"Well now, well, what's your own theory?" Katavasov said to Levin
with a smile, distinctly challenging him to a discussion. "Why
have not private persons the right to do so?"
"Oh, my theory's this: war is on one side such a beastly, cruel,
and awful thing, that no one man, not to speak of a Christian,
can individually take upon himself the responsibility of
beginning wars; that can only be done by a government, which is
called upon to do this, and is driven inevitably into war. On
the other hand, both political science and common sense teach us
that in matters of state, and especially in the matter of war,
private citizens must forego their personal individual
Sergey Ivanovitch and Katavasov had their replies ready, and both
began speaking at the same time.
"But the point is, my dear fellow, that there may be cases when
the government does not carry out the will of the citizens and
then the public asserts its will," said Katavasov.
But evidently Sergey Ivanovitch did not approve of this answer.
His brows contracted at Katavasov's words and he said something
"You don't put the matter in its true light. There is no
question here of a declaration of war, but simply the expression
of a human Christian feeling. Our brothers, one with us in
religion and in race, are being massacred. Even supposing they
were not our brothers nor fellow- Christians, but simply
children, women, old people, feeling is aroused and Russians go
eagerly to help in stopping these atrocities. Fancy, if you were
going along the street and saw drunken men beating a woman or a
child--I imagine you would not stop to inquire whether war had
been declared on the men, but would throw yourself on them, and
protect the victim."
"But I should not kill them," said Levin.
"Yes, you would kill them."
"I don't know. If I saw that, I might give way to my impulse of
the moment, but I can't say beforehand. And such a momentary
impulse there is not, and there cannot be, in the case of the
oppression of the Slavonic peoples."