Friday, July 08, 2005

Revolutionary Catechism

I think it is important to understand that the ideology of nihilistic terrorism and the modus operandi of yesterday's attacks on London is modern. Its antecedents aren't Islamic at all. It was invented and codified in 19th century Russia with Sergey Genadievich Nechayev's 1869 Revolutionary Catechism. Nechaev developed many of the secret cell and conspiracy tactics that would be so useful to future insurgents, but the main reason for reading it today is to understand the danger of the vertiginous glamour with which Nechaev invests ruthlessness; "know thine enemy".

1. The revolutionary is a doomed man. He has no personal interests, no business affairs, no emotions, no attachments, no property and no name. Everything in him is wholly absorbed in the single thought and the single passion for revolution.

2. The revolutionary knows that in the very depths of his being, not only in words but also in deeds, he has broken all the bounds which tie him to the social order and the civilized world with all its laws, moralities and customs and with all its generally accepted conventions. He is their implacable enemy, and if he continues to live with them it is only in order to destroy them more speedily.

3. The revolutionary despises all doctrines and refuses to accept the mundane sciences, leaving them for future generations. He knows only one science: the science of destruction. For this reason, but only for this reason, he will study mechanics, physics, chemistry, and perhaps medicine. But all day and all night he studies the vital science of human beings, their characteristics and circumstances, and all the phenomena of the present social order. The object is perpetually the same: the surest and quickest way of destroying the whole filthy order.

4. 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 which stands in the way.

5. The revolutionary is a dedicated man, merciless toward the State and toward the educated classes; and he can expect no mercy from them. Between him and them there exists, declared or concealed, a relentless and irreconcilable war to the death. He must accustom himself to torture.

6. Tyrannical toward himself, he must be tyrannical toward others. All the gentle end enervating sentiments of kinship, love, friendship, gratitude, and even honor must be suppressed in him and give place to the cold and single minded passion for revolution. For him there exists only one pleasure, one consolation, one reward, one satisfaction �the success of the revolution. Night and day he must have but one thought, one aim �merciless destruction. Striving coldbloodedly and indefatigably toward this end, he must be prepared to destroy himself and with his own hands to destroy everything that stands in the path of the revolution.


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