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Gathered for the first time, prophetic writings by the author of War and Peace that speak directly to America's dilemma with the urgency of today's headlines. Gathered for the first time, prophetic writings by the author of War and Peace that speak directly to America's dilemma with the urgency of today's headlines.


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Gathered for the first time, prophetic writings by the author of War and Peace that speak directly to America's dilemma with the urgency of today's headlines. Gathered for the first time, prophetic writings by the author of War and Peace that speak directly to America's dilemma with the urgency of today's headlines.

30 review for Writings on Civil Disobedience and Non Violence

  1. 4 out of 5

    Larry Bassett

    In Writings on Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence Tolstoy is a little heavy on the Christianity for me even if he is talking about the good Jesus Christianity rather than the bad institutional Christianity. I gave it three stars, an extra one because the topic of nonviolent civil disobedience is not found in much writing. I found it hard to get to the end of this book. It began to seem like I was reading the same thing over and over. Tolstoy’s writing is from 150 years ago and represents a part In Writings on Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence Tolstoy is a little heavy on the Christianity for me even if he is talking about the good Jesus Christianity rather than the bad institutional Christianity. I gave it three stars, an extra one because the topic of nonviolent civil disobedience is not found in much writing. I found it hard to get to the end of this book. It began to seem like I was reading the same thing over and over. Tolstoy’s writing is from 150 years ago and represents a part of the foundation for this modern day philosophy. Got to tip my hat to an ethic that says I would rather die than violate my conscience. A conversation about doing the right thing regardless of the consequences with Immanuel Kant (who lived in the 18th century) and Tolstoy would be interesting. Tolstoy lived in Russia from 1828 until 1910. Most people know him because of War & Peace and Anna Karenina; fewer know that he was a pacifist and Christian anarchist when he died. Writings on Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence is a collection of letters and essays. You might say that Tolstoy originated the phrase Power to the People. He says that a belief can start with one person and spread to the masses from there. His core belief is “I will not kill.” He did not believe in the institutional Christian church, premising his Christian belief on Jesus. “Only the complete and utter destruction of institutionalized Christianity in all it manifestations would, according to Tolstoy, open the way for a full appreciation and acceptance of Jesus,” said David Albert in the introduction to the book. A friend of mine, Wally Nelson, was a war tax resister in western Massachusetts during the last half of the 20th century. He must have read Tolstoy because he had a story that he often repeated. Wally would say, What if a man came to your door asking you for money so he could kill a person you didn’t know? Would you give him money? Then Wally would spring the trap: This is like the IRS collecting income taxes from you so the U.S. can kill people you don’t even know in other parts of the world. Why do you pay to kill those other people? Tolstoy is very clear: “You are told in the Gospel that one should not only refrain from killing his brothers, but should not do that which leads to murder: one should not be angry with one’s brothers, nor hate one’s enemies, but love them.” Now, I am not a religious person but I can relate to the organized Church being a force for evil and Jesus being a role model worthy of emulation. Tolstoy takes this quite literally. Tolstoy is severe. He uses hard and damning words: perversion, fraud, idolatry, abhorrent. “We, by God’s grace, the autocratic great Emperor of all Russia, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Finland, etc., etc., proclaim to all our true subjects, that, for the welfare of these our beloved subjects, bequeathed by God into our care, we have found it our duty before God to send them to slaughter. God be with us.” Made Tolstoy want to puke! Tolstoy wants all to say to the ruler impressing men into the military “Hell no! We won’t go!” He says, “The governments may and should fear those who refuse to serve, and, indeed, they are afraid of them because every refusal undermines the prestige of the deceit by which the governments have the people in their power. But those who refuse have no ground whatever to fear a government that demands crimes from them. In refusing military service every man risks much less than he would were he to enter it.” Ah, but aren’t people in Tolstoy’s day in the 19th century afraid of the consequence of this civil disobedience and nonviolence? “But what will happen when all people refuse military service, and there is no check nor hold over the wicked, and the wicked triumph, and there is no protection against savage people – against the yellow race – who will come and conquer us?” You could fast forward to 2010 and hear the same arguments. Tolstoy replies, “I will say nothing about the fact that, as it is, the wicked have long been triumphing….” And he goes on. Is he convincing? Apparently not since we are still having the same argument 150 years later! And it is true throughout these letters and essays written in the 19th century, they could be letters to the editor in the 21st century. Tolstoy, like the Quakers and Mennonites, was blazing a path that some of us still try to follow. As Martin Luther King, Jr and Gandhi learned from Tolstoy, the power of civil disobedience is our willingness to suffer the consequences of our actions. “Notwithstanding the admonitions of the authorities, and threats that they and their families will continue to suffer until they consent to fulfill military duties, those who have refused to do so do not change their decision. … These men say: We are Christians and therefore cannot consent to be murderers. You may torture and kill us, we cannot hinder that, but we cannot obey you…” And, as the movement grows, it becomes harder for the government to control. “In our time it is impossible unperceived to sweep off the face of the earth a religious, moral, and industrious population of ten thousand souls.” What does this writing from the 19th century have to say to us in the 21st century? And similarly, what of the words of the American writer Henry David Thoreau who wrote On the Duty of Civil Disobedience at the same period of the 19th Century? Social action and social criticism is an international reality even in the face of awful consequences. “…on the one hand we find men professing the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity, on the other hand we see these same men ready, in the name of liberty, to yield the most abject and slavish obedience; in the name of equality, to approve the most rigid and senseless subdivision of men into classes; and in the name of fraternity, ready to slay their own brothers.” The line is drawn. “You wish me to be a murderer and I cannot do this; both God and my own conscience forbid it. And therefore do with me what you wish, but I will not kill or prepare for murder, or assist in it.” According to Tolstoy, you cannot oppose evil with violence; he called that non-resistance. Today we would call it nonviolence. “Non-resistance to evil by violence really means only that the mutual interaction of rational beings upon each other should consist not in violence ... but in rational persuasion; and that, consequently, towards this substitution of rational persuasion for coercion all those should strive who desire to further the welfare of mankind.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    Tolstoy is brilliant, of course. I just wish this book were better edited. The various pieces Tolstoy wrote are given no context; no dates, only occasional information on why a piece was written, and a dearth of information on where pieces were originally published. Very frustrating for a researcher. Lots of writing on nonviolence, though more on resistance to the state, and the perils of patriotism.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cyndi

