Published Spring, 2022
Amid the consternation that seized the civilized world after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a university in Italy briefly cancelled, and then reinstated, a course on the works of Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1821–1881). This gut reaction was part of a headlong rush to condemn all things Russian in solidarity with Ukraine’s plight. But Dostoevsky, whose novels speak of universal pain while focusing on distinctly Russian problems, saw and lamented exactly how modernity would deform and distort the country he loved. The irony is that Dostoevsky’s prescient diagnoses of the Russian and the human condition have more to teach us now than ever.
Algis Valiunas is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributing editor to The New Atlantis, a journal about the ethical, political, and social implications of modern science technology.