Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?

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(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.)
• "...the dissemination of the truth in a society based on coercion was always hindered in one and the same manner, namely, those in power, feeling that the recognition of this truth would undermine their position, consciously or sometimes unconsciously perverted it by explanations and additions quite foreign to it, and also opposed it by open violence." (From : "A Letter to a Hindu: The Subjection of India- Its....)
• "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....)

(1855 - 1939)
The English Translator of Leo Tolstoy, Louise Maude was born Louise Shanks in Moscow, one of the eight children of James Steuart Shanks, was the founder and director of Shanks & Bolin, Magasin Anglais (English store). Two of Louise's sisters were artists: Mary knew Tolstoy and prepared illustrations for Where Love is, God is, and Emily was a painter and the first woman to become a full member of the Peredvizhniki. Louise married Aylmer Maude in 1884 in an Anglican ceremony at the British vice-consulate in Moscow, and they had five sons, one of them still-born. (From : Wikipedia.org.)

(1858 - 1938)
Aylmer Maude and Louise Maude were English translators of Leo Tolstoy's works, and Aylmer Maude also wrote his friend Tolstoy's biography, The Life of Tolstoy. After living many years in Russia the Maudes spent the rest of their life in England translating Tolstoy's writing and promoting public interest in his work. Aylmer Maude was also involved in a number of early 20th century progressive and idealistic causes. Aylmer Maude was born in Ipswich, the son of a Church of England clergyman, Reverend F.H. Maude, and his wife Lucy, who came from a Quaker background. The family lived near the newly built Holy Trinity Church where Rev. Maude's preaching helped draw a large congregation. A few of the vicar's earlier sermons were published with stirring titles like Nineveh: A Warning to England!, but later he moved from Evangelical Anglicanism towards the Anglo-Catholic Church Union. After boarding at Christ's Hospital from 1868 to 1874, Aylmer went to study at the... (From : Wikipedia.org.)


This document contains 7 sections, with 6,938 words or 40,876 characters.

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What is the explanation of the fact that people use things that stupefy them: vódka, wine, beer, hashish, opium, tobacco, and other things less common: ether, morphia, fly-agaric, etc.? Why did the practice begin? Why has it spread so rapidly, and why is it still spreading among all sorts of people, savage and civilized? How is it that where there is no vódka, wine or beer, we find opium, hashish, fly-agaric, and the like, and that tobacco is used everywhere? Why do people wish to stupefy themselves? Ask anyone why he began drinking wine and why he now drinks it. He will reply, “Oh, I like it, and everybody drinks,” and he may add, “it cheers me up.” Some—those who have never once taken the trouble to consider whether they do well or ill to drink wine—may add that wine is good for the health and adds to one's strength; that is to say, will make a statement long since proved baseless. Ask a smoker why he bega... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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The cause of the world-wide consumption of hashish, opium, wine, and tobacco, lies not in the taste, nor in any pleasure, recreation, or mirth they afford, but simply in man's need to hide from himself the demands of conscience. I was going along the street one day, and passing some cabmen who were talking, I heard one of them say: 'Of course when a man's sober he's ashamed to do it!' When a man is sober he is ashamed of what seems all right when he is drunk. In these words we have the essential underlying cause prompting men to resort to stupefiers. People resort to them either to escape feeling ashamed after having done something contrary to their consciences, or to bring themselves beforehand into a state in which they can commit actions contrary to conscience, but to which their animal nature prompts them. A man when sober is ashamed to go after a prostitute, ashamed to steal, ashamed to kill. A drunken man is ashamed of none of these things, and therefo... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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In that alone lies the reason of the widespread use of all stupefying substances, and among the rest of tobacco—probably the most generally used and most harmful. It is supposed that tobacco cheers one up, clears the thoughts, and attracts one merely like any other habit—without at all producing the deadening of conscience produced by wine. But you need only observe attentively the conditions under which a special desire to smoke arises, and you will be convinced that stupefying with tobacco acts on the conscience as wine does, and that people consciously have recourse to this method of stupefaction just when they require it for that purpose. If tobacco merely cleared the thoughts and cheered one up, there would not be such a passionate craving for it, a craving showing itself just on certain definite occasions. People would not say, as they do, that they would rather go without bread than without tobacco, and would not often actually prefer toba... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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But can such a small—such a trifling—alteration as the slight intoxication produced by the moderate use of wine or tobacco produce important consequences? “If a man smokes opium or hashish, or intoxicates himself with wine till he falls down and loses his senses, of course the consequences may be very serious; but it surely cannot have any serious consequences if a man merely comes slightly under the influence of hops or tobacco,” is what is usually said. It seems to people that a slight stupefaction, a little darkening of the judgment, cannot have any important influence. But to think so is like supposing that it may harm a watch to be struck against a stone, but that a little dirt introduced into it cannot be harmful. Remember, however, that the chief work actuating man's whole life is not done by his hands, his feet, or his back, but by his consciousness. Before a man can do anything with his feet or hands, a certain alteration has... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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People drink and smoke, not casually, not from dullness, not to cheer themselves up, not because it is pleasant, but in order to drown the voice of conscience in themselves. And in that case, how terrible must be the consequences! Think what a building would be like erected by people who did not use a straight plumb-rule to get the walls perpendicular, nor right-angled squares to get the corners correct, but used a soft rule which would bend to suit all irregularities in the walls, and a square that expanded to fit any angle, acute or obtuse. Yet, thanks to self-stupefaction, that is just what is being done in life. Life does not accord with conscience, so conscience is made to bend to life. This is done in the life of individuals, and it is done in the life of humanity as a whole, which consists of the lives of individuals. To grasp the full significance of such stupefying of one's consciousness, let each one carefully recall the spiritual c... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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Terrible, as they are described to us, are the consequences of opium and hashish on individuals; terrible, as we know them, are the consequences of alcohol to flagrant drunkards; but incomparably more terrible to our whole society are the consequences of what is considered the harmless, moderate use of spirits, wine, beer, and tobacco, to which the majority of men, and especially our so-called cultured classes, are addicted. The consequences must naturally be terrible, admitting the fact, which must be admitted, that the guiding activities of society - political, official, scientific, literary, and artistic - are carried on for the most part by people in an abnormal state: by people who are drunk. It is generally supposed that a man who, like most people of our well-to-do classes, takes alcoholic drink almost every time he eats, is in a perfectly normal and sober condition next day, during working hours. But this is quite an error. A man who drank a bottle of wine,... (From : Wikisource.org.)

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↑ A reference to the brain ↑ Aylmer Maud includes the footnote " See the allusion to Skóbelev's conduct at Geok-Tepe on the last page of Tales of Army Life." ↑ Aylmer Maud included the footnote "In the matters alluded to the Russian customs are worse than the English, partly because in Russia the smell of stale tobacco in the rooms is less offensive than in England due to a drier climate." ↑ But how is it that people who do not drink or smoke are often morally on an incomparably lower plane than others who drink and smoke? And why do people who drink and smoke often manifest very high qualities both mentally and morally? The answer is, first, that we do not know the height that those who drink and smoke would have attained had they not drunk and smoked. And secondly, from the fact that morally gifted people achieve great things in spite of the deteriorating eff... (From : Wikisource.org.)


1890 :
Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves? -- Publication.

July 10, 2021 ; 5:19:29 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Added to https://www.RevoltLib.com.

July 11, 2021 ; 4:32:14 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
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