing
freely and easily, writing notes, summoning men before them, and giving
orders. Here, wearing a cross on his breast, near them, is
prosperous-looking old Priest in a silken cassock, with long gray hair
flowing on to his cope; before a lectern who wears the golden cross and
has a Gospel bound in gold.

They summon Iran Petroff.  A young man comes in, wretchedly,
shabbily dressed, and in terror, the muscles of his face working,
his eyes bright and restless; and in a broken voice, hardly above
a whisper, he says: "I--by Christ's law--as a Christian--I
cannot."  "What is he muttering?" asks the president, frowning
impatiently and raising his eyes from his book to listen. "Speak
louder," the colonel with shining epaulets shouts to him. "I--I as
a Christian--"  And at last it appears that the young man refuses
to serve in the army because he is a Christian.  "Don't talk
nonsense.  Stand to be measured.  Doctor, may I trouble you to
measure him.  He is all right?"  "Yes."  "Reverend father,
administer the oath to him."

No one is the least disturbed by what the poor scared young man is
muttering. They do not even pay attention to it.  "They all mutter
something, but we've no time to listen to it, we have to enroll so

The recruit tries to say something still.  "It's opposed to the
law of Christ."  "Go along, go along; we know without your help
what is opposed to the law and what's not; and you soothe his
mind, reverend father, soothe him.  Next: Vassily Nikitin."  And
they lead the trembling youth away. And it does not strike anyone
--the guards, or Vassily Nikitin, whom they are bringing in, or
any of the spectators of this scene--that these inarticulate words
of the young man, at once suppressed by the authorities, contain
the truth, and that the loud, solemnly uttered sentences of the
calm, self-confident official and the priest are a lie and a

Such is the impression produced not only by Farrar's article, but
by all those solemn sermons, articles, and books which make their
appearance from all sides directly there is anywhere a glimpse of
truth exposing a predominant falsehood.  At once begins the series
of long, clever, ingenious, and solemn speeches and writings,
which deal with questions nearly related to the subject, but
skillfully avoid touching the subject itself.

That is the essence of the fifth and most effective means of
getting out of the contradictions in which Church Christianity has
placed itself, by professing its faith in Christ's teaching in
words, while it denies it in its life, and teaches
people to do the same.

Those who justify themselves by the first method, directly,
crudely asserting that Christ sanctioned violence, wars, and
murder, repudiate Christ's doctrine directly; those who find their
defense in the second, the third, or the fourth method are
confused and can easily be convicted of error; but this last
class, who do not argue, who do not condescend to argue about it,
but take shelter behind their own grandeur, and make a show of all
this having been decided by them or at least by someone long ago,
and no longer offering a possibility of doubt to anyone--they seem
safe from attack, and will be beyond attack till men come to
realize that they are under the narcotic influence exerted on them
by governments and churches, and are no longer affected by it.

Such was the attitude of the spiritual critics--i. e., those
professing faith in Christ--to my book.  And their attitude could
not have been different.  They are bound to take up this attitude
by the contradictory position in which they find themselves
between belief in the divinity of their Master and disbelief in
his clearest utterances, and they want to escape from this
contradiction.  So that one cannot expect from them free
discussion of the very essence of the question--that is, of the
change in men's life which must result from applying Christ's
teaching to the existing order of the world.  Such free discussion
I only expected from worldly, freethinking critics who are not
bound to Christ's teaching in any way, and can therefore take an
independent view of it.  I had anticipated that freethinking
writers would look at Christ, not merely, like the Churchmen, as
the founder of a religion of personal salvation, but, to express
it in their language, as a reformer who laid down new principles
of life and destroyed the old, and whose reforms are not yet
complete, but are still in progress even now.

Such a view of Christ and his teaching follows from my book. But to my
astonishment, out of the great number of critics of my book there was
not one, either Russian or foreign, who treated the subject from the
side from which it was approached in the book--that is, who criticised
Christ's doctrines as philosophical, moral, and social principles, to
use their scientific expressions. This was not done in a single
criticism. The freethinking Russian critics taking my book as though its
whole contents could be reduced to non-resistance to evil, and
understanding the doctrine of non-resistance to evil itself (no doubt
for greater convenience in refuting it) as though it would prohibit
every kind of conflict with evil, fell vehemently upon this doctrine,
and for some years past have been very successfully proving that
Christ's teaching is mistaken in so far as it forbids resistance to
evil. Their refutations of this hypothetical doctrine of Christ were all
the more successful since they knew beforehand that their arguments
could not be contested or corrected, for the censorship, not having
passed the book, did not pass articles in its defense.

It is a remarkable thing that among us, where one cannot say a
word about the Holy Scriptures without the prohibition of the
censorship, for some years past there have been in all the
journals constant attacks and criticisms on the command of Christ
simply and directly stated in Matt. v. 39.  The Russian advanced
critics, obviously unaware of all that has been done to elucidate
the question of non-resistance, and sometimes even imagining
apparently that the rule of non-resistance to evil had been
invented by me personally, fell foul of the very idea of it.  They
opposed it and attacked it, and advancing with great heat
arguments which had long ago been analyzed and refuted from every
point of view, they demonstrated that a man ought invariably to
defend (with violence) all the injured and oppressed, and that
thus the doctrine of non-resistance to evil is an immoral

To all Russian critics the whole import of Christ's command seemed
reducible to the fact that it would hinder them from the active
opposition to evil to which they are accustomed.  So that the
principle of non-resistance to evil by force has been attacked by
two opposing camps: the conservatives, because this principle
would hinder their activity in resistance to evil as applied to
the revolutionists, in persecution and punishment of them; the
revolutionists, too, because this principle would hinder their
resistance to evil as applied to the conservatives and the
overthrowing of them.  The conservatives were indignant at the
doctrine of non-resistance to evil by force hindering the
energetic destruction of the revolutionary elements, which may
ruin the national prosperity; the revolutionists were indignant at
the doctrine of non-resistance to evil by force hindering the
overthrow of the conservatives, who are ruining the national
prosperity.  It is worthy of remark in this connection that the
revolutionists have attacked the principle of non-resistance to
evil by force, in spite of the fact that it is the greatest terror
and danger for every despotism.  For ever since the beginning of
the world, the use of violence of every kind, from the Inquisition
to the Schlüsselburg fortress, has rested and still rests on the
opposite principle of the necessity of resisting evil by force.

Besides this, the Russian critics have pointed out the fact that
the application of the command of non-resistance to practical life
would turn mankind aside out of the path of civilization along
which it is moving.  The path of civilization on which mankind in
Europe is moving is in their opinion the one along which all
mankind ought always to move.

So much for the general character of the Russian critics.

Foreign critics started from the same premises, but their
discussions of my book were somewhat different from those of
Russian critics, not only in being less bitter, and in showing
more culture, but even in the subject-matter.

In discussing my book and the Gospel teaching generally, as it is
expressed in the Sermon on the Mount, the foreign critics
maintained that such doctrine is not peculiarly Christian
(Christian doctrine is either Catholicism or Protestantism
according to their views)--the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount
is only a string of very pretty impracticable dreams DU CHARMANT
DOCTEUR, as Reran says, fit for the simple and half-savage
inhabitants of Galilee who lived eighteen hundred years ago, and
for the half-savage Russian peasants--Sutaev and Bondarev--and the
Russian mystic Tolstoy, but not at all consistent with a high
degree of European culture.

The foreign freethinking critics have tried in a delicate manner,
without being offensive to me, to give the impression that my
conviction that mankind could be guided by such a naïve doctrine
as that of the Sermon on the Mount proceeds from two causes: that
such a conviction is partly due to my want of knowledge, my
ignorance of history, my ignorance of all the vain attempts to
apply the principles of the Sermon on the Mount to life, which
have been made in history and have led to nothing; and partly it
is due to my failing to appreciate the full value of the lofty
civilization to which mankind has attained at present, with its
Krupp cannons, smokeless powder, colonization of Africa, Irish
Coercion Bill, parliamentary government, journalism, strikes, and
the Eiffel Tower.

So wrote de Vogüé and Leroy Beaulieu and Matthew Arnold; so wrote
the American author Savage, and Ingersoll, the popular
freethinking American preacher, and many others.

"Christ's teaching is no use, because it is inconsistent with our
industrial age," says Ingersoll naïvely, expressing in this
utterance, with perfect directness and simplicity, the exact
notion of Christ's teaching held by persons of refinement and
culture of our times.  The teaching is no use for our industrial
age, precisely as though the existence of this industrial age were
a sacred fact which ought not to and could not be changed.  It is
just as though drunkards when advised how they could be brought to
habits of sobriety should answer that the advice is incompatible
with their habit of taking alcohol.

The arguments of all the freethinking critics, Russian and foreign
alike, different as they may be in tone and manner of
presentation, all amount essentially to the same strange
misapprehension--namely, that Christ's teaching, one of the
consequences of which is non-resistance to evil, is of no use to
us because it requires a change of our life.

Christ's teaching is useless because, if it were carried into practice,
life could not go on as at present; we must add: if we have begun by
living sinfully, as we do live and are accustomed to live. Not only is
the question of non-resistance to evil not discussed; the very mention
of the fact that the duty of non-resistance enters into Christ's
teaching is regarded as satisfactory proof of the impracticability of
the whole teaching.

Meanwhile one would have thought it was necessary to point out at
least some kind of solution of the following question, since it is
at the root of almost everything that interests us.

The question amounts to this: In what way are we to decide men's
disputes, when some men consider evil what others consider good,
and VICE VERSA?  And to reply that that is evil which I think
evil, in spite of the fact that my opponent thinks it good, is not
a solution of the difficulty.  There can only be two solutions:
either to find a real unquestionable criterion of what is evil or
not to resist evil by force.

The first course has been tried ever since the beginning of
historical times, and, as we all know, it has not hitherto led to
any successful results.

The second solution--not forcibly to resist what we consider evil
until we have found a universal criterion--that is the solution
given by Christ.

We may consider the answer given by Christ unsatisfactory; we may
replace it by another and better, by finding a criterion by which
evil could be defined for all men unanimously and simultaneously;
we may simply, like savage nations, not recognize the existence of
the question.  But we cannot treat the question as the learned
critics of Christianity do.  They pretend either that no such
question exists at all or that the question is solved by granting
to certain persons or assemblies of persons the right to define
evil and to resist it by force.  But we know all the while that
granting such a right to certain persons does not decide the
question (still less so when we are ourselves the certain
persons), since there are always people who do not recognize this
right in the authorized persons or assemblies.

But this assumption, that what seems evil to us is really evil,
shows a complete misunderstanding of the question, and lies at the
root of the argument of freethinking critics about the Christian
religion.  In this way, then, the discussions of my book on the
part of Churchmen and freethinking critics alike showed me that
the majority of men simply do not understand either Christ's
teaching or the questions which Christ's teaching solves.



Meaning of Christian Doctrine, Understood by a Minority, has Become
Completely Incomprehensible for the Majority of Men--Reason of this to
be Found in Misinterpretation of Christianity and Mistaken Conviction of
Believers and Unbelievers Alike that they Understand it--The Meaning of
Christianity Obscured for Believers by the Church--The First Appearance
of Christ's Teaching--Its Essence and Difference from Heathen
Religions--Christianity not Fully Comprehended at the Beginning, Became
More and More Clear to those who Accepted it from its Correspondence
with Truth--Simultaneously with this Arose the Claim to Possession of
the Authentic Meaning of the Doctrine Based on the Miraculous Nature of
its Transmission--Assembly of Disciples as Described in the Acts--The
Authoritative Claim to the Sole Possession of the True Meaning of
Christ's Teaching Supported by Miraculous Evidence has Led by Logical
Development to the Creeds of the Churches--A Church Could Not be Founded
by Christ--Definitions of a Church According to the Catechisms--The
Churches have Always been Several in Number and Hostile to One
Another--What is Heresy--The Work of G. Arnold on Heresies--Heresies the
Manifestations of Progress in the Churches--Churches Cause Dissension
among Men, and are Always Hostile to Christianity--Account of the Work
Done by the Russian Church--Matt. xxiii. 23--The Sermon on the Mount or
the Creed--The Orthodox Church Conceals from the People the True Meaning
of Christianity--The Same Thing is Done by the Other Churches--All the
External Conditions of Modern Life are such as to Destroy the Doctrine
of the Church, and therefore the Churches use Every Effort to Support
their Doctrines.

Thus the information I received, after my book came out, went to
show that the Christian doctrine, in its direct and simple sense,
was understood, and had always been understood, by a minority of
men, while the critics, ecclesiastical and freethinking alike,
denied the possibility of taking Christ's teaching in its direct
sense.  All this convinced me that while on one hand the true
understanding of this doctrine had never been lost to a minority,
but had been established more and more clearly, on the other hand
the meaning of it had been more and more obscured for the
majority.  So that at last such a depth of obscurity has been
reached that men do not take in their direct sense even the
simplest precepts, expressed in the simplest words, in the Gospel.

Christ's teaching is not generally understood in its true, simple,
and direct sense even in these days, when the light of the Gospel
has penetrated even to the darkest recesses of human
consciousness; when, in the words of Christ, that which was spoken
in the ear is proclaimed from the housetops; and when the Gospel
is influencing every side of human life--domestic, economic,
civic, legislative, and international.  This lack of true
understanding of Christ's words at such a time would be
inexplicable, if there were not causes to account for it.

One of these causes is the fact that believers and unbelievers
alike are firmly persuaded that they have understood Christ's
teaching a long time, and that they understand it so fully,
indubitably, and conclusively that it can have no other
significance than the one they attribute to it.  And the reason of
this conviction is that the false interpretation and consequent
misapprehension of the Gospel is an error of such long standing.
Even the strongest current of water cannot add a drop to a cup
which is already full.

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man
if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing
cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly
persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid
before him.

The Christian doctrine is presented to the men of our world to-day
as a doctrine which everyone has known so long and accepted so
unhesitatingly in all its minutest details that it cannot be
understood in any other way than it is understood now.

Christianity is understood now by all who profess the doctrines of
the Church as a supernatural miraculous revelation of everything
which is repeated in the Creed.  By unbelievers it is regarded as
an illustration of man's craving for a belief in the supernatural,
which mankind has now outgrown, as an historical phenomenon which
has received full expression in Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy, and
Protestantism, and has no longer any living significance for us.
The significance of the Gospel is hidden from believers by the
Church, from unbelievers by Science.

I will speak first of the former.  Eighteen hundred years ago
there appeared in the midst of the heathen Roman world a strange
new doctrine, unlike any of the old religions, and attributed to a
man, Christ.

This new doctrine was in both form and content absolutely new to
the Jewish world in which it originated, and still more to the
Roman world in which it was preached and diffused.

In the midst of the elaborate religious observances of Judaism, in
which, in the words of Isaiah, law was laid upon law, and in the midst
of the Roman legal system worked out to the highest point of perfection,
a new doctrine appeared, which denied not only every deity, and all fear
and worship of them, but even all human institutions and all necessity
for them. In place of all the rules of the old religions, this doctrine
sets up only a type of inward perfection, truth, and love in the person
of Christ, and--as a result of this inward perfection being attained by
men--also the outward perfection foretold by the Prophets--the kingdom
of God, when all men will cease to learn to make war, when all shall be
taught of God and united in love, and the lion will lie down with the
lamb. Instead of the threats of punishment which all the old laws of
religions and governments alike laid down for non-fulfillment of their
rules, instead of promises of rewards for fulfillment of them, this
doctrine called men to it only because it was the truth. John vii. 17:
"If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it
be of God." John viii. 46: "If I say the truth, why do ye not believe
me? But ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth. Ye shall
know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. God is a spirit, and
they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Keep my
sayings, and ye shall know of my sayings whether they be true." No
proofs of this doctrine were offered except its truth, the
correspondence of the doctrine with the truth. The whole teaching
consisted in the recognition of truth and following it, in a greater and
greater attainment of truth, and a closer and closer following of it in
the acts of life. There are no acts in this doctrine which could justify
a man and make him saved. There is only the image of truth to guide-him,
for inward perfection in the person of Christ, and for outward
perfection in the establishment of the kingdom of God. The fulfillment
of this teaching consists only in walking in the chosen way, in getting
nearer to inward perfection in the imitation of Christ, and outward
perfection in the establishment of the kingdom of God. The greater or
less blessedness of a man depends, according to this doctrine, not on
the degree of perfection to which he has attained, but on the greater or
less swiftness with which he is pursuing it.

The progress toward perfection of the publican Zaccheus, of the woman
that was a sinner, of the robber on the cross, is a greater state of
blessedness, according to this doctrine, than the stationary
righteousness of the Pharisee. The lost sheep is dearer than ninety-nine
that were not lost. The prodigal son, the piece of money that was lost
and found again, are dearer, more precious to God than those which have
not been lost.

Every condition, according to this doctrine, is only a particular
step in the attainment of inward and outward perfection, and
therefore has no significance of itself.  Blessedness consists in
progress toward perfection; to stand still in any condition
whatever means the cessation of this blessedness.

"Let not thy left hand know what they right hand doeth."  "No man
having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the
Kingdom of God."  "Rejoice not that the spirits are subject to
you, but seek rather that your names be written in heaven."  "Be
ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect."  "Seek ye
first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness."

The fulfillment of this precept is only to be found in
uninterrupted progress toward the attainment of ever higher truth,
toward establishing more and more firmly an ever greater love
within oneself, and establishing more and more widely the kingdom
of God outside oneself.

It is obvious that, appearing as it did in the midst of the Jewish
and heathen world, such teaching could not be accepted by the
majority of men, who were living a life absolutely different from
what was required by it.  It is obvious, too, that even for those
by whom it was accepted, it was so absolutely opposed to all their
old views that it could not be comprehensible in its full

It has been only by a succession of misunderstandings, errors,
partial explanations, and the corrections and additions of
generations that the meaning of the Christian doctrine has grown
continually more and more clear to men.  The Christian view of
life has exerted an influence on the Jewish and heathen, and the
heathen and Jewish view of life has, too, exerted an influence on
the Christian.  And Christianity, as the living force, has gained
more and more upon the extinct Judaism and heathenism, and has
grown continually clearer and clearer, as it freed itself from the
admixture of falsehood which had overlaid it.  Men went further
and further in the attainment of the meaning of Christianity, and
realized it more and more in life.

The longer mankind lived, the clearer and clearer became the
meaning of Christianity, as must always be the case with every
theory of life.

Succeeding generations corrected the errors of their predecessors,
and grew ever nearer and nearer to a comprehension of the true
meaning.  It was thus from the very earliest times of
Christianity.  And so, too, from the earliest times of
Christianity there were men who began to assert on their own
authority that the meaning they attribute to the doctrine is the
only true one, and as proof bring forward supernatural occurrences
in support of the correctness of their interpretation.

This was the principal cause at first of the misunderstanding of
the doctrine, and afterward of the complete distortion of it.

It was supposed that Christ's teaching was transmitted to men not
like every other truth, but in a special miraculous way.  Thus the
truth of the teaching was not proved by its correspondence with
the needs of the mind and the whole nature of man, but by the
miraculous manner of its transmission, which was advanced as an
irrefutable proof of the truth of the interpretation put on it.
This hypothesis originated from misunderstanding of the teaching,
and its result was to make it impossible to understand it rightly.

And this happened first in the earliest times, when the doctrine
was still not so fully understood and often interpreted wrongly,
as we see by the Gospels and the Acts.  The less the doctrine was
understood, the more obscure it appeared and the more necessary
were external proofs of its truth.  The proposition that we ought
not to do unto others as we would not they should do unto us, did
not need to be proved by miracles and needed no exercise of faith,
because this proposition is in itself convincing and in harmony
with man's mind and nature; but the proposition that Christ was
God had to be proved by miracles completely beyond our

The more the understanding of Christ's teaching was obscured, the
more the miraculous was introduced into it; and the more the
miraculous was introduced into it, the more the doctrine was
strained from its meaning and the more obscure it became; and the
more it was strained from its meaning and the more obscure it
became, the more strongly its infallibility had to be asserted,
and the less comprehensible the doctrine became.

One can see by the Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles how from
the earliest times the non-comprehension of the doctrine called
forth the need for proofs through the miraculous and

The first example in the book of Acts is the assembly which
gathered together in Jerusalem to decide the question which had
arisen, whether to baptize or not the uncircumcised and those who
had eaten of food sacrificed to idols.

The very fact of this question being raised showed that
those who discussed it did not understand the teaching of Christ,
who rejected all outward observances--ablutions, purifications,
fasts, and sabbaths.  It was plainly said, "Not that which goeth
into a man's mouth, but that which cometh out of a man's mouth,
defileth him," and therefore the question of baptizing the
uncircumcised could only have arisen among men who, though they
loved their Master and dimly felt the grandeur of his teaching,
still did not understand the teaching itself very clearly. And
this was the fact.

Just in proportion to the failure of the members of the assembly
to understand the doctrine was their need of external confirmation
of their incomplete interpretation of it.  And then to settle this
question, the very asking of which proved their misunderstanding
of the doctrine, there was uttered in this assembly, as is
described in the Acts, that strange phrase, which was for the
first time found necessary to give external confirmation to
certain assertions, and which has been productive of so much evil.

That is, it was asserted that the correctness of what they had
decided was guaranteed by the miraculous participation of the Holy
Ghost, that is, of God, in their decision.  But the assertion that
the Holy Ghost, that is, God, spoke through the Apostles, in its
turn wanted proof.  And thus it was necessary, to confirm this,
that the Holy Ghost should descend at Pentecost in tongues of fire
upon those who made this assertion.  (In the account of it, the
descent of the Holy Ghost precedes the assembly, but the book of
Acts was written much later than both events.)  But the descent of
the Holy Ghost too had to be proved for those who had not seen the
tongues of fire (though it is not easy to understand why a tongue
of fire burning above a man's head should prove that what that man
is going to say will be infallibly the truth).  And so arose the
necessity for still more miracles and changes, raisings of the
dead to life, and strikings of the living dead, and all those
marvels which have been a stumbling-block to men, of which the
Acts is full, and which, far from ever convincing one of the truth
of the Christian doctrine, can only repel men from it.  The result
of such a means of confirming the truth was that the more these
confirmations of truth by tales of miracles were heaped up one
after another, the more the doctrine was distorted from its
original meaning, aid the more incomprehensible it became.

Thus it was from the earliest times, and so it went on, constantly
increasing, till it reached in our day the logical climax of the dogmas
of transubstantiation and the infallibility of the Pope, or of the
bishops, or of Scripture, and of requiring a blind faith rendered
incomprehensible and utterly meaningless, not in God, but in Christ, not
in a doctrine, but in a person, as in Catholicism, or in persons, as in
Greek Orthodoxy, or in a book, as in Protestantism. The more widely
Christianity was diffused, and the greater the number of people
unprepared for it who were brought under its sway, the less it was
understood, the more absolutely was its infallibility insisted on, and
the less possible it became to understand the true meaning of the
doctrine. In the times of Constantine the whole interpretation of the
doctrine had been already reduced to a RÉSUMÉ--supported by the temporal
authority--of the disputes that had taken place in the Council--to a
creed which reckoned off--I believe in so and so, and so and so, and so
and so to the end--to one holy, Apostolic Church, which means the
infallibility of those persons who call themselves the Church. So that
it all amounts to a man no longer believing in God nor Christ, as they
are revealed to him, but believing in what the Church orders him to
believe in.

But the Church is holy; the Church was founded by Christ.  God
could not leave men to interpret his teaching at random--therefore
he founded the Church.  All those statements are so utterly untrue
and unfounded that one is ashamed to refute them.  Nowhere nor in
anything, except in the assertion of the Church, can we find that
God or Christ founded anything like what Churchmen understand by
the Church.  In the Gospels there is a warning against the Church,
as it is an external authority, a warning most clear and obvious
in the passage where it is said that Christ's followers should
"call no man master."  But nowhere is anything said of the
foundation of what Churchmen call the Church.

The word church is used twice in the Gospels--once in the sense of
an assembly of men to decide a dispute, the other time in
connection with the obscure utterance about a stone--Peter, and
the gates of hell.  From these two passages in which the word
church is used, in the signification merely of an assembly, has
been deduced all that we now understand by the Church.

But Christ could not have founded the Church, that is, what we now
understand by that word.  For nothing like the idea of the Church
as we know it now, with its sacraments, miracles, and above all
its claim to infallibility, is to be found either in Christ's
words or in the ideas of the men of that time.

The fact that men called what was formed afterward by the same
word as Christ used for something totally different, does not give
them the right to assert that Christ founded the one, true Church.

Besides, if Christ had really founded such an institution as the
Church for the foundation of all his teaching and the whole faith,
he would certainly have described this institution clearly and
definitely, and would have given the only true Church, besides
tales of miracles, which are used to support every kind of
superstition, some tokens so unmistakable that no doubt of its
genuineness could ever have arisen.  But nothing of the sort was
done by him.  And there have been and still are different
institutions, each calling itself the true Church.

The Catholic catechism says: "L'Église est la société des fidéles
établie par notre Seigneur Jésus Christ, répandue sur toute la
terre et soumise à l'authorité des pasteurs légitimes,
principalement notre Saint Père le Pape," [see Footnote]
understanding by the words "pasteurs légitimes" an association of
men having the Pope at its head, and consisting of certain
individuals bound together by a certain organization.

    [Footnote: "The Church is the society of the faithful,
    established by our Lord Jesus Christ, spread over the
    whole earth, and subject to the authority of its lawful
    pastors, and chief of them our Holy Father the Pope."]

The Greek Orthodox catechism says: "The Church is a society
founded upon earth by Jesus Christ, which is united into one
whole, by one divine doctrine and by sacraments, under the rule
and guidance of a priesthood appointed by God," meaning by the
"priesthood appointed by God" the Greek Orthodox priesthood,
consisting of certain individuals who happen to be in such or such

The Lutheran catechism says: "The Church is holy Christianity, or
the collection of all believers under Christ, their head, to whom
the Holy Ghost through the Gospels and sacraments promises,
communicates, and administers heavenly salvation," meaning that
the Catholic Church is lost in error, and that the true means of
salvation is in Lutheranism.

For Catholics the Church of God coincides with the Roman
priesthood and the Pope.  For the Greek Orthodox believer the
Church of God coincides with the establishment and priesthood of
Russia. [See Footnote]

    [Footnote: Homyakov's definition of the Church, which
    was received with some favor among Russians, does not
    improve matters, if we are to agree with Homyakov in
    considering the Greek Orthodox Church as the one true
    Church.  Homyakov asserts that a church is a collection
    of men (all without distinction of clergy and laymen)
    united together by love, and that only to men united by
    love is the truth revealed (let us love each other, that
    in the unity of thought, etc.), and that such a church
    is the church which, in the first place, recognizes the
    Nicene Creed, and in the second place does not, after
    the division of the churches, recognize the popes and
    new dogmas.  But with such a definition of the church,
    there is still more difficulty in reconciling, as
    Homyakov tries to do, the church united by love with
    the church that recognizes the Nicene Creed and the
    doctrine of Photius.  So that Homyakov's assertion that
    this church, united by love, and consequently holy,
    is the same church as the Greek Orthodox priesthood
    profess faith in, is even more arbitrary than the
    assertions of the Catholics or the Orthodox.  If we
    admit the idea of a church in the sense Homyakov
    gives to it--that is, a body of men bound together
    by love and truth--then all that any man can predicate
    in regard to this body, if such an one exists, is
    its love and truth, but there can be no outer signs
    by which one could reckon oneself or another as a
    member of this holy body, nor by which one could put
    anyone outside it; so that no institution having
    an external existence can correspond to this idea.]

For Lutherans the Church of God coincides with a body of men who
recognize the authority of the Bible and Luther's catechism.

Ordinarily, when speaking of the rise of Christianity, men
belonging to one of the existing churches use the word church in
the singular, as though there were and had been only one church.
But this is absolutely incorrect.  The Church, as an institution
which asserted that it possessed infallible truth, did not make
its appearance singly; there were at least two churches directly
this claim was made.

While believers were agreed among themselves and the body was one,
it had no need to declare itself as a church.  It was only when
believers were split up into opposing parties, renouncing one
another, that it seemed necessary to each party to confirm their
own truth by ascribing to themselves infallibility.  The
conception of one church only arose when there were two sides
divided and disputing, who each called the other side heresy, and
recognized their own side only as the infallible church.

If we knew that there was a church which decided in the year 51 to
receive the uncircumcised, it is only so because there was another
church--of the Judaists--who decided to keep the uncircumcised

If there is a Catholic Church now which asserts its own infallibility,
that is only because there are churches--Greco-Russian, Old Orthodox,
and Lutheran--each asserting its own infallibility and denying that of
all other churches. So that the one Church is only a fantastic
imagination which has not the least trace of reality about it.

As a real historical fact there has existed, and still exist,
several bodies of men, each asserting that it is the one Church,
founded by Christ, and that all the others who call themselves
churches are only sects and heresies.

The catechisms of the churches of the most world-wide influence--the
Catholic, the Old Orthodox, and the Lutheran--openly assert this.

In the Catholic catechism it is said: "Quels sont ceux qui sont
hors de l'église?  Les infidèles, les hérétiques, les
schismatiques." [Footnote: "Who are those who are outside the
Church? Infidels, heretics, and schismatics."]  The so-called
Greek Orthodox are regarded as schismatics, the Lutherans as
heretics; so that according to the Catholic catechism the only
people in the Church are Catholics.

In the so-called Orthodox catechism it is said: By the one
Christian Church is understood the Orthodox, which remains fully
in accord with the Universal Church.  As for the Roman Church and
other sects (the Lutherans and the rest they do not even dignify
by the name of church), they cannot be included in the one true
Church, since they have themselves separated from it.

According to this definition the Catholics and Lutherans are
outside the Church, and there are only Orthodox in the Church.

The Lutheran catechism says: "Die wahre kirche wird darein
erkannt, dass in ihr das Wort Gottes lauter und rein ohne
Menschenzusätze gelehrt and die Sacramente treu nach Christi
Einsetzung gewahret werden." [Footnote: "The true Church will be
known by the Word of God being studied clear and unmixed with
man's additions and the sacraments being maintained faithful to
Christ's teaching."]

According to this definition all those who have added anything to
the teaching of Christ and the apostles, as the Catholic and Greek
churches have done, are outside the Church.  And in the Church
there are only Protestants.

The Catholics assert that the Holy Ghost has been transmitted
without a break in their priesthood.  The Orthodox assert that the
same Holy Ghost has been transmitted without a break in their
priesthood.  The Arians asserted that the Holy Ghost was
transmitted in their priesthood (they asserted this with just as
much right as the churches in authority now).  The Protestants of
every kind--Lutherans, Reformed Church, Presbyterians, Methodists,
Swedenborgians, Mormons--assert that the Holy Ghost is only
present in their communities.  If the Catholics assert that the
Holy Ghost, at the time of the division of the Church into Arian
and Greek, left the Church that fell away and remained in the one
true Church, with precisely the same right the Protestants of
every denomination can assert that at the time of the separation
of their Church from the Catholic the Holy Ghost left the Catholic
and passed into the Church they professed.  And this is just what
they do.

Every church traces its creed through an uninterrupted
transmission from Christ and the Apostles.  And truly every
Christian creed that has been derived from Christ must have come
down to the present generation through a certain transmission.
But that does not prove that it alone of all that has been
transmuted, excluding all the rest, can be the sole truth,
admitting of no doubt.

Every branch in a tree comes from the root in unbroken connection;
but the fact that each branch comes from the one root, does not
prove at all that each branch was the only one.  It is precisely
the same with the Church.  Every church presents exactly the same
proofs of the succession, and even the same miracles, in support
of its authenticity, as every other.  So that there is but one
strict and exact definition of what is a church (not of something
fantastic which we would wish it to be, but of what it is and has
been in reality)--a church is a body of men who claim for
themselves that they are in complete and sole possession of the
truth.  And these bodies, having in course of time, aided by the
support of the temporal authorities, developed into powerful
institutions, have been the principal obstacles to the diffusion
of a true comprehension of the teaching of Christ.

It could not be otherwise.  The chief peculiarity which
distinguished Christ's teaching from previous religions consisted
in the fact that those who accepted it strove ever more and more
to comprehend and realize its teaching.  But the Church doctrine
asserted its own complete and final comprehension and realization
of it.

Strange though it may seem to us who have been brought up in the
erroneous view of the Church as a Christian institution, and in
contempt for heresy, yet the fact is that only in what was called
heresy was there any true movement, that is, true Christianity,
and that it only ceased to be so when those heresies stopped short
in their movement and also petrified into the fixed forms of a

And, indeed what is a heresy?  Read all the theological works one
after another.  In all of them heresy is the subject which first
presents itself for definition; since every theological work deals
with the true doctrine of Christ as distinguished from the
erroneous doctrines which surround it, that is, heresies.  Yet you
will not find anywhere anything like a definition of heresy.

The treatment of this subject by the learned historian of
Christianity, E. de Pressensé, in his "Histoire du Dogme" (Paris,
1869), under the heading "Ubi Christus, ibi Ecclesia," may serve
as an illustration of the complete absence of anything like a
definition of what is understood by the word heresy. Here is what
he says in his introduction (p. 3):

   "Je sais  que l'on nous conteste le droit de qualifier ainsi
   [that is, to call heresies] les tendances qui furent si
   vivement combattues par les premiers Pères.  La désignation
   même d'hérésie semble une atteinte portée à la liberté de
   conscience et de pensée.  Nous ne pouvons partager ce scrupule,
   car il n'irait à rien moins qu'à enlever au Christianisme tout
   caractère distinctif." [see Footnote]

    [Footnote: "I know that our right to qualify thus the
    tendencies which were so actively opposed by the early
    Fathers is contested.  The very use of the word heresy
    seems an attack upon liberty of conscience and thought.
    We cannot share this scruple; for it would amount to
    nothing less than depriving Christianity of all
    distinctive character."]

And though he tells us that after Constantine's time the Church
did actually abuse its power by designating those who dissented
from it as heretics and persecuting them, yet he says, when
speaking of early times:

   "L'église est une libre association; il y a tout profit a se
   séparer d'elle.  La polémique contre l'erreur n'a d'autres
   ressources que la pensée et le sentiment. Un type doctrinal
   uniforme n'a pas encore été élaboré; les divergences
   secondaires se produisent en Orient et en Occident avec une
   entière liberté; la théologie n'est point liée a d'invariables
   formules.  Si au sein de cette diversité apparait un fonds
   commun de croyances, n'est-on pas en droit d'y voir non pas un
   système formulé et composé par les représentants d'une
   autorité d'école, mais la foi elle-même dons son instinct le
   plus sûr et sa manifestation la plus spontanée?  Si cette même
   unanimité qui se révèle dans les croyances essentielles, se
   retrouve pour repousser telles ou telles tendances ne serons
   nous pas en droit de conclure que ces tendances étaient en
   désacord flagrant avec les principes fondamentaux du
   christianisme?  Cette présomption ne se transformerait-elle
   pas en certitude si nous reconnaissons dans la doctrine
   universellement repoussée par l'Église les traits
   caractéristiques de l'une des religions du passé?  Pour dire
   que le gnosticisme ou l'ébionitisme sont les formes légitimes
   de la pensée chrétienne il faut dire hardiment qu'il n'y a pas
   de pensée chrétienne, ni de caractère spécifique qui la fasse
   reconnaître.  Sous prétexte de l'élargir, on la dissout.
   Personne au temps de Platon n'eût osé couvrir de son nom une
   doctrine qui n'eut pas fait place à la théorie des idées; et
   l'on eût excité les justes moqueries de la Grèce, en voulant
   faire d'Epicure ou de Zénon un disciple de l'Académie.
   Reconnaissons donc que s'il existe une religion ou une
   doctrine qui s'appelle christianisme, elle peut avoir ses
   hérésies." [see Footnote]

    [Footnote: "The Church is a free association; there is much to
    be gained by separation from it.  Conflict with error has no
    weapons other than thought and feeling.  One uniform type of
    doctrine has not yet been elaborated; divergencies in
    secondary matters arise freely in East and West; theology is
    not wedded to invariable formulas.  If in the midst of this
    diversity a mass of beliefs common to all is apparent, is one
    not justified in seeing in it, not a formulated system, framed
    by the representatives of pedantic authority, but faith itself
    in its surest instinct and its most spontaneous manifestation?
    If the same unanimity which is revealed in essential points of
    belief is found also in rejecting certain tendencies, are we
    not justified in concluding that these tendencies were in
    flagrant opposition to the fundamental principles of
    Christianity?  And will not this presumption be transformed
    into certainty if we recognize in the doctrine universally
    rejected by the Church the characteristic features of one of
    the religions of the past?  To say that gnosticism or
    ebionitism are legitimate forms of Christian thought, one must
    boldly deny the existence of Christian thought at all, or any
    specific character by which it could be recognized.  While
    ostensibly widening its realm, one undermines it.  No one in
    the time of Plato would have ventured to give his name to a
    doctrine in which the theory of ideas had no place, and one
    would deservedly have excited the ridicule of Greece by trying
    to pass off Epicurus or Zeno as a disciple of the Academy.
    Let us recognize, then, that if a religion or a doctrine
    exists which is called Christianity, it may have its

The author's whole argument amounts to this: that every opinion
which differs from the code of dogmas we believe in at a given
time, is heresy.  But of course at any given time and place men
always believe in something or other; and this belief in
something, indefinite at any place, at some time, cannot be a
criterion of truth.

It all amounts to this: since ubi Christus ibi Ecclesia, then
Christus is where we are.

Every so-called heresy, regarding, as it does, its own creed as
the truth, can just as easily find in Church history a series of
illustrations of its own creed, can use all Pressensé's arguments
on its own behalf, and can call its own creed the one truly
Christian creed.  And that is just what all heresies do and have
always done.

The only definition of heresy (the word [GREEK WORD], means a
part) is this: the name given by a body of men to any opinion
which rejects a part of the Creed professed by that body.  The
more frequent meaning, more often ascribed to the word heresy, is
--that of an opinion which rejects the Church doctrine founded and
supported by the temporal authorities.

    [TRANSCRIBIST'S NOTE: The GREEK WORD above used Greek letters,
    spelled: alpha(followed by an apostrophe)-iota(with accent)-

There is a remarkable and voluminous work, very little known,
"Unpartheyische Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie," 1729, by Gottfried
Arnold, which deals with precisely this subject, and points out
all the unlawfulness, the arbitrariness, the senselessness, and
the cruelty of using the word heretic in the sense of reprobate.
This book is an attempt to write the history of Christianity in
the form of a history of heresy.

In the introduction the author propounds a series of questions:
(1) Of those who make heretics; (2) Of those whom they made
heretics; (3) Of heretical subjects themselves; (4) Of the method
of making heretics; and (5) Of the object and result of making

On each of these points he propounds ten more questions, the
answers to which he gives later on from the works of well-known
theologians.  But he leaves the reader to draw for himself the
principal conclusion from the expositions in the whole book.  As
examples of these questions, in which the answers are to some
extent included also, I will quote the following. Under the 4th
head, of the manner in which heretics are made, he says, in one of
the questions (in the 7th):

   "Does not all history show that the greatest makers of
   heretics and masters of that craft were just these wise men,
   from whom the Father hid his secrets, that is, the hypocrites,
   the Pharisees, and lawyers, men utterly godless and perverted
   (Question 20-21)?  And in the corrupt times of Christianity
   were not these very men cast out, denounced by the hypocrites
   and envious, who were endowed by God with great gifts and who
   would in the days of pure Christianity have been held in high
   honor?  And, on the other hand, would not the men who, in the
   decline of Christianity raised themselves above all, and
   regarded themselves as the teachers of the purest Christianity,
   would not these very men, in the times of the apostles and
   disciples of Christ, have been regarded as the most shameless
   heretics and anti-Christians?"

He expounds, among other things in these questions, the theory
that any verbal expression of faith, such as was demanded by the
Church, and the departure from which was reckoned as heresy, could
never fully cover the exact religious ideas of a believer, and
that therefore the demand for an expression of faith in certain
words was ever productive of heresy, and he says, in Question 21:

   "And if heavenly things and thoughts present themselves to a
   man's mind as so great and so profound that he does not find
   corresponding words to express them, ought one to call him a
   heretic, because he cannot express his idea with perfect

And in Question 33:

   "And is not the fact that there was no heresy in the earliest
   days due to the fact that the Christians did not judge one
   another by verbal expressions, but by deed and by heart, since
   they had perfect liberty to express their ideas without the
   dread of being called heretics; was it not the easiest and most
   ordinary ecclesiastical proceeding, if the clergy wanted to get
   rid of or to ruin anyone, for them to cast suspicion on the
   person's belief, and to throw a cloak of heresy upon him, and
   by this means to procure his condemnation and removal?

   "True though it may be that there were sins and errors among
   the so-called heretics, it is no less true and evident," he
   says farther on, "from the innumerable examples quoted here
   (i. e., in the history of the Church and of heresy), that there
   was not a single sincere and conscientious man of any
   importance whom the Churchmen would not from envy or other
   causes have ruined."

Thus, almost two hundred years ago, the real meaning of heresy was
understood.  And notwithstanding that, the same conception of it
has gone on existing up to now.  And it cannot fail to exist so
long as the conception of a church exists.  Heresy is the obverse
side of the Church.  Wherever there is a church, there must be the
conception of heresy.  A church is a body of men who assert that
they are in possession of infallible truth.  Heresy is the opinion
of the men who do not admit the infallibility of the Church's

Heresy makes its appearance in the Church.  It is the effort to
break through the petrified authority of the Church.  All effort
after a living comprehension of the doctrine has been made by
heretics.  Tertullian, Origen, Augustine, Luther, Huss,
Savonarola, Helchitsky, and the rest were heretics.  It could not
be otherwise.

The follower of Christ, whose service means an ever-growing
understanding of his teaching, and an ever-closer fulfillment of
it, in progress toward perfection, cannot, just because he is a
follower, of Christ, claim for himself or any other that he
understands Christ's teaching fully and fulfills it.  Still less
can he claim this for any body of men.

To whatever degree of understanding and perfection the follower of
Christ may have attained, he always feels the insufficiency of his
understanding and fulfillment of it, and is always striving toward
a fuller understanding and fulfillment.  And therefore, to assert
of one's self or of any body of men, that one is or they are in
possession of perfect understanding and fulfillment of Christ's
word, is to renounce the very spirit of Christ's teaching.

Strange as it may seem, the churches as churches have always been,
and cannot but be, institutions not only alien in spirit to
Christ's teaching, but even directly antagonistic to it.  With
good reason Voltaire calls the Church l'infâme; with good reason
have all or almost all so-called sects of Christians recognized
the Church as the scarlet woman foretold in the Apocalypse; with
good reason is the history of the Church the history of the
greatest cruelties and horrors.

The churches as churches are not, as many people suppose,
institutions which have Christian principles for their basis, even
though they may have strayed a little away from the straight path.
The churches as churches, as bodies which assert their own
infallibility, are institutions opposed to Christianity.  There is
not only nothing in common between the churches as such and
Christianity, except the name, but they represent two principles
fundamentally opposed and antagonistic to one another.  One
represents pride, violence, self-assertion, stagnation, and death;
the other, meekness, penitence, humility, progress, and life.

We cannot serve these two masters; we have to choose between

The servants of the churches of all denominations, especially of
later times, try to show themselves champions of progress in
Christianity.  They make concessions, wish to correct the abuses
that have slipped into the Church, and maintain that one cannot,
on account of these abuses, deny the principle itself of a
Christian church, which alone can bind all men together in unity
and be a mediator between men and God.  But this is all a mistake.
Not only have churches never bound men together in unity; they
have always been one of the principal causes of division between
men, of their hatred of one another, of wars, battles,
inquisitions, massacres of St. Bartholomew, and so on.  And the
churches have never served as mediators between men and God.  Such
mediation is not wanted, and was directly forbidden by Christ, who
has revealed his teaching directly and immediately to each man.
But the churches set up dead forms in the place of God, and far
from revealing God, they obscure him from men's sight.  The
churches, which originated from misunderstanding of Christ's
teaching and have maintained this misunderstanding by their
immovability, cannot but persecute and refuse to recognize all
true understanding of Christ's words.  They try to conceal this,
but in vain; for every step forward along the path pointed out for
us by Christ is a step toward their destruction.

To hear and to read the sermons and articles in which Church writers of
later times of all denominations speak of Christian truths and virtues;
to hear or read these skillful arguments that have been elaborated
during centuries, and exhortations and professions, which sometimes seem
like sincere professions, one is ready to doubt whether the churches can
be antagonistic to Christianity. "It cannot be," one says, "that these
people who can point to such men as Chrysostom, Fénelon, Butler, and
others professing the Christian faith, were antagonistic to
Christianity." One is tempted to say, "The churches may have strayed
away from Christianity, they may be in error, but they cannot be hostile
to it." But we must look to the fruit to judge the tree, as Christ
taught us. And if we see that their fruits were evil, that the results
of their activity were antagonistic to Christianity, we cannot but admit
that however good the men were--the work of the Church in which these
men took part was not Christian. The goodness and worth of these men who
served the churches was the goodness and worth of the men, and not of
the institution they served. All the good men, such as Francis of
Assisi, and Francis of Sales, our Tihon Zadonsky, Thomas à Kempis, and
others, were good men in spite of their serving an institution hostile
to Christianity, and they would have been still better if they had not
been under the influence of the error which they were serving.

But why should we speak of the past and judge from the past, which
may have been misrepresented and misunderstood by us?  The
churches, with their principles and their practice, are not a
thing of the past.  The churches are before us to-day, and we can
judge of them to some purpose by their practical activity, their
influence on men.

What is the practical work of the churches to-day?  What is their
influence upon men?  What is done by the churches among us, among
the Catholics and the Protestants of all denominations--what is
their practical work? and what are the results of their practical

The practice of our Russian so-called Orthodox Church is plain to
all.  It is an enormous fact which there is no possibility of
hiding and about which there can be no disputing.

What constitutes the practical work of this Russian Church, this
immense, intensely active institution, which consists of a
regiment of half a million men and costs the people tens of
millions of rubles?

The practical business of the Church consists in instilling by
every conceivable means into the mass of one hundred millions of
the Russian people those extinct relics of beliefs for which there
is nowadays no kind of justification, "in which scarcely anyone
now believes, and often not even those whose duty it is to diffuse
these false beliefs."  To instill into the people the formulas of
Byzantine theology, of the Trinity, of the Mother of God, of
Sacraments, of Grace, and so on, extinct conceptions, foreign to
us, and having no kind of meaning for men of our times,
forms only one part of the work of the Russian Church.  Another
part of its practice consists in the maintenance of idol-worship
in the most literal meaning of the word; in the veneration of holy
relics, and of ikons, the offering of sacrifices to them, and the
expectation of their answers to prayer.  I am not going to speak
of what is preached and what is written by clergy of scientific or
liberal tendencies in the theological journals.  I am going to
speak of what is actually done by the clergy through the wide
expanse of the Russian land among a people of one hundred
millions.  What do they, diligently, assiduously, everywhere
alike, without intermission, teach the people?  What do they
demand from the people in virtue of their (so-called) Christian

I will begin from the beginning with the birth of a child.  At the
birth of a child they teach them that they must recite a prayer
over the child and mother to purify them, as though without this
prayer the mother of a newborn child were unclean.  To do this the
priest holds the child in his arms before the images of the saints
(called by the people plainly gods) and reads words of exorcizing
power, and this purifies the mother.  Then it is suggested to the
parents, and even exacted of them, under fear of punishment for
non-fulfillment, that the child must be baptized; that is, be
dipped by the priest three times into the water, while certain
words, understood by no one, are read aloud, and certain actions,
still less understood, are performed; various parts of the body
are rubbed with oil, and the hair is cut, while the sponsors blow
and spit at an imaginary devil.  All this is necessary to purify
the child and to make him a Christian.  Then it is instilled into
the parents that they ought to administer the sacrament to the
child, that is, give him, in the guise of bread and wine, a
portion of Christ's body to eat, as a result of which the child
receives the grace of God within it, and so on.  Then it is
suggested that the child as it grows up must be taught to pray.
To pray means to place himself directly before the wooden boards
on which are painted the faces of Christ, the Mother of God, and
the saints, to bow his head and his whole body, and to touch his
forehead, his shoulders and his stomach with his right hand,
holding his fingers in a certain position, and to utter some words
of Slavonic, the most usual of which as taught to all children
are: Mother of God, virgin, rejoice thee, etc., etc.

Then it is instilled into the child as it is brought up that at
the sight of any church or ikon he must repeat the same action--i. e.,
cross himself.  Then it is instilled into him that on holidays
(holidays are the days on which Christ was born, though no one
knows when that was, on which he was circumcised, on which the
Mother of God died, on which the cross was carried in procession,
on which ikons have been set up, on which a lunatic saw a vision,
and so on)--on holidays he must dress himself in his best clothes
and go to church, and must buy candles and place them there before
the images of the saints.  Then he must give offerings and prayers
for the dead, and little loaves to be cut up into three-cornered
pieces, and must pray many times for the health and prosperity of
the Tzar and the bishops, and for himself and his own affairs, and
then kiss the cross and the hand of the priest.
Besides these observances, it is instilled into him that at
least once a year he must confess.  To confess means to go to the
church and to tell the priest his sins, on the theory that this
informing a stranger of his sins completely purifies him from
them.  And after that he must eat with a little spoon a morsel of
bread with wine, which will purify him still more.  Next it is
instilled into him that if a man and woman want their physical
union to be sanctified they must go to church, put on metal
crowns, drink certain potions, walk three times round a table to
the sound of singing, and that then the physical union of a man
and woman becomes sacred and altogether different from all other
such unions.

Further it is instilled into him in his life that he must observe
the following rules: not to eat butter or milk on certain days,
and on certain other days to sing Te Deums and requiems for the
dead, on holidays to entertain the priest and give him money, and
several times in the year to bring the ikons from the church, and
to carry them slung on his shoulders through the fields and
houses.  It is instilled into him that on his death-bed a man must
not fail to eat bread and wine with a spoon, and that it will be
still better if he has time to be rubbed with sacred oil.  This
will guarantee his welfare in the future life.  After his death it
is instilled into his relatives that it is a good thing for the
salvation of the dead man to place a printed paper of prayers in
his hands; it is a good thing further to read aloud a certain book
over the dead body, and to pronounce the dead man's name in church
at a certain time.  All this is regarded as faith obligatory on

But if anyone wants to take particular care of his soul, then
according to this faith he is instructed that the greatest
security of the salvation of the soul in the world is attained by
offering money to the churches and monasteries, and engaging the
holy men by this means to pray for him. Entering monasteries too
and kissing relics and miraculous ikons, are further means of
salvation for the soul.

According to this faith ikons and relics communicate a special
sanctity, power, and grace, and even proximity to these objects,
touching them, kissing them, putting candles before them, crawling
under them while they are being carried along, are all efficacious
for salvation, as well as Te Deums repeated before these holy

So this, and nothing else, is the faith called Orthodox, that is
the actual faith which, under the guise of Christianity, has been
with all the forces of the Church, and is now with especial zeal,
instilled into the people.

And let no one say that the Orthodox teachers place the essential
part of their teaching in something else, and that all these are
only ancient forms, which it is not thought necessary to do away
with.  That is false.  This, and nothing but this, is the faith
taught through the whole of Russia by the whole of the Russian
clergy, and of late years with especial zeal.  There is nothing
else taught.  Something different may be talked of and written of
in the capitals; but among the hundred millions of the people this
is what is done, this is what is taught, and nothing more.
Churchmen may talk of something else, but this is what they teach
by every means in their power.

All this, and the worship of relics and of ikons, has been
introduced into works of theology and into the catechisms.  Thus
they teach it to the people in theory and in practice, using every
resource of authority, solemnity, pomp, and violence to impress
them.  They compel the people, by overawing them, to believe in
this, and jealously guard this faith from any attempt to free the
people from these barbarous superstitions.

As I said when I published my book, Christ's teaching and his very
words about non-resistance to evil were for many years a subject
for ridicule and low jesting in my eyes, and Churchmen, far from
opposing it, even encouraged this scoffing at sacred things.  But
try the experiment of saying a disrespectful word about a hideous
idol which is carried sacrilegiously about Moscow by drunken men
under the name of the ikon of the Iversky virgin, and you will
raise a groan of indignation from these same Churchmen.  All that
they preach is an external observance of the rites of idolatry.
And let it not be said that the one does not hinder the other,
that "These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other
undone."  "All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that
observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and
do not" (Matt. xxiii. 23, 3).

This was spoken of the Pharisees, who fulfilled all the external
observances prescribed by the law, and therefore the words
"whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do," refer to
works of mercy and goodness, and the words "do not ye after their
works, for they say and do not," refer to their observance of
ceremonies and their neglect of good works, and have exactly the
opposite meaning to that which the Churchmen try to give to the
passage, interpreting it as an injunction to observe ceremonies.
External observances and the service of truth and goodness are for
the most part difficult to combine; the one excludes the other.
So it was with the Pharisees, so it is now with Church Christians.

If a man can be saved by the redemption, by sacraments, and by
prayer, then he does not need good works.

The Sermon on the Mount, or the Creed. One cannot believe in both. And
Churchmen have chosen the latter. The Creed is taught and is read as a
prayer in the churches, but the Sermon on the Mount is excluded even
from the Gospel passages read in the churches, so that the congregation
never hears it in church, except on those days when the whole of the
Gospel is read. Indeed, it could not be otherwise. People who believe in
a wicked and senseless God--who has cursed the human race and devoted
his own Son to sacrifice, and a part of mankind to eternal
torment--cannot believe in the God of love. The man who believes in a
God, in a Christ coming again in glory to judge and to punish the quick
and the dead, cannot believe in the Christ who bade us turn the left
cheek, judge not, forgive these that wrong us, and love our enemies. The
man who believes in the inspiration of the Old Testament and the sacred
character of David, who commanded on his deathbed the murder of an old
man who had cursed him, and whom he could not kill himself because he
was bound by an oath to him, and the similar atrocities of which the Old
Testament is full, cannot believe in the holy love of Christ. The man
who believes in the Church's doctrine of the compatibility of warfare
and capital punishment with Christianity cannot believe in the
brotherhood of all men.

And what is most important of all--the man who believes in
salvation through faith in the redemption or the sacraments,
cannot devote all his powers to realizing Christ's moral teaching
in his life.

The man who has been instructed by the Church in the profane
doctrine that a man cannot be saved by his own powers, but that
there is another means of salvation, will infallibly rely upon
this means and not on his own powers, which, they assure him, it
is sinful to trust in.

The teaching of every Church, with its redemption and sacraments,
excludes the teaching of Christ; most of all the teaching of the
Orthodox Church with its idolatrous observances.

"But the people have always believed of their own accord as they
believe now," will be said in answer to this.  "The whole history
of the Russian people proves it.  One cannot deprive the people of
their traditions."  This statement, too, is misleading.  The
people did certainly at one time believe in something like what
the Church believes in now, though it was far from being the same
thing.  In spite of their superstitious regard for ikons,
housespirits, relics, and festivals with wreaths of birch leaves,
there has still always been in the people a profound moral and
living understanding of Christianity, which there has never been
in the Church as a whole, and which is only met with in its best
representatives.  But the people, notwithstanding all the
prejudices instilled into them by the government and the Church,
have in their best representatives long outgrown that crude stage
of understanding, a fact which is proved by the springing up
everywhere of the rationalist sects with which Russia is swarming
to-day, and on which Churchmen are now carrying on an ineffectual
warfare.  The people are advancing to a consciousness of the
moral, living side of Christianity.  And then the Church
comes forward, not borrowing from the people, but zealously
instilling into them the petrified formalities of an extinct
paganism, and striving to thrust them back again into the
darkness from which they are emerging with such effort.

"We teach the people nothing new, nothing but what they believe,
only in a more perfect form," say the Churchmen.  This is just
what the man did who tied up the full-grown chicken and thrust it
back into the shell it had come out of.

I have often been irritated, though it would be comic if the
consequences were not so awful, by observing how men shut one
another in a delusion and cannot get out of this magic circle.

The first question, the first doubt of a Russian who is beginning
to think, is a question about the ikons, and still more the
miraculous relics: Is it true that they are genuine, and that
miracles are worked through them?  Hundreds of thousands of men
put this question to themselves, and their principal difficulty in
answering it is the fact that bishops, metropolitans, and all men
in positions of authority kiss the relics and wonder-working
ikons.  Ask the bishops and men in positions of authority why they
do so, and they will say they do it for the sake of the people,
while the people kiss them because the bishops and men in
authority do so.

In spite of all the external varnish of modernity, learning, and
spirituality which the members of the Church begin nowadays to
assume in their works, their articles, their theological journals,
and their sermons, the practical work of the Russian Church
consists of nothing more than keeping the people in their present
condition of coarse and savage idolatry, and worse still,
strengthening and diffusing superstition and religious ignorance,
and suppressing that living understanding of Christianity which
exists in the people side by side with idolatry.

I remember once being present in the monks' bookshop of the Optchy
Hermitage while an old peasant was choosing books for his
grandson, who could read.  A monk pressed on him accounts of
relics, holidays, miraculous ikons, a psalter, etc.  I asked the
old man, "Has he the Gospel?"  "No."  "Give him the Gospel in
Russian," I said to the monk.  "That will not do for him,"
answered the monk.  There you have an epitome of the work of our

But this is only in barbarous Russia, the European and American
reader will observe.  And such an observation is just, but only so
far as it refers to the government, which aids the Church in its
task of stultification and corruption in Russia.

