Talk:Propaganda of the deed

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This article states that most anarchists "are not pacifists in the strictest sense". What definition of pacifism is it even using? Wikipedia's current definition of pacifism defines it strictly as anti-war pacifism, which of course all anarchists support (of course I feel this definition is incorrect; pacifism is opposed to violence in general). Even under a broader definition of pacifism, is this statement accurate? Even if it is, does it belong here? I think it's fairly clear that anarchists are pacifist at a higher rate than the population at large, so to say most anarchists are not pacifists is only to unfairly link anarchism with violence. As the statement could be applied to most any group, it is also without any value. Sarge Baldy 23:40, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

Most anarchists are antimilitarists, but only a few of them are true pacifist
And anti-war doesnt necessarily concern the Iraq war...

Merge with anarchist terrorism[edit]

Anarchist terrorism is POV denomination. The legitimate denomination used by the anarchist movement is, of course, propaganda of the deed. CQFD. Tazmaniacs 16:51, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

Propaganda by the deed is not necessarily violent, let alone "terrorist."

From the article: For the German anarchist Gustav Landauer "propaganda of the deed" meant the creation of libertarian social forms and communities that would inspire others to transform society ("Anarchism in Germany," 1895). This makes clear that "propaganda of the deed" is not always asociated with violence. Therefore a merge would be misleading and factually inaccurate. --Michalis Famelis 13:06, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

I know that propaganda by the deed is not necessarily violent. However, I propose a merge of Anarchist terrorism here because this latter article would probably not get deleted (even if it will, somebody may create it again) and it is a POV entry which qualifies as original research. Thus, I think a redirect here would allow to explain to those who may be misled why the denomination of "anarchist terrorism" is a contradiction in its terms. As underlined by the article, while terrorism is defined by most scholars as campaign of undiscriminate bombings with the aim of terrorizing the civilian population, anarchist bombings have always targeted specific and important individuals and does not aim at terrorizing the civilian population but quite to the contrary in bolstering revolutionary spirit among the people. This said, a merge would allow this silly stereotype to be properly analyzed and explained on this page, and thus put an end to the irrelevant "anarchist terrorism" page. Tazmaniacs 22:39, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

By merging "propaganda by the deed" with "anarchist terrorism" you are just going to confuse people who will naturally think they are the same thing. Your extensive revisions to this entry deal very little with self-proclaimed acts of propaganda of the deed and very much with violence and terrorism. Your changes are also riddled with inaccuracies (the phrase "propaganda by the deed" was first popularized in the 1870s by anarchists in Switzerland and Italy, for example, not in Paris in 1881).

Propaganda by the deed v. terrorism[edit]

As this entry now correctly indicates, propaganda by the deed may be violent or non-violent, and does not necessarily entail terrorist actions. Consequently, this entry should not be merged with the entry for "anarchist terrorism" as they are not necessarily the same thing.

Agreed. And on top of that, propaganda by the deed is used by all sorts of people who are not anarchists. Mark Sedgwick 16:36, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
I've gone ahead and ended the merger attempt. But as for another question, should this article be at "Propaganda by the deed" instead? The current title reads rather awkward to me. Sarge Baldy 22:10, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
I think "of" is more generally used than "by." So I'd leave it, even though it's a bit odd. Mark Sedgwick 07:26, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

The UN Convention on International Terrorism explicitly precludes those struggling against racist and colonial regimes. The US Army Field Manual defines terrorism as "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature. This is done through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear.". Since the motive of Anarchists is "Propaganda", which is now called "advertising" or "public relations", or in other words to bring awareness/understanding, this violence, just or not, is not terrorism, because the goal is not to intimidate or coerce. Also, most Anarchists using violence have been directed against racist/colonial regimes, which would exclude it from being terrorism anyway. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:23, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

