” …The Russian peasants had good reason to murder their masters, and all through the nineteenth century an exasperated peasantry was ripe for rebellion. Reforms came, but they were bitterly slow in coming. There were great peasant revolt revolts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: they were put down with such violence that the peasants feared further rebellion, but their lives were so intolerable that rebellion was inevitable. * The revolt could come in many forms. It could come in the form of an anarchic explosion, or it could come slowly, spasmodically, the heat welling in the boiler until at last it exploded with a momentum so great that it destroyed everything around it. It could come in the form of a peasant march on the capital, or in the formation of a peasant army in the forests bordering the Volga. In the age-old battle between the village and the town, the villagers have the advantage of numbers: they could build a ring around Moscow and St. Petersburg, and starve out the inhabitants. And if none of these things happened, there was still the terrifying possibility that out of the peasantry there would emerge cohorts of men dedicated to the destruction of their adversaries…
The terrorists who emerged in Russia in the second half of the last century were men who saw that the dynasty could be overthrown only by terror. They terrorized the Czar and the ruling bureaucracy, but they did not succeed in their aim of making Russia better for the peasants. They were the proud amateurs of revolt, who prepared the way for professionals. Their importance in history lies in the fact that they weakened the Russian state to an extent, which help to bring the Bolsheviks to power. And it is impossible to understand the rise of Russian Communizm without an understanding of the terrorist movement. In the place of individual acts of terror, the Communists introduced mass terror. It is significant that they employed mass terror first against the terrorists, the men they feared most deeply.
In the eighties of the last century the terrorists were at the height of their power. They killed the Czar and threatened the bureaucracy. They had their own spies in the government, and even in the aristocracy. Ironically, their success led to their eventual defeat; and their lack of a programme that could be translated into a call to arms made them vulnerable to the Communists. They produced great leaders, but no rank and file. The peasants watched them admiringly from a distance, applauded, and then went back to work in the fields. When Lenin came to power, he destroyed the Social Revolutionaries, who had inherited the mantle of the terrorists, and he did this deliberately, quietly, without compunction, with the same calm with which he would have killed a fly.
He did not, however, destroy the legend which accompanied those early revolutionaries in their wayward lives, and long afterward.
They were colourful men, of astonishing courage and relentless purpose. For years they worked secretly, always in danger of arrest, always at the mercy of spies. They knew, or half-guessed, that their individual acts of terrorizm would soon be forgotten. The names of Nechayev, Zhelyabov, Sazanov, and Kaliayev are rarely mentioned now; yet each of them represented an important facet of the Russian character, which changes only a little over the centuries. Nechayev, shackled in his cell, dominated his guards and was able to send messages out of the Peter and Paul Fortress to the revolutionaries who regarded him as a living legend. Zhelyabov, a peasant who resembled a judge, dominated the audience at his trial and seemed even then to be invoking judgment upon Russia. The brilliant, headstrong Sazonov lived out his prison years under the weight of a sense of guilt and deliberately committed suicide to summon people’s attention to the misery of the Russian prison system. The young and ardent Kaliayev assassinated a Grand Duke with the same careless delight with which he wrote his poetry. These men are worth studying for their own sake, but their importance lies in history. We shall understand Russian Communizm better by examining the ground from which it sprang.
The tragedy of the terrorists lay in their beliefs, for they believed in nothing except science. They believed that only the scientists held the keys of the future: their spiritual forefathers were the English men, Darwin, Buckle, and Herbert Spencer. With this total belief in science went a total belief in ascetism, and in this they descended from the Russian hermits who lived passionately in caves and wandered carefree over the length and breadth of Russia. These young revolutionaries asserted: “A pair of boots is more important than all your Madonnas and all your refined talk about Shakespeare.” Their tragedy was that they possessed no philosophy except their simple faith in science and their repudiation of existing conventions, and while attempting to create a morality of their own, they were trapped into an extreme form of asceticism, which could have no popular appeal. Turgenev** gave them the name “nihilists,” but he did not mean that they believed in nothing: he meant that they believed in the destruction of the existing state…
The terrorists never accepted the term ‘nihilists.’ They believed like Nechayev, the most redoubtable of them all that a new society would arise fully fledged from the ashes of the old. They made no blueprints for the future: they were concerned only with the immediate present. Like Lenin, who came to power without any plans for the state he had captured with such singular ease, they were incapable of visualizing the future. Walking the tortuous path between the letter and the spirit, they invented a workable philosophy for themselves, a simple philosophy based upon loyalty to friends, implacable hatred of autocracy and overwhelming sympathy for the oppressed. In their letters and in the casual remarks they dropped at moments of intense excitement we can see them attempting to hammer out a way of life, and sometimes we can watch them wrestling at the heart of mystery. Has a man the right to kill his oppressor? Can we ever lift the burden of guilt from ourselves? Can we expiate our crimes?
