Great Europeans

Leo Tolstoy reminds us that history is the Recycling of Stupidity

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History repeats and is spoken. Sadly, it is true but as long as mankind has existed wise men and pacifists and military men have argued against the futility of wars that never profits any but a few bloodsucking non-combatants. These necrophiliacs are blood brothers and they are odious as they worm their way through their mortal coil.

Leo Tolstoy: ‘Stupefied by prayers, sermons, proclamations, processions, pictures, newspapers, cannon fodder, hundreds of thousands of people, uniformly dressed, with a variety of murder weapons, leaving parents, wives, children, with longing in their hearts, but with youthfulness pouted, are going there, where they will risk death to do the worst thing: killing people whom they know and whom they have not done anything wrong.

And all this is not only recognized as a display of high feelings but people who refrain from such displays, if they try to reason with people, are considered traitors, traitors and are in danger of being berated and beaten by an angry mob of people who have no weapon but brutal violence to defend their madness and cruelty.

All this unnatural, feverish, hot-headed, insane excitement, which has now seized the idle upper strata of Russian society, is only a sign of the consciousness of the criminality of the deed being committed. All these insolent, deceitful speeches about loyalty to and adoration for the monarch, about readiness to sacrifice their lives (one should say someone else’s, not their own), all these promises to defend someone else’s land with their breast, all these senseless blessings of each other with various banners and ugly icons, all these prayer services, all these preparations of sheets and bandages.

All these processions, these demands for a hymn, shouts of ‘hurrah’, all this terrible, desperate, unafraid denunciation, because generally, newspaper lies, all this stupidity and bewilderment, in which Russian society is now and which is transmitted little by little to the masses, all this is only a sign of awareness of the criminality of the terrible thing that is being done.

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Leo Tolstoy, Come to your senses! Article on the Russian-Japanese War (January 27 (February 9), 1904 – August 23 (September 5), 1905). Written on May 8, 1904.

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