Non-resistance or struggle? (1935)


We fight harmful bacteria, plants, insects, rodents, predators. Not to fight means to die. Will you really throw yourself to the wolves – or to lice? The answer is clear. But some people are worse than wolves. Well, will you bow your neck to them, become their slaves or edible meat? We struggle with all violent ones who encroach upon our labor or freedom. How could it be otherwise? Give violence-prone people too much rope, and they will take the shirt off your back. For deterrence purposes, violent ones are even punished. But it more and more goes out of fashion. Why? Because among those violent ones our relatives can appear; what is more, we ourselves are not insured against the same. Society tries only to defend itself from violent individuals, but does not want to take revenge on them. Freedom of a violent person is limited as far as it is needed to make him harmless: for one – a reprimand and training, for other – deportation to a secluded piece of land, third are sent to an isolated island, fourth must not be allowed to approach fellow humans at all. But nobody is beaten, humiliated or done any mischief for the sake of vengeance, as soon as it is possible. The goal of judgement is elimination of danger from violent people for protection of our happiness and freedom. Also, in redemption of offspring of nonsocial people and in improvement of human nature.

 The class struggle goes on, when one class violently exploits other one. It is also unavoidable. A class is more dangerous than one person. It enslaves the majority. Both an individual and the majority will never agree to come down to the same level as sheep or other live-stock. Domestic animals were once free, but lost this freedom when subdued themselves and failed to overcome their rivals. The same will happen to the class of people not defending their rights. Our attitude toward animals shows that the strongest class can treat people in the same way as animals.

 The oppressed majority must judge a unlawful minority, as it judges an individual violent person. Tolstoy was an advocate of non-resistance only because he was protected from people’s impudence by his innumerable friends. One man can stand for non-resistance, because those who stand for resistance will protect him. You will not be able to do without resistance advocates.

 Sometimes you do not have enough strength to resist the wicked. Therefore, you in any case will fall to the bear’s clutches, under a knife of a killer or under the thumb of a mighty. Oppose it or not – the result is the same. Non-resistance is sometimes reasonable. When you cannot win over a man – your rival, because he is much stronger than you, it is better to yield and come to heel. You will save your life and energy. In due time the conditions will change and, maybe, you will win and recover freedom. Supposing, there is a fight, the sad end of which is obvious. Why resist then?

There are more cases when non-resistance is reasonable. Supposing, a strong person attacks you not out of spite but due to misunderstanding. Then non-resistance will moderate him; when misunderstanding is straightened, it is the opponent himself that will ask you for an apology.

 Life is so difficult that every case needs a special solution. But there is one thing in common: the eternal irreconcilable war with evil. It seems to us sometimes that evil has been incurred on us. In reality, we ourselves incur it. If a man realizes this weakness, he abstains from force. Here fight means misapprehension and distress for both parties. And it often happens this way.