Turgenev to Tolstoy: “You, my friend, are the great writer of the Russian land!”
Tolstoy to Turgenev: “And what about the water?”
+ How many times have you heard a Democratic politician say, “I’m personally opposed to abortion, but…” You never hear a Republican say, “I’m personally in favor of abortion, but…” This duplicitous construction applies to a range of issues. From climate change to student loans to single-payer, Democrats habitually distance themselves from the animating issues of their base, while the Republicans embrace the agenda of their most militant wing. Which is one big reason why we are where we are.
+ Overturning Roe is just the first thread pulled in what will be a much greater unraveling, which will take place over the next decade.
+ Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which wipes away a fundamental right to bodily autonomy and sets the groundwork for abolishing dozens of other personal rights, also exposes how fraudulent and cynical the GOP rhetoric about individual liberty has become, from vaccines to guns. We’re seeing a deeply reactionary ideological agenda come to fruition and the Alito Court (I guess we should call it that now) is going to be the wrecking ball that smashes any legal impediments to its completion. The fact that it has taken place even as the rightwing has repeatedly lost the popular vote in national elections shows how broken our political system is and how weak–often complicit–the opposition and often majority party has been for the last 50 years. Things are going to get much worse before they get better, if–given the runaway pace of climate change–they get better…
+ Alito’s draft opinion declares that like the right to an abortion, the right to marry a person of a different race (Loving v. Virginia) , the right to contraception (Griswald v. Connecticut), and the right not to be forcibly sterilized (Skinner v. Oklahoma) and the right to gay marriage (Obergfell v. Hodges), are all “phony rights” that lack “any claim to being deeply rooted in history.”
+ Joanna Grossman: “Alito, shorter: There was an English lady in 1732 who went to jail for killing her fetus and that’s the history most relevant to American women in 2022. Also, women shouldn’t have ‘relied’ on having rights because their place in society was tenuous at best.”
+ Overheard on the Stumptown light rail: “Given that women’s right to enter into contracts was also not clearly established at the founding, I shall no longer be paying my student loans.”
+ Of course, Biden got there before Alito did, voting in 1981 to support a constitutional amendment that would allow states to overturn Roe v. Wade. Soon after the Roe ruling, Biden announced his opinion that the court had “gone too far” and that women shouldn’t have the “sole right to say what should happen to her body.”
+ The right to an abortion wasn’t “granted” by the Supreme Court, it was won through decades of organizing. Similarly, it wasn’t taken away by a “court” but by a decades long counter-revolution, often violent, cruel and vicious, that included clinic bombings, the assassinations of abortion providers, the harassment of women seeking abortions. The liberals never really fought back, even as over the past 20 years, clinics have steadily disappeared across the South and rural Midwest, leaving some states with only one or two clinics, meaning for all practical purposes only wealthy women had a “right” to an abortion, which is not a right at all.
+ Abortion as a constitutional right for all ended in 1976 with the passage of the Hyde Amendment banning federal funding of abortions–a measure supported by many Democrats, including Biden. It meant only three years after Roe, instead of being a right, abortion had already become a mere privilege of those who could afford one. The erosion has been steady ever since. Now the price of abortions will be even higher and for many will include a plane ticket to the 15 states where abortions will remain legal until a national ban is passed, which is now likely than ever. After which, women will have to fly to places where abortion was once banned, like Ireland and Mexico, to legally get one…
+ The US already has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrial world. Black women are especially vulnerable. Their risk of dying as a result of childbirth is three times higher than the already deplorable average in the US. This decision will drive that shameful statistic even higher…
+ There were 861 pregnancy-related deaths in the US in 2020, roughly 24 per 100,000 births. According to a statistical analysis in the Financial Times, in the past six years, there’s been an average of 4 abortion-related deaths, for a rate of 0.41 per 100,000 legal abortions. Abortion is roughly 60 times safer than pregnancy and birth.
+ Kathleen Belew: “One historian of abortion argues that abortion stays at pretty much the same rate per capita over time whether it’s legal or banned. What changes when you make it illegal is how many people die from it.”
