Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Parable by Leo Tolstoy

I see mankind as a herd of cattle inside a fenced enclosure. Out side
the fence are green pastures and plenty for the cattle to eat, while
inside the fence there is not quite grass enough for the cattle.
Consequently, the cattle are tramping underfoot what little grass
there is and goring each other to death in their struggle for existence.

I saw the owner of the herd come to them, and when he saw their
pitiful condition he was filled with compassion for them and thought
of all he could do to improve their condition.

So he called his friends together and asked them to assist him in
cutting grass from outside the fence and throwing it over the fence to
the cattle. And that they called Charity.

Then, because the calves were dying off and not growing up into
serviceable cattle, he arranged that they should each have a pint of
milk every morning for breakfast.

Because they were dying off in the cold nights, he put up beautiful
well-drained and well-ventilated cowsheds for the cattle.

Because they were goring each other in the struggle for existence,
he put corks on the horns of the cattle, so that the wounds they gave
each other might not be so serious. Then he reserved a part of the
enclosure for the old bulls and the old cows over 70 years of age.

In fact, he did everything he could think of to improve the
condition of the cattle, and when I asked him why he did not do the
one obvious thing, break down the fence, and let the cattle out, he
answered: "If I let the cattle out, I should no longer be able to milk

(From The Futility of Reformism by Samuel Leight)


Anonymous said...


This is the first note I in this blog (of those I have already read) which doesn't include any elements of socialism, marxism, comunism (it's equal, whatsever). And this is the first fully true.

Mike Foster said...

Maybe that's where Orwell got his idea for Animal Farm?

hallblithe said...

Thanks for the feedback. Leo Tolstoy: author and anarchist
gives a Socialist perspective on this writer. With regard to Orwell & Tolstoy, this essay might be a good place to start: