Before us are millions of armed men, ever more and more efficiently armed and trained for more and more rapid slaughter. We know that these millions of people have no wish to kill their fellows and for the most part do not even know why they are forced to do that repulsive work, and that they are weary of their position of subjection and compulsion; we know that the murders committed from time to time by these men are committed by order of the governments; and we know that the existence of the governments depends on the armies.http://www.jesusradicals.com/library/tolstoy/last.html
Can we then who desire the abolition of war, find nothing more conducive to our aim than to propose to the governments which exist only by the aid of armies and consequently by war - measures which would destroy war? Are we to propose to the governments that they should destroy themselves?
The governments will listen willingly to any speeches of that kind, knowing that such discussions will neither destroy war nor undermine their own power, but will only conceal yet more effectively what must be concealed if wars and armies and themselves in control of armies are to continue to exist.
'But', I shall be told, 'this is anarchism; people never have lived without governments and States, and therefore governments and States and military forces defending them are necessary for the existence of nations.'
But leaving aside the question of whether the life of Christian and other nations is possible without armies and wars to defend their governments and States, or even supposing it to be necessary for their welfare that they should slavishly submit to institutions called governments (consisting of people they do not personally know), and that it is necessary to yield up the produce of their labor to these institutions and fulfill all their demands - including the murder of their neighbors - granting them all that, there yet remains in our world an unsolved difficulty.
This difficulty lies in the impossibility of making the Christian faith (which those who form the governments profess with particular emphasis) accord with armies composed of Christians trained to slay. However much you may pervert the Christian teaching, however much you may hide its main principles, its fundamental teaching is the love of God and one's neighbor; of God - that is the highest perfection of virtue, and of one's neighbor - that is all men without distinction. And therefore it would seem inevitable that we must repudiate one of the two, either Christianity is love of God and one's neighbor, or the State with its armies and wars.
Perhaps Christianity may be obsolete, and when choosing between the two - Christianity and love of the State and murder - the people of our time will conclude that the existence of the State and murder is more important than Christianity, we must forgo Christianity and retain only what is important: the State and murder.
That may be so - at least people may think and feel so. But in that case they should say so! They should openly admit that people in our time have ceased to believe in what the collective wisdom of mankind has said, and what is said by the Law of God they profess: have ceased to believe in what is written indelibly on the heart of each man, and must now believe only in what is ordered by various people who by accident or birth have happened to become emperors and kings, or by various intrigues and elections have become presidents or members of senates and parliaments - even if those orders include murder. That is what they ought to say!
But it is impossible to say it; and yet one of these two things has to be said. If it is admitted that Christianity forbids murder, both armies and governments become impossible. And if it is admitted that government acknowledges the lawfulness of murder and denies Christianity, no one will wish to obey a government that exists merely by its power to kill. And besides, if murder is allowed in war it must be still more allowable when a people seek its rights in a revolution. And therefore the governments, being unable to say either one thing or the other, are anxious to hid from their subjects the necessity of solving the dilemma.