View Full Version : Anarchist analogy

04-12-2007, 01:41 AM
Someone else mentioned the comparison of the 19th century American Indian wars as a parallel to the "war on terror." But that thread seems to have wained a bit. So, here's another comparison.

Like the late-19th, early 20th-century Anarchist movement, terrorism (at least the Islamic-inspired form) of today is a world-wide movement without national boundaries. Both are centered on idealistic causes. Both use terror as their weapon against stronger powers. Both prey on the dispossessed and socially/politically marginalized. I could go on but you get the jist.

So, first question - is it a valid analogy and why/why-not?
Second question - if it is a valid comparison, how do the methods for defeating Anarchism compare with our methods now to combat terrorism?

04-12-2007, 02:26 AM
There was a good short piece on this topic in The Economist back in Aug 05: For Jihadist, Read Anarchist (http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=4292760): Repression did little to stop anarchist violence. But eventually the world moved on and the movement withered.

...So why did their wave of terror pass? Not, it seems, because of the measures taken to deter them. The main reason, rather, was that the world became consumed with the first world war, the Russian revolution, the fight against fascism and the struggles against colonialism. Another was that, after a while, the more rational anarchists realised that terrorism seldom achieves the ends desired of it—as the IRA has recently acknowledged.

But in truth the wave did not entirely pass; it merely changed. The anarchist terrorists of 1880-1910 were replaced by other terrorists—Fenians, Serb nationalists (one killed the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and thus sparked the first world war), Bolsheviks, Dashnaks (revolutionary Armenians), Poles, Macedonians, Hindu nationalists (among them the killers of Mahatma Gandhi), fascists, Zionists, Maoists, Guevarists, Black Panthers, Red Brigades, Red Army Fractions, Palestinians and even al-Qaeda's jihadists. Few of these shared the anarchists' explicit aims; all borrowed at least some of their tactics and ideas.

And the world went on. It probably would even if yesterday's dynamitards become today's plutoniumards. But terrorism is unlikely to be expunged. As long as there are men like Conrad's Professor, there will be causes to excite them, and therefore deeds to terrify their fellow citizens.

04-12-2007, 02:39 PM
I don't know that I agree that the world did nothing and the movement withered on its own. I think the world governments did something and they just did not recognize what they were doing.

The anarchists appealed to social and political injustice as the things they wished to make right. And the their cause resonated with many people who were adversely affected by the very real injustices. World governments at that time were in the process of alleviating those injustices already. I think it was probably that alleviation of suffering and injustice (not elimination of course - but a definite reduction) that led to the cause drying up. Starving people facing unjust imprisonment are easily recruited - reducing the number of such people reduced the anarchist recruiting base.

Of course, one exception to the western governments who were doing that was Russia. And the bolshevik-anarchists carried their cause to its logical conclusion there. Governments that addressed the injustice escaped that fate. The US came closer than what many think as evidenced by the strong showing of Eugene Debs in the 1920 presidential race.

Interestingly enough, this is the sort of approach that John Poole recommends for drying up the recruiting grounds of Islamic terrorism in northern Africa in his recent book.