The Evolution of Tolstoyan Pacifism in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, 1900–1937

Authored by: Irina Gordeeva

The Routledge History of World Peace Since 1750

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138069138
eBook ISBN: 9781315157344
Adobe ISBN:


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The Russian pacifist movement emerged at the end of the nineteenth century as an outgrowth of Tolstoyans’ (the disciples of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy) socio-political self-determination. 1 This popular movement was well known among contemporaries because of its appealing religious and social ideas that followers believed could solve urgent social and political problems. At first, Tolstoyism appealed to that part of Russian populism (narodnichestvo) that sought a peaceful alternative to the ideas of violent revolutionaries. Even by the 1880–1890s the Tolstoyans supported communitarianism—the idea that society can be transformed not by social revolution, but through personal reflection and moral self-perfection by smaller communes of people. 2

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