Summary: We have difficulty dealing with present problems because we have forgotten so much of our past. Here Stratfor seeks lessons for our long war with jihadists by examining our long struggle with anarchists during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is rich with lessons for us. The subject of this analysis is “nihilist and anarchist terrorism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” Also read my similar analysis in 2009: Are Islamic extremists like the anarchists?
Jihadism: An Eerily Familiar Threat
By Scott Stewart at Stratfor, 23 February 2017.
As part of my day-to-day job, I read a lot of news reports, books and scholarly studies. Though the never-ending avalanche of information sometimes feels like a mild version of electronic waterboarding, it also allows me to pick out interesting parallels between different events. Not long ago I re-read Blood and Rage: A Cultural History of Terrorism, an excellent book by historian Michael Burleigh that outlines the cultural history of terrorism. As I flipped through the chapters on nihilist and anarchist terrorism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I couldn’t help but notice some intriguing similarities to jihadism. This week I’ll share them with you to put the modern threat that jihadists pose into better context.
The technological tools today’s jihadists use are certainly new; after all, the internet and social media only emerged over the past few decades. But many of the tactics they rely on are as old as terrorism itself. And despite the more primitive means at their disposal, anarchists were often far more successful than their jihadist counterparts in using propaganda and the media to recruit, radicalize and equip their followers.