Working Paper 210

Communities of Hateful Practice: The collective learning of accelerationist right-wing extremists, with a case study of the Halle synagogue attack

Michael Fürstenberg

Max-Planck-Forschungsgruppe „Wie 'Terroristen' Lernen“

Jahr der Veröffentlichung


Working Paper 210

In the past, far-right aggression predominantly focused on national settings and street terror against minorities; today, however, it is increasingly embedded in global networks and acts within a strategic framework aimed at revolution, targeting the liberal order as such. Ideologically combining antisemitism, racism, and anti-feminism/anti-LGBTQI, adherents of this movement see modern societies as degenerate and weak, with the only solution being a violent collapse that they attempt to accelerate with their actions. The terrorist who attacked the synagogue and a kebab shop in Halle, Germany, in October 2019 clearly identified with this transnational community and situated his act as a continuation of a series of attacks inspired by white supremacy in the past decade. The common term ‘lone wolf’ for these kinds of terrorists is in that sense a misnomer, as they are embedded in digital ‘wolf packs’.
Although this movement is highly decentralized and heterogeneous, there are interactive processes that connect and shape the online milieu of extremists into more than the sum of its parts, forming a structure which facilitates a certain degree of cohesion, strategic agency, and learning. This paper uses the model of collective learning outside formal organizations to analyze how the revolutionary accelerationist right as a community of practice engages in generating collective identities and knowledge that are used in the service of their acts of death and destruction.

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