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Three Methods of Reform

Excerpt from Some Social RemediesLeo Tolstoy

There are three means of alleviating the condition of the labourers and of setting up brotherhood among men. 1. Not to make people work for you; neither directly nor indirectly to demand work of them; not to need such articles as demand extra labour,—all objects of luxury. 2. To do for oneself and, if possible, for others also that work which is tedious and unpleasant. 3. Not in reality a means, but the result and application of the second, to study the laws of nature and invent processes for the alleviation of labour—machinery, steam, electricity. One will invent what is really needed, and nothing superfluous, only when one invents in order to lighten one's own labour, or at least labour which one has oneself experienced. But at present men are engaged in applying only the third means, and even that incorrectly, for they keep aloof from the second, and not only are they unwilling to employ the first and second means, but they do not wish even to hear of them. There can be only one permanent revolution—a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself. People abolished slavery and the right of owning slaves, but they continued changing their linen unnecessarily, and living in ten rooms and having five courses at dinner, and carriages, etc. And yet all these things could not be if there were no slaves. This is perfectly clear, and yet nobody can see it.