The BackShop Journal

A Gallery of Thoughts on Arts, Culture and Orthodox Christian Spirituality

The Bolsheviks and the New Religion

The religion of our time, which could be called "tolerance" or "political correctness," is, apart from being the world elite's political and social agenda, a result of the indifference to one's neighbour and a cover for one's own sins. Socialism, as this faith was also sometimes called, seeks to diminish the responsibility each individual has before himself, other fellow human beings and God by displacing it to everyone and so to no one in particular.

Perhaps nowhere is this notion better illustrated than in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. When, upon her visit to a monastery, a middle-aged noble woman complains to Elder Zosima, a Russian monk, about her lack of faith, he replies that she will acquire it if she succeeds in acquiring sincere love for her neighbor. She then tells him about her occasional impulse to leave everything and join the sisters of mercy, but concedes her concern that she would do it only in expectance of a payback, love, and praise. Father Zosima then recounts one of his previous encounters:

"It's just the same story as a doctor once told me[…] He was a man getting on in years, and undoubtedly clever. He spoke as frankly as you, though in jest, in bitter jest. ‘I love humanity,’ he said, ‘but I wonder at myself. The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular.  In my dreams,’ he said, ‘I have often come to making enthusiastic schemes for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually have faced crucifixion if it had been suddenly necessary; and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together, as I know by experience. As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs my self-complacency and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he’s too long over his dinner; another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But it has always happened that the more I detest men individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity."

This is a subtle criticism of the depersonalised Socialist movement in Russia of the second part of the 19th century. “With great insight Dostoevsky was able to see how this reifying devaluation of man had permeated into all the pores of contemporary life, and even into the very foundations of human thinking,” Mikhail Bakhtin, a 20th-century Russian philosopher writes. Dostoevsky accuses “all the representatives of the revolutionary democratic movement and Western socialism, considering them an outgrowth of the capitalist spirit," Bakhtin writes.

The Socialism of the 19th century culminated in Bolshevism, which came to power in Russia 100 years ago, just eight months after the socialist and "democratic" revolution that deposed the last Russian emperor. The fact that Soviet Communists fought so vehemently to eradicate Christianity shows how eager they were to replace it with their own religion. And religion indeed it was.

The commandment "Give honour to your father and to your mother, so that our life may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you" was substituted in the radical Marxist ideology with the imperative of "destroying the old world to its foundations." Instead of the love for one's own country, they had the motto: "Workers don't have a fatherland." The commandment "Let not your desire be turned to your neighbour's house [...] or anything which is his" was opposed by the Bolsheviks with the call of "complete destruction of private property," that is, confiscation of all possessions that an individual and his ancestors have accumulated over the years.

Instead of the commandment "Do not take the property of another," they cultivated the maxim: "Loot the looted!" As a replacement to the commandment "Do not be false to the married relation," following Marx's "Communist manifesto" they intended to introduce a "communality of women" and to ban the "bourgeois" family morals. Instead of doing good, preserving peace and relying on God, the communists propagated uncompromising battle with the enemies of their teaching, a "world fire" of war all the way to the triumph of communism in the entire world, and relying only on the party and its leader, which are "the mind, honour and conscience of all the labourers."

As a materialist ideology, socialism and communism is only the reverse side of capitalism and its offshoot, individualism. They both have as their main purpose the creation of an earthly kingdom. The truth, as it was revealed to us, is found elsewhere; it is not of this world. The truth and real beauty is only found in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Svetozar Postic

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