+ But listen to what the second-ranking Democrat in the House, James Clyburn, had to say to the San Antonio Report, in defense of his support for the fanatically anti-abortion Rep. Henry Cuellar: “Does this issue carry more weight than voting [rights]? I don’t think so. I think restoring the Voting Rights Act is a much weightier issue than this.”
+ This moment has been coming for decades. For much of that time, the Dems have held complete control of Congress. At any time, they could have codified Roe. But they didn’t want to in large measure because the threat of Roe being overturned was a huge fundraising machine for them and one of the few reasons to vote for otherwise awful candidates. Now the inevitable has happened and the last rationale for supporting this pathetic bunch of neoliberal losers has vanished and with it a hard-won constitutional right that they used as a political gimmick. Shame on them.
+ After the Democrats lose the Senate and the House in the fall and Biden gets flattened by a ticket of Ron DeSantis and Marjorie Taylor Greene in 2024, the Republicans will pass a national ban on abortion, even if they have to jettison the filibuster to get it through the Senate. It’s called playing for keeps.
+ No one Nancy Pelosi knows is poor enough to ever suffer because of this ruling and she knows her party will be able to raise tens of millions because of it, even though they’ll never do anything to overturn it…
+ Biden: “It will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.”
+ As an original co-sponsor of the Hyde Amendment, Biden has never been “pro-choice”…
+ Much of the Democratic leadership since Roe has been “soft” (or even hostile) to abortion rights (Carter, Sargent Shriver, Birch Bayh, Biden, Clinton, Gore, Hoyer), yet they have been repeatedly endorsed by abortion rights groups, which is one major reason we’ve just lost Roe.
+ In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, HRC described the fetus as “an unborn person” and said she backed restrictions on “late-term” abortions beginning when the “unborn person was viable.” She said abortion shouldn’t be used as a form of “birth control” and should be “safe, legal and rare. By rare, I mean rare.” Clinton repeatedly expressed concern about the psychological effects of abortion and said she counsels women to do what “is morally and ethically and spiritually correct and do the best we can with God’s guidance.” With defenders like this is it any wonder Roe was lost so easily?
+ Obama: “The first thing I’ll do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” In reality, the first thing he did was sign the TARP Wall Street bailout. And over the next 8 years, never got around to signing the Freedom of Choice Act.
+ Chief Justice John Roberts immediately ordered an investigation into the leak of Alito’s draft opinion. But no investigation of Ginni Thomas emails or Brett Kavanaugh’s mysterious income stream or whether three justices–Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett–perjured themselves during their confirmation hearings when they said Roe was “settled law.” Much like the rest of the US government, the only ethical standards the Supreme Court is willing to enforce are those that punish the exposure of unethical behavior by members of the court.
+ All rulings should leak until the deliberations and votes themselves are televised so people can see for themselves just how venal and political the process that determines our basic liberties–and often issue life and death–actually is. In an open society, the Supreme Court should not be able to hide behind a cloak of secrecy.
+ The reasons it’s likely that Alito leaked the draft opinion…
1. He’s proud of it.
2. He thrills to the shock value of the coverage.
3. He wanted his original draft read, before it got watered down by Roberts.
4. He wanted the draft read alone, without reference to Sotomayor’s sure-to-be blistering dissent
5. He wanted to terrify as many woman as possible who are currently seeking an abortion…
6. Alito knew the rightwing would blame liberal justices and clerks for the leak.
7. As a justice, Alito could leak the opinion with impunity, whereas a clerk would be fired and possibly disbarred.
+ Now let’s hear from the perpetually perplexed Susan Collins…
+ But it’s completely consistent with their political philosophy, as vetted by the Federalist Society and the National Right to Life leadership. Susan Collins may or may not be gullible. The people who voted for her thinking she’d protect abortion rights are as foolish as they come…
+ The Supreme Court piously contends it is above politics, but proves with nearly every decision that it practices the worst kind of gutter politics in the shadows–its sleazy network of influencers hidden from public view. With lifetime appointments and no ethical standards, the Court holds itself accountable to no one, not Congress, the executive or even its own lax set of rules. With a super-majority of ideological clones that may exist for a decade or more, the current court is poised to become the most authoritarian branch of government. Soon it will be working in tandem with a rightwing Congress, at which point history itself will begin to run in fast-reverse, the only avenue of resistance left to us being public ridicule and humiliation of its members and open defiance to its decisions.
