Leaderless resistance today


  • Simson Garfinkel




Leaderless Resistance is a strategy in which small groups (cells) and individuals fight an entrenched power through independent acts of violence and mayhem. The cells do not have any central coordination ? they are leaderless ? and they do not have explicit communications with one another. As a result, causes that employ Leaderless Resistance are themselves resistant to informers and traitors. Leaderless Resistance was popularized by the anti-government activist Louis Beam as a technique for white nationalists to continue their struggle against the government of the United States in the face of overwhelming odds. Since then, Leaderless Resistance has become the de facto strategy of the violent fringe of the animal rights and environmental activist movements. After introducing the concept and history of Leaderless Resistance, this paper explores the use of the technique by Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), the Earth Liberation Front, and individual Islamic terrorists carrying out acts against U.S. interests. It argues that Leaderless Resistance is resistant to counterterrorism based on network analysis. Finally, this paper makes recommendations of ways that may be used to fight causes that employ Leaderless Resistance.




How to Cite

Garfinkel, S. (2003). Leaderless resistance today. First Monday, 8(3). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v8i3.1040