2) Militant Atheism: The War on God
Socialism, the economic and political theory that advocates for the state to control the means of production and oversee the distribution of resources, was relatively new back in Fyodor’s day, and the assumption among small groups of intellectuals from Moscow to Mexico was that it would inevitably become the way all countries ran their governments, societies, and economies. Dostoevsky not only believed the sincerity in their beliefs, but that their convictions would win out in nations around the globe to cause unprecedented suffering before collapsing under the weight of internal contradictions and weaknesses.
Dostoevsky held that the inherent weakness of the Utopian visions of socialism was a rejection of God and the institution of the family. He saw that for the Left, their politics became their religion. The members of the progressive-Left were demanding that standards of Judeo-Christian morality be replaced with new (arbitrary) standards handed down from central councils and planning committees.
Dostoevsky wrote the following description of the youngest Karamazov brother Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov:
The path he chose was a path going in the opposite direction of many his age, but he chose it with the same thirst for swift achievement. As soon as he reflected seriously on it, he was convinced and convicted of the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul, and at once he instinctively said to himself: “I want to live for immortality with Him and I will accept no compromise.”
In the same way, if he had decided that God and immortality did not exist, he would at once have become an atheist and socialist. For socialism is not merely the labor question, but it is before all things the atheistic question, the question of the form taken by atheism today. It is the question of the tower of Babel built without God, not to mount to Heaven from earth but to set up Heaven on earth.
Dostoevsky believed that if even religious nations could commit heinous acts, a secular state would be capable of unspeakable atrocities.
As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn would later put it: “A great disaster had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
Side note: In 1958, a film version of The Brothers Karamazov was released and starred Yul Brynner and a young William Shatner. Here’s a clip to whet your appetite: