Extremism, suicide terror, and authoritarianism
This paper studies extremist behaviour, and its connection to authoritarianism. I divide extremists into two groups, leaders, who demand extremist acts such as assassinations, suicide terror or other forms of political violence from followers, who supply them. I assume that both the leaders of extremist groups and their followers are rational. The paper looks at three examples: Communism, Nationalism and Islamic Fundamentalism. I show that leaders with extreme ideologies also tend to adopt violent methods when there is an indivisibility between the intermediate goal of the group and its ultimate goal. Turning to followers, the most important innovation of the paper is a simple model which explains how it is possible for a person to rationally commit suicide to further the goals of a group. The most important policy implications of the paper are, firstly, that one should look at the goals of extremist group in order to understand their actions. If one can un-bundle the goal or make the indivisible divisible, then there may be ways to provide these goals in a way which satisfies some of the potential supporters of the group and thus dries up support for the grander ambitions of the leaders of extremist groups. Secondly, the provision of programs which foster social cohesion tends to dry up an important motive for extremist activity: the desire for solidarity. Thirdly, policy towards terrorists should combine the use of “carrot” and “stick”. Finally, I argue that authoritarian regimes rather than democracies or totalitarian regimes are the most likely sources of suicide terror. So democracy is indeed part of the solution to the problem of suicide terrorism. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Ronald Wintrobe, 2002.
"Slobodan Milosevic and the Fire of Nationalism,"
World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 3(3), pages 1-26, July.
- Andreoni, James, 1995. "Criminal Deterrence in the Reduced Form: A New Perspective on Ehrlich's Seminal Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 476-83, July.
- Mario Ferrero, 2006. "Martyrdom Contracts," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 50(6), pages 855-877, December.
- Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
- repec:cup:cbooks:9780521794497 is not listed on IDEAS
- repec:cup:cbooks:9780521859646 is not listed on IDEAS
- repec:cup:cbooks:9780521583299 is not listed on IDEAS
- Sandler, Todd & Lapan, Harvey E., 1988. "The Calculus of Dissent: An Analysis of Terrorists' Choice of Targets," Staff General Research Papers 10818, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
- Eli Berman, 2003. "Hamas, Taliban and the Jewish Underground: An Economist's View of Radical Religious Militias," NBER Working Papers 10004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Muhammed N. Islam & Stanley L. Winer, 2004. "Tinpots, Totalitarians (and Democrats): An Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Economic Growth on Civil Liberties and Political Rights," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 118(3_4), pages 289-323, 03.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:128:y:2006:i:1:p:169-195. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Guenther Eichhorn)or (Christopher F. Baum)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.