Kirillov Victor

Elements of the ideology of the Sixtiers — members of the Russian revolutionary community of the 1860s

Kirillov Victor (2022) "Elements of the ideology of the Sixtiers — members of the Russian revolutionary community of the 1860s ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2022, vol. 107, pp. 25-47 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII2022107.25-47


The article analyzes the ideology of the Sixties – members of the Russian revolutionary community of the late 1850s – 1860s. A revolutionary community means a set of ideologically close personalities and associations with revolutionary views; it makes possible to examine members of the revolutionary underground and people sympathizing with revolutionary views as one community. Due to the fact that definitions of the Sixties as revolutionary democrats, Narodniks, nihilists, etc. are common in historiography, the article proposes to look at their ideology as a non-hierarchical, eclectic combination of different views, concepts and ideas, among which there were no main ideas. The author of the article identifies six main elements of the ideology of the Sixties: the denial of the old regime (which presupposed anti-conservative views, as well as the prevalence of the nihilism subculture), socialist orientation (from the strict theory of “Russian socialism” to abstract sympathies for the very idea of socialism), “craving for the people” (which foreshadowed the ideology of revolutionary Narodnichestvo of the 1870s), democratic ideals (which mainly assumed egalitarianism, the idea of equality of all members of society, which resulted in interest and support for the women’s movement, the creation of communes for living together and everyday life), enlightenment (expressed in the cult of science and knowledge, educational work among the intelligentsia), faith in the proximity of the revolution (a specific feature of the Sixties, which manifested itself in anticipation of an imminent mass popular uprising). The research is based on a complex of various sources (memoirs, journalism, investigative testimony), according to which it is possible to identify the views of both well-known publicists of democratic magazines and the emigrant press, as well as members of underground revolutionary circles.


Russian revolutionary movement, Narodnichestvo, the Sixties, nihilism, socialism, women’s movement, enlightenment


