Skip to content

Dostoevsky on Bush

In Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky’s lead character, Raskolnikov explains his theory of how some people are above the law. Apparently Bush and Cheney believe they are examples of Raskolnikov’s “extraordinary” men to whom ordinary laws do not apply. Dostoevsky says:

There are certain persons who … have a perfect right to commit breaches of morality and crimes, and … the law is not for them….

Extraordinary men have a right to commit any crime and to transgress the law in any way, just because they are extraordinary….

I maintain in my [Raskolnikov’s] article that all … well legislators and leaders of men, such as Lycurgus, Solon, Mahomet, Napoleon, and so on, were all without exception criminals, from the very fact that, making a new law, they transgressed the ancient one, handed down from their ancestors and held sacred by the people, and they did not stop short at bloodshed either, if that bloodshed — often of innocent persons fighting bravely in defense of ancient law — were of use to their cause. It’s remarkable, in fact, that the majority, indeed, of these benefactors and leaders of humanity were guilty of terrible carnage. (Barnes & Noble Collector’s Library, p. 350)

George Bush certainly seems to claim membership in this league of extraordinary individuals who can shed blood with legal impunity.

The Pope would probably agree with Raskolnikov’s comments about Mahomet, but if Dostoevsky were to write this today, he might set off riots throughout the Muslim world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *