M. N. Roy Jawaharlal Nehru



Download 4,14 Mb.
Page54/67
Date conversion09.08.2018
Size4,14 Mb.
1   ...   50   51   52   53   54   55   56   57   ...   67

2 From The Kingdom of Cod.

In Tolstoy's opinion the state shields all the injustice of present-day society. It was invented only to protect property ; only for this purpose it set up its many-meshed system of force, with laws, prosecu­ting attorneys, prisons, judges, policemen, and armies. But the most frightful and godless misdemeanour of the state, Tolstoy believed, was a new invention of his own century, universal military duty. To him nothing was such a provocation to the Christian man to betray the precepts of Christ and the Commandments of the Gospels as his yield­ing to a state's order, allowing a tool of murder to be forced into his hand to kill some perfect stranger for the sake of a chance catchword —Fatherland, Freedom, the State, These catchwords, Tolstoy keeps shouting, have no purpose but to protect property that does no.t



  1. 440

  2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS

  1. belong to him, and forcibly to raise the idea of property to that of a higher moral law. And if men submit to authority, it is only because they fear that if they were to resist, they would be subjected to vio­lence. All the requisitions of the state, such as the payment of taxes and the fulfilment of public duties, the submission to penalties in the form of exile, fines, etc., to which men seem to yield voluntarily, are always enforced by the physical threat or the reality of physical punishment.

  2. Physical Violence as the Basis of Authority

  3. Tolstoy regarded physical violence as the basis of authority. It is the military organization that makes it possible to inflict physical violence, that organization wherein the entire armed force acts as one man, obeying a single will. The assemblage of armed men, submitting to one will, forms what is called an army. The army has ever been and still is the basis of an authority, vested in the commanding gene­rals ; and the most engrossing interest of every sovereign, from the roman Caesars, to the Russian and German Emperors, has always been to protect and flatter the army, for they realize that when the army is on their side, power is also in their hands.

  4. We are told, Tolstoy writes while further pushing his viewpoint against the government and its physical force, that the government and its armies are necessary for our defence against the neighbouring states which might subject us. But all the governments say this of one another ; and yet we know that every European nation professes the same principles of liberty and fraternity, and therefore needs no defence against its neighbour. Hence no man who reflects on the significance of the state, in whose name he is required to sacrifice his peace, his safety, and his life, can escape the conviction that there is no longer any reasonable ground for such sacrifice. Tolstoy writes : "The Christian nations of the present day are in a position no less cruel than that of pagan times. In many respects, especially in the matter of oppression, their position has grown worse. In the former the external aspect of cruelty and slavery corresponded with the inner consciousness of men, a conformity which only increased as time went on ; in the latter the external condition of cruelty and slavery is in utter contradiction which grows more and more striking evary year."8 The misery and-suffering resulting therefrom seem so useless. It is like prolonged suffering in child-labour. Everything is ready for the coming life, and yet no life appears.

  5. Tolstoy: A Radical Anarchist


    1. 3 Ibid.

    Thus, Tolstoy—the gospel-seeker permanently turned radical anarchist—came to the conclusion that it was the duty of every intelligently moral person to resist the state if it demanded something



  1. LEO TOLSTOY

  2. 441



  1. 'unchristian', i.e., military service, and this not by force but by non-resistance ; in addition, he must voluntarily give up every activity which depends on exploiting the work of others. Honourable men must think and act not patriotically but humanely; ceaselessly Tolstoy keeps pointing to the holiest right of the individual, that to decline things out of inner conviction although they be legally allowed or even required, to be refractory to every pronouncement of the state which they do not recognize as moral. Therefore he advises the Christian man to evade all arrangements and institutions as much as possible, not to appear in courts of law and to accept no offices, in order to keep his soul pure. Again and again Tolstoy encourages the individual not to be intimidated by the false, the antimoral principle of force, even if it calls itself the force of law and order, for the state in its present form is of itself the defender, lawyer and bailiff of a latent injustice ; and even anarchical crimes of individuals do not seem to Tolstoy so morally corrupting as the apparently well-ordered and humanly acting institutions of this arch-enemy. "Thieves, robbers, murderers, swindlers are an example of what one must not do, and they inspire in men's minds a horror of wrong-doing. But men who commit acts of theft, of robbery, of murder, of chastise­ment, and gild them with some religious, scientific or liberal justifi­cation—who do it as land-owners, merchants or manufacturers— appeal to others to intimate their acts ; they injure not only those who suffer under it, but thousands and millions of men whose morals they ruin by destroying the distinction between good and evil in those men's minds. . . .A single sentence of death carried out by men who are not under the influence of passion, by prosperous, educated per­sons with the encouragement and assistance of Christian clergymen, corrupts and brutalizes mankind more than hundreds and thousands of murders committed by uneducated working-men, usually in an access of passion. . . .Every war, even the shortest, with all its accom­panying losses, thefts, tolerated excesses, robberies, murders, with the supposed justification of its necessity and justice, with the praise and glorification of warlike deeds, with prayers for the flag and the Fatherland and the hypocritical anxiety for the wounded, corrupts men more in one year than millions of robberies, arsons and murders committed by individuals under the influence of passion in the course of hundreds of years." In other words, the state, according to Tols­toy, is the chief criminal, the true Antichrist, the personification of evil.

  2. And Tolstoy aptly concluded that it was the natural duty of a Christian to withdraw himself both from the demands and the tempta­tions of this devilish spectre. The free Christian must be just as indiffer­ent to Russia as a state as he is to France or England; he must think not in terms of nations but on a universal human basis. Spiritually Tolstoy withdrew from the state as he had from the orthodox Church, declaring : "I cannot recognize states or nations, nor take part in



  1. 442

  2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS

  1. quarrels between them, either by writing on the subject or by serving a single state. I can take no part in anything which rests on the difference between states, like custom houses, ;ax collection, the manufacture of explosives and arms, or any warlike preparations." The 'Christian man' in Tolstoy's sense—actually we might always say instead 'the pure anarchist'—must deny the state ; he must live morally outside this immoral institution. "The Christian who contemplates that law of love implanted in every human soul, and quickened by Christ, the only guide for all mankind, is set free from human authority."4 Only this wholly passive, wholly negative, apathetic attitude, willingly accepting any suffering, distinguishes him fundamentally from the political revolutionary, who hates the state instead of ignoring it.

  2. The Freedom of tbeCliristian Man

  3. This 'anti-state doctrine' of Tolstoy's—we are reminded of Luther's tract on The Freedom of the Christian Man—is in itself splendidly direct and forceful. The flaw within the system appears only when Tolstoy attempts to turn his demand for self-determination into a positive theory of the state. Instead of a stable, uniform state structure with authorities and laws and executive organs, he recommends as a means of cementing all contradictory interests— this we are astonished to hear from a man who searched every depth of the human soul as almost no one ever has—simply'love', 'brotherhood', 'faith', 'life in Christ'. According to Tolstoy the vast abyss existing today between the •property-owning classes, spoiled children of culture, and the pauper classes can be spanned only if the property-owning classes voluntarily give up their privileges, and cease to make such great demands upon life. Let the rich man give up his wealth, the intellectual his arrogance ; let the artist create his works with a view solely to intelligibility for the masses, let everyone live wholly by his own work, receiving no more for it than he needs for this primitive form of life. This is Tolstoy's central idea : Social levelling must be accomplished not from below, as the revolutionists demand, by forcibly taking all property from the owners, but from above, by a spontaneous concession from the propertied classes.

  4. The Real Kingdom of God on Earth


    1. 4 Ibid.

    Tolstoy realized clearly that once equal needs or rather simpli­city of needs have restored unity among men. the evil instincts of envy and hatred can find no further objects of attack. It will be superfluous to create special authorities and to use force in maintain­ing them. The real kingdom of god on earth will begin as soon as all social exaltations and subordinations are done away with, and people have once more learned to form a single brotherly community.



  1. LEO TOLSTOY

  2. 443

  1. His Thesis on Society

  2. So powerful was Tolstoy's authority in his time and so attractive was his thesis on society that many people desired to realize his theory of society in practice. But, catastrophically, these attempts ended in disappointment, and Tolstoy did not succeed in establishing the basic principles of Tolstoyism even in his own house and family. For years hs tried to harmonize his private life with his theories ; he gave up his beloved hunting so as not to kill animals, so far as possible he avoided using the railroad, he turned over the income from his writings to his family or to charitable purposes, he refused to eat meat because it required the forcible death of living creatures. He ploughed in the fields himself, went about in a coarse peasant coat, and nailed the soles of his shoes with his own hands. But all this could not change the hearts of the members of his family. His wife became estranged, his children could not understand why they in particular must be brought up like milkmaids and peasant boys for the sake of their father's theories ; his secretaries and translators brawled ike drunken coachmen over the property in* Tolstoy's writings. Not a single soul around him accepted the life of this splendid pagan as a truly Christian one, and be himself knew in the end, as his diary shows, that his intellectuality and his pride unsuited him more than anyone to fulfil the imperiously propagated ideal. And the eighty-three-year old man, feeling death come upon him, flees out of his house by night, and dies in a little railroad station, lonely and disappointed in his holiest purpose.

