How is it possible to describe Dostoevsky’s great but sometimes neglected novel, Notes From Underground, without provoking repugnance for the nameless anti-
hero whose voice dominates its pages? He is, as he announces in the opening lines, “a sick man…a spiteful man,” yet for all his insight into the nature of his own malady, he is, like Oedipus, sicker than he knows. Published in 1864, this seminal work is divided into two distinct parts. The first is a philosophical rant, compelling in the way that a person undone by a fit of hysteria in public is compelling. The second part introduces a series of characters with whom the narrator interacts, revealing the underlying dimensions of his sickness. The stature of this work rests upon Dostoevsky’s profound psychological insight into a disorder that is at once mental and moral—the disease of consciousness.
The novel’s Underground Man suffers from what he calls the disease of “being too acutely conscious.” He is inordinately proud to be a man of “great sensibility” who can perceive the “sublime and the beautiful.” Yet, in the quest for these exalted mental states unavailable to the “natural” man, he is driven to commit perverse and shameful acts, such that shame itself becomes a “damnable sweetness.”

This perverse pleasure arises in part from his fatalism. He feels that the possibility of becoming a different, nobler sort of man is beyond his reach because of the “fundamental laws of intensified consciousness.” His only consolation is to explain himself endlessly, for the direct “result of consciousness is to make all action impossible.” Nevertheless, in contradictory fashion, he insists upon his absolute right to refuse the rational world, as men should sometimes act against reason: “All man wants is an absolutely free choice, however dear that freedom may cost him.” The greatest good is to act upon one’s whims in defiance of theories and systems. Only this can preserve our individuality, he believes.
At moments, however, the Underground Man is candid enough to confess he “longs for something more” than his precious individuality. At 40 years of age, he is a retired civil servant, having received a small legacy. He dwells in the outskirts of St. Petersburg in a cellar apartment and has no close ties to anyone. Envy drives his restless sensibility. He suffers painful failed attempts to affirm his own self-possession by acquiring the recognition of those whom he regards as supremely self-possessed. As a result, he is driven to extremes of spite and cruelty.

As René Girard would have it, we mimic those whom we wish to become, and those models become at once our idols and our enemies. In his failure to recognize that an authentic selfhood can only be grounded in God, he knowingly commits an act of unforgiveable cruelty against a young prostitute who, ironically enough, represents his path to salvation. At one point in the narrative, he laments, “Where am I to find the primary cause to lean against?”

He seems incapable of humbly imagining himself as a radically contingent creature whose diseased consciousness is the result of his own existential emptiness.

—Jack Trotter

Dark Albion: A Requiem for the English (2013) by David Abbott is an underground classic that lists a series of painful truths and complaints about the English experience of immigration that are never addressed in the U.K. media. Dark Albion was released by a minor publisher, as was Melanie Phillips’ explosive Londonistan (2006), a title that has now taken on a wider currency. Abbott, an elderly white Londoner, writes a paean for the society he knew and has passed away. He describes the takeover of England by ethnic immigrants, mainly Islamic. His title page carries a statement by Omar bin Bakri, “We will remodel this country in an Islamic image.” On the evidence here, much of Bakri’s claim has come to pass.

“The English as a race are not worth saving,” are the famous words of Jack Straw, home secretary and foreign secretary in Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour governments. Straw drove through the Human Rights Act, which multiplied the number of rights to which migrants could appeal and led to a vast increase in the migrant population. Abbott anatomizes several famous crooks who benefited from the Act, including Baroness Uddin, who came from a Bangladesh village to London, rose to become a peeress taking her oath on the Koran, and then abused the benefits system to her huge profit. Denis MacShane, once an M.P., is entirely English, and is also a thief and liar who has done time. He profited from his Muslim connections and was foremost in the Blair policy of multiculturalism.

Abbott persuasively demonstrates that the British multicultural system has been exploited and looted by migrants, often in collusion with indigenous Labour politicians who find them invaluable in delivering the vote. This continues today.

“We can record the ethnic autism of the settlers among us,” writes Abbott. This truth refutes the “One Nation” concept invented in 1950 by progressive Tories (including Enoch Powell) before the onslaught of Muslim immigration. We now see the enforced decline of that ideal, which will be dramatically apparent in the 2022 Census. I am not, however, totally depressed by Abbott’s account. My article in the September number, “The Ethnic Partitioning of England,” says it all. Nobody, after all, is obliged to live in London, Birmingham, or Manchester.

Ralph Berry