None of this is new: in 1905, Russian extremist groups, helped by thugs, protected Bolsheviks from Mensheviks and the SRs, and vice versa,44 their major concern being the control over party treasures. After 1917, terrorists in power finally got a chance to settle old scores. With Israel as common enemy, extremists contest political control in the not-yet-established Palestinian state and fight for its meager economic resources. To suggest that in July 2008 the situation in Gaza is similar to that in Moscow in July 1918 is to emphasize the point: the terrorists in the PA demonstrate the relentless determination to establish a dictatorship, for which had previously aspired the Bolsheviks–with great success.
By the fall and winter of 1918-19, Bolshevik terror achieved “a level of indiscriminate slaughter never before seen.”45 Persecutions aimed at virtually anyone representing the old regime’s upper classes, the bourgeoisie, and the intelligentsia. A vicious atheistic campaign to obliterate the Russian Orthodox church and religion in general brought about unremitting aggression vis-à-vis the clergy and the devout adherents of all persuasions.46 Instigated by their perpetual dread of military conspiracies, the Bolsheviks made special effort to locate and apprehend former imperial army and navy officers; thousands them were executed without a trial.47 With a revealing ballpark figure of victims ranging between 50,000 and 140,000, violence “served the Bolsheviks…as a surrogate for the popular support which eluded them. The more their popularity eroded, the more they resorted to terror.”48
Among perpetrators of state-sponsored terrorism, fanatics relied on “revolutionary conscience” to justify their urge to annihilate “class enemies,” but side by side with the visionaries operated the extremists of a new type–a wide variety of hooligans, criminals and the “scum of the society.” The “revolutionary riffraff” readily joined the developing Soviet nomeklatura and the Cheka, to render a genuine new “social prototype.”49 Among them were individuals who in the post-1905 period had “entered the realm of political dissent after a squabble with the authorities, a boss, or a commanding officer. Still others turned their quixotic ideals of ‘revolutionary’ justice into sheer criminal acts. Finally, there were those for whom the Revolution meant money in their pockets, a lucrative business venture.” Having served sentences for various crimes, these “thieves and ordinary swindlers” walked out of prison posing as political convicts in 1917, and “reintegrated into post-revolutionary Russian society quite swiftly thanks to their bogus revolutionary credentials”—reaping benefits under the auspices of the Bolshevik environment.50 Soviet authorities were well aware that the very nature of repressive activities attracted “corrupt and outright criminal elements,” and Dzerzhinskii bluntly complained: “only saints and scoundrels” offer their services to the Cheka, but “the saints are running away from me, and I am left with the scoundrels.”51
As in 1905, recruiters provided the lofty slogans of freedom fighters to justify felonious acts now carried out in the interest of the state.52 It was especially difficult to differentiate between revolutionary and criminal practices in the periphery, where mass murder, robbery, blackmail, rape, beatings, torture, and startling sadism assumed astounding proportions—the “Red banditry,” accompanied by incessant drinking and drug use by members of the Cheka and the tribunals.53 Few regional or district Cheka officials were held accountable for their actions, and the only criteria for appointment to the revolutionary tribunals were undivided loyalty to the new regime and the ability to read and write. Consequently, sixty percent of the “proletarian judges” were individuals with incomplete secondary schooling; many used their positions “to pursue personal vendettas” and to extort bribes from families of the accused. People were executed “by accident:” a person would be shot because his family name was confused with a similar one. In some cases namesakes were killed together purposely; the Chekists did not wish to waste time on lengthy investigation.54 What “now goes on in the provinces is not Red Terror at all, but crime, from beginning to end,” a prominent Bolshevik Mikhail Olminskii protested in 1919.55
We obviously cannot reduce mass ideologically-justified violence to psychopathology of individual participants; yet, it would also be erroneous to ignore rampant, irrational, and frequently uncontrolled brutality that permeated the Bolshevik Terror. The behavior of its numerous practitioners suggests of a psychological instability a possible catalyst for viciousness. In prevailing circumstances of a political crisis, mental aberrancy and perversions, including sadism, assumed revolutionary form—as they had had a decade earlier. As then, emotionally damaged individuals gravitated towards extremism and confirmed a strong connection between psychological imbalance and aggressive impulses, of which medical professionals had been aware for decades.