+ The women’s march of 2017, which could have been the beginning of a new political resistance movement, was quickly snuffed out by the fatuous Russiagate obsession, which was a movement that was just as reactionary as the president it sought to overturn. The real life-and-death issues of women’s health and bodily rights were occluded and replaced by a xenophobic fixation that has led us straight into this war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, one right after another is on the chopping block. Thank you HRC, Rachel Maddow and Team Neocon…
+ All of those saying we must vote “harder” for the same feckless crew now in power seem to have missed the fact that an even less extreme version of this same court (pre-Barrett) has already gutted the voting rights act, ok’d a biased census (under)count and ok’d super-gerrymandered congressional districts, locking in minority control of the House and, likely, the electoral college. So good luck with that pipe dream.
+ STOP2quit! STOP2quit! STOP2quit! STOP2quit! STOP2quit! STOP2quit!
+ Joyce Alene: “At least you can’t be forced to get a COVID vaccination while you carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.”
+ Another myth shattered: Conservative opposition to “judicial activism.”
+ The question isn’t about “public support.” It’s about political power, where it comes from and how it’s used. The fact that only 30% of the public supports an abortion ban makes the Alito ruling all the sweeter for those who–through sustained organizing over decades, fundraising networks, exploitation of churches tax status, cultivation of jurists, harassment of abortion providers and seekers, bullying of journalists, political intimidation and even acts of violence–finally brought it about. The anti-abortion movement learned the lessons of the militant grassroots (civil rights, anti-war, feminist, gay rights and environmental) movements of the 60s–lessons most of the liberal NGOs have forgotten or explicitly renounced as they went professional and set up lobby shops on K Street and DuPont Circle, where they passively watched their victories wither away year by year.
+ Democrats are furiously raising money for anti-abortion candidates (like Henry Cuellar, et al) in order to “save” abortion rights, which sounds absurd but is perfectly in synch with their other major campaign strategy to raise money for pro-fossil fuel candidates in order to carry on their fake fight against climate change.
+ Howard Stern: “How did we get to this point? How much more are we going to take? How much more of this bullshit that some hillbilly in South Dakota gets a more important vote cause he lives in South Dakota. Let me tell you something. Here’s what I say. All the unwanted children should be allowed to live at the Supreme Court building with those Justices and they should raise every one of those babies. That crackpot Clarence Thomas and that wife and all of them. They can raise those babies that they want.”
+ I’m pretty sure Alito was an unwanted child…
+ Derrida: “Monsters cannot be announced. One cannot say: ‘Here are our monsters,’ without immediately turning the monsters into pets.”
+ It wasn’t just the Democrats who made political capital off of Roe being perpetually in jeopardy. The GOP did as well. But it became financially safe for them to finally overturn Roe after they found an even richer never-ending vein to be mined, the nebulous menace of “wokeness.”
+ Thirteen major corporations who have funded anti-abortion political committees since 2016:
.@SenGillibrand: "It is an outrage we have five justices on the Supreme Court who lied: lied in their confirmation hearings in order to be confirmed. […] Five justices said they respect precedents. Five said Roe v. Wade was established precedents. […] It is unconscionable." pic.twitter.com/jfsJHzKUpy
— The Hill (@thehill) May 6, 2022
+ If you didn’t know they were lying, you’re a moron. If you did know they were lying, you’re complicit. Either way, both of these are essential qualities for rising through the ranks of the Democratic Party leadership.
+ Marcus Rediker: “I met Justice Samuel Alito in 2008 when I accepted the George Washington Book Prize at black-tie dinner of 500 at Mount Vernon. He sat ten feet from me and glared angrily as I explained how the enslaved were the nation’s real founding mothers and fathers. It was a happy moment! Alito did not like history from below!”
+ Adorno: “Every intellectual in emigration is, without exception, mutilated.”
+ By a 50-44 vote, the Senate approved Tom Cotton’s motion to instruct their conferees to strip $8 billion for a Green Climate Fund from the Science and Technology bill and reallocated to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design new weapons systems to “compete” with China.
+ Adam Tooze on the US’s strategy of escalation in Ukraine: “It is a calculation so cold-blooded that it is little wonder that we want to dress it up in half-remembered histories of the second world war, in which the happy ending is assumed without the necessary sacrifices ever being spelled out.”
