"Unstructured terrorism"? Assessing left wing extremism in Australia

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Abstract

Left wing extremism (LWE) in Australia between 1968 and 1972 has been described inconsistently as either unstructured terrorism or protest activity. Schmid’s comprehensive work towards an academic consensus on terrorism definitions was applied to this Australian case study to try to sharpen the blurred lines between these two forms of political mobilisation. It is argued that while most LWE activity was protest activity, there were instances where the activity constituted terrorism due to its premeditated nature, risk to life, and threat-based communication. This has application to contemporary left wing activism in Australia and around the western world. Further examination of LWE mobilisation also demonstrates that the actors were likely organised in free-floating cells, capable of cooperation, but otherwise autonomous, thus establishing another precedent for left wing leaderless resistance. This challenges the notion that organisational decentralisation is a new element to contemporary terrorism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-567
Number of pages23
JournalCritical Studies on Terrorism
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Aug 2020

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