Psychosis might have been as exceptional among the extremists as it was outside the revolutionary milieu, but terrorists of the pre-revolutionary epoch suffered from a variety of other mental illnesses, including acute paranoia, severe depression and recurrent manic episodes. Some, like Dora Brilliant, exhibited a tendency towards hysteria and experienced emotional breakdowns.56 Others would not miss a chance for an aggressive act.57 Quite a number of combatants periodically found themselves in psychiatric hospitals. Particularly widespread was serious pathological behavior among teenage terrorists, some of whom received treatment for psychiatric disorders.58
“Unbalanced,” “turbulent, “completely abnormal,” “mentally deranged,” and “crazy” called the revolutionaries their psychologically deviant comrades; one referred to them as “cannibals.”59 Sometimes precisely due to their evident aberrancy and proclivity for aggression, recruiters were eager to enlist them for terrorist acts. Thus, Lenin treasured Kamo: recognizing that his loyal “Caucasian bandit” suffered from a mental illness and required clinical treatment; the Bolsheviks counted on his wild temperament to provide constant inflow of expropriated cash.60 Not entirely original would then seem the idea to employ for terrorist purposes two Iraqi women with the Down syndrome: the “crazy ladies” were strapped with remote-control explosives and dispatched to detonate them in crowded Baghdad markets on the morning of 8 February 2008, killing at least 99.61
Relatively few qualified as mentally deranged, let alone insane, but their attitude towards brutality did blur the boundaries between normalcy and pathology. Tat’iana Leont’eva, daughter of the vice-governor of Iakutsk and terrorist-fanatic of more than questionable emotional stability, murdered an elderly man, in her confused mental state mistaking him for Minister of the Interior Durnovo. Having been informed of her error, she expressed regrets but added: “In these difficult times it does not matter if there is one person more or less in the world.”62
Dzerzhinskii, who personified the Bolshevik Red Terror, before the revolution had been diagnosed with and reportedly treated for a mental illness then referred to as “circular psychosis” (Bipolar Affective Disorder).63 Several of his chief lieutenants after 1918, including the notoriously vicious investigator Romanovskii, were drug addicts and unquestionable sadists.64 The inmates in the “Death Boat,” as they called the central Cheka prison in Moscow, found themselves in the hands of a former criminal-turned-Bolshevik hero, a raging “terror of the jail,” nicknamed the “Commissar of Death.”65
“Only a truly ill patient in a state of madness behaves this way,” confirmed medical experts in Germany after a thorough evaluation of Kamo following his imprisonment in 1907. He “easily loses mental equilibrium and then enters a state of obvious insanity. . . . .We are dealing with a type of mental disorder that most accurately is attributable to a form of hysteria,” was the doctors’ verdict.66 In the prerevolutionary years, Kamo was obsessed with a scheme of testing the loyalty of rank-and-file combatants by fear and torture–until he finally had a chance to put it into practice amid the anarchy of the Russian Civil war. During a training exercise in 1919, the Red fighters under his leadership were attacked and captured by “the Whites”—in reality Kamo’s lieutenants wearing enemy epaulets. The make-belief captors flogged their prisoners and staged mock hangings. Some Bolsheviks broke under torture, and Kamo was ecstatic: his method of separating the “real Communists” from the cowards worked marvelously.67
Those predisposed to sadism needed it in amplified doses after they had begun to take part in routine bloodshed manifest during the Red Terror. They have “contracted the execution habit” and became addicted to gore as if to narcotics; killing has “become necessary to them,” as if it were morphine. They cannot sleep unless they have shot someone dead and “volunteer for the service,” revealed a contemporary reporter. Some were clinically mad; others, including aberrant juveniles as young as 14, were “half-idiots.” 68
