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Tolstoy on War and State

• Kohlmayer

Considered one of the greatest novelists of all time, Lev Tolstoy authored such celebrated works as War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

But even though he is mostly known for his novels and short stories, Tolstoy was also a prolific non-fiction writer. His non-fiction, however, has been largely dismissed. A pacifist and passionate proponent of the non-aggression principle, his ideas were deemed too extreme from his day onward.

Already during his lifetime it was said that Tolstoy was a brilliant novelist but only an average philosopher. The latter part of this conventional wisdom is wrong. The truth is that in addition to being a genius story teller Lev Tolstoy was also a superb political theorist and philosopher.

As you will see, Tolstoy's analysis of the nature of government is as incisive as anything Murray Rothbard ever wrote on the subject.

Below you will find an excerpt from Tolstoy's book The Kingdom of God Is Within You. Of special importance for students of political theory is the sixth chapter in which Tolstoy explains why the peace movement of his time was destined for failure. With his preternatural insight, Tolstoy shows how the governments of that day not only co-opted the peace movement but used it to further the cause of war.


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