Title: Raskolnikov speaks today: Marxism and alienation in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment and the implications for business ethics education
Authors: Kieran James, Susan P. Briggs, Eunice M. James
Addresses: Faculty of Business, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, University of Southern Queensland, West Street, Toowoomba Qld. 4350, Australia. ' Division of Business, School of Accounting and Information Systems, University of South Australia. ' Department of English and Literature, South Fremantle Senior High School, Beaconsfield WA 6162, Australia
Abstract: In this paper, we explore main themes in Fyodor Dostoyevsky|s great existentialist 19th century Russian novel Crime and Punishment. We accept the traditional existentialist and Russian Orthodox interpretations of the novel|s themes but we also argue that the actions of the novel|s main character, the unemployed young student Raskolnikov, contain within them a Marxist critique of the corrupting power of wealth (in the sense that Terry Eagleton uses the term |Marxist critique|). Raskolnikov reveals the contradictions and selfish motives behind the actions of outwardly respectable aristocrats in the novel. Existentially, Raskolnikov recreates himself anew through his actions. We argue that the complex social consciousness of Raskolnikov, where he is a living critique of the established society without being seemingly outwardly a |political person|, makes him an eternal type that we may encounter again in our postmodern accounting classrooms. This suggests that, to avoid the 24/7 |Raskolnikov gaze| as educators today, we must join him in recreating ourselves by helping the less fortunate and exploited. By studying Dostoyevsky in business ethics classes, we will do our business students a great service as they can be introduced through the character of Raskolnikov, to the existential concept of recreating oneself through positive action and helping others.
Keywords: alienation; business ethics; Crime and Punishment; Dostoyevsky; ethics education; existentialism; Marxism; Russian literature; Russian Orthodox Church; Sartre; business education.
International Journal of Critical Accounting, 2011 Vol.3 No.4, pp.321 - 349
Published online: 21 Oct 2014 *Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article