    Tolstoy saw that the very basic human interactions were where peace begins. Peace isn't going to come about through government programs or international organizations. In this series of essays, he investigates several isssues from multiple angles. Policymakers, soldiers, and citizens are thoughtfully considered. He pokes holes in the standard ways of thinking about war and peace. He can be preachy, but all in all this is an excellent collection that presents important viewpoints. Tolstoy saw that the very basic human interactions were where peace begins. Peace isn't going to come about through government programs or international organizations. In this series of essays, he investigates several isssues from multiple angles. Policymakers, soldiers, and citizens are thoughtfully considered. He pokes holes in the standard ways of thinking about war and peace. He can be preachy, but all in all this is an excellent collection that presents important viewpoints.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ale

    Huolimatta siitä, että kirja on kirjoitettu jo satakunta vuotta sitten Tolstoin ajatukset ovat edelleen hyvin ajankohtaiset ja terävät. Kirjan tekstityyli on välillä nykypäivään turhan raskas, mutta kontekstiin asetettuna toimiva. Rauhanliikkeen klassikko!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Morthen

    Rehellistä ja suoraa, rauhaan ja omantunnon kuuntelemiseen ja teoista vastuunkantavaan toimintaan tähtäävää kirjoitusta, joka vaikka kirjoitettu 1800/1900-lukujen vaihteessa, on edelleen ja tullee aina olemaan, ajattoman ajankohtainen.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Noora Karoliina

    Tätä lukiessa tuntui, että astuin aurinkoisella bussipysäkillä kirja kädessä yhteiskunnan sääntöjen tuolle puolen, kohti oikeutta ja totuutta, niin väkevää tekstiä se ajoittain oli.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Saku Haataja

    Mielenkiintoisia näkökulmia rauhanaatteesta ja patriotismin vastustamisesta.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Juuso

    "Hallitukset vakuuttavat kansoille, että näitä uhkaavat vaarat - toisten kansojen hyökkäys ja sisäiset viholliset - ja että ainoa keino pelastua tuolta vaaralta on kansojen orjamainen alistuminen hallitusten tahtoon. Se näkyy aivan ilmiselvästi vallankumousten ja diktatuurien aikana, ja niin tapahtuu aina ja kaikkialla, missä vain valtaa on. Jokainen hallitus selittää olemassaolonsa ja perustelee kaikki väkivallantekonsa sillä, että ellei sitä olisi, olisi pahemmin. Saatuaan kansat vakuuttuneiks "Hallitukset vakuuttavat kansoille, että näitä uhkaavat vaarat - toisten kansojen hyökkäys ja sisäiset viholliset - ja että ainoa keino pelastua tuolta vaaralta on kansojen orjamainen alistuminen hallitusten tahtoon. Se näkyy aivan ilmiselvästi vallankumousten ja diktatuurien aikana, ja niin tapahtuu aina ja kaikkialla, missä vain valtaa on. Jokainen hallitus selittää olemassaolonsa ja perustelee kaikki väkivallantekonsa sillä, että ellei sitä olisi, olisi pahemmin. Saatuaan kansat vakuuttuneiksi siitä, että ne ovat vaarassa, hallitukset alistavat ne tahtoonsa. Kun kansat sitten ovat alistuneet hallitustensa tahtoon, nuo hallitukset pakottavat kansat hyökkäämään toisten kansojen kimppuun. Ja niin kansat saavat vahvistuksen hallitusten vakuutteluihin toisten kansojen taholta uhkaavasta hyökkäysvaarasta. Divide et impera - Hajota ja hallitse."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

