The Terrifying Convergence: A Legacy of the U.S Far-Right’s Leaderless Resistance in the Twentieth Century
Date of Award
Undergraduate Honors Thesis
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Richard Fogarty, Ph.D.
Christopher Pastore, Ph.D.
A former Klansman and Aryan Nations ambassador named Louis Beam argued that right-wing activists would need to go to war with the U.S. federal government to preserve their culture. He updated an organizational theory known as “leaderless resistance” to prepare the right-wing militants for war. His version of leaderless resistance called for a decentralized communication network that allowed right-wing activists to exchange knowledge about engaging in independent violence. Aryan Nations brought leaderless resistance theory to life through their Aryan Liberty Network, which debuted in 1984 and enabled previously isolated right-wing groups in the United States to communicate with one another. This early network sparked the emergence of the 1990s Patriot Movement, which, in turn, developed its own online platforms in the early 2000s. As the Movement gained momentum during the presidency of Barack Obama (2009-2017), it produced new websites like Stormfront, The Daily Stormer, and 8chan, which became part of the largest network of far-right websites in the world. As this paper will argue, Beam’s decentralized model for right-wing activism and his efforts to utilize the internet’s powerful (and anonymous) communication capabilities had the effect of unifying what had been far-right communities with very different agendas into a more coherent movement that found common ground in their shared opposition to the U.S. government.
Szpicek, Ryan, "The Terrifying Convergence: A Legacy of the U.S Far-Right’s Leaderless Resistance in the Twentieth Century" (2021). History Honors Program. 25.