Global jihad has always been shown as a struggle against racist/colonial regimes. On the other hand, Anarchism, is about overthrowing the state. Anarchism never had any quarrel with racism until after World War 2, at which point everyone had a quarrel with racism with the possible exception of some racists. I think this article's determination to omit the killing of Archduke Ferdinand, the assassination of Anwar Sadat, and the September 11 attacks, which were explicitly directed at creating insurrection, from being propaganda of the deed. These clearly were propaganda of the deed as they aimed to precipitate revolutions. Al-Qaeda is completely based on the idea of propaganda of the deed. It envisions the overthrow of godless regimes with Islamic regimes through acts of terror. This is the same as Propaganda of the deed. There are obviously some goateed Anarchist intellectuals trying to maintain a false interpretation and interfering with the above realities being incorporated into the article. (talk) 18:12, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

Propaganda by the deed v. propaganda of the deed[edit]

The more commonly used phrase is "propaganda by the deed," from the French, "la propagande par le fait." "Propaganda of the deed" would be "la propagande du fait" in French. However, both expressions are used in English.

I don't know about which English version is mostly used (although Google finds more for "propaganda of the deed", I do not believe Google shows the light :), however, in French it is not "la propagande du fait" but "la propagande par le fait" (the propaganda by the deed). Tazmaniacs
I prefer "propaganda by the deed" as well. The other problem with using Google results is that the current Wikipedia title actually influences which term is found more often in search results: "propaganda by the deed" has 16,400 results to 21,700 for "propaganda of the deed". But when you add a parameter removing pages mentioning Wikipedia, you get 15,400 for "by" and 17,700 for "of", making it a lot closer. Sarge Baldy 23:51, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

Later Developments[edit]

No citations are provided to support the claim that many scholars argue that propaganda by the deed is a central concept of modern terrorism. The Wikipedia entry for terrorism mentions propaganda by the deed only once, and does not indicate that it is central to modern terrorism. Unless someone can provide verification or citations that would back up this claim, I think this statement should be removed. Robgraham

For exmaple, Rapoport's well-known Four Wave chronology starts with anarchism and P of Deed (see for one version of this), as (if I remember correctly) does the main Britannica article on the subject. It's sufficiently accepted to have been the subject of an Economist article within the last six months. You'll find it time after time in one of the main academic journals on the subject, Terrorism and Political Violence. Sure, the main Wikipedia entry doesn't mention it, but that's because that entry is rather a minefield--otherwise I'd put it there myself! Mark Sedgwick 08:17, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
I've just checked the Rapoport article. It does not discuss the concept of propaganda by the deed and therefore does not argue that it is the central concept of modern terrorism. It also contains several statements about the relation between anarchism and terrorism that are very debatable and not backed up by references to historical texts. Kropotkin disputed the claim that assassinations, for example, were acts of propaganda by the deed. He said that assassins killed authority figures because they hated them, not to make propaganda (see Caroline Cahm's book, Kropotkin and the Rise of Revolutionary Anarchism, CUP reprint, 2002). I would like to see reference to a significant terrorist group or movement that expressly utilized the doctrine of propaganda of the deed after World War One.Robgraham
Ok, sorry! I remembered the anarchism bits, and assumed he'd put in a ref to prop of deeed. I should check my references next time! But I'd still argue that th P of D origin is implicit in R's argument. And I'd add that the recent contributions to this article re the 1970s make the connection v clearly. Mark Sedgwick 10:18, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
The revisions simply maintain the confusion between propaganda by the deed and terrorism. There isn't one reference to any modern terrorist adopting or being influenced by the 19th century anarchist doctrine of propaganda by the deed. Robgraham 17:20, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
The claim that "many scholars argue that propaganda by the deed is a central concept of modern terrorism." was removed, because it's plainly false. Most scholars agree that terrorism is characterized by indiscriminate bombings, while propaganda of the deed targets individuals. If the means are different, the end is also different: it is not to spread terror in order to convince a state to acceed to one's demands, as in most national liberation movements which have used bombings, but to force the state to reveal its repressive nature. That said, which part exactly do you disagree with with the revisions made? Where do you read that the current article says "terrorism has been inspired by propaganda of the deed?" Tazmaniacs 23:33, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
PS: the part about the 1970s is not at all to claim that terrorism is issued from propaganda of the deed, although depending on your POV you can read it like that. I thought it was relevant here because they are leftists groups which carried on direct actions, which included (but not only) bombings. Direct action is the common point, not "terrorism". There are many ways to carry out direct actions, one of the most simple being the riots done by Autonomists. Are you going to argue that "riots" are "terrorism"? this would show a lack of understanding of Italy's strategy of tension, at minimum. Tazmaniacs 23:37, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
I think the article as it now stands is OK. Does anyone disagree? Seems to me that the 1970s bit certainly illustrates P of the D, which is what is needed here. Whether one then sees that as T or not is up to the reader, I suppose. Can't say I'm v happy myself with the "inidiscriminate" requirement for it to be T, but that's another discussion. Mark Sedgwick 21:42, 29 April 2006 (UTC)
This article is starting to look really good. Just a few thoughts: are most of those acts in the 70s list really examples of propaganda of the deed? There's very little on Spain - which probably saw more anarchist attentats than anywhere else from the pistolero battles before the revolution, los solidarios etc. to post-war (the urban guerillas - Sabate, Facerias etc., attempts on Franco etc.) I think Spain is interesting in this context - the article seems to argue that movements like anarcho-syndicalism superceded individual acts of violence, but in the Spanish situation the two coexisted throughout, though causing some tension within the movement. Also maybe could do with something on pacifism?Bengalski 15:02, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Non-anarchist deeds?[edit]

