Curtis Dahlgren
Those nihilistic Alinskyites, past and present, part 2
By Curtis Dahlgren
March 20, 2022

[Originally published October 28, 2017]

"Religion was to be replaced by the exact sciences, family life by free love, private property by collectivism . . " – Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910

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. Centuries of 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,

© 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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