More Grist to the Mill? Reciprocal Radicalisation and Reactions to Terrorism in the Far-Right Digital Milieu

Reciprocal radicalisation is the theory that extremist organisations are connected and feed on one another’s rhetoric and actions to justify violent escalation. Recent empirical work has suggested that reciprocal radicalisation is a good deal more subtle than is often assumed, and is nuanced by organisational, social and political context. This study seeks to apply the theory of reciprocal radicalisation to the far-right digital milieu, an online space conceptualised as underpinning the varying physical manifestations of the far-right. Based on a qualitative thematic analysis of user posts in three far-right web forums, the study concludes that responses to ideologically opposed terrorism within the far-right milieu are often at odds with the assumed radicalising effects of terrorist attacks. While responses were not uniform, for many users in the far-right digital milieu, jihadist terrorism was an obvious and expected result of the wider failures of politics and society. Although there were some calls for violent reprisal, they were juxtaposed by non-violent responses which interpreted jihadist terror as a consequence and sign of societal decadence and political weakness around issues of migration and rights.

Tags: far-right extremism, Radicalisation, right-wing terrorism