Notes Towards a Manifesto of Kibalchich Cosmism


Nikolai Kibalchich, regicide and pioneer of space travel.

In line both with the fact that I have been feeling for some time that individual texts are no longer adequate to the situation in which one finds oneself in locally, nationally, globally and cosmically and in line with a certain despair at the ways in which nationalist (or exclusivist or partial) hysteria is gaining ground I want to propose a kind of collective manifesto (or a group of collective manifestos) that can be written in various ways to be determined. All I have is the title of the Manifesto: ‘Towards Kibalchich Cosmism’ and a list (to be published gradually) of quotes, texts and examples of human resistance and liberation.

A mention of Kibalchich on facebook a few weeks ago and a quote from the 1920 Cosmist Manifesto restoring that memory through association today led me towards the idea that Kibalchism has great potential as an idea responding to the present human stage of our imprisonment in national and nationalist or geopolitical logics. Cosmism, space travel and the expropriation of cosmism by Eurasianists, or rather the God, Tsar and Fatherland version of cosmism should surely be countered by a new form of cosmism. If Nikolai Fedorov’s ideas are expropriated by a variety of Huntingdon-inspired nationalists then why not formulate a Kibalchichesque Cosmism as alternative. Kibalchichesque Cosmism can become a universal alternative precisely because it is inimical to national and hierarchical ideologies and there is no chance that Kibalchich can be appropriated by establishments anywhere. A regicide who used his scientific theories both to dynamite tsars and to clear the path to space exploration, Kibalchich is surely the ultimate cosmist who can speak up for universal liberation. Interestingly the fact that he was the paternal uncle of Victor Serge (or Victor Kibalchich) may indicate another key reason for developing a form of Kibalchichism.

Nikolai, arrested and jailed for lending a prohibited book to a peasant, was also a pioneer in rocket propulsion and was the explosives expert for Narodnaya Volya who eventually assassinated Alexander II.  Arrested and imprisoned soon after he still worked on his scientific ideas even at death’s door before his execution:

“When his men came to see Kibalchich as his appointed counsel for the defense,” said V.N Gerard in his statement to the special committee of the senate, “I was surprised above all by the fact that his mind was occupied with completely different things with no bearing on the present trial. He seems to be immersed in research on some aeronautic missile; he thirsted for a possibility to write down his mathematical calculations involved in the discovery.”

The idea that space exploration was first discovered by a regicide surely indicates one thing: real progress will be achieved through liberation and liberation through revolt. So if the global investment banking class wish to expropriate Nikolai Fedorov (by some accounts a control freak and eugenicist), migrants, proletarians and other marginalised groups still have their Kibalchich at hand

What can Kibalchich Cosmism be?

Kilbachich didn’t have time to develop a fully thought out theory having been locked in prison cells and dying at the hands of the tsarist hangmen at the age of 27 or 28. Yet surely just like Luther Blissett, Nikolai Kibalchich needs some form of collective identity re-appropriation. In the figure of Kibalchich universal revolt can surely be reconnected to the idea of universal liberation and scientific progress. So why not turn his name and his example into a collective theory.

The aim of my next post is to list texts and historical figures which and who (to my mind) could be the inspiration for this Kibalchichesque Cosmism.

About afoniya

I am a translator, language teacher, independent film scholar who is interested in many aspects of culture. I have my own blog on Russian and Soviet cinema at and I have also written for journals such as Film Philosophy and Bright Lights as well as Ribbed magazine. Outside of film my interest runs to language, politics, literature and my world is centred around the Meditteranean, Russia, Southern Ukraine as well as the UK.

2 responses »

  1. My great grandfather was firstly a visionary and secondly a revolutionary in the context of Russians without food, without homes, illness and disease and without hope. Difficult for focus on ideology with the sight of your children starving to death. Your post is too simple and uninformed. What book did Papa Kibalchich give the peasant? What propulsion theories was Papa seeking to quantify? You mind spins in a fairytale existence punctuated with a royalty check from the plethora of advertising engulfing the rambling prose. Either way, leave my family out of your shit.

    • As I don’t write on this blog anymore, didn’t bother replying to your rather weird comment, but replying to others thought I’d make a brief rejoinder to yours too. My piece admittedly was a rather cursory and undeveloped few words about an inspiring character (it seems as though the family has rather ‘degenerated’ in later generations from the evidence of your missive). I must admit I did find your mention of a ‘royalty check’ hilarious. And as that great Spanish poet once put it ‘el aire esta demasaido puro por mandarte a la mierda’. Au revoir.

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