Class Warfare: Political Exclusion of the Poor and the Roots of Social-Revolutionary Terrorism, 1860-1950

40 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2021

See all articles by Valentin Klotzbuecher

Valentin Klotzbuecher

University of Freiburg

Tim Krieger

University of Freiburg - Department of Economics

Daniel Meierrieks

WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Date Written: 2021

Abstract

We examine the effect of class cleavages on terrorist activity by anarchist and leftist terrorist groups in 99 American, Asian and European countries over the 1860-1950 period. We find that higher levels of political exclusion of the poor, our main measure of class conflict, were associated with higher levels of social-revolutionary terrorist activity during this time period. This finding is robust to an instrumental-variable approach and a battery of additional robustness checks. We argue that class cleavages – in the form of the monopolization of political power by the rich – perpetuated and exacerbated the socio-economic ordeal of the poor, while simultaneously curtailing their means to effect relief in the ordinary political process. Consistent with our expectations, this provoked terrorist violence by groups whose ideological orientation highlighted concerns over class conflict, economic equality and the political participation of the poor. Indeed, our empirical analysis also shows that terrorist groups motivated by other ideologies (e.g. extreme nationalism) did not respond to political exclusion of the poor in the same manner, which further emphasizes the role of ideological inclinations in the terrorist response to class antagonisms.

JEL Classification: D740, N400

Suggested Citation

Klotzbuecher, Valentin and Krieger, Tim and Meierrieks, Daniel, Class Warfare: Political Exclusion of the Poor and the Roots of Social-Revolutionary Terrorism, 1860-1950 (2021). CESifo Working Paper No. 9118, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3863821

Valentin Klotzbuecher

University of Freiburg ( email )

Fahnenbergplatz
Freiburg, D-79085
Germany

Tim Krieger

University of Freiburg - Department of Economics ( email )

University of Freiburg
Wilhelmstr. 1b
Freiburg, D-79085
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.wguth.uni-freiburg.de

Daniel Meierrieks (Contact Author)

WZB Berlin Social Science Center ( email )

Reichpietschufer
50
Berlin, D-10785
Germany

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