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Berdyaev Nikolai, Sources and meaning of Russian Communism

Berdyaev Nikolai, Sources and meaning of Russian Communism, transl. E.D. Nianios, P. Pournaras Publ., Thessaloniki, pp. 269.

In the introduction of the book, titled “The Religious Idea of the Russian State”, Berdyaev claims that Russian communism has ethnic roots and for this reason, Marxism alone is insufficient knowledge for its comprehension. The Russian psyche was formed and sealed by the Orthodox Church. He describes in brief the development of ideas of Moscow as a third Rome, the ecclesiastical schism of the Old Believers in the middle of the 17th century, the reformation of Peter the Great and the break up of the bonds of state administration – intellectuals and the people.

            In the first chapter he examines the character of the Russian intellectual class, the influences of German romanticism, the problem of belonging to either the East or the West and the Slavophiles. On to the second chapter, he approaches Russian nihilism and socialism and looks at personalities such as Bielinski, Dobroliubov, Tsernitsevski and Pissarev. The third chapter looks at Russian populism and anarchism and the ideas of Netsaev, Jerzinski, Bakounin, Lavrov, Michailofski, Tkatsev, Plechanov and Yeliabov. The subject of the fourth chapter is Russian literature of the 19th century, the prophetic nature of which is evident in the work of Pushkin, Komiakov, Gogol, Blok, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Leodiev, Soloviev and Fedorov.

            The fifth chapter comprises of a discourse about the peculiar relationship between Russian Marxism and classical Marxism, as well as the various tendencies formed within Russian Marxism. In the sixth chapter follows a penetrating and critical approach to Russian communism and the October Revolution, and in particular Lenin’s personality and work.

            The final chapter of the book is titled “Communism and Christianity”. Here Berdyaev claims that communism is against all religions, as it represents a religion itself. He critically examines the anti-religious attitudes from Marx to Lenin and the reasons behind the religious persecutions conducted by the Soviet regime. He accuses the Church of historical errors that contributed to the success of communism, to which he attributes Judeo-Christian roots regarding its preaching on social issues. According to Berdyaev Christianity stands against bourgeois capitalism as well as atheist communism, but ought not to lose its social justice. He maintains that the struggle for the daily bread of others (social justice) is a spiritual and religious issue.


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