But perhaps the worst will never come to pass, and tyranny on such a scale will never recur. Perhaps humanity will forevermore retain the memory of Russia's terrible historical experience. Every heart nurses that hope, and without it life would be unbearable.
But I number among those who have been fatally wounded by two great calamities: world war and dictatorship. Such people do not believe that the roots of war and tyranny within humanity have been eradicated or that they will be in the near future. Perhaps the danger of one tyranny or war will recede, but after a time the threat of the next tyranny or war will arise. For me and others like me, both those calamities were a kind of apocalypse— revelations of the power of planetary Evil and of its age-old struggle with the forces of Light. Those living in different times would probably not understand us. Our anxiety would seem to them an overreaction; our view of the world would seem poisoned. But a conception of the logical consistency of historical events branded in the human mind by a half century of observing and participating in events and processes of unprecedented magnitude cannot be called an overreaction. And a conclusion that forms in the human heart through the efforts of the brightest and deepest sides of its nature cannot be poisoned.
I am seriously ill—my days are numbered. If this manuscript is destroyed or lost, I will not be able to rewrite it in time. But if, sometime in the future, it reaches only a few persons whose spiritual thirst drives them to surmount all its difficulties and read it through to the end, then the ideas planted within cannot help but become seeds that will sprout in their hearts. Whether that occurs before a third world war or after it, and even if no third war is unleashed in the near future, this book will not die if but one pair of friendly eyes passes, chapter by chapter, over its pages. For the questions it attempts to answer will continue to trouble people far into the future.
Those questions are not confined to the realms of war and politics. But nothing can shake my conviction that the most formidable dangers that threaten humanity, both now and for centuries to come, are a great suicidal war and an absolute global dictatorship. Perhaps, in our century, humanity will avert a third world war or, at the very least, survive it, as it survived the First and Second World Wars. Perhaps it will outlive, somehow or other, a dictatorship even more enveloping and merciless than the one we in Russia outlived. It may even be that in two or three hundred years new dangers for the people of Earth will appear, dangers different but no less dire than a dictatorship or a great war. It is possible, even probable. But no effort of the mind, no imagination or intuition, is capable of conjecturing a future danger that would not be connected, somehow or other, with one of these two principal dangers: the physical destruction of humanity through a war, and the spiritual death of humanity through an absolute global dictatorship.
This book is directed, first and foremost, against the two basic, supreme evils of war and dictatorship. It is directed against them not as a simple warning, nor as a satire that unmasks their true nature, nor as a sermon. The most biting satire and the most fiery sermon are useless if they only rail against evil and prove that good is good and bad is bad. They are useless if they are not based on a worldview, global teaching, and program of action that, spread from mind to mind and will to will, would be capable of averting these evils.
The purpose of my life has been to share my experience with others—to shed light on the future panorama of history and metahistory, on the branching chain of alternatives we face or are bound to face, and on the landscape of variomaterial worlds that are closely linked with ours through good and evil. I have tried, and still try, to fulfill that task through fiction and poetry, but the limitations of those genres have prevented me from disclosing these ideas precisely and intelligibly in their entirety. The purpose of this book is to set out that worldview in an exhaustive manner, helping the reader to see how, though dealing with the preternatural, it at the same time holds the key to understanding current events and the fate of each of us. This is a book that, if God saves it from destruction, will be laid, as one of many bricks, in the foundation of the Rose of the World, at the base of a Community of all humanity.