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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Epilogue, Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary

  • Tolstoy is back to trying to figure out what power is.
  • How come troops gather and go off to war when Napoleon orders them to? Where does his power come from?
  • We can eliminate a few things right away: 1) It doesn’t come from physical strength, like a bear’s power over a rabbit. 2) It doesn’t come from moral superiority. (Check out Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi if you have any doubts about that.)
  • Clearly it’s something external, then.
  • As far as the law is concerned, power is given to rulers by the masses, who OK the deal either explicitly (like by voting) or in some implicit way (um...they don’t overthrow the government?).
  • This isn’t a good answer because it doesn’t explain how Napoleon can be a leader one minute and a traitorous criminal the next. (You know, when he got exiled to the island of Elba, for instance.)
  • The will of the masses is kind of fickle and wishy-washy.
  • Some historians go with this idea, that the will of the people is conditional. Why and how does this will to power get transferred from one leader to another? They say it’s because there is some kind of goal to human development or progress. The problem of course is that every single historian goes with a different goal, some of which contradict the others.

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