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The Pre-1914 Anarchist “Lone Wolf” Terrorist and Governmental Responses


Terrorism and Political ViolenceJournal abstract
After discussing the extent to which the period from 1878–1934, with its frequent incidents of anarchist assassinations and bombings, can be considered the classic age of “lone wolf” or leaderless terrorism, this article focuses on four acts of anarchist violence and police and government responses to this violence. The four cases are the 1896 bombing of a Corpus Christi procession in Barcelona, the 1901 assassination of President McKinley, a 1902 bombing in Livorno (Leghorn) Italy, and the 1912 attempted assassination of Italian King Victor Emmanuel III. Confronted by these violent acts, the authorities resorted to two basic policies that might be referred to as “micro” and “macro” approaches. The macro approach was to launch massive crackdowns, arrest hundreds if not thousands of suspects (in some cases torturing them), and pass repressive legislation limiting freedom of the press, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly in order to discover the guilty terrorists and to squelch anarchist propaganda and organized activity. The micro approach was to focus on improving the intelligence capacity of the police by modernizing and expanding it, and creating or professionalizing the protective service for government ministers and heads of state.

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