It is true that there is nowhere in Europe a government so
despotic and so closely allied with the ruling Church.  And
therefore the share of the temporal power in the corruption of the
people is greatest in Russia.  But it is untrue that the Russian
Church in its influence on the people is in any respect different
from any other church.

The churches are everywhere the same, and if the Catholic, the
Anglican, or the Lutheran Church has not at hand a government as
compliant as the Russian, it is not due to any indisposition to
profit by such a government.

The Church as a church, whatever it may be--Catholic, Anglican,
Lutheran, Presbyterian--every church, in so far as it is a church,
cannot but strive for the same object as the Russian Church.
That object is to conceal the real meaning of Christ's teaching
and to replace it by their own, which lays no obligation on them,
excludes the possibility of understanding the true teaching of
Christ, and what is the chief consideration, justifies the
existence of priests supported at the people's expense.

What else has Catholicism done, what else is it doing in its
prohibition of reading the Gospel, and in its demand for
unreasoning submission to Church authorities and to an infallible
Pope?  Is the religion of Catholicism any other than that of the
Russian Church?  There is the same external ritual, the same
relics, miracles, and wonder-working images of Notre Dame, and the
same processions; the same loftily vague discussions of
Christianity in books and sermons, and when it comes to practice,
the same supporting of the present idolatry.  And is not the same
thing done in Anglicanism, Lutheranism, and every denomination of
Protestantism which has been formed into a church?  There is the
same duty laid on their congregations to believe in the dogmas
expressed in the fourth century, which have lost all meaning for
men of our times, and the same duty of idolatrous worship, if not
of relics and ikons, then of the Sabbath Day and the letter of the
Bible.  There is always the same activity directed to concealing
the real duties of Christianity, and to putting in their place an
external respectability and cant, as it is so well described by
the English, who are peculiarly oppressed by it.  In Protestantism
this tendency is specially remarkable because it has not the
excuse of antiquity.  And does not exactly the same thing show
itself even in contemporary revivalism--the revived Calvinism and
Evangelicalism, to which the Salvation Army owes its origin?

Uniform is the attitude of all the churches to the teaching of
Christ, whose name they assume for their own advantage.

The inconsistency of all church forms of religion with the
teaching of Christ is, of course, the reason why special efforts
are necessary to conceal this inconsistency from people.  Truly,
we need only imagine ourselves in the position of any grown-up
man, not necessarily educated, even the simplest man of the
present day, who has picked up the ideas that are everywhere in
the air nowadays of geology, physics, chemistry, cosmography, or
history, when he, for the first time, consciously compares them
with the articles of belief instilled into him in childhood, and
maintained by the churches--that God created the world in six
days, and light before the sun; that Noah shut up all the animals
in his ark, and so on; that Jesus is also God the Son, who created
all before time was; that this God came down upon earth to atone
for Adam's sin; that he rose again, ascended into heaven, and
sitteth on the right hand of the Father, and will come in the
clouds to judge the world, and so on.  All these propositions,
elaborated by men of the fourth century, had a certain meaning for
men of that time, but for men of to-day they have no meaning
whatever.  Men of the present day can repeat these words with
their lips, but believe them they cannot.  For such sentences as
that God lives in heaven, that the heavens opened and a voice from
somewhere said something, that Christ rose again, and ascended
somewhere in heaven, and again will come from somewhere on the
clouds, and so on, have no meaning for us.

A man who regarded the heavens as a solid, finite vault could
believe or disbelieve that God created the heavens, that the
heavens opened, that Christ ascended into heaven, but for us all
these phrases have no sense whatever.  Men of the present can only
believe, as indeed they do, that they ought to believe in this;
but believe it they cannot, because it has no meaning for them.

Even if all these phrases ought to be interpreted in a figurative
sense and are allegories, we know that in the first place all
Churchmen are not agreed about it, but, on the contrary, the
majority stick to understanding the Holy Scripture in its literal
sense; and secondly, that these allegorical interpretations are
very varied and are not supported by any evidence.

But even if a man wants to force himself to believe in the
doctrines of the Church just as they are taught to him, the
universal diffusion of education and of the Gospel and of
communication between people of different forms of religion
presents a still more insurmountable obstacle to his doing so.

A man of the present day need only buy a Gospel for three copecks and
read through the plain words, admitting of no misinterpretation, that
Christ said to the Samaritan woman "that the Father seeketh not
worshipers at Jerusalem, nor in this mountain nor in that, but
worshipers in spirit and in truth," or the saying that "the Christian
must not pray like the heathen, nor for show, but secretly, that is, in
his closet," or that Christ's follower must call no man master or
father--he need only read these words to be thoroughly convinced that
the Church pastors, who call themselves teachers in opposition to
Christ's precept, and dispute among themselves, constitute no kind of
authority, and that what the Churchmen teach us is not Christianity.
Less even than that is necessary. Even if a man nowadays did continue to
believe in miracles and did not read the Gospel, mere association with
people of different forms of religion and faith, which happens so easily
in these days, compels him to doubt of the truth of his own faith. It
was all very well when a man did not see men of any other form of
religion than his own; he believed that his form of religion was the one
true one. But a thinking man has only to come into contact--as
constantly happens in these days--with people, equally good and bad, of
different denominations, who condemn each other's beliefs, to doubt of
the truth of the belief he professes himself. In these days only a man
who is absolutely ignorant or absolutely indifferent to the vital
questions with which religion deals, can remain in the faith of the

What deceptions and what strenuous efforts the churches must
employ to continue, in spite of all these tendencies subversive of
the faith, to build churches, to perform masses, to preach, to
teach, to convert, and, most of all, to receive for it all immense
emoluments, as do all these priests, pastors, incumbents,
superintendents, abbots, archdeacons, bishops, and archbishops.
They need special supernatural efforts.  And the churches do, with
ever-increasing intensity and zeal, make such efforts.  With us in
Russia, besides other means, they employ, simple brute force, as
there the temporal power is willing to obey the Church.  Men who
refuse an external assent to the faith, and say so openly, are
either directly punished or deprived of their rights; men who
strictly keep the external forms of religion are rewarded and
given privileges.

That is how the Orthodox clergy proceed; but indeed all churches
without exception avail themselves of every means for the purpose
--one of the most important of which is what is now called

Every art, from architecture to poetry, is brought into
requisition to work its effect on men's souls and to reduce them
to a state of stupefaction, and this effect is constantly
produced.  This use of hypnotizing influence on men to bring them
to a state of stupefaction is especially apparent in the
proceedings of the Salvation Army, who employ new practices to
which we are unaccustomed: trumpets, drums, songs, flags,
costumes, marching, dancing, tears, and dramatic performances.

But this only displeases us because these are new practices.  Were
not the old practices in churches essentially the same, with their
special lighting, gold, splendor, candles, choirs, organ, bells,
vestments, intoning, etc.?

But however powerful this hypnotic influence may be, it is not the
chief nor the most pernicious activity of the
Church.  The chief and most pernicious work of the Church is that
which is directed to the deception of children--these very
children of whom Christ said: "Woe to him that offendeth one of
these little ones."  From the very first awakening of the
consciousness of the child they begin to deceive him, to instill
into him with the utmost solemnity what they do not themselves
believe in, and they continue to instill it into him till the
deception has by habit grown into the child's nature.  They
studiously deceive the child on the most important subject in
life, and when the deception has so grown into his life that it
would be difficult to uproot it, then they reveal to him the whole
world of science and reality, which cannot by any means be
reconciled with the beliefs that have been instilled into him,
leaving it to him to find his way as best he can out of these

If one set oneself the task of trying to confuse a man so that he
could not think clearly nor free himself from the perplexity of
two opposing theories of life which had been instilled into him
from childhood, one could not invent any means more effectual than
the treatment of every young man educated in our so-called
Christian society.

It is terrible to think what the churches do to men. But
if one imagines oneself in the position of the men who constitute
the Church, we see they could not act differently.  The churches
are placed in a dilemma: the Sermon on the Mount or the Nicene
Creed--the one excludes the other.  If a man sincerely believes in
the Sermon on the Mount, the Nicene Creed must inevitably lose all
meaning and significance for him, and the Church and its
representatives together with it.  If a man believes in the Nicene
Creed, that is, in the Church, that is, in those who call
themselves its representatives, the Sermon on the Mount becomes
superfluous for him.  And therefore the churches cannot but make
every possible effort to obscure the meaning of the Sermon on the
Mount, and to attract men to themselves.  It is only due to the
intense zeal of the churches in this direction that the influence
of the churches has lasted hitherto.

Let the Church stop its work of hypnotizing the masses, and
deceiving children even for the briefest interval of time, and men
would begin to understand Christ's teaching.  But this
understanding will be the end of the churches and all their
influence.  And therefore the churches will not for an instant
relax their zeal in the business of hypnotizing grown-up people
and deceiving children.  This, then, is the work of the churches:
to instill a false interpretation of Christ's teaching into men,
and to prevent a true interpretation of it for the majority of
so-called believers.



Attitude of Men of Science to Religions in General--What Religion is,
and What is its Significance for the Life of Humanity--Three Conceptions
of Life--Christian Religion the Expression of the Divine Conception of
Life--Misinterpretation of Christianity by Men of Science, who Study it
in its External Manifestations Due to their Criticising it from
Standpoint of Social Conception of Life--Opinion, Resulting from this
Misinterpretation, that Christ's Moral Teaching is Exaggerated and
Cannot be put into Practice--Expression of Divine Conception of Life in
the Gospel--False Ideas of Men of Science on Christianity Proceed from
their Conviction that they have an Infallible Method of Criticism--From
which come Two Misconceptions in Regard to Christian Doctrine--First
Misconception, that the Teaching Cannot be put into Practice, Due to the
Christian Religion Directing Life in a Way Different from that of the
Social Theory of Life--Christianity holds up Ideal, does not lay down
Rules--To the Animal Force of Man Christ Adds the Consciousness of a
Divine Force--Christianity Seems to Destroy Possibility of Life only
when the Ideal held up is Mistaken for Rule--Ideal Must Not be
Lowered--Life, According to Christ's Teaching, is Movement--The Ideal
and the Precepts--Second Misconception Shown in Replacing Love and
Service of God by Love and Service of Humanity--Men of Science Imagine
their Doctrine of Service of Humanity and Christianity are
Identical--Doctrine of Service of Humanity Based on Social Conception of
Life--Love for Humanity, Logically Deduced from Love of Self, has No
Meaning because Humanity is a Fiction--Christian Love Deduced from Love
of God, Finds its Object in the whole World, not in Humanity
Alone--Christianity Teaches Man to Live in Accordance with his Divine
Nature--It Shows that the Essence of the Soul of Man is Love, and that
his Happiness Ensues from Love of God, whom he Recognizes as Love within

Now I will speak of the other view of Christianity which hinders
the true understanding of it--the scientific view.

Churchmen substitute for Christianity the version they have framed
of it for themselves, and this view of Christianity they regard as
the one infallibly true one.

Men of science regard as Christianity only the tenets held by the
different churches in the past and present; and finding that these
tenets have lost all the significance of Christianity, they accept
it as a religion which has outlived its age.

To see clearly how impossible it is to understand the Christian
teaching from such a point of view, one must form for oneself an
idea of the place actually held by religions in general, by the
Christian religion in particular, in the life of mankind, and of
the significance attributed to them by science.

Just as the individual man cannot live without having some theory
of the meaning of his life, and is always, though often
unconsciously, framing his conduct in accordance with the meaning
he attributes to his life, so too associations of men living in
similar conditions--nations--cannot but have theories of the
meaning of their associated life and conduct ensuing from those
theories.  And as the individual man, when he attains a fresh
stage of growth, inevitably changes his philosophy of life, and
the grown-up man sees a different meaning in it from the child, so
too associations of men--nations--are bound to change their
philosophy of life and the conduct ensuing from their philosophy,
to correspond with their development.

The difference, as regards this, between the individual man and
humanity as a whole, lies in the fact that the individual, in
forming the view of life proper to the new period of life on which
he is entering and the conduct resulting from it, benefits by the
experience of men who have lived before him, who have already
passed through the stage of growth upon which he is entering.  But
humanity cannot have this aid, because it is always moving along a
hitherto untrodden track, and has no one to ask how to understand
life, and to act in the conditions on which it is entering and
through which no one has ever passed before.

Nevertheless, just as a man with wife and children cannot continue
to look at life as he looked at it when he was a child, so too in
the face of the various changes that are taking place, the greater
density of population, the establishment of communication between
different peoples, the improvements of the methods of the struggle
with nature, and the accumulation of knowledge, humanity cannot
continue to look at life as of old, and it must frame a new
theory of life, from which conduct may follow adapted to the new
conditions on which it has entered and is entering.

To meet this need humanity has the special power of producing men
who give a new meaning to the whole of human life--a theory of
life from which follow new forms of activity quite different from
all preceding them.  The formation of this philosophy of life
appropriate to humanity in the new conditions on which it is
entering, and of the practice resulting from it, is what is called

And therefore, in the first place, religion is not, as science
imagines, a manifestation which at one time corresponded with the
development of humanity, but is afterward outgrown by it.  It is a
manifestation always inherent in the life of humanity, and is as
indispensable, as inherent in humanity at the present time as at
any other.  Secondly, religion is always the theory of the
practice of the future and not of the past, and therefore it is
clear that investigation of past manifestations cannot in any case
grasp the essence of religion.

The essence of every religious teaching lies not in the desire for
a symbolic expression of the forces of nature, nor in the dread of
these forces, nor in the craving for the marvelous, nor in the
external forms in which it is manifested, as men of science
imagine; the essence of religion lies in the faculty of men of
foreseeing and pointing out the path of life along which humanity
must move in the discovery of a new theory of life, as a result of
which the whole future conduct of humanity is changed and
different from all that has been before.

This faculty of foreseeing the path along which humanity must
move, is common in a greater or less degree to all men.  But in
all times there have been men in whom this faculty was especially
strong, and these men have given clear and definite expression to
what all men felt vaguely, and formed a new philosophy of life
from which new lines of action followed for hundreds and thousands
of years.

Of such philosophies of life we know three; two have already been
passed through by humanity, and the third is that we are passing
through now in Christianity.  These philosophies of life are three
in number, and only three, not because we have arbitrarily brought
the various theories of life together under these three heads, but
because all men's actions are always based on one of these three
views of life--because we cannot view life otherwise than in these
three ways.

These three views of life are as follows: First, embracing the
individual, or the animal view of life; second, embracing the
society, or the pagan view of life; third, embracing the whole
world, or the divine view of life.

In the first theory of life a man's life is limited to his one
individuality; the aim of life is the satisfaction of the will of
this individuality.  In the second theory of life a man's life is
limited not to his own individuality, but to certain societies and
classes of individuals: to the tribe, the family, the clan, the
nation; the aim of life is limited to the satisfaction of the will
of those associations of individuals.  In the third theory of life
a man's life is limited not to societies and classes of
individuals, but extends to the principle and source of life--to

These three conceptions of life form the foundation of all the
religious that exist or have existed.

The savage recognizes life only in himself and his personal
desires. His interest in life is concentrated on himself alone.
The highest happiness for him is the fullest satisfaction of his
desires. The motive power of his life is personal enjoyment. His
religion consists in propitiating his deity and in worshiping his
gods, whom he imagines as persons living only for their personal

The civilized pagan recognizes life not in himself alone, but in
societies of men--in the tribe, the clan, the family, the kingdom
--and sacrifices his personal good for these societies.  The
motive power of his life is glory.  His religion consists in the
exaltation of the glory of those who are allied to him--the
founders of his family, his ancestors, his rulers--and in
worshiping gods who are exclusively protectors of his clan, his
family, his nation, his government [see Footnote].

    [Footnote: The fact that so many varied forms of
    existence, as the life of the family, of the tribe,
    of the clan, of the state, and even the life of
    humanity theoretically conceived by the Positivists,
    are founded on this social or pagan theory of life,
    does not destroy the unity of this theory of life.
    All these varied forms of life are founded on the
    same conception, that the life of the individual is
    not a sufficient aim of life--that the meaning of
    life can be found only in societies of individuals.]

The man who holds the divine theory of life recognizes life not in
his own individuality, and not in societies of individualities (in
the family, the clan, the nation, the tribe, or the government),
but in the eternal undying source of life--in God; and to fulfill
the will of God he is ready to sacrifice his individual and family
and social welfare.  The motor power of his life is love.  And his
religion is the worship in deed and in truth of the principle of
the whole--God.

The whole historic existence of mankind is nothing else than the
gradual transition from the personal, animal conception of life to
the social conception of life, and from the social conception of
life to the divine conception of life.  The whole history of the
ancient peoples, lasting through thousands of years and ending
with the history of Rome, is the history of the transition from
the animal, personal view of life to the social view of life.  The
whole of history from the time of the Roman Empire and the
appearance of Christianity is the history of the transition,
through which we are still passing now, from the social view of
life to the divine view of life.

This view of life is the last, and founded upon it is the
Christian teaching, which is a guide for the whole of our life and
lies at the root of all our activity, practical and theoretic.
Yet men of what is falsely called science, pseudo-scientific men,
looking at it only in its externals, regard it as something
outgrown and having no value for us.

Reducing it to its dogmatic side only--to the doctrines of the
Trinity, the redemption, the miracles, the Church, the sacraments,
and so on--men of science regard it as only one of an immense
number of religions which have arisen among mankind, and now, they
say, having played out its part in history, it is outliving its
own age and fading away before the light of science and of true

We come here upon what, in a large proportion of cases, forms the
source of the grossest errors of mankind.  Men on a lower level of
understanding, when brought into contact with phenomena of a
higher order, instead of making efforts to understand them, to
raise themselves up to the point of view from which they must look
at the subject, judge it from their lower standpoint, and the less
they understand what they are talking about, the more confidently
and unhesitatingly they pass judgment on it.

To the majority of learned then, looking at the living, moral teaching
of Christ from the lower standpoint of the conception of life, this
doctrine appears as nothing but very indefinite and incongruous
combination of Indian asceticism, Stoic and Neoplatonic philosophy, and
insubstantial anti-social visions, which have no serious significance
for our times. Its whole meaning is concentrated for them in its
external manifestations--in Catholicism, Protestantism, in certain
dogmas, or in the conflict with the temporal power. Estimating the value
of Christianity by these phenomena is like a deaf man's judging of the
character and quality of music by seeing the movements of the musicians.

The result of this is that all these scientific men, from Kant,
Strauss, Spencer, and Renan down, do not understand the meaning of
Christ's sayings, do not understand the significance, the object,
or the reason of their utterance, do not understand even the
question to which they form the answer.  Yet, without even taking
the pains to enter into their meaning, they refuse, if unfavorably
disposed, to recognize any reasonableness in his doctrines; or if
they want to treat them indulgently, they condescend, from the
height of their superiority, to correct them, on the supposition
that Christ meant to express precisely their own ideas, but did
not succeed in doing so.  They behave to his teaching much as
self-assertive people talk to those whom they consider beneath
them, often supplying their companions' words: "Yes, you mean to
say this and that."  This correction is always with the aim of
reducing the teaching of the higher, divine conception of life to
the level of the lower, state conception of life.

They usually say that the moral teaching of Christianity is very
fine, but overexaggerated; that to make it quite right we must
reject all in it that is superfluous and unnecessary to our manner
of life.  "And the doctrine that asks too much, and requires what
cannot be performed, is worse than that which requires of men what
is possible and consistent with their powers," these learned
interpreters of Christianity maintain, repeating what was long ago
asserted, and could not but be asserted, by those who crucified
the Teacher because they did not understand him--the Jews.

It seems that in the judgment of the learned men of our
time the Hebrew law--a tooth for a tooth, and an eye for
an eye--is a law of just retaliation, known to mankind five
thousand years before the law of holiness which Christ
taught in its place.

It seems that all that has been done by those men who understood
Christ's teaching literally and lived in accordance with such an
understanding of it, all that has been said and done by all true
Christians, by all the Christian saints, all that is now reforming
the world in the shape of socialism and communism--is simply
exaggeration, not worth talking about.

After eighteen hundred years of education in Christianity the
civilized world, as represented by its most advanced thinkers,
holds the conviction that the Christian religion is a religion of
dogmas; that its teaching in relation to life is unreasonable, and
is an exaggeration, subversive of the real lawful obligations of
morality consistent with the nature of man; and that very doctrine
of retribution which Christ rejected, and in place of which he put
his teaching, is more practically useful for us.

To learned men the doctrine of non-resistance to evil by force is
exaggerated and even irrational.  Christianity is much better
without it, they think, not observing closely what Christianity,
as represented by them, amounts to.

They do not see that to say that the doctrine of non-resistance to
evil is an exaggeration in Christ's teaching is just like saying
that the statement of the equality of the radii of a circle is an
exaggeration in the definition of a circle.  And those who speak
thus are acting precisely like a man who, having no idea of what a
circle is, should declare that this requirement, that every point
of the circumference should be an equal distance from the center,
is exaggerated.  To advocate the rejection of Christ's command of
non-resistance to evil, or its adaptation to the needs of life,
implies a misunderstanding of the teaching of Christ.

And those who do so certainly do not understand it.  They do not
understand that this teaching is the institution of a new theory
of life, corresponding to the new conditions on which men have
entered now for eighteen hundred years, and also the definition of
the new conduct of life which results from it.  They do not
believe that Christ meant to say what he said; or he seems to them
to have said what he said in the Sermon on the Mount and in other
places accidentally, or through his lack of intelligence or of

    [Footnote: Here, for example, is a characteristic
    view of that kind from the American journal the ARENA
    (October, 1890): "New Basis of Church Life."  Treating
    of the significance of the Sermon on the Mount and
    non-resistance to evil in particular, the author,
    being under no necessity, like the Churchmen, to
    hide its significance, says:

      "Christ in fact preached complete communism and
      anarchy; but one must learn to regard Christ always
      in his historical and psychological significance.
      Like every advocate of the love of humanity, Christ
      went to the furthest extreme in his teaching.  Every
      step forward toward the moral perfection of humanity
      is always guided by men who see nothing but their
      vocation.  Christ, in no disparaging sense be it
      said, had the typical temperament of such a reformer.
      And therefore we must remember that his precepts
      cannot be understood literally as a complete
      philosophy of life.  We ought to analyze his words
      with respect for them, but in the spirit of criticism,
      accepting what is true," etc.

    Christ would have been happy to say what he ought, but
    he was not able to express himself as exactly and
    clearly as we can in the spirit of criticism, and
    therefore let us correct him.  All that he said about
    meekness, sacrifice, lowliness, not caring for the
    morrow, was said by accident, through lack of knowing
    how to express himself scientifically.]

Matt. vi. 25-34: "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for
your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for
your body, what ye shall put on.  Is not the life more than meat,
and the body than rainment?  Behold the fouls of the air; for they
sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your
heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit onto his stature?
And why take ye thought for rainment? Consider the lilies of the
field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet
I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed
like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the
field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall
he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  Therefore take
no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink?
or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things
do the Gentiles seek), for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye
have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of
God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added
unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the
morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient
unto the day is the evil thereof."  Luke xii. 33-34: "Sell that ye
have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a
treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief
approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.  For where your treasure is,
there will your heart be also."  Sell all thou hast and follow me;
and he who will not leave father, or mother, or children, or
brothers, or fields, or house, he cannot be my disciple.  Deny
thyself, take up thy cross each day and follow me.  My meat is to
do the will of him that sent me, and to perform his works.  Not my
will, but thine be done; not what I will, but as thou wilt.  Life
is to do not one's will, but the will of God.

All these principles appear to men who regard them from the
standpoint of a lower conception of life as the expression of an
impulsive enthusiasm, having no direct application to life.  These
principles, however, follow from the Christian theory of life,
just as logically as the principles of paying a part of one's
private gains to the commonwealth and of sacrificing one's life in
defense of one's country follow from the state theory of life.

As the man of the stale conception of life said to the savage: Reflect,
bethink yourself! The life of your individuality cannot be true life,
because that life is pitiful and passing. But the life of a society and
succession of individuals, family, clan, tribe, or state, goes on
living, and therefore a man must sacrifice his own individuality for the
life of the family or the state. In exactly the same way the Christian
doctrine says to the man of the social, state conception of life, Repent
ye--[GREEK WORD]-i. e., bethink yourself, or you will be ruined.
Understand that this casual, personal life which now comes into being
and to-morrow is no more can have no permanence, that no external means,
no construction of it can give it consecutiveness and permanence. Take
thought and understand that the life you are living is not real
life--the life of the family, of society, of the state will not save you
from annihilation. The true, the rational life is only possible for man
according to the measure in which he can participate, not in the family
or the state, but in the source of life--the Father; according to the
measure in which he can merge his life in the life of the Father. Such
is undoubtedly the Christian conception of life, visible in every
utterance of the Gospel.

    [TRANSCRIBIST'S NOTE: The GREEK WORD above used Greek letters,
    spelled: mu-epsilon-tau-alpha-nu-omicron-zeta-epsilon-tau-

One may not share this view of life, one may reject it, one may show its
inaccuracy and its erroneousness, but we cannot judge of the Christian
teaching without mastering this view of life. Still less can one
criticise a subject on a higher plane from a lower point of view. From
the basement one cannot judge of the effect of the spire. But this is
just what the learned critics of the day try to do. For they share the
erroneous idea of the orthodox believers that they are in possession of
certain infallible means for investigating a subject. They fancy if they
apply their so-called scientific methods of criticism, there can be no
doubt of their conclusion being correct.

This testing the subject by the fancied infallible method of
science is the principal obstacle to understanding the Christian
religion for unbelievers, for so-called educated people.  From
this follow all the mistakes made by scientific men about the
Christian religion, and especially two strange misconceptions
which, more than everything else, hinder them from a correct
understanding of it.  One of these misconceptions is that the
Christian moral teaching cannot be carried out, and that therefore
it has either no force at all--that is, it should not be accepted
as the rule of conduct--or it must be transformed, adapted to the
limits within which its fulfillment is possible in our society.
Another misconception is that the Christian doctrine of love of
God, and therefore of his service, is an obscure, mystic
principle, which gives no definite object for love, and should
therefore be replaced by the more exact and comprehensible
principles of love for men and the service of humanity.

The first misconception in regard to the impossibility of
following the principle is the result of men of the state
conception of life unconsciously taking that conception as the
standard by which the Christian religion directs men, and taking
the Christian principle of perfection as the rule by which that
life is to be ordered; they think and say that to follow Christ's
teaching is impossible, because the complete fulfillment of all
that is required by this teaching would put an end to life.  "If a
man were to carry out all that Christ teaches, he would destroy
his own life; and if all men carried it out, then the human race
would come to an end," they say.

"If we take no thought for the morrow, what we shall eat and what
we shall drink, and wherewithal we shall be clothed, do not defend
our life, nor resist evil by force, lay down our life for others,
and observe perfect chastity, the human race cannot exist," they

And they are perfectly right if they take the principle of
perfection given by Christ's teaching as a rule which everyone is
bound to fulfill, just as in the state principles of life everyone
is bound to carry out the rule of paying taxes, supporting the
law, and so on.

The misconception is based precisely on the fact that the teaching
of Christ guides men differently from the way in which the
precepts founded on the lower conception of life guide men.  The
precepts of the state conception of life only guide men by
requiring of them an exact fulfillment of rules or laws.  Christ's
teaching guides men by pointing them to the infinite perfection of
their heavenly Father, to which every man independently and
voluntarily struggles, whatever the degree of his imperfection in
the present.

The misunderstanding of men who judge of the Christian principle
from the point of view of the state principle, consists in the
fact that on the supposition that the perfection which Christ
points to, can be fully attained, they ask themselves (just as
they ask the same question on the supposition that state laws will
be carried out) what will be the result of all this being carried
out?  This supposition cannot be made, because the perfection held
up to Christians is infinite and can never be attained; and Christ
lays down his principle, having in view the fact that absolute
perfection can never be attained, but that striving toward
absolute, infinite perfection will continually increase the
blessedness of men, and that this blessedness may be increased to
infinity thereby.

Christ is teaching not angels, but men, living and moving in the animal
life. And so to this animal force of movement Christ, as it were,
applies the new force-the recognition of Divine perfection-and thereby
directs the movement by the resultant of these two forces..

To suppose that human life is going in the direction to which
Christ pointed it, is just like supposing that a little boat
afloat on a rabid river, and directing its course almost exactly
against the current, will progress in that direction.

Christ recognizes the existence of both sides of the
parallelogram, of both eternal indestructible forces of which the
life of man is compounded: the force of his animal nature and the
force of the consciousness of Kinship to God.  Saying nothing of
the animal force which asserts itself, remains always the same,
and is therefore independent of human will, Christ speaks only of
the Divine force, calling upon a man to know it more closely, to
set it more free from all that retards it, and to carry it to a
higher degree of intensity.

In the process of liberating, of strengthening this force, the
true life of man, according to Christ's teaching, consists.  The
true life, according to preceding religions, consists in carrying
out rules, the law; according to Christ's teaching it consists in
an ever closer approximation to the divine perfection held up
before every man, and recognized within himself by every man, in
an ever closer and closer approach to the perfect fusion of his
will in the will of God, that fusion toward which man strives, and
the attainment of which would be the destruction of the life me

The divine perfection is the asymptote of human life to which it
is always striving, and always approaching, though it can only be
reached in infinity.

The Christian religion seems to exclude the possibility of life only
when men mistake the pointing to an ideal as the laying down of a
rule.  It is only then that the principles presented in Christ's
teaching appear to be destructive of life.  These principles, on
the contrary, are the only ones that make true life possible.
Without these principles true life could not be possible.

"One ought not to expect so much," is what people usually say in
discussing the requirements of the Christian religion.  "One
cannot expect to take absolutely no thought for the morrow, as is
said in the Gospel, but only not to take too much thought for it;
one cannot give away all to the poor, but one must give away a
certain definite part; one need not aim at virginity, but one must
avoid debauchery; one need not forsake wife and children, but one
must not give too great a place to them in one's heart," and so

But to speak like this is just like telling a man who is
struggling on a swift river and is directing his course against
the current, that it is impossible to cross the river rowing
against the current, and that to cross it he must float in the
direction of the point he wants to reach.

In reality, in order to reach the place to which he wants to go,
he must row with all his strength toward a point
much higher up.

To let go the requirements of the ideal means not only to diminish
the possibility of perfection, but to make an end of the ideal
itself.  The ideal that has power over men is not an ideal
invented by someone, but the ideal that every man carries within
his soul.  Only this ideal of complete infinite perfection has
power over men, and stimulates them to action.  A moderate
perfection loses its power of influencing men's hearts.

Christ's teaching only has power when it demands absolute
perfection--that is, the fusion of the divine nature which exists
in every man's soul with the will of God--the union of the Son
with the Father.  Life according to Christ's teaching consists of
nothing but this setting free of the Son of God, existing in every
man, from the animal, and in bringing him closer to the Father.

The animal existence of a man does not constitute human life
alone.   Life, according to the will of God only, is also not
human life.  Human life is a combination of the animal life and
the divine life.  And the more this combination approaches to the
divine life, the more life there is in it.

Life, according to the Christian religion, is a progress toward
the divine perfection.  No one condition, according to this
doctrine, can be higher or lower than another.  Every condition,
according to this doctrine, is only a particular stage, of no
consequence in itself, on the way toward unattainable perfection,
and therefore in itself it does not imply a greater or lesser
degree of life.  Increase of life, according to this, consists in
nothing but the quickening of the progress toward perfection.  And
therefore the progress toward perfection of the publican Zaccheus,
of the woman that was a sinner, and of the robber on the cross,
implies a higher degree of life than the stagnant righteousness of
the Pharisee.  And therefore for this religion there cannot be
rules which it is obligatory to obey.  The man who is at a lower
level but is moving onward toward perfection is living a more
moral, a better life, is more fully carrying out Christ's
teaching, than the man on a much higher level of morality who is
not moving onward toward perfection.

It is in this sense that the lost sheep is dearer to the Father
than those that were not lost.  The prodigal son, the piece of
money lost and found again, were more precious than those that
were not lost.

The fulfillment of Christ's teaching consists in moving away from
self toward God.  It is obvious that there cannot be definite laws
and rules for this fulfillment of the teaching.  Every degree of
perfection and every degree of imperfection are equal in it; no
obedience to laws constitutes a fulfillment of this doctrine, and
therefore for it there can be no binding rules and laws.

From this fundamental distinction between the religion of Christ
and all preceding religions based on the state conception of life,
follows a corresponding difference in the special precepts of the
state theory and the Christian precepts.  The precepts of the
state theory of life insist for the most part on certain practical
prescribed acts, by which men are justified and secure of being
right.  The Christian precepts (the commandment of love is not a
precept in the strict sense of the word, but the expression of the
very essence of the religion) are the five commandments of the
Sermon on the Mount--all negative in character.  They show only
what at a certain stage of development of humanity men may not do.

These commandments are, as it were, signposts on the endless road
to perfection, toward which humanity is moving, showing the point
of perfection which is possible at a certain period in the
development of humanity.

Christ has given expression in the Sermon on the Mount to the
eternal ideal toward which men are spontaneously struggling, and
also the degree of attainment of it to which men may reach in our

The ideal is not to desire to do ill to anyone, not to provoke ill
will, to love all men.  The precept, showing the level below which
we cannot fall in the attainment of this ideal, is the prohibition
of evil speaking.  And that is the first command.

The ideal is perfect chastity, even in thought.  The precept,
showing the level below which we cannot fall in the attainment of
this ideal, is that of purity of married life, avoidance of
debauchery.  That is the second command.

The ideal is to take no thought for the future, to live in the
present moment.  The precept, showing the level below which we
cannot fall, is the prohibition of swearing, of promising anything
in the future.  And that is the third command.

The ideal is never for any purpose to use force.  The precept,
showing the level below which we cannot fall is that of returning
good for evil, being patient under wrong, giving the cloak also.
That is the fourth command.

The ideal is to love the enemies who hate us.  The precept,
showing the level below which we cannot fall, is not to do evil to
our enemies, to speak well of them, and to make no difference
between them and our neighbors.

All these precepts are indications of what, on our journey to
perfection, we are already fully able to avoid, and what we must
labor to attain now, and what we ought by degrees to translate
into instinctive and unconscious habits.  But these precepts, far
from constituting the whole of Christ's teaching and exhausting
it, are simply stages on the way to perfection.  These precepts
must and will be followed by higher and higher precepts on the way
to the perfection held up by the religion.

And therefore it is essentially a part of the Christian religion
to make demands higher than those expressed in its precepts; and
by no means to diminish the demands either of the ideal itself, or
of the precepts, as people imagine who judge it from the
standpoint of the social conception of life.

So much for one misunderstanding of the scientific men, in
relation to the import and aim of Christ's teaching.  Another
misunderstanding arising from the same source consists in
substituting love for men, the service of humanity, for the
Christian principles of love for God and his service.

The Christian doctrine to love God and serve him, and only as a
result of that love to love and serve one's neighbor, seems to
scientific men obscure, mystic, and arbitrary.  And they would
absolutely exclude the obligation of love and service of God,
holding that the doctrine of love for men, for humanity alone, is
far more clear, tangible, and reasonable.

Scientific men teach in theory that the only good and rational
life is that which is devoted to the service of the whole of
humanity.  That is for them the import of the Christian doctrine,
and to that they reduce Christ's teaching.  They seek confirmation
of their own doctrine in the Gospel, on the supposition that the
two doctrines are really the same.

This idea is an absolutely mistaken one.  The Christian doctrine
has nothing in common with the doctrine of the Positivists,
Communists, and all the apostles of the universal brotherhood of
mankind, based on the general advantage of such a brotherhood.
They differ from one another especially in Christianity's having a
firm and clear basis in the human soul, while love for humanity is
only a theoretical deduction from analogy.

The doctrine of love for humanity alone is based on the social
conception of life.

The essence of the social conception of life consists in the
transference of the aim of the individual life to the life of
societies of individuals: family, clan, tribe, or state.  This
transference is accomplished easily and naturally in its earliest
forms, in the transference of the aim of life from the individual
to the family and the clan.  The transference to the tribe or the
nation is more difficult and requires special training.  And the
transference of the sentiment to the state is the furthest limit
which the process can reach.

To love one's self is natural to everyone, and no one needs any
encouragement to do so.  To love one's clan who support and
protect one, to love one's wife, the joy and help of one's
existence, one's children, the hope and consolation of one's life,
and one's parents, who have given one life and education, is
natural.  And such love, though far from being so strong as love
of self, is met with pretty often.

To love--for one's own sake, through personal pride--one's tribe,
one's nation, though not so natural, is nevertheless common.  Love
of one's own people who are of the same blood, the same tongue,
and the same religion as one's self is possible, though far from
being so strong as love of self, or even love of family or clan.
But love for a state, such as Turkey, Germany, England, Austria,
or Russia is a thing almost impossible.  And though it is
zealously inculcated, it is only an imagined sentiment; it has no
existence in reality.  And at that limit man's power of
transferring his interest ceases, and he cannot feel any direct
sentiment for that fictitious entity.  The Positivists, however,
and all the apostles of fraternity on scientific principles,
without taking into consideration the weakening of sentiment in
proportion to the extension of its object, draw further deductions
in theory in the same direction.  "Since," they say, "it was for
the advantage of the individual to extend his personal interest to
the family, the tribe, and subsequently to the nation and the
state, it would be still more advantageous to extend his interest
in societies of men to the whole of mankind, and so all to live
for humanity just as men live for the family or the state."

Theoretically it follows, indeed, having extended the love and
interest for the personality to the family, the tribe, and thence
to the nation and the state, it would be perfectly logical for men
to save themselves the strife and calamities which result from the
division of mankind into nations and states by extending their
love to the whole of humanity.  This would be most logical, and
theoretically nothing would appear more natural to its advocates,
who do not observe that love is a sentiment which may or may not
be felt, but which it is useless to advocate; and moreover, that
love must have an object, and that humanity is not an object.  It
is nothing but a fiction.

The family, the tribe, even the state were not invented by men,
but formed themselves spontaneously, like ant-hills or swarms of
bees, and have a real existence.  The man who, for the sake of his
own animal personality, loves his family, knows whom he loves:
Anna, Dolly, John, Peter, and so on.  The man who loves his tribe
and takes pride in it, knows that he loves all the Guelphs or all
the Ghibellines; the man who loves the state knows that he loves
France bounded by the Rhine, and the Pyrenees, and its principal
city Paris, and its history and so on.  But the man who loves
humanity--what does he love?  There is such a thing as a state, as
a nation; there is the abstract conception of man; but humanity as
a concrete idea does not, and cannot exist.

Humanity!  Where is the definition of humanity?  Where does it end
and where does it begin?  Does humanity end with the savage, the
idiot, the dipsomaniac, or the madman?  If we draw a line
excluding from humanity its lowest representatives, where are we
to draw the line?  Shall we exclude the negroes like the
Americans, or the Hindoos like some Englishmen, or the Jews like
some others?  If we include all men without exception, why should
we not include also the higher animals, many of whom are superior
to the lowest specimens of the human race.

We know nothing of humanity as an eternal object, and we know
nothing of its limits.  Humanity is a fiction, and it is
impossible to love it.  It would, doubtless, be very advantageous
if men could love humanity just as they love their family.  It
would be very advantageous, as Communists advocate, to replace the
competitive, individualistic organization of men's activity by a
social universal organization, so that each would be for all and
all for each.

Only there are no motives to lead men to do this.  The
Positivists, the Communists, and all the apostles of fraternity on
scientific principles advocate the extension to the whole of
humanity of the love men feel for themselves, their families, and
the state.  They forget that the love which they are discussing is
a personal love, which might expand in a rarefied form to embrace
a man's native country, but which disappears before it can embrace
an artificial state such as Austria, England, or Turkey, and which
we cannot even conceive of in relation to all humanity, an
absolutely mystic conception.

"A man loves himself (his animal personality), he loves his
family, he even loves his native country.  Why should he not love
humanity?  That would be such an excellent thing.  And by the way,
it is precisely what is taught by Christianity."  So think the
advocates of Positivist, Communistic, or Socialistic fraternity.

It would indeed be an excellent thing.  But it can never be, for
the love that is based on a personal or social conception of life
can never rise beyond love for the state.

The fallacy of the argument lies in the fact that the social
conception of life, on which love for family and nation is
founded, rests itself on love of self, and that love grows weaker
and weaker as it is extended from self to family, tribe,
nationality, and slate; and in the state we reach the furthest
limit beyond which it cannot go.

The necessity of extending the sphere of love is beyond dispute.
But in reality the possibility of this love is destroyed by the
necessity of extending its object indefinitely.  And thus the
insufficiency of personal human love is made manifest.

And here the advocates of Positivist, Communistic, Socialistic
fraternity propose to draw upon Christian love to make up the
default of this bankrupt human love; but Christian love only in
its results, not in its foundations.  They propose love for
humanity alone, apart from love for God.

But such a love cannot exist.  There is no motive to produce it.
Christian love is the result only of the Christian conception of
life, in which the aim of life is to love and serve God.

The social conception of life has led men, by a natural transition
from love of self and then of family, tribe, nation, and state, to
a consciousness of the necessity of love for humanity, a
conception which has no definite limits and extends to all living
things.  And this necessity for love of what awakens no kind of
sentiment in a man is a contradiction which cannot be solved by
the social theory of life.

The Christian doctrine in its full significance can alone solve
it, by giving a new meaning to life.  Christianity recognizes love
of self, of family, of nation, and of humanity, and not only of
humanity, but of everything living, everything existing; it
recognizes the necessity of an infinite extension of the sphere of
love.  But the object of this love is not found outside self in
societies of individuals, nor in the external world, but within
self, in the divine self whose essence is that very love, which
the animal self is brought to feel the need of through its
consciousness of its own perishable nature.

The difference between the Christian doctrine and those which
preceded it is that the social doctrine said: "Live in opposition
to your nature [understanding by this only the animal nature],
make it subject to the external law of family, society, and
state."  Christianity says: "Live according to your nature
[understanding by this the divine nature]; do not make it subject
to anything--neither you (an animal self) nor that of others--and
you will attain the very aim to which you are striving when you
subject your external self."

The Christian doctrine brings a man to the elementary
consciousness of self, only not of the animal self, but of the
divine self, the divine spark, the self as the Son of God, as much
God as the Father himself, though confined in an animal husk.  The
consciousness of being the Son of God, whose chief characteristic
is love, satisfies the need for the extension of the sphere of
love to which the man of the social conception of life had been
brought.  For the latter, the welfare of the personality demanded
an ever-widening extension of the sphere of love; love was a
necessity and was confined to certain objects--self, family,
society.  With the Christian conception of life, love is not a
necessity and is confined to no object; it is the essential
faculty of the human soul.  Man loves not because it is his
interest to love this or that, but because love is the essence of
his soul, because he cannot but love.

The Christian doctrine shows man that the essence of his soul is
love--that his happiness depends not on loving this or that
object, but on loving the principle of the whole--God, whom he
recognizes within himself as love, and therefore he loves all
things and all men.

In this is the fundamental difference between the Christian
doctrine and the doctrine of the Positivists, and all the
theorizers about universal brotherhood on non-Christian

Such are the two principal misunderstandings relating to the
Christian religion, from which the greater number of false
reasonings about it proceed.  The first consists in the belief
that Christ's teaching instructs men, like all previous religions,
by rules, which they are bound to follow, and that these rules
cannot be fulfilled.  The second is the idea that the whole
purport of Christianity is to teach men to live advantageously
together, as one family, and that to attain this we need only
follow the rule of love to humanity, dismissing all thought of
love of God altogether.

The mistaken notion of scientific men that the essence of
Christianity consists in the supernatural, and that its moral
teaching is impracticable, constitutes another reason
of the failure of men of the present day to understand



Men Think they can Accept Christianity without Altering their
Life--Pagan Conception of Life does not Correspond with Present Stage of
Development of Humanity, and Christian Conception Alone Can Accord with
it--Christian Conception of Life not yet Understood by Men, but the
Progress of Life itself will Lead them Inevitably to Adopt it--The
Requirements of a New Theory of Life Always Seem Incomprehensible,
Mystic, and Supernatural--So Seem the Requirements of the Christian
Theory of Life to the Majority of Men--The Absorption of the Christian
Conception of Life will Inevitably be Brought About as the Result of
Material and Spiritual Causes--The Fact of Men Knowing the Requirements
of the Higher View of Life, and yet Continuing to Preserve Inferior
Organizations of Life, Leads to Contradictions and Sufferings which
Embitter Existence and Must Result in its Transformation--The
Contradictions of our Life--The Economic Contradiction and the Suffering
Induced by it for Rich and Poor Alike--The Political Contradiction and
the Sufferings Induced by Obedience to the Laws of the State--The
International Contradiction and the Recognition of it by Contemporaries:
Komarovsky, Ferri, Booth, Passy, Lawson, Wilson, Bartlett, Defourney,
Moneta--The Striking Character of the Military Contradiction.

There are many reasons why Christ's teaching is not understood.
One reason is that people suppose they have understood it when
they have decided, as the Churchmen do, that it was revealed by
supernatural means, or when they have studied, as the scientific
men do, the external forms in which it has been manifested.
Another reason is the mistaken notion that it is impracticable,
and ought to be replaced by the doctrine of love for humanity.
But the principal reason, which is the source of all the other
mistaken ideas about it, is the notion that Christianity is a
doctrine which can be accepted or rejected without any change of

Men who are used to the existing order of things, who like it and
dread its being changed, try to take the doctrine as a collection
of revelations and rules which one can accept without their
modifying one's life.  While Christ's teaching is not only a
doctrine which gives rules which a man must follow, it unfolds a
new meaning in life, and defines a whole world of human activity
quite different from all that has preceded it and appropriate to
the period on which man is entering.

The life of humanity changes and advances, like the life of the
individual, by stages, and every stage has a theory of life
appropriate to it, which is inevitably absorbed by men.  Those who
do not absorb it consciously, absorb it unconsciously.  It is the
same with the changes in the beliefs of peoples and of all
humanity as it is with the changes of belief of individuals.  If
the father of a family continues to be guided in his conduct by
his childish conceptions of life, life becomes so difficult for
him that he involuntarily seeks another philosophy and readily
absorbs that which is appropriate to his age.

That is just what is happening now to humanity at this time of
transition through which we are passing, from the pagan conception
of life to the Christian.  The socialized man of the present day
is brought by experience of life itself to the necessity of
abandoning the pagan conception of life, which is inappropriate to
the present stage of humanity, and of submitting to the obligation
of the Christian doctrines, the truths of which, however corrupt
and misinterpreted, are still known to him, and alone offer him a
solution of the contradictions surrounding him.

If the requirements of the Christian doctrine seem strange and
even alarming to the man of the social theory of life, no less
strange, incomprehensible, and alarming to the savage of ancient
times seemed the requirements of the social doctrine when it was
not fully understood and could not be foreseen in its results.

"It is unreasonable," said the savage, "to sacrifice my peace of
mind or my life in defense of something incomprehensible,
impalpable, and conventional--family, tribe, or nation; and above
all it is unsafe to put oneself at the disposal of the power of

But the time came when the savage, on one hand, felt, though
vaguely, the value of the social conception of life, and of its
chief motor power, social censure, or social approbation--glory,
and when, on the other hand, the difficulties of his personal life
became so great that he could not continue to believe in the value
of his old theory of life.  Then he accepted the social, state
theory of life and submitted to it.

That is just what the man of the social theory of life is passing
through now.

"It is unreasonable," says the socialized man, "to sacrifice my
welfare and that of my family and my country in order to fulfill
some higher law, which requires me to renounce my most natural and
virtuous feelings of love of self, of family, of kindred, and of
country; and above all, it is unsafe to part with the security of
life afforded by the organization of government."

But the time is coming when, on one hand, the vague consciousness
in his soul of the higher law, of love to God and his neighbor,
and, on the other hand, the suffering, resulting from the
contradictions of life, will force the man to reject the social
theory and to assimilate the new one prepared ready for him, which
solves all the contradictions and removes all his sufferings--the
Christian theory of life.  And this time has now come.

We, who thousands of years ago passed through the transition, from
the personal, animal view of life to the socialized view, imagine
that that transition was an inevitable and natural one; but this
transition through which we have been passing for the last eighteen
hundred years seems arbitrary, unnatural, and alarming.  But we
only fancy this because that first transition has been so fully
completed that the practice attained by it has become unconscious
and instinctive in us, while the present transition is not yet
over and we have to complete it consciously.

It took ages, thousands of years, for the social conception of
life to permeate men's consciousness.  It went through various
forms and has now passed into the region of the instinctive
through inheritance, education, and habit.  And therefore it seems
natural to us.  But five thousand years ago it seemed as unnatural
and alarming to men as the Christian doctrine in its true sense
seems to-day.

We think to-day that the requirements of the Christian doctrine--of
universal brotherhood, suppression of national distinctions, abolition
of private property, and the strange injunction of non-resistance to
evil by force--demand what is impossible. But it was just the same
thousands of years ago, with every social or even family duty, such as
the duty of parents to support their children, of the young to maintain
the old, of fidelity in marriage. Still more strange, and even
unreasonable, seemed the state duties of submitting to the appointed
authority, and paying taxes, and fighting in defense of the country, and
so on. All such requirements seem simple, comprehensible, and natural to
us to-day, and we see nothing mysterious or alarming in them. But three
or five thousand years ago they seemed to require what was impossible.

The social conception of life served as the basis of religion
because at the time when it was first presented to men it seemed
to them absolutely incomprehensible, mystic, and supernatural.
Now that we have outlived that phase of the life of humanity, we
understand the rational grounds for uniting men in families,
communities, and states.  But in antiquity the duties involved by
such association were presented under cover of the supernatural
and were confirmed by it.

The patriarchal religions exalted the family, the tribe, the
nation.  State religions deified emperors and states.  Even now
most ignorant people--like our peasants, who call the Tzar an
earthly god--obey state laws, not through any rational recognition
of their necessity, nor because they have any conception of the
meaning of state, but through a religious sentiment.

In precisely the same way the Christian doctrine is presented to
men of the social or heathen theory of life to-day, in the guise
of a supernatural religion, though there is in reality nothing
mysterious, mystic, or supernatural about it.  It is simply the
theory of life which is appropriate to the present degree of
material development, the present stage of growth of humanity, and
which must therefore inevitably be accepted.

The time will come--it is already coming--when the Christian principles
of equality and fraternity, community of property, non-resistance of
evil by force, will appear just as natural and simple as the principles
of family or social life seem to us now.

Humanity can no more go backward in its development than the
individual man.  Men have outlived the social, family, and state
conceptions of life. Now they must go forward and assimilate the
next and higher conception of life, which is what is now taking
place.  This change is brought about in two ways: consciously
through spiritual causes, and unconsciously through material

Just as the individual man very rarely changes his way of life at
the dictates of his reason alone, but generally continues to live
as before, in spite of the new interests and aims revealed to him
by his reason, and only alters his way of living when it has
become absolutely opposed to his conscience, and consequently
intolerable to him; so, too, humanity, long after it has learnt
through its religions the new interests and aims of life, toward
which it must strive, continues in the majority of its
representatives to live as before, and is only brought to accept
the new conception by finding it impossible to go on living its
old life as before.

Though the need of a change of life is preached by the religious
leaders and recognized and realized by the most intelligent men,
the majority, in spite of their reverential attitude to their
leaders, that is, their faith in their teaching, continue to be
guided by the old theory of life in their present complex
existence.  As though the father of a family, knowing how he ought
to behave at his age, should yet continue through habit and
thoughtlessness to live in the same childish way as he did in

That is just what is happening in the transition of humanity from
one stage to another, through which we are passing now.  Humanity
has outgrown its social stage and has entered upon a new period.
It recognizes the doctrine which ought to be made the basis of
life in this new period.  But through inertia it continues to keep
up the old forms of life.  From this inconsistency between the new
conception of life and practical life follows a whole succession
of contradictions and sufferings which embitter our life and
necessitate its alteration.

One need only compare the practice of life with the theory of it,
to be dismayed at the glaring antagonism between our conditions of
life and our conscience.

Our whole life is in flat contradiction with all we know, and with
all we regard as necessary and right.  This contradiction runs
through everything, in economic life, in political life, and in
international life.  As though we had forgotten what we knew and
put away for a time the principles we believe in (we cannot help
still believing in them because they are the only foundation we
have to base our life on) we do the very opposite of all that our
conscience and our common sense require of us.

We are guided in economical, political, and international
questions by the principles which were appropriate to men of three
or five thousand years ago, though they are directly opposed to
our conscience and the conditions of life in which we are placed

It was very well for the man of ancient times to live in a society
based on the division of mankind into masters and slaves, because
he believed that such a distinction was decreed by God and must
always exist.  But is such a belief possible in these days?

The man of antiquity could believe he had the right to enjoy the
good things of this world at the expense of other men, and to keep
them in misery for generations, since he believed that men came
from different origins, were base or noble in blood, children of
Ham or of Japhet.  The greatest sages of the world, the teachers
of humanity, Plato and Aristotle, justified the existence of
slaves and demonstrated the lawfulness of slavery; and even three
centuries ago, the men who described an imaginary society of the
future, Utopia, could not conceive of it without slaves.

Men of ancient and medieval times believed, firmly believed, that
men are not equal, that the only true men are Persians, or Greeks,
or Romans, or Franks.  But we cannot believe that now.  And people
who sacrifice themselves for the principles of aristocracy and of
patriotism to-duty, don't believe and can't believe what they

We all know and cannot help knowing--even though we may never have
heard the idea clearly expressed, may never have read of it, and
may never have put it into words, still through unconsciously
imbibing the Christian sentiments that are in the air--with our
whole heart we know and cannot escape knowing the fundamental
truth of the Christian doctrine, that we are all sons of one
Father, wherever we may live and whatever language we may speak;
we are all brothers and are subject to the same law of love
implanted by our common Father in our hearts.

Whatever the opinions and degree of education of a man of to-day,
whatever his shade of liberalism, whatever his school of
philosophy, or of science, or of economics, however ignorant or
superstitious he may be, every man of the present day knows that
all men have an equal right to life and the good things of life,
and that one set of people are no better nor worse than another,
that all are equal.  Everyone knows this, beyond doubt; everyone
feels it in his whole being.  Yet at the same time everyone sees
all round him the division of men into two castes--the one,
laboring, oppressed, poor, and suffering, the other idle,
oppressing, luxurious, and profligate.  And everyone not only sees
this, but voluntarily or involuntarily, in one way or another, he
takes part in maintaining this distinction which his conscience
condemns.  And he cannot help suffering from the consciousness of
this contradiction and his share in it.

Whether he be master or slave, the man of to-day cannot help
constantly feeling the painful opposition between his conscience
and actual life, and the miseries resulting from it.

The toiling masses, the immense majority of mankind who are
suffering under the incessant, meaningless, and hopeless toil and
privation in which their whole life is swallowed up, still find
their keenest suffering in the glaring contrast between what is
and what ought to be, according to all the beliefs held by
themselves, and those who have brought them to that condition and
keep them in it.

They know that they are in slavery and condemned to privation and
darkness to minister to the lusts of the minority who keep them
down.  They know it, and they say so plainly.  And this knowledge
increases their sufferings and constitutes its bitterest sting.

The slave of antiquity knew that he was a slave by nature, but our
laborer, while he feels he is a slave, knows that he ought not to
be, and so he tastes the agony of Tantalus, forever desiring and
never gaining what might and ought to be his.

The sufferings of the working classes, springing from the
contradiction between what is and what ought to be, are increased
tenfold by the envy and hatred engendered by their consciousness
of it.

The laborer of the present day would not cease to suffer even if
his toil were much lighter than that of the slave of ancient
times, even if he gained an eight-hour working day and a wage of
three dollars a day.  For he is working at the manufacture of
things which he will not enjoy, working not by his own will for
his own benefit, but through necessity, to satisfy the desires of
luxurious and idle people in general, and for the profit of a
single rich man, the owner of a factory or workshop in particular.
And he knows that all this is going on in a world in which it is a
recognized scientific principle that labor alone creates wealth,
and that to profit by the labor of others is immoral, dishonest,
and punishable by law; in a world, moreover, which professes to
believe Christ's doctrine that we are all brothers, and that true
merit and dignity is to be found in serving one's neighbor, not in
exploiting him.  All this he knows, and he cannot but suffer
keenly from the sharp contrast between what is and what ought to

"According to all principles, according to all I know, and what
everyone professes," the workman says to himself.  "I ought to be
free, equal to everyone else, and loved; and I am--a slave,
humiliated and hated."  And he too is filled with hatred and tries
to find means to escape from his position, to shake off the enemy
who is over-riding him, and to oppress him in turn.  People say,
"Workmen have no business to try to become capitalists, the poor
to try to put themselves in the place of the rich."  That is a
mistake.  The workingmen and the poor would be wrong if they tried
to do so in a world in which slaves and masters were regarded as
different species created by God; but they are living in a world
which professes the faith of the Gospel, that all are alike sons
of God, and so brothers and equal.  And however men may try to
conceal it, one of the first conditions of Christian life is love,
not in words but in deeds.

