What Shall We Do? : Chapter 28
(1828 - 1910) ~ Father of Christian Anarchism : In 1861, during the second of his European tours, Tolstoy met with Proudhon, with whom he exchanged ideas. Inspired by the encounter, Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana to found thirteen schools that were the first attempt to implement a practical model of libertarian education. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "If, in former times, Governments were necessary to defend their people from other people's attacks, now, on the contrary, Governments artificially disturb the peace that exists between the nations, and provoke enmity among them." (From : "Patriotism and Government," by Leo Tolstoy, May 1....)
• "Only by recognizing the land as just such an article of common possession as the sun and air will you be able, without bias and justly, to establish the ownership of land among all men, according to any of the existing projects or according to some new project composed or chosen by you in common." (From : "To the Working People," by Leo Tolstoy, Yasnaya P....)
• "The Government and all those of the upper classes near the Government who live by other people's work, need some means of dominating the workers, and find this means in the control of the army. Defense against foreign enemies is only an excuse. The German Government frightens its subjects about the Russians and the French; the French Government, frightens its people about the Germans; the Russian Government frightens its people about the French and the Germans; and that is the way with all Governments. But neither Germans nor Russians nor Frenchmen desire to fight their neighbors or other people; but, living in peace, they dread war more than anything else in the world." (From : "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)
In reality, the position in which men who live by other men's labor are placed, is based not only on a certain belief but on an entire doctrine; and not only on one doctrine but on three, which have grown one upon another during centuries and are now fuzed together into an awful deceit,—or humbug as the English call it,—which hides from men their unrighteousness.
The oldest of these, which justifies the treason of men against the fundamental duty of labor to earn their own living, was the Church-Christian doctrine, which asserts that men by the will of God differ one from another as the sun differs from the moon and the stars, and as one star differs from another. Some men God has ordained to have dominion over all, others to have power over many, others, still, over a few, and the remainder are ordained by God to obey.
This doctrine, though already shaken to its foundations, still continues to influence some men, so that many who do not accept it, who often even ignore the existence of it, are, nevertheless, guided by it.
The second is what I cannot help terming the State-philosophical doctrine. According to this, as fully developed by Hegel, everything that exists is reasonable, and the established order of life is constant, and is sustained not merely by men, but as the only possible form of the manifestation of the spirit, or, generally, of the life of mankind.
This doctrine, too, is no longer accepted by the men who direct social opinion, and it holds its position only by the power of inertia.
The last doctrine, which is now ruling the minds of men and on which is based the justification of leading statesmen, men of business, and science and art, is a scientific one, not in the evident sense of the word (meaning knowledge generally), but in the sense of a knowledge peculiar in form as well as in matter, termed Science. On this new doctrine, the justification of man's idleness and the hiding from him his treason against his calling, is particularly based.
This doctrine appeared in Europe contemporaneously with a large class of rich and idle people who served neither the church nor the state and who were in want of a justification of their position.
Not very long ago, before the French revolution in Europe, all non-working people, in order to have a right to utilize other men's labor, were obliged to have some definite occupation,—to serve in the church, the state, or the army.
Only these three classes of men—the clergy, the statesmen, and the military men—claimed for themselves the right of utilizing labor, and they could always point out their services to the people: the remaining rich men who had not this justification, were despised, and, feeling their own want of right, were ashamed of their wealth and their idleness. But as time went on, this class of rich people, who belonged neither to the clergy, to the government, nor to the army, owing to the vises of these other three classes, increased in number and became a powerful party. They were in want of a justification of their position. And one was invented for them. A century had not elapsed before the men who served neither the State nor the Church and took no part whatever in their affairs, received the same right to live on labor as the former classes; and they not only left off being ashamed of their wealth and idleness but began to consider their position quite justified. And the number of such men has increased, and is still increasing in our days.
