Alexander Herzen: Six hundred thousand animated machines with bayonets. Military caste divides the people into two nations

For peace, against war: literary selections

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on war

Alexander Herzen: Selections on the military and war

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Alexander Herzen
From My Past and Thoughts
Translated by Constance Garnett

portrait-alexander-herzen-astafiev

We were kept in ignorance by the knout and the Tatars: we were civilized by the axe and the Germans: and in both cases our nostrils were slit and we were branded with irons. Peter the Great drove civilisation into us with such a wedge that Russia could not stand the shock and split into two layers. We are only just beginning now, after a hundred and fifty years, to understand how this split was made: there was nothing in common between the two parts; on the one hand, robbery and contempt; on the other, suffering and mistrust: on the one hand, the liveried lackey, proud of his social position and haughtily displaying it; on the other…

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