The man of the so-called educated classes lives in still more
glaring inconsistency and suffering.  Every educated man, if he
believes in anything, believes in the brotherhood of all men, or
at least he has a sentiment of humanity, or else of justice, or
else he believes in science.  And all the while he knows that his
whole life is framed on principles in direct opposition to it all,
to all the principles of Christianity, humanity, justice, and

He knows that all the habits in which he has been brought up, and
which he could not give up without suffering, can only be
satisfied through the exhausting, often fatal, toil of oppressed
laborers, that is, through the most obvious and brutal violation
of the principles of Christianity, humanity, and justice, and even
of science (that is, economic science).  He advocates the
principles of fraternity, humanity, justice, and science, and yet
he lives so that he is dependent on the oppression of the working
classes, which he denounces, and his whole life is based on the
advantages gained by their oppression.  Moreover he is directing
every effort to maintaining this state of things so flatly opposed
to all his beliefs.

We are all brothers--and yet every morning a brother or a sister
must empty the bedroom slops for me.  We are all brothers, but
every morning I must have a cigar, a sweetmeat, an ice, and such
things, which my brothers and sisters have been wasting their
health in manufacturing, and I enjoy these things and demand them.
We are all brothers, yet I live by working in a bank, or
mercantile house, or shop at making all goods dearer for my
brothers.  We are all brothers, but I live on a salary paid me for
prosecuting, judging, and condemning the thief or the prostitute
whose existence the whole tenor of my life tends to bring about,
and who I know ought not to be punished but reformed.  We are all
brothers, but I live on the salary I gain by collecting taxes from
needy laborers to be spent on the luxuries of the rich and idle.
We are all brothers, but I take a stipend for preaching a false
Christian religion, which I do not myself believe in, and which
only serve's to hinder men from understanding true Christianity.
I take a stipend as priest or bishop for deceiving men in the
matter of the greatest importance to them.  We are all brothers,
but I will not give the poor the benefit of my educational,
medical, or literary labors except for money.  We are all
brothers, yet I take a salary for being ready to commit murder,
for teaching men to murder, or making firearms, gunpowder, or

The whole life of the upper classes is a constant inconsistency.
The more delicate a man's conscience is, the more painful this
contradiction is to him.

A man of sensitive conscience cannot but suffer if he lives such a
life.  The only means by which he can escape from this suffering
is by blunting his conscience, but even if some  men succeed in
dulling their conscience they cannot dull their fears.

The men of the higher dominating classes whose conscience is
naturally not sensitive or has become blunted, if they don't
suffer through conscience, suffer from fear and hatred.  They are
bound to suffer.  They know all the hatred of them existing, and
inevitably existing in the working classes.  They are aware that
the working classes know that they are deceived and exploited, and
that they are beginning to organize themselves to shake off
oppression and revenge themselves on their oppressors.  The higher
classes see the unions, the strikes, the May Day Celebrations, and
feel the calamity that is threatening them, and their terror
passes into an instinct of self-defense and hatred.  They know
that if for one instant they are worsted in the struggle with
their oppressed slaves, they will perish, because the slaves are
exasperated and their exasperation is growing more intense with
every day of oppression.  The oppressors, even if they wished to
do so, could not make an end to oppression.  They know that they
themselves will perish directly they even relax the harshness of
their oppression.  And they do not relax it, in spite of all their
pretended care for the welfare of the working classes, for the
eight-hour day, for regulation of the labor of minors and of
women, for savings banks and pensions.  All that is humbug, or
else simply anxiety to keep the slave fit to do his work.  But the
slave is still a slave, and the master who cannot live without a
slave is less disposed to set him free than ever.

The attitude of the ruling classes to the laborers is that of a
man who has felled his adversary to the earth and holds him down,
not so much because he wants to hold him down, as because he knows
that if he let him go, even for a second, he would himself be
stabbed, for his adversary is infuriated and has a knife in his
hand.  And therefore, whether their conscience is tender or the
reverse, our rich men cannot enjoy the wealth they have filched
from the poor as the ancients did who believed in their right to
it.  Their whole life and all their enjoyments are embittered
either by the stings of conscience or by terror.

So much for the economic contradiction.  The political
contradiction is even more striking.

All men are brought up to the habit of obeying the laws of the
state before everything.  The whole existence of modern times is
defined by laws.  A man marries and is divorced, educates his
children, and even (in many countries) professes his religious
faith in accordance with the law.  What about the law then which
defines our whole existence?  Do men believe in it?  Do they
regard it as good?  Not at all.  In the majority of cases people
of the present time do not believe in the justice of the law, they
despise it, but still they obey it.  It was very well for the
men of the ancient world to observe their laws.  They firmly
believed that their law (it was generally of a religious
character) was the only just law, which everyone ought to obey.
But is it so with us? we know and cannot help knowing that the law
of our country is not the one eternal law; that it is only one of
the many laws of different countries, which are equally imperfect,
often obviously wrong and unjust, and are criticised from every
point of view in the newspapers.  The Jew might well obey his
laws, since he had not the slightest doubt that God had written
them with his finger; the Roman too might well obey the laws which
he thought had been dictated by the nymph Egeria.  Men might well
observe the laws if they believed the Tzars who made them were
God's anointed, or even if they thought they were the work of
assemblies of lawgivers who had the power and the desire to make
them as good as possible.  But we all know how our laws are
made.  We have all been behind the scenes, we know that they are
the product of covetousness, trickery, and party struggles; that
there is not and cannot be any real justice in them.  And so
modern men cannot believe that obedience to civic or political
laws can satisfy the demands of the reason or of human nature.
Men have long ago recognized that it is irrational to obey a law
the justice of which is very doubtful, and so they cannot but
suffer in obeying a law which they do not accept as judicious and

A man cannot but suffer when his whole life is defined beforehand
for him by laws, which he must obey under threat of punishment,
though he does not believe in their wisdom or justice, and often
clearly perceives their injustice, cruelty, and artificiality.

We recognize the uselessness of customs and import duties, and are
obliged to pay them.  We recognize the uselessness of the
expenditure on the maintenance of the Court and other members of
Government, and we regard the teaching of the Church as injurious,
but we are obliged to bear our share of the expenses of these
institutions.  We regard the punishments inflicted by law as cruel
and shameless, but we must assist in supporting them.  We regard
as unjust and pernicious the distribution of landed property, but
we are obliged to submit to it.  We see no necessity for wars and
armies, but we must bear terribly heavy burdens in support of
troops and war expenses.

But this contradiction is nothing in comparison with the
contradiction which confronts us when we turn to international
questions, and which demands a solution, under pain of the loss of
the sanity and even the existence of the human race.  That is the
contradiction between the Christian conscience and war.

We are all Christian nations living the same spiritual life, so that
every noble and pregnant thought, springing up at one end of the world,
is at once communicated to the whole of Christian humanity and evokes
everywhere the same emotion at pride and rejoicing without distinction
of nationalities. We who love thinkers, philanthropists, poets, and
scientific men of foreign origin, and are as proud of the exploits of
Father Damien as if he were one of ourselves, we, who have a simple love
for men of foreign nationalities, Frenchmen, Germans, Americans, and
Englishmen, who respect their qualities, are glad to meet them and make
them so warmly welcome, cannot regard war with them as anything heroic.
We cannot even imagine without horror the possibility of a disagreement
between these people and ourselves which would call for reciprocal
murder. Yet we are all bound to take a hand in this slaughter which is
bound to come to pass to-morrow not to-day.

It was very well for the Jew, the Greek, and the Roman to defend
the independence of his nation by murder.  For he piously believed
that his people was the only true, fine, and good people dear to
God, and all the rest were Philistines, barbarians.  Men of
medieval times--even up to the end of the last and beginning of
this century--might continue to hold this belief.  But however
much we work upon ourselves we cannot believe it.  And this
contradiction for men of the present day has become so full of
horror that without its solution life is no longer possible.

"We live in a time which is full of inconsistencies," writes Count
Komarovsky, the professor of international law, in his learned

   "The press of all countries is continually expressing the
   universal desire for peace, and the general sense of its
   necessity for all nations.

   "Representatives of governments, private persons, and official
   organs say the same thing; it is repeated in parliamentary
   debates, diplomatic correspondence, and even in state treaties.
   At the same time governments are increasing the strength of
   their armies every year, levying fresh taxes, raising loans,
   and leaving as a bequest to future generations the duty of
   repairing the blunders of the senseless policy of the present.
   What a striking contrast between words and deeds!  Of course
   governments will plead in justification of these measures that
   all their expenditure and armament are exclusively for purposes
   of defense.  But it remains a mystery to every disinterested
   man whence they can expect attacks if all the great powers are
   single-hearted in their policy, in pursuing nothing but self
   defense.  In reality it looks as if each of the great powers
   were every instant anticipating an attack on the part of the
   others.  And this results in a general feeling of insecurity
   and superhuman efforts on the part of each government to
   increase their forces beyond those of the other powers.  Such a
   competition of itself increases the danger of war.  Nations
   cannot endure the constant increase of armies for long, and
   sooner or later they will prefer war to all the disadvantages
   of their present position and the constant menace of war.  Then
   the most trifling pretext will be sufficient to throw the whole
   of Europe into the fire of universal war.  And it is a mistaken
   idea that such a crisis might deliver us from the political and
   economical troubles that are crushing us.  The experience of
   the wars of latter years teaches us that every war has only
   intensified national hatreds, made military burdens more
   crushing and insupportable, and rendered the political and
   economical grievous and insoluble."

"Modern Europe keeps under arms an active army of nine millions of
men," writes Enrico Ferri,

   "besides fifteen millions of reserve, with an outlay of four
   hundred millions of francs per annum.  By continual increase of
   the armed force, the sources of social and individual
   prosperity are paralyzed, and the state of the modern world may
   be compared to that of a man who condemns himself to wasting
   from lack of nutrition in order to provide himself with arms,
   losing thereby the strength to use the arms he provides, under
   the weight of which he will at last succumb."

Charles Booth, in his paper read in London before the Association
for the Reform and Codification of the Law of Nations, June 26,
1887, says the same thing.  After referring to the same number,
nine millions of the active army and fifteen millions of reserve,
and the enormous expenditure of governments on the support and
arming of these forces, he says:

   "These figures represent only a small part of the real cost,
   because besides the recognized expenditure of the war budget of
   the various nations, we ought also to take into account the
   enormous loss to society involved in withdrawing from it such
   an immense number of its most vigorous men, who are taken from
   industrial pursuits and every kind of labor, as well as the
   enormous interest on the sums expended on military preparations
   without any return.  The inevitable result of this expenditure
   on war and preparations for war is a continually growing
   national debt.  The greater number of loans raised by the
   governments of Europe were with a view to war.  Their total sum
   amounts to four hundred millions sterling, and these debts are
   increasing every year."

The same Professor Komarovsky says in another place:

   "We live in troubled times.  Everywhere we hear complaints of
   the depression of trade and manufactures, and the wretchedness
   of the economic position generally, the miserable conditions of
   existence of the working classes, and the universal
   impoverishment of the masses. But in spite of this, governments
   in their efforts to maintain their independence rush to the
   greatest extremes of senselessness. New taxes and duties are
   being devised everywhere, and the financial oppression of the
   nations knows no limits.  If we glance at the budgets of the
   states of Europe for the last hundred years, what strikes us
   most of all is their rapid and continually growing increase.

   "How can we explain this extraordinary phenomenon which sooner
   or later threatens us all with inevitable bankruptcy?

   "It is caused beyond dispute by the expenditure for the
   maintenance of armaments which swallows up a third and even a
   half of all the expenditure of European states.  And the most
   melancholy thing is that one can foresee no limit to this
   augmentation of the budget and impoverishment of the masses.
   What is socialism but a protest against this abnormal position
   in which the greater proportion of the population of our world
   is placed?

"We are ruining ourselves," says Frederick Passy in a letter read
before the last Congress of Universal Peace (in 1890) in London,

   "we are ruining ourselves in order to be able to take part in
   the senseless wars of the future or to pay the interest on
   debts we have incurred by the senseless and criminal wars of
   the past.  We are dying of hunger so as to secure the means of
   killing each other."

Speaking later on of the way the subject is looked at in France,
he says:

   "We believe that, a hundred years after the Declaration of the
   Rights of Man and of the citizen, the time has come to
   recognize the rights of nations and to renounce at once and
   forever all those undertakings based on fraud and force, which,
   under the name of conquests, are veritable crimes against
   humanity, and which, whatever the vanity of monarchs and the
   pride of nations may think of them, only weaken even those who
   are triumphant over them."

"I am surprised at the way religion is carried on in this
country," said Sir Wilfrid Lawson at the same congress.

   "You send a boy to Sunday school, and you tell him: 'Dear boy,
   you must love your enemies.  If another boy strikes you, you
   mustn't hit him back, but try to reform him by loving him.'
   Well.  The boy stays in the Sunday school till he is fourteen
   or fifteen, and then his friends send him into the army.  What
   has he to do in the army?  He certainly won't love his enemy;
   quite the contrary, if he can only get at him, he will run him
   through with his bayonet.  That is the nature of all religious
   teaching in this country.  I do not think that that is a very
   good way of carrying out the precepts of religion.  I think if
   it is a good thing for a boy to love his enemy, it is good for
   a grown-up man."

"There are in Europe twenty-eight millions of men under arms,"
says Wilson,

   "to decide disputes, not by discussion, but by murdering one
   another.  That is the accepted method for deciding disputes
   among Christian nations.  This method is, at the same time,
   very expensive, for, according to the statistics I have read,
   the nations of Europe spent in the year 1872 a hundred and
   fifty millions sterling on preparations for deciding disputes
   by means of murder.  It seems to me, therefore, that in such a
   state of things one of two alternatives must be admitted:
   either Christianity is a failure, or those who have undertaken
   to expound it have failed in doing so.  Until our warriors are
   disarmed and our armies disbanded, the have not the right to
   call ourselves a Christian nation."

In a conference on the subject of the duty of Christian ministers
to preach against war, G. D. Bartlett said among other things:

   "If I understand the Scriptures, I say that men are only
   playing with Christianity so long as they ignore the question
   of war.  I have lived a longish life and have heard our
   ministers preach on universal peace hardly half a dozen times.
   Twenty years ago, in a drawing room, I dared in the presence of
   forty persons to moot the proposition that war was incompatible
   with Christianity; I was regarded as an arrant fanatic.  The
   idea that we could get on without war was regarded as
   unmitigated weakness and folly."

The Catholic priest Defourney has expressed himself in the same
spirit.  "One of the first precepts of the eternal law inscribed
in the consciences of all men," says the Abby Defourney,

   "is the prohibition of taking the life or shedding the blood of
   a fellow-creature without sufficient cause, without being
   forced into the necessity of it.  This is one of the
   commandments which is most deeply stamped in the heart of man.
   But so soon as it is a question of war, that is, of shedding
   blood in torrents, men of the present day do not trouble
   themselves about a sufficient cause.  Those who take part in
   wars do not even think of asking themselves whether there is
   any justification for these innumerable murders, whether they
   are justifiable or unjustifiable, lawful or unlawful, innocent
   or criminal; whether they are breaking that fundamental
   commandment that forbids killing without lawful cause.
   But their conscience is mute.  War has ceased to be something
   dependent on moral considerations.  In warfare men have in all
   the toil and dangers they endure no other pleasure than that of
   being conquerors, no sorrow other than that of being conquered.
   Don't tell me that they are serving their country.  A great
   genius answered that long ago in the words that have become a
   proverb: 'Without justice, what is an empire but a great band
   of brigands?'  And is not every band of brigands a little
   empire?  They too have their laws; and they too make war to
   gain booty, and even for honor.

   "The aim of the proposed institution [the institution of an
   international board of arbitration] is that the nations of
   Europe may cease to be nations of robbers, and their armies,
   bands of brigands.  And one must add, not only brigands, but
   slaves.  For our armies are simply gangs of slaves at the
   disposal of one or two commanders or ministers, who exercise a
   despotic control over them without any real responsibility, as
   we very well know.

   "The peculiarity of a slave is that he is a mere tool in the
   hands of his master, a thing, not a man.  That is just what
   soldiers, officers, and generals are, going to murder and be
   murdered at the will of a ruler or rulers.  Military slavery is
   an actual fact, and it is the worst form of slavery, especially
   now when by means of compulsory service it lays its fetters on
   the necks of all the strong and capable men of a nation, to
   make them instruments of murder, butchers of human flesh, for
   that is all they are taken and trained to do.

   "The rulers, two or three in number, meet together in cabinets,
   secretly deliberate without registers, without publicity, and
   consequently without responsibility, and send men to be

"Protests against armaments, burdensome to the people, have not
originated in our times," says Signor E. G. Moneta.

   "Hear what Montesquieu wrote in his day.  'France [and one
   might say, Europe] will be ruined by soldiers.  A new plague is
   spreading throughout Europe.  It attacks sovereigns and forces
   them to maintain an incredible number of armed men.  This
   plague is infectious and spreads, because directly one
   government increases its armament, all the others do likewise.
   So that nothing is gained by it but general ruin.

   "'Every government maintains as great an army as it possibly
   could maintain if its people were threatened with
   extermination, and people call peace this state of tension of
   all against all.  And therefore Europe is so ruined that if
   private persons were in the position of the governments of our
   continent, the richest of them would not have enough to live
   on.  We are poor though we have the wealth and trade of the
   whole world.'

   "That was written almost 150 years ago. The picture seems drawn
   from the world of to-day. One thing only has changed-the form
   of government.  In Montesquieu's time it was said that the
   cause of the maintenance of great armaments was the despotic
   power of kings, who made war in the hope of augmenting by
   conquest their personal revenues and gaining glory.  People
   used to say then: 'Ah, if only people could elect those who
   would have the right to refuse governments the soldiers and the
   money--then there would be an end to military politics.'  Now
   there are representative governments in almost the whole of
   Europe, and in spite of that, war expenditures and the
   preparations for war have increased to alarming proportions.

   "It is evident that the insanity of sovereigns has gained
   possession of the ruling classes.  War is not made now because
   one king has been wanting in civility to the mistress of
   another king, as it was in Louis XIV.'s time.  But the natural
   and honorable sentiments of national honor and patriotism are
   so exaggerated, and the public opinion of one nation so excited
   against another, that it is enough for a statement to be made
   (even though it may be a false report) that the ambassador of
   one state was not received by the principal personage of
   another state to cause the outbreak of the most awful and
   destructive war there has ever been seen.  Europe keeps more
   soldiers under arms to-day than in the time of the great
   Napoleonic wars.  All citizens with few exceptions are forced
   to spend some years in barracks.  Fortresses, arsenals, and
   ships are built, new weapons are constantly being invented, to
   be replaced in a short time by fresh ones, for, sad to say,
   science, which ought always to be aiming at the good of
   humanity, assists in the work of destruction, and is constantly
   inventing new means for killing the greatest number of men in
   the shortest time.  And to maintain so great a multitude of
   soldiers and to make such vast preparations for murder,
   hundreds of millions are spent annually, sums which would be
   sufficient for the education of the people and for immense
   works of public utility, and which would make it possible to
   find a peaceful solution of the social question.

   "Europe, then, is, in this respect, in spite of all the
   conquests of science, in the same position as in the darkest
   and most barbarous days of the Middle Ages.  All deplore this
   state of things--neither peace nor war--and all would be glad
   to escape from it.  The heads of governments all declare that
   they all wish for peace, and vie with one another in the most
   solemn protestations of peaceful intentions.  But the same day
   or the next they will lay a scheme for the increase of the
   armament before their legislative assembly, saying that these
   are the preventive measures they take for the very purpose of
   securing peace.

   "But this is not the kind of peace we want.  And the nations
   are not deceived by it.  True peace is based on mutual
   confidence, while these huge armaments show open and utter lack
   of confidence, if not concealed hostility, between states.
   What should we say of a man who, wanting to show his friendly
   feelings for his neighbor, should invite him to discuss their
   differences with a loaded revolver in his hand?

   "It is just this flagrant contradiction between the peaceful
   professions and the warlike policy of governments which all
   good citizens desire to put an end to, at any cost."

People are astonished that every year there are sixty thousand
cases of suicide in Europe, and those only the recognized and
recorded cases--and excluding Russia and Turkey; but one ought
rather to be surprised that there are so few.  Every man of the
present day, if we go deep enough into the contradiction between
his conscience and his life, is in a state of despair.

Not to speak of all the other contradictions between modern life
and the conscience, the permanently armed condition of Europe
together with its profession of Christianity is alone enough to
drive any man to despair, to doubt of the sanity of mankind, and
to terminate an existence in this senseless and brutal world.
This contradiction, which is a quintessence of all the other
contradictions, is so terrible that to live and to take part in it
is only possible if one does not think of it--if one is able to
forget it.

What! all of us, Christians, not only profess to love one another, but
do actually live one common life; we whose social existence beats with
one common pulse--we aid one another, learn from one another, draw ever
closer to one another to our mutual happiness, and find in this
closeness the whole meaning of life!--and to-morrow some crazy ruler
will say some stupidity, and another will answer in the same spirit, and
then I must go expose myself to being murdered, and murder men--who have
done me no harm--and more than that, whom I love. And this is not a
remote contingency, but the very thing we are all preparing for, which
is not only probable, but an inevitable certainty.

To recognize this clearly is enough to drive a man out of his
senses or to make him shoot himself.  And this is just what does
happen, and especially often among military men.  A man need only
come to himself for an instant to be impelled inevitably to such
an end.

And this is the only explanation of the dreadful intensity with
which men of modern times strive to stupefy themselves, with
spirits, tobacco, opium, cards, reading newspapers, traveling, and
all kinds of spectacles and amusements.  These pursuits are
followed up as an important, serious business.  And indeed they
are a serious business.  If there were no external means of
dulling their sensibilities, half of mankind would shoot
themselves without delay, for to live in opposition to one's
reason is the most intolerable condition.  And that is the
condition of all men of the present day.  All men of the modern
world exist in a state of continual and flagrant antagonism
between their conscience and their way of life.  This antagonism
is apparent in economic as well as political life.  But most
striking of all is the contradiction between the Christian law of
the brotherhood of men existing in the conscience and the
necessity under which all men are placed by compulsory military
service of being prepared for hatred and murder--of being at the
same time a Christian and a gladiator.



People do not Try to Remove the Contradiction between Life and
Conscience by a Change of Life, but their Cultivated Leaders Exert Every
Effort to Obscure the Demands of Conscience, and justify their Life; in
this Way they Degrade Society below Paganism to a State of Primeval
Barbarism--Undefined Attitude of Modern Leaders of Thought to War, to
Universal Militarism, and to Compulsory Service in Army--One Section
Regards War as an Accidental Political Phenomenon, to be Avoided by
External Measures only--Peace Congress--The Article in the REVUE DES
REVUES--Proposition of Maxime du Camp--Value of Boards of Arbitration
and Suppression of Armies--Attitude of Governments to Men of this
Opinion and What they Do--Another Section Regards War as Cruel, but
Inevitable--Maupassant--Rod--A Third Section Regard War as Necessary,
and not without its Advantages--Doucet-Claretie-Zola-Vogüé.

The antagonism between life and the conscience may be removed in
two ways: by a change of life or by a change of conscience.  And
there would seem there can be no doubt as to these alternatives.

A man may cease to do what he regards as wrong, but he cannot
cease to consider wrong what is wrong.  Just in the same way all
humanity may cease to do what it regards as wrong, but far from
being able to change, it cannot even retard for a time the
continual growth of a clearer recognition of what is wrong and
therefore ought not to be.  And therefore it would seem inevitable
for Christian men to abandon the pagan forms of society which they
condemn, and to reconstruct their social existence on the
Christian principles they profess.

So it would be were it not for the law of inertia, as immutable a
force in men and nations as in inanimate bodies.  In men it takes
the form of the psychological principle, so truly expressed in the
words of the Gospel, "They have loved darkness better than light
because their deeds were evil."  This principle shows itself in
men not trying to recognize the truth, but to persuade themselves
that the life they are leading, which is what they like and are
used to, is a life perfectly consistent with truth.

Slavery was opposed to all the moral principles advocated by Plato
and Aristotle, yet neither of them saw that, because to renounce
slavery would have meant the break up of the life they were
living.  We see the same thing in our modern world.

The division of men into two castes, as well as the use of force
in government and war, are opposed to every moral principle
professed by our modern society.  Yet the cultivated and advanced
men of the day seem not to see it.

The majority, if not all, of the cultivated men of our day try
unconsciously to maintain the old social conception of life, which
justifies their position, and to hide from themselves and others
its insufficiency, and above all the necessity of adopting the
Christian conception of life, which will mean the break up of the
whole existing social order.  They struggle to keep up the
organization based on the social conception of life, but do not
believe in it themselves, because it is extinct and it is
impossible to believe in it.

All modern literature--philosophical, political, and artistic--is
striking in this respect.  What wealth of idea, of form, of color,
what erudition, what art, but what a lack of serious matter, what
dread of any exactitude of thought or expression!  Subtleties,
allegories, humorous fancies, the widest generalizations, but
nothing simple and clear, nothing going straight to the point,
that is, to the problem of life.

But that is not all; besides these graceful frivolities, our
literature is full of simple nastiness and brutality, of arguments
which would lead men back in the most refined way to primeval
barbarism, to the principles not only of the pagan, but even of
the animal life, which we have left behind us five thousand years

And it could not be otherwise.  In their dread of the Christian
conception of life which will destroy the social order, which some
cling to only from habit, others also from interest, men cannot
but be thrown back upon the pagan conception of life and the
principles based on it. Nowadays we see advocated not only
patriotism and aristocratic principles just as they were advocated
two thousand years ago, but even the coarsest epicureanism and
animalism, only with this difference, that the men who then
professed those views believed in them, while nowadays even the
advocates of such views do not believe in them, for they have no
meaning for the present day.  No one can stand still when the
earth is shaking under his feet. If we do not go forward we must
go back.  And strange and terrible to say, the cultivated men of
our day, the leaders of thought, are in reality with their subtle
reasoning drawing society back, not to paganism even, but to a
state of primitive barbarism.

This tendency on the part of the leading thinkers of the day is
nowhere more apparent than in their attitude to the phenomenon in
which all the insufficiency of the social conception of life is
presented in the most concentrated form--in their attitude, that
is, to war, to the general arming of nations, and to universal
compulsory service.

The undefined, if not disingenuous, attitude of modern thinkers to
this phenomenon is striking. It takes three forms in cultivated
society.  One section look at it as an incidental phenomenon,
arising out of the special political situation of Europe, and
consider that this state of things can be reformed without a
revolution in the whole internal social order of nations, by
external measures of international diplomacy.  Another section
regard it as something cruel and hideous, but at the same time
fated and inevitable, like disease and death.  A third party with
cool indifference consider war as an inevitable phenomenon,
beneficial in its effects and therefore desirable.

Men look at the subject from different points of view, but all
alike talk of war as though it were something absolutely
independent of the will of those who take part in it.  And
consequently they do not even admit the natural question which
presents itself to every simple man: "How about me--ought I to
take any part in it?"  In their view no question of this kind even
exists, and every man, however he may regard war from a personal
standpoint, must slavishly submit to the requirements of the
authorities on the subject.

The attitude of the first section of thinkers, those who see a way
out of war in international diplomatic measures, is well expressed
in the report of the last Peace Congress in London, and the
articles and letters upon war that appeared in No. 8 of the REVUE
DES REVUES, 1891.  The congress after gathering together from
various quarters the verbal and written opinion of learned men
opened the proceedings by a religious service, and after listening
to addresses for five whole days, concluded them by a public
dinner and speeches.  They adopted the following resolutions:

   "1. The congress affirms its belief that the brotherhood of man
   involves as a necessary consequence a brotherhood of nations.

   "2. The congress recognizes the important influence that
   Christianity exercises on the moral and political progress of
   mankind, and earnestly urges upon ministers of the Gospel and
   other religious teachers the duty of setting forth the
   principles of peace and good will toward men. AND IT RECOMMENDS

   "3. The congress expresses the opinion that all teachers of
   history should call the attention of the young to the grave
   evils inflicted on mankind in all ages by war, and to the fact
   that such war has been waged for most inadequate causes.

   "4. The congress protests against the use of military drill in
   schools by way of physical exercise, and suggests the formation
   of brigades for saving life rather than of a quasi-military
   character; and urges the desirability of impressing on the
   Board of Examiners who formulate the questions for examination
   the propriety of guiding the minds of children in the
   principles of peace.

   "5. The congress holds that the doctrine of the Rights of Man
   requires that the aboriginal and weaker races, their
   territories and liberties, shall be guarded from injustice and
   fraud, and that these races shall be shielded against the vices
   so prevalent among the so-called advanced races of men.  It
   further expresses its conviction that there should be concert
   of action among the nations for the accomplishment of these
   ends.  The congress expresses its hearty appreciation of the
   resolutions of the Anti-slavery Conference held recently at
   Brussels for the amelioration of the condition of the peoples
   of Africa.

   "6. The congress believes that the warlike prejudices and
   traditions which are still fostered in the various
   nationalities, and the misrepresentations by leaders of public
   opinion in legislative assemblies or through the press, are
   often indirect causes of war, and that these evils should be
   counteracted by the publication of accurate information tending
   to the removal of misunderstanding between nations, and
   recommends the importance of considering the question of
   commencing an international newspaper with such a purpose.

   "7. The congress proposes to the Inter-parliamentary Conference
   that the utmost support should be given to every project for
   unification of weights and measures, coinage, tariff, postage,
   and telegraphic arrangements, etc., which would assist in
   constituting a commercial, industrial, and scientific union of
   the peoples.

   "8. The congress, in view of the vast social and moral
   influence of woman, urges upon every woman to sustain the
   things that make for peace, as otherwise she incurs grave
   responsibility for the continuance of the systems of

   "9. The congress expresses the hope that the Financial Reform
   Association and other similar societies in Europe and America
   should unite in considering means for establishing equitable
   commercial relations between states, by the reduction of import
   duties.  The congress feels that it can affirm that the whole
   of Europe desires peace, and awaits with impatience the
   suppression of armaments, which, under the plea of defense,
   become in their turn a danger by keeping alive mutual distrust,
   and are, at the same time, the cause of that general economic
   disturbance which stands in the way of settling in a
   satisfactory manner the problems of labor and poverty, which
   ought to take precedence of all others.

   "10. The congress, recognizing that a general disarmament would
   be the best guarantee of peace and would lead to the solution
   of the questions which now most divide states, expresses the
   wish that a congress of representatives of all the states of
   Europe may be assembled as soon as possible to consider the
   means of effecting a gradual general disarmament.

   "11. The congress, in consideration of the fact that the
   timidity of a single power might delay the convocation of the
   above-mentioned congress, is of opinion that the government
   which should first dismiss any considerable number of soldiers
   would confer a signal benefit on Europe and mankind, because it
   would, by public opinion, oblige other governments to follow
   its example, and by the moral force of this accomplished fact
   would have increased rather than diminished the conditions of
   its national defense.

   "12. The congress, considering the question of disarmament, as
   of peace in general, depends on public opinion, recommends the
   peace societies, as well as all friends of peace, to be active
   in its propaganda, especially at the time of parliamentary
   elections, in order that the electors should give their votes
   to candidates who are pledged to support Peace, Disarmament,
   and Arbitration.

   "13. The congress congratulates the friends of peace on the
   resolution adopted by the International American Conference,
   held at Washington in April last, by which it was recommended
   that arbitration should be obligatory in all controversies,
   whatever their origin, except only those which may imperil the
   independence of one of the nations involved.

   "14. The congress recommends this resolution to the attention
   of European statesmen, and expresses the ardent desire that
   similar treaties may speedily be entered into between the other
   nations of the world.

   "15. The congress expresses its satisfaction at the adoption by
   the Spanish Senate on June 16 last of a project of law
   authorizing the government to negotiate general or special
   treaties of arbitration for the settlement of all disputes
   except those relating to the independence or internal
   government of the states affected; also at the adoption of
   resolutions to a like effect by the Norwegian Storthing and by
   the Italian Chamber.

   "16. The congress resolves that a committee be appointed to
   address communications to the principal political, religious,
   commercial, and labor and peace organizations, requesting them
   to send petitions to the governmental authorities praying that
   measures be taken for the formation of suitable tribunals for
   the adjudicature of international questions so as to avoid the
   resort to war.

   "17. Seeing (1) that the object pursued by all peace societies
   is the establishment of judicial order between nations, and (2)
   that neutralization by international treaties constitutes a
   step toward this judicial state and lessens the number of
   districts in which war can be carried on, the congress
   recommends a larger extension of the rule of neutralization,
   and expresses the wish, (1) that all treaties which at present
   assure to certain states the benefit of neutrality remain in
   force, or if necessary be amended in a manner to render the
   neutrality more effective, either by extending neutralization
   to the whole of the state or by ordering the demolition of
   fortresses, which constitute rather a peril than a guarantee
   for neutrality; (2) that new treaties in harmony with the
   wishes of the populations concerned be concluded for
   establishing the neutralization of other states.

   "18. The sub-committee proposes, (1) that the annual Peace
   Congress should be held either immediately before the meeting
   of the annual Sub-parliamentary Conference, or immediately
   after it in the same town; (2) that the question of an
   international peace emblem be postponed SINE DIE; (3) that the
   following resolutions be adopted:

      "a. To express satisfaction at the official overtures of the
      Presbyterian Church in the United States addressed to the
      highest representatives of each church organization in
      Christendom to unite in a general conference to promote the
      substitution of international arbitration for war.

      "b. To express in the name of the congress its profound
      reverence for the memory of Aurelio Saffi, the great Italian
      jurist, a member of the committee of the International
      League of Peace and Liberty.

   "(4) That the memorial adopted by this congress and
   signed by the president to the heads of the civilized states
    should, as far as practicable, be presented to each power by
    influential deputations.

   "(5) That the following resolutions be adopted:

      "a. A resolution of thanks to the presidents of the various
      sittings of the congress.

      "b. A resolution of thanks to the chairman, the secretaries,
      and the members of the bureau of the congress.

      "c. A resolution of thanks to the conveners and members of
      the sectional committees.

      "d. A resolution of thanks to Rev. Canon Scott Holland, Rev.
      Dr. Reuen Thomas, and Rev. J. Morgan Gibbon for their pulpit
      addresses before the congress, and also to the authorities
      of St. Paul's Cathedral, the City Temple, and Stamford Hill
      Congregational Church for the use of those buildings for
      public services.

      "e. A letter of thanks to her Majesty for permission to
      visit Windror Castle.

      "f. And also a resolution of thanks to the Lord Mayor and
      Lady Mayoress, to Mr. Passmore Edwards, and other friends
      who have extended their hospitality to the members of the

   "19. The congress places on record a heartfelt expression of
   gratitude to Almighty God for the remarkable harmony and
   concord which have characterized the meetings of the assembly,
   in which so many men and women of varied nations, creeds,
   tongues, and races have gathered in closest co-operation, and
   for the conclusion of the labors of the congress; and expresses
   its firm and unshaken belief in the ultimate triumph of the
   cause of peace and of the principles advocated at these

The fundamental idea of the congress is the necessity (1) of
diffusing among all people by all means the conviction of the
disadvantages of war and the great blessing of peace, and (2) of
rousing governments to the sense of the superiority of
international arbitration over war and of the consequent
advisability and necessity of disarmament.  To attain the first
aim the congress has recourse to teachers of history, to women,
and to the clergy, with the advice to the latter to preach on the
evil of war and the blessing of peace every third Sunday in
December.  To attain the second object the congress appeals to
governments with the suggestion that they should disband their
armies and replace war by arbitration.

To preach to men of the evil of war and the blessing of peace!
But the blessing of peace is so well known to men that, ever since
there have been men at all, their best wish has been expressed in
the greeting, "Peace be with you."  So why preach about it?

Not only Christians, but pagans, thousands of years ago, all
recognized the evil of war and the blessing of peace.  So that the
recommendation to ministers of the Gospel to preach on the evil of
war and the blessing of peace every third Sunday in December is
quite superfluous.

The Christian cannot but preach on that subject every day of his
life.  If Christians and preachers of Christianity do not do so,
there must be reasons for it.  And until these have been removed
no recommendations will be effective.  Still less effective will
be the recommendations to governments to disband their armies and
replace them by international boards of arbitration.  Governments,
too, know very well the difficulty and the burdensomeness of
raising and maintaining forces, and if in spite of that knowledge
they do, at the cost of terrible strain and effort, raise and
maintain forces, it is evident that they cannot do otherwise, and
the recommendation of the congress can never change it.  But the
learned gentlemen are unwilling to see that, and keep hoping to
find a political combination, through which governments shall be
induced to limit their powers themselves.

"Can we get rid of war"? asks a learned writer in the REVUE DES

   "All are agreed that if it were to break out in Europe, its
    consequences would be like those of the great inroads of
    barbarians.  The existence of whole nationalities would be at
   stake, and therefore the war would be desperate, bloody,

   "This consideration, together with the terrible engines of
   destruction invented by modern science, retards the moment of
   declaring war, and maintains the present temporary situation,
   which might continue for an indefinite period, except for the
   fearful cost of maintaining armaments which are exhausting the
   European states and threatening to reduce nations to a state of
   misery hardly less than that of war itself.

   "Struck by this reflection, men of various countries have tried
   to find means for preventing, or at least for softening, the
   results of the terrible slaughter with which we are threatened.

   "Such are the questions brought forward by the Peace Congress
   shortly to be held in Rome, and the publication of a pamphlet,
   Sur le Désarmement.'

   "It is unhappily beyond doubt that with the present
   organization of the majority of European states, isolated from
   one another and guided by distinct interests, the absolute
   suppression of war is an illusion with which it would be
   dangerous to cheat ourselves.  Wiser rules and regulations
   imposed on these duels between nations might, however, at least
   limit its horrors.

   "It is equally chimerical to reckon on projects of disarmament,
   the execution of which is rendered almost impossible by
   considerations of a popular character present to the mind of
   all our readers. [This probably means that France cannot
   disband its army before taking its revenge.]  Public opinion is
   not prepared to accept them, and moreover, the international
   relations between different peoples are not such as to make
   their acceptance possible.  Disarmament imposed on one nation
   by another in circumstances threatening its security would be
   equivalent to a declaration of war.

   "However, one may admit that an exchange of ideas between the
   nations interested could aid, to a certain degree, in bringing
   about the good understanding indispensable to any negotiations,
   and would render possible a considerable reduction of the
   military expenditure which is crushing the nations of Europe
   and greatly hindering the solution of the social question,
   which each individually must solve on pain of having internal
   war as the price for escaping it externally.

   "We might at least demand the reduction of the enormous
   expenses of war organized as it is at present with a view to
   the power of invasion within twenty-four hours and a decisive
   battle within a week of the declaration of war.

   "We ought to manage so that states could not make the attack
   suddenly and invade each other's territories within twenty-four

This practical notion has been put forth by Maxime du Camp, and
his article concludes with it.

The propositions of M. du Camp are as follows:

   1. A diplomatic congress to be held every year.

   2. No war to be declared till two months after the incident
   which provoked it.  (The difficulty here would be to decide
   precisely what incident did provoke the war, since whenever war
   is declared there are very many such incidents, and one would
   have to decide from which to reckon the two months' interval.)

   3. No war to be declared before it has been submitted to a
   plebiscitum of the nations preparing to take part in it.

   4. No hostilities to be commenced till a month after the
   official declaration of war.

"No war to be declared.  No hostilities to be commenced," etc.
But who is to arrange that no war is to be declared?  Who is to
compel people to do this and that?  Who is to force states to
delay their operations for a certain fixed time?  All the other
states.  But all these others are also states which want holding
in check and keeping within limits, and forcing, too.  Who is to
force them, and how?  Public opinion.  But if there is a public
opinion which can force governments to delay their operations for
a fixed period, the same public opinion can force governments not
to declare war at all.

But, it will be replied, there may be such a balance of power,
such a PONDÉRATION DE FORCES, as would lead states to hold back of
their own accord.  Well, that has been tried and is being tried
even now.  The Holy Alliance was nothing but that, the League of
Peace was another attempt at the same thing, and so on.

But, it will be answered, suppose all were agreed.  If all were
agreed there would be no more war certainly, and no need for
arbitration either.

"A court of arbitration!  Arbitration shall replace war. Questions
shall be decided by a court of arbitration. The Alabama question
was decided by a court of arbitration, and the question of the
Caroline Islands was submitted to the decision of the Pope.
Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, and Holland have all declared that
they prefer arbitration to war."

I dare say Monaco has expressed the same preference.  The only
unfortunate thing is that Germany, Russia, Austria, and France
have not so far shown the same inclination.  It is amazing how men
can deceive themselves when they find it necessary!  Governments
consent to decide their disagreements by arbitration and to
disband their armies!  The differences between Russia and Poland,
between England and Ireland, between Austria and Bohemia, between
Turkey and the Slavonic states, between France and Germany, to be
soothed away by amiable conciliation!

One might as well suggest to merchants and bankers that they
should sell nothing for a greater price than they gave for it,
should undertake the distribution of wealth for no profit, and
should abolish money, as it would thus be rendered unnecessary.

But since commercial and banking operations consist in nothing but
selling for more than the cost price, this would be equivalent to
an invitation to suppress themselves.  It is the same in regard to
governments.  To suggest to governments that they should not have
recourse to violence, but should decide their misunderstandings in
accordance with equity, is inviting them to abolish themselves as
rulers, and that no government can ever consent to do.

The learned men form societies (there are more than a hundred such
societies), assemble in congresses (such as those recently held in
London and Paris, and shortly to be held in Rome), deliver
addresses, eat public dinners and make speeches, publish journals,
and prove by every means possible that the nations forced to
support millions of troops are strained to the furthest limits of
their endurance, that the maintenance of these huge armed forces
is in opposition to all the aims, the interests, and the wishes of
the people, and that it is possible, moreover, by writing numerous
papers, and uttering a great many words, to bring all men into
agreement and to arrange so that they shall have no antagonistic
interests, and then there will be no more war.

When I was a little boy they told me if I wanted to catch a bird I
must put salt on its tail.  I ran after the birds with the salt in
my hand, but I soon convinced myself that if I could put salt on a
bird's tail, I could catch it, and realized that I had been

People ought to realize the same fact when they read books and
articles on arbitration and disarmament.

If one could put salt on a bird's tail, it would be because it
could not fly and there would be no difficulty in catching it.  If
the bird had wings and did not want to be caught, it would not let
one put salt on its tail, because the specialty of a bird is to
fly.  In precisely the same way the specialty of government is not
to obey, but to enforce obedience.  And a government is only a
government so long as it can make itself obeyed, and therefore it
always strives for that and will never willingly abandon its
power.  But since it is on the army that the power of government
rests, it will never give up the army, and the use of the army in

The error arises from the learned jurists deceiving themselves and
others, by asserting that government is not what it really is, one
set of men banded together to oppress another set of men, but, as
shown by science, is the representation of the citizens in their
collective capacity.  They have so long been persuading other
people of this that at last they have persuaded themselves of it;
and thus they often seriously suppose that government can be bound
by considerations of justice.  But history shows that from Caesar
to Napoleon, and from Napoleon to Bismarck, government is in its
essence always a force acting in violation of justice, and that it
cannot be otherwise.  Justice can have no binding force on a ruler
or rulers who keep men, deluded and drilled in readiness for acts
of violence--soldiers, and by means of them control others.  And
so governments can never be brought to consent to diminish the
number of these drilled slaves, who constitute their whole power
and importance.

Such is the attitude of certain learned men to the contradiction
under which our society is being crushed, and such are their
methods of solving it.  Tell these people that the whole matter
rests on the personal attitude of each man to the moral and
religious question put nowadays to everyone, the question, that
is, whether it is lawful or unlawful for him to take his share of
military service, and these learned gentlemen will shrug their
shoulders and not condescend to listen or to answer you.  The
solution of the question in their idea is to be found in reading
addresses, writing books, electing presidents, vice-presidents,
and secretaries, and meeting and speaking first in one town and
then in another.  From all this speechifying and writing it will
come to pass, according to their notions, that governments will
cease to levy the soldiers, on whom their whole strength depends,
will listen to their discourses, and will disband their forces,
leaving themselves without any defense, not only against their
neighbors, but also against their own subjects.  As though a band
of brigands, who have some unarmed travelers bound and ready to be
plundered, should be so touched by their complaints of the pain
caused by the cords they are fastened with as to let them go

Still there are people who believe in this, busy themselves over
peace congresses, read addresses, and write books.  And
governments, we may be quite sure, express their sympathy and make
a show of encouraging them.  In the same way they pretend to
support temperance societies, while they are living principally on
the drunkenness of the people; and pretend to encourage education,
when their whole strength is based on ignorance; and to support
constitutional freedom, when their strength rests on the absence
of freedom; and to be anxious for the improvement of the condition
of the working classes, when their very existence depends on their
oppression; and to support Christianity, when Christianity
destroys all government.

To be able to do this they have long ago elaborated methods
encouraging temperance, which cannot suppress drunkenness; methods
of supporting education, which not only fail to prevent ignorance,
but even increase it; methods of aiming at freedom and
constitutionalism, which are no hindrance to despotism; methods of
protecting the working classes, which will not free them from
slavery; and a Christianity, too, they have elaborated, which does
not destroy, but supports governments.

Now there is something more for the government to encourage--peace. The
sovereigns, who nowadays take counsel with their ministers, decide by
their will alone whether the butchery of millions is to be begun this
year or next. They know very well that all these discourses upon peace
will not hinder them from sending millions of men to butchery when it
seems good to them. They listen even with satisfaction to these
discourses, encourage them, and take part in them.

All this, far from being detrimental, is even of service to
governments, by turning people's attention from the most important
and pressing question: Ought or ought not each man called upon for
military service to submit to serve in the army?

"Peace will soon be arranged, thanks to alliances and congresses,
to books and pamphlets; meantime go and put on your uniform, and
prepare to cause suffering and to endure it for our benefit," is
the government's line of argument.  And the learned gentlemen who
get up congresses and write articles are in perfect agreement with

This is the attitude of one set of thinkers.  And since it is that
most beneficial to governments, it is also the most encouraged by
all intelligent governments.

Another attitude to war has something tragical in it.  There are
men who maintain that the love for peace and the inevitability of
war form a hideous contradiction, and that such is the fate of
man.  These are mostly gifted and sensitive men, who see and
realize all the horror and imbecility and cruelty of war, but
through some strange perversion of mind neither see nor seek to
find any way out of this position, and seem to take pleasure in
teasing the wound by dwelling on the desperate position of
humanity.  A notable example of such an attitude to war is to be
found in the celebrated French writer Guy de Maupassant.  Looking
from his yacht at the drill and firing practice of the French
soldiers the following reflections occur to him:

   "When I think only of this word war, a kind of terror seizes
   upon me, as though I were listening to some tale of sorcery, of
   the Inquisition, some long past, remote abomination, monstrous,

   "When cannibalism is spoken of, we smile with pride,
   proclaiming our superiority to these savages.  Which are the
   savages, the real savages?  Those who fight to eat the
   conquered, or those who fight to kill, for nothing but to kill?

   "The young recruits, moving about in lines yonder, are destined
   to death like the flocks of sheep driven by the butcher along
   the road.  They will fall in some plain with a saber cut in the
   head, or a bullet through the breast.  And these are young men
   who might work, be productive and useful.  Their fathers are
   old and poor.  Their mothers, who have loved them for twenty
   years, worshiped them as none but mothers can, will learn in
   six months' time, or a year perhaps, that their son, their boy,
   the big boy reared with so much labor, so much expense, so much
   love, has been thrown in a hole like some dead dog, after being
   disemboweled by a bullet, and trampled, crushed, to a mass of
   pulp by the charges of cavalry.  Why have they killed her boy,
   her handsome boy, her one hope, her pride, her life?  She does
   not know. Ah, why?

   "War! fighting! slaughter! massacres of men!  And we have now,
   in our century, with our civilization, with the spread of
   science, and the degree of philosophy which the genius of man
   is supposed to have attained, schools for training to kill, to
   kill very far off, to perfection, great numbers at once, to
   kill poor devils of innocent men with families and without any
   kind of trial.


   "Ah! we shall always live under the burden of the ancient and
   odious customs, the criminal prejudices, the ferocious ideas of
   our barbarous ancestors, for we are beasts, and beasts we shall
   remain, dominated by instinct and changed by nothing.  Would
   not any other man than Victor Hugo have been exiled for that
   mighty cry of deliverance and truth?  'To-day force is called
   violence, and is being brought to judgment; war has been put on
   its trial.  At the plea of the human race, civilization
   arraigns warfare, and draws up the great list of crimes laid at
   the charge of conquerors and generals.  The nations are coming
   to understand that the magnitude of a crime cannot be its
   extenuation; that if killing is a crime, killing many can be no
   extenuating circumstance; that if robbery is disgraceful,
   invasion cannot be glorious.  Ah! let us proclaim these
   absolute truths; let us dishonor war!'

"Vain wrath," continues Maupassant, "a poet's indignation.  War is
held in more veneration than ever.

   "A skilled proficient in that line, a slaughterer of genius,
   Von Moltke, in reply to the peace delegates, once uttered these
   strange words:

   "'War is holy, war is ordained of God.  It is one of the most
   sacred laws of the world.  It maintains among men all the great
   and noble sentiments--honor, devotion, virtue, and courage, and
   saves them in short from falling into the most hideous

   "So, then, bringing millions of men together into herds,
   marching by day and by night without rest, thinking of nothing,
   studying nothing, learning nothing, reading nothing, being
   useful to no one, wallowing in filth, sleeping in mud, living
   like brutes in a continual state of stupefaction, sacking
   towns, burning villages, ruining whole populations, then
   meeting another mass of human flesh, falling upon them, making
   pools of blood, and plains of flesh mixed with trodden mire and
   red with heaps of corpses, having your arms or legs carried
   off, your brains blown out for no advantage to anyone, and
   dying in some corner of a field while your old parents, your
   wife and children are perishing of hunger--that is what is
   meant by not falling into the most hideous materialism!

   "Warriors are the scourge of the world.  We struggle against
   nature and ignorance and obstacles of all kinds to make our
   wretched life less hard.  Learned men--benefactors of all--spend
   their lives in working, in seeking what can aid, what be
   of use, what can alleviate the lot of their fellows.  They
   devote themselves unsparingly to their task of usefulness,
   making one discovery after another, enlarging the sphere of
   human intelligence, extending the bounds of science, adding
   each day some new store to the sum of knowledge, gaining each
   day prosperity, ease, strength for their country.

   "War breaks out.  In six months the generals have destroyed the
   work of twenty years of effort, of patience, and of genius.

   "That is what is meant by not falling into the most hideous

   "We have seen it, war.  "We have seen men turned to brutes,
   frenzied, killing for fun, for terror, for bravado, for
   ostentation.  Then when right is no more, law is dead, every
   notion of justice has disappeared.  We have seen men shoot
   innocent creatures found on the road, and suspected because
   they were afraid.  We have seen them kill dogs chained at their
   masters' doors to try their new revolvers, we have seen them
   fire on cows lying in a field for no reason whatever, simply
   for the sake of shooting, for a joke.

   "That is what is meant by not falling into the most hideous

   "Going into a country, cutting the man's throat who defends his
   house because he wears a blouse and has not a military cap on
   his head, burning the dwellings of wretched beings who have
   nothing to eat, breaking furniture and stealing goods, drinking
   the wine found in the cellars, violating the women in the
   streets, burning thousands of francs' worth of powder, and
   leaving misery and cholera in one's track--

   "That is what is meant by not falling into the most hideous

   "What have they done, those warriors, that proves the least
   intelligence?  Nothing.  What have they invented?  Cannons and
   muskets.  That is all.

   "What remains to us from Greece?  Books and statues.  Is Greece
   great from her conquests or her creations?

   "Was it the invasions of the Persians which saved Greece from
   falling into the most hideous materialism?

   "Were the invasions of the barbarians what saved and
   regenerated Rome?

   "Was it Napoleon I. who carried forward the great intellectual
   movement started by the philosophers of the end of last

   "Yes, indeed, since government assumes the right of
   annihilating peoples thus, there is nothing surprising in the
   fact that the peoples assume the right of annihilating

   "They defend themselves.  They are right.  No one has an
   absolute right to govern others.  It ought only to be done for
   the benefit of those who are governed.  And it is as much the
   duty of anyone who governs to avoid war as it is the duty of a
   captain of a ship to avoid shipwreck.

   "When a captain has let his ship come to ruin, he is judged and
   condemned, if he is found guilty of negligence or even

   "Why should not the government be put on its trial after every
   declaration of war?  IF THE PEOPLE UNDERSTOOD THAT, IF THEY
   WILL NEVER COME" [Footnote: "Sur l'Eau," pp. 71-80].

The author sees all the horror of war.  He sees that it is caused
by governments forcing men by deception to go out to slaughter and
be slain without any advantage to themselves.  And he sees, too,
that the men who make up the armies could turn their arms against
the governments and bring them to judgment.  But he thinks that
that will never come to pass, and that there is, therefore, no
escape from the present position.

   "I think war is terrible, but that it is inevitable; that
   compulsory military service is as inevitable as death, and that
   since government will always desire it, war will always exist."

So writes this talented and sincere writer, who is endowed with
that power of penetrating to the innermost core of the subjects
which is the essence of the poetic faculty.  He brings before us
all the cruelty of the inconsistency between men's moral sense and
their actions, but without trying to remove it; seems to admit
that this inconsistency must exist and that it is the poetic
tragedy of life.

Another no less gifted writer, Edouard Rod, paints in still more
vivid colors the cruelty and madness of the present state of
things.  He too only aims at presenting its tragic features,
without suggesting or forseeing any issue from the position.

   "What is the good of doing anything?  What is the good of
   undertaking any enterprise?  And how are we to love men in
   these troubled times when every fresh day is a menace of
   danger?... All we have begun, the plans we are developing, our
   schemes of work, the little good we may have been able to do,
   will it not all be swept away by the tempest that is in
   preparation?... Everywhere the earth is shaking under our feet
   and storm-clouds are gathering on our horizon which will have
   no pity on us.

   "Ah! if all we had to dread were the revolution which is held
   up as a specter to terrify us!  Since I cannot imagine a
   society more detestable than ours, I feel more skeptical than
   alarmed in regard to that which will replace it.  If I should
   have to suffer from the change, I should be consoled by
   thinking that the executioners of that day were the victims of
   the previous time, and the hope of something better would help
   us to endure the worst.  But it is not that remote peril which
   frightens me.  I see another danger, nearer and far more cruel;
   more cruel because there is no excuse for it, because it is
   absurd, because it can lead to no good.  Every day one balances
   the chances of war on the morrow, every day they become more

   "The imagination revolts before the catastrophe which is coming
   at the end of our century as the goal of the progress of our
   era, and yet we must get used to facing it.  For twenty years
   past every resource of science has been exhausted in the
   invention of engines of destruction, and soon a few charges of
   cannon will suffice to annihilate a whole army.  No longer a
   few thousands of poor devils, who were paid a price for their
   blood, are kept under arms, but whole nations are under arms to
   cut each other's throats.  They are robbed of their time now
   (by compulsory service) that they may be robbed of their lives
   later.  To prepare them for the work of massacre, their hatred
   is kindled by persuading them that they are hated.  And
   peaceable men let themselves be played on thus and go and fall
   on one another with the ferocity of wild beasts; furious troops
   of peaceful citizens taking up arms at an empty word of
   command, for some ridiculous question of frontiers or colonial
   trade interests--Heaven only knows what... They will go like
   sheep to the slaughter, knowing all the while where they are
   going, knowing that they are leaving their wives, knowing
   that their children will want for food, full of misgivings, yet
   intoxicated by the fine-sounding lies that are dinned into
   barbarous trickery of diplomacy.  They will march to battle so
   deluded, so duped, that they will believe slaughter to be a
   duty, and will ask the benediction of God on their lust for
   blood.  They will march to battle trampling underfoot the
   harvests they have sown, burning the towns they have built--with
   songs of triumph, festive music, and cries of jubilation.
   And their sons will raise statues to those who have done most
   in their slaughter.

   "The destiny of a whole generation depends on the hour in which
   some ill-fated politician may give the signal that will be
   followed.  We know that the best of us will be cut down and our
   work will be destroyed in embryo.  WE KNOW IT AND TREMBLE WITH
   RAGE, BUT WE CAN DO NOTHING.  We are held fast in the toils of
   officialdom and red tape, and too rude a shock would be needed
   to set us free.  We are enslaved by the laws we set up for our
   protection, which have become our oppression.  WE ARE BUT THE

   "And if it were only a generation that must be sacrificed!  But
   there are graver interests at stake.

   "The paid politicians, the ambitious statesmen, who exploit the
   evil passions of the populace, and the imbeciles who are
   deluded by fine-sounding phrases, have so embittered national
   feuds that the existence of a whole race will be at stake in
   the war of the morrow. One of the elements that constitute the
   modern world is threatened, the conquered people will be wiped
   out of existence, and whichever it may be, we shall see a moral
   force annihilated, as if there were too many forces to work for
   good--we shall have a new Europe formed on foundations so
   unjust, so brutal, so sanguinary, stained with so monstrous a
   crime, that it cannot but be worse than the Europe of to-day--more
   iniquitous, more barbarous, more violent.