Why do the timelines on this page include non-anarchist violence, for example the attacks of Action Directe, a Maoist organization? If the article is not confined to anarchist actions, should it not also then include "propaganda of the deed" carried out by fascists and religious extremists? I think that this is particularly important because "Propaganda of the deed" is the landing page for "Anarchist Terrorism" in the Terrorism sidebar. Terrorist activities carried out by Maoists (and other non-anarchists) really should be confined to their respective pages (in this case, Left-wing terrorism), no? - N1h1l 02:27, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

The fact that Action Directe was "maoist" doesn't stop it from engaging in propaganda of the deed. It is not "left-wing terrorism", for the simple reason that it is not "terrorism", at least if you agree with the scholarly definition of terrorism as: armed struggle, using indiscriminate bombings against the civilian population in order to terrorize them and push the state in certain type of decision (see wars of national liberation which have used bombings attacks). Prop'of the deed, and "left-wing terrorism" in the 1970s were not indiscriminate bombings against civilian population, but targetted attacks against high governmental officials, military officers, or high bosses, such as Hans-Martin Schleyer, who used to be a very high-ranking Nazi (forgetting this "little detail" is forgetting much about Germany's state of mind after WWII, and about the effects on your psychism about knowing that your father was a Nazi). Action Directe, as the RAF, the Red Brigades and the whole of the Autonomist movement, did engaged themselves in violent actions, but that is doubtlessly closer to the anarchist' "propaganda of the deed" than to terrorism. Then — and only then — may you argue that propaganda of the deed is just a variant of terrorism. But that's an argument that must be carried out on the terrorism page, and I doubt you will easily argue it. Tazmaniacs 18:32, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
Furthermore I urge you to refer to strategy of tension to have a clearer picture of the context. Tazmaniacs 18:38, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
I brought up terrorism because this is the landing page for Anarchist terrorism, but my question really doesn't relate to the debate over terrorism.
My question is this: What are the ideological parameters of propaganda of the deed? If this page is open to non-anarchist "action of individuals to inspire further action by others" then should it not also include activities of fascists and religious extremists? If it is not open as such, the why include Maoists? - N1h1l 19:07, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
I think it might be best to say something qualifies as "propaganda of the deed" when the people who organize the act consider it to be. I don't think we can just look around for things that might qualify, we need to limit ourselves to acts that were meant to be examples. Sarge Baldy 21:42, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

Attentat redirect[edit]

Why does Attentat redirect here? This seems strange to me since it should rather redirect to Assassination... -- 15:49, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

