Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev
Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev was a Russian religious and political philosopher.
As a philosopher I have not only wished to gain knowledge of the world, in my case the desire to know the world has always been accomplished by the desire to alter it. Not only in thought but in feeling also, I have always denied that the things which the world presents to us are stable and final reality.
Slavery and Freedom
In Place of an Introduction
The most dreadful thing in communism
Communists are fond of emphasizing that they are opponents of Christian evangelical morality based upon love, pity, and sympathy, and that perhaps is the most dreadful thing in communism.
The Origin of Russian Communism
Ch.VII: Communism and Christianity
Renouncing of the socially useful lie
L. Tolstoy puts forth everything to risk, puts everything into the picture.
When man ceases to oppose evil by force, then God Himself begins to act, there comes into its own right the Divine nature.
Dostoevsky has posed a profound problem. But otherwise, the problem was put just as radically by L. Tolstoy, a very truthful writer of world literature. The whole creativity of L. Tolstoy was directed against the lie, it is a marvelous unmasking of the lie, upon which rests civilisation, the state, and the organisation of society. In essence, L. Tolstoy puts forth everything to risk, puts everything into the picture. The core of Tolstoy’s teaching about non-resistance consists in this, that when man ceases to oppose evil by force, then God Himself begins to act, there comes into its own right the Divine nature. There is nothing easier, than to criticise the teachings of L. Tolstoy. It is very easy to demonstrate, that amidst non-resistance evil always conquers. But Tolstoy trusted on an historical miracle and in the name of faith in this miracle of a direct intervention by God he sets forth to risk the perishing of society, the state and civilisation, the perishing of the world, which is sustained on lie and coercion, upon law, contrary to the law of God. Christians wanted to arrange their affairs in any case, such that matters would go fine even if God were not. L. Tolstoy demands first of all the renouncing of the socially useful lie.
The Paradox of the Lie
proposes to adventure the world for the fulfilment of the law of God. … If a man ceases to oppose evil by force, that is, ceases to follow the law of this world, then there will be an immediate intervention of God;
then divine nature will enter upon its rights. The good conquers only upon the condition of action by the Divine itself.
The religious anarchism of Leo Tolstoy is a most thorough-going and radical form of anarchism, that is to say it is a rejection of the principle of authority and force. … But it was precisely Tolstoy who demanded foolishness in life, precisely he who would not admit any sort of compromise between God and the world, he who proposed to venture everything. … But the actual depth of the problem before us is not commonly understood. Tolstoy draws an antithesis between the law of the world and the law of God, but proposes to adventure the world for the fulfilment of the law of God. Christians ordinarily arrange and organize their practical life in every instance in such a way that it may be profitable and expedient and that their affairs may go well, independently of whether there is a God or not. There is almost no difference in practical life, in individual life, or in the life of-society, between a man who believes in God and a man who does not believe in God. Nobody, with the exception of individual saints or queer people, even attempts to order his life upon the Gospel principles, and all are in practice convinced that this would lead to the ruin of life, individual life and social, although this does not prevent them from recognizing in theory that there is an absolute significance behind the Gospel principles; but it is taken as a significance which in spite of its absoluteness lies outside life. Does God exist or does He? And are the forces of the world organized according to the law of the world and not according to the law of God? That was what Tolstoy could not come to terms with, and the fact does him great honour, even although his religious philosophy was feeble and his teaching not realizable in practice. The meaning of Tolstoy's nonresistance by force was much deeper than is commonly thought. If a man ceases to oppose evil by force, that is, ceases to follow the law of this world, then there will be an immediate intervention of God; then divine nature will enter upon its rights. The good conquers only upon the condition of action by the Divine itself.
The Russian Idea