  3. His Influence

  4. Although Tolstoy's principles were greatly ridiculed during his own lifetime, and he died a tragic death, it would be unjust not to recognize the powerful, even the epoch-making effects which the world owes to Tolstoy's theory of life, and it is definitely no exaggera­tion to say that not one of his contemporary thinkers, not even Karl Marx or Nietzsche, produced equal emotion in millions and millions of people—although in tendency their effects varied altogether. None of the nineteenth-century Russian revolutionists smoothed the path so much for Lenin and Trotsky as this anti-revolutionary Count, who was the first to defy the Tsar, and who, pursued by the ban of the Holy Synod, had left the Church, who had shattered all existing authority with hammer blows, and who demanded social reconcilia­tion as the necessary condition for a new and better world. His works, forbidden by the censors, were copied by hand, and reached a hundred thousand readers, making common knowledge of his demand for the abolition of property at a time when the wildest of the social revo­lutionists were still modestly satisfied with liberalistic palliations and reforms. Nothing could make Russia radical as Tolstoy's radicalism in thinking. Despite all his inward opposition he deserves a monu­ment on Red Square. For as Rousseau was the ancestor of the



  1. 444

  2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS



  1. French Revolution, so Tolstoy was the Prodromos, the true ancestor of the Russian world revolution.


    1. 5 Zweig, Stefan: Tolstoy (Cassell & Co. Ltd., London, 4th ed., 1948), p. 19.

    Tolstoy's ideas undoubtedly made history on a world scale, his theoretical writings with their contradictions belong once and for all with the most important intellectual and social constituents of our times. Even today they still have much to give to the individual reader. Every statesman, every sociologist will discover prophetic foresight in his fundamental criticism of our age ; every artist must be spurred on by the example of this mighty poet, who tormented his soul that he might think for all, and might battle injustice on earth and with the power of his words. It is always "an exquisite delight when we can regard a towering artist as a moral example also, as a man who, instead of ruling by his celebrity, makes himself the servant of humanity, and in his struggle for a true ethos submits to only one out of all the authorities on earth—his own incorruptible conscience."6

  1. 20

  2. THOMAS HILL GREEN (1836-1882)



  3. The Spirit of the Age and Gr >en

  4. To any serious onlooker the assessment of the Victorian Age should appear a difficult task because the glow of its surface tends to conceal its undercurrent of troubles. On May 1, 1851, the worried Europe woke up to see the startling industrial progress of England as exhibited in the Crystal Palace Exhibition. The grimaces of the 'hungry forties' were gone on April 10, 1848, the Chartist Movement was skilfully quietened and the waves of the contemporary European revolt failed to reach the English shore with the result that amid the flurry of continental chaos the banner of England stood high fluttering the message of hope and promise.

  5. The Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851 was a glass-case witness to England's claim as the 'workshop of the world'. By that time the Iron Age in England was rapidly approaching its zenith and, thanks to the effort of George Stephenson of Tyneside, the Railway Age had brought its thrill of motion. In short, in England social and economic life was changing under the impact of scientific pro­gress. One cannot deny the nest of material prosperity England secured since the "fifties to the credit of scientific and industrial advancement." But it is in this admission of fact that one may sense the real trouble of the Victorian era. Amid the cheers of material progress it was overlooked that the social belief had been darkened by a mood of doubt and scepticism.

  6. In the first half of the 19th century the so-called discord between philosophy and religion, knowledge and faith had not grown poig­nant. In fact, in the early Victorian age popular excitement centred round the controversies between the side-issues of religion and not between philosophy and relrgion. The Oxford Movement which originated from an unmeaning ecclesiastical scare silently brought a religious revival. In the thirties and forties Tractarian brochures flooded England to cause a widespread storm of protest, and ulti­mately with the secession of Newman and his associates it had to breathe its last. But that this movement unknowingly pushed on a religious interest can be guessed from the picture of the time imme­diately following this movement. The Victorians were then regular both in private prayer and public worship. This lead in this line was given by the Royal family. Attendance in the church twice a day was not an uncommon feature of the family life. A concept of

  1. 446

  2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS



  1. Christian fraternity was widely talked on even among the working classes. But with the gradual seizure of social life by science and industrialism this religious faith was sadly eclipsed by a cynical sense of doubt, and philosophy, being steadily yoked to materialism, came to be used as an instrument for hurling obloquy against religion. Reiigion, however, had to await the rudest blow until the discoveries of geology and evolution—appearing in Charles Lyell's famous book The Principles of Geology (1830) and Darwin's The Origin of Species (1859). This conflict between science and religion climaxed in I860 when 'n the classic debate at the Oxford meeting of the British Association, Thomas Huxley euphemistically retorted the sarcasm of Bishop Wilberforce who there expressed most crudely the typical theological allergy to the scientific ideas of evolution.

