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The Orthodox Nationalist: Notes From The Underground – TON 022719


Today's broadcast from Dr Johnson is on the difficult and often misunderstood "Notes from Underground," the classic short novel by Dostoevsky. 

The story concerns a retired civil servant, a man with no social consequence and even without a name, attempting to become a "somebody" in a society that's long forgotten about him and left him behind.

Nietzsche’s famous quip that Dostoevsky “is the only writer that has ever taught me anything worth a damn about psychology” likely stems from a reading of this famous work of ideological confrontation. The Underground Man is a loathsome creature on the surface, loathsome in his own words, but words created out of injustice and marginalization. His “sickness,” the sickness referenced in the first line of this work, is an illness born of discord, ideological uncertainty, and most of all, the tremendous failure of western ideologies in Russian life. It's also born of his own personal failure in society. The first line in this work is one of the great opening lines in literary history: “I’m a sick man. . . a mean man. There’s nothing attractive about me. I think there is something wrong with my liver.”

This novel is based on the idea that real criticism can only be done by society's losers. Successful men in the modern world are successful, only because they do not or cannot actively reflect on the society around them or even the grounds for their own actions. Success has made criticism superfluous, so they remain blind to social evils.  Their conformity has clear benefits and rewards.

The Underground Man has been rejected by this society, so he feels it’s every slight in excruciating detail. Nietzsche was wrong. The Underground Man is the end of the Superman. This is what he becomes in mass society, not some romantic leader of a new age. The Underground Man is correct, critical and perceptive, its just that these truths don't matter in a world of positivism, science and utilitarianism. Self interest, money and power matter and have the power to re-create "truth" in their own image.

Presented by Matt Johnson


The Orthodox Nationalist: Notes From The Underground – TON 022719




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