2. Dostoyevsky's tormented characters

“Dostoyevsky’s sincere tormented characters wrestled with their complete belief in nothing to the point of madness.”

Dostoyevsky documents how, during the advancing decay of a Christian civilisation, the middle class was determined to ignore the crisis and continue living bourgeois, moral lives entirely within the constraints of what other people thought respectable and proper, in spite of their own loss of faith. The younger generation rejected the hypocritical solution of their parents and earnestly decided that if you don’t believe in God then you must live by your own standards of accountability. Thus they abandoned conventional marriage and advancement in the world, they became anarchists and some of the first suicide bombers. In Crime and Punishment, to show himself above considerations of Christian right and wrong, Raskolnikov arbitrarily killed an old woman for no reason whatsoever (although he chose an old moneylender for his crime). What Dostoyevsky was not to see was the later appearance of a very different group of ‘the possessed’, the Bolsheviks, savage children of the ‘Enlightenment’, who, profiting from the rift and driven by ideology and the support of New York banks, seized power in the midst of the chaos. As the century spiralled downwards, not even the extremes depicted in The Possessed could capture the late 20th century excesses of the “oligarchs” who, in thrall to the free market utopianism of the Chicago School and unimaginable new riches, seized control in the midst of the Soviet collapse. Thus, Dostoyevksy did not live to see his hope of a return to a Christianity of a specifically Russian character obliterated by market fundamentalism.