James Crossland
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Breakers of worlds
in The rise of devils
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This chapter explores the short history of Hell’s successor organisation, Narodnaya Rasprava (People’s Revenge), and the partnership formed between its leader, Sergei Nechaev, and the foremost anarchist of the 1860s, Mikhail Bakunin. A psychopathic narcissist who inveigled university students into his schemes, Nechaev was doted on by Bakunin, who saw the younger man as key to the success of his ‘International Brotherhood’ – a semi-mythical alliance of radicals from across Europe. Together, the two unleashed a propaganda campaign in Russia designed to bring recruits into People’s Revenge. This was complemented by Nechaev publishing the Catechism of a Revolutionary, a terrorist manual that went on to influence violent radicals from Russia’s Socialist Revolutionaries to Al Qaeda. Central to the Catechism was the idea that revolutionaries should be unfeeling, merciless and ‘doomed’ to death in the name of their cause. This idea disturbed one of Nechaev’s followers, whom the People’s Revenge leader murdered, souring his relations with Bakunin and undoing their plot to assault tsardom. Still, the fear of the Bakunin–Nechaev alliance and the so-called International Brotherhood continued to plague police thoughts across Europe.

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The rise of devils

Fear and the origins of modern terrorism


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