Literary Curiosities. No. 2 – Tolstoy on Socialism

(Reprinted from “The Chokugen” (the plain speaker), the organ of the Socialist Party of Japan)


Toula, Yasnaya Poliana.


Dear friend IsooAbe (Editor, the Chokugen).


It was a great pleasure for me to receive your letter and your paper, with the English article. I thank you heartily for both.


Though I never doubted that there are in Japan a great many reasonable, moral and religeous men who are opposed to the horrible crime of war, which is now perpetrated by both betrayed and stupefied nations, I was very glad to get the proof of it.


It is a great joy for me to know that I have friends and co-workers in Japan, with which I can be in friendly intercourse.


Wishing to be quite sincere with you, as I wish to be with every esteemed friend, I must tell you that I do not approve of socialism and am sorry to know that the most spiritually advanced part of your—so clever and energetic—people has taken from Europe the very feeble, illusory and fallacious theory of socialism, which in Europe is beginning to be abandoned.


Socialism has for its aim the satisfaction of the meanest part of human nature, his material well-being and by the means it proposes, can never attain them.
The true well-being of humanity is spiritual i.e. moral and includes the material well-being. And this higher goal can be attained only by religeous i.e moral perfection of all the units which composes nations and humanity.


By religeon I understand the reasonably belief in a (general for all humanity) law of God, which practically is exposed in the precept of loving every man and doing to every body what one wishes to be done to you.


I know that this method seems to be less expedient than socialism and other frail theories, but it is the sole true one. And all the efforts we make in trying to realise false—and not realising their aim—theories only hinder as to employ true means to attain the degree of happiness of mankind and of every individual which is proper to our times.


Excuse for the liberty I take to discuss your creed, and for my bad English and believe me to be your friend.