   "Thus one feels crushed under the weight of an immense
   discouragement.  We are struggling in a CUL DE SAC with muskets
   aimed at us from the housetops.  Our labor is like that of
   sailors executing their last task as the ship begins to sink.
    Our pleasures are those of the condemned victim, who is
   offered his choice of dainties a quarter of an hour before his
   execution.  Thought is paralyzed by anguish, and the most it is
   capable of is to calculate--interpreting the vague phrases of
   ministers, spelling out the sense of the speeches of
   sovereigns, and ruminating on the words attributed to
   diplomatists reported on the uncertain authority of the
   newspapers--whether it is to be to-morrow or the day after,
   this year or the next, that we are to be murdered.  So that one
   might seek in vain in history an epoch more insecure, more
   crushed under the weight of suffering" [footnote: "Le Sens de
   la Vie," pp. 208-13].

Here it is pointed out that the force is in the hands of those who
work their own destruction, in the hands of the individual men who
make up the masses; it is pointed out that the source of the evil
is the government.  It would seem evident that the contradiction
between life and conscience had reached the limit beyond which it
cannot go, and after reaching this limit some solution of it must
be found.

But the author does not think so.  He sees in this the tragedy of
human life, and after depicting all the horror of the position he
concludes that human life must be spent in the midst of this

So much for the attitude to war of those who regard it as
something tragic and fated by destiny.

The third category consists of men who have lost all conscience
and, consequently, all common sense and feeling of humanity.

To this category belongs Moltke, whose opinion has been quoted
above by Maupassant, and the majority of military men, who have
been educated in this cruel superstition, live by it, and
consequently are often in all simplicity convinced that war is not
only an inevitable, but even a necessary and beneficial thing.
This is also the view of some civilians, so-called educated and
cultivated people.

Here is what the celebrated academician Camille Doucet writes in
reply to the editor of the REVUE DES REVUES, where several letters
on war were published together:

   "Dear Sir: When you ask the least warlike of academicians
   whether he is a partisan of war, his answer is known

   "Alas! sir, you yourself speak of the pacific ideal inspiring
   your generous compatriots as a dream.

   "During my life I have heard a great many good people protest
   against this frightful custom of international butchery, which
   all admit and deplore; but how is it to be remedied?

   "Often, too, there have been attempts to suppress dueling; one
   would fancy that seemed an easy task: but not at all!  All that
   has been done hitherto with that noble object has never been
   and never will be of use.

   "All the congresses of both hemispheres may vote against war,
   and against dueling too, but above all arbitrations,
   conventions, and legislations there will always be the personal
   honor of individual men, which has always demanded dueling, and
   the interests of nations, which will always demand war.

   "I wish none the less from the depths of my heart that the
   Congress of Universal Peace may succeed at last in its very
   honorable and difficult enterprise.

   "I am, dear sir, etc.,

The upshot of this is that personal honor requires men to fight,
and the interests of nations require them to ruin and exterminate
each other.  As for the efforts to abolish war, they call for
nothing but a smile.

The opinion of another well-known academician, Jules Claretie, is
of the same kind.

   "Dear Sir [he writes]: For a man of sense there can be but one
   opinion on the subject of peace and war.

   "Humanity is created to live, to live free, to perfect and
   ameliorate its fate by peaceful labor.  The general harmony
   preached by the Universal Peace Congress is but a dream
   perhaps, but at least it is the fairest of all dreams.  Man is
   always looking toward the Promised Land, and there the harvests
   are to ripen with no fear of their being torn up by shells or
   crushed by cannon wheels... But!  Ah! but----since philosophers
   and philanthropists are not the controlling powers, it is well
   for our soldiers to guard our frontier and homes, and their
   arms, skillfully used, are perhaps the surest guarantee of the
   peace we all love.

   "Peace is a gift only granted to the strong and the resolute.

   "I am, dear sir, etc.,

The upshot of this letter is that there is no harm in talking
about what no one intends or feels obliged to do.  But when it
comes to practice, we must fight.

And here now is the view lately expressed by the most popular
novelist in Europe, Émile Zola:

   "I regard war as a fatal necessity, which appears inevitable
   for us from its close connection with human nature and the
   whole constitution of the world.  I should wish that war could
   be put off for the longest possible time.  Nevertheless, the
   moment will come when we shall be forced to go to war.  I am
   considering it at this moment from the standpoint of universal
   humanity, and making no reference to our misunderstanding with
   Germany--a most trivial incident in the history of mankind.  I
   say that war is necessary and beneficial, since it seems one of
   the conditions of existence for humanity.  War confronts us
   everywhere, not only war between different races and peoples,
   but war too, in private and family life.  It seems one of the
   principal elements of progress, and every step in advance that
   humanity has taken hitherto has been attended by bloodshed.

   "Men have talked, and still talk, of disarmament, while
   disarmament is something impossible, to which, even if it were
   possible, we ought not to consent.  I am convinced that a
   general disarmament throughout the world would involve
   something like a moral decadence, which would show itself in
   general feebleness, and would hinder the progressive
   advancement of humanity.  A warlike nation has always been
   strong and flourishing.  The art of war has led to the
   development of all the other arts.  History bears witness to
   it.  So in Athens and in Rome, commerce, manufactures, and
   literature never attained so high a point of development as
   when those cities were masters of the whole world by force of
   arms.  To take an example from times nearer our own, we may
   recall the age of Louis XIV.  The wars of the Grand Monarque
   were not only no hindrance to the progress of the arts and
   sciences, but even, on the contrary, seem to have promoted and
   favored their development."

So war is a beneficial thing!

But the best expression of this attitude is the view of the most
gifted of the writers of this school, the academician de Vogüé.
This is what he writes in an article on the Military Section of
the Exhibition of 1889:

   "On the Esplanade des Invalides, among the exotic and colonial
   encampments, a building in a more severe style overawes the
   picturesque bazaar; all these fragments of the globe have come
   to gather round the Palace of War, and in turn our guests mount
   guard submissively before the mother building, but for whom
   they would not be here.  Fine subject for the antithesis of
   rhetoric, of humanitarians who could not fail to whimper over
   this juxtaposition, and to say that 'CECI TUERA CELA,'
   [footnote: Phrase quoted from Victor-Hugo, "Notre-Dame de
   Paris."] that the union of the nations through science and
   labor will overcome the instinct of war.  Let us leave them to
   cherish the chimera of a golden age, which would soon become,
   if it could be realized, an age of mud.  All history teaches us
   that the one is created for the other, that blood is needed to
   hasten and cement the union of the nations.  Natural science
   has ratified in our day the mysterious law revealed to Joseph
   de Maistre by the intuition of his genius and by meditation on
   fundamental truths; he saw the world redeeming itself from
   hereditary degenerations by sacrifice; science shows it
   advancing to perfection through struggle and violent selection;
   there is the statement of the same law in both, expressed in
   different formulas.  The statement is disagreeable, no doubt;
   but the laws of the world are not made for our pleasure, they
   are made for our progress.  Let us enter this inevitable,
   necessary palace of war; we shall be able to observe there how
   the most tenacious of our instincts, without losing any of its
   vigor, is transformed and adapted to the varying exigencies of
   historical epochs."

M. de Vogüé finds the necessity for war, according to his views,
well expressed by the two great writers, Joseph de Maistre and
Darwin, whose statements he likes so much that he quotes them

   "Dear Sir [he writes to the editor of the REVUE DES REVUES]:
   You ask me my view as to the possible success of the Universal
   Congress of Peace.  I hold with Darwin that violent struggle is
   a law of nature which overrules all other laws; I hold with
   Joseph de Maistre that it is a divine law; two different ways
   of describing the same thing.  If by some impossible chance a
   fraction of human society--all the civilized West, let us
   suppose--were to succeed in suspending the action of this law,
   some races of stronger instincts would undertake the task of
   putting it into action against us: those races would vindicate
   nature's reasoning against human reason; they would be
   successful, because the certainty of peace--I do not say PEACE,
   I say the CERTAINTY OF PEACE--would, in half a century,
   engender a corruption and a decadence more destructive for
   mankind than the worst of wars.  I believe that we must do with
   war--the criminal law of humanity--as with all our criminal
   laws, that is, soften them, put them in force as rarely as
   possible; use every effort to make their application
   unnecessary.  But all the experience of history teaches us that
   they cannot be altogether suppressed so long as two men are
   left on earth, with bread, money, and a woman between them.

   "I should be very happy if the Congress would prove me in
   error. But I doubt if it can prove history, nature, and God in
   error also.

   "I am, dear sir, etc.
   "E. M. DE VOGÜÉ."

This amounts to saying that history, human nature, and God show us that
so long as there are two men, and bread, money and a woman--there will
be war. That is to say that no progress will lead men to rise above the
savage conception of life, which regards no participation of bread,
money (money is good in this context) and woman possible without

They are strange people, these men who assemble in Congresses, and
make speeches to show us how to catch birds by putting salt on
their tails, though they must know it is impossible to do it.  And
amazing are they too, who, like Maupassant, Rod, and many others,
see clearly all the horror of war, all the inconsistency of men
not doing what is needful, right, and beneficial for them to do;
who lament over the tragedy of life, and do not see that the whole
tragedy is at an end directly men, ceasing to take account of any
unnecessary considerations, refuse to do what is hateful and
disastrous to them.  They are amazing people truly, but those who,
like De Vogüé and others, who, professing the doctrine of
evolution, regard war as not only inevitable, but beneficial and
therefore desirable--they are terrible, hideous, in their moral
perversion.  The others, at least, say that they hate evil, and
love good, but these openly declare that good and evil do not

All discussion of the possibility of re-establishing peace instead
of everlasting war--is the pernicious sentimentality of
phrasemongers.  There is a law of evolution by which it follows
that I must live and act in an evil way; what is to be done?  I am
an educated man, I know the law of evolution, and therefore I will
act in an evil way.  "ENTRONS AU PALAIS DE LA GUERRE."  There is
the law of evolution, and therefore there is neither good nor
evil, and one must live for the sake of one's personal existence,
leaving the rest to the action of the law of evolution.  This is
the last word of refined culture, and with it, of that
overshadowing of conscience which has come upon the educated
classes of our times.  The desire of the educated classes to
support the ideas they prefer, and the order of existence based on
them, has attained its furthest limits. They lie, and delude
themselves, and one another, with the subtlest forms of deception,
simply to obscure, to deaden conscience.

Instead of transforming their life into harmony with their
conscience, they try by every means to stifle its voice.  But
it is in darkness that the light begins to shine, and so the
light is rising upon our epoch.



Universal Compulsory Service is not a Political Accident, but the
Furthest Limit of the Contradiction Inherent in the Social Conception of
Life--Origin of Authority in Society--Basis of Authority is Physical
Violence--To be Able to Perform its Acts of Violence Authority Needs a
Special Organization--The Army--Authority, that is, Violence, is the
Principle which is Destroying the Social Conception of Life--Attitude of
Authority to the Masses, that is, Attitude of Government to Working
Oppressed Classes--Governments Try to Foster in Working Classes the Idea
that State Force is Necessary to Defend Them from External Enemies--But
the Army is Principally Needed to Preserve Government from its own
Subjects--The Working Classes--Speech of M. de Caprivi--All Privileges
of Ruling Classes Based on Violence--The Increase of Armies up to Point
of Universal Service--Universal Compulsory Service Destroys all the
Advantages of Social Life, which Government is Intended to
Preserve--Compulsory Service is the Furthest Limit of Submission, since
in Name of the State it Requires Sacrifice of all that can be Precious
to a Man--Is Government Necessary?--The Sacrifices Demanded by
Government in Compulsory Service have No Longer any Reasonable
Basis--And there is More Advantage to be Gained by not Submitting to the
Demands of the State than by Submitting to Them.

Educated people of the upper classes are trying to stifle the
ever-growing sense of the necessity of transforming the existing
social order.  But life, which goes on growing more complex, and
developing in the same direction, and increases the
inconsistencies and the sufferings of men, brings them to the
limit beyond which they cannot go.  This furthest limit of
inconsistency is universal compulsory military service.

It is usually supposed that universal military service and the
increased armaments connected with it, as well as the resulting
increase of taxes and national debts, are a passing phenomenon,
produced by the particular political situation of Europe, and that
it may be removed by certain political combinations without any
modification of the inner order of life.

This is absolutely incorrect.  Universal military service is only
the internal inconsistency inherent in the social conception of
life, carried to its furthest limits, and becoming evident when a
certain stage of material development is reached.

The social conception of life, we have seen, consists in the
transfer of the aim of life from the individual to groups and
their maintenance--to the tribe, family, race, or state.

In the social conception of life it is supposed that since the aim
of life is found in groups of individuals, individuals will
voluntarily sacrifice their own interests for the interests of the
group.  And so it has been, and still is, in fact, in certain
groups, the distinction being that they are the most primitive
forms of association in the family or tribe or race, or even in
the patriarchal state.  Through tradition handed down by education
and supported by religious sentiment, individuals without
compulsion merged their interests in the interest of the group and
sacrificed their own good for the general welfare.

But the more complex and the larger societies become, and
especially the more often conquest becomes the cause of the
amalgamation of people into a state, the more often individuals
strive to attain their own aims at the public expense, and the
more often it becomes necessary to restrain these insubordinate
individuals by recourse to authority, that is, to violence.  The
champions of the social conception of life usually try to connect
the idea of authority, that is, of violence, with the idea of
moral influence, but this connection is quite impossible.

The effect of moral influence on a man is to change his desires
and to bend them in the direction of the duty required of him.
The man who is controlled by moral influence acts in accordance
with his own desires.  Authority, in the sense in which the word
is ordinarily understood, is a means of forcing a man to act in
opposition to his desires.  The man who submits to authority does
not do as he chooses but as he is obliged by authority.  Nothing
can oblige a man to do what he does not choose except physical
force, or the threat of it, that is--deprivation of freedom,
blows, imprisonment, or threats--easily carried out--of such
punishments.  This is what authority consists of and always has
consisted of.

In spite of the unceasing efforts of those who happen to be in authority
to conceal this and attribute some other significance to it, authority
has always meant for man the cord, the chain with which he is bound and
fettered, or the knout with which he is to be flogged, or the ax with
which he is to have hands, ears, nose, or head cut off, or at the very
least, the threat of these terrors. So it was under Nero and Ghenghis
Khan, and so it is to-day, even under the most liberal government in the
Republics of the United States or of France. If men submit to authority,
it is only because they are liable to these punishments in case of
non-submission. All state obligations, payment of taxes, fulfillment of
state duties, and submission to punishments, exile, fines, etc., to
which people appear to submit voluntarily, are always based on bodily
violence or the threat of it.

The basis of authority is bodily violence. The possibility of
applying bodily violence to people is provided above all by an
organization of armed men, trained to act in unison in submission
to one will.  These bands of armed men, submissive to a single
will, are what constitute the army.  The army has always been and
still is the basis of power.  Power is always in the hands of
those who control the army, and all men in power--from the Roman
Caesars to the Russian and German Emperors--take more interest in
their army than in anything, and court popularity in the army,
knowing that if that is on their side their power is secure.

The formation and aggrandizement of the army, indispensable to the
maintenance of authority, is what has introduced into the social
conception of life the principle that is destroying it.

The object of authority and the justification for its existence
lie in the restraint of those who aim at attaining their personal
interests to the detriment of the interests of society.

But however power has been gained, those who possess it are in no
way different from other men, and therefore no more disposed than
others to subordinate their own interests to those of the society.
On the contrary, having the power to do so at their disposal, they
are more disposed than others to subordinate the public interests
to their own.  Whatever means men have devised for preventing
those in authority from over-riding public interests for their own
benefit, or for intrusting power only to the most faultless
people, they have not so far succeeded in either of those aims.

All the methods of appointing authorities that have been tried,
divine right, and election, and heredity, and balloting, and
assemblies and parliaments and senate--have all proved
ineffectual.  Everyone knows that not one of these methods attains
the aim either of intrusting power only to the incorruptible, or
of preventing power from being abused.  Everyone knows on the
contrary that men in authority--be they emperors, ministers,
governors, or police officers--are always, simply from the
possession of power, more liable to be demoralized, that is, to
subordinate public interests to their personal aims than those who
have not the power to do so.  Indeed, it could not be otherwise.

The state conception of life could be justified only so long as
all men voluntarily sacrificed their personal interests to the
public welfare.  But so soon as there were individuals who would
not voluntarily sacrifice their own interests, and authority, that
is, violence, was needed to restrain them, then the disintegrating
principle of the coercion of one set of people by another set
entered into the social conception of the organization based on

For the authority of one set of men over another to attain its
object of restraining those who override public interests for
their personal ends, power ought only to be put into the hands of
the impeccable, as it is supposed to be among the Chinese, and as
it was supposed to be in the Middle Ages, and is even now supposed
to be by those who believe in the consecration by anointing.  Only
under those conditions could the social organization be justified.

But since this is not the case, and on the contrary men in power
are always far from being saints, through the very fact of their
possession of power, the social organization based on power has no

Even if there was once a time when, owing to the low standard of
morals, and the disposition of men to violence, the existence of
an authority to restrain such violence was an advantage, because
the violence of government was less than the violence of
individuals, one cannot but see that this advantage could not be
lasting.  As the disposition of individuals to violence
diminished, and as the habits of the people became more civilized,
and as power grew more social organization demoralized through
lack of restraint, this advantage disappeared.

The whole history of the last two thousand years is nothing but
the history of this gradual change of relation between the moral
development of the masses on the one hand and the demoralization
of governments on the other.

This, put simply, is how it has come to pass.

Men lived in families, tribes, and races, at feud with one
another, plundering, outraging, and killing one another.  These
violent hostilities were carried on on a large and on a small
scale: man against man, family against family, tribe against
tribe, race against race, and people against people.  The larger
and stronger groups conquered and absorbed the weaker, and the
larger and stronger they became, the more internal feuds
disappeared and the more the continuity of the group seemed

The members of a family or tribe, united into one community, are
less hostile among themselves, and families and tribes do not die
like one man, but have a continuity of existence.  Between the
members of one state, subject to a single authority, the strife
between individuals seems still less and the life of the state
seems even more secure.

Their association into larger and larger groups was not the result
of the conscious recognition of the benefits of such associations,
as it is said to be in the story of the Varyagi.  It was produced,
on one hand, by the natural growth of population, and, on the
other, by struggle and conquest.

After conquest the power of the emperor puts an end to internal
dissensions, and so the state conception of life justifies itself.
But this justification is never more than temporary.  Internal
dissensions disappear only in proportion to the degree of
oppression exerted by the authority over the dissentient
individuals.  The violence of internal feud crushed by authority
reappears in authority itself, which falls into the hands of men
who, like the rest, are frequently or always ready to sacrifice
the public welfare to their personal interest, with the difference
that their subjects cannot resist them, and thus they are exposed
to all the demoralizing influence of authority.  And thus the evil
of violence, when it passes into the hands of authority, is always
growing and growing, and in time becomes greater than the evil it
is supposed to suppress, while, at the same time, the tendency to
violence in the members of the society becomes weaker and weaker,
so that the violence of authority is less and less needed.

Government authority, even if it does suppress private violence,
always introduces into the life of men fresh forms of violence,
which tend to become greater and greater in proportion to the
duration and strength of the government.

So that though the violence of power is less noticeable in
government than when it is employed by members of society against
one another, because it finds expression in submission, and not in
strife, it nevertheless exists, and often to a greater degree than
in former days.

And it could not be otherwise, since, apart from the demoralizing
influence of power, the policy or even the unconscious tendency of
those in power will always be to reduce their subjects to the
extreme of weakness, for the weaker the oppressed, the less effort
need be made to keep him in subjection.

And therefore the oppression of the oppressed always goes on
growing up to the furthest limit, beyond which it cannot go
without killing the goose with the golden eggs.  And if the goose
lays no more eggs, like the American Indians, negroes, and
Fijians, then it is killed in spite of the sincere protests of

The most convincing example of this is to be found in the
condition of the working classes of our epoch, who are in reality
no better than the slaves of ancient times subdued by conquest.

In spite of the pretended efforts of the higher classes to
ameliorate the position of the workers, all the working classes of
the present day are kept down by the inflexible iron law by which
they only get just what is barely necessary, so that they are
forced to work without ceasing while still retaining strength
enough to labor for their employers, who are really those who have
conquered and enslaved them.

So it has always been.  In ratio to the duration and increasing
strength of authority its advantages for its subjects disappear
and its disadvantages increase.

And this has been so, independently of the forms of government
under which nations have lived. The only difference is that under
a despotic form of government the authority is concentrated in a
small number of oppressors and violence takes a cruder form; under
constitutional monarchies and republics as in France and America
authority is divided among a great number of oppressors and the
forms assumed by violence is less crude, but its effect of making
the disadvantages of authority greater than its advantages, and of
enfeebling the oppressed to the furthest extreme to which they can
be reduced with advantage to the oppressors, remains always the

Such has been and still is the condition of all the oppressed, but
hitherto they have not recognized the fact. In the majority of instances
they have believed in all simplicity that governments exist for their
benefit; that they would be lost without a government; that the very
idea of living without a government is a blasphemy which one hardly dare
put into words; that this is the--for some reason terrible--doctrine of
anarchism, with which a mental picture of all kinds of horrors is

People have believed, as though it were something fully proved,
and so needing no proof, that since all nations have hitherto
developed in the form of states, that form of organization is an
indispensable condition of the development of humanity.

And in that way it has lasted for hundreds and thousands of years,
and governments--those who happened to be in power--have tried it,
and are now trying more zealously than ever to keep their subjects
in this error.

So it was under the Roman emperors and so it is now.  In spite of
the fact that the sense of the uselessness and even injurious
effects of state violence is more and more penetrating into men's
consciousness, things might have gone on in the same way forever
if governments were not under the necessity of constantly
increasing their armies in order to maintain their power.

It is generally supposed that governments strengthen their forces
only to defend the state from other states, in oblivion of the
fact that armies are necessary, before all things, for the defense
of governments from their own oppressed and enslaved subjects.

That has always been necessary, and has become more and more
necessary with the increased diffusion of education among the
masses, with the improved communication between people of the same
and of different nationalities.  It has become particularly
indispensable now in the face of communism, socialism, anarchism,
and the labor movement generally.  Governments feel that it is so,
and strengthen the force of their disciplined armies. [See

    [Footnote: The fact that in America the abuses of
    authority exist in spite of the small number of their
    troops not only fails to disprove this position,
    but positively confirms it.  In America there are
    fewer soldiers than in other states.  That is why
    there is nowhere else so little oppression of the
    working classes, and no country where the end of the
    abuses of government and of government itself seems
    so near.  Of late as the combinations of laborers
    gain in strength, one hears more and more frequently
    the cry raised for the increase of the army, though
    the United States are not threatened with any attack
    from without.  The upper classes know that an army of
    fifty thousand will soon be insufficient, and no longer
    relying on Pinkerton's men, they feel that the security
    of their position depends on the increased strength of
    the army.]

In the German Reichstag not long ago, in reply to a question why funds
were needed for raising the salaries of the under-officers, the German
Chancellor openly declared that trustworthy under-officers were
necessary to contend against socialism. Caprivi only said aloud what
every statesman knows and assiduously conceals from the people. The
reason to which he gave expression is essentially the same as that which
made the French kings and the popes engage Swiss and Scotch guards, and
makes the Russian authorities of to-day so carefully distribute the
recruits, so that the regiments from the frontiers are stationed in
central districts, and the regiments from the center are stationed on
the frontiers. The meaning of Caprivi's speech, put into plain language,
is that funds are needed, not to resist foreign foes, but to BUY
UNDER-OFFICERS to be ready to act against the enslaved toiling masses.

Caprivi incautiously gave utterance to what everyone knows
perfectly well, or at least feels vaguely if he does not recognize
it, that is, that the existing order of life is as it is, not, as
would be natural and right, because the people wish it to be so,
but because it is so maintained by state violence, by the army
with its BOUGHT UNDER-OFFICERS and generals.

If the laborer has no land, if he cannot use the natural right of
every man to derive subsistence for himself and his family out of
the land, that is not because the people wish it to be so, but
because a certain set of men, the land-owners, have appropriated
the right of giving or refusing admittance to the land to the
laborers.  And this abnormal order of things is maintained by the
army.  If the immense wealth produced by the labor of the working
classes is not regarded as the property of all, but as the
property of a few exceptional persons; if labor is taxed by
authority and the taxes spent by a few on what they think fit; if
strikes on the part of laborers are repressesd, while on the part
of capitalists they are encouraged; if certain persons appropriate
the right of choosing the form of the education, religious and
secular, of children, and certain persons monopolize the right of
making the laws all must obey, and so dispose of the lives and
properties of other people--all this is not done because the
people wish it and because it is what is natural and right, but
because the government and ruling classes wish this to be so for
their own benefit, and insist on its being so even by physical

Everyone, if he does not recognize this now, will know that it is
so at the first attempt at insubordination or at a revolution of
the existing order.

Armies, then, are needed by governments and by the ruling classes
above all to support the present order, which, far from being the
result of the people's needs, is often in direct antagonism to
them, and is only beneficial to the government and ruling classes.

To keep their subjects in oppression and to be able to enjoy the
fruits of their labor the government must have armed forces.

But there is not only one government.  There are other
governments, exploiting their subjects by violence in the same
way, and always ready to pounce down on any other government and
carry off the fruits of the toil of its enslaved subjects.  And so
every government needs an army also to protect its booty from its
neighbor brigands.  Every government is thus involuntarily reduced
to the necessity of emulating one another in the increase of their
armies.  This increase is contagious, as Montesquieu pointed out
150 years ago.

Every increase in the army of one state, with the aim of
self-defense against its subjects, becomes a source of danger for
neighboring states and calls for a similar increase in their

The armed forces have reached their present number of millions not
only through the menace of danger from neighboring states, but
principally through the necessity of subduing every effort at
revolt on the part of the subjects.

Both causes, mutually dependent, contribute to the same result at
once; troops are required against internal forces and also to keep
up a position with other states.  One is the result of the other.
The despotism of a government always increases with the strength
of the army and its external successes, and the aggressiveness of
a government increases with its internal despotism.

The rivalry of the European states in constantly increasing their
forces has reduced them to the necessity of having recourse to
universal military service, since by that means the greatest
possible number of soldiers is obtained at the least possible
expense.  Germany first hit on this device.  And directly one
state adopted it the others were obliged to do the same.  And by
this means all citizens are under arms to support the iniquities
practiced upon them; all citizens have become their own

Universal military service was an inevitable logical necessity, to
which we were bound to come.  But it is also the last expression
of the inconsistency inherent in the social conception of life,
when violence is needed to maintain it.  This inconsistency has
become obvious in universal military service.  In fact, the whole
significance of the social conception of life consists in man's
recognition of the barbarity of strife between individuals, and
the transitoriness of personal life itself, and the transference
of the aim of life to groups of persons.  But with universal
military service it comes to pass that men, after making every
sacrifice to get rid of the cruelty of strife and the insecurity
of existence, are called upon to face all the perils they had
meant to avoid.  And in addition to this the state, for whose sake
individuals renounced their personal advantages, is exposed again
to the same risks of insecurity and lack of permanence as the
individual himself was in previous times.

Governments were to give men freedom from the cruelty of personal
strife and security in the permanence of the state order of
existence.  But instead of doing that they expose the individuals
to the same necessity of strife, substituting strife with
individuals of other states for strife with neighbors.  And the
danger of destruction for the individual, and the state too, they
leave just as it was.

Universal military service may be compared to the efforts of a man
to prop up his falling house who so surrounds it and fills it with
props and buttresses and planks and scaffolding that he manages to
keep the house standing only by making it impossible to live in

In the same way universal military service destroys all the
benefits of the social order of life which it is employed to

The advantages of social organization are security of property and labor
and associated action for the improvement of existence--universal
military service destroys all this.

The taxes raised from the people for war preparations absorb the greater
part of the produce of labor which the army ought to defend.

The withdrawing of all men from the ordinary course of life
destroys the possibility of labor itself. The danger of war, ever
ready to break out, renders all reforms of life social life vain
and fruitless.

In former days if a man were told that if he did not acknowledge
the authority of the state, he would be exposed to attack from
enemies domestic and foreign, that he would have to resist them
alone, and would be liable to be killed, and that therefore it
would be to his advantage to put up with some hardships to secure
himself from these calamities, he might well believe it, seeing
that the sacrifices he made to the state were only partial and
gave him the hope of a tranquil existence in a permanent state.
But now, when the sacrifices have been increased tenfold and
the promised advantages are disappearing, it would be a natural
reflection that submission to authority is absolutely useless.

But the fatal significance of universal military service, as the
manifestation of the contradiction inherent in the social
conception of life, is not only apparent in that.  The greatest
manifestation of this contradiction consists in the fact that
every citizen in being made a soldier becomes a prop of the
government organization, and shares the responsibility of
everything the government does, even though he may not admit its

Governments assert that armies are needed above all for external
defense, but that is not true.  They are needed principally
against their subjects, and every man, under universal military
service, becomes an accomplice in all the acts of violence of the
government against the citizens without any choice of his own.

To convince oneself of this one need only remember what things are
done in every state, in the name of order and the public welfare,
of which the execution always falls to the army.  All civil
outbreaks for dynastic or other party reasons, all the executions
that follow on such disturbances, all repression of insurrections,
and military intervention to break up meetings and to suppress
strikes, all forced extortion of taxes, all the iniquitous
distributions of land, all the restrictions on labor--are either
carried out directly by the military or by the police with the
army at their back.  Anyone who serves his time in the army shares
the responsibility of all these things, about which he is, in some
cases, dubious, while very often they are directly opposed to his
conscience.  People are unwilling to be turned out of the land
they have cultivated for generations, or they are unwilling to
disperse when the government authority orders them, or they are
unwilling to pay the taxes required of them, or to recognize laws
as binding on them when they have had no hand in making them, or
to be deprived of their nationality--and I, in the fulfillment of
my military duty, must go and shoot them for it.  How can I help
asking myself when I take part in such punishments, whether they
are just, and whether I ought to assist in carrying them out?

Universal service is the extreme limit of violence necessary for
the support of the whole state organization, and it is the extreme
limit to which submission on the part of the subjects can go.  It
is the keystone of the whole edifice, and its fall will bring it
all down.

The time has come when the ever-growing abuse of power by governments
and their struggles with one another has led to their demanding such
material and even moral sacrifices from their subjects that everyone is
forced to reflect and ask himself, "Can I make these sacrifices? And for
the sake of what am I making them? I am expected for the sake of the
state to make these sacrifices, to renounce everything that can be
precious to man--peace, family, security, and human dignity." What is
this state, for whose sake such terrible sacrifices have to be made? And
why is it so indispensably necessary? "The state," they tell us, "is
indispensably needed, in the first place, because without it we should
not be protected against the attacks of evil-disposed persons; and
secondly, except for the state we should be savages and should have
neither religion, culture, education, nor commerce, nor means of
communication, nor other social institutions; and thirdly, without the
state to defend us we should be liable to be conquered and enslaved by
neighboring peoples."

"Except for the state," they say, "we should be exposed to the
attacks of evil-disposed persons in our own country."

But who are these evil-disposed persons in our midst from whose attacks
we are preserved by the state and its army? Even if, three or four
centuries ago, when men prided themselves on their warlike prowess, when
killing men was considered an heroic achievement, there were such
persons; we know very well that there are no such persons now, that we
do not nowadays carry or use firearms, but everyone professes humane
principles and feels sympathy for his fellows, and wants nothing more
than we all do--that is, to be left in peace to enjoy his existence
undisturbed. So that nowadays there are no special malefactors from whom
the state could defend us. If by these evil disposed persons is meant
the men who are punished as criminals, we know very well that they are
not a different kind of being like wild beasts among sheep, but are men
just like ourselves, and no more naturally inclined to crimes than those
against whom they commit them. We know now that threats and punishments
cannot diminish their number; that that can only be done by change of
environment and moral influence. So that the justification of state
violence on the ground of the protection it gives us from evil-disposed
persons, even if it had some foundation three or four centuries ago, has
none whatever now. At present one would rather say on the contrary that
the action of the state with its cruel methods of punishment, behind the
general moral standard of the age, such as prisons, galleys, gibbets,
and guillotines, tends rather to brutalize the people than to civilize
them, and consequently rather to increase than diminish the number of

"Except for the state," they tell us, "we should not have any
religion, education, culture, means of communication, and so on.
Without the state men would not have been able to form the social
institutions needed for doing any thing."  This argument too was
well founded only some centuries ago.

If there was a time when people were so disunited, when they had
so little means of communication and interchange of ideas, that
they could not co-operate and agree together in any common action
in commerce, economics, or education without the state as a
center, this want of common action exists no longer.  The great
extension of means of communication and interchange of ideas has
made men completely able to dispense with state aid in forming
societies, associations, corporations, and congresses for
scientific, economic, and political objects.  Indeed government is
more often an obstacle than an assistance in attaining these aims.

From the end of last century there has hardly been a single
progressive movement of humanity which has not been retarded by
the government.  So it has been with abolition of corporal
punishment, of trial by torture, and of slavery, as well as with
the establishment of the liberty of the press and the right of
public meeting.  In our day governments not only fail to
encourage, but directly hinder every movement by which people try
to work out new forms of life for themselves.  Every attempt at
the solution of the problems of labor, land, politics, and
religion meets with direct opposition on the part of government.

"Without governments nations would be enslaved by their
neighbors."  It is scarcely necessary to refute this last
argument.  It carries its refutation on the face of it.  The
government, they tell us, with its army, is necessary to defend us
from neighboring states who might enslave us.  But we know this is
what all governments say of one another, and yet we know that all
the European nations profess the same principles of liberty and
fraternity, and therefore stand in no need of protection against
one another.  And if defense against barbarous nations is meant,
one-thousandth part of the troops now under arms would be amply
sufficient for that purpose.  We see that it is really the very
opposite of what we have been told.  The power of the state, far
from being a security against the attacks of our neighbors,
exposes us, on the contrary, to much greater danger of such
attacks.  So that every man who is led, through his compulsory
service in the army, to reflect on the value of the state for
whose sake he is expected to be ready to sacrifice his peace,
security, and life, cannot fail to perceive that there is no kind
of justification in modern times for such a sacrifice.

And it is not only from the theoretical standpoint that every man
must see that the sacrifices demanded by the state have no
justification.  Even looking at it practically, weighing, that is
to say, all the burdens laid on him by the state, no man can fail
to see that for him personally to comply with state demands and
serve in the army, would, in the majority of cases, be more
disadvantageous than to refuse to do so.

If the majority of men choose to submit rather than to refuse, it
is not the result of sober balancing of advantages and
disadvantages, but because they are induced by a kind of
hypnotizing process practiced upon them.  In submitting they
simply yield to the suggestions given them as orders, without
thought or effort of will.  To resist would need independent
thought and effort of which every man is not capable.  Even apart
from the moral significance of compliance or non-compliance,
considering material advantage only, non-compliance will be more
advantageous in general.

Whoever I may be, whether I belong to the well-to-do class of the
oppressors, or the working class of the oppressed, in either case
the disadvantages of non-compliance are less and its advantages
greater than those of compliance.  If I belong to the minority of
oppressors the disadvantages of non-compliance will consist in my
being brought to judgment for refusing to perform my duties to the
state, and if I am lucky, being acquitted or, as is done in the
case of the Mennonites in Russia, being set to work out my
military service at some civil occupation for the state; while if
I am unlucky, I may be condemned to exile or imprisonment for two
or three years (I judge by the cases that have occurred in
Russia), possibly to even longer imprisonment, or possibly to
death, though the probability of that latter is very remote.

So much for the disadvantages of non-compliance.  The
disadvantages of compliance will be as follows: if I am lucky I
shall not be sent to murder my fellow-creatures, and shall not be
exposed to great danger of being maimed and killed, but shall only
be enrolled into military slavery.  I shall be dressed up like a
clown, I shall be at the beck and call of every man of a higher
grade than my own from corporal to field-marshal, shall be put
through any bodily contortions at their pleasure, and after being
kept from one to five years I shall have for ten years afterward
to be in readiness to undertake all of it again at any minute.  If
I am unlucky I may, in addition, be sent to war, where I shall be
forced to kill men of foreign nations who have done me no harm,
where I may be maimed or killed, or sent to certain destruction as
in the case of the garrison of Sevastopol, and other cases in
every war, or what would be most terrible of all, I may be sent
against my own compatriots and have to kill my own brothers for
some dynastic or other state interests which have absolutely
nothing to do with me.  So much for the comparative disadvantages.

The comparative advantages of compliance and non-compliance are as

For the man who submits, the advantages will be that, after
exposing himself to all the humiliation and performing all the
barbarities required of him, he may, if he escapes being killed,
get a decoration of red or gold tinsel to stick on his clown's
dress; he may, if he is very lucky, be put in command of hundreds
of thousands of others as brutalized as himself; be called a
field-marshal, and get a lot of money.

The advantages of the man who refuses to obey will consist in
preserving his dignity as a man, gaining the approbation of good
men, and above all knowing that he is doing the work of God, and
so undoubtedly doing good to his fellow-men.

So much for the advantages and disadvantages of both lines of
conduct for a man of the wealthy classes, an oppressor.  For a man
of the poor working class the advantages and disadvantages will be
the same, but with a great increase of disadvantages.  The
disadvantages for the poor man who submits will be aggravated by
the fact that he will by taking part in it, and, as it were,
assenting to it strengthen the state of subjection in which he is
held himself.

But no considerations as to how far the state is useful or
beneficial to the men who help to support it by serving in the
army, nor of the advantages or disadvantages for the individual of
compliance or non-compliance with state demands, will decide the
question of the continued existence or the abolition of
government.  This question will be finally decided beyond appeal
by the religious consciousness or conscience of every man who is
forced, whether he will or no, through universal conscription, to
face the question whether the state is to continue to exist or



Christianity is Not a System of Rules, but a New Conception of
Life, and therefore it was Not Obligatory and was Not Accepted
in its True Significance by All, but only by a Few--Christianity
is, Moreover, Prophetic of the Destruction of the Pagan Life,
and therefore of Necessity of the Acceptance of the Christian
Doctrines--Non-resistance of Evil by Force is One Aspect of the
Christian Doctrine, which must Inevitably in Our Times be
Accepted by Men--Two Methods of Deciding Every Quarrel--First
Method is to Find a Universal Definition of Evil, which All Must
Accept, and to Resist this Evil by Force--Second Method is the
Christian One of Complete Non-resistance by Force--Though the
Failure of the First Method was Recognized since the Early Days of
Christianity, it was Still Proposed, and only as Mankind has
Progressed it has Become More and More Evident that there Cannot
be any Universal Definition of Evil--This is Recognized by All at
the Present Day, and if Force is Still Used to Resist Evil, it is
Not Because it is Now Regarded as Right, but Because People Don't
Know How to Avoid It--The Difficulty of Avoiding It is the Result
of the Subtle and Complex Character of the Government Use of
Force--Force is Used in Four Ways: Intimidation, Bribery,
Hypnotism, and Coercion by Force of Arms--State Violence Can Never
be Suppressed by the Forcible Overthrow of the Government--Men are
Led by the Sufferings of the Pagan Mode of Life to the Necessity
of Accepting Christ's Teaching with its Doctrine of Non-resistance
by Force--The Consciousness of its Truth which is Diffused
Throughout Our Society, Will also Bring About its Acceptance--This
Consciousness is in Complete Contradiction with Our Life--This is
Specially Obvious in Compulsory Military Service, but Through
Habit and the Application of the Four Methods of Violence by the
State, Men do not See this Inconsistency of Christianity with Life
of a Soldier--They do Not even See It, though the Authorities
Themselves Show all the Immorality of a Soldier's Duties with
Perfect Clearness--The Call to Military Service is the Supreme
Test for Every Man, when the Choice is Offered Him, between
Adopting the Christian Doctrine of Non-resistance, or Slavishly
Submitting to the Existing State Organization--Men Usually
Renounce All They Hold Sacred, and Submit to the Demands of
Government, Seeming to See No Other Course Open to Them--For Men
of the Pagan Conception of Life there is No Other Course Open, and
Never Will Be, in Spite of the Growing Horrors of War--Society,
Made Up of Such Men, Must Perish, and No Social Reorganization Can
Save It--Pagan Life Has Reached Its Extreme Limit, and Will
Annihilate Itself.

It is often said that if Christianity is a truth, it ought to have
been accepted by everyone directly it appeared, and ought to have
transformed men's lives for the better.  But this is like saying
that if the seed were ripe it ought at once to bring forth stalls,
flower, and fruit.

The Christian religion is not a legal system which, being imposed
by violence, may transform men's lives.  Christianity is a new and
higher conception of life.  A new conception of life cannot be
imposed on men; it can only be freely assimilated.  And it can
only be freely assimilated in two ways: one spiritual and
internal, the other experimental and external.

Some people--a minority--by a kind of prophetic instinct divine
the truth of the doctrine, surrender themselves to it and adopt
it.  Others--the majority--only through a long course of mistakes,
experiments, and suffering are brought to recognize the truth of
the doctrine and the necessity of adopting it.

And by this experimental external method the majority of Christian
men have now been brought to this necessity of assimilating the
doctrine.  One sometimes wonders what necessitated the corruption
of Christianity which is now the greatest obstacle to its
acceptance in its true significance.

If Christianity had been presented to men in its true, uncorrupted
form, it would not have been accepted by the majority, who would
have been as untouched by it as the nations of Asia are now.  The
peoples who accepted it in its corrupt form were subjected to its
slow but certain influence, and by a long course of errors and
experiments and their resultant sufferings have now been brought
to the necessity of assimilating it in its true significance.

The corruption of Christianity and its acceptance in its corrupt
form by the majority of men was as necessary as it is that the
seed should remain hidden for a certain time in the earth in order
to germinate.

Christianity is at once a doctrine of truth and a prophecy.
Eighteen centuries ago Christianity revealed to men the truth in
which they ought to live, and at the same time foretold what human
life would become if men would not live by it but continued to
live by their previous principles, and what it would become if
they accepted the Christian doctrine and carried it out in their

Laying down in the Sermon on the Mount the principles by which to
guide men's lives, Christ said: "Whosoever heareth these sayings
of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who
built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the
floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it
fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.  And everyone that
heareth these sayings, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a
foolish man, who built his house upon the sand; and the rain
descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon
that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it" (Matt. vii.

And now after eighteen centuries the prophecy has been fulfilled.
Not having followed Christ's teaching generally and its
application to social life in non-resistance to evil, men have
been brought in spite of themselves to the inevitable destruction
foretold by Christ for those who do not fulfill his teaching.

People often think the question of non-resistance to evil by force
is a theoretical one, which can be neglected.  Yet this question
is presented by life itself to all men, and calls for some answer
from every thinking man.  Ever since Christianity has been
outwardly professed, this question is for men in their social life
like the question which presents itself to a traveler when the
road on which he has been journeying divides into two branches.
He must go on and he cannot say: I will not think about it, but
will go on just as I did before.  There was one road, now there
are two, and he must make his choice.

In the same way since Christ's teaching has been known by men they
cannot say: I will live as before and will not decide the question
of resistance or non-resistance to evil by force.  At every new
struggle that arises one must inevitably decide; am I, or am I
not, to resist by force what I regard as evil.

The question of resistance or non-resistance to evil arose when
the first conflict between men took place, since every conflict is
nothing else than resistance by force to what each of the
combatants regards as evil.  But before Christ, men did not see
that resistance by force to what each regards as evil, simply
because one thinks evil what the other thinks good, is only one of
the methods of settling the dispute, and that there is another
method, that of not resisting evil by force at all.

Before Christ's teaching, it seemed to men that the one only means
of settling a dispute was by resistance to evil by force.  And
they acted accordingly, each of the combatants trying to convince
himself and others that what each respectively regards as evil, is
actually, absolutely evil.

And to do this from the earliest time men have devised definitions
of evil and tried to make them binding on everyone.  And such
definitions of evil sometimes took the form of laws, supposed to
have been received by supernatural means, sometimes of the
commands of rulers or assemblies to whom infallibility was
attributed.  Men resorted to violence against others, and
convinced themselves and others that they were directing their
violence against evil recognized as such by all.

This means was employed from the earliest times, especially by
those who had gained possession of authority, and for a long while
its irrationality was not detected.

But the longer men lived in the world and the more complex their
relations became, the more evident it was that to resist by force
what each regarded as evil was irrational, that conflict was in no
way lessened thereby, and that no human definitions can succeed in
making what some regard as evil be accepted as such by others.

Already at the time Christianity arose, it was evident to a great
number of people in the Roman Empire where it arose, that what was
regarded as evil by Nero and Caligula could not be regarded as
evil by others.  Even at that time men had begun to understand
that human laws, though given out for divine laws, were compiled
by men, and cannot be infallible, whatever the external majesty
with which they are invested, and that erring men are not rendered
infallible by assembling together and calling themselves a senate
or any other name.  Even at that time this was felt and understood
by many.  And it was then that Christ preached his doctrine, which
consisted not only of the prohibition of resistance to evil by
force, but gave a new conception of life and a means of putting an
end to conflict between all men, not by making it the duty of one
section only of mankind to submit without conflict to what is
prescribed to them by certain authorities, but by making it the
duty of all--and consequently of those in authority--not to resort
to force against anyone in any circumstances.

This doctrine was accepted at the time by only a very small number
of disciples.  The majority of men, especially all who were in
power, even after the nominal acceptance of Christianity,
continued to maintain for themselves the principle of resistance
by force to what they regarded as evil.  So it was under the Roman
and Byzantine emperors, and so it continued to be later.

The insufficiency of the principle of the authoritative definition
of evil and resistance to it by force, evident as it was in the
early ages of Christianity, becomes still more obvious through the
division of the Roman Empire into many states of equal authority,
through their hostilities and the internal conflicts that broke
out within them.

But men were not ready to accept the solution given by Christ, and
the old definitions of evil, which ought to be resisted, continued
to be laid down by means of making laws binding on all and
enforced by forcible means.  The authority who decided what ought
to be regarded as evil and resisted by force was at one time the
Pope, at another an emperor or king, an elective assembly or a
whole nation.  But both within and without the state there were
always men to be found who did not accept as binding on themselves
the laws given out as the decrees of a god, or made by men
invested with a sacred character, or the institutions supposed to
represent the will of the nation; and there were men who thought
good what the existing authorities regarded as bad, and who
struggled against the authorities with the same violence as was
employed against them.

The men invested with religious authority regarded as evil what
the men and institutions invested with temporal authority regarded
as good and vice versa, and the struggle grew more and more
intense.  And the longer men used violence as the means of
settling their disputes, the more obvious it became that it was an
unsuitable means, since there could be no external authority able
to define evil recognized by all.

Things went on like this for eighteen centuries, and at last
reached the present position in which it is absolutely obvious
that there is, and can be, no external definition of evil binding
upon all.  Men have come to the point of ceasing to believe in the
possibility or even desirability of finding and establishing such
a general definition.  It has come to men in power ceasing to
attempt to prove that what they regard as evil is evil, and simply
declaring that they regard as evil what they don't like, while
their subjects no longer obey them because they accept the
definition of evil laid down by them, but simply obey because they
cannot help themselves.  It was not because it was a good thing,
necessary and beneficial to men, and the contrary course would
have been an evil, but simply because it was the will of those in
power that Nice was incorporated into France, and Lorraine into
Germany, and Bohemia into Austria, and that Poland was divided,
and Ireland and India ruled by the English government, and that
the Chinese are attacked and the Africans slaughtered, and the
Chinese prevented from immigrating by the Americans, and the Jews
persecuted by the Russians, and that landowners appropriate lands
they do not cultivate and capitalists enjoy the fruits of the
labor of others.  It has come to the present state of things; one
set of men commit acts of violence no longer on the pretext of
resistance to evil, but simply for their profit or their caprice,
and another set submit to violence, not because they suppose, as
was supposed in former times, that this violence was practised
upon them for the sake of securing them from evil, but simply
because they cannot avoid it.

If the Roman, or the man of mediaeval times, or the average
Russian of fifty years ago, as I remember him, was convinced
without a shade of doubt that the violence of authority was
indispensable to preserve him from evil; that taxes, dues,
serfage, prisons, scourging, knouts, executions, the army and war
were what ought to be--we know now that one can seldom find a man
who believes that all these means of violence preserve anyone from
any evil whatever, and indeed does not clearly perceive that most
of these acts of violence to which he is exposed, and in which he
has some share, are in themselves a great and useless evil.

There is no one to-day who does not see the uselessness and injustice of
collecting taxes from the toiling masses to enrich idle officials; or
the senselessness of inflicting punishments on weak or depraved persons
in the shape of transportation from one place to another, or of
imprisonment in a fortress where, living in security and indolence, they
only become weaker and more depraved; or the worse than uselessness and
injustice, the positive insanity and barbarity of preparations for war
and of wars, causing devastation and ruin, and having no kind of
justification. Yet these forms of violence continue and are supported by
the very people who see their uselessness, injustice, and cruelty, and
suffer from them. If fifty years ago the idle rich man and the
illiterate laborer were both alike convinced that their state of
everlasting holiday for one and everlasting toil for the other was
ordained by God himself, we know very well that nowadays, thanks to the
growth of population and the diffusion of books and education, it would
be hard to find in Europe or even in Russia, either among rich or poor,
a man to whom in one shape or another a doubt as to the justice of this
state of things had never presented itself. The rich know that they are
guilty in the very fact of being rich, and try to expiate their guilt by
sacrifices to art and science, as of old they expiated their sins by
sacrifices to the Church. And even the larger half of the working people
openly declare that the existing order is iniquitous and bound to be
destroyed or reformed. One set of religious people of whom there are
millions in Russia, the so-called sectaries, consider the existing
social order as unjust and to be destroyed on the ground of the Gospel
teaching taken in its true sense. Others regard it as unjust on the
ground of the socialistic, communistic, or anarchistic theories, which
are springing up in the lower strata of the working people. Violence no
longer rests on the belief in its utility, but only on the fact of its
having existed so long, and being organized by the ruling classes who
profit by it, so that those who are under their authority cannot
extricate themselves from it. The governments of our day--all of them,
the most despotic and the liberal alike--have become what Herzen so well
called "Ghenghis Khan with the telegraph;" that is to say, organizations
of violence based on no principle but the grossest tyranny, and at the
same time taking advantage of all the means invented by science for the
peaceful collective social activity of free and equal men, used by them
to enslave and oppress their fellows.

Governments and the ruling classes no longer take their stand on
right or even on the semblance of justice, but on a skillful
organization carried to such a point of perfection by the aid of
science that everyone is caught in the circle of violence and has
no chance of escaping from it. This circle is made up now of four
methods of working upon men, joined together like the limes of a
chain ring.

The first and oldest method is intimidation. This consists in
representing the existing state organization--whatever it may be,
free republic or the most savage despotism--as something sacred
and immutable, and therefore following any efforts to alter it
with the cruellest punishments. This method is in use now--as it
has been from olden times--wherever there is a government: in
Russia against the so-called Nihilists, in America against
Anarchists, in France against Imperialists, Legitimists,
Communards, and Anarchists.

Railways, telegraphs, telephones, photographs, and the great
perfection of the means of getting rid of men for years, without
killing them, by solitary confinement, where, hidden from the
world, they perish and are forgotten, and the many other modern
inventions employed by government, give such power that when once
authority has come into certain hands, the police, open and
secret, the administration and prosecutors, jailers and
executioners of all kinds, do their work so zealously that there
is no chance of overturning the government, however cruel and
senseless it may be.

The second method is corruption. It consists in plundering the
industrious working people of their wealth by means of taxes and
distributing it in satisfying the greed of officials, who are
bound in return to support and keep up the oppression of the
people. These bought officials, from the highest ministers to the
poorest copying clerks, make up an unbroken network of men bound
together by the same interest--that of living at the expense of
the people. They become the richer the more submissively they
carry out the will of the government; and at all times and places,
sticking at nothing, in all departments support by word and deed
the violence of government, on which their own prosperity also

The third method is what I can only describe as hypnotizing the
people. This consists in checking the moral development of men,
and by various suggestions keeping them back in the ideal of life,
outgrown by mankind at large, on which the power of government
rests. This hypnotizing process is organized at the present in the
most complex manner, and starting from their earliest childhood,
continues to act on men till the day of their death. It begins in
their earliest years in the compulsory schools, created for this
purpose, in which the children have instilled into them the ideas
of life of their ancestors, which are in direct antagonism with
the conscience of the modern world. In countries where there is a
state religion, they teach the children the senseless blasphemies
of the Church catechisms, together with the duty of obedience to
their superiors. In republican states they teach them the savage
superstition of patriotism and the same pretended obedience to the
governing authorities.

The process is kept up during later years by the encouragement of
religious and patriotic superstitions.

The religious superstition is encouraged by establishing, with
money taken from the people, temples, processions, memorials, and
festivals, which, aided by painting, architecture, music, and
incense, intoxicate the people, and above all by the support of
the clergy, whose duty consists in brutalizing the people and
keeping them in a permanent state of stupefaction by their
teaching, the solemnity of their services, their sermons, and
their interference in private life--at births, deaths, and
marriages. The patriotic superstition is encouraged by the
creation, with money taken from the people, of national fêtes,
spectacles, monuments, and festivals to dispose men to attach
importance to their own nation, and to the aggrandizement of the
state and its rulers, and to feel antagonism and even hatred for
other nations. With these objects under despotic governments there
is direct prohibition against printing and disseminating books to
enlighten the people, and everyone who might rouse the people from
their lethargy is exiled or imprisoned. Moreover, under every
government without exception everything is kept back that might
emancipate and everything encouraged that tends to corrupt the
people, such as literary works tending to keep them in the
barbarism of religious and patriotic superstition, all kinds of
sensual amusements, spectacles, circuses, theaters, and even the
physical means of inducing stupefaction, as tobacco and alcohol,
which form the principal source of revenue of states. Even
prostitution is encouraged, and not only recognized, but even
organized by the government in the majority of states. So much for
the third method.

The fourth method consists in selecting from all the men who have
been stupefied and enslaved by the three former methods a certain
number, exposing them to special and intensified means of
stupefaction and brutalization, and so making them into a passive
instrument for carrying out all the cruelties and brutalities
needed by the government. This result is attained by taking them
at the youthful age when men have not had time to form clear and
definite principles of morals, and removing them from all natural
and human conditions of life, home, family and kindred, and useful
labor. They are shut up together in barracks, dressed in special
clothes, and worked upon by cries, drums, music, and shining
objects to go through certain daily actions invented for this
purpose, and by this means are brought into an hypnotic condition
in which they cease to be men and become mere senseless machines,
submissive to the hypnotizer. These physically vigorous young men
(in these days of universal conscription, all young men),
hypnotized, armed with murderous weapons, always obedient to the
governing authorities and ready for any act of violence at their
command, constitute the fourth and principal method of enslaving

By this method the circle of violence is completed.

Intimidation, corruption, and hypnotizing bring people into a
condition in which they are willing to be soldiers; the soldiers
give the power of punishing and plundering them (and purchasing
officials with the spoils), and hypnotizing them and converting
them in time into these same soldiers again.

The circle is complete, and there is no chance of breaking through
it by force.

Some persons maintain that freedom from violence, or at least a
great diminution of it, may be gained by the oppressed forcibly
overturning the oppressive government and replacing it by a new
one under which such violence and oppression will be unnecessary,
but they deceive themselves and others, and their efforts do not
better the position of the oppressed, but only make it worse.
Their conduct only tends to increase the despotism of government.
Their efforts only afford a plausible pretext for government to
strengthen their power.

Even if we admit that under a combination of circumstances
specially unfavorable for the government, as in France in 1870,
any government might be forcibly overturned and the power
transferred to other hands, the new authority would rarely be less
oppressive than the old one; on the contrary, always having to
defend itself against its dispossessed and exasperated enemies, it
would be more despotic and cruel, as has always been the rule in
all revolutions.

While socialists and communists regard the individualistic,
capitalistic organization of society as an evil, and the
anarchists regard as an evil all government whatever, there are
royalists, conservatives, and capitalists who consider any
socialistic or communistic organization or anarchy as an evil, and
all these parties have no means other than violence to bring men
to agreement. Whichever of these parties were successful in
bringing their schemes to pass, must resort to support its
authority to all the existing methods of violence, and even invent
new ones.

The oppressed would be another set of people, and coercion would
take some new form; but the violence and oppression would be
unchanged or even more cruel, since hatred would be intensified by
the struggle, and new forms of oppression would have been devised.
So it has always been after all revolutions and all attempts at
revolution, all conspiracies, and all violent changes of
government. Every conflict only strengthens the means of
oppression in the hands of those who happen at a given moment to
be in power.

The position of our Christian society, and especially the ideals
most current in it, prove this in a strikingly convincing way.

There remains now only one sphere of human life not encroached
upon by government authority--that is the domestic, economic
sphere, the sphere of private life and labor. And even this is
now--thanks to the efforts of communists and socialists--being
gradually encroached upon by government, so that labor and
recreation, dwellings, dress, and food will gradually, if the
hopes of the reformers are successful, be prescribed and regulated
by government.

The slow progress of eighteen centuries has brought the Christian
nations again to the necessity of deciding the question they have
evaded--the question of the acceptance or non-acceptance of
Christ's teaching, and the question following upon it in social
life of resistance or non-resistance to evil by force. But there
is this difference, that whereas formerly men could accept or
refuse to accept the solution given by Christ, now that solution
cannot be avoided, since it alone can save men from the slavery in
which they are caught like a net.

