From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

their own accord, outworn public opinion would fall off us of itself, and a new living real opinion would assert itself. And when public opinion should thus have changed without the slightest effort, the internal condition of men's lives which so torments them would change likewise of its own accord.

One is ashamed to say how little is needed for all men to be delivered from those calamities which now oppress them: it is only needful not to lie.

Let people only be superior to the falsehood which is instilled into them; let them decline to say what they neither feel nor think, and at once such a revolution of all the organisation of our life will take place as could not be attained by all the efforts of revolutionists during centuries even were complete power within their hands.

Could people only believe that strength is not in force but in truth, could they only not shrink from it either in word or deed, not say what they do not think, not do what they regard as foolish and as wrong!

"But what is of so grave importance in shouting Long live France! or, Hurrah for some emperor, king, or conqueror?" Or, "Why is the writing of an article in defence of the Franco-Russian alliance, or of the war of tariffs, or in condemnation of Germans, Russians, or Englishmen, of such moment?" Or, "What is of such moment in attendance at some patriotic festivity, or in drinking the health and making a speech in favour of people whom one does not love, and with whom one has no business?" Or, "What is of such importance in admitting the use and excellence of treaties and alliances, or in keeping silence when one's own nation is belauded in one's hearing, and other nations abused and maligned; or when Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Lutheranism are bepraised; or some hero of war as Napoleon, Peter, Boulanger, or Skobeleff, is admired?"

All these things seem so unimportant. Yet in these ways which seem unimportant to us, in our reframing from them, in our proving, as far as we can, the unreasonableness that is apparent to us, in this is our chief, our irresistible might, of which that unconquerable force is composed which constitutes real genuine public opinion, that opinion which, while itself advancing, moves all humanity.

The Governments know this, and tremble before this force, and strive in every way they can to counteract or become possessed of it.