By Richard Bach Jensen, Taylor and Francis
This essay presents a short overview of the “classic” era of anarchist terrorism between 1880 and World War I, while concentrating on an analysis of the little-known efforts by diplomats, politicians, and the police to control and repress anarchist terrorism. These efforts included the Rome Anti-Anarchist Conference of 1898 and the St. Petersburg Protocol of 1904. Before World War I, a combination of economic, social, and political factors, combined with a systematic government effort to redefine and downplay the nature and importance of anarchist terrorism provides the best explanation for why this form of violence declined in certain countries but not in others. Careful police intelligence work and international police cooperation, together with a more rigorously professional system of protection for monarchs and heads of state, could aid in reducing the problem of anarchist terrorism, but heavy-handed repression only worsened it. The essay concludes with a sketch of anarchist terrorism after 1914 and a brief comparison between present-day terrorism and its nineteenth-century predecessor.