Leo Tolstoy

(Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy)

Quote Topics Cited
… fear false knowledge Miscellaneous
… my unity with all people cannot be destroyed by national boundaries and government orders Miscellaneous
… only through stopping every measure of force on the part of the government—not only the executions, but the arrests and banishments—could this fearful, animal-like fight of a people be stopped. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
A misconception remains a misconception, even when it is shared by the majority of people. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do. Death ;Miscellaneous
And that which yesterday was the novel opinion of one man, to-day becomes the general opinion of the majority. And as soon as this opinion is established, immediately by imperceptible degrees, but beyond power of frustration, the conduct of mankind begins to alter. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Error is the force that welds men together; truth is communicated to men only by deeds of truth. Miscellaneous
Every government explains its existence, and justifies its deeds of violence, by the argument that if it did not exist the condition of things would be very much worse. After assuring the people of its danger the government subordinates it to control, and when in this condition compels it to attack some other nation. And thus the assurance of the government is corroborated in the eyes of the people, as to the danger of attack from other nations. War & Peace
Every punishment is based, not on logic or the feeling of justice, but on the desire to wish evil on those who have done evil to you or to another person…. Everything about our present system of punishments and about all criminal law will be thought of by future generations in the same way that we think of cannibalism or human sacrifice to the pagan gods. “How did they not see the uselessness and cruelty of those things which they did?” our descendants will say about us. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Everyone tried to discover still new questions, everyone tried to resolve them; people wrote, read, and spoke about projects; everyone wished to correct, destroy, and change things, and all Russians, as if a single person, found themselves in an indescribable state of enthusiasm Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Genuine religion is not about speculating about God or the soul or about what happened in the past or will happen in the future; it cares only about one thing—finding out exactly what should or should not be done in this lifetime. Religion & God
Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
He who sincerely expressed his thought must remain alone, whereas it generally happens that everyone else, or the majority at least, have been thinking and feeling the same things but without expressing them. he who sincerely expressed his thought must remain alone, whereas it generally happens that everyone else, or the majority at least, have been thinking and feeling the same things but without expressing them. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere. Nationalism & Treason ;Citizenship & Patriotism
Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them History
Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them. History
I sit on a man's back choking him and making him carry me and yet assure myself and others that I'm sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all possible means --- except by getting off his back. Miscellaneous
If we think every word in every holy book is true, then we have created an idol. Religion & God
In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful. History ;War & Peace
In former times the chief method of justifying the use of violence and thereby infringing the law of love was by claiming a divine right for the rulers: the Tsars, Sultans, Rajahs, Shahs, and other heads of states. But the longer humanity lived the weaker grew the belief in this peculiar, God-given right of the ruler. That belief withered in the same way and almost simultaneously in the Christian and the Brahman world, as well as in Buddhist and Confucian spheres, and in recent times it has so faded away as to prevail no longer against man's reasonable understanding Religion & God
In historical events great men — so-called — are but labels serving to give a name to the event, and like labels they have the least possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity. History
In order to obtain and hold power a man must love it. Thus the effort to get it is not likely to be coupled with goodness, but with the opposite qualities of pride, craft and cruelty. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
In our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Modern history is like a deaf person who is in the habit of answering questions that no one has put to them. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Most men … can seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as obliges them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty — conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives Human Nature
No feats of heroism are needed to achieve the greatest and most important changes in the existence of humanity; neither the armament of millions of soldiers, nor the construction of new roads and machines, nor the arrangement of exhibitions, nor the organization of workmen's unions, nor revolutions, nor barricades, nor explosions, nor the perfection of aerial navigation; but a change in public opinion.. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
No one spoke of hatred of the Russians. The feeling experienced by all the Chechens, from the youngest to the oldest, was stronger than hate. It was not hatred, for they did not regard those Russian dogs as human beings, but it was such repulsion, disgust, and perplexity at the senseless cruelty of these creatures, that the desire to exterminate them — like the desire to exterminate rats, poisonous spiders, or wolves — was as natural an instinct as that of self-preservation Miscellaneous
Nothing was written or talked about at that time except the Serbian war.… The massacre of our co-religionists and brother Slavs evoked sympathy for the sufferers and indignation against their oppressors. And the heroism of the Serbs and Montenegrins, fighting for a great cause, aroused in the whole nation a desire to help their brothers not only with words but by deeds. War & Peace
On the bastion and entrenchments white flags have been placed, the lowering valley is full of dead bodies, and the beautiful sun descends from the transparent sky to the undulating blue sea, which sparkles under the golden rays of the sun. Thousands of people crowd together, look at, speak to, and smile at each other. And these people, who are Christians, confessing one great law of love and self-sacrifice, looking at what they have done, do not suddenly fall with repentance on their knees before Him who has given them life, who has placed in the soul of each, together with the fear of death, the love of the good and beautiful. They do not embrace like brothers with tears of joy and happiness. No! The white flags are lowered, and again whistle the instruments of death and suffering, again flows innocent blood, and groans and curses are heard War & Peace
