I briefly mentioned in my previous article that Leftism is “sadomasochistically suicidal“. I, as much as I would like, cannot take credit for this. No, it seems that this interpretation of the Left can be traced all the way back to one single epileptic, dead-eyed, ill-ridden little Russian named Fyodor Dostoevsky. He is perhaps the most well-known Russian writer second only to Tolstoy. His literary works are arguably the most philosophical in the Western canon; the most notable being The Brothers Karamazov, which is what you would get if you combined all his novels after Notes from Underground into one book. His themes range from morality and politics to love and faith. His characters are a bit awkward in that they can’t help but confess every single thought that passes through their heads, making them predictable and annoying; yet this surprisingly doesn’t distract the reader from experiencing the masterful narration.
In all his works there is a clear and overall motif that haunts every single page: preservation of values, and how the Left wants to eradicate them.
Crime and Punishment, though not his most influential, is certainly his most powerful take on the new ideas that were spreading in Russia in the 1860’s. Part three, chapter five, outlines the Leftist view of society:
Crime is a protest against the abnormality of the social set-up. . . with them one is always a “victim of the environment”—and nothing else!. . . Nature isn’t taken into account, nature is driven out. . . With them it’s not mankind developing all along in a historical, living way that will finally turn by itself into a normal society, but, on the contrary, a social system, coming out of some mathematical head, will at once organize the whole of mankind and instantly make it righteous and sinless, sooner than any living process, without any historical and living way! That’s why they have such an instinctive dislike of history. . . That’s why they so dislike the living process of life: there’s no need for the living soul! The living soul will demand life, the living soul won’t listen to mechanics, the living soul is suspicious, the living soul is retrograde! While here. . . it’s not alive, still it has no will, still it’s slavish, it won’t rebel!. . . They’ve reduced everything to mere brickwork and the layout of corridors and rooms in a phalanstery!
Leftists do not believe in what is natural, but what is moral. When you mix morality in politics, you get something like socialism and communism. Sure, it is moral that everyone should have food, shelter, clothes, etc.; applied in the real world, however, you get starvation and poverty, because morally if not everyone can have food and shelter, then the only alternative is no one can.
Raskolnikov killed because his ideas were different from the “ordinary”. Because he found his ideas to be “extraordinary”, he felt he had the right to instill his ideas merely because he “knew better”. Many leftists feel this kind of “moral superiority”, and thus the one who disagrees is seen as immoral in their eyes.
The subject of Lazarus is brought up quite a bit in the story. Certainly a reference to Dostoevsky’s rebirth from his near-execution experience where in a single moment he flipped from Leftism to nationalism. Though many say The Idiot is his most personal book, and I myself would agree to some extent, Crime and Punishment is his ideological autobiography.
The Carcass of Nationalism
After seeing this painting from Holbein depicting Christ as a festering corpse instead of a body about to be revived and lead to the kingdom of God, Dostoevsky conjured up an idea for a novel about a human Christ, a mere man—in fact, the perfect man; he ended up calling it The Idiot—his personal favorite before writing Karamazov.
Without a doubt his most “Russian” book (an incredible satire on Russian etiquette), I would argue it is his most nationalistic work; and perhaps more of a warning than Demons. Dostoevsky thought too largely for one to simply dismiss the book as some personal extrication from trauma. The story is indeed about Russia and Russians, but also about what would happen if Russia kept going down the same path it was heading toward at the time. Dostoevsky often mentioned his worries that Russia was becoming a bit too European, adopting ideas from the 1848 revolutions.
Purity is the main theme of The Idiot. Myshkin, the protagonist, represents 1860 Russia: sensitive, and ignorant of what’s unfolding before his eyes; the collapse of his very sanity. This frighteningly mirrors the West losing its values from Cultural Marxism today. Yuri Bezmenov gives a fascinating talk on how this came about. Myshkin slowly gets more and more sick, constantly being hassled by Nastasia Filipovna, the walking spectacle, and Rogozhin who seems to be what the unnamed narrator from Notes from Underground would be if he were an active person—he more gives Myshkin a hard time out of spite than jealousy. Myshkin doesn’t notice what they are doing because he is pure. Dostoevsky implies that Russia will not fix itself; that if anything goes haywire, it would be at the fault of the Russian people—reminiscent of the Lincoln quote. But Myshkin’s peers are ignorant of his decay as well and continue to abuse him, leading to the unforgettable climax that triggers him back to the state of shock he tried so desperately to escape; now permanent.