+ The nuclear trolling on both sides of the Ukrainian war (See Seth Cropsey’s bonkers piece in the Wall Street Journal: “The US Should Show It Can Win a Nuclear War“) has reached Strangelovian levels of absurdity with the Big Board replaced by something resembling a Doomsday Game Show set…
Meanwhile on Russian state TV: lawmaker Aleksey Zhuravlyov is arguing that Russia might use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine and get away with it. pic.twitter.com/jBb7EWy7GQ
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) May 5, 2022
+ The Russian ground offensive in Ukraine has been sluggish to say the least, partly because its army of poorly trained and equipped ethnic conscripts has been understandably reluctant to engage.
#Russia Many of Russian citizens who died in Ukraine are the representatives of national minorities. These are the most depressed and poor regions of Russia, where people have very few social lifts,one of them is the army under contract. A Bashkir dying for the Russian world? pic.twitter.com/yFdneJSRf7
— Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) May 5, 2022
+ This mimics the US strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations traded the promise of citizenship to central American migrants if they served as IED fodder in the GWOT…a promise the US later reneged on, naturally.
+ Check out this barrage of diplo-blather from an anonymous NATO official to Politico, describing the re-arming of NATO on the eastern front and Baltics. It will antagonize Russia, but will come as welcome to news to China, because such a massive reallocation of forces all but guts any pivot to Asia…
“We think it’s time to move on from this forward presence concept based on the tripwire approach,” the NATO diplomat said, where a small number of NATO troops are stationed in Eastern Europe, to a larger footprint that could actually halt any Russian incursion. The idea is to move from “deterrence by punishment to deterrence by denial,” the official said.
+ Once a deft diplomat, Russian Foreign Minister has seemed very unsteady since the start of the Ukraine war. Consider his latest bizarre statement, this one made on Italian television:
“When they say, ‘What sort of Nazification is this if we are Jews’, well I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing. For a long time now we’ve been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves.”
“Jewish origins?” This is, of course, the racialized language of Heydrich and Himmler. As for Lavrov’s assertion that “wise Jewish people” claim the “biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves”, this applies only to Jews who oppose the Occupation and support the rights of Palestinians, a point driven home this week by the ADL itself, which this week equated “anti-Zionism” with “anti-Semitism.”
+ In the anodyne language of the Guardian, more than 1000 Palestinians are being forcibly evicted so that their land can be “repurposed” for a military base. It’s the largest expulsion in the West Bank since 1967.
+ According to former Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s new book, Trump wanted to launch missiles into Mexico and then deny it: Trump: “We could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the [drug] labs, quietly. no one would know it was us.” The good news for the drug cartels is that Patriot missiles have never hit anything they’ve been aimed at. The bad news is that they’d probably hit a Mexican school or hospital.
+ Esper also writes that after the raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Trump’s xenophobic factotum Stephen Miller suggested finding al-Baghdadi’s “head, dipping it in pig’s blood and parading it around to warn other terrorists.”
+ Sandra Castaneda spent 19 years in a California prison for a murder she didn’t commit. But on the same day she was released last July, Biden’s ICE arrested her and has kept her detained ever since. Castaneda: “I’m stuck here. There’s nothing to do and I get overwhelmed. I’m just wasting time.”
+ What the West Hollywood Division shells out for each full-time LAPD officer: West Hollywood will pay $358,870.40 per deputy this year. Includes $125,219 salary, $102,220 benefits, $70,000 overhead, and $35,246 liabilities. This is more than 3 times what the LA County Department of Mental Health pays for each social worker.
+ Even at these rates, the LAPD apparently felt the need to call in for re-enforcements from the Department of Homeland Security to help them beat down pro-choice protesters this week…
Department of Homeland Security showed up to the abortion rally in DTLA to harass and assault protesters #abolishpolice pic.twitter.com/YJuPW8mYZ0
— John Motter (@JohnMotter) May 4, 2022
+ Cops in Kissimmee, Florida, shot four people and killed one after a report that someone allegedly stole a pizza and Pokémon cards from a Target….There is no indication in the affidavit that any of the suspects were armed.