The most wonderful of all is this, that these men whose claims to be freed from labor were unrecognized not long ago, now consider themselves alone to be fully right and are attacking the former three classes,—the servants of the Church, State, and Army,—alleging their exemption from labor to be unjust and often even considering their activity directly pernicious. What is still more wonderful is this, that the former servants of Church, State, and Army, do not now lean on the divinity of their calling, nor even on the philosophy which considers the state necessary for individual development, but setting aside these supports which have so long maintained them, they are now seeking the same supports on which the new reigning class of men, who have found a novel justification, stand, and at the head of which are the men of Science and Art.
If a statesman now sometimes, appealing to old memories, justifies his position by the fact that he was set in it by God, or by the fact that the state is a form of the development of personality, he does it because he is behind the age, and he feels that nobody believes him.
In order to justify himself effectually, he ought to find now neither theological nor philosophical but new and scientific supports.
It is necessary to point to the principle of nationalities, or to that of the development of an organism; and to gain over the ruling class, as in the Middle Ages it was necessary to gain over the clergy; and as at the end of the last century, it was necessary to obtain the sanction of philosophers, as seen in the case of Frederick the Great and Catherine of Russia. If now a rich man, after the old fashion, says sometimes that it is God's providence which makes him rich, or if he points to the importance of a nobility for the welfare of a state, he does it because he is behind the times.
In order to justify himself completely he must point to the way he furthers progress by improving the modes of production, by lowering the prices of consumption, by establishing intercourse between nations. A rich man must think and speak in scientific language, and, like the clergy formerly, he must offer sacrifices to the ruling class: he must publish magazines and books, provide himself with a picture-gallery, a musical society, a kindergarten or technical school. The ruling class is the class of learned men and artists of a definite character. They possess the complete justification for having freed themselves from labor; and on this justification (as in former times on the theological justification, and afterwards on the philosophical one) everything is based: and it is these men who now give the diploma of exemption to other classes.
The class of men who now feel completely justified in freeing themselves from labor, is that of men of science, and particularly of experimental, positive, critical, evolutional science, and of artists who develop their ideas according to the same tendency.
If a learned man or an artist of the old style speaks nowadays about prophecy, revelation, or the manifestation of the spirit, he does so because he is behind the age, and he will not succeed in justifying himself: to stand firm he must try to associate his activity with experimental, positive, critical science, and he must make this science the fundamental principle of his activity. Only then will the science or the art with which he is occupied appear true, and he will stand on firm ground, and then there will be no doubt as to his usefulness to mankind. The justification of all who have freed themselves from labor is now based upon this experimental, critical, positive science.
The theological and philosophical explanations have had their day: now they timidly and bashfully introduce themselves to notice and try to humor their scientific usurper, who, however, boldly knocks down and destroys the remnants of the past, everywhere taking its place, and, assured of its own firmness, lifts aloft its head.
The theological justification maintained that men are predestined,—some to govern, others to obey; some to live sumptuously, others to labor: and therefore those who believed in the revelation of God could not doubt the lawfulness of the position of those men, who, by the will of God, are called to govern and to be rich.
The state-philosophical justification used to say, “The state with all its institutions and differences of classes according to rights and possessions, is that historical form which is necessary for the right manifestation of the spirit in mankind; and therefore the situation which everyone occupies in state and in society according to his rights and to his possessions must be such as to ensure the sound life of mankind.”
The scientific theory says, “All this is nonsense and superstition: the one is the fruit of the theological period of thought, and the other of the metaphysical period. To study the laws of the life of human societies, there is only one sure method,—that of a positive, experimental, critical science. It is only sociology, based on biology, in its turn based on all the other positive sciences, which is able to give us new laws for the life of mankind. Mankind, or human societies, are organisms either already perfect, or in a state of development subject to the laws of the evolution of organisms. One of the first of these laws is the division of labor among the portions of the organs. If some men govern and others obey, some live in opulence and others in want, then this is so, neither according to the will of God nor because the state is the form of the manifestation of personality, but because in societies as in organisms a division of labor takes place which is necessary for the life of the whole. Some men perform in societies the muscular part of labor, and others, the mental.”
On this doctrine is built the ruling excuse of the age.
From : Gutenberg.org
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