I can't speak for the person that did the redirect, but it may be because the two terms have been used interchangeably by folks in the past, particularly by Alexander Berkman when talking about his attempted assassination of Henry Clay Frick. He's the only reason I know the word "attentat". Murderbike 08:20, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
Attentat is the French for "bombing" Tazmaniacs 16:30, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
It's also German for "assassination attempt", or "assassination". Murderbike 17:27, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
I've restored the redirect from Attentat to this article. Two of the three articles that link to Attentat are Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, and in the Johann Most-influenced anarchist circle from which they emerged, Attentat was synonymous with propaganda of the deed. (Most's article uses the word Attentat and Wikilinks it directly to this article). The third article, First Indochina War refers to the assassination of a French general "during a kamikaze attentat", which is not inconsistent with linking to this article. — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 18:11, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
I don't know how you can relate the Indochina War with propaganda of the deed, I doubt it was an anarchist who killed the general, probably just a nationalist. "Propaganda of the deed" is not a synonym of "bombing" nor of "assassination", it is an expression related to the anarchist movement. Maybe the best solution is linking directly Emma Goldman & Alexander Berkman to here. Tazmaniacs 23:13, 12 July 2007 (UTC)
That's what I'll do. By the way, attentat doesn't mean bombing in French (as you wrote above). It's literally an attempt (typically an assassination attempt) or other violent action. French Wikipedia defines it: Un attentat est une action destinée à nuire (à attenter) aux biens ou à la vie d'autrui. On parle généralement d'attentat dans un contexte politique, voire terroriste, mais il peut exister des attentats économiques (visant à évincer un concurrent). [Loosely translated: "An attentat is an action intended to harm the property or the lives of others. One typically speaks of an attentat in a political — specifically terrorist — context, but it could be an economic attentat intended to crush a competitor.] — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 02:27, 14 July 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. Except that I've never heard of an "attentat économique", or you're really stretching the word here... The dictionnary gives you right (attentat from the Latin attentatum) but the common use of the word is "bombing" or in a broader sense "assassination". Cheers! (note that the legal code goes as far as defining money-laundering as a form of "attentat", which is without doubt stretching the word very far - and we would like to see the law being implemented...) Tazmaniacs 03:21, 14 July 2007 (UTC)
Regardless I think we're all clear that attentat is better linked to propaganda of the deed than to "bomb" or "bombing", so why is it now linking to bomb? --Lquilter (talk) 02:04, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

I've done a little research concerning Wikipedia's "third attentat" — the "kamikaze attentat" in Vietnam in 1951. Here's a Time magazine article about the killing, which was the assassination of the Vietnamese governor and a French general during a military inspection in the town square. In the context of French-Vietnamese politics, that seems like an act of "physical violence against political enemies as a way of inspiring the masses and catalyzing revolution", not an everyday bombing. Its use in that context suggests Attentat should redirect here.

But the dictionaries tell a different story. According to the Shorter Oxford, an attentat is "an attack; an attempted assassination". According to Webster's Third New International, it's "an attempt to commit a crime of violence — usually used of an unsuccessful attempt at a political crime".

We have a word that means one thing in French, something slightly different and more sinister in English, yet in some circles it has the very specific meaning of "propaganda of the deed". Should Attentat redirect here? Should it be a disambiguation page? A short article? What do other editors think? — Malik Shabazz (talk · contribs) 05:38, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

A short article would be best, in my opinion (although I have always heard and used it synonymously with propaganda of the deed--"certain circles", indeed!). But ==> bomb is too limiting; not all bombings are attentats! POTD is better than bomb for a redirect in the meantime. --Lquilter (talk) 05:46, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't see a problem with a short article, though of those two new definitions, there's not much difference to outline in an article. But if someone else wants to take it on, I wouldn't be against it in the least bit. But the "bomb" redirect was aburd. Not only are all bombings not attentats, but all attentats are not bombings. Murderbike (talk) 07:09, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Conflation of Terms[edit]

