Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tolstoy and Qana

Leo Tolstoy’s religious and political beliefs he adopted at the end of his life are often simply dismissed or viewed as wacky. Old man went gaga. But then when I read again and again about justification of war in Lebanon or about the viciousness of Qana bombing, I believe we need to recall who Tolstoy said about war and morality.

Morality is something that belongs to an individual alone. An individual has an immortal soul and should seek salvation. Any group or nation cannot be moral or immoral. Such terms are simply not applicable. Groups or nations are not led by moral values but individuals do. What we see today in Lebanon is sheer fight for survival. According to Tolstoy no violence could be justifiable for an individual. The pilot who dropped a bomb on Qana lost his immortal soul immediately as it killed children. Or condemned himself to burn in hell. Or chose the destiny to become a roach in his next life. I prefer the latter option for purely aesthetical reasons. To put it short – he sacrificed his soul in order to save his tribe. Exactly what all animals do. If species A endangers the existence of species B, species A is “justified” to start the war, especially when it is stronger, has bigger fangs and better support from other animals. Survival of biological species belongs to the realm of instincts not morality and values.

The pilot who dropped bombs on Qana would probably be given many shiny medals, money, respect, etc. but he is doomed. When he dies the greatest praise for him would be then his widow would tell his kids, “Don’t step on this roach. It’s possibly our dad who saved our country from enemies”.

Click here to read Tolstoy’s “The Kingdom of God is Within You” on Wikisource.


"Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul;but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."--MATT. x. 28.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Konstantin,
This is one of your brightest posts; I thank you with all my heart for every word you wrote.

I believe terror has two scales: Individual terros: (coming from a person who lost his morality)
State terror: That same person being a decision-maker in a state.

SO I can not see much difference between Hezbollah's and Israel's actions - both are "terrorists" but with different power and abilities.
Thank you for the link, it is very interesting, I am reading it now.

Anonymous said...

Konstantin,
I think your worldview doesn't allow for grace, for change. I agree that tribal logic is tearing apart the Middle East. However, the difference between the two sides is that one side just wants to survive, the other is willing to risk complete annihilation to destroy the enemy. The logic of the suicide bombers taken to its ultimate conclusion, means not just Tel Aviv, but Riyadh, Teheran and many other cities as radioactive wastes, with no Palestine left to "liberate". This is the endgame Mr. Ahmadenijad seems to think is going to be glorious.

When people talk about freedom fighters, I always ask them, what freedom did they bring? So they ended an "occupation", but are you free to do business? Are you free to criticize your leaders and not be shot as a "collaborator"? If the answer is no, then these are not freedom fighters, just thugs with rifles who are attributed virtue by idiotic Westerners because they happen to posses only some, but not all, of the weapons of a modern state.

One pilot dropping a bomb into what he thought was probably an empty building seems far removed from one man giving an order to fire thousands of completely unguided rockets, or worse to drop the bomb and bring about the apocolypse he seems to welcome...

neha said...

tolstoy wrote another letter, generally called "a letter to a hindu" quite nice -
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Letter_to_a_Hindu

it was published and in introduction to that letter, gandhi wrote -

It is a mere statement of fact to say that every Indian, whether he owns up to it or not, has national aspirations. But there are as many opinions as there are Indian nationalists as to the exact meaning of that aspiration, and more especially as to the methods to be used to attain the end.

One of the accepted and "time­honoured" methods to attain the end is that of violence.


Relevant to the current state of affairs - we desperately want peace, the immediate and ripple effect of war is... scary.

Anonymous said...

Again an excellent post, Kostja!

Tim Newman said...

SO I can not see much difference between Hezbollah's and Israel's actions - both are "terrorists" but with different power and abilities.

Which is exactly the type of moral equivalence that leads people to say that the Russian government is no better than the perpetrators of the Beslan atrocity. And it is bullshit.

Didn't we have a post denouncing this kind of thinking the other day? Or is it okay to equate Israel with Islamic terrorists but not Russia with Islamic terrorists?

Thomas said...

Tim, bravo! And what's more, apparently when an American talks about crazy religion it proves he's an uneducated, unenlightened slob, but when a Russian does it it proves he's an insightful genius? Give me a break! You'd think by now after so much failure the Russians would be embarrassed by this kind of pathetic hypocrisy, but it's pretty clear they're primed to do it all over again, this time for keeps.

big black bear said...

On the contrary, Thomas, I think Russians have learned from their American counterparts the power of selective reading and vision, and the Bible is the perfect source for it.

Who did you have in mind as an American and a Russian talking religion? If it was Bush and Tolstoy, you assessement is mostly correct -- it has little to do with them talking religion, there are other telling metrics (to be fair, Bush has other qualities Tolstoy lacked).

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