Nihilism comes from the Latin nihil, or nothing. It is the belief that
values are falsely invented. The term 'nihilism' can also be used to describe the idea that life, or the world, has no distinct meaning or purpose. Nihilists believe that there are no true
morals. Many people think of the German philosopher
Friedrich Nietzsche when they think about nihilism, because he said that morals were invented. But in his books, Nietzsche said that people needed to create their own morals to get over nihilism.
Mikhail Bakunin’s (1814–1876) Reaction in Germany (1842) included this passage: "Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!"
 The term was made popular by
Ivan Turgenev's novel
Fathers and Sons (1862). Bazarov, the hero in it, was a nihilist.
Nihilism was the basis of much
terrorism. It was taken up by
Sergei Nechaev, a
Russian who wrote a pamphlet that influenced
Dostoyevsky was a member of a nihilist group in his 20s. He served ten years in
exile as a consequence. His novel
Devils (or The Possessed) deals with Nechaev. His famous novel
Crime and Punishment is also on that theme.
assassination of the
Alexander II (13 March 1881) by a series of bombs, had long been planned by nihilists. It resulted in the crushing of the nihilist movement.