This article makes almost no distinction between propaganda of the deed, terrorism, and direct action. First of all, the inclusion of the Terrorism template is suspect at best. Wikipedia claims that terrorism is illegal activities committed against civilians for political or ideological goals. Of course this definition is broad enough to include Germany's invasion of Poland, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, pretty much all Genocides, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. While I personally would not dispute most of these characterizations, if I put up the terrorism template on any of the articles dealing with these events, I would be immediately shot down (except possibly on the Iraq invasion article, but for the wrong reasons). The qualification in the wikipedia article of terrorism is that the acts are intended to create fear or terror. As far as I know, propaganda of the deed is not intended to create either of those. Therefore I would argue that at the very least, pains should be taken to clarify that propaganda by the deed is not necessarily terrorism. Of course I have kind of an idealized concept of anarchism, and there are some really stupid anarchists out there, so I'm sure outright terrorism isn't unheard of in anarchist circles (especially historically). More importantly, in the first section, direct action is used almost interchangeably with POTD. The idea that POTD is euphemized as direct action is a loaded phrase which indirectly calls into question the legitimacy of direct action itself. Later, without previously arguing that direct action can involve violence, it makes the assertion that direct action may not necessarily involve violent. That just seems like an attempt to implicitly associate direct action with violence without outright saying it. Furthermore, devoting such a large chunk of the opening paragraphs about POTD to direct action automatically creates a powerful connection between the two. I'm going to remove the final paragraph in the opening section and see if I can rework some of the other parts. Secondly, I'm going to remove the terrorism template and get rid of some of the supposed examples of POTD that are clearly not (such as neofascist terrorism). Hisownspace 15:39, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

This still hasn't been resolved has it. How are we defining POTD?
  • Violent acts against tyrants, carried out by any political group
  • Violent acts against tyrants, carried out by any left political group
  • Violent acts carried out by anarchists attempting to bring about revolution
  • A form of Direct Action (in which case, what distinguishes POTD from DA?)
  • The promotion of anarchist ideas through deeds (not words)
  • The promotion of anarchist aims through deeds (not words)
  • something else?
I think until this gets worked out, the article is going to remain a trainwreck.
Chaikney (talk) 00:12, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
Publicity stunt pulled through physical aggression? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:54, 13 December 2011 (UTC)


Wouldn't the assassination of Franz Ferdinand fit under this category for Propaganda of the deed? It seems a decent example. Belfunk (talk) 02:24, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

But it wasn't an anarchist, it was a Serbian nationalist whodunnit. Chaikney (talk) 00:05, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
Propagandists, seeking to excuse German and Austrian warmongering and the failure of European governments to safeguard their populations from unnecessary wars, wish to make it an exceptional event that initiated WW1, whereas the deed was (as Belfunk suggests) merely one example of many similar assassinations going back into the 19th century. Tiptoethrutheminefield (talk) 20:05, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Actions not listed in the timeline[edit]

Several actions that fit the subject of the article have not been listed in the timeline. To my knowledge, all of the extensive actions in Argentina in the period of 1900-1930 has not been listed. Kurt Gustav Wilcken's assasination of Cl. Varela, Severino DiGiovanni's bombardments, including the famous attacks at the italian consulate and the US embassy, Miguel Arcangel Roscigna's actions and German Boris Wladimirovich's actions all are overlooked. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:25, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

Wrongly attribued poster[edit]

The poster is attributed to be an angel defending against a bomb-wielding anarchist. The text on the poster belies this: it is a propaganda poster against "Bolshevism", not anarchy —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:36, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

I added this description. Zezen (talk) 07:29, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

Could "propaganda of the deed" also be described as essentially a publicity stunt for political purposes?[edit]

Tisane (talk) 07:07, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

Inaccurate classification of violent acts.[edit]

Could someone knowledgeable carefully revise the list? In the current form it contains some acts that are clearly not "propaganda by the deed" (as defined in the article), but are acts committed under other motifs (e.g. the murder of Petlyura).EugeneK (talk) 04:06, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Weasel words[edit]

Many passages here justify terrorism. Let us call a spade a spade. Zezen (talk) 07:30, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

Agreed, came here to say the same thing. Even in the lead "It is primarily associated with acts of left-wing resistance of the late 19th and early 20th". "Resistance", meaning political murders and bomb attacks by a very tiny minority, is a pretty interesting word choice. --Pudeo (talk) 22:49, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
I rewrote the passage above to comply with WP:NPOV.--C.J. Griffin (talk) 23:37, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

"Political murders" typically translations to assassinations.: "Assassination is the murder of a prominent person, often a political leader or ruler, usually for political reasons or payment. An assassination may be prompted by religious, political, or military motives... " Dimadick (talk) 12:59, 7 May 2017 (UTC)