    ”Ja kun kysyin häneltä, eivätkö omatunto ja noiden tekojen muisto vaivanneet häntä, hän ei ymmärtänyt minua ollenkaan. Sehän tapahtui sodassa, laillisesti, tsaarin ja isänmaan puolesta.” Tolstoin Omatuntoja-esseekokoelma on rauhankirjallisuuden klassikko, joka on ensimmäisen kerran ilmestynyt suomeksi vuonna 1981 nimellä Omantunnon kujanjuoksu. Alunperin tekstit on peräisin 1800-luvun viimeisiltä ja 1900-luvun ensimmäisiltä vuosilta. Tolstoin kynä on kunnioitettavan terävä ja suorastaan aikamoise ”Ja kun kysyin häneltä, eivätkö omatunto ja noiden tekojen muisto vaivanneet häntä, hän ei ymmärtänyt minua ollenkaan. Sehän tapahtui sodassa, laillisesti, tsaarin ja isänmaan puolesta.” Tolstoin Omatuntoja-esseekokoelma on rauhankirjallisuuden klassikko, joka on ensimmäisen kerran ilmestynyt suomeksi vuonna 1981 nimellä Omantunnon kujanjuoksu. Alunperin tekstit on peräisin 1800-luvun viimeisiltä ja 1900-luvun ensimmäisiltä vuosilta. Tolstoin kynä on kunnioitettavan terävä ja suorastaan aikamoisen sivalteleva hänen puolustaessaan ihmisen velvollisuutta käyttää ”järjen valoa”. Poliittisen kontekstin tunteminen auttaa suhteuttamaan kirjoitukset tuon ajan ajatteluun yleisesti.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Robert Beatty

    A truly exceptional piece of philosophy. Our entire society could be built of this short set of essays. I don't understand why it's not taught as a major and important work. One of the key premises is that governments start wars and ask (or tell) their citizens to fight them, but if we as citizens simply didn't fight, didn't pick up the weapons, then the wars of the world would end. Tolstoy describes what one might call a Christian anarchy, a world where government and laws aren't needed because A truly exceptional piece of philosophy. Our entire society could be built of this short set of essays. I don't understand why it's not taught as a major and important work. One of the key premises is that governments start wars and ask (or tell) their citizens to fight them, but if we as citizens simply didn't fight, didn't pick up the weapons, then the wars of the world would end. Tolstoy describes what one might call a Christian anarchy, a world where government and laws aren't needed because people act with morality rather than in subservience to laws or fear of punishment. I know it sounds naive, but Tolstoy lays it all out in a convincing way. His believes on civil disobedience and nonviolence, which are very Martin Luther King in nature, are excellent as well.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Valtteri

    Tolstoy truly puts the thoughts on my mind to the paper so cleverly that I feel like small. The themes of these essays aren't dated but since the world has gone further so much, some of the reasonings have indeed become a little too old. For example Tolstoy's referring to Christianity and God as the moral might not be taken seriously by the atheistic readers. But their message is nevertheless universal and ageless and even if some of these words have aged, they are still important historical doc Tolstoy truly puts the thoughts on my mind to the paper so cleverly that I feel like small. The themes of these essays aren't dated but since the world has gone further so much, some of the reasonings have indeed become a little too old. For example Tolstoy's referring to Christianity and God as the moral might not be taken seriously by the atheistic readers. But their message is nevertheless universal and ageless and even if some of these words have aged, they are still important historical documents about the days they were written.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kjpout

    Many passionately written essays about peace and the moral responsibility of every person. A great read and very thought-provoking. Makes one think how in our everyday life we often want to hand over moral responsibility of what are ultimately our own choises to someone else and how false that is.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy Spaulding

    What can I say. I read this book to learn civil disobedience. I haven't read it in a while. The last time I read it was in high school. I might have perused it college. What can I say. I read this book to learn civil disobedience. I haven't read it in a while. The last time I read it was in high school. I might have perused it college.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    School Text.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jaska

    One word "brilliant!" One word "brilliant!"

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elin

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anu

  18. 5 out of 5

    C. Ferries

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carmen Sterba

  20. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  21. 4 out of 5

    Radu Almăşan

  22. 5 out of 5

    Avril

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adam Hill

  24. 4 out of 5

    Steve Bosserman

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sep

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Lennán

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jack

  29. 5 out of 5

    Iris

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ellyn

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