The subject of suicide is always prevalent in the background of Dostoevsky’s work: Svidrigailov in Crime and Punishment, Ippolit in The Idiot, Kirillov in Demons, Kraft in The Adolescent, Smerdyakov in The Brothers Karamazov; even short stories like A Gentle Creature and Dream of a Ridiculous Man. He would often publish suicides in his Writer’s Diary. Talk about bleak. Under constant debt, sporadic epileptic seizures that would put him to bed for weeks, and 360-day winters, what else would one think about?
The characters are often the most literal theoreticians. The most unique and symbolic suicide is from Svidrigailov. He is not political. Described as a malignant figure, his evil doesn’t seem to come from an intentional source, nor does it seem to be his persona. He is only significant in a few pages. Maybe his character inspired Dostoevsky’s Double. I would argue he is Raskolnikov’s philosophy manifest, to which his fate is self-destruction out of self-disgust. Svidrigailov kills himself so that Raskolnikov can rise again as a new man, full of new life, love, and faith.
Dostoevsky’s other suicides are insipid at best. He had a penchant for solely focusing and developing his main characters, then making everyone else converse over how they either find language insufficient or gossip menial upper-class feuds. His suicides are the most far-left one can get, because each one believes ideology and reality to be inseparable.
They are also atheists. Dostoevsky most certainly had a strong fear of atheism, being a stern Orthodox. Brothers Karamazov justifies his perspective flawlessly: it’s not that atheists didn’t believe in God—because the question of His existence is absurd and pointless—, but merely “didn’t approve of his world”. This was the reason why Dostoevsky believed suicide was the only solution for an unbeliever. The one exception is Ivan Karamazov, who is possibly the only character to succeed in separating his life from his ideas.
Demons is Dostoevsky’s greatest failure. He initially planned to write a book called The Life of a Great Sinner. This plan was abandoned after reading a news story about an anarchist group killing one of their members who was supposedly going to inform the authorities on their plans for a political assassination.
Instead of delaying Great Sinner, Dostoevsky foolishly decided to merge the two stories, which ended up being a terrible combination. Half the story goes to the asinine parenting of Stepan Trofimovich who is more of an idiot than Myshkin, and satisfies his pseudo-intellectualism with French sayings every other sentence, making him the most hated character; unlike his somewhat spouse Varvara Petrovna, who is undoubtedly the best woman in Dostoevsky’s entire fiction, second only to Sonya. The other half, then finally, but in a suspiciously scattered way, delves into the lunacy of the left-wing intelligentsia; obsessed with suicide and Social Darwinism that exacerbates the entire group from an exclusive club to a Shakespearean tragedy of utter character decimation. Often this story is correctly seen as a comedy. The characters are either in denial or tired of being not involved enough in the denial.
It is indeed Dostoevsky’s funniest novel, considering how each character takes himself too seriously; accurately describing the attitude many Leftists have about their ideas—most of which are incapable of materializing without contradiction. Where Demons fails, Camus’ Just Assassins succeeds, for the ideas are best examined with a more blatant and historical view.
Now, there isn’t much to be said for The Adolescent, since it was basically a reaction to Tolstoy’s autobiographical trilogy. It is no more than a Russian Catcher in the Rye, but undeniably better written. Admittedly, it is the most complete draft of his Great Sinner we will ever get to imagine. Joseph Frank argues that the unfinished Great Sinner story can be noticed in the paternal characters of Dostoevsky’s work after The Idiot. As with Notes From Underground, The Adolescent depicts the young anti-traditionalist as all bark and no bite. All theory and no action. Dolgorky, the protagonist, like Raskolnikov, fancies himself above it all, at the same time making a social fool of himself; again, like Demons, he is a comical simulacrum of the Left.
