The Politics of the Attack: A Discourse of Insurrectionary Communiqués




Loadenthal, Michael

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The insurrectionary project, which rapidly internationalized around the twenty-first century, has developed an insightful analysis of systemic violence and power despite receiving scant attention in academic discussions of philosophy and clandestine political violence. From its roots in anarchism, Marxism, Queer theory and poststructuralism, the epistemology, ideology and praxis of anti-state insurrectionary attack has yet to be discursively excavated for discussion. These post-millennial assemblages reimagine resistance beyond older modes of sectarianism, Soviet socialism, and vanguardist cadres. Beginning with the decline of the anti-globalization movement, there was a corresponding rise in networked, clandestine movements adopting political violence--vandalism, sabotage, arson, explosives--for anti-capitalist and anti-state agendas. These networks rapidly deterritorialized through the exporting of moniker `brands.' The decentralized networks carried out scores of attacks globally, claiming responsibility through anonymous communiqués signed with adoptable monikers. These communiqués can be understood to embody communicative, performative, and discursive ends, functioning alongside the actions that co-constitute the texts. From this universe of social movement ephemera, a corpus of more than one thousand communiqués (i.e. claims of responsibility) was constructed and explored through both a quantitative--corpus linguistics--and qualitative investigation informed by Critical Discourse Analysis. These discursive frames are discussed through a genealogical reading of history, based around a constellation of events, texts, and figures, which coalesce to form an insurrectionary canon. While this canon is structurally different than philosophical traditions with strictly defined sets of books and treatises, this collectivity is developed through the form of the communiqué, and the function of the attack. Through this unique pairing of form and function, the rhetorical and analytical power of the communiqué is given prominence, and a new framework for its reading is offered. In sum, this approach seeks to develop an anti-securitization, critically informed method of analysis, which diverges from the orthodoxy of Terrorism Studies and Security Studies, and instead offered a method for understanding the communication of clandestine networks that is nuanced, contextually-embedded, and for the purpose of building emancipatory theory, not counterterrorism.


This work was embargoed by the author and will not be publicly available until May 2020.


Corpus linguistics, Critical discourse analysis, Insurrectionary anarchism, Political violence, Social movement, Terrorism