Curtis Dahlgren
Those "sixties" hippies (in 1860s Russia): An eye-opener for you and me today!
By Curtis Dahlgren
June 11, 2020

Note: Republished from October 28, 2017

THEY CALL THEMSELVES "PROGRESSIVES." THEY CALL THEMSELVES SECULAR. They don't like to be called liberals. So let's just call them what they ARE: "over-the-hill-hippies." And Nihilists. Communists. They talk about "taking back the nation" (so they can turn it over to what?). They talk about shutting down alternative news media. They don't really mind having their patriotism questioned either; they're secretly PROUD of their anti-Americanism. They don't mind being the "vocal minority" either, because they know that under totalitarianism the minority rules! And they wouldn't know how to govern a nation. Our technological progress would be stopped if not destroyed.

I've alluded to this subject before, but a deeper look into the eyes of these aging hippies – who would have us be "more like Europe" and more like Castro's island-of-misery (and Hugo's Gulag on the north shore of the continent to our South) – is long overdue:

"NIHILISM, the name commonly given to the Russian form of revolutionary Socialism, which had at first an academical character, and rapidly developed into an anarchist revolutionary movement."

[The following quotes are all from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition (1910), with my emphasis throughout.]

"It originated in the early years of the reign of Alexander II, and the term was first used by Turgeniev in his celebrated novel, Fathers and Children, published in 1862 [three years after Darwin published Origin]. Among the students of the universities and the higher technical schools Turgeniev had noticed a new and strikingly original type – young men and women in slovenly attire, who called in question and ridiculed the generally received convictions ['faith'] and respectable conventionalities ['mores'] of social life, and talked of reorganizing society on strictly scientific principles.

"They reversed the traditional order of things even in trivial matters of external appearance, the males allowing the hair to grow long and the female adepts cutting it short, and adding sometimes the additional badge of blue spectacles. Their appearance, manners and conversation were apt to shock ordinarypeople, but to this they were profoundly indifferent, for they had raised themselves above the level of so-called public opinion, despised ['Philistine'] respectability, and rather liked to scandalize people still under the influence of what they consider antiquated prejudices.

"For aesthetic culture, sentimentalism and refinement of every kind they had a profound and undisguised contempt. Professing extreme utilitarianism and delighting in paradox, they were ready to declare that a shoemaker who distinguished himself in his craft was a greater man than a Shakespeare or a Goethe . . .

"Thanks to Turgeniev, these young persons came to be known in common parlance as 'Nihilists,' though they never ceased to protest against the termas a calumnious nickname. According to their own account, they were simply earnest students who desired reasonable reforms, and the peculiarities in their appearance and manner arose simply from an excusable neglect of trivialities in view of graver interests.

"In reality, whatever name we may apply to them, they were the extreme representatives of a curious moral awakening and an important intellectual movement among the Russian educated classes . . .

"In material and ['moral'] progress Russia had remained behind the other European nations, and the educated classes felt, after the humiliation of the Crimean War [ala Vietnam], that the reactionary regime of the emperor Nicholas must be replaced by a series of drastic ['reforms']. With the impulsiveness of youth and the recklessness of inexperience, the students went in this direction much farther than their elders, and their reforming zeal naturally took an academic, pseudo-scientific form.

"Having learned the rudiments of [legal] positivism, they conceived the idea that Russia had outlived the religious and metaphysical stages of human development, and was ready to enter on the positivist stage [i.e., secular progressive]. She ought, therefore, to throw aside all religious and metaphysical conceptions [such as God], and to regulate her intellectual, social and political life by the pure light of natural science."

Does any of this sound familiar to you yet? The Britannica goes on to say:

"Among the antiquated institutions which had to be abolished as obstructions to real progress, were religion, family life, private property, and centralized administration.

"Religion was to be replaced by the exact sciences, family life by free love, private property by collectivism, and centralized administration by a federation of independent communes.