But it is not only the misery of the position which makes this

While the pagan organization has been proved more and more false,
the truth of the Christian religion has been growing more and more

Not in vain have the best men of Christian humanity, who
apprehended the truth by spiritual intuition, for eighteen
centuries testified to it in spite of every menace, every
privation, and every suffering. By their martyrdom they passed on
the truth to the masses, and impressed it on their hearts.

Christianity has penetrated into the consciousness of humanity,
not only negatively by the demonstration of the impossibility of
continuing in the pagan life, but also through its simplification,
its increased clearness and freedom from the superstitions
intermingled with it, and its diffusion through all classes of the

Eighteen centuries of Christianity have not passed without an
effect even on those who accepted it only externally. These
eighteen centuries have brought men so far that even while they
continue to live the pagan life which is no longer consistent with
the development of humanity, they not only see clearly all the
wretchedness of their position, but in the depths of their souls
they believe (they can only live through this belief) that the
only salvation from this position is to be found in fulfilling the
Christian doctrine in its true significance. As to the time and
manner of salvation, opinions are divided according to the
intellectual development and the prejudices of each society. But
every man of the modern world recognizes that our salvation lies
in fulfilling the law of Christ. Some believers in the
supernatural character of Christianity hold that salvation will
come when all men are brought to believe in Christ, whose second
coming is at hand. Other believers in supernatural Christianity
hold that salvation will come through the Church, which will draw
all men into its fold, train them in the Christian virtues, and
transform their life. A third section, who do not admit the
divinity of Christ, hold that the salvation of mankind will be
brought about by slow and gradual progress, through which the
pagan principles of our existence will be replaced by the
principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity--that is, by
Christian principles. A fourth section, who believe in the social
revolution, hold that salvation will come when through a violent
revolution men are forced into community of property, abolition of
government, and collective instead of individual industry--that is
to say, the realization of one side of the Christian doctrine. In
one way or another all men of our day in their inner consciousness
condemn the existing effete pagan order, and admit, often
unconsciously and while regarding themselves as hostile to
Christianity, that our salvation is only to be found in the
application of the Christian doctrine, or parts of it, in its true
significance to our daily life.

Christianity cannot, as its Founder said, be realized by the
majority of men all at once; it must grow like a huge tree from a
tiny seed. And so it has grown, and now has reached its full
development, not yet in actual life, but in the conscience of men
of to-day.

Now not only the minority, who have always comprehended
Christianity by spiritual intuition, but all the vast majority who
seem so far from it in their social existence recognize its true

Look at individual men in their private life, listen to their
standards of conduct in their judgment of one another; hear not
only their public utterances, but the counsels given by parents
and guardians to the young in their charge; and you will see that,
far as their social life based on violence may be from realizing
Christian truth, in their private life what is considered good by
all without exception is nothing but the Christian virtues; what
is considered as bad is nothing but the antichristian vices. Those
who consecrate their lives self-sacrificingly to the service of
humanity are regarded as the best men. The selfish, who make use
of the misfortunes of others for their own advantage, are regarded
as the worst of men.

Though some non-Christian ideals, such as strength, courage, and
wealth, are still worshiped by a few who have not been penetrated
by the Christian spirit, these ideals are out of date and are
abandoned, if not by all, at least by all those regarded as the
best people. There are no ideals, other than the Christian ideals,
which are accepted by all and regarded as binding on all.

The position of our Christian humanity, if you look at it from the
outside with all its cruelty and degradation of men, is terrible
indeed. But if one looks at it within, in its inner consciousness,
the spectacle it presents is absolutely different.

All the evil of our life seems to exist only because it has been
so for so long; those who do the evil have not had time yet to
learn how to act otherwise, though they do not want to act as they

All the evil seems to exist through some cause independent of the
conscience of men.

Strange and contradictory as it seems, all men of the present day
hate the very social order they are themselves supporting.

I think it is Max Müller who describes the amazement of an Indian
convert to Christianity, who after absorbing the essence of the
Christian doctrine came to Europe and saw the actual life of
Christians. He could not recover from his astonishment at the
complete contrast between the reality and what he had expected to
find among Christian nations. If we feel no astonishment at the
contrast between our convictions and our conduct, that is because
the influences, tending to obscure the contrast, produce an effect
upon us too. We need only look at our life from the point of view
of that Indian, who understood Christianity in its true
significance, without any compromises or concessions, we need but
look at the savage brutalities of which our life is full, to be
appalled at the contradictions in the midst of which we live often
without observing them.

We need only recall the preparations for war, the mitrailleuses,
the silver-gilt bullets, the torpedoes, and--the Red Cross; the
solitary prison cells, the experiments of execution by
electricity--and the care of the hygienic welfare of prisoners;
the philanthropy of the rich, and their life, which produces the
poor they are benefiting.

And these inconsistencies are not, as it might seem, because men
pretend to be Christians while they are really pagans, but because
of something lacking in men, or some kind of force hindering them
from being what they already feel themselves to be in their
consciousness, and what they genuinely wish to be.  Men of the
present day do not merely pretend to hate oppression, inequality,
class distinction, and every kind of cruelty to animals as well as
human beings.  They genuinely detest all this, but they do not
know how to put a stop to it, or perhaps cannot decide to give up
what preserves it all, and seems to them necessary.

Indeed, ask every man separately whether he thinks it laudable and
worthy of a man of this age to hold a position from which he
receives a salary disproportionate to his work; to take from the
people--often in poverty--taxes to be spent on constructing
cannon, torpedoes, and other instruments of butchery, so as to
make war on people with whom we wish to be at peace, and who feel
the same wish in regard to us; or to receive a salary for devoting
one's whole life to constructing these instruments of butchery, or
to preparing oneself and others for the work of murder.  And ask
him whether it is laudable and worthy of a man, and suitable for a
Christian, to employ himself, for a salary, in seizing wretched,
misguided, often illiterate and drunken, creatures because they
appropriate the property of others--on a much smaller scale than
we do--or because they kill men in a different fashion from that
in which we undertake to do it--and shutting them in prison for
it, ill treating them and killing them; and whether it is laudable
and worthy of a man and a Christian to preach for a salary to the
people not Christianity, but superstitions which one knows to be
stupid and pernicious; and whether it is laudable and worthy of a
man to rob his neighbor for his gratification of what he wants to
satisfy his simplest needs, as the great landowners do; or to
force him to exhausting labor beyond his strength to augment one's
wealth, as do factory owners and manufacturers; or to profit by
the poverty of men to increase one's gains, as merchants do.  And
everyone taken separately, especially if one's remarks are
directed at someone else, not himself, will answer, No!  And yet
the very man who sees all the baseness of those actions, of his
own free will, uncoerced by anyone, often even for no pecuniary
profit, but only from childish vanity, for a china cross, a scrap
of ribbon, a bit of fringe he is allowed to wear, will enter
military service, become a magistrate or justice of the peace,
commissioner, archbishop, or beadle, though in fulfilling these
offices he must commit acts the baseness and shamefulness of which
he cannot fail to recognize.

I know that many of these men will confidently try to prove that
they have reasons for regarding their position as legitimate and
quite indispensable.  They will say in their defense that
authority is given by God, that the functions of the state are
indispensable for the welfare of humanity, that property is not
opposed to Christianity, that the rich young man was only
commanded to sell all he had and give to the poor if he wished to
be perfect, that the existing distribution of property and our
commercial system must always remain as they are, and are to the
advantage of all, and so on.  But, however much they try to
deceive themselves and others, they all know that what they are
doing is opposed to all the beliefs which they profess, and in the
depths of their souls, when they are left alone with their
conscience, they are ashamed and miserable at the recollection of
it, especially if the baseness of their action has been pointed
out to them.  A man of the present day, whether he believes in the
divinity of Christ or not, cannot fail to see that to assist in
the capacity of tzar, minister, governor, or commissioner in
taking from a poor family its last cow for taxes to be spent on
cannons, or on the pay and pensions of idle officials, who live in
luxury and are worse than useless; or in putting into prison some
man we have ourselves corrupted, and throwing his family on the
streets; or in plundering and butchering in war; or in inculcating
savage and idolatrous superstitious in the place of the law of
Christ; or in impounding the cow found on one's land, though it
belongs to a man who has no land; or to cheat the workman in a
factory, by imposing fines for accidentally spoiled articles; or
making a poor man pay double the value for anything simply because
he is in the direst poverty;--not a man of the present day can
fail to know that all these actions are base and disgraceful, and
that they need not do them.  They all know it.  They know that
what they are doing is wrong, and would not do it for anything in
the world if they had the power of resisting the forces which shut
their eyes to the criminality of their actions and impel them to
commit them.

In nothing is the pitch of inconsistency modern life has attained
to so evident as in universal conscription, which is the last
resource and the final expression of violence.

Indeed, it is only because this state of universal armament has
been brought about gradually and imperceptibly, and because
governments have exerted, in maintaining it, every resource of
intimidation, corruption, brutalization, and violence, that we do
not see its flagrant inconsistency with the Christian ideas and
sentiments by which the modern world is permeated.

We are so accustomed to the inconsistency that we do not see all
the hideous folly and immorality of men voluntarily choosing the
profession of butchery as though it were an honorable career, of
poor wretches submitting to conscription, or in countries where
compulsory service has not been introduced, of people voluntarily
abandoning a life of industry to recruit soldiers and train them
as murderers.  We know that all of these men are either
Christians, or profess humane and liberal principles, and they
know that they thus become partly responsible--through universal
conscription, personally responsible--for the most insane,
aimless, and brutal murders.  And yet they all do it.

More than that, in Germany, where compulsory service first
originated, Caprivi has given expression to what had been hitherto
so assiduously concealed--that is, that the men that the soldiers
will have to kill are not foreigners alone, but their own
countrymen, the very working people from whom they themselves are
taken.  And this admission has not opened people's eyes, has not
horrified them! They still go like sheep to the slaughter, and
submit to everything required of them.

And that is not all: the Emperor of Germany has lately shown still
more clearly the duties of the army, by thanking and rewarding a
soldier for killing a defenseless citizen who made his approach
incautiously.  By rewarding an action always regarded as base and
cowardly even by men on the lowest level of morality, William has
shown that a soldier's chief duty--the one most appreciated by the
authorities--is that of executioner; and not a professional
executioner who kills only condemned criminals, but one ready to
butcher any innocent man at the word of command.

And even that is not all. In 1892, the same William, the ENFANT
TERRIBLE of state authority, who says plainly what other people
only think, in addressing some soldiers gave public utterance to
the following speech, which was reported next day in thousands of
newspapers: "Conscripts!" he said, "you have sworn fidelity to ME
before the altar and the minister of God!  You are still too young
to understand all the importance of what has been said here; let
your care before all things be to obey the orders and instructions
given you.  You have sworn fidelity TO ME, lads of my guard; THAT
TO ME BODY AND SOUL.  For you there is now but one enemy, MY
you are bound to obey my orders without hesitation."

This man expresses what all sensible rulers think, but studiously
conceal.  He says openly that the soldiers are in HIS service, at
HIS disposal, and must be ready for HIS advantage to murder even
their brothers and fathers.

In the most brutal words he frankly exposes all the horrors and
criminality for which men prepare themselves in entering the army,
and the depths of ignominy to which they fall in promising
obedience.  Like a bold hypnotizer, he tests the degree of
insensibility of the hypnotized subject.  He touches his skin with
a red-hot iron; the skin smokes and scorches, but the sleeper does
not awake.

This miserable man, imbecile and drunk with power, outrages in
this utterance everything that can be sacred for a man of the
modern world.  And yet all the Christians, liberals, and
cultivated people, far from resenting this outrage, did not even
observe it.

The last, the most extreme test is put before men in its coarsest
form.  And they do not seem even to notice that it is a test, that
there is any choice about it.  They seem to think there is no
course open but slavish submission.  One would have thought these
insane words, which outrage everything a man of the present day
holds sacred, must rouse indignation.  But there has been nothing
of the kind.

All the young men through the whole of Europe are exposed year
after year to this test, and with very few exceptions they
renounce all that a man can hold sacred, all express their
readiness to kill their brothers, even their fathers, at the
bidding of the first crazy creature dressed up in a livery with
red and gold trimming, and only wait to be told where and when
they are to kill.  And they actually are ready.

Every savage has something he holds sacred, something for which he
is ready to suffer, something he will not consent to do.  But what
is it that is sacred to the civilized man of to-day?  They say to
him:  "You must become my slave, and this slavery may force you
to kill even your own father;" and he, often very well educated,
trained in all the sciences at the university, quietly puts his
head under the yoke.  They dress him up in a clown's costume, and
order him to cut capers, turn and twist and bow, and kill--he does
it all submissively.  And when they let him go, he seems to shake
himself and go back to his former life, and he continues to
discourse upon the dignity of man, liberty, equality, and
fraternity as before.

"Yes, but what is one to do?" people often ask in genuine
perplexity.  "If everyone would stand out it would be something,
but by myself, I shall only suffer without doing any good to

And that is true. A man with the social conception of life cannot
resist. The aim of his life is his personal welfare. It is better
for his personal welfare for him to submit, and he submits.

Whatever they do to him, however they torture or humiliate him, he
will submit, for, alone, he can do nothing; he has no principle
for the sake of which he could resist violence alone.  And those
who control them never allow them to unite together.  It is often
said that the invention of terrible weapons of destruction will
put an end to war.  That is an error.  As the means of
extermination are improved, the means of reducing men who hold the
state conception of life to submission can be improved to
correspond.  They may slaughter them by thousands, by millions,
they may tear them to pieces, still they will march to war like
senseless cattle.  Some will want beating to make them move,
others will be proud to go if they are allowed to wear a scrap of
ribbon or gold lace.

And of this mass of men so brutalized as to be ready to promise to
kill their own parents, the social reformers--conservatives,
liberals, socialists, and anarchists--propose to form a rational
and moral society.  What sort of moral and rational society can be
formed out of such elements?  With warped and rotten planks you
cannot build a house, however you put them together.  And to form
a rational moral society of such men is just as impossible a task.
They can be formed into nothing but a herd of cattle, driven by
the shouts and whips of the herdsmen. As indeed they are.

So, then, we have on one side men calling themselves Christians,
and professing the principles of liberty, equality, and
fraternity, and along with that ready, in the name of liberty, to
submit to the most slavish degradation; in the name of equality,
to accept the crudest, most senseless division of men by externals
merely into higher and lower classes, allies and enemies; and, in
the name of fraternity, ready to murder their brothers [see

    [Footnote: The fact that among certain nations, as
    the English and the American, military service is not
    compulsory (though already one hears there are some
    who advocate that it should be made so) does not
    affect the servility of the citizens to the government
    in principle.  Here we have each to go and kill or be
    killed, there they have each to give the fruit of their
    toil to pay for the recruiting and training of soldiers.]

The contradiction between life and conscience and the misery
resulting from it have reached the extreme limit and can go no
further.  The state organization of life based on violence, the
aim of which was the security of personal, family, and social
welfare, has come to the point of renouncing the very objects for
which it was founded--it has reduced men to absolute renunciation
and loss of the welfare it was to secure.

The first half of the prophecy has been fulfilled in the
generation of men who have not accepted Christ's teaching, Their
descendants have been brought now to the absolute necessity of
patting the truth of the second half to the test of experience.



The External Life of Christian Peoples Remains Pagan Though they are
Penetrated by Christian Consciousness--The Way Out of this Contradiction
is by the Acceptance of the Christian Theory of Life--Only Through
Christianity is Every Man Free, and Emancipated of All Human
Authority--This Emancipation can be Effected by no Change in External
Conditions of Life, but Only by a Change in the Conception of Life--The
Christian Ideal of Life Requires Renunciation of all Violence, and in
Emancipating the Man who Accepts it, Emancipates the Whole World from
All External Authorities--The Way Out of the Present Apparently Hopeless
Position is for Every Man who is Capable of Assimilating the Christian
Conception of Life, to Accept it and Live in Accordance with it--But Men
Consider this Way too Slow, and Look for Deliverance Through Changes in
Material Conditions of Life Aided by Government--That Will Lead to No
Improvement, as it is simply Increasing the Evil under which Men are
Suffering--A Striking Instance of this is the Submission to Compulsory
Military Service, which it would be More Advantageous for Every Man to
Refuse than to Submit to--The Emancipation of Men Can Only be Brought
About by each Individual Emancipating Himself, and the Examples of this
Self-emancipation which are already Appearing Threaten the Destruction
of Governmental Authority--Refusal to Comply with the Unchristian
Demands of Government Undermines the Authority of the State and
Emancipates Men--And therefore Cases of such Non-compliance are Regarded
with more Dread by State Authorities than any Conspiracies or Acts of
Violence--Examples of Non-compliance in Russia, in Regard to Oath of
Allegiance, Payment of Taxes, Passports, Police Duties, and Military
Service--Examples of such Non-compliance in other States--Governments do
not Know how to Treat Men who Refuse to Comply with their Demands on
Christian Grounds--Such People, without Striking a Blow, Undermine the
very Basis of Government from Within--To Punish them is Equivalent to
Openly Renouncing Christianity, and Assisting in Diffusing the Very
Principle by which these Men justify their Non-compliance--So
Governments are in a Helpless Position--Men who Maintain the Uselessness
of Personal Independence, only Retard the Dissolution of the Present
State Organization Based on Force.

The position of the Christian peoples in our days has remained
just as cruel as it was in the times of paganism.  In many
respects, especially in the oppression of the masses, it has
become even more cruel than it was in the days of paganism.

But between the condition of men in ancient times and their
condition in our days there is just the difference that we see in
the world of vegetation between the last days of autumn and the
first days of spring.  In the autumn the external lifelessness in
nature corresponds with its inward condition of death, while in
the spring the external lifelessness is in sharp contrast with the
internal state of reviving and passing into new forms of life.

In the same way the similarity between the ancient heathen life
and the life of to-day is merely external: the inward condition of
men in the times of heathenism was absolutely different from their
inward condition at the present time.

Then the outward condition of cruelty and of slavery was in
complete harmony with the inner conscience of men, and every step
in advance intensified this harmony; now the outward condition of
cruelty and of slavery is completely contradictory to the
Christian consciousness of men, and every step in advance only
intensifies this contradiction.

Humanity is passing through seemingly unnecessary, fruitless
agonies.  It is passing through something like the throes of
birth. Everything is ready for the new life, but still the new
life does not come.

There seems no way out of the position.  And there would be none,
except that a man (and thereby all men) is gifted with the power
of forming a different, higher theory of life, which at once frees
him from all the bonds by which he seems indissolubly fettered.

And such a theory is the Christian view of life made known to
mankind eighteen hundred years ago.

A man need only make this theory of life his own, for the fetters
which seemed so indissolubly forged upon him to drop off of
themselves, and for him to feel himself absolutely free, just as a
bird would feel itself free in a fenced-in place directly it tools
to its wings.

People talk about the liberty of the Christian Church, about
giving or not giving freedom to Christians.  Underlying all these
ideas and expressions there is some strange misconception.
Freedom cannot be bestowed on or taken from a Christian or
Christians.  Freedom is an inalienable possession of the

If we talk of bestowing freedom on Christians or withholding it
from them, we are obviously talking not of real Christians but of
people who only call themselves Christians.  A Christian cannot
fail to be free, because the attainment of the aim he sets before
himself cannot be prevented or even hindered by anyone or

Let a man only understand his life as Christianity teaches him to
understand it, let him understand, that is, that his life belongs
not to him--not to his own individuality, nor to his family, nor
to the state--but to him who has sent him into the world, and let
him once understand that he must therefore fulfill not the law of
his own individuality, nor his family, nor of the state, but the
infinite law of him from whom he has come; and he will not only
feel himself absolutely free from every human power, but will even
cease to regard such power as at all able to hamper anyone.

Let a man but realize that the aim of his life is the fulfillment
of God's law, and that law will replace all other laws for him,
and he will give it his sole allegiance, so that by that very
allegiance every human law will lose all binding and controlling
power in his eyes.

The Christian is independent of every human authority by the fact
that he regards the divine law of love, implanted in the soul of
every man, and brought before his consciousness by Christ, as the
sole guide of his life and other men's also.

The Christian may be subjected to external violence, he may be
deprived of bodily freedom, he may be in bondage to his passions
(he who commits sin is the slave of sin), but he cannot be in
bondage in the sense of being forced by any danger or by any
threat of external harm to perform an act which is against his

He cannot be compelled to do this, because the deprivations and
sufferings which form such a powerful weapon against men of the
state conception of life, have not the least power to compel him.

Deprivations and sufferings take from them the happiness for which
they live; but far from disturbing the happiness of the Christian,
which consists in the consciousness of fulfilling the will of God,
they may even intensify it, when they are inflicted on him for
fulfilling his will.

And therefore the Christian, who is subject only to the inner
divine law, not only cannot carry out the enactments of the
external law, when they are not in agreement with the divine law
of love which he acknowledges (as is usually the case with state
obligations), he cannot even recognize the duty of obedience to
anyone or anything whatever, he cannot recognize the duty of what
is called allegiance.

For a Christian the oath of allegiance to any government whatever
--the very act which is regarded as the foundation of the
existence of a state--is a direct renunciation of Christianity.
For the man who promises unconditional obedience in the future to
laws, made or to be made, by that very promise is in the most,
positive manner renouncing Christianity, which means obeying in
every circumstance of life only the divine law of love he
recognizes within him.

Under the pagan conception of life it was possible to carry out
the will of the temporal authorities, without infringing the law
of God expressed in circumcisions, Sabbaths, fixed times of
prayer, abstention from certain kinds of food, and so on.  The one
law was not opposed to the other.  But that is just the
distinction between the Christian religion and heathen religion.
Christianity does not require of a man certain definite negative
acts, but puts him in a new, different relation to men, from which
may result the most diverse acts, which cannot be defined
beforehand.  And therefore the Christian not only cannot promise
to obey the will of any other man, without knowing what will be
required by that will; he not only cannot obey the changing laws
of man, but he cannot even promise to do anything definite at a
certain time, or to abstain from doing anything for a certain
time.  For he cannot know what at any time will be required of him
by that Christian law of love, obedience to which constitutes the
meaning of life for him.  The Christian, in promising
unconditional fulfillment of the laws of men in the future, would
show plainly by that promise that the inner law of God does not
constitute for him the sole law of his life.

For a Christian to promise obedience to men, or the laws of men,
is just as though a workman bound to one employer should also
promise to carry out every order that might be given him by
outsiders.  One cannot serve two masters.

The Christian is independent of human authority, because he
acknowledges God's authority alone.  His law, revealed by Christ,
he recognizes in himself, and voluntarily obeys it.

And this independence is gained, not by means of strife, not by
the destruction of existing forms of life, but only by a change in
the interpretation of life.  This independence results first from
the Christian recognizing the law of love, revealed to him by his
teacher, as perfectly sufficient for all human relations, and
therefore he regards every use of force as unnecessary and
unlawful; and secondly, from the fact that those deprivations and
sufferings, or threats of deprivations and sufferings (which
reduce the man of the social conception of life to the necessity
of obeying) to the Christian from his different conception of
life, present themselves merely as the inevitable conditions of
existence.  And these conditions, without striving against them by
force, he patiently endures, like sickness, hunger, and every
other hardship, but they cannot serve him as a guide for his
actions.  The only guide for the Christian's actions is to be
found in the divine principle living within him, which cannot be
checked or governed by anything.

The Christian acts according to the words of the prophecy applied
to his teacher: "He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any
man hear his voice in the streets.  A bruised reed shall he not
break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth
judgment unto victory." (Matt. xii. 19, 20.)

The Christian will not dispute with anyone, nor attack anyone, nor
use violence against anyone. On the contrary, he will bear
violence without opposing it.  But by this very attitude to
violence, he will not only himself be free, but will free the
whole world from all external power.

"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."  If
there were any doubt of Christianity being the truth, the perfect
liberty, that nothing can curtail, which a man experiences
directly he makes the Christian theory of life his own, would be
an unmistakable proof of its truth.

Men in their present condition are like a swarm of bees hanging in
a cluster to a branch.  The position of the bees on the branch is
temporary, and must inevitably be changed.  They must start off
and find themselves a habitation.  Each of the bees knows this,
and desires to change her own and the others' position, but no one
of them can do it till the rest of them do it.  They cannot all
start off at once, because one hangs on to another and hinders her
from separating from the swarm, and therefore they all continue to
hang there.  It would seem that the bees could never escape from
their position, just as it seems that worldly men, caught in the
toils of the state conception of life, can never escape.  And
there would be no escape for the bees, if each of them were not a
living, separate creature, endowed with wings of its own.
Similarly there would be no escape for men, if each were not a
living being endowed with the faculty of entering into the
Christian conception of life.

If every bee who could fly, did not try to fly, the others, too,
would never be stirred, and the swarm would never change its
position.  And if the man who has mastered the Christian
conception of life would not, without waiting for other people,
begin to live in accordance with this conception, mankind would
never change its position.  But only let one bee spread her wings,
start off, and fly away, and after her another, and another, and
the clinging, inert cluster would become a freely flying swarm of
bees.  Just in the same way, only let one man look at life as
Christianity teaches him to look at it, and after him let another
and another do the same, and the enchanted circle of existence in
the state conception of life, from which there seemed no escape,
will be broken through.

But men think that to set all men free by this means is
too slow a process, that they must find some other means by which
they could set all men free at once.  It is just as though the
bees who want to start and fly away should consider it too long a
process to wait for all the swarm to start one by one; and should
think they ought to find some means by which it would not be
necessary for every separate bee to spread her wings and fly off,
but by which the whole swarm could fly at once where it wanted to.
But that is not possible; till a first, a second, a third, a
hundredth bee spreads her wings and flies off of her own accord,
the swarm will not fly off and will not begin its new life.  Till
every individual man makes the Christian conception of life his
own, and begins to live in accord with it, there can be no
solution of the problem of human life, and no establishment of a
new form of life.

One of the most striking phenomena of our times is precisely this
advocacy of slavery, which is promulgated among the masses, not by
governments, in whom it is inevitable, but by men who, in
advocating socialistic theories, regard themselves as the
champions of freedom.

These people advance the opinion that the amelioration of life,
the bringing of the facts of life into harmony with the
conscience, will come, not as the result of the personal efforts
of individual men, but of itself as the result of a certain
possible reconstruction of society effected in some way or other.
The idea is promulgated that men ought not to walk on their own
legs where they want and ought to go, but that a kind of floor
under their feet will be moved somehow, so that on it they can
reach where they ought to go without moving their own legs.  And,
therefore, all their efforts ought to be directed, not to going so
far as their strength allows in the direction they ought to go,
but to standing still and constructing such a floor.

In the sphere of political economy a theory is propounded which
amounts to saying that the worse things are the better they are;
that the greater the accumulation of capital, and therefore the
oppression of the workman, the nearer the day of emancipation,
and, therefore, every personal effort on the part of a man to free
himself from the oppression of capital is useless.  In the sphere
of government it is maintained that the greater the power of the
government, which, according to this theory, ought to intervene in
every department of private life in which it has not yet
intervened, the better it will be, and that therefore we ought to
invoke the interference of government in private life.  In
politics and international questions it is maintained that the
improvement of the means of destruction, the multiplication of
armaments, will lead to the necessity of making war by means of
congresses, arbitration, and so on.  And, marvelous to say, so
great is the dullness of men, that they believe in these theories,
in spite of the fact that the whole course of life, every step
they take, shows how unworthy they are of belief.

The people are suffering from oppression, and to deliver them from
this oppression they are advised to frame general measures for the
improvement of their position, which measures are to be intrusted
to the authorities, and themselves to continue to yield obedience
to the authorities.  And obviously all that results from this is
only greater power in the hands of the authorities, and greater
oppression resulting from it.

Not one of the errors of men carries them so far away from the aim
toward which they are struggling as this very one.  They do all
kinds of different things for the attainment of their aim, but not
the one simple obvious thing which is within reach of everyone.
They devise the subtlest means for changing the position which is
irksome to them, but not that simplest means, that everyone should
refrain from doing what leads to that position.

I have been told a story of a gallant police officer, who came to
a village where the peasants were in insurrection and the military
had been called out, and he undertook to pacify the insurrection
in the spirit of Nicholas I., by his personal influence alone.  He
ordered some loads of rods to be brought, and collecting all the
peasants together into a barn, he went in with them, locking the
door after him.  To begin with, he so terrified the peasants by
his loud threats that, reduced to submission by him, they set to
work to flog one another at his command.  And so they flogged one
another until a simpleton was found who would not allow himself to
be flogged, and shouted to his companions not to flog one another.
Only then the fogging ceased, and the police officer made his
escape.  Well, this simpleton's advice would never be followed by
men of the state conception of life, who continue to flog one
another, and teach people that this very act of self-castigation
is the last word of human wisdom.

Indeed, can one imagine a more striking instance of men flogging
themselves than the submissiveness with which men of our times
will perform the very duties required of them to keep them in
slavery, especially the duty of military service?  We see people
enslaving themselves, suffering from this slavery, and believing
that it must be so, that it does not matter, and will not hinder
the emancipation of men, which is being prepared somewhere,
somehow, in spite of the ever-increasing growth of slavery.

In fact, take any man of the present time whatever (I don't mean a
true Christian, but an average man of the present day), educated
or uneducated, believing or unbelieving, rich or poor, married or
unmarried.  Such a man lives working at his work, or enjoying his
amusements, spending the fruits of his labors on himself or on
those near to him, and, like everyone, hating every kind of
restriction and deprivation, dissension and suffering.  Such a man
is going his way peaceably, when suddenly people come and say to
him: First, promise and swear to us that you will slavishly obey
us in everything we dictate to you, and will consider absolutely
good and authoritative everything we plan, decide, and call law.
Secondly, hand over a part of the fruits of your labors for us to
dispose of--we will use the money to keep you in slavery, and to
hinder you from forcibly opposing our orders.  Thirdly, elect
others, or be yourself elected, to take a pretended share in the
government, knowing all the while that the government will proceed
quite without regard to the foolish speeches you, and those like
you, may utter, and knowing that its proceedings will be according
to our will, the will of those who have the army in their hands.
Fourthly, come at a certain time to the law courts and take your
share in those senseless cruelties which we perpetrate on sinners,
and those whom we have corrupted, in the shape of penal servitude,
exile, solitary confinement, and death.  And fifthly and lastly,
more than all this, in spite of the fact that you maybe on the
friendliest terms with people of other nations, be ready, directly
we order you to do so, to regard those whom we indicate to you as
your enemies; and be ready to assist, either in person or by
proxy, in devastation, plunder, and murder of their men, women,
children, and aged alike--possibly your own kinsmen or relations--if
that is necessary to us.

One would expect that every man of the present day who has a grain
of sense left, might reply to such requirements, "But why should I
do all this?"  One would think every right-minded man must say in
amazement: "Why should I promise to yield obedience to everything
that has been decreed first by Salisbury, then by Gladstone; one
day by Boulanger, and another by Parliament; one day by Peter
III., the next by Catherine, and the day after by Pougachef; one
day by a mad king of Bavaria, another by William?  Why should I
promise to obey them, knowing them to be wicked or foolish people,
or else not knowing them at all?  Why am I to hand over the fruits
of my labors to them in the shape of taxes, knowing that the money
will be spent on the support of officials, prisons, churches,
armies, on things that are harmful, and on my own enslavement?
Why should I punish myself?  Why should I go wasting my time and
hoodwinking myself, giving to miscreant evildoers a semblance of
legality, by taking part in elections, and pretending that I am
taking part in the government, when I know very well that the real
control of the government is in the hands of those who have got
hold of the army?  Why should I go to the law courts to take part
in the trial and punishment of men because they have sinned,
knowing, if I am a Christian, that the law of vengeance is replaced
by the law of love, and, if I am an educated man, that punishments
do not reform, but only deprave those on whom they are inflicted?
And why, most of all, am I to consider as enemies the people of a
neighboring nation, with whom I have hitherto lived and with whom
I wish to live in love and harmony, and to kill and rob them, or
to bring them to misery, simply in order that the keys of the
temple at Jerusalem may be in the hands of one archbishop and not
another, that one German and not another may be prince in
Bulgaria, or that the English rather than the American merchants
may capture seals?

And why, most of all, should I take part in person or hire others
to murder my own brothers and kinsmen?  Why should I flog myself?
It is altogether unnecessary for me; it is hurtful to me, and from
every point of view it is immoral, base, and vile.  So why should
I do this?  If you tell me that if I do it not I shall receive
some injury from someone, then, in the first place, I cannot
anticipate from anyone an injury so great as the injury you bring
on me if I obey you; and secondly, it is perfectly clear to me
that if we our own selves do not flog ourselves, no one will flog

As for the government--that means the tzars, ministers, and
officials with pens in their hands, who cannot force us into doing
anything, as that officer of police compelled the peasants; the
men who will drag us to the law court, to prison, and to
execution, are not tzars or officials with pens in their hands,
but the very people who are in the same position as we are.  And
it is just as unprofitable and harmful and unpleasant to them to
be flogged as to me, and therefore there is every likelihood that
if I open their eyes they not only would not treat me with
violence, but would do just as I am doing.

Thirdly, even if it should come to pass that I had to suffer for it,
even then it would be better for me to be exiled or sent to prison for
standing up for common sense and right--which, if not to-day, at least
within a very short time, must be triumphant--than to suffer for folly
and wrong which must come to an end directly. And therefore, even in
that case, it is better to run the risk of their banishing me, shutting
me up in prison, or executing me, than of my living all my life in
bondage, through my own fault, to wicked men. Better is this than the
possibility of being destroyed by victorious enemies, and being stupidly
tortured and killed by them, in fighting for a cannon, or a piece of
land of no use to anyone, or for a senseless rag called a banner.

I don't want to flog myself and I won't do it. I have no reason to do
it. Do it yourselves, if you want it done; but I won't do it.

One would have thought that not religious or moral feeling alone,
but the simplest common sense and foresight should impel every man
of the present day to answer and to act in that way.  But not so.
Men of the state conception of life are of the opinion that to act
in that way is not necessary, and is even prejudicial to the
attainment of their object, the emancipation of men from slavery.
They hold that we must continue, like the police officer's
peasants, to flog one another, consoling ourselves with the
reflection that we are talking away in the assemblies and
meetings, founding trades unions, marching through the streets on
the 1st of May, getting up conspiracies, and stealthily teasing
the government that is flogging us, and that through all this it
will be brought to pass that, by enslaving ourselves in closer and
closer bondage, we shall very soon be free.

Nothing hinders the emancipation of men from slavery so much as
this amazing error.  Instead of every man directing his energies
to freeing himself, to transforming his conception of life, people
seek for an external united method of gaining freedom, and
continue to rivet their chains faster and faster.

It is much as if men were to maintain that to make up a fire there
was no need to kindle any of the coals, but that all that was
necessary was to arrange the coals in a certain order.  Yet the
fact that the freedom of all men will be brought about only
through the freedom of individual persons, becomes more and more
clear as time goes on.  The freedom of individual men, in the name
of the Christian conception of life, from state domination, which
was formerly an exceptional and unnoticed phenomenon, has of late
acquired threatening significance for state authorities.

If in a former age, in the Roman times, it happened that a
Christian confessed his religion and refused to take part in
sacrifices, and to worship the emperors or the gods; or in the
Middle Ages a Christian refused to worship images, or to
acknowledge the authority of the Pope--these cases were in the
first place a matter of chance.  A man might be placed under the
necessity of confessing his faith, or he might live all his life
without being placed under this necessity.  But now all men,
without exception, are subjected to this trial of their faith.
Every man of the present day is under the necessity of taking part
in the cruelties of pagan life, or of refusing all participation
in them.  And secondly, in those days cases of refusal to worship
the gods or the images or the Pope were not incidents that had any
material bearing on the state.  Whether men worshiped or did not
worship the gods or the images or the Pope, the state remained
just as powerful.  But now cases of refusing to comply with the
unchristian demands of the government are striking at the very
root of state authority, because the whole authority of the state
is based on the compliance with these unchristian demands.

The sovereign powers of the world have in the course of time been
brought into a position in which, for their own preservation, they
must require from all men actions which cannot be performed by men
who profess true Christianity.

And therefore in our days every profession of true Christianity,
by any individual man, strikes at the most essential power of the
state, and inevitably leads the way for the emancipation of all.

What importance, one might think, can one attach to such an
incident as some dozens of crazy fellows, as people will call
them, refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the government,
refusing to pay taxes, to take part in law proceedings or in
military service?

These people are punished and exiled to a distance, and life goes
on in its old way.  One might think there was no importance in
such incidents; but yet, it is just those incidents, more than
anything else, that will undermine the power of the state and
prepare the way for the freedom of men.  These are the individual
bees, who are beginning to separate from the swarm, and are flying
near it, waiting till the whole swarm can no longer be prevented
from starting off after them.  And the governments know this, and
fear such incidents more than all the socialists, communists, and
anarchists, and their plots and dynamite bombs.

A new reign is beginning.  According to the universal rule and
established order it is required that all the subjects should take
the oath of allegiance to the new government.  There is a general
decree to that effect, and all are summoned to the council-houses
to take the oath.  All at once one man in Perm, another in Tula, a
third in Moscow, and a fourth in Kalouga declare that they will
not take the oath, and though there is no communication between
them, they all explain their refusal on the same grounds--namely,
that swearing is forbidden by the law of Christ, and that even if
swearing had not been forbidden, they could not, in the spirit of
the law of Christ, promise to perform the evil actions required of
them in the oath, such as informing against all such as may act
against the interests of the government, or defending their
government with firearms or attacking its enemies. They are
brought before rural police officers, district police captains,
priests, and governors. They are admonished, questioned,
threatened, and punished; but they adhere to their resolution, and
do not take the oath.  And among the millions of those who did
take the oath, those dozens go on living who did not take the
oath.  And they are questioned:

"What, didn't you take the oath?"

"No, I didn't take the oath."

"And what happened--nothing?"


The subjects of a state are all bound to pay taxes.  And everyone
pays taxes, till suddenly one man in Kharkov, another in Tver, and
a third in Samara refuse to pay taxes--all, as though in
collusion, saying the same thing.  One says he will only pay when
they tell him what object the money taken from him will be spent
on.  "If it is for good deeds," he says, "he will give it of his
own accord, and more even than is required of him. If for evil
deeds, then he will give nothing voluntarily, because by the law
of Christ, whose follower he is, he cannot take part in evil
deeds."  The others, too, say the same in other words, and will
not voluntarily pay the taxes.

Those who have anything to be taken have their property taken from
them by force; as for those who have nothing, they are left alone.

"What, didn't you pay the tax?"

"No, I didn't pay it."

"And what happened-nothing?"


There is the institution of passports.  Everyone moving from his
place of residence is bound to carry one, and to pay a duty on it.
Suddenly people are to be found in various places declaring that
to carry a passport is not necessary, that one ought not to
recognize one's dependence on a state which exists by means of
force; and these people do not carry passports, or pay the duty on
them.  And again, it's impossible to force those people by any
means to do what is required.  They send them to jail, and let
them out again, and these people live without passports.

All peasants are bound to fill certain police offices--that of
village constable, and of watchman, and so on.  Suddenly in
Kharkov a peasant refuses to perform this duty, justifying his
refusal on the ground that by the law of Christ, of which he is a
follower, he cannot put any man in fetters, lock him up, or drag
him from place to place.  The same declaration is made by a
peasant in Tver, another in Tambov.  These peasants are abused,
beaten, shut up in prison, but they stick to their resolution and
don't fill these offices against their convictions.  And at last
they cease to appoint them as constables.  And again nothing

All citizens are obliged to take a share in law proceedings in the
character of jurymen. Suddenly the most different people--mechanics,
professors, tradesmen, peasants, servants, as though by agreement refuse
to fill this office, and not on the grounds allowed as sufficient by
law, but because any process at law is, according to their views,
unchristian. They fine these people, trying not to let them have an
opportunity of explaining their motives in public, and replace them by
others. And again nothing can be done.

All young men of twenty-one years of age are obliged to draw lots
for service in the army. All at once one young man in Moscow,
another in Tver, a third in Kharkov, and a fourth in Kiev present
themselves before the authorities, and, as though by previous
agreement, declare that they will not take the oath, they will not
serve because they are Christians.  I will give the details of one
of the first cases, since they have become more frequent, which I
happen to know about [footnote: All the details of this case, as
well as those preceding it, are authentic].  The same treatment
has been repeated in every other case.  A young man of fair
education refuses in the Moscow Townhall to take the oath.  No
attention is paid to what he says, and it is requested that he
should pronounce the words of the oath like the rest.  He
declines, quoting a particular passage of the Gospel in which
swearing is forbidden.  No attention is paid to his arguments, and
he is again requested to comply with the order, but he does not
comply with it.  Then it is supposed that he is a sectary and
therefore does not understand Christianity in the right sense,
that is to say, not in the sense in which the priests in the pay
of the government understand it.  And the young man is conducted
under escort to the priests, that they may bring him to reason.
The priests begin to reason with him, but their efforts in
Christ's name to persuade him to renounce Christ obviously have no
influence on him; he is pronounced incorrigible and sent back
again to the army.  He persists in not taking the oath and openly
refuses to perform any military duties.  It is a case that has not
been provided for by the laws.  To overlook such a refusal to
comply with the demands of the authorities is out of the question,
but to put such a case on a par with simple breach of discipline
is also out of the question.

After deliberation among themselves, the military authorities
decide to get rid of the troublesome young man, to consider him as
a revolutionist, and they dispatch him under escort to the
committee of the secret police.  The police authorities and
gendarmes cross-question him, but nothing that he says can be
brought under the head of any of the misdemeanors which come under
their jurisdiction.  And there is no possibility of accusing him
either of revolutionary acts or revolutionary plotting, since he
declares that he does not wish to attack anything, but, on the
contrary, is opposed to any use of force, and, far from plotting
in secret, he seeks every opportunity of saying and doing all that
he says and does in the most open manner.  And the gendarmes,
though they are bound by no hard-and-fast rules, still find no
ground for a criminal charge in the young man, and, like the
clergy, they send him back to the army.  Again the authorities
deliberate together, and decide to accept him though he has not
taken the oath, and to enrol him among the soldiers.  They put him
into the uniform, enrol him, and send him under guard to the place
where the army is quartered.  There the chief officer of the
division which he enters again expects the young man to perform
his military duties, and again he refuses to obey, and in the
presence of other soldiers explains the reason of his refusal,
saying that he as a Christian cannot voluntarily prepare himself
to commit murder, which is forbidden by the law of Moses.

This incident occurs in a provincial town.  The case awakens the
interest, and even the sympathy, not only of outsiders, but even
of the officers.  And the chief officers consequently do not
decide to punish this refusal of obedience with disciplinary
measures.  To save appearances, though, they shut the young man up
in prison, and write to the highest military authorities to
inquire what they are to do.  To refuse to serve in the army, in
which the Tzar himself serves, and which enjoys the blessing of
the Church, seems insanity from the official point of view.
Consequently they write from Petersburg that, since the young man
must be out of his mind, they must not use any severe treatment
with him, but must send him to a lunatic asylum, that his mental
condition may be inquired into and be scientifically treated.
They send him to the asylum in the hope that he will remain there,
like another young man, who refused ten years ago at Tver to serve
in the army, and who was tortured in the asylum till he submitted.
But even this step does not rid the military authorities of the
inconvenient man.  The doctors examine him, interest themselves
warmly in his case, and naturally finding in him no symptoms of
mental disease, send him back to the army.  There they receive
him, and making believe to have forgotten his refusal, and his
motives for it, they again request him to go to drill, and again
in the presence of the other soldiers he refuses and explains the
reason of his refusal.  The affair continues to attract more and
more attention, both among the soldiers and the inhabitants of the
town.  Again they write to Petersburg, and thence comes the decree
to transfer the young man to some division of the army stationed
on the frontier, in some place where the army is under martial
law, where he can be shot for refusing to obey, and where the
matter can proceed without attracting observation, seeing that
there are few Russians and Christians in such a distant part, but
the majority are foreigners and Mohammedans.  This is accordingly
done.  They transfer him to a division stationed on the Zacaspian
border, and in company with convicts send him to a chief officer
who is notorious for his harshness and severity.

All this time, through all these changes from place to place, the
young man is roughly treated, kept in cold, hunger, and filth, and
life is made burdensome to him generally.  But all these
sufferings do not compel him to change his resolution.  On the
Zacaspian border, where he is again requested to go on guard fully
armed, he again declines to obey.  He does not refuse to go and
stand near the haystacks where they place him, but refuses to take
his arms, declaring that he will not use violence in any case
against anyone.  All this takes place in the presence of the other
soldiers.  To let such a refusal pass unpunished is impossible,
and the young man is put on his trial for breach of discipline.
The trial takes place, and he is sentenced to confinement in the
military prison for two years.  He is again transferred, in
company with convicts, by étape, to Caucasus, and there he is shut
up in prison and falls under the irresponsible power of the
jailer.  There he is persecuted for a year and a half, but he does
not for all that alter his decision not to bear arms, and he
explains why he will not do this to everyone with whom he is
brought in contact.  At the end of the second year they set him
free, before the end of his term of imprisonment, reckoning it
contrary to law to keep him in prison after his time of military
service was over, and only too glad to get rid of him as soon as

Other men in various parts of Russia behave, as though by
agreement, precisely in the same way as this young man, and in all
these cases the government has adopted the same timorous,
undecided, and secretive course of action.  Some of these men are
sent to the lunatic asylum, some are enrolled as clerks and
transferred to Siberia, some are sent to work in the forests, some
are sent to prison, some are fined.  And at this very time some
men of this kind are in prison, not charged with their real
offense--that is, denying the lawfulness of the action of the
government, but for non-fulfillment of special obligations imposed
by government.  Thus an officer of reserve, who did not report his
change of residence, and justified this on the ground that he
would not serve in the army any longer, was fined thirty rubles
for non-compliance with the orders of the superior authority.
This fine he also declined voluntarily to pay.  In the same way
some peasants and soldiers who have refused to be drilled and to
bear arms have been placed under arrest on a charge of breach of
discipline and insolence.

And cases of refusing to comply with the demands of government when they
are opposed to Christianity, and especially cases of refusing to serve
in the army, are occurring of late not in Russia only, but everywhere.
Thus I happen to know that in Servia men of the so-called sect of
Nazarenes steadily refuse to serve in the army, and the Austrian
Government has been carrying on a fruitless contest with them for years,
punishing them with imprisonment. In the year 1885 there were 130 such
cases. I know that in Switzerland in the year 1890 there were men in
prison in the castle of Chillon for declining to serve in the army,
whose resolution was not shaken by their punishment. There have been
such cases in Sweden, and the men who refused obedience were sent to
prison in exactly the same way, and the government studiously concealed
these cases from the people. There have been similar cases also in
Prussia. I know of the case of a sub-lieutenant of the Guards, who in
1891 declared to the authorities in Berlin that he would not, as a
Christian, continue to serve, and in spite of all admonitions, threats,
and punishments he stuck to his resolution. In the south of France a
society has arisen of late bearing the name of the Hinschists (these
facts are taken from the PEACE HERALD, July, 1891), the members of which
refuse to enter military service on the grounds of their Christian
principles. At first they were enrolled in the ambulance corps, but now,
as their numbers increase, they are subjected to punishment for
non-compliance, but they still refuse to bear arms just the same.

The socialists, the communists, the anarchists, with their bombs
and riots and revolutions, are not nearly so much dreaded by
governments as these disconnected individuals coming from
different parts, and all justifying their non-compliance on the
grounds of the same religion, which is known to all the world.
Every government knows by what means and in what manner to defend
itself from revolutionists, and has resources for doing so, and
therefore does not dread these external foes.  But what are
governments to do against men who show the uselessness,
superfluousness, and perniciousness of  all governments, and who
do  not contend against them, but simply do not need them and do
without them, and therefore are unwilling to take any part in
them?  The revolutionists say: The form of government is bad in
this respect and that respect; we must overturn it and substitute
this or that form of government.  The Christian says: I know
nothing about the form of government, I don't know whether it is
good or bad, and I don't want to overturn it precisely because I
don't know whether it is good or bad, but for the very same reason
I don't want to support it either.  And I  not only don't want to,
but I can't, because what it demands of me is against my

All state obligations are against the conscience of a Christian--the
oath of allegiance, taxes, law proceedings, and military service. And
the whole power of the government rests on these very obligations.

Revolutionary enemies attack the government from without.
Christianity does not attack it at all, but, from within, it
destroys all the foundations on which government rests.

Among the Russian people, especially since the age of Peter I., the
protest of Christianity against the government has never ceased, and the
social organization has been such that men emigrate in communes to
Turkey, to China, and to uninhabited lands, and not only feel no need of
state aid, but always regard the state as a useless burden, only to be
endured as a misfortune, whether it happens to be Turkish, Russian, or
Chinese. And so, too, among the Russian people more and more frequent
examples have of late appeared of conscious Christian freedom from
subjection to the state. And these examples are the more alarming for
the government from the fact that these non-compliant persons often
belong not to the so-called lower uneducated classes, but are men of
fair or good education; and also from the fact that they do not in these
days justify their position by any mystic and exceptional views, as in
former times, do not associate themselves with any superstitious or
fanatic rites, like the sects who practice self-immolation by fire, or
the wandering pilgrims, but put their refusal on the very simplest and
clearest grounds, comprehensible to all, and recognized as true by all.

Thus they refuse the voluntary payment of taxes, because taxes are spent
on deeds of violence--on the pay of men of violence--soldiers, on the
construction of prisons, fortresses, and cannons. They as Christians
regard it as sinful and immoral to have any hand in such deeds.

Those who refuse to take the oath of allegiance refuse because to
promise obedience to authorities, that is, to men who are given to
deeds of violence, is contrary to the sense of Christ's teaching.
They refuse to take the oath in the law courts, because oaths are
directly forbidden by the Gospel.  They refuse to perform police
duties, because in the performance of these duties they must use
force against their brothers and ill treat them, and a Christian
cannot do that.  They refuse to take part in trials at law,
because they consider every appeal to law is fulfilling the law of
vengeance, which is inconsistent with the Christian law of
forgiveness and love.  They refuse to take any part in military
preparations and in the army, because they cannot be executioners,
and they are unwilling to prepare themselves to be so.

The motives in all these cases are so excellent that, however
despotic governments may be, they could hardly punish them openly.
To punish men for refusing to act against their conscience the
government must renounce all claim to good sense and benevolence.
And they assure people that they only rule in the name of good
sense and benevolence.

What are governments to do against such people?

Governments can of course flog to death or execute or keep in
perpetual imprisonment all enemies who want to overturn them by
violence, they can lavish gold on that section of the people who
are ready to destroy their enemies.  But what can they do against
men who, without wishing to overturn or destroy anything, desire
simply for their part to do nothing against the law of Christ, and
who, therefore, refuse to perform the commonest state
requirements, which are, therefore, the most indispensable to the
maintenance of the state?

If they had been revolutionists, advocating and practicing
violence and murder, their suppression would have been an easy
matter; some of them could have been bought over, some could have
been duped, some could have been overawed, and these who could not
be bought over, duped, or overawed would have been treated as
criminals, enemies of society, would have been executed or
imprisoned, and the crowd would have approved of the action of the
government.  If they had been fanatics, professing some peculiar
belief, it might have been possible, in disproving the
superstitious errors mixed in with their religion, to attack also
the truth they advocate.  But what is to be done with men who
profess no revolutionary ideas nor any peculiar religious dogmas,
but merely because they are unwilling to do evil to any man,
refuse to take the oath, to pay taxes, to take part in law
proceedings, to serve in the army, to fulfill, in fact, any of the
obligations upon which the whole fabric of a state rests?  What is
to done with such people?  To buy them over with bribes is
impossible; the very risks to which they voluntarily expose
themselves show that they are incorruptible.  To dupe them into
believing that this is their duty to God is also impossible, since
their refusal is based on the clear, unmistakable law of God,
recognized even by those who are trying to compel men to act
against it.  To terrify them by threats is still less possible,
because the deprivations and sufferings to which they are
subjected only strengthen their desire to follow the faith by
which they are commanded: to obey God rather than men, and not to
fear those who can destroy the body, but to fear him who can
destroy body and soul.  To kill them or keep them in perpetual
imprisonment is also impossible.  These men have friends, and a
past; their way of thinking and acting is well known; they are
known by everyone for good, gentle, peaceable people, and they
cannot be regarded as criminals who must be removed for the safety
of society.  And to put men to death who are regarded as good men
is to provoke others to champion them and justify their refusal.
And it is only necessary to explain the reasons of their refusal
to make clear to everyone that these reasons have the same force
for all other men, and that they all ought to have done the same
long ago.  These cases put the ruling powers into a desperate
position.  They see that the prophecy of Christianity is coming to
pass, that it is loosening the fetters of those in chains, and
setting free them that are in bondage, and that this must
inevitably be the end of all oppressors.  The ruling authorities
see this, they know that their hours are numbered, and they can do
nothing.  All that they can do to save themselves is only
deferring the hour of their downfall.  And this they do, but their
position is none the less desperate.

It is like the position of a conqueror who is trying to save a
town which has been been set on fire by its own inhabitants.
Directly he puts out the conflagration in one place, it is alight
in two other places; directly he gives in to the fire and cuts off
what is on fire from a large building, the building itself is
alight at both ends.  These separate fires may be few, but they
are burning with a flame which, however small a spark it starts
from, never ceases till it has set the whole ablaze.

Thus it is that the ruling authorities are in such a defenseless
position before men who advocate Christianity, that but little is
necessary to overthrow this sovereign power which seems so
powerful, and has held such an exalted position for so many
centuries.  And yet social reformers are busy promulgating the
idea that it is not necessary and is even pernicious and immoral
for every man separately to work out his own freedom.  As though,
while one set of men have been at work a long while turning a
river into a new channel, and had dug out a complete water-course
and had only to open the floodgates for the water to rush in and
do the rest, another set of men should come along and begin to
advise them that it would be much better, instead of letting the
water out, to construct a machine which would ladle the water up
from one side and pour it over the other side.

But the thing has gone too far.  Already ruling governments feel
their weak and defenseless position, and men of Christian
principles are awakening from their apathy, and already begin to
feel their power.

"I am come to send a fire on the earth," said Christ, "and what
will I, if it be already kindled?"

And this fire is beginning to burn.



Christianity Destroys the State--But Which is Most Necessary:
Christianity or the State?--There are Some who Assert the Necessity of a
State Organization, and Others who Deny it, both Arguing from same First
Principles--Neither Contention can be Proved by Abstract Argument--The
Question must be Decided by the Stage in the Development of Conscience
of Each Man, which will either Prevent or Allow him to Support a
Government Organization--Recognition of the Futility and Immorality of
Supporting a State Organization Contrary to Christian Principles will
Decide the Question for Every Man, in Spite of any Action on Part of the
State--Argument of those who Defend the Government, that it is a Form of
Social Life, Needed to Protect the Good from the Wicked, till all
Nations and all Members of each Nation have Become Christians--The Most
Wicked are Always those in Power--The whole History of Humanity is the
History of the Forcible Appropriation of Power by the Wicked and their
Oppression of the Good--The Recognition by Governments of the Necessity
of Opposing Evil by Force is Equivalent to Suicide on their Part--The
Abolition of State-violence cannot Increase the Sum Total of Acts of
Violence--The Suppression of the Use of Force is not only Possible, but
is even Taking Place before Our Eyes--But it will Never be Suppressed by
the Violence of Government, but through Men who have Attained Power by
Evidence Recognizing its Emptiness and Becoming Better and Less Capable
of Using Force--Individual Men and also Whole Nations Pass Through this
Process--By this Means Christianity is Diffused Through Consciousness of
Men, not only in Spite of Use of Violence by Government, but even
Through its Action, and therefore the Suppression is not to be Dreaded,
but is Brought About by the National Progress of Life--Objection of
those who Defend State Organization that Universal Adoption of
Christianity is hardly Likely to be Realized at any Time--The General
Adoption of the Truths of Christianity is being Brought About not only
by the Gradual and Inward Means, that is, by Knowledge of the Truth,
Prophetic Insight, and Recognition of the Emptiness of Power, and
Renunciation of it by Individuals, but also by Another External Means,
the Acceptance of a New Truth by Whole Masses of Men on a Lower Level of
Development Through Simple Confidence in their Leaders--When a Certain
Stage in the Diffusion of a Truth has been Reached, a Public Opinion is
Created which Impels a Whole Mass of Men, formerly Antagonistic to the
New Truth, to Accept it--And therefore all Men may Quickly be Brought to
Renounce the use of Violence when once a Christian Public Opinion is
Established--The Conviction of Force being Necessary Hinders the
Establishment of a Christian Public Opinion--The Use of Violence Leads
Men to Distrust the Spiritual Force which is the Only Force by which
they Advance--Neither Nations nor Individuals have been really
Subjugated by Force, but only by Public Opinion, which no Force can
Resist--Savage Nations and Savage Men can only be Subdued by the
Diffusion of a Christian Standard among them, while actually Christian
Nations in order to Subdue them do all they can to Destroy a Christian
Standard--These Fruitless Attempts to Civilize Savages Cannot be Adduced
as Proofs that Men Cannot be Subdued by Christianity--Violence by
Corrupting Public Opinion, only Hinders the Social Organization from
being What it Ought to Be--And by the Use of Violence being Suppressed,
a Christian Public Opinion would be Established--Whatever might be the
Result of the Suppression of Use of Force, this Unknown Future could not
be Worse than the Present Condition, and so there is no Need to Dread
it--To Attain Knowledge of the Unknown, and to Move Toward it, is the
Essence of Life.

