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The Kingdom of God is within you by Leo Tolstoy

Part 4 out of 7

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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, mile 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 Vog.
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 Vog 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 VOG."

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 fighting.

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 Vog 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 associated.

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

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

"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 malefactors.

"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 ftes,
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 Mller 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
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 than, 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

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