DOMESTIC EXTREMISTS AND LEADERLESS RESISTANCE
Powers, Blaine M.
Freeman, Michael E.
Everton, Sean F.
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Leaderless resistance, as a model for terrorism, is used to overcome the collective action problem to varying degrees of success. Originally exploited by various White Power groups (WPG) in the second half of the 20th century, leaderless resistance was then used by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) to commit hundreds of non-lethal attacks. After the turn of the century, this model was again used for violence, as the involuntary celibate (Incel) movement has inspired members to commit mass murder. Conversely, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement uses leaderless resistance to champion a legitimate cause, and generally without violence. However, despite the prevalence of attacks committed by groups using this model, no theory of leaderless resistance has been proposed. Through examination of these four case studies, the theory of leaderless resistance presents itself as isolation, flexible ideology, urgency and exogenous events, and inspiration: the correct balance results in violence. Failure to properly address these components of the theory of leaderless resistance prevents effective mobilization of group members, limiting action and violence. This thesis examines these components individually through their employment by WPG, ELF, Incels, and BLM.
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