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Tolstoi Essays Anarchism - Legal Name Changes California

My old sociology tutor once remarked that people under 35 are advocates of social change, while people over that age tend to be keen on social control. Certainly there seems to be a general idea around that as the years go by people become more and more conservative in their thinking. Tolstoy is a clear exception to this rule; the older he got, the more radical he became. As a consequence in the last years of his life he consistently expressed a religious form of anarchism.

Tolstoy Essay On Anarchy - Johnsons Swimming School

In the bookshops now is a paperback edition of What Then Must We Do?, re-issued as a ‘Green Classic’ by the publishers of Resurgence. It has a short introduction by Ronald Sampson, mainly devoted to contrasting Tolstoy’s anarchism with Marx’s revolutionary socialism — Marx, along with his ardent followers Lenin and Trotsky, being an advocate of the Jacobin theory of revolution. This theory Tolstoy himself, long before the Russian revolution, had suggested would inevitably lead to another form of oppression, based as it was on the mistaken belief in the value of revolutionary violence.

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Tolstoy may have been a crusty, guilt-ridden, sexist and somewhat cranky old soul, but in the present state of manifest crisis — if you look beyond your own backyard — there really is no alternative to the kind of anarchism he espoused and tried to articulate. As Sampson says ‘We simply cannot afford to go on ignoring Tolstoy’s message’.

Like Gandhi, who was his equally famous disciple, Tolstoy came to his anarchism by way of a mid-life crisis. For when he was around 50 Tolstoy began to seriously question the meaning of his life. The outcome was a series of books in which Tolstoy began to formulate his anarchist ideas, drawing on some of his earlier experiences — the trauma he experienced in Paris in 1857 when he witnessed with repulsion a public execution, his meeting and discussions with Proudhon in 1861, and the realisation he gained from a serious study of the Bible that the basic teachings of Jesus were absolutely opposed to violence of any kind. The books were My Confession (1881), What I Believe (1884) and What Then Must We Do? (1886). In 1894 Tolstoy published his major work on Christian anarchism The Kingdom of God Is Within You and for the rest of his life continued to write letters, essays and tracts on anarchism. But it is worth noting that because of the association of anarchism with violence and bomb-throwing Tolstoy never in fact came to describe himself as an anarchist. In recent years several anthologies of these writings have been published, the most useful being the collection Government is Violence essays on anarchism and pacifism, edited by David Stephens (1991).

He also wrote plays and numerous philosophical essays

Tolstoi essays anarchism

Philosopher Peter Kropotkin wrote of Tolstoy in the article on anarchism in the ..
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