Thursday, January 6, 2011

Anarchists on Animal Liberation 1: Leo Tolstoy: The Immorality of Carnivorism (aka The First Step)

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) is considered a seminal thinker of both Christian anarchism and anarcho-pacifism.  Tolstoy's ethic of Christian nonviolence extended to nonhuman animals.

“After completing his second masterpiece Anna Karenina in 1877, Tolstoy began a spiritual search that led him—by way of Hindu and Buddhist teachings on ahimsa—to a doctrine of Christian nonviolence based on the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Written in 1892, “The First Step” applies these teachings directly to animals by calling for a vegetarian diet that does not depend on violence and killing. Tolstoy’s claim that a vegetarian diet was “the first step” toward a moral life, which is to say a life of nonviolence, influenced the views of Mohandas Gandhi, with whom Tolstoy corresponded toward the end of his life."

- Norm Phelps, "The Animals’ Top Forty: the forty most important books (including several shorter works) in the history of animal advocacy"

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