by Chris Banescu -
“The socialist who is a Christian is more to be feared than the socialist who is an atheist.” ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
A sober warning comes to us from the writings of Fyodor Dostoevsky in his book The Brothers Karamazov. Given that some Orthodox Christian leaders today embrace and promote socialist ideas, this ominous observation should give us pause. Is history repeating itself?
“We are not particularly afraid of all these socialists, anarchists, atheists and revolutionaries. . . . But there are a few peculiar men among them who believe in God and are Christians, but at the same time are socialists. Those are the people we are most afraid of. They are terrible people! The socialist who is a Christian is more to be feared than the socialist who is an atheist.”
~ Fyodor Dostoevsky (Fedor Dostoevskii), The Brothers Karamazov
I located this translated quote in the opening pages of the book Red Priests: Renovationism, Russian Orthodoxy, and Revolution, 1905-1946, written by Edward E. Roslof. When looking up the exact wording in the The Brothers Karamazov book by Dostoevsky, a slightly different translation used the term “dreaded” instead of “feared” when referring to Christian socialists.
Here is the relevant excerpt from The Brothers Karamazov book for reference (paragraph breaks and emphasis mine).
“Allow me to tell you one little anecdote, gentlemen,” Miusov said impressively, with a peculiarly majestic air. “Some years ago, soon after the coup d’etat of December, I happened to be calling in Paris on an extremely influential personage in the Government, and I met a very interesting man in his house. This individual was not precisely a detective but was a sort of superintendent of a whole regiment of political detectives — a rather powerful position in its own way. I was prompted by curiosity to seize the opportunity of conversation with him. And as he had not come as a visitor but as a subordinate official bringing a special report, and as he saw the reception given me by his chief, he deigned to speak with some openness, to a certain extent only, of course. He was rather courteous than open, as Frenchmen know how to be courteous, especially to a foreigner. But I thoroughly understood him.
The subject was the socialist revolutionaries who were at that time persecuted. I will quote only one most curious remark dropped by this person. ‘We are not particularly afraid,’ said he, ‘of all these socialists, anarchists, infidels, and revolutionists; we keep watch on them and know all their goings on. But there are a few peculiar men among them who believe in God and are Christians, but at the same time are socialists. These are the people we are most afraid of. They are dreadful people. The socialist who is a Christian is more to be dreaded than a socialist who is an atheist.’ The words struck me at the time, and now they have suddenly come back to me here, gentlemen.”
~ Fyodor Dostoevsky The Brothers Karamazov
Part I. Book II: An Unfortunate Gathering
Chapter 5: So Be It! So Be It!