On ‘Leaderless Resistance’

If you’ve read enough Liberty Movement blogs, including the comments, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the phrase leaderless resistance. Like a great deal of topics in oft-misunderstood Unconventional Warfare, phrases and concepts seem to get parroted back and forth; whether they actually have merit or not is another topic entirely. We’ll discuss where and when it works, what it actually requires, and how its implemented.

Required Conditions

“Leaderless Resistance” is actually a misnomer- some equate this with “nobody’s the leader, I do what I want”, which is an excuse to evade personal and cohesive discipline. That’s wholly inaccurate; and is also one reason stand-offs and the like fail. It is not a fantasy of running amok in the countryside, rather it’s a bottom-up model rooted in the Marxist class struggle. At the core it is a description of cellular structure with no central command apparatus micromanaging movements as in a conventional army, all working to a common defined goal determined by the larger movement.

Neckacing Nelson offers some advice.

The concept relies upon the psyche of the envisioned captor- the insurgent must, in order to succeed, convince an active populace that there is first a problem and then second, that there is an oppressor in need of overthrowing. Risk encountered by the actors is justified; that victory must be attained at all cost; that any burden felt is indeed part of a worthy cause. The Left is adept at this, hence why a demonstrably failed philosophy as Marxism continues to be propagated.

Marxism is the oppressor. Marxism is perfected capitalism; it is the destruction of both a people and moral fiber which holds a civilization together. It is denial of human nature and natural biology, in an effort to break down thence remold in a new, totalitarian vision.

George Orwell, a one-time Communist himself, warned you about Big Brother.

Any outliers or ill-fit get removed; the bohemians used as cultural cannon fodder get rounded up as useless to the new state, murdered by the machine of which they helped to create.

The problem is that detail conveniently gets left out. Marxists aim to exploit any and every social fracture, targeting disaffected persons and statistical outliers. Everything is going to be made equal- if you just do it their way, allowing for complete oligarchical exploitation inevitably leading to failure. And they’ve perfected this propagandizing process since the early Jacobins first organized peasant revolts. I must remind those not well versed in history that Anarchism is not the absence of rule of law and obedience to no masters, but rather originally the absence of rule from the current rulers. Logically, and according to the conclusions of anarchist philosophers such as Noam Chomsky, this paves the way towards a new seemingly egalitarian ruling class, but as history proves in every case, the result becomes more tyrannical than the one replaced.

Useful idiots on parade.

All of this points to a couple of truths; anarchical resistance must first begin when there is a populace to support it and a common image of oppression constantly being reinforced to the proletariat. It is from this source that the movement exists, and until realized, any militant model will continue to be castigated and othered into obscurity. Those of you who remember the 90s will understand this concept well; the Clinton regime was much better at this than the Obamas, due entirely to the public’s willingness to trust the official propaganda outlets and widespread level of economic comfort experienced. The media painted the militia as outliers, rouges and criminals, a band of brigands who were social misfits and thus suitable political targets. 2008 and onward has been a different story due to the wider availability of uncontrolled media and a declining economy.

Worsening conditions at home and abroad, whether real or imagined, creates a space for militantism on both ends of the spectrum. Anger must have a root, and the justification for potential suffering must be realized. The battle then becomes one for the overall narrative and then for greater legitimacy among the general populace. All media is propaganda; he who controls the flow of information, controls the direction of the fight. As often shared in this blog, obscure media stories are most often the ones of greatest importance; they point to a pattern of future incidents. This leads us to the primary phase of an insurgency.

Narratives- the lead up to a Resistance

A brilliant example of Interior propaganda for the Liberty Movement.

Movements must begin with a common source of information. Gatherings, alternate takes on headlines, and reporting on unreported events are each key items in the effective propaganda model. Propaganda in and of itself is often viewed as a malignant term; it’s not, but rather is neutral depending on which direction it’s aimed. All media is propaganda. 

Propaganda falls into two categories: Interior and Exterior. Interior is speaking to a specific audience, your audience. It reinforces group memes and lays out objectives and a course of action. You likely will not win over many folks with Interior propaganda, and that’s fine. That’s what Exterior propaganda is for.

An early Anarchist rag, this one from Chicago.

