Sergey Gennadiyevich Nechayev [also Sergei Nechaev, Сергей Геннадиевич Нечаев] (2 October 1847 - 21 November or 3 December 1882) was a Russian revolutionary figure associated with the Nihilist movement and known for his single-minded pursuit of revolution by any means necessary, including political violence.
Catechism of a Revolutionary (1869)
- The revolutionary despises public opinion. He despises and hates the existing social morality in all its manifestations. For him, morality is everything which contributes to the triumph of the revolution. Immoral and criminal is everything that stands in its way.
- Tyrannical towards himself, he must be tyrannical towards others. All the gentle and enervating sentiments of kind ship, love, friendship, gratitude and even honor must be suppressed in him and give place to the cold and single minded passion for revolution.
- The revolutionary can have no friendship or attachment, except for those who have proved by their actions that they, like him, are dedicated to revolution.
- The revolutionary enters the world of the State, of the privileged classes, of the so-called civilization, and he lives in this world only for the purpose of bringing about its speedy and total destruction. He is not a revolutionary if he has any sympathy for this world. He should not hesitate to destroy any position, any place, or any man in this world. He must hate everyone and everything in it with an equal hatred. All the worse for him if he has any relations with parents, friends, or lovers; he is no longer a revolutionary if he is swayed by these relationships.
- The women who are completely on our side – i.e., those who are wholly dedicated and who have accepted our program in its entirety. We should regard these women as the most valuable or our treasures; without their help, we would never succeed.
- The Society has no aim other than the complete liberation and happiness of the masses – i.e., of the people who live by manual labor.
- By a revolution, the Society does not mean an orderly revolt according to the classic western model – a revolt which always stops short of attacking the rights of property and the traditional social systems of so-called civilization and morality. Until now, such a revolution has always limited itself to the overthrow of one political form in order to replace it by another, thereby attempting to bring about a so-called revolutionary state. The only form of revolution beneficial to the people is one which destroys the entire State to the roots and exterminated all the state traditions, institutions, and classes in Russia.
- Our task is terrible, total, universal, and merciless destruction.
- Therefore, in drawing closer to the people, we must above all make common cause with those elements of the masses which, since the foundation of the state of Muscovy, have never ceased to protest, not only in words but in deeds, against everything directly or indirectly connected with the state: against the nobility, the bureaucracy, the clergy, the traders, and the parasitic kulaks. We must unite with the adventurous tribes of brigands, who are the only genuine revolutionaries in Russia.
- To weld the people into one single unconquerable and all-destructive force – this is our aim, our conspiracy, and our task.
Quotes about Nechayev
- In revolutionary circles, the word Nechaevism was long to be a term of harsh condemnation, a synonym for risky and reprehensible methods of attaining revolutionary goals. Lenin was to hear himself accused hundreds of times of ‘Nechaevist’ methods by his opponents.
- Leon Trotsky in (The Young Lenin).
- He [Nechaev] was, in short, a Bolshevik before the Bolsheviks.
- Orlando Figes (A People’s Tragedy)
- Its twenty-six articles [of Nechaev’s Revolutionary Catechism], setting out the principles of the professional revolutionary, might have served as the Bolshevik oath. [Only might?] The morals of that party owed much to Nechaev as they did to Marx.
- Orlando Figes (A People’s Tragedy)