  2. Religion was gradually reduced to an emotion and philosophy to a mechanical formula, and so the chasm between the two grew alarmingly wide. It became a fashion of the time to acclaim man as the 'master of things'. But amid the enthusiasm of this glorification of man it was forgotten that the greatness of men might be assured best by the acceptance of a spiritual principle. The real need of the time was a new kind of philosophy which could avoid evangelical fads as well as materialistic scepticism and emphasize the essential greatness of men in the context of a religious temperament. Indeed, the spirit of the age was waiting for a man who could come and say that philosophy on its part is seen to be the effort towards self-recog­nition of that spiritual life of the world, which fulfils itself in many-ways but most completely in the Christian religion, and to be thus related to religion as the flower to the leaf."'1

  3. It was a sincere desire to heal the spiritual crisis of his age that inspired Thomas Hill Green to start his pen. The philosophy which was roughly sketched by Coleridge and which occasionally lulled the imagination of J. S. Mill needed a man who by his consistent thought would give it a comprehensive shape. In T. H. Green, we exactly find this man. When in the Victorian England the spiritual view of life sadly sank down amid the torrents of material prosperity, Green, a young student at Oxford, thundered : "In no depth of their de­basement have men consented to confine the range of the mind with­in the limits of the fleshly tabernacle, which is the seat of its im­prisonment."2


    1. Green, T. H. : Works, Vol. 3, p. 121.

    2. Green, T. H. : "College Essay on Loyalty", extracted from Nettleship's Memoir, p. 20.

    It was Green's conviction that philosophy should build up a theory of the essential greatness of men by emphasizing a higher con­ception of life. Green mellowed the English thought with a reli­gious mood, but at the same time cancelled all worn-out theological dogmas. He really came to grips with the problem of his time. So



  1. THOMAS HILL GREEN

  2. 447

  1. Green ought to be remembered even today because with him started a new season in the climate of philosophic thought in the Victorian England.

  2. Green's Political Philosophy—a Logical Interpretation to the Events of His Time

  3. But in the field of political philosophy Green was not an inno­vator as he was in the sphere of metaphysical and ethical enquiry. If in regard to speculative thought he was a path-maker whose theory sought to satisfy the crying spiritual need of his age, in regard to poli­tical philosophy, he was, indeed, a child of his time. But for that reason it will be unfair to argue that his political philosophy was of less significance. Green, as Barker says, "addressed himself to elicit­ing and explaining the presuppositions.implicit in the contemporary life of the English state."8 It is not a fact that had he not .construct­ed his political philosophy collectivism would have failed to invade England. Blot out Green's name from the pages of the history of political thought and you will find no difficulty in detecting a se­quence in the events of state intervention in England. Wherein then lies his importance ? His credit, in fact, lies in the fact that he, by his political philosophy, rendered a logical interpretation to the events of his time. In the earlier period utilitarians came with their well-knit theory, hammered hard and ulitmately succeeded in injecting a spirit of individualism in the artery of administration. Thus indivi­dualistic attitude of the state developed in the wake of an organized philosophy. But unlike this the collectivistic approach of the state developed, in the later Victorian period, more under the influence of the necessity of facts than of the persistence of a philosophy. Now these growing facts of state interference needed a philosophy to rest on. Green's task was to provide this philosophy of the collectivist state. As Laski says : "What the philosophers like T. H. Green.. . . did was to provide the basis for understanding the necessity of the change. They prepared men to receive it. . . .They established the canon of their age."1

  4. His Collectivism


    1. 4 Laski, H. J. : The Leaders of Collectivist Thought, Ideas and Beliefs of the Victorians, p. 420.

    The political philosophy of the utilitarians was firmly yoked to their ethical theory and a solicitude to maintain this canonic coher­ence largely moulded their individualistic creed. It would scarcely be just to say that Green's political philosophy was not loyal to his metaphysical ethics. In fact, Green's Principles of Political Obligation is an illustrative appendix of his Prolegomena to Ethics. Yet one should remember that his political philosophy was influenced less by this



  1. 448
1   ...   50   51   52   53   54   55   56   57   ...   67


The database is protected by copyright ©sckool.org 2016
send message

    Main page