Ideological Terrorism

  • Gavin Cameron


Right-wing terrorism is extemely hard to define because it covers a vast spectrum of groups. An important division in strictly secular right-wing terrorism is between that perpetrated by the ‘old right’, that is, reactionary terrorism, and the ‘new right’, which is the subject of much of this discussion. The former is mainly perpetrated by those who have lost political power or fear that they are in imminent danger of doing so. It is their quest for power and determination to preserve or restore the status quo that characterises them, rather than their ideology (although this is not to deny the importance of a belief system to such groups). This is ‘pro-state’ violence, of the sort used by the Ulster loyalist paramilitaries. ‘Pro-state’ terrorism is illegal violence employed in the defence of the state from its enemies.1 Although in this particular case, the term ‘right-wing’ is probably not a useful one, the loyalist paramilitaries clearly fit the mould of reactionary terrorists. They began as ‘defensive’ organisations against the onslaught of republican attacks on the loyalist community in Northern Ireland. However, from the Spring of 1972, the loyalist paramilitaries began attacks on the Catholic community at large, killing 102 people by the end of the year. Believing all Catholics to be potential rebels, the predominantly Protestant paramilitaries targeted members of the Catholic community, irrespective of whether they were affiliated to Republican movements.


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Copyright information

© Gavin Cameron 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gavin Cameron
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Nonproliferation StudiesMonterey Institute of International StudiesUSA

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