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Sergey Nechayev 1869

The Revolutionary Catechism


Source: Russian Anarchism. Sergey Genadievich Nechayev was a man so feared by the !ar and the aristocrat" ru#ing c#asses" he became the !ar$s s%ecia# %risoner. &he !ar received wee'#y s%ecia# re%orts on Nechayev$s %rison activities. Nechayev was born Se%tember ()" 18*+. ,e died at age -. in %rison" on /ecember -" 188( 0 from dro%sy com%#icated by scurvy. ,e was convicted for the murder of a fe##ow student" but his rea# crimes were %o#itica#. ,e frightened the state because he c#aimed to head a secret society four mi##ion strong. 1n truth" it was a sma## grou%" maybe a few hundred" main#y of St. 2etersburg students. &he tria# sentenced him to () years in Siberia. &he !ar intervened and ordered him to be retained for the rest of his #ife. ,e was 'e%t in e## 31 of the notorious A#e4is Rave#in of the 2eter and 2au# 5ortress. As a human being" he #eft much to be desired 0 he #ied" cheated" b#ac'mai#ed" murdered. 6f course" he wou#d defend his actions based on the %rinci%#es #aid out in the fo##owing document. Regard#ess his %ersona# attributes" he re7ected the authority of the state to his disma# end and" for that" gained #egendary status in Russia. &he Narodnaya Volya 82eo%#e$s 5reedom9 considered using its resources to free him rather than 'i## the !ar 0 an offer he re7ected" saying the death of the !ar was more im%ortant. 8And" indeed" on :arch 1-" 1881" !ar A#e4ander 11 was assassinated whi#st riding through the snowy streets of St. 2etersburg.9 /ostoyevs'y used Nechayev as the ins%iration for his nove#" The Possessed. Nechayev wrote ;uite a few %am%h#ets on revo#utionary to%ics. 2robab#y the most famous and #asting is The Revolutionary Catechism.

The Duties of the Revolutionary toward Himself 1. &he revo#utionary is a doomed man. ,e has no %ersona# interests" no business affairs" no emotions" no attachments" no %ro%erty" and no name. <verything in him is who##y absorbed in the sing#e thought and the sing#e %assion for revo#ution. (. &he revo#utionary 'nows that in the very de%ths of his being" not on#y in words but a#so in deeds" he has bro'en a## the bonds which tie him to the socia# order and the civi#i!ed wor#d with a## its #aws" mora#ities" and customs" and with a## its genera##y acce%ted conventions. ,e is their im%#acab#e enemy" and if he continues to #ive with them it is on#y in order to destroy them more s%eedi#y. -. &he revo#utionary des%ises a## doctrines and refuses to acce%t the mundane sciences" #eaving them for future generations. ,e 'nows on#y one science: the science of destruction. 5or this reason" but on#y for this reason" he wi## study mechanics" %hysics" chemistry" and %erha%s medicine. =ut a## day and a## night he studies the vita# science of human beings" their characteristics and circumstances" and a## the %henomena of the %resent socia# order. &he ob7ect is %er%etua##y the same: the surest and ;uic'est way of destroying the who#e fi#thy order. *. &he revo#utionary des%ises %ub#ic o%inion. ,e des%ises and hates the e4isting socia# mora#ity in a## its manifestations. 5or him" mora#ity is everything which contributes to the trium%h of the

revo#ution. 1mmora# and crimina# is everything that stands in its way. .. &he revo#utionary is a dedicated man" merci#ess toward the State and toward the educated c#asses> and he can e4%ect no mercy from them. =etween him and them there e4ists" dec#ared or concea#ed" a re#ent#ess and irreconci#ab#e war to the death. ,e must accustom himse#f to torture. 6. &yrannica# toward himse#f" he must be tyrannica# toward others. A## the gent#e and enervating sentiments of 'inshi%" #ove" friendshi%" gratitude" and even honor" must be su%%ressed in him and give %#ace to the co#d and sing#e?minded %assion for revo#ution. 5or him" there e4ists on#y one %#easure" on conso#ation" one reward" one satisfaction 0 the success of the revo#ution. Night and day he must have but one thought" one aim 0 merci#ess destruction. Striving co#d?b#ooded#y and indefatigab#y toward this end" he must be %re%ared to destroy himse#f and to destroy with his own hands everything that stands in the %ath of the revo#ution. +. &he nature of the true revo#utionary e4c#udes a## sentimenta#ity" romanticism" infatuation" and e4a#tation. A## %rivate hatred and revenge must a#so be e4c#uded. Revo#utionary %assion" %racticed at every moment of the day unti# it becomes a habit" is to be em%#oyed with co#d ca#cu#ation. At a## times" and in a## %#aces" the revo#utionary must obey not his %ersona# im%u#ses" but on#y those which serve the cause of the revo#ution. The Relations of the Revolutionary toward his Comrades 8. &he revo#utionary can have no friendshi% or attachment" e4ce%t for those who have %roved by their actions that they" #i'e him" are dedicated to revo#ution. &he degree of friendshi%" devotion and ob#igation toward such a comrade is determined so#e#y by the degree of his usefu#ness to the cause of tota# revo#utionary destruction. 9. 1t is su%erf#uous to s%ea' of so#idarity among revo#utionaries. &he who#e strength of revo#utionary wor' #ies in this. omrades who %ossess the same revo#utionary %assion and understanding shou#d" as much as %ossib#e" de#iberate a## im%ortant matters together and come to unanimous conc#usions. @hen the %#an is fina##y decided u%on" then the revo#utionary must re#y so#e#y on himse#f. 1n carrying out acts of destruction" each one shou#d act a#one" never running to another for advice and assistance" e4ce%t when these are necessary for the furtherance of the %#an. 1). A## revo#utionaries shou#d have under them second? or third?degree revo#utionaries 0 i.e." comrades who are not com%#ete#y initiated. these shou#d be regarded as %art of the common revo#utionary ca%ita# %#aced at his dis%osa#. &his ca%ita# shou#d" of course" be s%ent as economica##y as %ossib#e in order to derive from it the greatest %ossib#e %rofit. &he rea# revo#utionary shou#d regard himse#f as ca%ita# consecrated to the trium%h of the revo#ution> however" he may not %ersona##y and a#one dis%ose of that ca%ita# without the unanimous consent of the fu##y initiated comrades. 11. @hen a comrade is in danger and the ;uestion arises whether he shou#d be saved or not saved" the decision must not be arrived at on the basis of sentiment" but so#e#y in the interests of the revo#utionary cause. &herefore" it is necessary to weigh carefu##y the usefu#ness of the comrade against the e4%enditure of revo#utionary forces necessary to save him" and the decision must be made according#y. The Relations of the Revolutionary toward Society 1(. &he new member" having given %roof of his #oya#ty not by words but by deeds" can be received into the society on#y by the unanimous agreement of a## the members. 1-. &he revo#utionary enters the wor#d of the State" of the %rivi#eged c#asses" of the so?ca##ed civi#i!ation" and he #ives in this wor#d on#y for the %ur%ose of bringing about its s%eedy and tota# destruction. ,e is not a revo#utionary if he has any sym%athy for this wor#d. He should not hesitate to destroy any position, any place, or any man in this world. ,e must hate everyone and everything

in it with an e;ua# hatred. A## the worse for him if he has any re#ations with %arents" friends" or #overs> he is no longer a revolutionary if he is swayed by these relationships. 1*. Aiming at im%#acab#e revo#ution" the revo#utionary may and fre;uent#y must #ive within society wi## %retending to be com%#ete#y different from what he rea##y is" for he must %enetrate everywhere" into a## the higher and midd#e?c#asses" into the houses of commerce" the churches" and the %a#aces of the aristocracy" and into the wor#ds of the bureaucracy and #iterature and the mi#itary" and a#so into the &hird /ivision and the @inter 2a#ace of the !ar. 1.. &his fi#thy socia# order can be s%#it u% into severa# categories. &he first category com%rises those who must be condemned to death without de#ay. omrades shou#d com%i#e a #ist of those to be condemned according to the re#ative gravity of their crimes> and the e4ecutions shou#d be carried out according to the %re%ared order. 16. @hen a #ist of those who are condemned is made" and the order of e4ecution is %re%ared" no %rivate sense of outrage shou#d be considered" nor is it necessary to %ay attention to the hatred %rovo'ed by these %eo%#e among the comrades or the %eo%#e. ,atred and the sense of outrage may even be usefu# insofar as they incite the masses to revo#t. 1t is necessary to be guided on#y by the re#ative usefu#ness of these e4ecutions for the sa'e of revo#ution. Above a##" those who are es%ecia##y inimica# to the revo#utionary organi!ation must be destroyed> their vio#ent and sudden deaths wi## %roduce the utmost %anic in the government" de%riving it of its wi## to action by removing the c#everest and most energetic su%%orters. 1+. &he second grou% com%rises those who wi## be s%ared for the time being in order that" by a series of monstrous acts" they may drive the %eo%#e into inevitab#e revo#t. 18. &he third category consists of a great many brutes in high %ositions" distinguished neither by their c#everness nor their energy" whi#e en7oying riches" inf#uence" %ower" and high %ositions by virtue of their ran'. &hese must be e4%#oited in every %ossib#e way> they must be im%#icated and embroi#ed in our affairs" their dirty secrets must be ferreted out" and they must be transformed into s#aves. &heir %ower" inf#uence" and connections" their wea#th and their energy" wi## form an ine4haustib#e treasure and a %recious he#% in a## our underta'ings. 19. &he fourth category com%rises ambitious office?ho#ders and #ibera#s of various shades of o%inion. &he revo#utionary must %retend to co##aborate with them" b#ind#y fo##owing them" whi#e at the same time" %rying out their secrets unti# they are com%#ete#y in his %ower. &hey must be so com%romised that there is no way out for them" and then they can be used to create disorder in the State. (). &he fifth category consists of those doctrinaires" cons%irators" and revo#utionists who cut a great figure on %a%er or in their c#i;ues. &hey must be constant#y driven on to ma'e com%romising dec#arations: as a resu#t" the ma7ority of them wi## be destroyed" whi#e a minority wi## become genuine revo#utionaries. (1. &he si4th category is es%ecia##y im%ortant: women. &hey can be divided into three main grou%s. 5irst" those frivo#ous" thought#ess" and va%id women" whom we sha## use as we use the third and fourth category of men. Second" women who are ardent" ca%ab#e" and devoted" but whom do not be#ong to us because they have not yet achieved a %assion#ess and austere revo#utionary understanding> these must be used #i'e the men of the fifth category. 5ina##y" there are the women who are com%#ete#y on our side 0 i.e." those who are who##y dedicated and who have acce%ted our %rogram in its entirety. @e shou#d regard these women as the most va#uab#e or our treasures> without their he#%" we wou#d never succeed. The Attitude of the Society toward the People ((. &he Society has no aim other than the com%#ete #iberation and ha%%iness of the masses 0 i.e." of the %eo%#e who #ive by manua# #abor. onvinced that their emanci%ation and the achievement of this

ha%%iness can on#y come about as a resu#t of an a##?destroying %o%u#ar revo#t" the Society wi## use a## its resources and energy toward increasing and intensifying the evi#s and miseries of the %eo%#e unti# at #ast their %atience is e4hausted and they are driven to a genera# u%rising. (-. =y a revo#ution" the Society does not mean an order#y revo#t according to the c#assic western mode# 0 a revo#t which a#ways sto%s short of attac'ing the rights of %ro%erty and the traditiona# socia# systems of so?ca##ed civi#i!ation and mora#ity. Anti# now" such a revo#ution has a#ways #imited itse#f to the overthrow of one %o#itica# form in order to re%#ace it by another" thereby attem%ting to bring about a so?ca##ed revo#utionary state. &he on#y form of revo#ution beneficia# to the %eo%#e is one which destroys the entire State to the roots and e4terminated a## the state traditions" institutions" and c#asses in Russia. (*. @ith this end in view" the Society therefore refuses to im%ose any new organi!ation from above. Any future organi!ation wi## doubt#ess wor' its way through the movement and #ife of the %eo%#e> but this is a matter for future generations to decide. 6ur tas' is terrib#e" tota#" universa#" and merci#ess destruction. (.. &herefore" in drawing c#oser to the %eo%#e" we must above a## ma'e common cause with those e#ements of the masses which" since the foundation of the state of :uscovy" have never ceased to %rotest" not on#y in words but in deeds" against everything direct#y or indirect#y connected with the state: against the nobi#ity" the bureaucracy" the c#ergy" the traders" and the %arasitic 'u#a's. @e must unite with the adventurous tribes of brigands" who are the on#y genuine revo#utionaries in Russia. (6. &o we#d the %eo%#e into one sing#e uncon;uerab#e and a##?destructive force 0 this is our aim" our cons%iracy" and our tas'.

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