  1. Bazanov V. (1962) “A. Khudiakov i pokushenie Karakozova” [A. Khudiakov, and Karakozov’s attempted assassination]. Russkaia literatura, 1962, vol 4, pp. 146–163 (in Russian).
  2. Bel′chikov N. (1935) “Rublevoe obshchestvo (Epizod iz istorii revoliutsionnogo dvizheniia 60-kh godov)” [The Rouble Society (episode from the hisotry of revolutionary movement of the 1860s)]. Izvestiia Akademii nauk SSSR. Seriia VII. Otdelenie obshchestvennykh nauk, 1935, vol. 10, pp. 941–1001 (in Russian).
  3. Cheshikhin-Vetrinskii V. (1923) N. G. Chernyshevsky. 1828–1889. Petrograd (in Russian).
  4. Demchenko A. (2019) N. G. Chernyshevsky. Nauchnaia biografiia (1859–1889) [N. G. Chernyshevsky. Scientific biography (1859–1889)]. Moscow (in Russian).
  5. Filippov R. (1967) Iz istorii narodnicheskogo dvizheniia na pervom etape +khozhdeniia v narod″ (1863–1874) [From the history of the movement of Narodnichestvo in the first stage of the “going to the people”]. Petrozavodsk (in Russian).
  6. Itenberg B. (1965) Dvizhenie revoliutsionnogo narodnichestva. Narodnicheskie kruzhki i +khozhdenie v narod″ v 70-kh godakh XIX v. [The movement of the revolutionary Narodnichestvo. Narodniks’ circles and the “going to the people” in the 1870s]. Moscow (in Russian).
  7. Kamenev L. (1934) “Nigilisty” [The nihilists]. In Literaturnaia entsiklopediia [Literary encyclopaedia]. Moscow, vol. 8, col. 40–46 (in Russian).
  8. Khobsbaum E. (1999) Vek Kapitala. 1848–1875 [The era of the Capital. 1848–1875]. Rostov na Donu (in Russian).
  9. Kirillov V. (2014) “O nekotorykh primerakh ispol′zovaniia religioznykh motivov v revoliutsionnoi propagande 1850–1860-kh gg.” [Some examples of using religious themes in the revoutionary propaganda of the 1850–60s]. Izvestiia Irkutskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriia+Istoriia″, 2014, vol. 9, pp. 60–65 (in Russian).
  10. Kirillov V. (2016) Revoliutsionnyi terrorizm, kotorogo ne bylo: Tainoe obshchestvo +Smorgonskaia akademiia″ v russkom revoliutsionnom dvizhenii 1860-kh gg. [The revolutionary terrorism that did not exist: the secret society “Smorgonskaya Academy” in the Russian revolutionary movement of the 1860s]. Moscow (in Russian).
  11. Klevenskii M. (1928) “Vertepniki”. Katorga i ssylka. 1928. Vol. 10 (47). Pp. 18–43 (in Russian).
  12. Kolesnikova L. (2005) “Memuary revoliutsionerov 1870-kh godov ob ideino-psikhologicheskom vozdeistvii na nikh literatury” [Memoirs of revolutionaries of the 1870s about the ideological and psychological influence of literature]. Voprosy istorii, 2005, vol. 5, pp. 96–105 (in Russian).
  13. Kuznetsov F. (1982) “õNigilizm″ i nigilizm. O nekotorykh novomodnykh traktovkakh tvorcheskogo naslediia Pisareva” [“Nihilism” and nihilism. On some newfangled interpretations of Pisarev’s literary legacy]. Novyi mir, 1982, № 4, pp. 229–253 (in Russian).
  14. Lemke M. (1923) “Politicheskie protsessy v Rossii 1860-kh gg. (po arkhivnym dokumentam)” [Political processes in Russia of the 1860s (drawing on archival materials)]. Moscow; Petrograd (in Russian).
  15. Nechkina M. (ed.) Revoliutsionnaia situatsiia v Rossii v seredine XIX veka [Revolutionary situation in Russia of the mid-19th century]. Moscow (in Russian).
  16. Nosov S. (1987) “Russkoe shestidesiatnichestvo: Nekotorye problemy, itogi i perspektivy issledovaniia” [Russian Sixtiers: some problems, results and prospects of research]. Russkaia literatura, 1987, vol. 3, pp. 205–218 (in Russian).
  17. Pantin I., Plimak E., Khoros V. (1986) Revoliutsionnaia traditsiia v Rossii: 1783–1883 gg. [Revolutionary tradition in Russia: 1783–1883]. Moscow (in Russian).
  18. Perper M. (1975) “Proklamatsiia Barskim krest′ianam ot ikh dobrozhelatelei poklon″ (rezul′tat izucheniia rukopisi i arkhivnykh del)” [The proclamation “giving regards to the lords’ peasants from their wellwishers” (the result of study of the MS and archival acts)]. Russkaia literatura, 1975, vol. 1, pp. 138–154 (in Russian).
  19. Pustarnakov V. (2010) “Prosveshchenie v Rossii” [Enlightnment in Russia]. In Novaia filosofskaia entsiklopediia [New encyclopaedia of philosophy]. Moscow, vol. 3, pp. 368–369 (in Russian).
  20. “Revoliutsionnye demokraty” [Revolutionary democrats] (1968). In Sovetskaia istoricheskaia entsiklopediia [Soviet historical encyclopaedia]. Moscow, vol. 11, col. 922–923 (in Russian).
  21. “Revoliutsionnye demokraty” [Revolutionary democrats] (1975). In Bol′shaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia [Large Soviet encyclopaedia]. Moscow, vol. 21, col. 1617 (in Russian).
  22. Sedov M. (1966) Geroicheskii period revoliutsionnogo narodnichestva (iz istorii politicheskoi bor′by) [Heroic period of revolutionary Narodnichestvo (from the history of political struggle)]. Moscow (in Russian).
  23. Staits R. (2004) Zhenskoe osvoboditel′noe dvizhenie v Rossii: Feminizm, nigilizm i bol’shevizm, 1860– 1930 [Women’s emancipatory movement in Russia: feminism, nihilism, and Bolshevism, 1860–1930]. Moscow (in Russian).
  24. Tokarev S. (1966) Istoriia russkoi etnografi i (Dooktiabr′skii period) [Hisory of Russian ethnography (pre-revolutionary period)]. Moscow (in Russian).
  25. “Zhenskii vestnik [St. Petersburg, 1866–1868]” [Women’s bulletin] (1959). In Russkaia periodicheskaia pechat′ (1702–1894): spravochnik [Russian periodicals (1702–1894): reference book]. Moscow, pp. 479–481 (in Russian).

Information about the author

Kirillov Victor

Place of work: State Historical Museum;
Post: methodologist;
ORCID: 0000-0003-4960-4692;
Email: me@kirillov-msu.ru.