Lev (Leo) Tolstoy: Philosophy, Religion, and Literary Accomplishments of.

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Hello, all. I am just now, in my older years, starting to read Tolstoy. In spite of my extensive education, Classic Literature has always been a weakness of mine, except for Shakespeare, whom I started reading at age 8.

I am learning quite a bit about Tolstoy. He converted to a very unorthodox type of Christian Anarchism in about his 50's. He ended up excommunicated from the Orthodox Church of Russia in 1901. He was a believer in non-violent resistence to injustice, whose views influenced men like Gandhi and MLK Jr.

Has anybody read War and Peace (I just started this yesterday), or anything by him? What are your thoughts on him as a writer, a philosopher, a believer, etc? Fire ahead.







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Papa Legba

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Not got much time for Tolstoy; too wishy-washy & faux-noble.

Non-violence always struck me as arrant nonsense; an invitation to enslavement.

Violence is in fact the solution to many problems; it is deciding the amount & type of violence that needs to be applied, & having the moral fibre to apply it with neither compunction nor regret, that is the tricky bit.

Dostoevsky is my favourite of the 19th-century Russian novelists; the great connoisseur of Moral Hypocrisy.

Him, I learnt from; Tolstoy, I did not.
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I read your response yesterday, but had to digest it first. I have not read Dostoevsky yet. I have gotten some of his books on the Kindle. But I've always rather shared your opinion of non-violence v. violence. Gandhi's non-violence always went too far for me, as did Chairman Mao's violence. There has to be something in the middle. I have read much of Mao, and some of Gandhi. Now Iowa does have plenty of cows. Perhaps consulting a few of them would help?  *SHITEATING GRIN*




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Papa Legba

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Tolstoy is by far the more elegant & erudite writer; Dostoevsky can be crude & limited in comparison.

But it is my opinion that Dostoevsky saw further into the soul of man.

As for violence, ask yourself this: would the state of Israel exist without violence? Could the state of Israel continue to exist without it?

I do not believe it could, nor do I believe violence in defence of its continued existence to be in any way immoral.

Cruelty is not the same as Violence; it is an Aspect of it.

And the inability to discern Aspects of a thing from the thing itself are the source of much confusion in this world.

Speaking of which, it would probably be more correct to use the word 'Force' rather than 'Violence' if we are to discuss this further; it is less open to misinterpretation.
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I think you are quite correct on the matter of force., particularly as to how it pertained to the establishment of the State of Israel, and how it presently pertains to the maintenance of said State. Non-violence  is great when you have govts like the British that recognise basic human dignity. But most countries don't. If Gandhi had lived under the rule of th Russians or the Chinese he'd of been taken out and shot within ten minutes.

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mathsman

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There's a wonderful biography of Tolstoy by Aylmer Maude: The Life of Tolstoy. It reveals Tolstoy to be a very complex man; I would heartily recommend it.

She translated War and Peace. I shall look for the book. Thank you for mentioning it.

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Papa Legba

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If Gandhi had lived under the rule of th Russians or the Chinese he'd of been taken out and shot within ten minutes.

When he finally lived under the rule of his own countrymen he was.

Because, I suggest, he & his methods had outlived their usefulness.
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Well, Gandhi was shot due to nationalist Hindus opposing the separation of India an Pakistan, but I see your point. Of course, to be fair to Gandhi, he never wanted the separation and fought hard to prevent it.

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Papa Legba

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Of course, the Radcliffe Line was a parting 'fuck you' from the British.

But it wasn't us who shot Ghandi.
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Quite true. But even the Radcliffe Line was an attempt by the British to keep both sides from killing each other. Granted that the British didn't expect it to work and it didn't. But it was an attempt.

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Papa Legba

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I don't believe the British were attempting to stop them killing each other; infiltration of Muslim independence movement leaders by British-trained moles such as Syed Ahmad Khan show our ill-intent stretched back years before partition.

The Sikhs were the ones who really got the shaft in all this; they are another people I have affection for & you may find their version of events interesting.
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The Sikhs DID TOTALLY  get screwed. What happened to them was one of the most profound injustices ever to affect a community.

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Papa Legba

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Yeah; they're good people, I have a lot of time for Sikhs.

The site sikh-history.com gives a brief overview of their experience of Partition that you may find interesting.

For a small nation like Britain to dominate such a large population as India's we had to use a lot of divide & conquer tactics; like I say, Partition was the final culmination of these tactics... We just basically trashed the place before leaving.

Okay, that's a bit simplistic, as many British were trying to prevent it too, especially from the Anglo-Indian community... but it's pretty much the truth.
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In some ways, I think Partition was an attempt to retain India. I recall the film Gandhi where one of the British officers says something to the effect that there is a "Hindu India, a Muslim India, and an India of Princely States. And all these must be protected and cared for."

I really think that when Britain pushed Partition along with Mohammed Ali Jinnah (and boy, was he ever a piece of crap; a secular Muslim who drank and smoked himself to death and yet was one of the Indians most reponsible for Partition) they (the British) honestly thought that most Indians would opt for Home Rule, Swaraj, under the continued authority of the British Crown. They didn't realise how determined Indians really were!

I really think it shocked them when India truly told them to GTFO. I don't think they knew what to do. They knew then what you and I know now. India wasn't called "the diamond in the Crown of Empire" for no reason.

Britain knew that if they lost India, it was only a matter of time for the rest of the Empire. They got so much monetary wealth, and wealth in natural resources, out of British India that it greased the rest of the Empire! I mean, Crap, just in taxation alone they got more out of India than anywhere else in the Empire.

The Brits were damned clever.They could NEVER have ruled India by conquering it in the traditional way.So Divide and Conquer, as you said. After the British East India Company was removed and the Raj was instituted in 1858,  they were smart enough NOT to interfere in local governments. They did what previous Empires, such as the Moguls, had done. They set themselves on top and simply served as the highest level to which all taxation went, as well as serving as the final court of appeal judicially and so-forth.

But they always knew that if the System ever broke down, the whole Empire was screwed. Because they did things one better than the other Empires simply with that British efficiency for which your country has always been so well known. They outpaced the Moguls and the others. And it worked. But it was what greased the rest of the Empire. If it failed, they would no longer be able to afford to keep the rest of the Empire without going bankrupt.

And that is what they were headed for after India left. Which is why by 1997 there was practically nothing left when Hong Kong left aside from some outlying areas that would never survive on their own.

Granted, you know this as well as I do, being an Englishman. I know it because my BA in History and my MA in History are BOTH in British History. And I studied the Raj in considerable detail. I also have a BA in Philosophy but is beside the point.




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Papa Legba

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A good analysis; so, partition can perhaps be viewed as an attempt to keep British authority which, in case of failure, would sow maximum discord?

You are correct about the importance of India to Imperial revenues; it was the lynchpin of the system. Once removed, the system could no longer function & decline was inevitable.

I think the events of WW2 played a large part in stiffening Indian resolve; seeing their British officers being humiliated & dragged into imprisonment by their Japanese captors had a huge effect on the Indian troops they led, who had previously regarded these men as close to Gods, as well as the Indian population generally when they heard about such events.
The debacles in Singapore & Burma also led to enormous loss of prestige for Britain throughout the East; the spell of British military omnipotence was broken, so to speak...

And Jinnah? Yeah; total POS.
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