"Such doctrines could not, of course, be preached openly under a paternal, [imperial] government, but the press censure had become so permeated with the prevailing spirit of enthusiastic liberalism, that they could be artfully disseminated under the disguise of literary criticism and fiction, and the public very soon learned the art of reading between the lines.

"The work which had perhaps the greatest influence in popularizing the doctrines was a novel called Shto Dyelati? ('What is to be done?'), written in prison by Tchernishevski, one of the academic leaders of the movement, and published with the sanction of the authorities! . .

"In the winter of 1861-1862 a high official wrote to a friend who had been absent from Russia a few months: 'If you returned now you would be astonished at the progress which the opposition – one might say, the revolutionary party – has made . . .'

"Certainly the government was under the influence of the prevailing enthusiasm for ['reform'] for it liberated all the serfs, endowed them with arable land, and . . was preparing other important reforms in a similar spirit . . . [but] the well-intentioned, self-confident young people to whom the term Nihilists was applied were not reasonable. They wanted an immediate, thorough-going transformation of the existing order of things according to the most advanced socialistic principles, and in their youthful, reckless impatience they determined to undertake the work themselves, independently of and in opposition to the government.

"As they had no means of seizing the central power, they adopted the method of endeavouring to bring about the desired political, social and economic changes by converting the masses to their views. They began, therefore, a propaganda among the working population of the towns and the rural population in the villages.

"The propagandists were recruited chiefly from the faculty of physical science in the universities, from the Technological Institute, and from the medical schools, and a female contingent was supplied by the midwifery classes of the Medico-Surgical Academy . . .

"Some disguised themselves as artisans or ordinary labourers, and sought to convert their uneducated fellow-workmen in the industrial centers, whilst others settled in the villages as school-teachers, and endeavoured to stir up disaffection among the recently emancipated peasantry by telling themthat the tsar intended they should have all the land, and that his benevolent intentions had been frustrated by the selfish landed proprietors and the dishonest officials.

"Landed proprietors and officials, it was suggested, should be got rid of, and then the peasants would have arable, pastoral and forest land in abundance, and would not have to pay any taxes.

"To persons of a certain education the agitators sought to prove that the general economic situation was desperate, that it was the duty of every conscientious citizen to help the people in such a dilemma, and that the first step towards the attainment of this devoutly to be wished consummation was the limitation or destruction of the uncontrolled supreme power.

"On the whole the agitators had very little success, and not a few of them fell into the hands of the police, several of them being denounced to authorities by the persons in whose interest they professed to be acting . . . Between 1861 and 1864 there were no less than twenty political trials, with the result that most of the accused were condemned to imprisonment, or to compulsory residence in small provincial towns under police supervision.

"The activity of the police naturally produced an ever-increasing hostility to the government, and in 1866 this feeling took a practical form in an attempt on the part of an obscure individual called Karakozov to assassinate the emperor."


The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers an on-line course on Russian history, including tapes by a famous UW professor. I'd like to take the course, BUT I understand that the course starts with the year 1883, two years after the actual assassination of another Tsar by one of the Nihilists!

Unless they are going to add some of the foregoing information from this column, I fear that the UW might be overlaying its patently twisted world-view upon the actual history of Russia and the USSR. Past personal experiences with the UW are indicative that my fears could be very well-founded. There's a real possibility that the "story" could have an overly-sympathetic slant on the forerunners of the Bolshevists if one were to start with 1883, during a crack-down on the Nihilists following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II.

It's astounding how the history of the "sixties hippies" in Russia parallels the "1960s youth revolution," from which we gleaned so many of our "teachers" for our institutions of Higher Learning to the present day! The assassination of Alexander II occurred in March of 1881exactly 100 years to the month prior to the shooting of President Reagan! [note to JFK conspiracy fans: Oswald was a Communist and didn't keep it a secret.]

And now back to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1910):

"Some of the Nihilists maintained that things were not yet ripe for a rising of the masses, that the pacific propaganda must be continued for a considerable time, and that before attempting to overthrow the existing social organization some idea should be formed as to the order of things which should take its place. The majority, however, were too impatient for action to listen to such counsels of prudence, and when they encountered opposition on the part of the government they urged the necessity of retaliating with acts of terrorism.

