Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia

Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia

Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia

Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia

Synopsis

This fascinating study shows how terrorism as developed and practiced in Romanov Russia has, over the past century, manifested itself as the template for modern and postmodern terrorism as a universal sociocultural, psychological, and existential experience, irrespective of particular political causes, ethnic distinctions, and ideological boundaries.

Excerpt

I have written this book after having researched and published on the topic of modern terrorism for 25 years. As a student of the Russian radical tradition and the 1917 revolution, I initially focused on political violence in early 20thcentury Russia and then extended my investigation into the Soviet period. Subsequently, my professional interest in psychohistorical methodologies led me to explore psychological incentives for aggressive behavior and ideologically motivated hostility, as they evinced themselves in the Russian political setting. Patterns of fundamentalist brutality for the sake of all-encompassing utopian and millennial causes gradually emerged; they appeared to transcend the framework of a specific culture, crossing the temporal, geographical, and ethnic boundaries. My research thus guided me to ask questions related to the universality of contemporary terrorist practices and to apply psychohistorical means of inquiry to modern and postmodern terrorism in various parts of the world, particularly the Middle East.

When in the mid-1980s I began working on political extremism, terrorism was an important academic matter and occasionally a sensational news item but by no means a pressing political issue or a primary topic of public debate—as difficult as that is to believe today. Over the years, the main arguments of this book took shape against the background of the escalating threat of fundamentalist violence. I have lived in areas affected by terrorism; for me, its repercussions have become part of personal experience, as it did for millions of people worldwide. My general thesis and central points of contention crystallized as I researched, published, taught, and discussed my work with colleagues, students, and friends, some of whom were also victims of terrorist brutality. With their intellect, erudition, intuition, emotional knowledge . . .

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