Local Cheka committees became notorious for specific forms of torture, which they claimed as their expertise, such as scalping prisoners in Khar’kov, or burying them alive in Kremenchug. In Ekaterinoslav, the Cheka officers specialized in crucifixions, and in Kiev they liked the joke of putting a captive in a closed coffin with a decaying body. “Throughout the country, without investigation or trial, the Chekists . . . tortured old men and raped schoolgirls and killed parents before the eyes of their children. They impaled people, beat them with an iron glove, put wet leather ‘crowns’ on their heads, buried them alive” and “locked them in cells where the floor was covered with corpses.”69
“Homicide rates increase dramatically following all wars, the same for victor or loser nations,” 70 and so it did in Russia after years of bloodshed during WWI. Lenin’s policies contributed further to dramatic devaluation of human life. Still, no matter how much people were conditioned to cruelty, it was apparently not a trivial matter for the Bolsheviks to find enough volunteers to jail, guard, interrogate, torture, and execute. To maintain “purity of the cause,” the idealists occasionally refused to follow orders; for example, to examine 19 cases of alleged counterrevolutionaries and shoot them all, regardless of the outcome of the investigation.71 People were too “sentimental,” complained Peters, when charged with recruitment of the rank-and-file Cheka cadres.
There is a great deal of evidence that genes play a significant role in aggressiveness. Animal breeding studies have shown that it is possible to select for violent behavioral traits, and family studies have confirmed that hostility is highly heritable. Some genetic mechanisms responsible for aggression have been revealed by molecular genetics; however, the importance of environmental factors has also been highlighted by researchers.72 The Bolsheviks were at work on forging the environment conducive to murder from their earliest days in power.
 The Jacobins, while responsible for the “Reign of Terror” during the French Revolution, had not, like the Bolsheviks, engaged in violence prior to the fall of monarchy. This article is based on research from Anna Geifman, Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia (Santa Barbara, CA—Denver, Colorado—Oxford, England: Praeger Security International, 2010).
 Lenin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, vol. 11 (Moscow, 1959), 340-343; Chuzhak, “Lenin i ‘tekhnika’ vosstaniia,” Katorga i ssylka, 12 (73) (1931): 77.
 Discussed in Geifman, Thou Shalt Kill: Revolutionary Terrorism in Russia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), 92-96.
 Trotsky cited in Walter Laqueur, Terrorism (Little, Brown, & Co.: Boston-Toronto, 1977), 68.
 Cited in Hugh Phillips, “The War against Terrorism in Late Imperial and Early Soviet Russia,” in Isaac Land, ed., Enemies of Humanity (Palgrave Macmillan: New York, 2008), 219.
 Cited in V. A. Posse, Moi zhiznennyi put’ (Moscow-Leningrad, 1929), 321.
 Cited in Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution (Vintage Books: New York, 1990), 791-792.
 Cited in Cited in Nathan Leites, A Study of Bolshevism (The Free Press Publishers: Glencoe, IL, 1953), 355.
 Cited in Robert Conquest, Reflections on a Ravaged Century (W. W .Norton & Co Inc, 1999), 98.
 On the general history of the Cheka see Leonard D. Gerson, The Secret Police in Lenin’s Russia (Temple University Press: Philadelphia, 1976) and George Leggett, The Cheka: Lenin’s Political Police (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1986).
 Cited in Leites, A Study of Bolshevism, 353.
 Cited in Pipes, The Russian Revolution, 805, 790.
 Cited in Robert D. Warth, “Cheka,” The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History (MERSH), vol. 6 (Academic International Press), 218.
 James Bunyan and H. H. Fisher, The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918: Documents and Materials (Stanford University Press: Stanford, 1934), 297-298.
 Cited in Pipes, The Russian Revolution, 800-801, 804-805.
 Richard Sakwa, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union, 1917-1991 (Routhedge, 1999), 75.
 Cited in Pipes, The Russian Revolution, 800-801, 804-805.
 Cited in Ibid., 787.
