Leaderless resistance

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Leaderless resistance is a technique in which small, independent groups or individuals challenge an established adversary. It can include actions from non-violent disruption to vandalism to various forms of direct action.

With regard to White supremacists who commit acts of terrorism, it is sometimes given the misnomer of "lone wolf". It is a misnomer in such cases because white supremacists are ideologically coordinated, giving motivation to individuals to commit acts of terror.[1]:256 With regard to white supremacist groups, the tactic of leaderless resistance began after the use of government informants within the Ku Klux Klan to prosecute the group.[1]:255 The Turner Diaries is a key document for leaderless revolution among white supremacists.[1]:260 The myth of the "lone wolf" is used by white supremacists and their supporters (particularly within the GOP) to obfuscate the size of and the primary causes of race-based violence in the United States.[1]:264[2] The size of the dedicate White supremacist movement in the 1980s was estimated to be about 25,000 in the US, with an additional 150,000-175,000 additional activists, and an additional 450,000 who read White supremacist literature.[1]:257

In leaderless resistance, a recognized leader or group gives generalized instructions or ideas of some sort and other groups or individuals — without having any direct contact with the apparent "leadership" — begin to act in such a way as to carry out the goals expressed by the "leadership."

Leaderless resistance has been used by a number of groups. For instance, it could be used by internet groups who might wish to suggest that a particular movement or website should be targeted in some way — but the suggestion could be phrased in such a way that those suggesting such a course of action would be able to claim plausible denial of any wrongdoing.

Sometimes someone does something that just pisses a lot of people off.

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Insurrection" by Kathleen Belew. In: Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past, edited by Kevin M. Kruse & Julian E. Zelizer (2022) Basic Books. ISBN 1541601394. Pages 251-265.
  2. Memo reveals a House Republican strategy on shootings: downplay white nationalism, blame left: The GOP memo falsely pinned the El Paso massacre and other notable mass shootings on the left. by Steve Contorno (Published Aug. 16, 2019 | Updated Aug. 19, 2019) Tampa Bay Times.