+ According to the World Health Organization, a third of the excess deaths globally during the Covid pandemic — 4.7 million — took place in India. (The Indian government’s own figure through the end of 2021 tallied only 481,080 deaths.)
+ Pandemic update…
+ 21 million deaths (the mid-point of The Economist estimate)
+ The vast majority of COVID deaths are occurring in under-developed nations.
+ The poorest nations have the lowest vaccination rates and highest COVID death rates.
+ Lower-middle-income and low-income countries (LMICs and LICs) that represent 52% of world population are less than 5% boosted.
+ In 2020, a record 153 million experienced food insecurity. In 2021, this number soared by more than 40 million, to 193 million in 53 different countries. With the pandemic, climate change and the Ukraine war, the number of people facing starvation will likely spike again next year.
+ According to a 12-year-long study just published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal, women living in households where guns were present had “substantially higher” suicide rates that those in non-gun households–about 337 women, or 15 percent of the suicides in that cohort, used a firearm.
+ In another sign of the inexorable privatization of the NHS, Britons now pay almost as much in out-of-pocket health care expenses as Americans…
+ Hyper-focused minorities kick the shit out of un-focused apathetic super-majorities all the time…
+ Pretty devastating numbers for the Democrats in the new Marist poll: Republicans lead Democrats on generic Congressional ballot among parents with children under 18: 60% GOP; 39% Democrats; and with Latino voters: 52% GOP; 39% Democrats…
+ People dislike their political opponents for views that most don’t actually hold.
+ But there are real reasons to hate politicians. Consider the fact that according to the Peterson Foundation, Biden could legally cancel 92% of all student debt.
+ Biden has gone from offering a “new New Deal” to imposing austerity in the name of balancing the budget in a year…
+ 964: the number of election petitions filed with the NLRB through the first four months of 2022, the most at this point since 2011.
+ As Biden was doing a photo-op with organizer Christian Smalls, his administration was handing a $10 billion cloud-computing contract to Amazon, only days after the company crushed a union-organizing drive on Staten Island. Do one thing in public, the opposite in private…
+ 700: the number of homeless sweeps NYPD has conducted since the beginning of March.
+ Portland, Oregon’s homeless population has grown by more than 1,000 since 2019–a 30% increase in just three years. Nearly all of them are currently living in unsheltered locations.
+ Will Los Alamos burn again?
+ Marshall Sahlins: “Interdisciplinary study is the process by which the unknowns of one’s own subject matter are multiplied by the uncertainties of some other science.”
+ Who says human achievement is passé? We just passed 420PPM, folks! Take a bow humanity!!!
+ India sweltered under its hottest March in 12o years of records. It was also one of its driest. This was followed by the third-hottest April, after 2010 and 2016. Now it’s even hotter…
+ On April 30th, the mercury in Jacobabad, Pakistan hit 49C (120.2F), one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded on Earth in April.
+ Before climate change, these kinds of extreme heat events struck India once every 50 years. Now the interval is once every four years.
+ The heat wave has jeopardized India’s power grid. The country is facing weeks of blackouts and the government has warned of a “worrisome” decline in domestic coal inventories. This week it ordered power plants running on imported coal to go “full capacity” immediately and allow the coal prices to be passed on to consumers.
+ By a 49-47 vote, the Senate passed a measure preventing Biden from using climate change as the basis to declare a national emergency. Senators Mark Kelly and Joe Manchin joined all Republicans in voting Yes.
+ In one five-year period, Lake Powell, a reservoir that was doomed the moment the floodgates closed on Glen Canyon Dam, went from 100 percent capacity to only 34% full.
+ According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than a million acres have already burned across the US since the start of this year, more than double the total for the same period last year.
+ Woodland bird species in eastern Canada are rapidly declining as a consequence of forest “degradation” from logging, according to a new study out of Oregon State University. “We’ve assumed once a natural forest is cut down, as long as you plant more trees all the rest of the plants and animals will fill back in,” says Peter Marra, the director for Georgetown University’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability. The new research shows that’s not the case.”
+ More and more renewable energy is coming online, but it doesn’t to be having any impact on coal burning capacity: Only 180 GigaWatts of existing coal capacity in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), or a little more than a third, is scheduled to close by 2030 and less than 10% of non-OECD coal capacity is scheduled to close by 2050.
