On Crime and Punishment and the coming to power

The main ideology of the book Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which the novel is structured on, is the premise that great men achieve their power through a revaluation (or Nietzschian transvaluation) of morality. The idea is that there exists a certain sub-class of people that have gained a higher mode of consciousness then the mass population, who have transcended that population and are capable of rising to great power, this great power is achieved with the accordance of going beyond “good and evil”. There are extraordinary men that are capable of this and then there are ordinary men who can not cross this barrier and infringe on morality to penetrate “evil” to achieve “good”. The men that can pierce through the semblance of morality subjugate themselves to achieving great things and acquiring more dominance and power than their weaker counterparts. A main figure in the book that the protagonist idolizes is Napoleon. Napoleon has soured to higher ranks by liberating himself of the morality of the masses and going beyond what is termed “evil” to achieve his own version of “good”. This act of destroying morality and recreating it for an outcome of a greater “good” strikes the protagonist as a necessity towards greatness and is a common trait that all great people possess. Whether this act is moral or immoral is contigent for it is completely relative and in the confides of what the subject deems it to be and since the subject is acquiring or in possession of power, then the rules of that morality are completely dependant on the subject as they choose to mould it with their power which in turn extends itself towards those power is being transmitted too .

This theory the main protagonist enthralls himself with and inspires him to commit a murder is extremely dangerous. The very idea gives people an avenue to do evil for what they think is the greater good. The protagonist himself fails at achieving his greatness through the act of murder and robbery and this is what plagues him through the entire novel. The fact that he is not the great man he wishes to be or thought he was sends him trickling through despair. The outcome of his action has only led to problems and conflicts in his life. Without the preconceived notion of any good coming out of it, there comes a realization that this theory is far too susceptible to heinous acts for the “good” coming out of it is far too relative towards the individual(s) and the consequences of the actions are unforeseeable.

The greatest evils are done with good intentions.

I do believe that power itself goes beyond good and evil and transcends both to what it deems accordingly. Hitler in WW2 had the very best intentions of doing good for the world by wiping out the jewish population, what he did, he viewed as being a necessary evil for the greater good. History has shown us that an ideology like this can have serious consequences.

Is this truly an ideology? is it a theory that one can take up to achieve power? or is it a necessarily natural action that must be done to acquire power? There is no debate that power in itself is corrupted, that to have power means you have power over the veil that is morality and values, that with it you can create your own values, that you can go above “good and evil”. Throughout time we can make the statement that the ruling morality is one which has been gained from the most power that has acquired it, the victors have written history and have dictated the values placed in our society. The social constructs of our society have been implemented by those who have gained and have access to power which they acquired by transcending that society itself. This coming to power (which is paved with conflicts) is the only way one can achieve power. Crossing barriers and going through these ideological boundaries that construct our society is a necessary component of achieving power.

“Power stands on crooked legs”- Nietzsche
And that corruption also corrupts morality

Should we as ordinary citizens take it upon ourselves to do an evil in order to attain a greater good? Do we have what it takes to go beyond an immoral act for the fruition of a moral one? As the protagonists dream had shown in the end of the novel, if we had such an inclination the whole world would be sprung into chaos, for everyone would think what they are doing is for the good and many evils would take place and the consequences and sequences that would occur are far too out of our control to comprehend. The protagonist was a fool, and he too realized he was a fool, this theory however is not one contrived out of foolishness, it is a part of our reality that does hold truth and it is one that accentuates how unfair and imperfect our world is. There is no easy answer if we can take it upon ourselves to do such actions for the greater good, it is steeped in dependancy and to be  authors of the fate of others and events is too much for many of us to bare. We should not however sit back idly and watch as events unfold, we should take action for good because a greater evil can always arise but we must be aware of the ramifications of such actions. The transvaluation of morality and doing “evil” for “good” is a minefield and should not be taken up by anyone but only in extreme circumstances and even then outcomes are not guaranteed. Those who can take it up themselves will either rise through its success and actually do good or fall and  become tyrants.

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Literature, art, science, travel. Writing fiction, non-fiction, poetry. Always wrestling with language.

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