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The Catechism of a Revolutionary

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This Catechism with its twenty six articles was written by Nechayev in collaboration with Mikhail Bakunin in 1869 (Bakunin later broke with Nechayev when he realized what an evil and dangerous person he was.) Both Lenin and Stalin based their lives and careers and patterned themselves after the ideas that were in this writing. Lenin, for example, thought very highly of Nechayev and even fawned over him. His actions coincided with those of Nechayev, and he even told his comrades how much he admired him. For example, here is Lenin speaking to a friend, Vladimir Bonch Bruyevich, about Nechayev shortly after he came to power: "People completely forget that Nechayev posessed unique organizational talent, an ability to establish the special techniques of conspiratorial work everywhere, an ability to give his thoughts such startling formulations that they were forever imprinted on one's memory. It is sufficient to recall his words in one of the leaflets, where Nechayev, replying to the question "Which members of the reigning house must be destroyed?" gives the succinct answer, "The whole great responsory!" This formulation is so simple and clear that it could be understood by everyone living in Russia at a time when the Orthodox Church held full sway, when the vast majority of the people, in one way or another, for one reason or another, attended church, and everyone knew that every member of the Romanov household was mentioned at the great responsory. The most unsophisticated reader, asking himself, "But which of them are to be destroyed?" would see the obvious, inevitable answer at a glance, "Why, the entire Romanov house!" But that is simple to the point of genius!" And Lenin carried out the cold blooded murder of the Romanov family exactly the way Nechayev and his Catechism had said he should. Nechayev was the one who wrote all of the ideas; Lenin was the one who carried them out and made them all into reality. The Revolutionary Catechism The Duties of the Revolutionary Toward Himself 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 within 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 bonds 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, and 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 the quickest way of destroying the whole filthy order. 4. The revolutionary despies 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. 5. The revolutionary is a dedicated man, merciless toward the state and towards 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 towards himself, he must be tyrannical towards others. All the gentle and enervating sentiments of kinship, love, friendship, gratitude and even honor must be suppressed in him and give way 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 towards this end, he must be prepared to destroy himself and to destroy with his own hands everything that stands in the path of the revolution. 7. The nature of the true revolutionary excludes all sentimentality, romanticism, infatuation, and exaltation. All private hatred and revenge must also be excluded. Revolutionary passion, practiced at every moment of the day until it becomes a habit, is to be employed with cold calculation. At all times and in all places the revolutionary must obey, not his personal impulses, but only those which serve the cause of the revolution. The Relations of the Revolutionary Towards His Comrades 8. 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 degree of friendship, devotion and obligation toward such a comrade is determined solely by the degree of his usefulness to the cause of total revolutionary destruction. 9. It is superfluous to speak of solidarity among revolutionaries. The whole strenght of revolutionary work lies in this. Comrades who possess the same revolutionary passion and understanding should as much as possible deliberate all important matters together and come to unanimous conclusions. When the plan is finally decided upon, then the revolutionary must rely solely on himself. In carrying out acts of destruction each one should act alone, never running to another for advice and assistance except when these are necessary for the furtherance of the plan. 10. All revolutionaries should have under them second or third degree revolutionaries, for example comrades who are not completely initiated. These should be regarded as part of the common revolutionary capital placed at his disposal. This capital should of course be spent as economically as possible in order to derive from it the greatest possible profit. The real revolutionary should regard himself as capital consecrated to the triumph of the revolution; however, he may not personally and alone dispose of that capital without the unanimous consent of the fully initiated comrades. 11. When a comrade is in danger and the question arises whether he should be saved or not saved, the decision must not be arrived at on the basis of sentiment, but solely in the interests of the revolutionary cause. Therefore it is necessary to weigh carefully the usefulness of the comrade against the expenditure of revolutionary forces necessary to save him, and the decision must be made accordingly. The Relations of the Revolutionary toward Society