'This particular form of obsession is not new. Nor is it confined to blond, white, racist Norwegians. Raskolnikov, the hero of Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, brutally murdered a pawnbroker in the name of a vaguely defined "freedom" that was not available in decadent, czarist St. Petersburg. Since then, revolutionaries and madmen of all kinds, from the Russian anarchists to the Irish Republican Army, have justified the murder of innocent people on the grounds that it would hasten the end of an illegitimate government and bring to power some theoretically more authentic regime... In the past, left-wing illegitimists were quite common, and in fact Marxism is a classic, paranoid version of this creed. The illegitimist Marxist argument goes like this: Bourgeois democracy is a sham; bourgeois politicians and the bourgeois newspapers are tools of shadowy financial interests. The entire system deserves to be overthrown—and if a few people die in the course of the revolution, it's all for a good cause. Though not every Western Marxist advocated violence, this is certainly the kind of argument that motivated the Weathermen, the Baader-Meinhof gang, and other far-left American and European terrorists of the past.'
Sarah Kliff on the Big Questions
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