Despite their professed multiculturalism, educated Americans find it hard to imagine that others do not share their liberal values. Does not everyone love their children and want peace? The author of the article, a Tolstoy scholar and student of Russian culture, discusses topics—war, revolution, and what one scholar has called “secular kenosis”—that mark radical differences between Russians and Americans. He then describes a debate between Tolstoy and Dostoevsky over whether morality demands military intervention when a barbarous regime practices widespread torture and massacre. The two novelists pose the issues in ways that shed light on a question still relevant today.

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