Leaving Moderates Out in the Cold

Reading The Catechism of the Revolutionary and Demands of the Narodnaia Volia reminded me of Pussy Riot. Both groups want roughly the same thing (considering the time periods in which they are from). In a documentary I watched about Pussy Riot and the trial proceeding their ‘performance’ at Christ the Savior Cathedral, a prosecutor approached the women and told them their actions essentially alienated liberals and prevented moderates from joining a more liberal camp. The Catechism and Demands essentially do just that. Any moderate person of the time reading the documents would most likely be put off by such a radical, far left.

The Catechism of the Revolutionary makes extraordinary demands of revolutionaries, essentially detailing out a revolutionary’s entire life. Revolutionaries may not have friends or family, and cannot do anything unless it benefits the organization. The document makes revolutionaries out to be terrorist operatives, essentially devoid of humanity and feeling (unless it forwards the goals of the organization). On the other hand, Demands of the Narodnaia Volia confirms any suspicions that these revolutionaries might be operatives.

Part D of the Demands of the Narodnaia Volia lays out the various operations of the terrorist organization. Item number two specifically discusses “destructive and terrorist activity”, essentially condoning any actions or deaths, if they are in the best interests of the organization’s goals. The entire document makes the Narodnaia Volia out to be a cold, extremely focused organization.

These documents were both intriguing to me. Have either of these been applied to and used for modern terrorist organizations? How many people could truly call themselves ‘revolutionaries’ and how seriously were the rules in the Catechism taken?

3 thoughts on “Leaving Moderates Out in the Cold

  1. I would guess that these ideas were only taken seriously by a few. The document states that they were organised into cell with one true believer leading a larger group. My guess would be that each of those leaders would preach if not believe the words spoken here, the rest would be intellectuals or discontents who wish to participate without actual forgoing all worldly pleasures.

  2. I really liked your comparison with this text and Pussy Riot, I never would have thought of that! As for your question, perhaps these documents were referenced directly, but even if they weren’t I feel like the general theme and ideas associated with these documents has been built upon for a long time by terrorists. There are certainly common mentalities associated with this group and other groups, but I’m not sure if this document specifically was referenced. Definitely with the Russian revolution I would think though. Good question!

  3. It seems to me that the doctrine championed by the Narodnaia Volia was damned to failure by design. This, to me, makes very little sense. The purpose of an effective revolutionary organization is not to alienate or frighten the masses, but rather give the desired demographic a cause behind which to rally. Volia presented such a radical front that they were not able to grasp the attention (or loyalty) of a group large enough to make a significant change. Therefore I’m left to wonder the purpose of their existence.

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