Nihilism: Rejecting Authority
The decade of the 1860s was a time of progressive change throughout Russia. In 1861, serfdom was abolished effectively by Alexander II, and new European ideas had begun to spread through the intellectual communities. It was during this period that the Nihilist movement developed in Russia. Originally coined by Ivan Turgenev, Nihilism was a Russian movement that rejected all authority and advocated the eradication of traditional values in Russia. Heavily influenced by Marxist philosophy, Nihilists saw the Czarist Monarchy and the Boyar class as the oppressive bourgeoisie that owned the means of production. They also believed that the emancipation of serfdom was simply a transitional stage to the serfs becoming industrial workers.
Truly speaking, Nihilism was a sort of an embodiment of the prominent philosophies circulating through Europe at this time. People in Russia were finally seeing things for how they "really" were, and so they wanted to change their country for the better. Nihilists thought themselves as revolutionaries fighting to bring about that change through whatever means necessary. Of course, they did not succeed in doing this and even brought more violence and trouble to their nation. Nevertheless, the Nihilist movement changed the history of Russia and influenced many revolutionary groups to come.
- Anthony McRae