+ According to new projections by the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI), between 2019 and 2030, the largest increases in annual oil production will occur in the US, followed by Brazil and Iran, while the largest increases in annual gas production are projected in the US, followed by Canada and Saudi Arabia.
+ The amount of tropical forest destroyed in 2021 was larger than the island of Cuba and its removal emitted more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than India does in an entire year by burning fossil fuels.
+ An insect survey that counted “splats” on car license plates estimates that the number of flying insects in Great Britain has plunged by almost 60% since 2004.
+ According to a new study in Nature, a mere 20 percent reduction in beef consumption could cut deforestation rates in half.
+ 50 billion tons: the amount of sand mined every year, making it the world’s second most exploited natural resource.
+ In California, 12.5% of new light-duty vehicle registrations were plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) in 2021. Next highest were the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon, which each had PEV registrations accounting for more than 7% of new registrations. Of all light-duty vehicle registrations in California for 2021, including new and existing registrations, 2.5% were PEV. (Source: Dept. of Energy)
+ A little good news here in the Pacific Northwest: for the first time in 11 years, a calf was born into the K Pod family of the southern resident orca pack off the coast of Washington and Oregon.
+ From the NYT review of John Waters’ first novel, Liarmouth: “What you get from John Waters is crotch punching, exploding televisions, geysers of blood, deviants, wackos and reprobates. You get phrases like “ridiculous genital display” and “penis probation”; scatology, tickle fetishes and satanic babies. You get teeming panoramas of freaks in thrall to their own depravity.”
+ Johnny Depp on being asked at the Amber Heard defamation trial whether he used his severed fingertip to write messages on a mirror and draw a penis on a painting: “I don’t know about that. I don’t remember drawing a penis on a painting … Drawing a penis on a painting was not the first thing on my mind…I had messages to write, reminders…Given that I had written some messages on the bathroom mirror and then Ms. Heard added to them, it’s also not impossible Ms. Heard may have drawn a penis on a painting somewhere.”
+ Robert Christgau: “The political value of rock is a function of how many people it reaches, yet as rock becomes more political, it reaches fewer people. Almost everyone knows this, but no one knows what to do about it. John Lennon has scored a lot of points off the “snobs” who run the radical movement in this country—God knows he’s right about that, anyway—and his methods, which have their similarity to Jerry Rubin’s, demonstrate that he is serious. The Left does need new methods, new styles. Only it’s not clear that the Lennon-Rubin methods are effective, either. In fact, all that really seems clear is that no matter how much you want to change things, it sure is hard to do.” (Sign up for his And It Don’t Stop Substack page.)
Here Comes Old Moneybags, Again…
What I’m reading this week…
Nazi Billionaires: The Dark History of Germany’s Wealthiest Dynasties
David de Jong
Making History: The Storytellers Who Shaped the Past
(Simon and Schuster)
We Uyghurs Have No Say: An Imprisoned Writer Speaks
Trans. by Yaxue Cao, Cindy Carter, and Matthew Robertson
What I’m listening to this week…
A Beautiful Time
Mingus: the Lost Album from Ronnie Scott’s
The Worst Abomination in Human History
“As was always the way with Tolstoy, his conclusions were more radical than others had dared to conceive. For him, the divinely ordained nature of equality meant that no form of coercion could ever be justified. Tolstoy insisted on a literal interpretation of these precepts. He did not envision an ideal Christian state, because any state with its monarchs, parliaments, politicians, laws, courts, prisons, soldiers, judges, bureaucrats, tax collectors and so on presupposed the existence of a hierarchy and the exercise of power by some over others.
“In War and Peace Tolstoy glorified popular resistance to invasion: now he regarded military service as one of the worst abominations in human history. Native government was no more legitimate than any foreign one; living under the rule of the French, the Turks or whoever else would be a lesser evil for his compatriots than going to war and killing people. Equally, no crime could ever justify violent punishment. Robbers and murderers acting at their own risk deserved more compassion than executioners or judges who send people to the gallows protected by the law and repressive apparatus of the state.”
– Andrei Zerin, Leo Tolstoy: a Critical Life