Karl Heinzen and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Terror

Article appearing in Terrorism and Political Violence

  • Co-Author:
  • Daniel Bessner with Michael Stauch
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis Group
  • Date: March 9, 2010

Scholars have long recognized the importance of Karl Heinzen’s Mord und Freiheit in the history of terrorist thought. Yet the translation most scholars have relied on—1881s Murder and Liberty—is incomplete. Our new translation reveals four elements omitted from the 1881 translation. First, Heinzen conceived of terrorism as a transnational phenomenon. Second, he provided a material justification for terrorist tactics. Third, Heinzen viewed terrorism as both a tool to impel human society to progress and as a “progressive” tool of violence. Finally, he argued in favor of the primary modern tactic of terrorism—the indiscriminate bombing of civilians.