The murky world of konspiratsia in Stalin’s era

Churchmouse Campanologist

Yesterday’s post alluded to Stalin and his fellow revolutionaries living in the world of konspiratsia, an underground ‘world apart’, as Simon Sebag Montefiore explains in his brilliant book, Young Stalin.

Tsarist spies

The Tsarist police — Gendarmes — and secret police — Okhrana — trailed various radical groups in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They had a complicated system of spies — agents, double-agents and treble-agents — not unlike other nations do today. Some agents followed suspects. Others infiltrated revolutionary organisations. Another group started their own as false fronts to lure radicals. All of these tactics were designed to make their targets paranoid, which they did (p. 87).

The radicals, whatever group they allied themselves with, followed Sergei Nechaev’s Revolutionary Catechism (p. 85). Lenin did. Stalin did. And so did many others. Nechaev advocated killing police slowly and painfully. The anarchist Mikhail Bakunin advocated cultivating…

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