The Leftist “Imagined Community”

The Transnational Imagination of Left-Wing Subversive Organizations in Western Europe

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
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Abstract

This article concerns radical leftist subversive organizations in Western Europe in the 1970s and 1980s and their transnational shared imagination. It shows that despite the scarcity of direct contacts, there existed a sense of belonging to the same transnational current, the “imagined community.” On selected criteria (Images – Semantics – Practice), the article provides analysis of the shared tropes in self-perception and in the communication. The patterns were shared among the Western European subversive organizations but also imported from the countries of the Global South. The article further presents the lack of effort of the subversive organizations to create their own mark and graphic identity, whether consciously or not, to become a part of the “global anti-imperialist front.” It puts into question the utility of the traditional categorization of subversive organizations and discusses the use of the term “terrorism” regarding its self-perception and global context.

Contributor Notes

Mikuláš Pešta focuses on the history of the extra-parliamentary left in Europe, on the left-wing subversive groups of the 1970s and on Czechoslovakia's relations to the “Third World” countries. His PhD thesis, “Italian and German Left-Wing Terrorism in the 1970s in a Transnational Perspective,” has been published recently. He is a member of the Cold War Research Group at Charles University and worked in the Socialism Goes Global project at the University of Exeter. Email: mikulas.pesta@ff.cuni.cz. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6817-5101

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