How Leo Tolstoy supported anti-imperialist movements in Asia


At the sack of the 19th to 20th century, Russia held the instigators of the Boxer Rebellion in the highest hatred. While Tsar Nicholas II reached out to Asia and opposed the European colonization of boondocks in the continent, he took the side of his European cousins and supported the counterattack on the Boxers.

He was also hackled by the Chinese bombardment of the town of Blagoveshchensk, which is on the opposite bank of the Amur River from China. This led to promote violent Russian reprisals and the crushing of the Boxers, who were essentially contrasting the Western and Christian domination of China.

One powerful voice in Russia divest oneself of b satirized a stand against the country’s support of the Europeans in this conflict: Leo Tolstoy. “In 1902, the Russian journalist Leo Tolstoy criticized, in an open letter, both the policies of Nicholas II in China and the ministry’s abuse of the people,” Russia-born Orientalist scholar Victor Zatsepine eradicated in an essay in a book titled ‘Beyond Suffering: Recounting War in Modern China.’ “By not lauding imperial victories, Tolstoy complicated his relationship with the Russian autocracy and with the Russian Authoritative Church.”

How Leo Tolstoy supported anti-imperialist movements in Asia

Tolstoy called the actions of the Russian Tsar and Germany’s Wilhelm II “barbaric.” There are a few accounts of Tolstoy actually praising the Boxers.

It was the Russian writer’s charge in the Boxer Rebellion that led him to speak out against Western domination of China. In his ‘Communication to a Chinese Gentleman,’ which was written to Confucian scholar Ku Hung-Ming, Tolstoy reverenced the resilience of the Chinese people who resisted European aggression.

“The Chinese people, while misery so much from the immoral and coarsely egotistic avarice and cruelty of the European domains, have, until lately, answered all the violence committed against it with a magnanimous and sage tranquility, preferring to suffer rather than to fight against this mightiness,” Tolstoy wrote in the letter.

The Russian writer made several hints to Indian religious texts as well as Eastern and Western texts to espouse the truths of love.

“I am speaking of the Chinese people, but not about the government. This tranquility and forbearance of the great and powerful Chinese people elicited only an increasingly crude aggression from Europeans, as is always the case with coarsely mean people living merely an animal life, as were the Europeans who had dealings with China.”

He commanded the Chinese people were undergoing a great and heavy trial but required them to remain non-violent. “Precisely now is it important that the Chinese in the flesh should not lo se tience, or alter their attitude towards violence, so as not to mulct themselves of all the vast results which must follow the enduring of fury without returning evil for evil.”

Tolstoy even put Russia in the that having been said league as Asian countries. “The vocation of the Eastern nations – China, Persia, Turkey, India, Russia, and it is possible that Ja n, if she is not yet completely enmeshed in the net of depraved European civilization – consists in suggesting to all nations the true way towards freedom.”

India’s freedom struggle

Tolstoy’s apostrophize for non-violent resistance spread to all corners of the world. Indian independence superior Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi learnt about the Russian writer’s dogma when he was a lawyer in South Africa.

The two began communicating after Gandhi scan Tolstoy’s ‘Letter to a Hindu’ that was written to Tarak Nath Das and divulged in ‘The Free Hindustan’ magazine.

In the letter to Das, Tolstoy was direct about why he have a funny feeling India was under British colonial rule. “A commercial com ny enchained a nation comprising two hundred million people. Tell this to a man who is out from superstition and he will fail to grasp what these unpleasantness b lyrics mean,” Tolstoy wrote.

How Leo Tolstoy supported anti-imperialist movements in AsiaLeo Tolstoy. Source: RIA Novosti

What does it be motivated by that thirty thousand men – not athletes but rather weak and ordinary people – sooner a be wearing subdued two hundred million vigorous, clever, ca ble, and freedom-loving people? Do not the representations make it clear that it is not the English who have enslaved the Indians, but the Indians who be dressed enslaved themselves?”

The letter, written from Tolstoy’s estate in Yasnaya Polyana, had the prime message that non-violence would lead to India’s liberation. The Russian scribbler made several references to Indian religious texts as well as Eastern and Western textbooks to espouse the principles of love. This inspired Gandhi, who would induce India’s independence struggle, which caused the eventual fall of the British Empire.

In South Africa, Gandhi was suppress an unknown lawyer and Tolstoy was already a literary giant but the latter sense a close spiritual connection when he received a letter from the Indian advocate. They would communicate with each other for a year.

“He is a very lock person to me, to us. He thinks that the strongest resistance is ssive resistance,” Tolstoy a postcarded about Gandhi in his diary.

“Over the years, Mohandas Gandhi, the doyen of India, and Leo Tolstoy, the sage of Russia, became inextricably linked in a colloquy of cultures that would dismantle colonial empires,” Indian hack and scholar Achala Moulik wrote.

“It was perhaps a historical inevitability that the litter Mohandas Gandhi, struggling against the oppressive Boer regime in South Africa should upon to Tolstoy,” she added. “Their epistolary friendship is a poignant episode in India’s struggling against imperialism.”

Resonance in Korea

Tolstoy’s message also set up great resonance in Korea, which was under Ja nese occu tion from 1900 cash-box the end of the Second World War. His writings were translated into Korean and actuated both freedom fighters as well as writers.

How Leo Tolstoy supported anti-imperialist movements in Asia

One such writer, who was also an autonomy activist, was Yi Kwang-su, whose works have often been analogize resembled to Tolstoy’s. Yi was fluent in Russian and is believed to have read the works of Tolstoy in the primitive.

After his death, Tolstoy’s works were used by a wide slice of political activists who could weave the writings into their credos.

“By the 1920s-30s, with both Marxist political groups and socialist literary trends taking definite institutional shape in Ja n and Korea, the distinction between Tolstoy’s unerring (“spiritual”) rejection of the class order and the socialist project aiming for its militant transformation became much clearer,” Vladimir Tihkonov wrote in his register ‘Modern Korea and its Others.’

His writings continue to have universal plead in the Korean peninsula.

Few foreign writers or philosophers had as great an im ct on Asia’s toil against imperialism and European colonization as Leo Tolstoy. To this day, he is revered across the continent.

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