Patriotism ... for rulers is nothing else than a tool for achieving their power-hungry and money-hungry goals, and for the ruled it means renouncing their human dignity, reason, conscience, and slavish submission to those in power. ... Patriotism is slavery. Nationalism & Treason ;Citizenship & Patriotism ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
Rule. In difficult circumstances always act on first impressions. Miscellaneous
Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
The Anarchists are right in everything; in the negation of the existing order, and in the assertion that, without authority, there could not be worse violence than that of authority under existing conditions. They are mistaken only in thinking that Anarchy can be instituted by a revolution Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
The closer people are to the truth, the more tolerant they are of the mistakes of others. Human Nature
The compassionate are not rich; therefore, the rich are not compassionate. Poverty
The difference between real material poison and intellectual poison is that most material poison is disgusting to the taste, but intellectual poison, which takes the form of cheap newspapers or bad books, can unfortunately sometimes be attractive. Media, Journalism & The Press
The feeling of patriotism --- It is an immoral feeling because, instead of confessing himself a son of God . . . or even a free man guided by his own reason, each man under the influence of patriotism confesses himself the son of his fatherland and the slave of his government, and commits actions contrary to his reason and conscience Nationalism & Treason ;Citizenship & Patriotism
The government assures the people that they are in danger from the invasion of another nation, or from foes in their midst, and that the only way to escape this danger is by the slavish obedience of the people to their government. This fact is seen most prominently during revolutions and dictatorships, but it exists always and everywhere that the power of the government exists. Defense & National Security ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
The human mind cannot grasp the causes of phenomena in the aggregate. But the need to find these causes is inherent in man’s soul. And the human intellect, without investigating the multiplicity and complexity of the conditions of phenomena, any one of which taken separately may seem to be the cause, snatches at the first, the most intelligible approximation to a cause, and says: This is the cause! Human Nature
The law condemns and punishes only actions within certain definite and narrow limits; it thereby justifies, in a way, all similar actions that lie outside those limits. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The more is given, the less the people will work for themselves Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The more respect that objects, customs, or laws are given, the more attentively you must question the right these things have to this respect. Freedom & Liberty
The oppression of a majority by a minority, and the demoralization inevitably resulting from it, is a phenomenon that has always occupied me and has done so most particularly of late …. The reason for the astonishing fact that a majority of working people submit to a handful of idlers who control their labour and their very lives is always and everywhere the same — whether the oppressors and oppressed are of one race or whether, as in India and elsewhere, the oppressors are of a different nation. Power
The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience. Human Nature ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
There are no conditions of life to which a man cannot get accustomed, especially if he sees them accepted by everyone around him. Human Nature
Wealth is a great sin in the eyes of God. Poverty is a great sin in the eyes of man. Religion & God
Your majesty ... give the assassins money and send them away somewhere to America, and write a manifesto starting with the words: 'but I say to you, love your enemies,'....from these words, like a flood, goodness and love would pour forth over Russia. Capital Punishment, Dealth Penalty & State Execution
A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. Life ;Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Families, Children & Parenting
All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
And all people live, Not by reason of any care they have for themselves, But by the love for them that is in other people. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Boredom: the desire for desires.
Even in the valley of the shadow of death, two and two do not make six. Death
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
Faith is the sense of life, that sense by virtue of which man does not destroy himself, but continues to live on. It is the force whereby we live. Life ;Religion & God
He never chooses an opinion; he just wears whatever happens to be in style.
I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back.
If so many men, so many minds, certainly so many hearts, so many kinds of love. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Relationships
If there existed no external means for dimming their consciences, one-half of the men would at once shoot themselves, because to live contrary to one's reason is a most intolerable state, and all men of our time are in such a state. Time
If you want to be happy, be. Happiness & Unhappiness
In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you. Religion & God ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.
Joy can only be real if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness. Life ;Happiness & Unhappiness
Man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal, aims of humanity.
Music is the shorthand of emotion. Music, Chants & Rapps
Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal.
One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken. Nature ;Happiness & Unhappiness
Our body is a machine for living. It is organized for that, it is its nature. Let life go on in it unhindered and let it defend itself. Life ;Nature
The changes in our life must come from the impossibility to live otherwise than according to the demands of our conscience not from our mental resolution to try a new form of life. Life
The chief difference between words and deeds is that words are always intended for men for their approbation, but deeds can be done only for God. Religion & God
The greater the state, the more wrong and cruel its patriotism, and the greater is the sum of suffering upon which its power is founded. Power ;Citizenship & Patriotism
The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity. Life
The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. Time ;Patience ;War & Peace
There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth. Truth
To say that a work of art is good, but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good but that most people can't eat it. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force ;Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
True life is lived when tiny changes occur. Life
War is so unjust and ugly that all who wage it must try to stifle the voice of conscience within themselves. War & Peace
War on the other hand is such a terrible thing, that no man, especially a Christian man, has the right to assume the responsibility of starting it. War & Peace
We lost because we told ourselves we lost.
We must not only cease our present desire for the growth of the state, but we must desire its decrease, its weakening.
Without knowing what I am and why I am here, life is impossible. Life