"In a brochure issued in 1874 one of the most influential leaders (Tkachev) explained that the object of the revolutionary party should be, not the preparation of revolution in general, but the realization of it at the earliest possible moment, that it was a mistake to attach great importance to questions of future social organization, and that all the energies of the party should be devoted to 'a struggle with the government and the established order of things, a struggle to the last drop of blood and to the last breath.'

"In accordance with the fashionable doctrine of evolution, the reconstruction of society on the tabula rosa might be left, it was thought, to the spontaneous action of natural forces . . . "

[At this point the Britannica details back-lashes by the government against the anarchists and counter-back-lashes by the Nihilists (for every action there's a reaction, you know). This is the part of the story I fear the UW-Madison will be leaving out, so let us pick up the story again from the Britannica directly.]

"Though they never succeeded in creating an efficient centralized administration, [the Nihilists] contrived to give to the movement the appearance of united action by assuming the responsibility for terrorist crimes committed by persons who were in reality not acting under their orders. During the years 1878, 1879, and 1880 these terrorist crimes were of frequent occurrence . . .

"When repressive measures and the efforts of the police were found insufficient to cope with the evil, Alexander II determined to try a new system . . . and endeavored to obtain the support of all loyal Liberals by holding out a series of reforms in a liberal sense . . . A semblance of parliamentary institutions was not what the Anarchists wanted. They simply redoubled their activity, and hatched a plot for the assassination of the empire.

"In March 1881 the plot was successful. Alexander II, when driving in St. Petersburg, was mortally wounded by the explosion of small bombs, and died almost as soon as he reached the Winter Palace. On the following day the [Nihilist] executive committee issued a bombastic proclamation, in which it declared triumphantly that the Tsar had been condemned to death by a secret tribunal on 26th August 1879, and that two years of effort and painful losses had a last been crowned with success.

"These facts put an end to the policy of killing Anarchism by kindness, and one of the first acts of the new reign was a manifesto in which Alexander III announced very plainly that he had no intention of limiting autocratic power, or making concessions of any kind to the revolutionary party. The subsequent history of the movement presents little that is interesting or original, merely a continual but gradually subsiding effort to provoke local disturbances . .

"The movement afterwards showed occasionally signs of revival. In 1901, for example, there were troubles in the universities, and in 1902 there were serious disturbances among the peasantry in some of the central rural districts . . . but the illusions and enthusiasm which produced Nihilism in the young generation during the early years of Alexander II had been largely shattered and dispelled by experience. The revolutionary propaganda temporarily led to a serious situation in the early years of the reign of Tsar Nicholas II, but a new era opened for Russia with the inauguration of parliamentary government." [end of excerpts]


The 1960s in the United States also produced near anarchy in which the more naive Hippies seriously thought they were on the brink of bringing down the government (deja vu all over again, 2017). The years since 1972 have given most of us the illusion that it "can't happen here," but he hippies were only a precursor. World War I and 1917 saw the ultimate "revival" of the more-than-50-year-old "Utopian" dreams of the Nihilists – in the form of the Bolshevik Revolution (and we know the rest of THAT story). This is 1967's old-hippie "Jubilee Year."

Old Hippies never die; they just get tenure! Birds of a feather flock together, and today's American Nihilists are allied with Academe (which has Israeli-phobia) .

I understand that when the "father of our country," George Washington, was sworn in, his Bible was opened to Deuteronomy 28. Though addressed originally to the 12 tribes of Israel, the principles there apply to ALL nations in all ages! We wouldn't even be having this debate about a war on terror or rogue states with nuclear bombs if we paid attention to Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would have protected us from all of our enemies if we were to simply do what He tells us to do there, and 911 2001 could have been avoided. Instead our "petted intellectuals" promote social/moral Nihilism and try to appease the god of the Arabs, Allah.

P.S. Please pray for President Trump.

PPS: If you want to read more about the Nihilists, ago to the Britannica online, 11th edition.

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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