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Commentary :: DNC
The Carnage in Beslan. Remember Tolstoy
05 Sep 2004
Remember Tolstoy. Radicalized by the war to subjugate Chechnya 150 years ago, he became a pacifist. The Russian leadership insists on maintaining their empire in the Caucasus at any cost. That is at the heart of this bloodshed.
Tolstoy was radicalized against war's horrors and turned pacifist as a young man in large part by the brutal war in Chechnya in the 1850s, where he served from 1851-1854, at the age of 23, as a czarist artillery cadet. The Russian leadership insists on maintaining their empire in the Caucasus at any cost. That is at the heart of this bloodshed. Non-violent massive civil disobedience by the population in Chechnya as a people's weapon, the ultimate power tool, seems one obvious alternative. Tolstoy's apothegm 'government is violence' and the arguments of non-violent non-statist politics make all the more sense when you look at the continued horrific slaughter of innocents. There is a Tolstoy museum in Starogladovskaya village in Chechnya that remembers his legacy there, at a time in his 20s when military service transformed his whole philosophy of life. Here an informative URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/monitoring/media_reports/1306744.stm . Tolstoy's Chechen novella Hadji Murad remains one of Western literature's greatest anti-war tales. Relevant to Chechnya today, relevant to Iraq. Putin and Bush won't be reading it.

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