These terrorists did not enjoy terrorizm. They resorted to terrorizm because they were outnumbered, and in the hope of opening the way for a peasant revolt. If they had succeeded in their aim, there would have been no Communist Revolution. If we can compare them with any people, we should look at the Puritans of New England with their strict codes, their icy belief in Messianic revelations and their determination to put the witches and unbelievers, “those enemies of the Most High God,” out of existence. They committed their murders without enjoyment, and in this they differed from the mechanical political murderers of our time.
These terrorists fought against appalling odds, and sometimes they were very human. When Kaliayev saw the Grand Duke’s carriage, he held the bomb until he could see clearly who was in it, and when he saw that the Grand Duchess and two children were in the carriage, he refused to throw the bomb. After killing the Minister of the Interior, Sazonov under torture gave his own name away, against the terrorists’ code; his grief over killing a man fought with his grief over jeopardizing his associates. When Nechayev’s body was rotting away and the shackles were biting into his flesh and all writing implements were refused to him, he wrote savage attack on the prison warden with a nail dipped in his own blood. Zhelyabov, disguised as the prospective owner of a tannery, joked with the town people, while preparing to lay the bomb that would derail the Czar’s train.
They were men to be respected of the arch-terrorist Nechayev Lenin wrote: “People completely forget he possessed 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 w
ere forever imprinted on one’s memory.” He admired Nechayev and Zhelyabov without stint: one the visionary of destruction, the other the superb destructive agent. And if he had nothing but contempt for Sazonov and Kaliayev, it was because the sense of guilt and the poetic temper were foreign to him…”
– Robert Payne.
Excerpt from Introduction of his book:
“The terrorists – The story of the forerunners of Stalin.”
* As late as 1857 the Russian peasant was bound by the law which stated: “The landowner may impose upon his serfs any kind of labor, may take from them money dues and demand from them personal service, with this one restriction that they shall not thereby be ruined.” The landowner could at will take his peasants into his house and make them work as domestic servants. He was legally allowed to punish them without trial: he could administer corporal punishment not exceeding forty lashes of the birch-rod or fifteen blows with a stout stick. In fact, he punished as he pleased. The emancipation of the serfs in 1861 barely changed the situation.
** Turgenev is a very popular Russian author who lived in nineteenth century. He is held in the same esteem with Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, in Russian literature.
THE NIGER DELTA PEOPLE VERSUS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
Attention all readers! You have all been called upon to act as witnesses and jurors in a terrorist case. The Plaintiffs are the oppressed, suppressed, demoralised and terrorised Niger Delta people and other oil producing ethnic minority groups. The Defendant is the terrorist Federal Republic of Nigeria. However, before getting acquainted with the details of this volatile and sensitive case, you must swear to an affidavit promising not only to be open minded, but objective, irrespective of your state of origin, ethnic group, personal economic and political interests and your previous position on this issue; based on the information you have. This condition is mandatory; otherwise, you are not qualified to read further.
After getting acquainted with the case, you are supposed to answer the following questions:
(1) Is the Nigerian government guilty of terrorizm, genocide, apartheid, oppression and suppression in relation to the Niger delta people?
(2) Is the Niger delta a colony of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
(3) Is 46 years not more than enough for the Nigerian government to resolve the Niger delta crisis, if it was really sincere and serious about it?
(4) Do you believe that the recent CNN report reflected the true situation of the calamity of the Niger delta people, irrespective of how the report was made?
(5) Do you believe that there is any form of collaboration between the federal government and international oil companies and western countries, especially, the United States of America to maintain the status quo?
(6) Are the Niger delta militants justified in taking foreign hostages as a form of protest of their desperate situation?
(7) Are the Niger delta militants justified in taking up arms against the terrorist and wicked Nigerian government in their quest for justice, freedom and control over their resources; exploited by the Nigerian government without their consent?
(8) Should the Niger delta people heed the advise of ibb – alias evil genius – that they should abandon arm struggle, and try to resolve the 46 year old crisis amicably with the federal government?
(9) How will you feel if you are from the Niger delta?
(10) What can the Niger delta people do to gain their freedom from a terrorist Nigerian government?
The Niger delta people together with other oil producing minority ethnic groups are accusing the Federal Government of Nigeria – headed since independence in 1960 by the north and the military – of genocide, apartheid, colonializm, oppression, suppression and terrorizm.
Honourable jurors, you are free to discuss this issue freely among yourselves. However, your final position and answers to the above questions must be provided only after getting acquainted with the arguments of the lawyer of the plaintiff. We are taking a recess. The case is adjourned until further notice. Thank you for your attention.