Publié le March 30, 2021 | Updated on April 12, 2021

Fabian Lemmes : Propaganda of the Deed

On the History of a Particular Practice of Violence

Lone actor terrorism is not a new phenomenon, but as old as terrorism itself.

This article examines the transnational wave of assassinations and bomb attacks carried out by anarchists in the late 19th and early 20th century under the term ‘propaganda of the deed’. In the literature, they are often considered prototypical examples of ‘individual’ terrorism, but this designation is misleading. For the radicalisation of (future) individual perpetrators and the paths to the deed prove to be socially and communicatively broadly embedded processes. These processes extend over longer time periods and are greatly shaped by interactions within and outside anarchist milieus as well as mass media discourses. Lone actor terrorism is thus not an individual but a highly social phenomenon – this is the core argument of the essay. Conversely, this means that analysing the paths of single perpetrators can provide valuable insights into radical milieus and movements.

  • Editor
    Hamburger Edition und Mittelweg 36
  • Author(s)

    Fabian Lemmes is Professor of European History at Ruhr University Bochum (Germany) and has been a 2019-2020 fellow at the Collegium de Lyon.