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Shattering crystals: The role of 'dream time' in extreme right-wing political violence

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This article prepares the conceptual ground for a new heuristic approach to understanding acts of political violence that consciously incur the risk of death to their perpetrators. It focuses on the deep-seated human drive to escape the futility and emptiness induced by clock-time (chronos), and the way a sense of being 'chosen' for a mission of destruction can precipitate the experience of being reborn in a new supraindividual dimension ('dream time'). At this point the etymological connotations of 'self-sacrifice' and 'fanatic' acquire a new significance, since the personal palingenesis experienced by the soldier or terrorist confronting death may rehearse archetypal patterns of mystic purification and immortality. This 'chrono-ethological' perspective on extreme political violence is elaborated by considering the devastating impact that Western modernity has had on the access to states of 'self-transcendence' available in traditional religious culture. It is then applied to examples of inter-war fascist paramilitarism and contemporary 'lone-wolf' terrorism.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2003


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