From The Grand Inquisitor
Man was made a rebel; can rebels be happy?. . . Did you forget that peace and even death are dearer to man than free choice in the knowledge of good and evil?. . . It is not the free choice of the heart that matters, and not love, but the mystery, which they must blindly obey, even setting aside their own conscience. And so we did. . . For who shall possess mankind if not those who possess their conscience and give them their bread?. . .
He is telling the condemned prisoner, who may or may not be the second coming of Christ, that the freedom he so humbly gave man by resisting the Three Temptations was his biggest mistake. For the Left, freedom (letting people do what they want with what they’ve earned from what they’ve produced) is a burden. The free man cannot truly be secure. The Left pose the question “Do you want food, or do you want to work for it?” They convince you to throw away your liberty in exchange for your dependence; because dependence is secure.
They will become timid and look to us and cling to us in fear, like chicks to a hen. They will marvel and stand in awe of us and be proud that we are so powerful and so intelligent as to have been able to subdue such a tempestuous flock of thousands of millions. They will tremble limply before our wrath, their minds will grow timid, their eyes will become as tearful as children’s. . . Oh, we will allow them to sin, too; they are weak and powerless, and they will love us like children for allowing them to sin. We will tell them that every sin will be redeemed if it is committed with our permission; and that we allow them to sin because we love them, and as for the punishment for these sins, very well, we take it upon ourselves. And we will take it upon ourselves, and they will adore us as benefactors, who have borne their sins before God. And they will have no secrets from us. We will allow or forbid them to live with their wives and mistresses, to have or not to have children– all depending on their obedience– and they will submit to us gladly and joyfully. The most tormenting secrets of their conscience– all, all they will bring to us, and we will decide all things, and they will joyfully believe our decision, because it will deliver them from their great care and their present terrible torments of personal and free decision. . . Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire in your name, and beyond the grave they will find only death. But we will keep the secret, and for their own happiness we will entice them with a heavenly and eternal reward. For even if there were anything in the next world, it would not, of course, be for such as they. . . What I am telling you will come true, and our kingdom will be established. . .
In the end, above all, the Left wants total control of everything. They would rather see the world in flames if they cannot see it in their totalitarian paradise. They want it all for their special little selves. They want to destroy the natural order, because they believe it is the right thing to do. Any opposition is met with the most vicious violence. They will end your career, brand you a rapist, a pedophile; call you racist, sexist, homophobic; and, if you push them hard enough, they will kill you; all in the name of morality, of justice. Lying through their teeth, they will misinform the public, and hammer into you their feelings of self-hatred and misanthropy.
Freedom is not their goal. No one believes man is inherently good, but we all believe we do as much good as we can, and the least bad we can tolerate. The Left think you are inherently greedy and evil, and must be told what to believe in. They give you institutions, books, films, commercials, television shows, music, news; just to prevent your mind from thinking on its own. They will have you tell them how grateful you are to them, and make you defend the tactics used to imprison your thoughts.
The warning from Dostoevsky is this: Leftism will never die. It never wins either, but will always come back with more to dispose of than before. Read. There is no mind control, no all-seeing eye. No God is watching and waiting to punish you. There is only the illusion of the Panopticon.
Days before his death, Dostoevsky gave a speech for the Pushkin memorial in Moscow, where he briefly summed up, perhaps intentionally, his own work: “I know, I know too well, that my words may appear ecstatic, exaggerated, and fantastic. Let them be so, I do not repent having uttered them. They ought to be uttered, above all now. . . The idea has been expressed many times before. I say nothing new. But chiefly it will appear presumptuous. ‘Is this our destiny, the destiny of our poor, brutal land? Are we predestined among mankind to utter the new word?’ Do I speak of economic glory, of the glory of the sword or of science? I speak only of the brotherhood of man. . .”