Richard Gustafson Quoted in NYT in Essay on Tolstoy vs the Police

Friday, June 26, 2020

In her essay on reading Tolstoy during the pandemic, Jennifer Wilson (contributing writer for The Nation) quotes Richard Gustafson (Professor of Russian, Emeritus, Barnard), the author of “Tolstoy: Resident and Stranger” (Studies of the Harriman Institute, 1986), who writes that for Tolstoy nonviolence meant “the rejection of coercion as the glue of the commonwealth.” Wilson continues: "Tolstoy asked that we embrace other forms of sociality instead, rooted in love, brotherhood and mutual aid. Perhaps the calls we hear now for defunding or abolishing police departments might also be heard in a similar way — as calls for love. Activists demanding divestment from police departments have urged that those same funds be redistributed to organizations and in support of policies that benefit the poor, the mentally ill and those who lack secure housing" (New York Times, June 25, 2020).