Tolstoy on Brexit

Leo Tolstoy was interested in everything, including everything that hadn’t yet happened, and he expressed his views strongly on Brexit.

He seems at first to support Brexit

“The people cannot help knowing; the sense of their own destinies is always in the people, and at such moments as the present [referendum] that sense finds utterance,”

But he is doubtful about the motives of some of those who voted for Brexit.

“Among eighty [make that sixty] millions of people there can always be found not hundreds, as now, but tens of thousands of people who have lost caste, ne’er-do-wells, who are always ready to go anywhere [vote for anything].” (He also here alludes to recruitment to ISIS.)

Then he suggests (and David Cameron might now agree) that measuring the will of the people “by the heart” may be better than a referendum.

“If you want to learn the spirit of the people by arithmetical computation, of course it’s very difficult to arrive at it. And voting…does not express the will of the people; but there are other ways of reaching that. It is felt in the air, it is felt by the heart.”

Finally, he was unimpressed by the role of the media in the campaign.

“All the newspapers do say the same thing. That’s true. But so it is the same thing that all the frogs croak before a storm. One can hear nothing for them.”

All quotes are from Anna Karenina.


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