Christianity in its true sense puts an end to government.  So it
was understood at its very commencement; it was for that cause
that Christ was crucified.  So it has always been understood by
people who were not under the necessity of justifying a Christian
government.  Only from the time that the heads of government
assumed an external and nominal Christianity, men began to invent
all the impossible, cunningly devised theories by means of which
Christianity can be reconciled with government.  But no honest and
serious-minded man of our day can help seeing the incompatibility
of true Christianity--the doctrine of meekness, forgiveness of
injuries, and love--with government, with its pomp, acts of
violence, executions, and wars.  The profession of true
Christianity not only excludes the possibility of recognizing
government, but even destroys its very foundations.

But if it is so, and we are right in saying that Christianity is
incompatible with government, then the question naturally presents
itself: which is more necessary to the good of humanity, in which
way is men's happiness best to be secured, by maintaining the
organization of government or by destroying it and replacing it by

Some people maintain that government is more necessary for
humanity, that the destruction of the state organization would
involve the destruction of all that humanity has gained, that the
state has been and still is the only form in which humanity can
develop.  The evil which we see among peoples living under a
government organization they attribute not to that type of
society, but to its abuses, which, they say, can be corrected
without destroying it, and thus humanity, without discarding the
state organization, can develop and attain a high degree of
happiness. And men of this way of thinking bring forward in
support of their views arguments which they think irrefutable
drawn from history, philosophy, and even religion.  But there are
men who hold on the contrary that, as there was a time when
humanity lived without government, such an organization is
temporary, and that a time must come when men need a new
organization, and that that time has come now.  And men of this
way of thinking also bring forward in support of their views
arguments which they think irrefutable from philosophy, history,
and religion.

Volumes may be written in defense of the former view (and volumes
indeed have long ago been written and more will still be written
on that side), but much also can be written against it (and much
also, and most brilliantly, has been written--though more recently
--on this side).

And it cannot be proved, as the champions of the state maintain,
that the destruction of government involves a social chaos, mutual
spoliation and murder, the destruction of all social institutions,
and the return of mankind to barbarism.  Nor can it be proved as
the opponents of government maintain that men have already become
so wise and good that they will not spoil or murder one another,
but will prefer peaceful associations to hostilities; that of
their own accord, unaided by the state, they will make all the
arrangements that they need, and that therefore government, far
from being any aid, under show of guarding men exerts a pernicious
and brutalizing influence over them.  It is impossible to prove
either of these contentions by abstract reasoning.  Still less
possible is it to prove them by experiment, since the whole matter
turns on the question, ought we to try the experiment?  The
question whether or not the time has come to make an end of
government would be unanswerable, except that there exists another
living means of settling it beyond dispute.

We may dispute upon the question whether the nestlings are ready
to do without the mother-hen and to come out of the eggs, or
whether they are not yet advanced enough.  But the young birds
will decide the question without any regard for our arguments when
they find themselves cramped for space in the eggs.  Then they
will begin to try them with their beaks and come out of them of
their own accord.

It is the same with the question whether the time has come to do
away with the governmental type of society and to replace it by a
new type.  If a man, through the growth of a higher conscience,
can no longer comply with the demands of government, he finds
himself cramped by it and at the same time no longer needs its
protection.  When this comes to pass, the question whether men are
ready to discard the governmental type is solved.  And the
conclusion will be as final for them as for the young birds
hatched out of the eggs.  Just as no power in the world can put
them back into the shells, so can no power in the world bring men
again under the governmental type of society when once they have
outgrown it.

"It may well be that government was necessary and is still
necessary for all the advantages which you attribute to it," says
the man who has mastered the Christian theory of life. "I only
know that on the one hand, government is no longer necessary for
ME, and on the other hand, I can no longer carry out the measures
that are necessary to the existence of a government.  Settle for
yourselves what you need for your life.  I cannot prove the need
or the harm of governments in general.  I know only what I need
and do not need, what I can do and what I cannot.  I know that I
do not need to divide myself off from other nations, and therefore
I cannot admit that I belong exclusively to any state or nation,
or that I owe allegiance to any government.  I know that I do not
need all the government institutions organized within the state,
and therefore I cannot deprive people who need my labor to give it
in the form of taxes to institutions which I do not need, which
for all I know may be pernicious.  I know that I have no need of
the administration or of courts of justice founded upon force, and
therefore I can take no part in either.  I know that I do not need
to attack and slaughter other nations or to defend myself from
them with arms, and therefore I can take no part in wars or
preparations for wars.  It may well be that there are people who
cannot help regarding all this as necessary and indispensable.  I
cannot dispute the question with them, I can only speak for
myself; but I can say with absolute certainty that I do not need
it, and that I cannot do it.  And I do not need this and I cannot
do it, not because such is my own, my personal will, but because
such is the will of him who sent me into life, and gave me an
indubitable law for my conduct through life."

Whatever arguments may be advanced in support of the contention
that the suppression of government authority would be injurious
and would lead to great calamities, men who have once outgrown the
governmental form of society cannot go back to it again.  And all
the reasoning in the world cannot make the man who has outgrown
the governmental form of society take part in actions disallowed
by his conscience, any more than the full-grown bird can be made
to return into the egg-shell.

"But even it be so," say the champions of the existing order of
things, "still the suppression of government violence can only be
possible and desirable when all men have become Christians.  So
long as among people nominally Christians there are unchristian
wicked men, who for the gratification of their own lusts are ready
to do harm to others, the suppression of government authority, far
from being a blessing to others, would only increase their
miseries.  The suppression of the governmental type of society is
not only undesirable so long as there is only a minority of true
Christians; it would not even be desirable if the whole of a
nation were Christians, but among and around them were still
unchristian men of other nations.  For these unchristian men would
rob, outrage, and kill the Christians with impunity and would make
their lives miserable.  All that would result, would be that the
bad would oppress and outrage the good with impunity.  And
therefore the authority of government must not be suppressed till
all the wicked and rapacious people in the world are extinct.  And
since this will either never be, or at least cannot be for a long
time to come, in spite of the efforts of individual Christians to
be independent of government authority, it ought to be maintained
in the interests of the majority.  The champions of government
assert that without it the wicked will oppress and outrage the
good, and that the power of the government enables the good to
resist the wicked."

But in this assertion the champions of the existing order of
things take for granted the proposition they want to prove.  When
they say that except for the government the bad would oppress the
good, they take it for granted that the good are those who at the
present time are in possession of power, and the bad are those who
are in subjection to it.  But this is just what wants proving.  It
would only be true if the custom of our society were what is, or
rather is supposed to be, the custom in China; that is, that the
good always rule, and that directly those at the head of
government cease to be better than those they rule over, the
citizens are bound to remove them.  This is supposed to be the
custom in China.  In reality it is not so and can never be so.
For to remove the heads of a government ruling by force, it is not
the right alone, but the power to do so that is needed.  So that
even in China this is only an imaginary custom.  And in our
Christian world we do not even suppose such a custom, and we have
nothing on which to build up the supposition that it is the good
or the superior who are in power; in reality it is those who have
seized power and who keep it for their own and their retainers'

The good cannot seize power, nor retain it; to do this men must
love power.  And love of power is inconsistent with goodness; but
quite consistent with the very opposite qualities--pride, cunning,

Without the aggrandizement of self and the abasement of others,
without hypocrisies and deceptions, without prisons, fortresses,
executions, and murders, no power can come into existence or be

"If the power of government is suppressed the more wicked will
oppress the less wicked," say the champions of state authority.
But when the Egyptians conquered the Jews, the Romans conquered
the Greeks, and the Barbarians conquered the Romans, is it
possible that all the conquerors were always better than those
they conquered?  And the same with the transitions of power within
a state from one personage to another: has the power always passed
from a worse person to a better one?  When Louis XVI. was removed
and Robespierre came to power, and afterward Napoleon--who ruled
then, a better man or a worse?  And when were better men in power,
when the Versaillist party or when the Commune was in power?  When
Charles I. was ruler, or when Cromwell?  And when Peter III. was
Tzar, or when he was killed and Catherine was Tzaritsa in one-half
of Russia and Pougachef ruled the other?  Which was bad then, and
which was good?  All men who happen to be in authority assert that
their authority is necessary to keep the bad from oppressing the
good, assuming that they themselves are the good PAR EXCELLENCE,
who protect other good people from the bad.

But ruling means using force, and using force means doing to him to whom
force is used, what he does not like and what he who uses the force
would certainly not like done to himself. Consequently ruling means
doing to others what we would not they should do unto us, that is, doing

To submit means to prefer suffering to using force.  And to prefer
suffering to using force means to be good, or at least less wicked
than those who do unto others what they would not like themselves.

And therefore, in all probability, not the better but the worse
have always ruled and are ruling now.  There may be bad men among
those who are ruled, but it cannot be that those who are better
have generally ruled those who are worse.

It might be possible to suppose this with the inexact heathen
definition of good; but with the clear Christian definition of
good and evil, it is impossible to imagine it.

If the more or less good, and the more or less bad cannot be
distinguished in the heathen world, the Christian conception of
good and evil has so clearly defined the characteristics of the
good and the wicked, that it is impossible to confound them.
According to Christ's teaching the good are those who are meek and
long-suffering, do not resist evil by force, forgive injuries, and
love their enemies; those are wicked who exalt themselves,
oppress, strive, and use force.  Therefore by Christ's teaching
there can be no doubt whether the good are to be found among
rulers or ruled, and whether the wicked are among the ruled or the
rulers.  Indeed it is absurd even to speak of Christians ruling.

Non-Christians, that is those who find the aim of their lives in
earthly happiness, must always rule Christians, the aim of whose
lives is the renunciation of such earthly happiness.

This difference has always existed and has become more and more
defined as the Christian religion has been more widely diffused
and more correctly understood.

The more widely true Christianity was diffused and the more it
penetrated men's conscience, the more impossible it was for
Christians to be rulers, and the easier it became for non-Christians
to rule them.

"To get rid of governmental violence in a society in which all are
not true Christians, will only result in the wicked dominating the
good and oppressing them with impunity," say the champions of the
existing order of things. But it has never been, and cannot be
otherwise.  So it has always been from the beginning of the world,
WILL ALWAYS OPPRESS THEM.  Cain overpowered Abel, the cunning
Jacob oppressed the guileless Esau and was in his turn deceived by
Laban, Caiaphas and Pilate oppressed Christ, the Roman emperors
oppressed Seneca, Epictetus, and the good Romans who lived in
their times.  John IV. with his favorites, the syphilitic drunken
Peter with his buffoons, the vicious Catherine with her paramours,
ruled and oppressed the industrious religious Russians of their

William is ruling over the Germans, Stambouloff over the
Bulgarians, the Russian officials over the Russian people.  The
Germans have dominated the Italians, now they dominate the
Hungarians and Slavonians; the Turks have dominated and still
dominate the Slavonians and Greeks; the English dominate the
Hindoos, the Mongolians dominate the Chinese.

So that whether governmental violence is suppressed or not, the
position of good men, in being oppressed by the wicked, will be

To terrify men with the prospect of the wicked dominating the good
is impossible, for that is just what has always been, and is now,
and cannot but be.

The whole history of pagan times is nothing but a recital of the
incidents and means by which the more wicked gained possession of
power over the less wicked, and retained it by cruelties and
deceptions, ruling over the good under the pretense of guarding
the right and protecting the good from the wicked.  All the
revolutions in history are only examples of the more wicked
seizing power and oppressing the good.  In declaring that if their
authority did not exist the more wicked would oppress the good,
the ruling authorities only show their disinclination to let other
oppressors come to power who would like to snatch it from them.

But in asserting this they only accuse themselves, say that their
power, i. e., violence, is needed to defend men from other
possible oppressors in the present or the future [see footnote].

    [Footnote: I may quote in this connection the amazingly
    naive and comic declaration of the Russian authorities,
    the oppressors of other nationalities--the Poles, the
    Germans of the Baltic provinces, and the Jews.  The
    Russian Government has oppressed its subjects for
    centuries, and has never troubled itself about the
    Little Russians of Poland, or the Letts of the Baltic
    provinces, or the Russian peasants, exploited by everyone.
    And now it has all of a sudden become the champion of
    the oppressed--the very oppressed whom it is itself

The weakness of the use of violence lies in the fact that all the
arguments brought forward by oppressors in their own defense can
with even better reason be advanced against them.  They plead the
danger of violence--most often imagined in the future--but they
are all the while continuing to practice actual violence
themselves.  "You say that men used to pillage and murder in the
past, and that you are afraid that they will pillage and murder
one another if your power were no more.  That may happen--or it
may not happen.  But the fact that you ruin thousands of men in
prisons, fortresses, galleys, and exile, break up millions of
families and ruin millions of men, physically as well as morally,
in the army, that fact is not an imaginary but a real act of
violence, which, according to your own argument, one ought to
oppose by violence.  And so you are yourselves these wicked men
against whom, according to your own argument, it is absolutely
necessary to use violence," the oppressed are sure to say to their
oppressors.  And non-Christian men always do say, and think and
act on this reasoning.  If the oppressed are more wicked than
their oppressors, they attack them and try to overthrow them; and
in favorable circumstances they succeed in overthrowing them, or
what is more common, they rise into the ranks of the oppressors
and assist in their acts of violence.

So that the very violence which the champions of government hold
up as a terror--pretending that except for its oppressive power
the wicked would oppress the good--has really always existed and
will exist in human society.  And therefore the suppression of
state violence cannot in any case be the cause of increased
oppression of the good by the wicked.

If state violence ceased, there would be acts of violence perhaps
on the part of different people, other than those who had done
deeds of violence before.  But the total amount of violence could
not in any case be increased by the mere fact of power passing
from one set of men to another.

"State violence can only cease when there are no more wicked men
in society," say the champions of the existing order of things,
assuming in this of course that since there will always be wicked
men, it can never cease.  And that would be right enough if it
were the case, as they assume, that the oppressors are always the
best of men, and that the sole means of saving men from evil is by
violence.  Then, indeed, violence could never cease.  But since
this is not the case, but quite the contrary, that it is not the
better oppress the worse, but the worse oppress the better, and
since violence will never put an end to evil, and there is,
moreover, another means of putting an end to it, the assertion
that violence will never cease is incorrect.  The use of violence
grows less and less and evidently must disappear.  But this will
not come to pass, as some champions of the existing order imagine,
through the oppressed becoming better and better under the
influence of government (on the contrary, its influence causes
their continual degradation), but through the fact that all men
are constantly growing better and better of themselves, so that
even the most wicked, who are in power, will become less and less
wicked, till at last they are so good as to be incapable of using

The progressive movement of humanity does not proceed from the
better elements in society seizing power and making those who are
subject to them better, by forcible means, as both conservatives
and revolutionists imagine.  It proceeds first and principally
from the fact that all men in general are advancing steadily and
undeviatingly toward a more and more conscious assimilation of the
Christian theory of life; and secondly, from the fact that, even
apart from conscious spiritual life, men are unconsciously brought
into a more Christian attitude to life by the very process of one
set of men grasping the power, and again being replaced by others.

The worse elements of society, gaining possession of power, under the
sobering influence which always accompanies power, grow less and less
cruel, and become incapable of using cruel forms of violence.
Consequently others are able to seize their place, and the same process
of softening and, so to say, unconscious Christianizing goes on with
them. It is something like the process of ebullition. The majority of
men, having the non-Christian view of life, always strive for power and
struggle to obtain it. In this struggle the most cruel, the coarsest,
the least Christian elements of society overpower the most gentle,
well-disposed, and Christian, and rise by means of their violence to the
upper ranks of society. And in them is Christ's prophecy fulfilled: "Woe
to you that are rich! woe unto you that are full! woe unto you when all
men shall speak well of you!" For the men who are in possession of power
and all that results from it--glory and wealth--and have attained the
various aims they set before themselves, recognize the vanity of it all
and return to the position from which they came. Charles V., John IV.,
Alexander I., recognizing the emptiness and the evil of power, renounced
it because they were incapable of using violence for their own benefit
as they had done.

But they are not the solitary examples of this recognition of the
emptiness and evil of power. Everyone who gains a position of
power he has striven for, every general, every minister, every
millionaire, every petty official who has gained the place he has
coveted for ten years, every rich peasant who has laid by some
hundred rubles, passes through this unconscious process of

And not only individual men, but societies of men, whole nations,
pass through this process.

The seductions of power, and all the wealth, honor, and luxury it
gives, seem a sufficient aim for men's efforts only so long as
they are unattained.  Directly a man reaches them he sees all
their vanity, and they gradually lose all their power of
attraction.  They are like clouds which have form and beauty only
from the distance; directly one ascends into them, all their
splendor vanishes.

Men who are in possession of power and wealth, sometimes even
those who have gained for themselves their power and wealth, but
more often their heirs, cease to be so eager for power, and so
cruel in their efforts to obtain it.

Having learnt by experience, under the operation of Christian
influence, the vanity of all that is gained by violence, men
sometimes in one, sometimes in several generations lose the vices
which are generated by the passion for power and wealth.  They
become less cruel and so cannot maintain their position, and are
expelled from power by others less Christian and more wicked.
Thus they return to a rank of society lower in position, but
higher in morality, raising thereby the average level of Christian
consciousness in men.  But directly after them again the worst,
coarsest, least Christian elements of society rise to the top, and
are subjected to the same process as their predecessors, and again
in a generation or so, seeing the vanity of what is gained by
violence, and having imbibed Christianity, they come down again
among the oppressed, and their place is again filled by new
oppressors, less brutal than former oppressors, though more so
than those they oppress.  So that, although power remains
externally the same as it was, with every change of the men in
power there is a constant increase of the number of men who have
been brought by experience to the necessity of assimilating the
Christian conception of life, and with every change--though it is
the coarsest, crudest, and least Christian who come into
possession of power, they are less coarse and cruel and more
Christian than their predecessors when they gained possession of

Power selects and attracts the worst elements of society,
transforms them, improves and softens them, and returns them to

"Such is the process by means of which Christianity, in spite of
the hindrances to human progress resulting from the violence of
power, gains more and more hold of men.  Christianity penetrates
to the consciousness of men, not only in spite of the violence of
power, but also by means of it.

And therefore the assertion of the champions of the state, that if
the power of government were suppressed the wicked would oppress
the good, not only fails to show that that is to be dreaded, since
it is just what happens now, but proves, on the contrary, that it
is governmental power which enables the wicked to oppress the
good, and is the evil most desirable to suppress, and that it is
being gradually suppressed in the natural course of things.

"But if it be true that governmental power will disappear when
those in power become so Christian that they renounce power of
their own accord, and there are no men found willing to take their
place, and even if this process is already going on," say the
champions of the existing order, "when will that come to pass?
If, after eighteen hundred years, there are still so many eager
for power, and so few anxious to obey, there seems no likelihood
of its happening very soon--or indeed of its ever happening at

"Even if there are, as there have always been, some men who prefer
renouncing power to enjoying it, the mass of men in reserve, who
prefer dominion to subjection, is so great that it is difficult to
imagine a time when the number will be exhausted.

"Before this Christianizing process could so affect all men one
after another that they would pass from the heathen to the
Christian conception of life, and would voluntarily abandon power
and wealth, it would be necessary that all the coarse, half-savage
men, completely incapable of appreciating Christianity or acting
upon it, of whom there are always a great many in every Christian
society, should be converted to Christianity.  More than this, all
the savage and absolutely non-Christian peoples, who are so
numerous outside the Christian world, must also be converted.  And
therefore, even if we admit that this Christianizing process will
some day affect everyone, still, judging by the amount of progress
it has made in eighteen hundred years, it will be many times
eighteen centuries before it will do so.  And it is therefore
impossible and unprofitable to think at present of anything so
impracticable as the suppression of authority.  We ought only to
try to put authority into the best hands."

And this criticism would be perfectly just, if the transition from
one conception of life to another were only accomplished by the
single process of all men, separately and successively, realizing,
each for himself, the emptiness of power, and reaching Christian
truth by the inner spiritual path.  That process goes on
unceasingly, and men are passing over to Christianity one after
another by this inner way.

But there is also another external means by which men reach
Christianity and by which the transition is less gradual.

This transition from one organization of life to another is not
accomplished by degrees like the sand running through the
hourglass grain after grain.  It is more like the water filling a
vessel floating on water. At first the water only runs in slowly
on one side, but as the vessel grows heavier it suddenly begins to
sink, and almost instantaneously fills with water.

It is just the same with the transitions of mankind from one
conception--and so from one organization of life--to another.  At
first only gradually and slowly, one after another, men attain to
the new truth by the inner spiritual way, and follow it out in
life.  But when a certain point in the diffusion of the truth has
been reached, it is suddenly assimilated by everyone, not by the
inner way, but, as it were, involuntarily.

That is why the champions of the existing order are wrong in
arguing that, since only a small section of mankind has passed
over to Christianity in eighteen centuries, it must be many times
eighteen centuries before all the remainder do the same.  For in
that argument they do not take into account any other means,
besides the inward spiritual one, by which men assimilate a new
truth and pass from one order of life to another.

Men do not only assimilate a truth through recognizing it by
prophetic insight, or by experience of life.  When the truth has
become sufficiently widely diffused, men at a lower stage of
development accept it all at once simply through confidence in
those who have reached it by the inner spiritual way, and are
applying it to life.

Every new truth, by which the order of human life is changed and
humanity is advanced, is at first accepted by only a very small
number of men who understand it through inner spiritual intuition.
The remainder of mankind who accepted on trust the preceding truth
on which the existing order is based, are always opposed to the
diffusion of the new truth.

But seeing that, to begin with, men do not stand still, but are
steadily advancing to a greater recognition of the truth and a
closer adaptation of their life to it, and secondly, all men in
varying degrees according to their age, their education, and their
race are capable of understanding the new truths, at first those
who are nearest to the men who have attained the new truth by
spiritual intuition, slowly and one by one, but afterward more and
more quickly, pass over to the new truth.  Thus the number of men
who accept the new truth becomes greater and greater, and the
truth becomes more and more comprehensible.

And thus more confidence is aroused in the remainder, who are at a
less advanced stage of capacity for understanding the truth.  And
it becomes easier for them to grasp it, and an increasing number
accept it.

And so the movement goes on more and more quickly, and on an
ever-increasing scale, like a snowball, till at last a public opinion in
harmony with the new truth is created, and then the whole mass of men is
carried over all at once by its momentum to the new truth and
establishes a new social order in accordance with it.

Those men who accept a new truth when it has gained a certain
degree of acceptance, always pass over all at once in masses.
They are like the ballast with which every ship is always loaded,
at once to keep it upright and enable it to sail properly.  If
there were no ballast, the ship would not be low enough in the
water, and would shift its position at the slightest change in its
conditions.  This ballast, which strikes one at first as
superfluous and even as hindering the progress of the vessel, is
really indispensable to its good navigation.

It is the same with the mass of mankind, who not individually, but
always in a mass, under the influence of a new social idea pass
all at once from one organization of life to another.  This mass
always hinders, by its inertia, frequent and rapid revolutions in
the social order which have not been sufficiently proved by human
experience.  And it delays every truth a long while till it has
stood the test of prolonged struggles, and has thoroughly
permeated the consciousness of humanity.

And that is why it is a mistake to say that because only a very
small minority of men has assimilated Christianity in eighteen
centuries, it must take many times as many centuries for all
mankind to assimilate it, and that since that time is so far off
we who live in the present need not even think about it.  It is a
mistake, because the men at a lower stage of culture, the, men and
the nations who are represented as the obstacle to the realization
of the Christian order of life, are the very people who always
pass over in masses all at once to any truth that has once been
recognized by public opinion.

And therefore the transformation of human life, through which men
in power will renounce it, and there will be none anxious to take
their place, will not come only by all men consciously and
separately assimilating the Christian conception of life. It will
come when a Christian public opinion has arisen, so definite and
easily comprehensible as to reach the whole of the inert mass,
which is not able to attain truth by its own intuition, and
therefore is always under the sway of public opinion.

Public opinion arises spontaneously and spreads for hundreds and
thousands of years, but it has the power of working on men by
infection, and with great rapidity gains a hold on great numbers
of men.

"But," say the champions of the existing order, "even if it is
true that public opinion, when it has attained a certain degree of
definiteness and precision, can convert the inert mass of men
outside the Christian world--the non-Christian races--as well as
the coarse and depraved who are living in its midst, what proofs
have we that this Christian public opinion has arisen and is able
to replace force and render it unnecessary.

"We must not give up force, by which the existing order is
maintained, and by relying on the vague and impalpable influence
of public opinion expose Christians to the risk of being pillaged,
murdered, and outraged in every way by the savages inside and
outside of civilized society.

"Since, even supported by the use of force, we can hardly control
the non-Christian elements which are always ready to pour down on
us and to destroy all that has been gained by civilization, is it
likely that public opinion could take the place of force and
render us secure?  And besides, how are we to find the moment when
public opinion has become strong enough to be able to replace the
use of force?  To reject the use of force and trust to public
opinion to defend us would be as insane as to remove all weapons
of defense in a menagerie, and then to let loose all the lions and
tigers, relying on the fact that the animals seemed peaceable when
kept in their cages and held in check by red-hot irons.  And
therefore people in power, who have been put in positions of
authority by fate or by God, have not the right to run the risk,
ruining all that has been gained by civilization, just because
they want to try an experiment to see whether public opinion is or
is not able to replace the protection given by authority."

A French writer, forgotten now, Alphonse Karr, said somewhere,
trying to show the impossibility of doing away with the death
penalty: "Que messieurs les assassins commencent par nous donner
l'exemple."  Often have I heard this BON MOT repeated by men who
thought that these words were a witty and convincing argument
against the abolition of capital punishment.  And yet all the
erroneousness of the argument of those who consider that
governments cannot give up the use of force till all people are
capable of doing the same, could not be more clearly expressed
than it is in that epigram.

"Let the murderers," say the champions of state violence, "set us
the example by giving up murder and then we will give it up."  But
the murderers say just the same, only with much more right. They
say: "Let those who have undertaken to teach us and guide us set
us the example of giving up legal murder, and then we will imitate
them."  And they say this, not as a jest, but seriously, because
it is the actual state of the case.

"We cannot give up the use of violence, because we are surrounded
by violent ruffians."  Nothing in our days hinders the progress of
humanity and the establishment of the organization corresponding
to its present development more than this false reasoning.  Those
in authority are convinced that men are only guided and only
progress through the use of force, and therefore they confidently
make use of it to support the existing organization.  The existing
order is maintained, not by force, but by public opinion, the
action of which is disturbed by the use of force.  So that the
effect of using force is to disturb and to weaken the very thing
it tries to maintain.

Violence, even in the most favorable case, when it is not used
simply for some personal aims of those in power, always punishes
under the one inelastic formula of the law what has long before
been condemned by public opinion.  But there is this difference,
that while public opinion censures and condemns all the acts
opposed to the moral law, including the most varied cases in its
reprobation, the law which rests on violence only condemns and
punishes a certain very limited range of acts, and by so doing
seems to justify all other acts of the same kind which do not come
under its scope.

Public opinion ever since the time of Moses has regarded
covetousness, profligacy, and cruelty as wrong, and censured them
accordingly.  And it condemns every kind of manifestation of
covetousness, not only the appropriation of the property of others
by force or fraud or trickery, but even the cruel abuse of wealth;
it condemns every form of profligacy, whether with concubine,
slave, divorced woman, or even one's own wife; it condemns every
kind of cruelty, whether shown in blows, in ill-treatment, or in
murder, not only of men, but even of animals.  The law resting on
force only punishes certain forms of covetousness, such as robbery
and swindling, certain forms of profligacy and cruelty, such as
conjugal infidelity, murder, and wounding.  And in this way it
seems to countenance all the manifestations of covetousness,
profligacy, and cruelty which do not come under its narrow

But besides corrupting public opinion, the use of force leads men to the
fatal conviction that they progress, not through the spiritual impulse
which impels them to the attainment of truth and its realization in
life, and which constitutes the only source of every progressive
movement of humanity, but by means of violence, the very force which,
far from leading men to truth, always carries them further away from it.
This is a fatal error, because it leads men to neglect the chief force
underlying their life--their spiritual activity--and to turn all their
attention and energy to the use of violence, which is superficial,
sluggish, and most generally pernicious in its action.

They make the same mistake as men who, trying to set a steam
engine in motion, should turn its wheels round with their hands,
not suspecting that the underlying cause of its movement was the
expansion of the steam, and not the motion of the wheels.  By
turning the wheels by hand and by levers they could only produce a
semblance of movement, and meantime they would be wrenching the
wheels and so preventing their being fit for real movement.

That is just what people are doing who think to make men advance
by means of external force.

They say that the Christian life cannot be established without the
use of violence, because there are savage races outside the pale
of Christian societies in Africa and in Asia (there are some who
even represent the Chinese as a danger to civilization), and that
in the midst of Christian societies there are savage, corrupt,
and, according to the new theory of heredity, congenital
criminals.  And violence, they say, is necessary to keep savages
and criminals from annihilating our civilization.

But these savages within and without Christian society, who are
such a terror to us, have never been subjugated by violence, and
are not subjugated by it now.  Nations have never subjugated other
nations by violence alone.  If a nation which subjugated another
was on a lower level of civilization, it has never happened that
it succeeded in introducing its organization of life by violence.
On the contrary, it was always forced to adopt the organization of
life existing in the conquered nation.  If ever any of the nations
conquered by force have been really subjugated, or even nearly so,
it has always been by the action of public opinion, and never by
violence, which only tends to drive a people to further rebellion.

When whole nations have been subjugated by a new religion, and
have become Christian or Mohammedan, such a conversion has never
been brought about because the authorities made it obligatory (on
the contrary, violence has much oftener acted in the opposite
direction), but because public opinion made such a change
inevitable.  Nations, on the contrary, who have been driven by
force to accept the faith of their conquerors have always remained
antagonistic to it.

It is just the same with the savage elements existing in the midst
of our civilized societies.  Neither the increased nor the
diminished severity of punishment, nor the modifications of
prisons, nor the increase of police will increase or diminish the
number of criminals.  Their number will only be diminished by the
change of the moral standard of society.  No severities could put
an end to duels and vendettas in certain districts.  In spite of
the number of Tcherkesses executed for robbery, they continue to
be robbers from their youth up, for no maiden will marry a
Tcherkess youth till he has given proof of his bravery by carrying
off a horse, or at least a sheep.  If men cease to fight duels,
and the Tcherkesses cease to be robbers, it will not be from fear
of punishment (indeed, that invests the crime with additional
charm for youth), but through a change in the moral standard of
public opinion.  It is the same with all other crimes.  Force can
never suppress what is sanctioned by public opinion.  On the
contrary, public opinion need only be in direct opposition to
force to neutralize the whole effect of the use of force.  It has
always been so and always will be in every case of martyrdom.

What would happen if force were not used against hostile nations
and the criminal elements of society we do not know.  But we do
know by prolonged experience that neither enemies nor criminals
have been successfully suppressed by force.

And indeed how could nations be subjugated by violence who are led
by their whole education, their traditions, and even their
religion to see the loftiest virtue in warring with their
oppressors and fighting for freedom?  And how are we to suppress
by force acts committed in the midst of our society which are
regarded as crimes by the government and as daring exploits by the

To exterminate such nations and such criminals by violence is
possible, and indeed is done, but to subdue them is impossible.

The sole guide which directs men and nations has always been and
is the unseen, intangible, underlying force, the resultant of all
the spiritual forces of a certain people, or of all humanity,
which finds its outward expression in public opinion.

The use of violence only weakens this force, hinders it and
corrupts it, and tries to replace it by another which far from
being conducive to the progress of humanity, is detrimental to it.

To bring under the sway of Christianity all the savage nations
outside the pale of the Christian world--all the Zulus, Mandchoos,
and Chinese, whom many regard as savages--and the savages who live
in our midst, there is only ONE MEANS.  That means is the
propagation among these nations of the Christian ideal of society,
which can only be realized by a Christian life, Christian actions,
and Christian examples.  And meanwhile, though this is the ONE
ONLY MEANS of gaining a hold over the people who have remained
non-Christian, the men of our day set to work in the directly
opposite fashion to attain this result.

To bring under the sway of Christianity savage nations who do not
attack us and whom we have therefore no excuse for oppressing, we
ought before all things to leave them in peace, and in case we
need or wish to enter into closer relations with them, we ought
only to influence them by Christian manners and Christian
teaching, setting them the example of the Christian virtues of
patience, meekness, endurance, purity, brotherhood, and love.
Instead of that we begin by establishing among them new markets
for our commerce, with the sole aim of our own profit; then we
appropriate their lands, i. e., rob them; then we sell them
spirits, tobacco, and opium, i. e., corrupt them; then we
establish our morals among them, teach them the use of violence
and new methods of destruction, i, e., we teach them nothing but
the animal law of strife, below which man cannot sink, and we do
all we can to conceal from them all that is Christian in us.
After this we send some dozens of missionaries prating to them of
the hypocritical absurdities of the Church, and then quote the
failure of our efforts to turn the heathen to Christianity as an
incontrovertible proof of the impossibility of applying the truths
of Christianity in practical life.

It is just the same with the so-called criminals living in our
midst.  To bring these people under the sway of Christianity there
is one only means, that is, the Christian social ideal, which can
only be realized among them by true Christian teaching and
supported by a true example of the Christian life.  And to preach
this Christian truth and to support it by Christian example we set
up among them prisons, guillotines, gallows, preparations for
murder; we diffuse among the common herd idolatrous superstitions
to stupefy them; we sell them spirits, tobacco, and opium to
brutalize them; we even organize legalized prostitution; we give
land to those who do not need it; we make a display of senseless
luxury in the midst of suffering poverty; we destroy the
possibility of anything like a Christian public opinion, and
studiously try to suppress what Christian public opinion is
existing.  And then, after having ourselves assiduously corrupted
men, we shut them up like wild beasts in places from which they
cannot escape, and where they become still more brutalized, or
else we kill them.  And these very men whom we have corrupted and
brutalized by every means, we bring forward as a proof that one
cannot deal with criminals except by brute force.

We are just like ignorant doctors who put a man, recovering from
illness by the force of nature, into the most unfavorable
conditions of hygiene, and dose him with the most deleterious
drugs, and then assert triumphantly that their hygiene and their
drugs saved his life, when the patient would have been well long
before if they had left him alone.

Violence, which is held up as the means of supporting the
Christian organization of life, not only fails to produce that
effect, it even hinders the social organization of life from being
what it might and ought to be.  The social organization is as good
as it is not as a result of force, but in spite of it.

And therefore the champions of the existing order are mistaken in
arguing that since, even with the aid of force, the bad and
non-Christian elements of humanity can hardly be kept from attacking us,
the abolition of the use of force and the substitution of public opinion
for it would leave humanity quite unprotected.

They are mistaken, because force does not protect humanity, but,
on the contrary, deprives it of the only possible means of really
protecting itself, that is, the establishment and diffusion of a
Christian public opinion.  Only by the suppression of violence
will a Christian public opinion cease to be corrupted, and be
enabled to be diffused without hindrance, and men will then turn
their efforts in the spiritual direction by which alone they can

"But how are we to cast off the visible tangible protection of an
armed policeman, and trust to something so intangible as public
opinion?  Does it yet exist?  Moreover, the condition of things in
which we are living now, we know, good or bad; we know its
shortcomings and are used to it, we know what to do, and how to
behave under present conditions.  But what will happen when we
give it up and trust ourselves to something invisible and
intangible, and altogether unknown?"

The unknown world on which they are entering in renouncing their
habitual ways of life appears itself as dreadful to them.  It is
all very well to dread the unknown when our habitual position is
sound and secure.  But our position is so far from being secure
that we know, beyond all doubt, that we are standing on the brink
of a precipice.  If we must be afraid let us be afraid of what is
really alarming, and not what we imagine as alarming.

Fearing to make the effort to detach ourselves from our perilous
position because the future is not fully clear to us, we are like
passengers in a foundering ship who, through being afraid to trust
themselves to the boat which would carry them to the shore, shut
themselves up in the cabin and refuse to come out of it; or like
sheep, who, terrified by their barn being on fire, huddle in a
corner and do not go out of the wide-open door.

We are standing on the threshold of the murderous war of social
revolution, terrific in its miseries, beside which, as those who
are preparing it tell us, the horrors of 1793 will be child's
play.  And can we talk of the danger threatening us from the
warriors of Dahomey, the Zulus, and such, who live so far away and
are not dreaming of attacking us, and from some thousands of
swindlers, thieves, and murderers, brutalized and corrupted by
ourselves, whose number is in no way lessened by all our
sentences, prisons, and executions?

Moreover this dread of the suppression of the visible protection
of the policeman is essentially a sentiment of townspeople, that
is, of people who are living in abnormal and artificial
conditions.  People living in natural conditions of life, not in
towns, but in the midst of nature, and carrying on the struggle
with nature, live without this protection and know how little
force can protect us from the real dangers with which we are
surrounded.  There is something sickly in this dread, which is
essentially dependent on the artificial conditions in which many
of us live and have been brought up.

A doctor, a specialist in insanity, told a story that one summer
day when he was leaving the asylum, the lunatics accompanied him
to the street door.  "Come for a walk in the town with me?" the
doctor suggested to them.  The lunatics agreed, and a small band
followed the doctor.  But the further they proceeded along the
street where healthy people were freely moving about, the more
timid they became, and they pressed closer and closer to the
doctor, hindering him from walking.  At last they all began to beg
him to take them back to the asylum, to their meaningless but
customary way of life, to their keepers, to blows, strait
waistcoats, and solitary cells.

This is just how men of to-day huddle in terror and draw back to
their irrational manner of life, their factories, law courts,
prisons, executions, and wars, when Christianity calls them to
liberty, to the free, rational life of the future coming age.

People ask, "How will our security be guaranteed when the existing
organization is suppressed?  What precisely will the new
organization be that is to replace it?  So long as we do not know
precisely how our life will be organized, we will not stir a step

An explorer going to an unknown country might as well ask for a
detailed map of the country before he would start.

If a man, before he passed from one stage to another, could know
his future life in full detail, he would have nothing to live for.
It is the same with the life of humanity. If it had a programme of
the life which awaited it before entering a new stage, it would be
the surest sign that it was not living, nor advancing, but simply
rotating in the same place.

The conditions of the new order of life cannot be known by us
because we have to create them by our own labors.  That is all
that life is, to learn the unknown, and to adapt our actions to
this new knowledge.

That is the life of each individual man, and that is the life of
human societies and of humanity.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.



1. Chance Meeting with a Train Carrying Soldiers to Restore Order
Among the Famishing Peasants--Reason of the Expedition--How the
Decisions of the Higher Authorities are Enforced in Cases of
Insubordination on Part of the Peasants--What Happened at Orel, as
an Example of How the Rights of the Propertied Classes are
Maintained by Murder and Torture--All the Privileges of the
Wealthy are Based on Similar Acts of Violence.

2. The Elements that Made up the Force Sent to Toula, and the Conduct of
the Men Composing it--How these Men Could Carry Out such Acts--The
Explanation is Not to be Found in Ignorance, Conviction, Cruelty,
Heartlessness, or Want of Moral Sense--They do these Things Because they
are Necessary to Support the Existing Order, which they Consider it
Every Man's Duty to Support--The Basis of this Conviction that the
Existing Order is Necessary and Inevitable--In the Upper Classes this
Conviction is Based on the Advantages of the Existing Order for
Themselves--But what Forces Men of the Lower Classes to Believe in the
Immutability of the Existing Order, from which they Derive no Advantage,
and which they Aid in Maintaining, Facts Contrary to their
Conscience?--This is the Result of the Lower Classes being Deluded by
the Upper, Both as to the Inevitability of the Existing Order and the
Lawfulness of the Acts of Violence Needed to Maintain it--Deception in
General--Special Form of Deception in Regard to Military

3. How can Men Allow that Murder is Permissible while they Preach
Principles of Morality, and How can they Allow of the Existence in their
Midst of a Military Organization of Physical Force which is a Constant
Menace to Public Security?--It is only Allowed by the Upper Classes, who
Profit by this Organization, Because their Privileges are Maintained by
it--The Upper Classes Allow it, and the Lower Classes Carry it into
Effect in Spite of their Consciousness of the Immorality of the Deeds of
Violence, the More Readily Because Through the Arrangements of the
Government the Moral Responsibility for such Deeds is Divided among a
Great Number of Participants in it, and Everyone Throws the
Responsibility on Someone Else--Moreover, the Sense of Moral
Responsibility is Lost through the Delusion of Inequality, and the
Consequent Intoxication of Power on the Part of Superiors, and Servility
on the Part of Inferiors--The Condition of these Men, Acting against the
Dictates of their Conscience, is Like that of Hypnotized Subjects Acting
by Suggestion--The Difference between this Obedience to Government
Suggestion, and Obedience to Public Opinion, and to the Guidance of Men
of a Higher Moral Sense--The Existing Order of Society, which is the
Result of an Extinct Public Opinion and is Inconsistent with the Already
Existing Public Opinion of the Future, is only Maintained by the
Stupefaction of the Conscience, Produced Spontaneously by Self-interest
in the Upper Classes and Through Hypnotizing in the Lower Classes--The
Conscience or the Common Sense of such Men may Awaken, and there are
Examples of its Sudden Awakening, so that one can Never be Sure of the
Deeds of Violence they are Prepared for--It Depends Entirely on the
Point which the Sense of the Unlawfulness of Acts of Violence has
Reached, and this Sense may Spontaneously Awaken in Men, or may be
Reawakened by the Influence of Men of more Conscience.

4. Everything Depends on the Strength of the Consciousness of
Christian Truths in Each Individual Man--The Leading Men of Modern
Times, however, do not Think it Necessary to Preach or Practice
the Truths of Christianity, but Regard the Modification of the
External Conditions of Existence within the Limit Imposed by
Governments as Sufficient to Reform the Life of Humanity--On this
Scientific Theory of Hypocrisy, which has Replaced the Hypocrisy
of Religion, Men of the Wealthy Classes Base their Justification
of their Position--Through this Hypocrisy they can Enjoy the
Exclusive Privileges of their Position by Force and Fraud, and
Still Pretend to be Christians to One Another and be Easy in their
Minds--This Hypocrisy Allows Men who Preach Christianity to Take
Part in Institutions Based on Violence--No External Reformation of
Life will Render it Less Miserable--Its Misery the Result of
Disunion Caused by Following Lies, not the Truth--Union only
Possible in Truth--Hypocrisy Hinders this Union, since Hypocrites
Conceal from themselves and Others the Truth they Know--Hypocrisy
Turns all Reforms of Life to Evil--Hypocrisy Distorts the Idea of
Good and Evil, and so Stands in the Way of the Progress of Men
toward Perfection--Undisguised Criminals and Malefactors do Less
Harm than those who Live by Legalized Violence, Disguised by
Hypocrisy--All Men Feel the Iniquity of our Life, and would Long
Ago have Transformed it if it had not been Dissimulated by
Hypocrisy--But Seem to have Reached the Extreme Limits of
Hypocrisy, and we Need only Make an Effort of Conscience to Awaken
as from a Nightmare to a Different Reality.

5. Can Man Make this Effort?--According to the Hypocritical Theory
of the Day, Man is not Free to Transform his Life--Man is not Free
in his Actions, but he is Free to Admit or to Deny the Truth he
Knows--When Truth is Once Admitted, it Becomes the Basis of
Action--Man's Threefold Relation to Truth--The Reason of the
Apparent Insolubility of the Problem of Free Will--Man's Freedom
Consists in the Recognition of the Truth Revealed to him.  There
is no Other Freedom--Recognition of Truth Gives Freedom, and Shows
the Path Along which, Willingly or Unwillingly by Mankind, Man
Must Advance--The Recognition of Truth and Real Freedom Enables
Man to Share in the Work of God, not as the Slave, but as the
Creator of Life--Men Need only Make the Effort to Renounce all
Thought of Bettering the External Conditions of Life and Bend all
their Efforts to Recognizing and Preaching the Truth they Know, to
put an End to the Existing Miserable State of Things, and to Enter
upon the Kingdom of God so far as it is yet Accessible to Man--All
that is Needed is to Make an End of Lying and Hypocrisy--But then
what Awaits us in the Future?--What will Happen to Humanity if Men
Follow the Dictates of their Conscience, and how can Life go on
with the Conditions of Civilized Life to which we are Accustomed?
--All Uneasiness on these Points may be Removed by the Reflection
that Nothing True and Good can be Destroyed by the Realization of
Truth, but will only be Freed from the Alloy of Falsehood.

6. Our Life has Reached the Extreme Limit of Misery and Cannot be
Improved by any Systems of Organization--All our Life and all our
Institutions are Quite Meaningless--Are we Doing what God Wills of us by
Preserving our Privileges and Duties to Government?--We are put in this
Position not Because the World is so Made and it is Inevitable, but
Because we Wish it to be so, Because it is to the Advantage of Some of
us--Our Conscience is in Opposition to our Position and all our Conduct,
and the Way Out of the Contradiction is to be Found in the Recognition
of the Christian Truth: Do Not unto Others what you Would Not they
should Do unto You--As our Duties to Self Must be Subordinated to our
Duties to Others, so Must our Duties to Others be Subordinated to our
Duties to God--The Only Way Out of our Position Lies, if not in
Renouncing our Position and our Privileges, at Least in Recognizing our
Sin and not Justifying it nor Disguising it--The Only Object of Life is
to Learn the Truth and to Act on it--Acceptance of the Position and of
State Action Deprives Life of all Object--It is God's Will that we
should Serve Him in our Life, that is, that we should Bring About the
Greatest Unity of all that has Life, a Unity only Possible in Truth.

I was finishing this book, which I had been working at for two
years, when I happened on the 9th of September to be traveling by
rail through the governments of Toula and Riazan, where the
peasants were starving last year and where the famine is even more
severe now.  At one of the railway stations my train passed an
extra train which was taking a troop of soldiers under the conduct
of the governor of the province, together with muskets,
cartridges, and rods, to flog and murder these same famishing

The punishment of flogging by way of carrying the decrees of the
authorities into effect has been more and more frequently adopted
of late in Russia, in spite of the fact that corporal punishment
was abolished by law thirty years ago.

I had heard of this, I had even read in the newspapers of the
fearful floggings which had been inflicted in Tchernigov, Tambov,
Saratov, Astrakhan, and Orel, and of those of which the governor
of Nijni-Novgorod, General Baranov, had boasted.  But I had never
before happened to see men in the process of carrying out these

And here I saw the spectacle of good Russians full of the
Christian spirit traveling with guns and rods to torture and kill
their starving brethren.  The reason for their expedition was as

On one of the estates of a rich landowner the peasants had common
rights on the forest, and having always enjoyed these rights,
regarded the forest as their own, or at least as theirs in common
with the owner.  The landowner wished to keep the forest entirely
to himself and began to fell the trees.  The peasants lodged a
complaint.  The judges in the first instance gave an unjust
decision (I say unjust on the authority of the lawyer and
governor, who ought to understand the matter), and decided the
case in favor of the landowner.  All the later decisions, even
that of the senate, though they could see that the matter had been
unjustly decided, confirmed the judgment and adjudged the forest
to the landowner.  He began to cut down the trees, but the
peasants, unable to believe that such obvious injustice could be
done them by the higher authorities, did not submit to the
decision and drove away the men sent to cut down the trees,
declaring that the forest belonged to them and they would go to
the Tzar before they would let them cut it down.

The matter was referred to Petersburg, and the order was
transmitted to the governor to carry the decision of the court
into effect.  The governor asked for a troop of soldiers.  And
here were the soldiers with bayonets and cartridges, and moreover,
a supply of rods, expressly prepared for the purpose and heaped up
in one of the trucks, going to carry the decision of the higher
authorities into effect.

The decisions of the higher authorities are carried into effect by
means of murder or torture, or threats of one or the other,
according to whether they offer resistance or not.

In the first case if the peasants offer resistance the practice is
in Russia, and it is the same everywhere where a state
organization and private property exist, as follows.  The governor
delivers an address in which he demands submission.  The excited
crowd, generally deluded by their leaders, don't understand a word
of what the representative of authority is saying in the pompous
official language, and their excitement continues.  Then the
governor announces that if they do not submit and disperse, he
will be obliged to have recourse to force.  If the crowd does not
disperse even on this, the governor gives the order to fire over
the heads of the crowd.  If the crowd does not even then disperse,
the governor gives the order to fire straight into the crowd; the
soldiers fire and the killed and wounded fall about the street.
Then the crowd usually runs away in all directions, and the troops
at the governor's command take those who are supposed to be the
ringleaders and lead them off under escort.  Then they pick up the
dying, the wounded, and the dead, covered with blood, sometimes
women and children among them.  The dead they bury and the wounded
they carry to the hospital.  Those whom they regard as the
ringleaders they take to the town hall and have them tried by a
special court-martial.  And if they have had recourse to violence
on their side, they are condemned to be hanged.  And then the
gallows is erected.  And they solemnly strangle a few defenseless

This is what has often been done in Russia, and is and must always
be done where the social order is based on force.

But in the second case, when the peasants do submit, something
quite special, peculiar to Russia, takes place.  The governor
arrives on the scene of action and delivers an harangue to the
people, reproaching them for their insubordination, and either
stations troops in the houses of the villages, where sometimes for
a whole month the soldiers drain the resources of the peasants, or
contenting himself with threats, he mercifully takes leave of the
people, or what is the most frequent course, he announces that the
ringleaders must be punished, and quite arbitrarily without any
trial selects a certain number of men, regarded as ringleaders,
and commands them to be flogged in his presence.

In order to give an idea of how such things are done I will
describe a proceeding of the kind which took place in Orel, and
received the full approval of the highest authorities.

This is what took place in Orel.  Just as here in the Toula
province, a landlord wanted to appropriate the property of the
peasants and just in the same way the peasants opposed it.  The
matter in dispute was a fall of water, which irrigated the
peasants' fields, and which the landowner wanted to cut off and
divert to turn his mill.  The peasants rebelled against this being
done.  The land owner laid a complaint before the district
commander, who illegally (as was recognized later even by a legal
decision) decided the matter in favor of the landowner, and
allowed him to divert the water course.  The landowner sent
workmen to dig the conduit by which the water was to be let off to
turn the mill.  The peasants were indignant at this unjust
decision, and sent their women to prevent the landowner's men from
digging this conduit.  The women went to the dykes, overturned the
carts, and drove away the men.  The landowner made a complaint
against the women for thus taking the law into their own  hands.
The district commander  made out an order that from  every house
throughout the village one woman was to be taken and put in prison.
The order was not easily executed.  For in every household there
were several women, and it was impossible to know which one was to
be arrested.  Consequently the police did not carry out the order.
The landowner complained to the governor of the neglect on the
part of the police, and the latter, without examining into the
affair, gave the chief official of the police strict orders to
carry out the instructions of the district commander without
delay.  The police official, in obedience to his superior, went to
the village and with the insolence peculiar to Russian officials
ordered his policemen to take one woman out of each house.  But
since there were more than one woman in each house, and there was
no knowing which one was sentenced to imprisonment, disputes and
opposition arose.  In spite of these disputes and opposition,
however, the officer of police gave orders that some woman,
whichever came first, should be taken from each household and led
away to prison.  The peasants began to defend their wives and
mothers, would not let them go, and beat the police and their
officer.  This was a fresh and terrible crime: resistance was
offered to the authorities.  A report of this new offense was sent
to the town.  And so this governor--precisely as the governor of
Toula was doing on that day--with a battalion of soldiers with
guns and rods, hastily brought together by means of telegraphs and
telephones and railways, proceeded by a special train to the scene
of action, with a learned doctor whose duty it was to insure the
flogging being of an hygienic character.  Herzen's prophecy of the
modern Ghenghis Khan with his telegrams is completely realized by
this governor.

Before the town hall of the district were the soldiery, a
battalion of police with their revolvers slung round them with red
cords, the persons of most importance among the peasants, and the
culprits.  A crowd of one thousand or more people were standing
round.  The governor, on arriving, stepped out of his carriage,
delivered a prepared harangue, and asked for the culprits and a
bench.  The latter demand was at first not understood.  But a
police constable whom the governor always took about with him, and
who undertook to organize such executions--by no means exceptional
in that province--explained that what was meant was a bench for
flogging.  A bench was brought as well as the rods, and then the
executioners were summoned (the latter had been selected
beforehand from some horsestealers of the same village, as the
soldiers refused the office).  When everything was ready, the
governor ordered the first of the twelve culprits pointed out by
the landowner as the most guilty to come forward.  The first to
come forward was the head of a family, a man of forty who had
always stood up manfully for the rights of his class, and
therefore was held in the greatest esteem by all the villagers.
He was led to the bench and stripped, and then ordered to lie

The peasant attempted to supplicate for mercy, but seeing it was
useless, he crossed himself and lay down.  Two police constables
hastened to hold him down.  The learned doctor stood by, in
readiness to give his aid and his medical science when they should
be needed.  The convicts spit into their hands, brandished the
rods, and began to flog.  It seemed, however, that the bench was
too narrow, and it was difficult to keep the victim writhing in
torture upon it.  Then the governor ordered them to bring another
bench and to put a plank across them.  Soldiers, with their hands
raised to their caps, and respectful murmurs of "Yes, your
Excellency," hasten obediently to carry out this order.  Meanwhile
the tortured man, half naked, pale and scowling, stood waiting,
his eyes fixed on the ground and his teeth chattering.  When
another bench had been brought they again made him lie down, and
the convicted thieves again began to flog him.

The victim's back and thighs and legs, and even his sides, became
more and more covered with scars and wheals, and at every blow
there came the sound of the deep groans which he could no longer
restrain.  In the crowd standing round were heard the sobs of
wives, mothers, children, the families of the tortured man and of
all the others picked out for punishment.

The miserable governor, intoxicated with power, was counting the
strokes on his fingers, and never left off smoking cigarettes,
while several officious persons hastened on every opportunity to
offer him a burning match to light them.  When more than fifty
strokes had been given, the peasant ceased to shriek and writhe,
and the doctor, who had been educated in a government institution
to serve his sovereign and his country with his scientific
attainments, went up to the victim, felt his pulse, listened to
his heart, and announced to the representative of authority that
the man undergoing punishment had lost consciousness, and that, in
accordance with the conclusions of science, to continue the
punishment would endanger the victim's life.  But the miserable
governor, now completely intoxicated by the sight of blood, gave
orders that the punishment should go on, and the flogging was
continued up to seventy strokes, the number which the governor had
for some reason fixed upon as necessary.  When the seventieth
stroke had been reached, the governor said "Enough!  Next one!"
And the mutilated victim, his back covered with blood, was lifted
up and carried away unconscious, and another was led up.  The sobs
and groans of the crowd grew louder.  But the representative of
the state continued the torture.

Thus they flogged each of them up to the twelfth, and each of them
received seventy strokes.  They all implored mercy, shrieked and
groaned.  The sobs and cries of the crowd of women grew louder and
more heart-rending, and the men's faces grew darker and darker.
But they were surrounded by troops, and the torture did not cease
till it had reached the limit which had been fixed by the caprice
of the miserable half-drunken and insane creature they called the

The officials, and officers, and soldiers not only assisted in it,
but were even partly responsible for the affair, since by their
presence they prevented any interference on the part of the crowd.

When I inquired of one of the governors why they made use of this
kind of torture when people had already submitted and soldiers
were stationed in the village, he replied with the important air
of a man who thoroughly understands all the subtleties of
statecraft, that if the peasants were not thoroughly subdued by
flogging, they would begin offering opposition to the decisions of
authorities again.  When some of them had been thoroughly
tortured, the authority of the state would be secured forever
among them.

And so that was why the Governor of Toula was going in his turn
with his subordinate officials, officers, and soldiers to carry
out a similar measure.  By precisely the same means, i. e., by
murder and torture, obedience to the decision of the higher
authorities was to be secured.  And this decision was to enable a
young landowner, who had an income of one hundred thousand, to
gain three thousand rubles more by stealing a forest from a whole
community of cold and famished peasants, to spend it, in two or
three weeks in the saloons of Moscow, Petersburg, or Paris.  That
was what those people whom I met were going to do.

After my thoughts had for two years been turned in the same
direction, fate seemed expressly to have brought me face to face
for the first time in my life with a fact which showed me
absolutely unmistakably in practice what had long been clear to me
in theory, that the organization of our society rests, not as
people interested in maintaining the present order of things like
to imagine, on certain principles of jurisprudence, but on simple
brute force, on the murder and torture of men.

People who own great estates or fortunes, or who receive great
revenues drawn from the class who are in want even of necessities,
the working class, as well as all those who like merchants,
doctors, artists, clerks, learned professors, coachmen, cooks,
writers, valets, and barristers, make their living about these
rich people, like to believe that the privileges they enjoy are
not the result of force, but of absolutely free and just
interchange of services, and that their advantages, far from being
gained by such punishments and murders as took place in Orel and
several parts of Russia this year, and are always taking place all
over Europe and America, have no kind of connection with these
acts of violence.  They like to believe that their privileges
exist apart and are the result of free contract among people; and
that the violent cruelties perpetrated on the people also exist
apart and are the result of some general judicial, political, or
economical laws.  They try not to see that they all enjoy their
privileges as a result of the same fact which forces the peasants
who have tended the forest, and who are in the direct need of it
for fuel, to give it up to a rich landowner who has taken no part
in caring for its growth and has no need of it whatever--the fact,
that is, that if they don't give it up they will be flogged or

And yet if it is clear that it was only by means of menaces, blows, or
murder, that the mill in Orel was enabled to yield a larger income, or
that the forest which the peasants had planted became the property of a
landowner, it should be equally clear that all the other exclusive
rights enjoyed by the rich, by robbing the poor of their necessities,
rest on the same basis of violence. If the peasants, who need land to
maintain their families, may not cultivate the land about their houses,
but one man, a Russian, English, Austrian, or any other great landowner,
possesses land enough to maintain a thousand families, though he does
not cultivate it himself, and if a merchant profiting by the misery of
the cultivators, taking corn from them at a third of its value, can keep
this corn in his granaries with perfect security while men are starving
all around him, and sell it again for three times its value to the very
cultivators he bought it from, it is evident that all this too comes
from the same cause. And if one man may not buy of another a commodity
from the other side of a certain fixed line, called the frontier,
without paying certain duties on it to men who have taken no part
whatever in its production--and if men are driven to sell their last cow
to pay taxes which the government distributes among its functionaries,
and spends on maintaining soldiers to murder these very taxpayers--it
would appear self-evident that all this does not come about as the
result of any abstract laws, but is based on just what was done in Orel,
and which may be done in Toula, and is done periodically in one form or
another throughout the whole world wherever there is a government, and
where there are rich and poor.

Simply because torture and murder are not employed in every
instance of oppression by force, those who enjoy the exclusive
privileges of the ruling classes persuade themselves and others
that their privileges are not based on torture and murder, but on
some mysterious general causes, abstract laws, and so on.  Yet one
would think it was perfectly clear that if men, who consider it
unjust (and all the working classes do consider it so nowadays),
still pay the principal part of the produce of their labor away to
the capitalist and the landowner, and pay taxes, though they know
to what a bad use these taxes are put, they do so not from
recognition of abstract laws of which they have never heard, but
only because they know they will be beaten and killed if they
don't do so.

And if there is no need to imprison, beat, and kill men every time
the landlord collects his rents, every time those who are in want
of bread have to pay a swindling merchant three times its value,
every time the factory hand has to be content with a wage less
than half of the profit made by the employer, and every time a
poor man pays his last ruble in taxes, it is because so many men
have been beaten and killed for trying to resist these demands,
that the lesson has now been learnt very thoroughly.

Just as a trained tiger, who does not eat meat put under his nose,
and jumps over a stick at the word of command, does not act thus
because he likes it, but because he remembers the red-hot irons or
the fast with which he was punished every time he did not obey; so
men submitting to what is disadvantageous or even ruinous to them,
and considered by them as unjust, act thus because they remember
what they suffered for resisting it.

As for those who profit by the privileges gained by previous acts
of violence, they often forget and like to forget how these
privileges were obtained.  But one need only recall the facts of
history, not the history of the exploits of different dynasties of
rulers, but real history, the history of the oppression of the
majority by a small number of men, to see that all the advantages
the rich have over the poor are based on nothing but flogging,
imprisonment, and murder.

One need but reflect on the unceasing, persistent struggle of all
to better their material position, which is the guiding motive of
men of the present day, to be convinced that the advantages of the
rich over the poor could never and can never be maintained by
anything but force.

There may be cases of oppression, of violence, and of punishments,
though they are rare, the aim of which is not to secure the
privileges of the propertied classes.  But one may confidently
assert that in any society where, for every man living in ease,
there are ten exhausted by labor, envious, covetous, and often
suffering with their families from direct privation, all the
privileges of the rich, all their luxuries and superfluities, are
obtained and maintained only by tortures, imprisonment, and

The train I met on the 9th of September going with soldiers, guns,
cartridges, and rods, to confirm the rich landowner in the
possession of a small forest which he had taken from the starving
peasants, which they were in the direst need of, and he was in no
need of at all, was a striking proof of how men are capable of
doing deeds directly opposed to their principles and their
conscience without perceiving it.

The special train consisted of one first-class carriage for the
governor, the officials, and officers, and several luggage vans
crammed full of soldiers.  The latter, smart young fellows in
their clean new uniforms, were standing about in groups or sitting
swinging their legs in the wide open doorways of the luggage vans.
Some were smoking, nudging each other, joking, grinning, and
laughing, others were munching sunflower seeds and spitting out
the husks with an air of dignity.  Some of them ran along the
platform to drink some water from a tub there, and when they met
the officers they slackened their pace, made their stupid gesture
of salutation, raising their hands to their heads with serious
faces as though they were doing something of the greatest
importance.  They kept their eyes on them till they had passed by
them, and then set off running still more merrily, stamping their
heels on the platform, laughing and chattering after the manner of
healthy, good-natured young fellows, traveling in lively company.

They were going to assist at the murder of their fathers or
grandfathers just as if they were going on a party of pleasure, or
at any rate on some quite ordinary business.

The same impression was produced by the well-dressed functionaries
and officers who were scattered about the platform and in the
first-class carriage.  At a table covered with bottles was sitting
the governor, who was responsible for the whole expedition,
dressed in his half-military uniform and eating something while he
chatted tranquilly about the weather with some acquaintances he
had met, as though the business he was upon was of so simple and
ordinary a character that it could not disturb his serenity and
his interest in the change of weather.

At a little distance from the table sat the general of the police.
He was not taking any refreshment, and had an impenetrable bored
expression, as though he were weary of the formalities to be gone
through.  On all sides officers were bustling noisily about in
their red uniforms trimmed with gold; one sat at a table finishing
his bottle of beer, another stood at the buffet eating a cake, and
brushing the crumbs off his uniform, threw down his money with a
self-confident air; another was sauntering before the carriages of
our train, staring at the faces of the women.

All these men who were going to murder or to torture the famishing
and defenseless creatures who provide them their sustenance had
the air of men who knew very well that they were doing their duty,
and some were even proud, were "glorying" in what they were doing.

What is the meaning of it?

All these people are within half an hour of reaching the place
where, in order to provide a wealthy young man with three thousand
rubles stolen from a whole community of famishing peasants, they
may be forced to commit the most horrible acts one can conceive,
to murder or torture, as was done in Orel, innocent beings, their
brothers. And they see the place and time approaching with
untroubled serenity.

To say that all these government officials, officers, and soldiers
do not know what is before them is impossible, for they are
prepared for it.  The governor must have given directions about
the rods, the officials must have sent an order for them,
purchased them, and entered the item in their accounts.  The
military officers have given and received orders about cartridges.
They all know that they are going to torture, perhaps to kill,
their famishing fellow-creatures, and that they must set to work
within an hour.

To say, as is usually said, and as they would themselves repeat,
that they are acting from conviction of the necessity for
supporting the state organization, would be a mistake.  For in the
first place, these men have probably never even thought about
state organization and the necessity of it; in the second place,
they cannot possibly be convinced that the act in which they are
taking part will tend to support rather than to ruin the state;
and thirdly, in reality the majority, if not all, of these men,
far from ever sacrificing their own pleasure or tranquillity to
support the state, never let slip an opportunity of profiting at
the expense of the state in every way they can increase their own
pleasure and ease.  So that they are not acting thus for the sake
of the abstract principle of the state.

What is the meaning of it?

Yet I know all these men.  If I don't know all of them personally,
I know their characters pretty nearly, their past, and their way
of thinking.  They certainly all have mothers, some of them wives
and children.  They are certainly for the most part good, kind,
even tender-hearted fellows, who hate every sort of cruelty, not
to speak of murder; many of them would not kill or hurt an animal.
Moreover, they are all professed Christians and regard all
violence directed against the defenseless as base and disgraceful.

Certainly not one of them would be capable in everyday life, for
his own personal profit, of doing a hundredth part of what the
Governor of Orel did.  Every one of them would be insulted at the
supposition that he was capable of doing anything of the kind in
private life.

And yet they are within half an hour of reaching the place where
they may be reduced to the inevitable necessity of committing this

What is the meaning of it?

But it is not only these men who are going by train prepared for
murder and torture.  How could the men who began the whole
business, the landowner, the commissioner, the judges, and those
who gave the order and are responsible for it, the ministers, the
Tzar, who are also good men, professed Christians, how could they
elaborate such a plan and assent to it, knowing its consequences?
The spectators even, who took no part in the affair, how could
they, who are indignant at the sight of any cruelty in private
life, even the overtaxing of a horse, allow such a horrible deed
to be perpetrated?  How was it they did not rise in indignation
and bar the roads, shouting, "No; flog and kill starving men
because they won't let their last possession be stolen from them
without resistance, that we won't allow!"  But far from anyone
doing this, the majority, even of those who were the cause of the
affair, such as the commissioner, the landowner, the judge, and
those who took part in it and arranged it, as the governor, the
ministers, and the Tzar, are perfectly tranquil and do not even
feel a prick of conscience.  And apparently all the men who are
going to carry out this crime are equally undisturbed.

The spectators, who one would suppose could have no personal
interest in the affair, looked rather with sympathy than with
disapproval at all these people preparing to carry out this
infamous action.  In the same compartment with me was a wood
merchant, who had risen from a peasant.  He openly expressed aloud
his sympathy with such punishments.  "They can't disobey the
authorities," he said; "that's what the authorities are for.  Let
them have a lesson; send their fleas flying!  They'll give over
making commotions, I warrant you.  That's what they want."

What is the meaning of it?

It is not possible to say that all these people who have provoked
or aided or allowed this deed are such worthless creatures that,
knowing all the infamy of what they are doing, they do it against
their principles, some for pay and for profit, others through fear
of punishment.  All of them in certain circumstances know how to
stand up for their principles.  Not one of these officials would
steal a purse, read another man's letter, or put up with an
affront without demanding satisfaction.  Not one of these officers
would consent to cheat at cards, would refuse to pay a debt of
honor, would betray a comrade, run away on the field of battle, or
desert the flag.  Not one of these soldiers would spit out the
holy sacrament or eat meat on Good Friday.  All these men are
ready to face any kind of privation, suffering, or danger rather
than consent to do what they regard as wrong.  They have therefore
the strength to resist doing what is against their principles.

It is even less possible to assert that all these men are such
brutes that it is natural and not distasteful to them to do such
deeds.  One need only talk to these people a little to see that
all of them, the landowner even, and the judge, and the minister
and the Tzar and the government, the officers and the soldiers,
not only disapprove of such things in the depth of their soul, but
suffer from the consciousness of their participation in them when
they recollect what they imply.  But they try not to think about

One need only talk to any of these who are taking part in the
affair from the landowner to the lowest policeman or soldier to
see that in the depth of their soul they all know it is a wicked
thing, that it would be better to have nothing to do with it, and
are suffering from the knowledge.

A lady of liberal views, who was traveling in the same train with
us, seeing the governor and the officers in the first-class saloon
and learning the object of the expedition, began, intentionally
raising her voice so that they should hear, to abuse the existing
order of things and to cry shame on men who would take part in
such proceedings.  Everyone felt awkward, none knew where to look,
but no one contradicted her.  They tried to look as though such
remarks were not worth answering.  But one could see by their
faces and their averted eyes that they were ashamed.  I noticed
the same thing in the soldiers.  They too knew that what they were
sent to do was a shameful thing, but they did not want to think
about what was before them.

When the wood merchant, as I suspect insincerely only to show that
he was a man of education, began to speak of the necessity of such
measures, the soldiers who heard him all turned away from him,
scowling and pretending not to hear.

All the men who, like the landowner, the commissioner, the
minister, and the Tzar, were responsible for the perpetration of
this act, as well as those who were now going to execute it, and
even those who were mere spectators of it, knew that it was a
wickedness, and were ashamed of taking any share in it, and even
of being present at it.

Then why did they do it, or allow it to be done?

Ask them the question.  And the landowner who started the affair,
and the judge who pronounced a clearly unjust even though formally
legal decision, and those who commanded the execution of the
decision, and those who, like the policemen, soldiers, and
peasants, will execute the deed with their own hands, flogging and
killing their brothers, all who have devised, abetted, decreed,
executed, or allowed such crimes, will make substantially the same

The authorities, those who have started, devised, and decreed the
matter, will say that such acts are necessary for the maintenance
of the existing order; the maintenance of the existing order is
necessary for the welfare of the country and of humanity, for the
possibility of social existence and human progress.

Men of the poorer class, peasants and soldiers, who will have to
execute the deed of violence with their own hands, say that they
do so because it is the command of their superior authority, and
the superior authority knows what he is about.  That those are in
authority who ought to be in authority, and that they know what
they are doing appears to them a truth of which there can be no
doubt.  If they could admit the possibility of mistake or error,
it would only be in functionaries of a lower grade; the highest
authority on which all the rest depends seems to them immaculate
beyond suspicion.

Though expressing the motives of their conduct differently, both
those in command and their subordinates are agreed in saying that
they act thus because the existing order is the order which must
and ought to exist at the present time, and that therefore to
support it is the sacred duty of every man.

On this acceptance of the necessity and therefore immutability of
the existing order, all who take part in acts of violence on the
part of government base the argument always advanced in their
justification.  "Since the existing order is immutable," they say,
"the refusal of a single individual to perform the duties laid
upon him will effect no change in things, and will only mean that
some other man will be put in his place who may do the work worse,
that is to say, more cruelly, to the still greater injury of the
victims of the act of violence."

This conviction that the existing order is the necessary and
therefore immutable order, which it is a sacred duty for every man
to support, enables good men, of high principles in private life,
to take part with conscience more or less untroubled in crimes
such as that perpetrated in Orel, and that which the men in the
Toula train were going to perpetrate.

But what is this conviction based on?  It is easy to understand
that the landowner prefers to believe that the existing order is
inevitable and immutable, because this existing order secures him
an income from his hundreds and thousands of acres, by means of
which he can lead his habitual indolent and luxurious life.

It is easy to understand that the judge readily believes in the
necessity of an order of things through which he receives a wage
fifty times as great as the most industrious laborer can earn, and
the same applies to all the higher officials.  It is only under
the existing RÉGIME that as governor, prosecutor, senator, members
of the various councils, they can receive their several thousands
of rubles a year, without which they and their families would at
once sink into ruin, since if it were not for the position they
occupy they would never by their own abilities, industry, or
acquirements get a thousandth part of their salaries.  The
minister, the Tzar, and all the higher authorities are in the same
position.  The only distinction is that the higher and the more
exceptional their position, the more necessary it is for them to
believe that the existing order is the only possible order of
things.  For without it they would not only be unable to gain an
equal position, but would be found to fall lower than all other
people.  A man who has of his own free will entered the police
force at a wage of ten rubles, which he could easily earn in any
other position, is hardly dependent on the preservation of the
existing RÉGIME, and so he may not believe in its immutability.
But a king or an emperor, who receives millions for his post, and
knows that there are thousands of people round him who would like
to dethrone him and take his place, who knows that he will never
receive such a revenue or so much honor in any other position, who
knows, in most cases through his more or less despotic rule, that
if he were dethroned he would have to answer for all his abuse of
power--he cannot but believe in the necessity and even sacredness
of the existing order.  The higher and the more profitable a man's
position, the more unstable it becomes, and the more terrible and
dangerous a fall from it for him, the more firmly the man believes
in the existing order, and therefore with the more ease of
conscience can such a man perpetrate cruel and wicked acts, as
though they were not in his own interest, but for the maintenance
of that order.

This is the case with all men in authority, who occupy positions
more profitable than they could occupy except for the present
RÉGIME, from the lowest police officer to the Tzar.  All of them
are more or less convinced that the existing order is immutable,
because--the chief consideration--it is to their advantage.  But
the peasants, the soldiers, who are at the bottom of the social
scale, who have no kind of advantage from the existing order, who
are in the very lowest position of subjection and humiliation,
what forces them to believe that the existing order in which they
are in their humble and disadvantageous position is the order
which ought to exist, and which they ought to support even at the
cost of evil actions contrary to their conscience?

What forces these men to the false reasoning that the existing
order is unchanging, and that therefore they ought to support it,
when it is so obvious, on the contrary, that it is only unchanging
because they themselves support it?

What forces these peasants, taken only yesterday from the plow and
dressed in ugly and unseemly costumes with blue collars and gilt
buttons, to go with guns and sabers and murder their famishing
fathers and brothers?  They gain no kind of advantage and can be
in no fear of losing the position they occupy, because it is worse
than that from which they have been taken.

The persons in authority of the higher orders--landowners,
merchants, judges, senators, governors, ministers, tzars, and
officers--take part in such doings because the existing order is
to their advantage.  In other respects they are often good and
kind-hearted men, and they are more able to take part in such
doings because their share in them is limited to suggestions,
decisions, and orders.  These persons in authority never do
themselves what they suggest, decide, or command to be done.  For
the most part they do not even see how all the atrocious deeds
they have suggested and authorized are carried out.  But the
unfortunate men of the lower orders, who gain no kind of advantage
from the existing RÉGIME, but, on the contrary, are treated with
the utmost contempt, support it even by dragging people with their
own hands from their families, handcuffing them, throwing them in
prison, guarding them, shooting them.

Why do they do it?  What forces them to believe that the existing
order is unchanging and they must support it?

All violence rests, we know, on those who do the beating, the
handcuffing, the imprisoning, and the killing with their own hands. If
there were no soldiers or armed policemen, ready to kill or outrage
anyone as they are ordered, not one of those people who sign sentences
of death, imprisonment, or galley-slavery for life would make up his
mind to hang, imprison, or torture a thousandth part of those whom,
quietly sitting in his study, he now orders to be tortured in all kinds
of ways, simply because he does not see it nor do it himself, but only
gets it done at a distance by these servile tools.

All the acts of injustice and cruelty which are committed in the
ordinary course of daily life have only become habitual because
there are these men always ready to carry out such acts of
injustice and cruelty.  If it were not for them, far from anyone
using violence against the immense masses who are now ill-treated,
those who now command their punishment would not venture to
sentence them, would not even dare to dream of the sentences they
decree with such easy confidence at present.  And if it were not
for these men, ready to kill or torture anyone at their
commander's will, no one would dare to claim, as all the idle
landowners claim with such assurance, that a piece of land,
surrounded by peasants, who are in wretchedness from want of land,
is the property of a man who does not cultivate it, or that stores
of corn taken by swindling from the peasants ought to remain
untouched in the midst of a population dying of hunger because the
merchants must make their profit.  If it were not for these
servile instruments at the disposal of the authorities, it could
never have entered the head of the landowner to rob the peasants
of the forest they had tended, nor of the officials to think they
are entitled to their salaries, taken from the famishing people,
the price of their oppression; least of all could anyone dream of
killing or exiling men for exposing falsehood and telling the
truth.  All this can only be done because the authorities are
confidently assured that they have always these servile tools at
hand, ready to carry all their demands into effect by means of
torture and murder.

All the deeds of violence of tyrants from Napoleon to the lowest
commander of a company who fires upon a crowd, can only be
explained by the intoxicating effect of their absolute power over
these slaves.  All force, therefore, rests on these men, who carry
out the deeds of violence with their own hands, the men who serve
in the police or the army, especially the army, for the police
only venture to do their work because the army is at their back.

What, then, has brought these masses of honest men, on whom the
whole thing depends, who gain nothing by it, and who have to do
these atrocious deeds with their own hands, what has brought them
to accept the amazing delusion that the existing order,
unprofitable, ruinous, and fatal as it is for them, is the order
which ought to exist?

Who has led them into this amazing delusion?

They can never have persuaded themselves that they ought to do what is
against their conscience, and also the source of misery and ruin for
themselves, and all their class, who make up nine-tenths of the

"How can you kill people, when it is written in God's commandment:
'Thou shalt not kill'?"  I have often inquired of different
soldiers.  And I always drove them to embarrassment and confusion
by reminding them of what they did not want to think about.  They
knew they were bound by the law of God, "Thou shalt not kill," and
knew too that they were bound by their duty as soldiers, but had
never reflected on the contradiction between these duties.  The
drift of the timid answers I received to this question was always
approximately this: that killing in war and executing criminals by
command of the government are not included in the general
prohibition of murder.  But when I said this distinction was not
made in the law of God, and reminded them of the Christian duty of
fraternity, forgiveness of injuries, and love, which could not be
reconciled with murder, the peasants usually agreed, but in their
turn began to ask me questions.  "How does it happen," they
inquired, "that the government [which according to their ideas
cannot do wrong] sends the army to war and orders criminals to be
executed."  When I answered that the government does wrong in
giving such orders, the peasants fell into still greater
confusion, and either broke off the conversation or else got angry
with me.

"They must have found a law for it.  The archbishops know as much
about it as we do, I should hope," a Russian soldier once observed
to me.  And in saying this the soldier obviously set his mind at
rest, in the full conviction that his spiritual guides had found a
law which authorized his ancestors, and the tzars and their
descendants, and millions of men, to serve as he was doing
himself, and that the question I had put him was a kind of hoax or
conundrum on my part.

Everyone in our Christian society knows, either by tradition or by
revelation or by the voice of conscience, that murder is one of
the most fearful crimes a man can commit, as the Gospel tells us,
and that the sin of murder cannot be limited to certain persons,
that is, murder cannot be a sin for some and not a sin for others.
Everyone knows that if murder is a sin, it is always a sin,
whoever are the victims murdered, just like the sin of adultery,
theft, or any other.  At the same time from their childhood up men
see that murder is not only permitted, but even sanctioned by the
blessing of those whom they are accustomed to regard as their
divinely appointed spiritual guides, and see their secular leaders
with calm assurance organizing murder, proud to wear murderous
arms, and demanding of others in the name of the laws of the
country, and even of God, that they should take part in murder.
Men see that there is some inconsistency here, but not being able
to analyze it, involuntarily assume that this apparent
inconsistency is only the result of their ignorance.  The very
grossness and obviousness of the inconsistency confirms them in
this conviction.

They cannot imagine that the leaders of civilization, the
educated classes, could so confidently preach two such opposed
principles as the law of Christ and murder.  A simple uncorrupted
youth cannot imagine that those who stand so high in his opinion,
whom he regards as holy or learned men, could for any object
whatever mislead him so shamefully.  But this is just what has
always been and always is done to him.  It is done (1) by
instilling, by example and direct instruction, from childhood up,
into the working people, who have not time to study moral and
religious questions for themselves, the idea that torture and
murder are compatible with Christianity, and that for certain
objects of state, torture and murder are not only admissible, but
ought to be employed; and (2) by instilling into certain of the
people, who have either voluntarily enlisted or been taken by
compulsion into the army, the idea that the perpetration of murder
and torture with their own hands is a sacred duty, and even a
glorious exploit, worthy of praise and reward.

The general delusion is diffused among all people by means of the
catechisms or books, which nowadays replace them, in use for the
compulsory education of children.  In them it is stated that
violence, that is, imprisonment and execution, as well as murder
in civil or foreign war in the defense and maintenance of the
existing state organization (whatever that may be, absolute or
limited monarchy, convention, consulate, empire of this or that
Napoleon or Boulanger, constitutional monarchy, commune or
republic) is absolutely lawful and not opposed to morality and

This is stated in all catechisms or books used in schools.  And
men are so thoroughly persuaded of it that they grow up, live and
die in that conviction without once entertaining a doubt about it.

This is one form of deception, the general deception instilled
into everyone, but there is another special deception practiced
upon the soldiers or police who are picked out by one means or
another to do the torturing and murdering necessary to defend and
maintain the existing RÉGIME.

In all military instructions there appears in one form or another
what is expressed in the Russian military code in the following

ARTICLE 87.  To carry out exactly and without comment the orders
of a superior officer means: to carry out an order received from a
superior officer exactly without considering whether it is good or
not, and whether it is possible to carry it out.  The superior
officer is responsible for the consequences of the order he gives.

ARTICLE 88.  The subordinate ought never to refuse to carry out
the orders of a superior officer except when he sees clearly that
in carrying out his superior officer's command, he breaks [the law
of God, one involuntarily expects; not at all] HIS OATH OF

It is here said that the man who is a soldier can and ought to
carry out all the orders of his superior without exception.  And
as these orders for the most part involve murder, it follows that
he ought to break all the laws of God and man.  The one law he may
not break is that of fidelity and allegiance to the man who
happens at a given moment to be in power.

Precisely the same thing is said in other words in all codes of
military instruction.  And it could not be otherwise, since the
whole power of the army and the state is based in reality on this
delusive emancipation of men from their duty to God and their
conscience, and the substitution of duty to their superior officer
for all other duties.

This, then, is the foundation of the belief of the lower classes
that the existing RÉGIME so fatal for them is the RÉGIME which
ought to exist, and which they ought therefore to support even by
torture and murder.

This belief is founded on a conscious deception practiced on them
by the higher classes.

And it cannot be otherwise.  To compel the lower classes, which
are more numerous, to oppress and ill treat themselves, even at
the cost of actions opposed to their conscience, it was necessary
to deceive them.  And it has been done accordingly.

Not many days ago I saw once more this shameless deception being
openly practiced, and once more I marveled that it could be
practiced so easily and impudently.

At the beginning of November, as I was passing through Toula, I
saw once again at the gates of the Zemsky Courthouse the crowd of
peasants I had so often seen before, and heard the drunken shouts
of the men mingled with the pitiful lamentations of their wives
and mothers.  It was the recruiting session.

I can never pass by the spectacle.  It attracts me by a kind of
fascination of repulsion.  I again went into the crowd, took my
stand among the peasants, looked about and asked questions.  And
once again I was amazed that this hideous crime can be perpetrated
so easily in broad daylight and in the midst of a large town.

As the custom is every year, in all the villages and hamlets of
the one hundred millions of Russians, on the 1st of November, the
village elders had assembled the young men inscribed on the lists,
often their own sons among them, and had brought them to the town.

On the road the recruits have been drinking without intermission,
unchecked by the elders, who feel that going on such an insane
errand, abandoning their wives and mothers and renouncing all they
hold sacred in order to become a senseless instrument of
destruction, would be too agonizing if they were not stupefied
with spirits.

And so they have come, drinking, swearing, singing, fighting and
scuffling with one another.  They have spent the night in taverns.
In the morning they have slept off their drunkenness and have
gathered together at the Zemsky Court-house.

Some of them, in new sheepskin pelisses, with knitted scarves
round their necks, their eyes swollen from drinking, are shouting
wildly to one another to show their courage; others, crowded near
the door, are quietly and mournfully waiting their turn, between
their weeping wives and mothers (I had chanced upon the day of the
actual enrolling, that is, the examination of those whose names
are on the list); others meantime were crowding into the hall of
the recruiting office.

Inside the office the work was going on rapidly.  The door is
opened and the guard calls Piotr Sidorov.  Piotr Sidorov starts,
crosses himself, and goes into a little room with a glass door,
where the conscripts undress.  A comrade of Piotr Sidorov's, who
has just been passed for service, and come naked out of the
revision office, is dressing hurriedly, his teeth chattering.
Sidorov has already heard the news, and can see from his face too
that he has been taken.  He wants to ask him questions, but they
hurry him and tell him to make haste and undress.  He throws off
his pelisse, slips his boots off his feet, takes off his waistcoat
and draws his shirt over his head, and naked, trembling all over,
and exhaling an odor of tobacco, spirits, and sweat, goes into the
revision office, not knowing what to do with his brawny bare arms.

Directly facing him in the revision office hangs in a great gold
frame a portrait of the Tzar in full uniform with decorations, and
in the corner a little portrait of Christ in a shirt and a crown
of thorns.  In the middle of the room is a table covered with
green cloth, on which there are papers lying and a three-cornered
ornament surmounted by an eagle--the zertzal. Round the table are
sitting the revising officers, looking collected and indifferent.
One is smoking a cigarette; another is looking through some
papers.  Directly Sidorov comes in, a guard goes up to him, places
him under the measuring frame, raising him under his chin, and
straightening his legs.

The man with the cigarette--he is the doctor--comes up, and without
looking at the recruit's face, but somewhere beyond it, feels his body
over with an air of disgust, measures him, tests him, tells the guard to
open his mouth, tells him to breathe, to speak. Someone notes something
down. At last without having once looked him in the face the doctor
says, "Right. Next one!" and with a weary air sits down again at the
table. The soldiers again hustle and hurry the lad. He somehow gets into
his trousers, wraps his feet in rags, puts on his boots, looks for his
scarf and cap, and bundles his pelisse under his arm. Then they lead him
into the main hall, shutting him off apart from the rest by a bench,
behind which all the conscripts who have been passed for service are
waiting. Another village lad like himself, but from a distant province,
now a soldier armed with a gun with a sharp-pointed bayonet at the end,
keeps watch over him, ready to run him through the body if he should
think of trying to escape.

Meantime the crowd of fathers, mothers, and wives, hustled by the
police, are pressing round the doors to hear whose lad has been
taken, whose is let off.  One of the rejected comes out and
announces that Piotr is taken, and at once a shrill cry is heard
from Piotr's young wife, for whom this word "taken" means
separation for four or five years, the life of a soldier's wife as
a servant, often a prostitute.

But here comes a man along the street with flowing hair and in a
peculiar dress, who gets out of his droskhy and goes into the
Zemsky Court-house.  The police clear a way for him through the
crowd.  It is the "reverend father" come to administer the oath.
And this "father," who has been persuaded that he is specially and
exclusively devoted to the service of Christ, and who, for the
most part, does not himself see the deception in which he lives,
goes into the hall where the conscripts are waiting.  He throws
round him a kind of curtain of brocade, pulls his long hair out
over it, opens the very Gospel in which swearing is forbidden,
takes the cross, the very cross on which Christ was crucified
because he would not do what this false servant of his is telling
men to do, and puts them on the lectern.  And all these unhappy,
defenseless, and deluded lads repeat after him the lie, which he
utters with the assurance of familiarity.

He reads and they repeat after him:

"I promise and swear by Almighty God upon his holy Gospel," etc.,
"to defend," etc., and that is, to murder anyone I am told to, and
to do everything I am told by men I know nothing of, and who care
nothing for me except as an instrument for perpetrating the crimes
by which they are kept in their position of power, and my brothers
in their condition of misery.  All the conscripts repeat these
ferocious  words without thinking.  And  then  the so-called
"father" goes away with a sense of having correctly and
conscientiously done his duty.  And all these poor deluded lads
believe that these nonsensical and incomprehensible words which
they have just uttered set them free for the whole time of their
service from their duties as men, and lay upon them fresh and more
binding duties as soldiers.

And this crime is perpetrated publicly and no one cries out to the
deceiving and the deceived: "Think what you are doing; this is the
basest, falsest lie, by which not bodies only, but souls too, are

No one does this.  On the contrary, when all have been enrolled,
and they are to be let out again, the military officer goes with a
confident and majestic air into the hall where the drunken,
cheated lads are shut up, and cries in a bold, military voice:
"Your health, my lads!  I congratulate you on 'serving the Tzar!'"
And they, poor fellows (someone has given them a hint beforehand),
mutter awkwardly, their voices thick with drink, something to the
effect that they are glad.

Meantime the crowd of fathers, mothers, and wives is standing at
the doors waiting.  The women keep their tearful eyes fixed on the
doors.  They open at last, and out come the conscripts, unsteady,
but trying to put a good face on it.  Here are Piotr and Vania and
Makar trying not to look their dear ones in the face.  Nothing is
heard but the wailing of the wives and mothers.  Some of the lads
embrace them and weep with them, others make a show of courage,
and others try to comfort them.

The wives and mothers, knowing that they will be left for three,
four, or five years without their breadwinners, weep and rehearse
their woes aloud.  The fathers say little.  They only utter a
clucking sound with their tongues and sigh mournfully, knowing
that they will see no more of the steady lads they have reared and
trained to help them, that they will come back not the same quiet
hard-working laborers, but for the most part conceited and
demoralized, unfitted for their simple life.

And then all the crowd get into their sledges again and move away
down the street to the taverns and pot-houses, and louder than
ever sounds the medley of singing and sobbing, drunken shouts, and
the wailing of the wives and mothers, the sounds of the accordeon
and oaths.  They all turn into the taverns, whose revenues go to
the government, and the drinking bout begins, which stifles their
sense of the wrong which is being done them.

For two or three weeks they go on living at home, and most of that
time they are "jaunting," that is, drinking.

On a fixed day they collect them, drive them together like a flock
of sheep, and begin to train them in the military exercises and
drill.  Their teachers are fellows like themselves, only deceived
and brutalized two or three years sooner.  The means of
instruction are: deception, stupefaction, blows, and vodka.  And
before a year has passed these good, intelligent, healthy-minded
lads will be as brutal beings as their instructors.

"Come, now, suppose your father were arrested and tried to make
his escape?" I asked a young soldier.

"I should run him through with my bayonet," he answered with the
foolish intonation peculiar to soldiers; "and if he made off, I
ought to shoot him," he added, obviously proud of knowing what he
must do if his father were escaping.

And when a good-hearted lad has been brought to a state lower than
that of a brute, he is just what is wanted by those who use him as
an instrument of violence.  He is ready; the man has been
destroyed and a new instrument of violence has been created.  And
all this is done every year, every autumn, everywhere, through all
Russia in broad daylight in the midst of large towns, where all
may see it, and the deception is so clever, so skillful, that
though all men know the infamy of it in their hearts, and see all
its horrible results, they cannot throw it off and be free.

When one's eyes are opened to this awful deception practiced upon
us, one marvels that the teachers of the Christian religion and of
morals, the instructors of youth, or even the good-hearted and
intelligent parents who are to be found in every society, can
teach any kind of morality in a society in which it is openly
admitted (it is so admitted, under all governments and all
churches) that murder and torture form an indispensable element in
the life of all, and that there must always be special men trained
to kill their fellows, and that any one of us may have to become
such a trained assassin.

How can children, youths, and people generally be taught any kind
of morality--not to speak of teaching in the spirit of
Christianity--side by side with the doctrine that murder is
necessary for the public weal, and therefore legitimate, and that
there are men, of whom each of us may have to be one, whose duty
is to murder and torture and commit all sorts of crimes at the
will of those who are in possession of authority.  If this is so,
and one can and ought to murder and torture, there is not, and
cannot be, any kind of moral law, but only the law that might is
right.  And this is just how it is.  In reality that is the
doctrine--justified to some by the theory of the struggle for
existence--which reigns in our society.

And, indeed, what sort of ethical doctrine could admit the
legitimacy of murder for any object whatever?  It is as impossible
as a theory of mathematics admitting that two is equal to three.

There may be a semblance of mathematics admitting that two is
equal to three, but there can be no real science of mathematics.
And there can only be a semblance of ethics in which murder in the
shape of war and the execution of criminals is allowed, but no
true ethics.  The recognition of the life of every man as sacred
is the first and only basis of all ethics.

The doctrine of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth has been
abrogated by Christianity, because it is the justification of
immorality, and a mere semblance of equity, and has no real
meaning.  Life is a value which has no weight nor size, and cannot
be compared to any other, and so there is no sense in destroying a
life for a life.  Besides, every social law aims at the
amelioration of man's life.  What way, then, can the annihilation
of the life of some men ameliorate men's life?  Annihilation of
life cannot be a means of the amelioration of life; it is a
suicidal act.

To destroy another life for the sake of justice is as though a
man, to repair the misfortune of losing one arm, should cut off
the other arm for the sake of equity.

But putting aside the sin of deluding men into regarding the most
awful crime as a duty, putting aside the revolting sin of using
the name and authority of Christ to sanction what he most
condemned, not to speak of the curse on those who cause these
"little ones" to offend--how can people who cherish their own way
of life, their progress, even from the point of view of their
personal security, allow the formation in their midst of an
overwhelming force as senseless, cruel, and destructive as every
government is organized on the basis of an army?  Even the most
cruel band of brigands is not so much to be dreaded as such a

The power of every brigand chief is at least so far limited that
the men of his band preserve at least some human liberty, and can
refuse to commit acts opposed to their conscience.  But, owing to
the perfection to which the discipline of the army has been
brought, there is no limit to check men who form part of a
regularly organized government.  There are no crimes so revolting
that they would not readily be committed by men who form part of a
government or army, at the will of anyone (such as Boulanger,
Napoleon, or Pougachef) who may chance to be at their head.

Often when one sees conscription levies, military drills and
maneuvers, police officers with loaded revolvers, and sentinels at
their posts with bayonets on their rifles; when one hears for
whole days at a time (as I hear it in Hamovniky where I live) the
whistle of balls and the dull thud as they fall in the sand; when
one sees in the midst of a town where any effort at violence in
self-defense is forbidden, where the sale of powder and of
chemicals, where furious driving and practicing as a doctor
without a diploma, and so on, are not allowed; thousands of
disciplined troops, trained to murder, and subject to one man's
will; one asks oneself how can people who prize their security
quietly allow it, and put up with it?  Apart from the immorality
and evil effects of it, nothing can possibly be more unsafe.  What
are people thinking about?  I don't mean now Christians, ministers
of religion, philanthropists, and moralists, but simply people who
value their life, their security, and their comfort.  This
organization, we know, will work just as well in one man's hands
as another's.  To-day, let us assume, power is in the hands of a
ruler who can be endured, but to-morrow it may be seized by a
Biron, an Elizabeth, a Catherine, a Pougachef, a Napoleon I., or a
Napoleon III.

And the man in authority, endurable to-day, may become a brute
to-morrow, or may be succeeded by a mad or imbecile heir, like the King
of Bavaria or our Paul I.

And not only the highest authorities, but all little satraps
scattered over everywhere, like so many General Baranovs,
governors, police officers even, and commanders of companies, can
perpetrate the most awful crimes before there is time for them to
be removed from office.  And this is what is constantly happening.

One involuntarily asks how can men let it go on, not from higher
considerations only, but from regard to their own safety?

The answer to this question is that it is not all people who do
tolerate it (some--the greater proportion--deluded and submissive,
have no choice and have to tolerate anything).  It is tolerated by
those who only under such an organization can occupy a position of
profit.  They tolerate it, because for them the risks of suffering
from a foolish or cruel man being at the head of the government or
the army are always less than the disadvantages to which they
would be exposed by the destruction of the organization itself.

A judge, a commander of police, a governor, or an officer will
keep his position just the same under Boulanger or the republic,
under Pougachef or Catherine.  He will lose his profitable
position for certain, if the existing order of things which
secured it to him is destroyed.  And so all these people feel no
uneasiness as to who is at the head of the organization, they will
adapt themselves to anyone; they only dread the downfall of the
organization itself, and that is the reason--though often an
unconscious one--that they support it.

One often wonders why independent people, who are not forced to do so in
any way, the so-called ÉLITE of society, should go into the army in
Russia, England, Germany, Austria, and even France, and seek
opportunities of becoming murderers. Why do even high-principled parents
send their boys to military schools? Why do mothers buy their children
toy helmets, guns, and swords as playthings? (The peasant's children
never play at soldiers, by the way). Why do good men and even women, who
have certainly no interest in war, go into raptures over the various
exploits of Skobeloff and others, and vie with one another in glorifying
them? Why do men, who are not obliged to do so, and get no fee for it,
devote, like the marshals of nobility in Russia, whole months of toil to
a business physically disagreeable and morally painful--the enrolling of
conscripts? Why do all kings and emperors wear the military uniform? Why
do they all hold military reviews, why do they organize maneuvers,
distribute rewards to the military, and raise monuments to generals and
successful commanders? Why do rich men of independent position consider
it an honor to perform a valet's duties in attendance on crowned
personages, flattering them and cringing to them and pretending to
believe in their peculiar superiority? Why do men who have ceased to
believe in the superstitions of the mediaeval Church, and who could not
possibly believe in them seriously and consistently, pretend to believe
in and give their support to the demoralizing and blasphemous
institution of the church? Why is it that not only governments but
private persons of the higher classes, try so jealously to maintain the
ignorance of the people? Why do they fall with such fury on any effort
at breaking down religious superstitions or really enlightening the
people? Why do historians, novelists, and poets, who have no hope of
gaining anything by their flatteries, make heroes of kings, emperors,
and conquerors of past times? Why do men, who call themselves learned,
dedicate whole lifetimes to making theories to prove that violence
employed by authority against the people is not violence at all, but a
special right? One often wonders why a fashionable lady or an artist,
who, one would think, would take no interest in political or military
questions, should always condemn strikes of working people, and defend
war; and should always be found without hesitation opposed to the one,
favorable to the other.

But one no longer wonders when one realizes that in the higher
classes there is an unerring instinct of what tends to maintain
and of what tends to destroy the organization by virtue of which
they enjoy their privileges.  The fashionable lady had certainly
not reasoned out that if there were no capitalists and no army to
defend them, her husband would have no fortune, and she could not
have her entertainments and her ball-dresses.  And the artist
certainly does not argue that he needs the capitalists and the
troops to defend them, so that they may buy his pictures.  But
instinct, replacing reason in this instance, guides them
unerringly.  And it is precisely this instinct which leads all
men, with few exceptions, to support all the religious, political,
and economic institutions which are to their advantage.

But is it possible that the higher classes support the existing
order of things simply because it is to their advantage?  Cannot
they see that this order of things is essentially irrational, that
it is no longer consistent with the stage of moral development
attained by people, and with public opinion, and that it is
fraught with perils?  The governing classes, or at least the good,
honest, and intelligent people of them, cannot but suffer from
these fundamental inconsistencies, and see the dangers with which
they are threatened.  And is it possible that all the millions of
the lower classes can feel easy in conscience when they commit
such obviously evil deeds as torture and murder from fear of
punishment?  Indeed, it could not be so, neither the former nor
the latter could fail to see the irrationality of their conduct,
if the complexity of government organization did not obscure the
unnatural senselessness of their actions.

So many instigate, assist, or sanction the commission of every one
of these actions that no one who has a hand in them feels himself
morally responsible for it.

It is the custom among assassins to oblige all the witnesses of a
murder to strike the murdered victim, that the responsibility may
be divided among as large a number of people as possible.  The
same principle in different forms is applied under the government
organization in the perpetration of the crimes, without which no
government organization could exist.  Rulers always try to
implicate as many citizens as possible in all the crimes committed
in their support.

Of late this tendency has been expressed in a very obvious manner
by the obligation of all citizens to take part in legal processes
as jurors, in the army as soldiers, in the local government, or
legislative assembly, as electors or members.

Just as in a wicker basket all the ends are so hidden away that it
is hard to find them, in the state organization the responsibility
for the crimes committed is so hidden away that men will commit
the most atrocious acts without seeing their responsibility for

In ancient times tyrants got credit for the crimes they committed,
but in our day the most atrocious infamies, inconceivable under
the Neros, are perpetrated and no one gets blamed for them.

One set of people have suggested, another set have proposed, a
third have reported, a fourth have decided, a fifth have
confirmed, a sixth have given the order, and a seventh set of men
have carried it out.  They hang, they flog to death women, old
men, and innocent people, as was done recently among us in Russia
at the Yuzovsky factory, and is always being done everywhere in
Europe and America in the struggle with the anarchists and all
other rebels against the existing order; they shoot and hang men
by hundreds and thousands, or massacre millions in war, or break
men's hearts in solitary confinement, and ruin their souls in the
corruption of a soldier's life, and no one is responsible.

At the bottom of the social scale soldiers, armed with guns,
pistols, and sabers, injure and murder people, and compel men
through these means to enter the army, and are absolutely
convinced that the responsibility for the actions rests solely on
the officers who command them.

At the top of the scale--the Tzars, presidents, ministers, and
parliaments decree these tortures and murders and military
conscription, and are fully convinced that since they are either
placed in authority by the grace of God or by the society they
govern, which demands such decrees from them, they cannot be held
responsible.  Between these two extremes are the intermediary
personages who superintend the murders and other acts of violence,
and are fully convinced that the responsibility is taken off their
shoulders partly by their superiors who have given the order,
partly by the fact that such orders are expected from them by all
who are at the bottom of the scale.

The authority who gives the orders and the authority who executes
them at the two extreme ends of the state organization, meet
together like the two ends of a ring; they support and rest on one
another and inclose all that lies within the ring.

Without the conviction that there is a person or persons who will
take the whole responsibility of his acts, not one soldier would
ever lift a hand to commit a murder or other deed of violence.

Without the conviction that it is expected by the whole people not
a single king, emperor, president, or parliament would order
murders or acts of violence.

Without the conviction that there are persons of a higher grade
who will take the responsibility, and people of a lower grade who
require such acts for their welfare, not one of the intermediate
class would superintend such deeds.

The state is so organized that wherever a man is placed in the
social scale, his irresponsibility is the same.  The higher his
grade the more he is under the influence of demands from below,
and the less he is controlled by orders from above, and VICE

All men, then, bound together by state organization, throw the
responsibility of their acts on one another, the peasant soldier
on the nobleman or merchant who is his officer, and the officer on
the nobleman who has been appointed governor, the governor on the
nobleman or son of an official who is minister, the minister on
the member of the royal family who occupies the post of Tzar, and
the Tzar again on all these officials, noblemen, merchants, and
peasants.  But that is not all.  Besides the fact that men get rid
of the sense of responsibility for their actions in this way, they
lose their moral sense of responsibility also, by the fact that in
forming themselves into a state organization they persuade
themselves and each other so continually, and so indefatigably,
that they are not all equal, but "as the stars apart," that they
come to believe it genuinely themselves.  Thus some are persuaded
that they are not simple people like everyone else, but special
people who are to be specially honored.  It is instilled into
another set of men by every possible means that they are inferior
to others, and therefore must submit without a murmur to every
order given them by their superiors.

On this inequality, above all, on the elevation of some and the
degradation of others, rests the capacity men have of being blind
to the insanity of the existing order of life, and all the cruelty
and criminality of the deception practiced by one set of men on

Those in whom the idea has been instilled that they are invested
with a special supernatural grandeur and consequence, are so
intoxicated with a sense of their own imaginary dignity that they
cease to feel their responsibility for what they do.

While those, on the other hand, in whom the idea is fostered that
they are inferior animals, bound to obey their superiors in
everything, fall, through this perpetual humiliation, into a
strange condition of stupefied servility, and in this stupefied
state do not see the significance of their actions and lose all
consciousness of responsibility for what they do.

The intermediate class, who obey the orders of their superiors on
the one hand and regard themselves as superior beings on the
other, are intoxicated by power and stupefied by servility at the
same time and so lose the sense of their responsibility.

One need only glance during a review at the commander-in-chief,
intoxicated with self-importance, followed by his retinue, all on
magnificent and gayly appareled horses, in splendid uniforms and wearing
decorations, and see how they ride to the harmonious and solemn strains
of music before the ranks of soldiers, all presenting arms and petrified
with servility. One need only glance at this spectacle to understand
that at such moments, when they are in a state of the most complete
intoxication, commander-in-chief, soldiers, and intermediate officers
alike, would be capable of committing crimes of which they would never
dream under other conditions.

The intoxication produced by such stimulants as parades, reviews,
religious solemnities, and coronations, is, however, an acute and
temporary condition; but there are other forms of chronic,
permanent intoxication, to which those are liable who have any
kind of authority, from that of the Tzar to that of the lowest
police officer at the street corner, and also those who are in
subjection to authority and in a state of stupefied servility.
The latter, like all slaves, always find a justification for their
own servility, in ascribing the greatest possible dignity and
importance to those they serve.

It is principally through this false idea of inequality, and the
intoxication of power and of servility resulting from it, that men
associated in a state organization are enabled to commit acts opposed to
their conscience without the least scruple or remorse. Under the
influence of this intoxication, men imagine themselves no longer simply
men as they are, but some special beings--noblemen, merchants,
governors, judges, officers, tzars, ministers, or soldiers--no longer
bound by ordinary human duties, but by other duties far more
weighty--the peculiar duties of a nobleman, merchant, governor, judge,
officer, tzar, minister, or soldier.

Thus the landowner, who claimed the forest, acted as he did only
because he fancied himself not a simple man, having the same
rights to life as the peasants living beside him and everyone
else, but a great landowner, a member of the nobility, and under
the influence of the intoxication of power he felt his dignity
offended by the peasants' claims.  It was only through this
feeling that, without considering the consequences that might
follow, he sent in a claim to be reinstated in his pretended

In the same way the judges, who wrongfully adjudged the forest to
the proprietor, did so simply because they fancied themselves not
simply men like everyone else, and so bound to be guided in
everything only by what they consider right, but, under the
intoxicating influence of power, imagined themselves the
representatives of the justice which cannot err; while under the
intoxicating influence of servility they imagined themselves bound
to carry out to the letter the instructions inscribed in a certain
book, the so-called law.  In the same way all who take part in
such an affair, from the highest representative of authority who
signs his assent to the report, from the superintendent presiding
at the recruiting sessions, and the priest who deludes the
recruits, to the lowest soldier who is ready now to fire on his
own brothers, imagine, in the intoxication of power or of
servility, that they are some conventional characters.  They do
not face the question that is presented to them, whether or not
they ought to take part in what their conscience judges an evil
act, but fancy themselves various conventional personages--one as
the Tzar, God's anointed, an exceptional being, called to watch
over the happiness of one hundred millions of men; another as the
representative of nobility; another as a priest, who has received
special grace by his ordination; another as a soldier, bound by
his military oath to carry out all he is commanded without

Only under the intoxication of the power or the servility of their
imagined positions could all these people act as they do.

Were not they all firmly convinced that their respective vocations
of tzar, minister, governor, judge, nobleman, landowner,
superintendent, officer, and soldier are something real and
important, not one of them would even think without horror and
aversion of taking part in what they do now.

The conventional positions, established hundreds of years,
recognized for centuries and by everyone, distinguished by special
names and dresses, and, moreover, confirmed by every kind of
solemnity, have so penetrated into men's minds through their
senses, that, forgetting the ordinary conditions of life common to
all, they look at themselves and everyone only from this
conventional point of view, and are guided in their estimation of
their own actions and those of others by this conventional

Thus we see a man of perfect sanity and ripe age, simply because
he is decked out with some fringe, or embroidered keys on his coat
tails, or a colored ribbon only fit for some gayly dressed girl,
and is told that he is a general, a chamberlain, a knight of the
order of St. Andrew, or some similar nonsense, suddenly become
self-important, proud, and even happy, or, on the contrary, grow
melancholy and unhappy to the point of falling ill, because he has
failed to obtain the expected decoration or title.  Or what is
still more striking, a young man, perfectly sane in every other
matter, independent and beyond the fear of want, simply because he
has been appointed judicial prosecutor or district commander,
separates a poor widow from her little children, and shuts her up
in prison, leaving her children uncared for, all because the
unhappy woman carried on a secret trade in spirits, and so
deprived the revenue of twenty-five rubles, and he does not feel
the least pang of remorse.  Or what is still more amazing; a man,
otherwise sensible and good-hearted, simply because he is given a
badge or a uniform to wear, and told that he is a guard or customs
officer, is ready to fire on people, and neither he nor those
around him regard him as to blame for it, but, on the contrary,
would regard him as to blame if he did not fire.  To say nothing
of judges and juries who condemn men to death, and soldiers who
kill men by thousands without the slightest scruple merely because
it has been instilled into them that they are not simply men, but
jurors, judges, generals, and soldiers.

This strange and abnormal condition of men under state
organization is usually expressed in the following words: "As a
man, I pity him; but as guard, judge, general, governor, tzar, or
soldier, it is my duty to kill or torture him."  Just as though
there were some positions conferred and recognized, which would
exonerate us from the obligations laid on each of us by the fact
of our common humanity.

So, for example, in the case before us, men are going to murder
and torture the famishing, and they admit that in the dispute
between the peasants and the landowner the peasants are right (all
those in command said as much to me).  They know that the peasants
are wretched, poor, and hungry, and the landowner is rich and
inspires no sympathy.  Yet they are all going to kill the peasants
to secure three thousand rubles for the landowner, only because at
that moment they fancy themselves not men but governor, official,
general of police, officer, and soldier, respectively, and
consider themselves bound to obey, not the eternal demands of the
conscience of man, but the casual, temporary demands of their
positions as officers or soldiers.

Strange as it may seem, the sole explanation of this astonishing
phenomenon is that they are in the condition of the hypnotized,
who, they say, feel and act like the creatures they are commanded
by the hypnotizer to represent.  When, for instance, it is
suggested to the hypnotized subject that he is lame, he begins to
walk lame, that he is blind, and he cannot see, that he is a wild
beast, and he begins to bite.  This is the state, not only of
those who were going on this expedition, but of all men who
fulfill their state and social duties in preference to and in
detriment of their human duties.

The essence of this state is that under the influence of one
suggestion they lose the power of criticising their actions, and
therefore do, without thinking, everything consistent with the
suggestion to which they are led by example, precept, or

The difference between those hypnotized by scientific men and
those under the influence of the state hypnotism, is that an
imaginary position is suggested to the former suddenly by one
person in a very brief space of time, and so the hypnotized state
appears to us in a striking and surprising form, while the
imaginary position suggested by state influence is induced slowly,
little by little, imperceptibly from childhood, sometimes during
years, or even generations, and not in one person alone but in a
whole society.

"But," it will be said, "at all times, in all societies, the
majority of persons--all the children, all the women absorbed in
the bearing and rearing of the young, all the great mass of the
laboring population, who are under the necessity of incessant and
fatiguing physical labor, all those of weak character by nature,
all those who are abnormally enfeebled intellectually by the
effects of nicotine, alcohol, opium, or other intoxicants--are
always in a condition of incapacity for independent thought, and
are either in subjection to those who are on a higher intellectual
level, or else under the influence of family or social traditions,
of what is called public opinion, and there is nothing unnatural
or incongruous in their subjection."

And truly there is nothing unnatural in it, and the tendency of
men of small intellectual power to follow the lead of those on a
higher level of intelligence is a constant law, and it is owing to
it that men can live in societies and on the same principles at
all.  The minority consciously adopt certain rational principles
through their correspondence with reason, while the majority act
on the same principles unconsciously because it is required by
public opinion.

Such subjection to public opinion on the part of the
unintellectual does not assume an unnatural character till the
public opinion is split into two.

But there are times when a higher truth, revealed at first to a
few persons, gradually gains ground till it has taken hold of such
a number of persons that the old public opinion, founded on a
lower order of truths, begins to totter and the new is ready to
take its place, but has not yet been firmly established.  It is
like the spring, this time of transition, when the old order of
ideas has not quite broken up and the new has not quite gained a
footing.  Men begin to criticise their actions in the light of the
new truth, but in the meantime in practice, through inertia and
tradition, they continue to follow the principles which once
represented the highest point of rational consciousness, but are
now in flagrant contradiction with it.

Then men are in an abnormal, wavering condition, feeling the
necessity of following the new ideal, and yet not bold enough to
break with the old-established traditions.

Such is the attitude in regard to the truth of Christianity not
only of the men in the Toula train, but of the majority of men of
our times, alike of the higher and the lower orders.

Those of the ruling classes, having no longer any reasonable
justification for the profitable positions they occupy, are
forced, in order to keep them, to stifle their higher rational
faculty of loving, and to persuade themselves that their positions
are indispensable.  And those of the lower classes, exhausted by
toil and brutalized of set purpose, are kept in a permanent
deception, practiced deliberately and continuously by the higher
classes upon them.

Only in this way can one explain the amazing contradictions with
which our life is full, and of which a striking example was
presented to me by the expedition I met on the 9th of September;
good, peaceful men, known to me personally, going with untroubled
tranquillity to perpetrate the most beastly, senseless, and vile
of crimes.  Had not they some means of stifling their conscience,
not one of them would be capable of committing a hundredth part of
such a villainy.

It is not that they have not a conscience which forbids them from
acting thus, just as, even three or four hundred years ago, when
people burnt men at the stake and put them to the rack they had a
conscience which prohibited it; the conscience is there, but it
has been put to sleep--in those in command by what the
psychologists call auto-suggestion; in the soldiers, by the direct
conscious hypnotizing exerted by the higher classes.

Though asleep, the conscience is there, and in spite of the
hypnotism it is already speaking in them, and it may awake.

All these men are in a position like that of a man under
hypnotism, commanded to do something opposed to everything he
regards as good and rational, such as to kill his mother or his
child.  The hypnotized subject feels himself bound to carry out
the suggestion--he thinks he cannot stop--but the nearer he gets
to the time and the place of the action, the more the benumbed
conscience begins to stir, to resist, and to try to awake.  And no
one can say beforehand whether he will carry out the suggestion or
not; which will gain the upper hand, the rational conscience or
the irrational suggestion.  It all depends on their relative

That is just the case with the men in the Toula train and in
general with everyone carrying out acts of state violence in our

There was a time when men who set out with the object of murder and
violence, to make an example, did not return till they had carried out
their object, and then, untroubled by doubts or scruples, having calmly
flogged men to death, they returned home and caressed their children,
laughed, amused themselves, and enjoyed the peaceful pleasures of family
life. In those days it never struck the landowners and wealthy men who
profited by these crimes, that the privileges they enjoyed had any
direct connection with these atrocities. But now it is no longer so. Men
know now, or are not far from knowing, what they are doing and for what
object they do it. They can shut their eyes and force their conscience
to be still, but so long as their eyes are opened and their conscience
undulled, they must all--those who carry out and those who profit by
these crimes alike--see the import of them. Sometimes they realize it
only after the crime has been perpetrated, sometimes they realize it
just before its perpetration. Thus those who commanded the recent acts
of violence in Nijni-Novgorod, Saratov, Orel, and the Yuzovsky factory
realized their significance only after their perpetration, and now those
who commanded and those who carried out these crimes are ashamed before
public opinion and their conscience. I have talked to soldiers who had
taken part in these crimes, and they always studiously turned the
conversation off the subject, and when they spoke of it it was with
horror and bewilderment. There are cases, too, when men come to
themselves just before the perpetration of the crime. Thus I know the
case of a sergeant-major who had been beaten by two peasants during the
repression of disorder and had made a complaint. The next day, after
seeing the atrocities perpetrated on the other peasants, he entreated
the commander of his company to tear up his complaint and let off the
two peasants. I know cases when soldiers, commanded to fire, have
refused to obey, and I know many cases of officers who have refused to
command expeditions for torture and murder. So that men sometimes come
to their senses long before perpetrating the suggested crime, sometimes
at the very moment before perpetrating it, sometimes only afterward.

