What is Propaganda of the Deed?

Anti-government protests in Kiev, Ukraine; Jan., 2014. Editorial credit: Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com
Anti-government protests in Kiev, Ukraine; Jan., 2014. Editorial credit: Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com

Propaganda of the Deed refers to the call for violent action, usually perpetrated by anarchists, that inspires masses to revolt against political structures in a given state. In some cases, the revolutions are peaceful demonstrations called by groups that want to see change or improvement in their societies. However, in extreme situations, terrorist acts such as bombings, vehicle-based attacks, stabbings, and aircraft attacks have been reported.


This concept dates back to the late 19th century and the early 20th century when Carlo Pisacane, an Italian anarchist and one of the first socialists, wrote about the concept in his book as an attempt to try to “wake the masses” from political oppression. The concept was encouraging people to use violence to rebel against political leaders and systems in government. He argued that by using violence, attention would be created quickly, as opposed to other peaceful demonstrations which would otherwise not bring any response for the people. His idea has influenced many since then, resulting in the rise of terrorist groups and mass revolutions in that century, and became widespread in other European nations such as Germany, France, Russia, and Spain. It also spread into America, where the mass murder attempts and assassinations of political leaders through bombings, stabbings, and even shootings were recorded. In America, anarchist like Johann Most advocated for the annihilation of anyone who he termed as the “enemy of the people” through killings that were targeted at representatives of the government and capitalists. He also influenced the rise of anarchist in the nation through his written manual on the acquisition and detonation of explosives.

Modern Day Examples

It has been witnessed in recent years that anarchy still thrives. It has evolved and has led to the growth of anarchist terrorist groups being formed in almost every part of the world—including Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Somalia—with the most devastating deaths in the history of revolutions and uprising making headlines at almost each dawn of the day. Terrorist groups such as the Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, and ISIS have come out publicly admitting their terrorist plans or acts if their demands are not met.

The types of anarchist terrorist groups that have gained popularity today include:

Dissent Terrorist Groups

These are groups formed by people who have rebelled against their governments. Most times, the people joining these groups feel oppressed by their leaders and seek to find ways to oust them. When they fail, their next alternative is to try to eject them forcefully.

Religious Terrorist Groups

These groups mainly consist of members from the same religious organizations. Their grievances touch more on religious beliefs as opposed to societal ones.

Addressing This Issue

An important point to note is that, while most anarchists approved of this approach, some of them are distancing themselves from the same as it was becoming more about murder than it was about revolution. Many are calling for a revert back to the cleverer ways of dealing with arising issues, such as by the forming of unions where grievances could be addressed. Measures are being put in place to ensure order and peace, and that the grievances are addressed through proper channels.


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