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Anatomy of the Red BrigadesThe Religious Mind-set of Modern Terrorists$
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Alessandro Orsini

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449864

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449864.001.0001

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The Masters of the Red Brigades

The Masters of the Red Brigades

Chapter 5 The Masters of the Red Brigades
Anatomy of the Red Brigades

Alessandro Orsini

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on the illustrious predecessors of the Red Brigades. They belong to a politico-religious tradition that, in its most complete form represented by the Jacobin revolution, boasts at least two centuries of history. Although the core event was Robespierre's ascent to power, the historic rise of revolutionary gnosticism started with the Protestant theologian Thomas Müntzer, the first to accomplish a revolution in the attempt in install paradise on earth. He represents an “anthropological type” that still exists today. The chapter also considers John of Leiden who, between 1534 and 1535, helped establish a theocratic-communalistic republic, based on the massive and systematic use of totalitarian terror; François-Noël (Gracchus) Babeuf who organized a rebellion, “the Conspiracy of the Equals,” to implement communism against the Thermidorian Reaction that had overturned Robespierre; and Karl Marx who sought to remedy the evils of capitalism and build a “new world” where men would have been free and happy forever.

Keywords:   Thomas Müntzer, revolutionary gnosticism, John of Leiden, Red Brigades, revolutionaries, Jacobin revolution, Robespierre, Karl Marx

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