They talk about the Serbian war; Dolly mentions that Vronsky is volunteering for the cause. The old Prince is skeptical of the Slavic cause, but Koznyshev and Katavasov leap to its defense, Koznyshev declaring that the oppression of the Slavs has gone on too long and that it’s a question of helping humanity, not a question of whether or not there should be war. Levin and the Prince argue that they don’t understand why everyone suddenly loves the Slavs so much.
Koznyshev is an idealist and a follower, eager to throw himself with zeal into the next political trend rather than decide exactly what he desires out of life. He and Katavasov represent a view of Russia that prizes new, Continental modes of thought. Levin and Kitty’s father, on the other hand, represent an old Russia that prizes traditional ways.
Levin asks a peasant what he thinks about the war and whether or not he’s heard the priests talk about it. The peasant says that the emperor will decide. Koznyshev says that the cause is right, but Levin says that people are just trying to escape their current situations and that they don’t know what they’re fighting for.
Levin’s intuition that the political cause is a fad, not a deep pulse coursing through Russia, is illustrated both by the peasant’s indifference to the issue and by the silly, roguish attitude of the young recruits on the train.