The men traveling in the Toula train were going with the object of
killing and injuring their fellow-creatures, but none could tell
whether they would carry out their object or not.  However obscure
his responsibility for the affair is to each, and however strong
the idea instilled into all of them that they are not men, but
governors, officials, officers, and soldiers, and as such beings
can violate every human duty, the nearer they approach the place
of the execution, the stronger their doubts as to its being right,
and this doubt will reach its highest point when the very moment
for carrying it out has come.

The governor, in spite of all the stupefying effect of his
surroundings, cannot help hesitating when the moment comes to give
final decisive command.  He knows that the action of the Governor
of Orel has called down upon him the disapproval of the best
people, and he himself, influenced by the public opinion of the
circles in which he moves, has more than once expressed his
disapprobation of him.  He knows that the prosecutor, who ought to
have come, flatly refused to have anything to do with it, because
he regarded it as disgraceful.  He knows, too, that there may be
changes any day in the government, and that what was a ground for
advancement yesterday may be the cause of disgrace to-morrow.  And
he knows that there is a press, if not in Russia, at least abroad,
which may report the affair and cover him with ignominy forever.
He is already conscious of a change in public opinion which
condemns what was formerly a duty.  Moreover, he cannot feel fully
assured that his soldiers will at the last moment obey him.  He is
wavering, and none can say beforehand what he will do.

All the officers and functionaries who accompany him experience in
greater or less degree the same emotions.  In the depths of their
hearts they all know that what they are doing is shameful, that to
take part in it is a discredit and blemish in the eyes of some
people whose opinion they value.  They know that after murdering
and torturing the defenseless, each of them will be ashamed to
face his betrothed or the woman he is courting.  And besides, they
too, like the governor, are doubtful whether the soldiers'
obedience to orders can be reckoned on.  What a contrast with the
confident air they all put on as they sauntered about the station
and platform!  Inwardly they were not only in a state of suffering
but even of suspense.  Indeed they only assumed this bold and
composed manner to conceal the wavering within.  And this feeling
increased as they drew near the scene of action.

And imperceptible as it was, and strange as it seems to say so,
all that mass of lads, the soldiers, who seemed so submissive,
were in precisely the same condition.

These are not the soldiers of former days, who gave up the natural
life of industry and devoted their whole existence to debauchery,
plunder, and murder, like the Roman legionaries or the warriors of
the Thirty Years' War, or even the soldiers of more recent times
who served for twenty-five years in the army.  They have mostly
been only lately taken from their families, and are full of the
recollections of the good, rational, natural life they have left
behind them.

All these lads, peasants for the most part, know what is the
business they have come about; they know that the landowners
always oppress their brothers the peasants, and that therefore it
is most likely the same thing here.  Moreover, a majority of them
can now read, and the books they read are not all such as exalt a
military life; there are some which point out its immorality.
Among them are often free-thinking comrades--who have enlisted
voluntarily--or young officers of liberal ideas, and already the
first germ of doubt has been sown in regard to the unconditional
legitimacy and glory of their occupation.

It is true that they have all passed through that terrible, skillful
education, elaborated through centuries, which kills all initiative in a
man, and that they are so trained to mechanical obedience that at the
word of command: "Fire!--All the line!--Fire!" and so on, their guns
will rise of themselves and the habitual movements will be performed.
But "Fire!" now does not mean shooting into the sand for amusement, it
means firing on their broken-down, exploited fathers and brothers whom
they see there in the crowd, with women and children shouting and waving
their arms. Here they are--one with his scanty beard and patched coat
and plaited shoes of reed, just like the father left at home in Kazan or
Riazan province; one with gray beard and bent back, leaning on a staff
like the old grandfather; one, a young fellow in boots and a red shirt,
just as he was himself a year ago--he, the soldier who must fire upon
him. There, too, a woman in reed shoes and PANYOVA, just like the mother
left at home.

Is it possible they must fire on them?  And no one knows what each
soldier will do at the last minute.  The least word, the slightest
allusion would be enough to stop them.

At the last moment they will all find themselves in the position
of a hypnotized man to whom it has been suggested to chop a log,
who coming up to what has been indicated to him as a log, with the
ax already lifted to strike, sees that it is not a log but his
sleeping brother.  He may perform the act that has been suggested
to him, and he may come to his senses at the moment of performing
it.  In the same way all these men may come to themselves in time
or they may go on to the end.

If they do not come to themselves, the most fearful crime will be
committed, as in Orel, and then the hypnotic suggestion under
which they act will be strengthened in all other men.  If they do
come to themselves, not only this terrible crime will not be
perpetrated, but many also who hear of the turn the affair has
taken will be emancipated from the hypnotic influence in which
they were held, or at least will be nearer being emancipated from

Even if a few only come to themselves, and boldly explain to the
others all the wickedness of such a crime, the influence of these
few may rouse the others to shake off the controlling suggestion,
and the atrocity will not be perpetrated.

More than that, if a few men, even of those who are not taking
part in the affair but are only present at the preparations for
it, or have heard of such things being done in the past, do not
remain indifferent but boldly and plainly express their
detestation of such crimes to those who have to execute them, and
point out to them all the senselessness, cruelty, and wickedness
of such acts, that alone will be productive of good.

That was what took place in the instance before us.  It was enough
for a few men, some personally concerned in the affair and others
simply outsiders, to express their disapproval of floggings that
had taken place elsewhere, and their contempt and loathing for
those who had taken part in inflicting them, for a few persons in
the Toula case to express their repugnance to having any share in
it; for a lady traveling by the train, and a few other bystanders
at the station, to express to those who formed the expedition
their disgust at what they were doing; for one of the commanders
of a company, who was asked for troops for the restoration of
order, to reply that soldiers ought not to be butchers--and thanks
to these and a few other seemingly insignificant influences
brought to bear on these hypnotized men, the affair took a
completely different turn, and the troops, when they reached the
place, did not inflict any punishment, but contented themselves
with cutting down the forest and giving it to the landowner.

Had not a few persons had a clear consciousness that what they
were doing was wrong, and consequently influenced one another in
that direction, what was done at Orel would have taken place at
Toula.  Had this consciousness been still stronger, and had the
influence exerted been therefore greater than it was, it might
well have been that the governor with his troops would not even
have ventured to cut down the forest and give it to the landowner.

Had that consciousness been stronger still, it might well have
been that the governor would not have ventured to go to the scene
of action at all; even that the minister would not have ventured
to form this decision or the Tzar to ratify it.

All depends, therefore, on the strength of the consciousness of
Christian truth on the part of each individual man.

And, therefore, one would have thought that the efforts of all men
of the present day who profess to wish to work for the welfare of
humanity would have been directed to strengthening this
consciousness of Christian truth in themselves and others.

But, strange to say, it is precisely those people who profess most
anxiety for the amelioration of human life, and are regarded as
the leaders of public opinion, who assert that there is no need to
do that, and that there are other more effective means for the
amelioration of men's condition.  They affirm that the
amelioration of human life is effected not by the efforts of
individual men, to recognize and propagate the truth, but by the
gradual modification of the general conditions of life, and that
therefore the efforts of individuals should be directed to the
gradual modification of external conditions for the better.  For
every advocacy of a truth inconsistent with the existing order by
an individual is, they maintain, not only useless but injurious,
since in provokes coercive measures on the part of the
authorities, restricting these individuals from continuing any
action useful to society.  According to this doctrine all
modifications in human life are brought about by precisely the
same laws as in the life of the animals.

So that, according to this doctrine, all the founders of
religions, such as Moses and the prophets, Confucius, Lao-Tse,
Buddha, Christ, and others, preached their doctrines and their
followers accepted them, not because they loved the truth, but
because the political, social, and above all economic conditions
of the peoples among whom these religions arose were favorable for
their origination and development.

And therefore the chief efforts of the man who wishes to serve
society and improve the condition of humanity ought, according to
this doctrine, to be directed not to the elucidation and
propagation of truth, but to the improvement of the external
political, social, and above all economic conditions.  And the
modification of these conditions is partly effected by serving the
government and introducing liberal and progressive principles into
it, partly in promoting the development of industry and the
propagation of socialistic ideas, and most of all by the diffusion
of science.  According to this theory it is of no consequence
whether you profess the truth revealed to you, and therefore
realize it in your life, or at least refrain from committing
actions opposed to the truth, such as serving the government and
strengthening its authority when you regard it as injurious,
profiting by the capitalistic system when you regard it as wrong,
showing veneration for various ceremonies which you believe to be
degrading superstitions, giving support to the law when you
believe it to be founded on error, serving as a soldier, taking
oaths, and lying, and lowering yourself generally.  It is useless
to refrain from all that; what is of use is not altering the
existing forms of life, but submitting to them against your own
convictions, introducing liberalism into the existing
institutions, promoting commerce, the propaganda of socialism, and
the triumphs of what is called science, and the diffusion of
education.  According to this theory one can remain a landowner,
merchant, manufacturer, judge, official in government pay, officer
or soldier, and still be not only a humane man, but even a
socialist and revolutionist.

Hypocrisy, which had formerly only a religious basis in the
doctrine of original sin, the redemption, and the Church, has in
our day gained a new scientific basis and has consequently caught
in its nets all those who had reached too high a stage of
development to be able to find support in religious hypocrisy.  So
that while in former days a man who professed the religion of the
Church could take part in all the crimes of the state, and profit
by them, and still regard himself as free from any taint of sin,
so long as he fulfilled the external observances of his creed,
nowadays all who do not believe in the Christianity of the Church,
find similar well-founded irrefutable reasons in science for
regarding themselves as blameless and even highly moral in spite
of their participation in the misdeeds of government and the
advantages they gain from them.

A rich landowner--not only in Russia, but in France, England, Germany,
or America--lives on the rents exacted; from the people living on his
land, and robs these generally poverty-stricken people of all he can get
from them. This man's right of property in the land rests on the fact
that at every effort on the part of the oppressed people, without his
consent, to make use of the land he considers his, troops are called out
to subject them to punishment and murder. One would have thought that it
was obvious that a man living in this way was an evil, egoistic creature
and could not possibly consider himself a Christian or a liberal. One
would have supposed it evident that the first thing such a man must do,
if he wishes to approximate to Christianity or liberalism, would be to
cease to plunder and ruin men by means of acts of state violence in
support of his claim to the land. And so it would be if it were not for
the logic of hypocrisy, which reasons that from a religious point of
view possession or non-possession of land is of no consequence for
salvation, and from the scientific point of view, giving up the
ownership of land is a useless individual renunciation, and that the
welfare of mankind is not promoted in that way, but by a gradual
modification of external forms. And so we see this man, without the
least trouble of mind or doubt that people will believe in his
sincerity, organizing an agricultural exhibition, or a temperance
society, or sending some soup and stockings by his wife or children to
three old women, and boldly in his family, in drawing rooms, in
committees, and in the press, advocating the Gospel or humanitarian
doctrine of love for one's neighbor in general and the agricultural
laboring population in particular whom he is continually exploiting and
oppressing. And other people who are in the same position as he believe
him, commend him, and solemnly discuss with him measures for
ameliorating the condition of the working-class, on whose exploitation
their whole life rests, devising all kinds of possible methods for this,
except the one without which all improvement of their condition is
impossible, i. e., refraining from taking from them the land necessary
for their subsistence. (A striking example of this hypocrisy was the
solicitude displayed by the Russian landowners last year, their efforts
to combat the famine which they had caused, and by which they profited,
selling not only bread at the highest price, but even potato haulm at
five rubles the dessiatine (about 2 and four-fifths acres) for fuel to
the freezing peasants.)

Or take a merchant whose whole trade--like all trade indeed--is
founded on a series of trickery, by means of which, profiting by
the ignorance or need of others, he buys goods below their value
and sells them again above their value.  One would have fancied it
obvious that a man whose whole occupation was based on what in his
own language is called swindling, if it is done under other
conditions, ought to be ashamed of his position, and could not any
way, while he continues a merchant, profess himself a Christian or
a liberal.

But the sophistry of hypocrisy reasons that the merchant can pass for a
virtuous man without giving up his pernicious course of action; a
religious man need only have faith and a liberal man need only promote
the modification of external conditions--the progress of industry. And
so we see the merchant (who often goes further and commits acts of
direct dishonesty, selling adulterated goods, using false weights and
measures, and trading in products injurious to health, such as alcohol
and opium) boldly regarding himself and being regarded by others, so
long as he does not directly deceive his colleagues in business, as a
pattern of probity and virtue. And if he spends a thousandth part of his
stolen wealth on some public institution, a hospital or museum or
school, then he is even regarded as the benefactor of the people on the
exploitation and corruption of whom his whole prosperity has been
founded: if he sacrifices, too, a portion of his ill-gotten gains on a
Church and the poor, then he is an exemplary Christian.

A manufacturer is a man whose whole income consists of value
squeezed out of the workmen, and whose whole occupation is based
on forced, unnatural labor, exhausting whole generations of men.
It would seem obvious that if this man professes any Christian or
liberal principles, he must first of all give up ruining human
lives for his own profit.  But by the existing theory he is
promoting industry, and he ought not to abandon his pursuit.  It
would even be injuring society for him to do so.  And so we see
this man, the harsh slave-driver of thousands of men, building
almshouses with little gardens two yards square for the workmen
broken down in toiling for him, and a bank, and a poorhouse, and a
hospital--fully persuaded that he has amply expiated in this way
for all the human lives morally and physically ruined by him--and
calmly going on with his business, taking pride in it.

Any civil, religious, or military official in government employ,
who serves the state from vanity, or, as is most often the case,
simply for the sake of the pay wrung from the harassed and
toilworn working classes (all taxes, however raised, always fall
on labor), if he, as is very seldom the case, does not directly
rob the government in the usual way, considers himself, and is
considered by his fellows, as a most useful and virtuous member of

A judge or a public prosecutor knows that through his sentence or
his prosecution hundreds or thousands of poor wretches are at once
torn from their families and thrown into prison, where they may go
out of their minds, kill themselves with pieces of broken glass,
or starve themselves; he knows that they have wives and mothers
and children, disgraced and made miserable by separation from
them, vainly begging for pardon for them or some alleviation of
their sentence, and this judge or this prosecutor is so hardened
in his hypocrisy that he and his fellows and his wife and his
household are all fully convinced that he may be a most exemplary
man.  According to the metaphysics of hypocrisy it is held that he
is doing a work of public utility.  And this man who has ruined
hundreds, thousands of men, who curse him and are driven to
desperation by his action, goes to mass, a smile of shining
benevolence on his smooth face, in perfect faith in good and in
God, listens to the Gospel, caresses his children, preaches moral
principles to them, and is moved by imaginary sufferings.

All these men and those who depend on them, their wives, tutors,
children, cooks, actors, jockeys, and so on, are living on the blood
which by one means or another, through one set of blood-suckers or
another, is drawn out of the working class, and every day their
pleasures cost hundreds or thousands of days of labor. They see the
sufferings and privations of these laborers and their children, their
aged, their wives, and their sick, they know the punishments inflicted
on those who resist this organized plunder, and far from decreasing, far
from concealing their luxury, they insolently display it before these
oppressed laborers who hate them, as though intentionally provoking them
with the pomp of their parks and palaces, their theaters, hunts, and
races. At the same time they continue to persuade themselves and others
that they are all much concerned about the welfare of these working
classes, whom they have always trampled under their feet, and on
Sundays, richly dressed, they drive in sumptuous carriages to the houses
of God built in very mockery of Christianity, and there listen to men,
trained to this work of deception, who in white neckties or in brocaded
vestments, according to their denomination, preach the love for their
neighbor which they all gainsay in their lives. And these people have so
entered into their part that they seriously believe that they really are
what they pretend to be.

The universal hypocrisy has so entered into the flesh and blood of
all classes of our modern society, it has reached such a pitch
that nothing in that way can rouse indignation.  Hypocrisy in the
Greek means "acting," and acting--playing a part--is always
possible.  The representatives of Christ give their blessing to
the ranks of murderers holding their guns loaded against their
brothers; "for prayer" priests, ministers of various Christian
sects are always present, as indispensably as the hangman, at
executions, and sanction by their presence the compatibility of
murder with Christianity (a clergyman assisted at the attempt at
murder by electricity in America)--but such facts cause no one any

There was recently held at Petersburg an international exhibition
of instruments of torture, handcuffs, models of solitary cells,
that is to say instruments of torture worse than knouts or rods,
and sensitive ladies and gentlemen went and amused themselves by
looking at them.

No one is surprised that together with its recognition of liberty,
equality, and fraternity, liberal science should prove the
necessity of war, punishment, customs, the censure, the regulation
of prostitution, the exclusion of cheap foreign laborers, the
hindrance of emigration, the justifiableness of colonization,
based on poisoning and destroying whole races of men called
savages, and so on.

People talk of the time when all men shall profess what is called
Christianity (that is, various professions of faith hostile to one
another), when all shall be well-fed and clothed, when all shall
be united from one end of the world to the other by telegraphs and
telephones, and be able to communicate by balloons, when all the
working classes are permeated by socialistic doctrines, when the
Trades Unions possess so many millions of members and so many
millions of rubles, when everyone is educated and all can read
newspapers and learn all the sciences.

But what good or useful thing can come of all these improvements,
if men do not speak and act in accordance with what they believe
to be the truth?

The condition of men is the result of their disunion.  Their
disunion results from their not following the truth which is one,
but falsehoods which are many.  The sole means of uniting men is
their union in the truth.  And therefore the more sincerely men
strive toward the truth, the nearer they get to unity.

But how can men be united in the truth or even approximate to it,
if they do not even express the truth they know, but hold that
there is no need to do so, and pretend to regard as truth what
they believe to be false?

And therefore no improvement is possible so long as men are
hypocritical and hide the truth from themselves, so long as they
do not recognize that their union and therefore their welfare is
only possible in the truth, and do not put the recognition and
profession of the truth revealed to them higher than everything

All the material improvements that religious and scientific men
can dream of may be accomplished; all men may accept Christianity,
and all the reforms desired by the Bellamys may be brought about
with every possible addition and improvement, but if the hypocrisy
which rules nowadays still exists, if men do not profess the truth
they know, but continue to feign belief in what they do not
believe and veneration for what they do not respect, their
condition will remain the same, or even grow worse and worse.  The
more men are freed from privation; the more telegraphs,
telephones, books, papers, and journals there are; the more means
there will be of diffusing inconsistent lies and hypocrisies, and
the more disunited and consequently miserable will men become,
which indeed is what we see actually taking place.

All these material reforms may be realized, but the position of
humanity will not be improved.  But only let each man, according
to his powers, at once realize in his life the truth he knows, or
at least cease to support the falsehoods he is supporting in the
place of the truth, and at once, in this year 1893, we should see
such reforms as we do not dare to hope for within a century--the
emancipation of men and the reign of truth upon earth.

Not without good reason was Christ's only harsh and threatening
reproof directed against hypocrites and hypocrisy.  It is not
theft nor robbery nor murder nor fornication, but falsehood, the
special falsehood of hypocrisy, which corrupts men, brutalizes
them and makes them vindictive, destroys all distinction between
right and wrong in their conscience, deprives them of what is the
true meaning of all real human life, and debars them from all
progress toward perfection.

Those who do evil through ignorance of the truth provoke sympathy
with their victims and repugnance for their actions, they do harm
only to those they attack; but those who know the truth and do
evil masked by hypocrisy, injure themselves and their victims, and
thousands of other men as well who are led astray by the falsehood
with which the wrongdoing is disguised.

Thieves, robbers, murderers, and cheats, who commit crimes
recognized by themselves and everyone else as evil, serve as an
example of what ought not to be done, and deter others from
similar crimes.  But those who commit the same thefts, robberies,
murders, and other crimes, disguising them under all kinds of
religious or scientific or humanitarian justifications, as all
landowners, merchants, manufacturers, and government officials do,
provoke others to imitation, and so do harm not only to those who
are directly the victims of their crimes, but to thousands and
millions of men whom they corrupt by obliterating their sense of
the distinction between right and wrong.

A single fortune gained by trading in goods necessary to the
people or in goods pernicious in their effects, or by financial
speculations, or by acquiring land at a low price the value of
which is increased by the needs of the population, or by an
industry ruinous to the health and life of those employed in it,
or by military or civil service of the state, or by any employment
which trades on men's evil instincts--a single fortune acquired in
any of these ways, not only with the sanction, but even with the
approbation of the leading men in society, and masked with an
ostentation of philanthropy, corrupts men incomparably more than
millions of thefts and robberies committed against the recognized
forms of law and punishable as crimes.

A single execution carried out by prosperous educated men
uninfluenced by passion, with the approbation and assistance of
Christian ministers, and represented as something necessary and
even just, is infinitely more corrupting and brutalizing to men
than thousands of murders committed by uneducated working people
under the influence of passion.  An execution such as was proposed
by Joukovsky, which would produce even a sentiment of religious
emotion in the spectators, would be one of the most perverting
actions imaginable.  (SEE vol. iv. of the works of Joukovsky.)

Every war, even the most humanely conducted, with all its ordinary
consequences, the destruction of harvests, robberies, the license
and debauchery, and the murder with the justifications of its
necessity and justice, the exaltation and glorification of
military exploits, the worship of the flag, the patriotic
sentiments, the feigned solicitude for the wounded, and so on,
does more in one year to pervert men's minds than thousands of
robberies, murders, and arsons perpetrated during hundreds of
years by individual men under the influence of passion.

The luxurious expenditure of a single respectable and so-called
honorable family, even within the conventional limits, consuming
as it does the produce of as many days of labor as would suffice
to provide for thousands living in privation near, does more to
pervert men's minds than thousands of the violent orgies of coarse
tradespeople, officers, and workmen of drunken and debauched
habits, who smash up glasses and crockery for amusement.

One solemn religious procession, one service, one sermon from the
altar-steps or the pulpit, in which the preacher does not believe,
produces incomparably more evil than thousands of swindling
tricks, adulteration of food, and so on.

We talk of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.  But the hypocrisy of
our society far surpasses the comparatively innocent hypocrisy of
the Pharisees.  They had at least an external religious law, the
fulfillment of which hindered them from seeing their obligations
to their neighbors.  Moreover, these obligations were not nearly
so clearly defined in their day.  Nowadays we have no such
religious law to exonerate us from our duties to our neighbors (I
am not speaking now of the coarse and ignorant persons who still
fancy their sins can be absolved by confession to a priest or by
the absolution of the Pope).  On the contrary, the law of the
Gospel which we all profess in one form or another directly
defines these duties.  Besides, the duties which had then been
only vaguely and mystically expressed by a few prophets have now
been so clearly formulated, have become such truisms, that they
are repeated even by schoolboys and journalists.  And so it would
seem that men of to-day cannot pretend that they do not know these

A man of the modern world who profits by the order of things based
on violence, and at the same time protests that he loves his
neighbor and does not observe what he is doing in his daily life
to his neighbor, is like a brigand who has spent his life in
robbing men, and who, caught at last, knife in hand, in the very
act of striking his shrieking victim, should declare that he had
no idea that what he was doing was disagreeable to the man he had
robbed and was prepared to murder.  Just as this robber and
murderer could not deny what was evident to everyone, so it would
seem that a man living upon the privations of the oppressed
classes cannot persuade himself and others that he desires the
welfare of those he plunders, and that he does not know how the
advantages he enjoys are obtained.

It is impossible to convince ourselves that we do not know that
there are a hundred thousand men in prison in Russia alone to
guarantee the security of our property and tranquillity, and that
we do not know of the law tribunals in which we take part, and
which, at our initiative, condemn those who have attacked our
property or our security to prison, exile, or forced labor,
whereby men no worse than those who condemn them are ruined and
corrupted; or that we do not know that we only possess all that we
do possess because it has been acquired and is defended for us by
murder and violence.

We cannot pretend that we do not see the armed policeman who
marches up and down beneath our windows to guarantee our security
while we eat our luxurious dinner, or look at the new piece at the
theater, or that we are unaware of the existence of the soldiers
who will make their appearance with guns and cartridges directly
our property is attacked.

We know very well that we are only allowed to go on eating our
dinner, to finish seeing the new play, or to enjoy to the end the
ball, the Christmas fete, the promenade, the races or, the hunt,
thanks to the policeman's revolver or the soldier's rifle, which
will shoot down the famished outcast who has been robbed of his
share, and who looks round the corner with covetous eyes at our
pleasures, ready to interrupt them instantly, were not the
policeman and the soldier there prepared to run up at our first
call for help.

And therefore just as a brigand caught in broad daylight in the
act cannot persuade us that he did not lift his knife in order to
rob his victim of his purse, and had no thought of killing him, we
too, it would seem, cannot persuade ourselves or others that the
soldiers and policemen around us are not to guard us, but only for
defense against foreign foes, and to regulate traffic and fêtes
and reviews; we cannot persuade ourselves and others that we do
not know that men do not like dying of hunger, bereft of the right
to gain their subsistence from the earth on which they live; that
they do not like working underground, in the water, or in stifling
heat, for ten to fourteen hours a day, at night in factories to
manufacture objects for our pleasure.  One would imagine it
impossible to deny what is so obvious.  Yet it is denied.

Still, there are, among the rich, especially among the young, and
among women, persons whom I am glad to meet more and more
frequently, who, when they are shown in what way and at what cost
their pleasures are purchased, do not try to conceal the truth,
but hiding their heads in their hands, cry: "Ah! don't speak of
that.  If it is so, life is impossible."  But though there are
such sincere people who even though they cannot renounce their
fault, at least see it, the vast majority of the men of the modern
world have so entered into the parts they play in their hypocrisy
that they boldly deny what is staring everyone in the face.

"All that is unjust," they say; "no one forces the people to work
for the landowners and manufacturers.  That is an affair of free
contract.  Great properties and fortunes are necessary, because
they provide and organize work for the working classes.  And labor
in the factories and workshops is not at all the terrible thing
you make it out to be.  Even if there are some abuses in
factories, the government and the public are taking steps to
obviate them and to make the labor of the factory workers much
easier, and even agreeable.  The working classes are accustomed to
physical labor, and are, so far, fit for nothing else.  The
poverty of the people is not the result of private property in
land, nor of capitalistic oppression, but of other causes: it is
the result of the ignorance, brutality, and intemperance of the
people.  And we men in authority who are striving against this
impoverishment of the people by wise legislation, we capitalists
who are combating it by the extension of useful inventions, we
clergymen by religious instruction, and we liberals by the
formation of trades unions, and the diffusion of education, are in
this way increasing the prosperity of the people without changing
our own positions.  We do not want all to be as poor as the poor;
we want all to be as rich as the rich.  As for the assertion that
men are ill treated and murdered to force them to work for the
profit of the rich, that is a sophism.  The army is only called
out against the mob, when the people, in ignorance of their own
interests, make disturbances and destroy the tranquillity
necessary for the public welfare.  In the same way, too, it is
necessary to keep in restraint the malefactors for whom the
prisons and gallows are established.  We ourselves wish to
suppress these forms of punishment and are working in that

Hypocrisy in our day is supported on two sides: by false religion
and by false science.  And it has reached such proportions that if
we were not living in its midst, we could not believe that men
could attain such a pitch of self-deception.  Men of the present
day have come into such an extraordinary condition, their hearts
are so hardened, that seeing they see not, hearing they do not
hear, and understand not.

Men have long been living in antagonism to their conscience.  If
it were not for hypocrisy they could not go on living such a life.
This social organization in opposition to their conscience only
continues to exist because it is disguised by hypocrisy.

And the greater the divergence between actual life and men's
conscience, the greater the extension of hypocrisy.  But even
hypocrisy has its limits.  And it seems to me that we have reached
those limits in the present day.

Every man of the present day with the Christian principles
assimilated involuntarily in his conscience, finds himself in
precisely the position of a man asleep who dreams that he is
obliged to do something which even in his dream he knows he ought
not to do.  He knows this in the depths of his conscience, and all
the same he seems unable to change his position; he cannot stop
and cease doing what he ought not to do.  And just as in a dream,
his position becoming more and more painful, at last reaches such
a pitch of intensity that he begins sometimes to doubt the reality
of what is passing and makes a moral effort to shake off the
nightmare which is oppressing him.

This is just the condition of the average man of our Christian
society.  He feels that all that he does himself and that is done
around him is something absurd, hideous, impossible, and opposed
to his conscience; he feels that his position is becoming more and
more unendurable and reaching a crisis of intensity.

It is not possible that we modern men, with the Christian sense of
human dignity and equality permeating us soul and body, with our
need for peaceful association and unity between nations, should
really go on living in such a way that every joy, every
gratification we have is bought by the sufferings, by the lives of
our brother men, and moreover, that we should be every instant
within a hair's-breadth of falling on one another, nation against
nation, like wild beasts, mercilessly destroying men's lives and
labor, only because some benighted diplomatist or ruler says or
writes some stupidity to another equally benighted diplomatist or

It is impossible.  Yet every man of our day sees that this is so
and awaits the calamity.  And the situation becomes more and more

And as the man who is dreaming does not believe that what appears
to him can be truly the reality and tries to wake up to the actual
real world again, so the average man of modern days cannot in the
bottom of his heart believe that the awful position in which he is
placed and which is growing worse and worse can be the reality,
and tries to wake up to a true, real life, as it exists in his

And just as the dreamer need only make a moral effort and ask
himself, "Isn't it a dream?" and the situation which seemed to him
so hopeless will instantly disappear, and he will wake up to
peaceful and happy reality, so the man of the modern world need
only make a moral effort to doubt the reality presented to him by
his own hypocrisy and the general hypocrisy around him, and to ask
himself, "Isn't it all a delusion?" and he will at once, like the
dreamer awakened, feel himself transported from an imaginary and
dreadful world to the true, calm, and happy reality.

And to do this a man need accomplish no great feats or exploits.
He need only make a moral effort.

But can a man make this effort?

According to the existing theory so essential to support
hypocrisy, man is not free and cannot change his life.

"Man cannot change his life, because he is not free.  He is not
free, because all his actions are conditioned by previously
existing causes.  And whatever the man may do there are always
some causes or other through which he does these or those acts,
and therefore man cannot be free and change his life," say the
champions of the metaphysics of hypocrisy.  And they would be
perfectly right if man were a creature without conscience and
incapable of moving toward the truth; that is to say, if after
recognizing a new truth, man always remained at the same stage of
moral development.  But man is a creature with a conscience and
capable of attaining a higher and higher degree of truth.  And
therefore even if man is not free as regards performing these or
those acts because there exists a previous cause for every act,
the very causes of his acts, consisting as they do for the man of
conscience of the recognition of this or that truth, are within
his own control.

So that though man may not be free as regards the performance of
his actions, he is free as regards the foundation on which they
are performed.  Just as the mechanician who is not free to modify
the movement of his locomotive when it is in motion, is free to
regulate the machine beforehand so as to determine what the
movement is to be.

Whatever the conscious man does, he acts just as he does, and not
otherwise, only because he recognizes that to act as he is acting
is in accord with the truth, or because he has recognized it at
some previous time, and is now only through inertia, through
habit, acting in accordance with his previous recognition of

In any case, the cause of his action is not to be found in any
given previous fact, but in the consciousness of a given relation
to truth, and the consequent recognition of this or that fact as a
sufficient basis for action.

Whether a man eats or does not eat, works or rests, runs risks or
avoids them, if he has a conscience he acts thus only because he
considers it right and rational, because he considers that to act
thus is in harmony with truth, or else because he has made this
reflection in the past.

The recognition or non-recognition of a certain truth depends not
on external causes, but on certain other causes within the man
himself.  So that at times under external conditions apparently
very favorable for the recognition of truth, one man will not
recognize it, and another, on the contrary, under the most
unfavorable conditions will, without apparent cause, recognize it.
As it is said in the Gospel, "No man can come unto me, except the
Father which hath sent me draw him."  That is to say, the
recognition of truth, which is the cause of all the manifestations
of human life, does not depend on external phenomena, but on
certain inner spiritual characteristics of the man which escape
our observation.

And therefore man, though not free in his acts, always feels
himself free in what is the motive of his acts--the recognition or
non-recognition of truth.  And he feels himself independent not
only of facts external to his own personality, but even of his own

Thus a man who under the influence of passion has committed an act
contrary to the truth he recognizes, remains none the less free to
recognize it or not to recognize it; that is, he can by refusing
to recognize the truth regard his action as necessary and
justifiable, or he may recognize the truth and regard his act as
wrong and censure himself for it.

Thus a gambler or a drunkard who does not resist temptation and
yields to his passion is still free to recognize gambling and
drunkenness as wrong or to regard them as a harmless pastime.  In
the first case even if he does not at once get over his passion,
he gets the more free from it the more sincerely he recognizes the
truth about it; in the second case he will be strengthened in his
vice and will deprive himself of every possibility of shaking it

In the same way a man who has made his escape alone from a house
on fire, not having had the courage to save his friend, remains
free, recognizing the truth that a man ought to save the life of
another even at the risk of his own, to regard his action as bad
and to censure himself for it, or, not recognizing this truth, to
regard his action as natural and necessary and to justify it to
himself.  In the first case, if he recognizes the truth in spite
of his departure from it, he prepares for himself in the future a
whole series of acts of self-sacrifice necessarily flowing from
this recognition of the truth; in the second case, a whole series
of egoistic acts.

Not that a man is always free to recognize or to refuse to
recognize every truth.  There are truths which he has recognized
long before or which have been handed down to him by education and
tradition and accepted by him on faith, and to follow these truths
has become a habit, a second nature with him; and there are
truths, only vaguely, as it were distantly, apprehended by him.
The man is not free to refuse to recognize the first, nor to
recognize the second class of truths.  But there are truths of a
third kind, which have not yet become an unconscious motive of
action, but yet have been revealed so clearly to him that he
cannot pass them by, and is inevitably obliged to do one thing or
the other, to recognize or not to recognize them.  And it is in
regard to these truths that the man's freedom manifests itself.

Every man during his life finds himself in regard to truth in the
position of a man walking in the darkness with light thrown before
him by the lantern he carries.  He does not see what is not yet
lighted up by the lantern; he does not see what he has passed
which is hidden in the darkness; but at every stage of his journey
he sees what is lighted up by the lantern, and he can always
choose one side or the other of the road.

There are always unseen truths not yet revealed to the man's
intellectual vision, and there are other truths outlived,
forgotten, and assimilated by him, and there are also certain
truths that rise up before the light of his reason and require his
recognition.  And it is in the recognition or non-recognition of
these truths that what we call his freedom is manifested.

All the difficulty and seeming insolubility of the question of the
freedom of man results from those who tried to solve the question
imagining man as stationary in his relation to the truth.

Man is certainly not free if we imagine him stationary, and if we
forget that the life of a man and of humanity is nothing but a
continual movement from darkness into light, from a lower stage of
truth to a higher, from a truth more alloyed with errors to a
truth more purified from them.

Man would not be free if he knew no truth at all, and in the same
way he would not be free and would not even have any idea of
freedom if the whole truth which was to guide him in life had been
revealed once for all to him in all its purity without any
admixture of error.

But man is not stationary in regard to truth, but every individual
man as he passes through life, and humanity as a whole in the same
way, is continually learning to know a greater and greater degree
of truth, and growing more and more free from error.

And therefore men are in a threefold relation to truth.  Some
truths have been so assimilated by them that they have become the
unconscious basis of action, others are only just on the point of
being revealed to him, and a third class, though not yet
assimilated by him, have been revealed to him with sufficient
clearness to force him to decide either to recognize them or to
refuse to recognize them.

These, then, are the truths which man is free to recognize or to
refuse to recognize.

The liberty of man does not consist in the power of acting
independently of the progress of life and the influences arising
from it, but in the capacity for recognizing and acknowledging the
truth revealed to him, and becoming the free and joyful
participator in the eternal and infinite work of God, the life of
the world; or on the other hand for refusing to recognize the
truth, and so being a miserable and reluctant slave dragged
whither he has no desire to go.

Truth not only points out the way along which human life ought to
move, but reveals also the only way along which it can move.  And
therefore all men must willingly or unwillingly move along the way
of truth, some spontaneously accomplishing the task set them in
life, others submitting involuntarily to the law of life.  Man's
freedom lies in the power of this choice.

This freedom within these narrow limits seems so insignificant to
men that they do not notice it.  Some--the determinists--consider
this amount of freedom so trifling that they do not recognize it
at all.  Others--the champions of complete free will--keep their
eyes fixed on their hypothetical free will and neglect this which
seemed to them such a trivial degree of freedom.

This freedom, confined between the limits of complete ignorance of
the truth and a recognition of a part of the truth, seems hardly
freedom at all, especially since, whether a man is willing or
unwilling to recognize the truth revealed to him, he will be
inevitably forced to carry it out in life.

A horse harnessed with others to a cart is not free to refrain
from moving the cart.  If he does not move forward the cart will
knock him down and go on dragging him with it, whether he will or
not.  But the horse is free to drag the cart himself or to be
dragged with it.  And so it is with man.

Whether this is a great or small degree of freedom in comparison
with the fantastic liberty we should like to have, it is the only
freedom that really exists, and in it consists the only happiness
attainable by man.

And more than that, this freedom is the sole means of
accomplishing the divine work of the life of the world.

According to Christ's doctrine, the man who sees the significance
of life in the domain in which it is not free, in the domain of
effects, that is, of acts, has not the true life.  According to
the Christian doctrine, that man is living in the truth who has
transported his life to the domain in which it is free--the domain
of causes, that is, the knowledge and recognition, the profession
and realization in life of revealed truth.

Devoting his life to works of the flesh, a man busies himself with
actions depending on temporary causes outside himself.  He himself
does nothing really, he merely seems to be doing something.  In
reality all the acts which seem to be his are the work of a higher
power, and he is not the creator of his own life, but the slave of
it.  Devoting his life to the recognition and fulfillment of the
truth revealed to him, he identifies himself with the source of
universal life and accomplishes acts not personal, and dependent
on conditions of space and time, but acts unconditioned by
previous causes, acts which constitute the causes of everything
else, and have an infinite, unlimited significance.

"The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it
by force." (Matt. xi. 12.)

It is this violent effort to rise above external conditions to the
recognition and realization of truth by which the kingdom of
heaven is taken, and it is this effort of violence which must and
can be made in our times.

Men need only understand this, they need only cease to trouble
themselves about the general external conditions in which they are
not free, and devote one-hundredth part of the energy they waste
on those material things to that in which they are free, to the
recognition and realization of the truth which is before them, and
to the liberation of themselves and others from deception and
hypocrisy, and, without effort or conflict, there would be an end
at once of the false organization of life which makes men
miserable, and threatens them with worse calamities in the future.
And then the kingdom of God would be realized, or at least that
first stage of it for which men are ready now by the degree of
development of their conscience.

Just as a single shock may be sufficient, when a liquid is
saturated with some salt, to precipitate it at once in crystals, a
slight effort may be perhaps all that is needed now that the truth
already revealed to men may gain a mastery over hundreds,
thousands, millions of men, that a public opinion consistent with
conscience may be established, and through this change of public
opinion the whole order of life may be transformed.  And it
depends upon us to make this effort.

Let each of us only try to understand and accept the Christian
truth which in the most varied forms surrounds us on all sides and
forces itself upon us; let us only cease from lying and pretending
that we do not see this truth or wish to realize it, at least in
what it demands from us above all else; only let us accept and
boldly profess the truth to which we are called, and we should
find at once that hundreds, thousands, millions of men are in the
same position as we, that they see the truth as we do, and dread
as we do to stand alone in recognizing it, and like us are only
waiting for others to recognize it also.

Only let men cease to be hypocrites, and they would at once see
that this cruel social organization, which holds them in bondage,
and is represented to them as something stable, necessary, and
ordained of God, is already tottering and is only propped up by
the falsehood of hypocrisy, with which we, and others like us,
support it.

But if this is so, if it is true that it depends on us to break
down the existing organization of life, have we the right to
destroy it, without knowing clearly what we shall set up in its
place?  What will become of human society when the existing order
of things is at an end?

   "What shall we find the other side of the walls of the world we
   are abandoning?

   "Fear will come upon us--a void, a vast emptiness, freedom--how
   are we to go forward not knowing whither, how face loss, not
   seeing hope of gain? . . . If Columbus had reasoned thus he
   would never have weighed anchor.  It was madness to set off
   upon the ocean, not knowing the route, on the ocean on which no
   one had sailed, to sail toward a land whose existence was
   doubtful.  By this madness he discovered a new world.
   Doubtless if the peoples of the world could simply transfer
   themselves from one furnished mansion to another and better
   one--it would make it much easier; but unluckily there is no
   one to get humanity's new dwelling ready for it.  The future is
   even worse than the ocean--there is nothing there--it will be
   what men and circumstances make it.

   "If you are content with the old world, try to preserve it, it
   is very sick and cannot hold out much longer.  But if you
   cannot bear to live in everlasting dissonance between your
   beliefs and your life, thinking one thing and doing another,
   get out of the mediaeval whited sepulchers, and face your
   fears.  I know very well it is not easy.

   "It is not a little thing to cut one's self off from all to
   which a man has been accustomed from his birth, with which he
   has grown up to maturity.  Men are ready for tremendous
   sacrifices, but not for those which life demands of them.  Are
   they ready to sacrifice modern civilization, their manner of
   life, their religion, the received conventional morality?

   "Are we ready to give up all the results we have attained with
   such effort, results of which we have been boasting for three
   centuries; to give up every convenience and charm of our
   existence, to prefer savage youth to the senile decay of
   civilization, to pull down the palace raised for us by our
   ancestors only for the pleasure of having a hand in the
   founding of a new house, which will doubtless be built long
   after we are gone?" (Herzen, vol. v. p. 55.)

Thus wrote almost half a century ago the Russian writer, who with
prophetic insight saw clearly then, what even the most
unreflecting man sees to-day, the impossibility, that is, of life
continuing on its old basis, and the necessity of establishing new
forms of life.

It is clear now from the very simplest, most commonplace point of
view, that it is madness to remain under the roof of a building
which cannot support its weight, and that we must leave it.  And
indeed it is difficult to imagine a position more wretched than
that of the Christian world to-day, with its nations armed against
one another, with its constantly increasing taxation to maintain
its armies, with the hatred of the working class for the rich ever
growing more intense, with the Damocles sword of war forever
hanging over the heads of all, ready every instant to fall,
certain to fall sooner or later.

Hardly could any revolution be more disastrous for the great mass
of the population than the present order or rather disorder of our
life, with its daily sacrifices to exhausting and unnatural toil,
to poverty, drunkenness, and profligacy, with all the horrors of
the war that is at hand, which will swallow up in one year more
victims than all the revolutions of the century.

What will become of humanity if each of us performs the duty God
demands of us through the conscience implanted within us?  Will
not harm come if, being wholly in the power of a master, I carry
out, in the workshop erected and directed by him, the orders he
gives me, strange though they may seem to me who do not know the
Master's final aims?

But it is not even this question "What will happen?" that agitates
men when they hesitate to fulfill the Master's will.  They are
troubled by the question how to live without those habitual
conditions of life which we call civilization, culture, art, and
science.  We feel ourselves all the burdensomeness of life as it
is; we see also that this organization of life must inevitably be
our ruin, if it continues.  At the same time we want the
conditions of our life which arise out of this organization--our
civilization, culture, art, and science--to remain intact.  It is
as though a man, living in an old house and suffering from cold
and all sorts of inconvenience in it, knowing, too, that it is on
the point of falling to pieces, should consent to its being
rebuilt, but only on the condition that he should not be required
to leave it: a condition which is equivalent to refusing to have
it rebuilt at all.

"But what if I leave the house and give up every convenience for a
time, and the new house is not built, or is built on a different
plan so that I do not find in it the comforts to which I am
accustomed?"  But seeing that the materials and the builders are
here, there is every likelihood that the new house will on the
contrary be better built than the old one.  And at the same time,
there is not only the likelihood but the certainty that the old
house will fall down and crush those who remain within it.
Whether the old habitual conditions of life are supported, or
whether they are abolished and altogether new and better
conditions arise; in any case, there is no doubt we shall be
forced to leave the old forms of life which have become impossible
and fatal, and must go forward to meet the future.

"Civilization, art, science, culture, will disappear!"

Yes, but all these we know are only various manifestations of
truth, and the change that is before us is only to be made for the
sake of a closer attainment and realization of truth.  How then
can the manifestations of truth disappear through our realizing
it?  These manifestations will be different, higher, better, but
they will not cease to be.  Only what is false in them will be
destroyed; all the truth there was in them will only be stronger
and more flourishing.

Take thought, oh, men, and have faith in the Gospel, in whose
teaching is your happiness.  If you do not take thought, you will
perish just as the men perished, slain by Pilate, or crushed by
the tower of Siloam; as millions of men have perished, slayers and
slain, executing and executed, torturers and tortured alike, and
as the man foolishly perished, who filled his granaries full and
made ready for a long life and died the very night that he planned
to begin his life.  Take thought and have faith in the Gospel,
Christ said eighteen hundred years ago, and he says it with even
greater force now that the calamities foretold by him have come to
pass, and the senselessness of our life has reached the furthest
point of suffering and madness.

Nowadays, after so many centuries of fruitless efforts to make our
life secure by the pagan organization of life, it must be evident
to everyone that all efforts in that direction only introduce
fresh dangers into personal and social life, and do not render it
more secure in any way.

Whatever names we dignify ourselves with, whatever uniforms we wear,
whatever priests we anoint ourselves before, however many millions we
possess, however many guards are stationed along our road, however many
policemen guard our wealth, however many so-called criminals,
revolutionists, and anarchists we punish, whatever exploits we have
performed, whatever states we may have founded, fortresses and towers we
may have erected--from Babel to the Eiffel Tower--there are two
inevitable conditions of life, confronting all of us, which destroy its
whole meaning; (1) death, which may at any moment pounce upon each of
us; and (2) the transitoriness of all our works, which so soon pass away
and leave no trace. Whatever we may do--found companies, build palaces
and monuments, write songs and poems--it is all not for long time. Soon
it passes away, leaving no trace. And therefore, however we may conceal
it from ourselves, we cannot help seeing that the significance of our
life cannot lie in our personal fleshly existence, the prey of incurable
suffering and inevitable death, nor in any social institution or
organization. Whoever you may be who are reading these lines, think of
your position and of your duties--not of your position as landowner,
merchant, judge, emperor, president, minister, priest, soldier, which
has been temporarily allotted you by men, and not of the imaginary
duties laid on you by those positions, but of your real positions in
eternity as a creature who at the will of Someone has been called out of
unconsciousness after an eternity of non-existence to which you may
return at any moment at his will. Think of your duties--not your
supposed duties as a landowner to your estate, as a merchant to your
business, as emperor, minister, or official to the state, but of your
real duties, the duties that follow from your real position as a being
called into life and endowed with reason and love.

Are you doing what he demands of you who has sent you into the
world, and to whom you will soon return?  Are you doing what he
wills?  Are you doing his will, when as landowner or manufacturer
you rob the poor of the fruits of their toil, basing your life on
this plunder of the workers, or when, as judge or governor, you
ill treat men, sentence them to execution, or when as soldiers you
prepare for war, kill and plunder?

You will say that the world is so made that this is inevitable,
and that you do not do this of your own free will, but because you
are forced to do so.  But can it be that you have such a strong
aversion to men's sufferings, ill treatment, and murder, that you
have such an intense need of love and co-operation with your
fellows that you see clearly that only by the recognition of the
equality of all, and by mutual services, can the greatest possible
happiness be realized; that your head and your heart, the faith
you profess, and even science itself tell you the same thing, and
yet that in spite of it all you can be forced by some confused and
complicated reasoning to act in direct opposition to all this;
that as landowner or capitalist you are bound to base your whole
life on the oppression of the people; that as emperor or president
you are to command armies, that is, to be the head and commander
of murderers; or that as government official you are forced to
take from the poor their last pence for rich men to profit and
share them among themselves; or that as judge or juryman you could
be forced to sentence erring men to ill treatment and death
because the truth was not revealed to them, or above all, for that
is the basis of all the evil, that you could be forced to become a
soldier, and renouncing your free will and your human sentiments,
could undertake to kill anyone at the command of other men?

It cannot be.

Even if you are told that all this is necessary for the
maintenance of the existing order of things, and that this social
order with its pauperism, famines, prisons, gallows, armies, and
wars is necessary to society; that still greater disasters would
ensue if this organization were destroyed; all that is said only
by those who profit by this organization, while those who suffer
from it--and they are ten times as numerous--think and say quite
the contrary.  And at the bottom of your heart you know yourself
that it is not true, that the existing organization has outlived
its time, and must inevitably be reconstructed on new principles,
and that consequently there is no obligation upon you to sacrifice
your sentiments of humanity to support it.

Above all, even if you allow that this organization is necessary,
why do you believe it to be your duty to maintain it at the cost
of your best feelings?  Who has made you the nurse in charge of
this sick and moribund organization?  Not society nor the state
nor anyone; no one has asked you to undertake this; you who fill
your position of landowner, merchant, tzar, priest, or soldier
know very well that you occupy that position by no means with the
unselfish aim of maintaining the organization of life necessary to
men's happiness, but simply in your own interests, to satisfy your
own covetousness or vanity or ambition or indolence or cowardice.
If you did not desire that position, you would not be doing your
utmost to retain it.  Try the experiment of ceasing to commit the
cruel, treacherous, and base actions that you are constantly
committing in order to retain your position, and you will lose it
at once.  Try the simple experiment, as a government official, of
giving up lying, and refusing to take a part in executions and
acts of violence; as a priest, of giving up deception; as a
soldier, of giving up murder; as landowner or manufacturer, of
giving up defending your property by fraud and force; and you will
at once lose the position which you pretend is forced upon you,
and which seems burdensome to you.

A man cannot be placed against his will in a situation opposed to
his conscience.

If you find yourself in such a position it is not because it is
necessary to anyone whatever, but simply because you wish it.  And
therefore knowing that your position is repugnant to your heart
and your head, and to your faith, and even to the science in which
you believe, you cannot help reflecting upon the question whether
in retaining it, and above all trying to justify it, you are doing
what you ought to do.

You might risk making a mistake if you had time to see and
retrieve your fault, and if you ran the risk for something of some
value.  But when you know beyond all doubt that you may disappear
any minute, without the least possibility either for yourself or
those you draw after you into your error, of retrieving the
mistake, when you know that whatever you may do in the external
organization of life it will all disappear as quickly and surely
as you will yourself, and will leave no trace behind, it is clear
that you have no reasonable ground for running the risk of such a
fearful mistake.

It would be perfectly simple and clear if you did not by your
hypocrisy disguise the truth which has so unmistakably been
revealed to us.

Share all that you have with others, do not heap up riches, do not
steal, do not cause suffering, do not kill, do not unto others
what you would not they should do unto you, all that has been said
not eighteen hundred, but five thousand years ago, and there could
be no doubt of the truth of this law if it were not for hypocrisy.
Except for hypocrisy men could not have failed, if not to put the
law in practice, at least to recognize it, and admit that it is
wrong not to put it in practice.

But you will say that there is the public good to be considered,
and that on that account one must not and ought not to conform to
these principles; for the public good one may commit acts of
violence and murder.  It is better for one man to die than that
the whole people perish, you will say like Caiaphas, and you sign
the sentence of death of one man, of a second, and a third; you
load your gun against this man who is to perish for the public
good, you imprison him, you take his possessions.  You say that
you commit these acts of cruelty because you are a part of the
society and of the state; that it is your duty to serve them, and
as landowner, judge, emperor, or soldier to conform to their laws.
But besides belonging to the state and having duties created by
that position, you belong also to eternity and to God, who also
lays duties upon you.  And just as your duties to your family and
to society are subordinate to your superior duties to the state,
in the same way the latter must necessarily be subordinated to the
duties dictated to you by the eternal life and by God.  And just
as it would be senseless to pull up the telegraph posts for fuel
for a family or society and thus to increase its welfare at the
expense of public interests, in the same way it is senseless to do
violence, to execute, and to murder to increase the welfare of the
nation, because that is at the expense of the interests of

Your duties as a citizen cannot but be subordinated to the
superior obligations of the eternal life of God, and cannot be in
opposition to them.  As Christ's disciples said eighteen centuries
ago: "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you
more than unto God, judge ye" (Acts iv. 19); and, "We ought to
obey God rather than men" (Acts v. 29).

It is asserted that, in order that the unstable order of things,
established in one corner of the world for a few men, may not be
destroyed, you ought to commit acts of violence which destroy the
eternal and immutable order established by God and by reason.  Can
that possibly be?

And therefore you cannot but reflect on your position as
landowner, manufacturer, judge, emperor, president, minister,
priest, and soldier, which is bound up with violence, deception,
and murder, and recognize its unlawfulness.

I do not say that if you are a landowner you are bound to give up
your lands immediately to the poor; if a capitalist or
manufacturer, your money to your workpeople; or that if you are
Tzar, minister, official, judge, or general, you are bound to
renounce immediately the advantages of your position; or if a
soldier, on whom all the system of violence is based, to refuse
immediately to obey in spite of all the dangers of

If you do so, you will be doing the best thing possible.  But it
may happen, and it is most likely, that you will not have the
strength to do so.  You have relations, a family, subordinates and
superiors; you are under an influence so powerful that you cannot
shake it off; but you can always recognize the truth and refuse to
tell a lie about it.  You need not declare that you are remaining
a landowner, manufacturer, merchant, artist, or writer because it
is useful to mankind; that you are governor, prosecutor, or tzar,
not because it is agreeable to you, because you are used to it,
but for the public good; that you continue to be a soldier, not
from fear of punishment, but because you consider the army
necessary to society.  You can always avoid lying in this way to
yourself and to others, and you ought to do so; because the one
aim of your life ought to be to purify yourself from falsehood and
to confess the truth.  And you need only do that and your
situation will change directly of itself.

There is one thing, and only one thing, in which it is granted to
you to be free in life, all else being beyond your power: that is
to recognize and profess the truth.

And yet simply from the fact that other men as misguided and as
pitiful creatures as yourself have made you soldier, tzar,
landowner, capitalist, priest, or general, you undertake to commit
acts of violence obviously opposed to your reason and your heart,
to base your existence on the misfortunes of others, and above
all, instead of filling the one duty of your life, recognizing and
professing the truth, you feign not to recognize it and disguise
it from yourself and others.

And what are the conditions in which you are doing this?  You who
may die any instant, you sign sentences of death, you declare war,
you take part in it, you judge, you punish, you plunder the
working people, you live luxuriously in the midst of the poor, and
teach weak men who have confidence in you that this must be so,
that the duty of men is to do this, and yet it may happen at the
moment when you are acting thus that a bacterium or a bull may
attack you and you will fall and die, losing forever the chance of
repairing the harm you have done to others, and above all to
yourself, in uselessly wasting a life which has been given you
only once in eternity, without having accomplished the only thing
you ought to have done.

However commonplace and out of date it may seem to us, however
confused we may be by hypocrisy and by the hypnotic suggestion
which results from it, nothing can destroy the certainty of this
simple and clearly defined truth.  No external conditions can
guarantee our life, which is attended with inevitable sufferings
and infallibly terminated by death, and which consequently can
have no significance except in the constant accomplishment of what
is demanded by the Power which has placed us in life with a sole
certain guide--the rational conscience.

That is why that Power cannot require of us what is irrational and
impossible: the organization of our temporary external life, the
life of society or of the state.  That Power demands of us only
what is reasonable, certain, and possible: to serve the kingdom of
God, that is, to contribute to the establishment of the greatest
possible union between all living beings--a union possible only in
the truth; and to recognize and to profess the revealed truth,
which is always in our power.

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and
all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. vi. 33.)

The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity by contributing to
the establishment of the kingdom of God, which can only be done by
the recognition and profession of the truth by every man.

"The kingdom of God cometh not with outward show; neither shall
they say, Lo here! or, Lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is
within you." (Luke xvii. 20, 21.)


[Transcribists note: This translation contains what seems to my
early 21st Century perception as mistakes, both in typography and
in standardness of language.  I have left issues of standard
language uncorrected, and have only fixed typographical errors
in which the word was nearly unrecognizable, but clear from context.

An example: "...those who have seized power AUD who keep it..." was
changed to: "...those who have seized power AND who keep it...".

Another example: where he meant "village" the book has "vilage";
I left such misspellings as is.

In some cases, missing punctuation in a series was corrected, where
every other member of the series is punctuated: 1. 2. 3  4.
If I had a doubt, nothing was changed.

I indented paragraphs, for clarity, when Tolstoy quotes large blocks
of text from other authors.  However, often Tolsoy interspersed
quoted material with his commentary [as when talking about the author
Farrar].  I was not able to separate these for fear of editing the

Italics were represented here, with the substitution of capital

Translations for long passages of French follow in the footnotes.]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book ""The Kingdom of God Is Within You" - Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life" ***

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