IV. The Nihilist Program
War against God, issuing in the proclamation of the reign of nothingness, which means the triumph of incoherence and absurdity, the whole plan presided over by Satan: this, in brief, is the theology and the meaning of Nihilism. But man cannot live by such blatant negation; unlike Satan, he cannot even desire it for its own sake, but only by mistaking it for something positive and good. And in fact no Nihilist--apart from a few moments of frenzy and enthusiasm, or perhaps despair--has ever seen his negation as anything but the means to a higher goal: Nihilism furthers its Satanic ends by means of a positive program. The most violent revolutionaries--a Nechayev or Bakunin, a Lenin or Hitler, and even the demented practitioners of the "propaganda of the deed"--dreamed of the "new order" their violent destructions of the Old Order would make possible; Dada and "anti-literature" seek not the total destruction of art, but the path to a "new" art; the passive Nihilist, in his " existential" apathy and despair, sustains life only by the vague hope that he may yet find some kind of ultimate satisfaction in a world that seems to deny it.
The content of the Nihilist dream is, then, a "Positive" one. But truth requires that we view it in proper perspective: not through the rose-colored spectacles of the Nihilist himself, but in the realistic manner our century's intimate acquaintance with Nihilism permits. Armed with the knowledge this acquaintance affords, and with the Christian Truth which enables us to interpret it aright, we shall attempt to look behind the Nihilist phrases to see the realities they conceal. Seen in this perspective, the very phrases which to the Nihilist seem entirely "positive" appear to the Orthodox Christian in another light, as items in a program quite different from that of Nihilist apologetics.