 Ibid., 820.
 Cited in Yevgenia Albats and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick. The State within a State: The KGB and Its Hold on Russia – Past, Present, and Future (Farrar Straus & Giroux: New York, 1994).
 Noi [Noah] Zhordaniia, Moia zhzn’ (Stanford, 1968), 80; Zeev Ivianski, “The Terrorist Revolution: Roots of Modern Terrorism,” David C. Rapoport, ed., Inside Terrorist organizations (London, 1988), 133.
 “Kronika vooruzhenoi bor’by,” Krasnyi arkhiv 4-5 (11-12) (1925): 170.
 V. Bonch-Bruevich, “Moi vospominaniia o P. A. Kropotkine,” Zvezda 6 (1930): 196.
 Report of 26 May [8 June] 1906, Archive of the Russian secret police (Okhrana), Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University, CA [cited hereafter as Okhrana], XIX-13; Petr Zavarzin, Rabota tainoi politsii (Paris, 1924), 128.
 Warth, “Cheka,” 218.
 See, for example, Mikhail Osorgin, Vremena (Sredne-Ural’skoe knizhnoe izd-vo: Ekaterinburg, 1992): 577. Numerous cases of execution of family members are cited in Mark Kramer, ed., The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, 1999).
 Orlando Figes, A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891–1924 (Penguin: New York, 1998). 647.
 Robert Gellately, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe (Knopf, 2007), 58-59.
 Sergei Mel’gunov, “Krasnyi terror” v Rossii, 1918-1923 (“PUICO:” Moscow, 1990), 108.
 See numerous examples in Ibid., 50-51, 96-106; Nicholas Werth cited in Mark Kramer, ed., The Black Book of Communism, 78; see also 86-88.
 O. V. Budnitskii, “’Krov’ po sovesti’: terrorizm v Rossii (vtoraia polovina XIX-nachalov XX v.,” Otechestvennaia istoriia, 6 (1994), 204.
 Leites, A Study of Bolshevism, 406. “Haunted, above all, by the specter of a fierce backlash of the sort that had struck Russia after 1905, the Bolsheviks had few qualms about using terror to thwart this historical possibility, nay probability. This fear and resolve became obsessive once the socialist revolution miscarried in central and western Europe” (Arno J. Mayer, The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions (Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ, 2001), 255. Lenin’s associates who had provided for the party by expropriations, immediately after the Bolshevik takeover made financial preparation for the time when they would again be forced into the underground (see Geifman, Thou Shalt Kill, 256).
 Cited in “Story of the Red Flag,” http://revcom.us/a/045/story-red-flag.html; cited in Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Armed: Trotsky, 1879-1921 (New York-London: Verso, 2003), 378-379; cited in Leites, A Study of Bolshevism, 406-7, 414.
 Karen Horney, Neurotic Personality of Our Time [W. W. Norton and Company, Inc.: New York, 1937], 166.
 James M. Glass, Psychosis and Power. Threats to Democracy in the Self and the Group (Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1995), 129.
 V. I. Lenin, Speech Delivered At An All-Russia Conference Of Political Education Workers Of Gubernia and Uyezd Education Departments, 3 November 1920, Collected Works, 4th English Edition, vol. 31 (Progress Publishers: Moscow, 1965), 340-361.
 Discussed in Leites, A Study of Bolshevism, 43-44, 360, 387.
 Cited in Pipes, The Russian Revolution, 792n.
 Olga Chernov-Andreyev, Cold Spring in Russia (Ardis: Ann Arbor, 1978), 209-230.
 Analysis of the Bolshevik-Left SR break up in Lutz Hafner, “The Assassination of Count Mirbach and the ‘July Uprising” of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries in Moscow, 1918, Russian Review, vol. 50, 3 (July 1991): 324-344.
 Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, “Fatah Broadcasts Graphic Images of Hamas Torture,” 18 June 2009, http://newsblaze.com/story/20090618155831zzzz.nb/topstory.html
 See Bruce Hoffman’s analysis of his interview with a senior Fatah representative in Hoffman, “How the Terrorists Stopped Terrorism,” http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200112/hoffman
 Sandra Pujals, “The Accidental Revolutionary in the Russian Revolution: Impersonation, Criminal Activity, and Revolutionary Mythology in the Early Soviet Period, 1905-1935” Revolutionary Russia, vol. 22, no. 2 (2009), 184.
 Pipes, The Russian Revolution, 792.
 See, for example, M. G. Nechaev, Krasnyi terror i tserkov’ na Urale (Izd-vo Permskogo gosudarstvennogo pedagogicheskogo institutta: Perm’, 1992).
 Mel’gunov, “Krasnyi terror” v Rossii, 46.
 Pipes, The Russian Revolution, 838, 792.
 Pujals, “The Accidental Revolutionary,” 181.
 In a random sample of personal files of self-proclaimed revolutionaries, rejected from membership in the Society of Former Political Prisoners and Exiles of the Soviet Union, approximately 80 percent mentioned criminal activity before and/or after the revolution (Ibid, 1, 3-4, 9).
 Cited in Warth, “Cheka,” 218.
 In a different context, philosopher Ernest Gellner would summarize the recruiters’ logic as follows: “you are safe with us; we like you the better because the filthier your record the more we have a hold on you.” (1991 interview with Ernest Gellner conducted by John Davis of Oxford University for Current Anthropology [vol 32, No. I, Feb. 1991], http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/gellner/InterGellner.html)
 See, for example, V. I. Shishkin, “Krasnyi banditizm v sovetskoi Sibiri,” Sovetskaia istoriia: problemy i uroki (Novosibirsk, 1992); Mel’gunov, “Krasnyi terror” v Rossii, 139-144.
 Examples in Ibid., 115.
 Cited in Pipes, The Russian Revolution, 798-99, 826.
 Amy Knight, “Female Terrorists in the Russian Socialist Revolutionary Party,” Russian Review 38 (2) (April 1979): 149-150.
 See, for example, Roizman, “Vospominaniia o Frumkinoi,” Katorga i ssylka, 28-29 (1926): 383.
 V. Kniazev, “1905,” Zvezda 6 (1930): 235, 241, 243.
 Cited in Geifman, Thou Shalt Kill, 170, 323, 325, 209.
 Ibid., 168.
 “Down syndrome bombers kill 99 in Iraq,” 1 February 2008, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1201523808635&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
 Rech’, 149 (9 September 1906): 2.
 G. A. Aleksinskii, “Vospominaniia, ” 15, Nicolaevsky collection, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University, CA [cited hereafter as Nic.]. 302-3.
 See, for example, Chernov-Andreyev, Cold Spring in Russia, 215.
 Osorgin, Vremena, 575.
 A. Zonin, “Primechaniia k st. Medvedevoi ‘Tovarishch Kamo’,” Proletarskaia revoliutsiia [cited hereafter as PR] 8-9 (31-32) : 146.
 Dubinskii-Mukhadze, Kamo, 5, 195-96; Medvedeva Ter-Petrosian, “”Tovarishch Kamo,” PR 8-9 (31-32) : 141-42.
 Cited in Pipes, The Russian Revolution, 823. For examples of “executioners’ illness” see Mel’gunov, “Krasnyi terror” v Rossii, 143-144.
 Albats and Fitzpatrick. The State within a State, 95. Cheka tortures described in Mel’gunov, “Krasnyi terror” v Rossii, 120-130.
 Research by Dane Archer cited in Zimbardo, “Vantage Point: Faceless terrorists embody ‘creative evil’,” Stanford Report, http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2001/september26/zimbardo-926.html
 Osorgin, Vremena, 586.
 See, for example, Keiron Walsh, “Genetic Factors in Aggression” (30 October 2009), http://alevelpsychology.co.uk/aggression/biological-factors/genetic-factors-in-aggression.html I am grateful to Dr. Tatyana Leonova at the Rockefeller University for acquainting me with scientific research on this topic.
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