In order to be effective, Exterior Propaganda must reach more than just its intended audience. One key element is the ability to identify and isolate paradoxes in the opposing side’s models for success. Communist propaganda over shortwave radio and currently on NPR domestically do this through eroding confidence in free market capitalism. Most commonly the concept of the wage gap between management and labor will be emphasized, and when that becomes negligible, race and gender in the workplace take the argument’s place. Anger builds from resentment of perceived exploitation, when in fact there likely is little of this in practice. Both labor and management must and always will exist; but a dichotomous relationship is created to serve the narrative based on class envy. It plants ideas without overtly calling for an overthrow of a management or ruling class, although this is the aim. Effective propaganda often avoids being overt, but rather guises itself in seemingly more accessible manners to a greater populace. It serves little purpose if it only talks to the same audience; it must grow in order to be successful.

Obama…er…Andy Stern’s vision for America.

Take this poster to the right. It’s aimed at “workers” but does not define exactly what that is. Any worker, whether in a factory or flipping burgers can rally behind this image. In actuality it’s a campaign ad for Obama and the Marxist Democrats from the Service Employees International Union, a Communist front group. That last part is left out.

The challenge then becomes taking images like this one, and directing a new narrative pointing out exactly to what extent this model has failed. And failed it has; but the root cause will always be deflected by the Left and construed as a result of Capitalism. Building a competent and coherent message specifically addressing an adversary’s failure is the cornerstone of conveying effective propaganda.

The growth of a message takes time. Movements are slow, but once they gain steam, can become mainstream very rapidly when given the opportunity. It is the propagandist’s role to realize when these conditions become ripe and greatly ramp up the pressure at that time.


The next part of the equation is visibility. In order to become viable in the public’s eye, they must first be aware of a movement’s existence and then be able to make order of it. Gang colors, message clothing, symbology and public outings are all part of this. Perceived uniformity conveys an idea of a unified message; it is not simply an angry gaggle. This becomes the point where a group can gain legitimacy or revert back to obscurity; it matters not the opinion of the followers but rather the public perception.

BLM delivers on its promises to act.

This imagery can become a double edged sword; a movement must walk the line between looking too inaccessible to the public and conversely, too clownish to take seriously. The difference between these two is the willingness to act.

When a group fails to deliver on its promises, it becomes less legitimate in the eye of its observers. The folks on the sidelines are the minds being fought for; when declarations are made, they must be followed. When they’re called on a bluff, a movement reverts back to the beginning of the propaganda phase, if it even continues to exist at all.


It’s been said that the Left benefits from chaos, and this is a bit simplistic. The Left rather creates chaos determined by the aforementioned factors, then exploits this created opportunity to either further the goals of the state or bringing the argument of the agitators to the forefront through visceral visibility, often times with both being accomplished depending on who holds the power of office at that time. The Right is thus left to react. That chaos is created in three distinct parts, with the first two overlapping somewhat, and highly dependent upon which action phase the insurgency lay.

  1. Lone Actor, Small Team, or “Lone Wolf” Attacks
  2. Mass Mob Attacks
  3. Overt Warfare

Lone Actor, or “Lone Wolf” attacks are commonly what we know of currently as “terrorism”. While academics argue over a coherent definition to suit politically defined models(and they fail to do so out of a need to leave the door open for targeting political opponents), I define terrorism as Politically motivated violence against a populace for the gain of attention to a cause. And yes, all religion is political too. These actions happen by small cells- little groups acting independently of one another, often very loosely, attacking targets of opportunity over time. These exist to tie up the efforts and discredit capability of the perceived oppressor to keep it’s citizens safe.

One of the DC snipers’ motivations are quite clear through his drawings.

Realizing this is asymmetric, attacks follow the CARVER model with a heavy emphasis on Recognizability. It is these small groups that are commonly known as “sleeper cells”, going active on command or at some predetermined point from a culmination of other factors. Events or attacks may not be overtly linked but it must be remembered that each are validated by the realization of the common goal- and the belief that victory will eventually be attained at some point, but only through greater recognizability and attention spread to the cause through violence. This is the method most amateurs associate with “Leaderless Resistance”. In truth, this method is but one element of a much larger equation. Skipping to this method without first establishing a support structure ensures complete failure. Each mistake causes irreplaceable losses without a support structure to replicate new followers. The oppressor has limitless manpower resources and a loss does not mean that much; the aggressor does not.

Mass Mob Attacks, or “flash mobs” are another, often simultaneous act, a bit more sophisticated attack requiring organizational skill, normally at low physical risk by its organizers compared to Lone Wolf attacks. The goal is to flood an area, creating a physical denial or disruption of service. This style of attack occurs concurrently to the first method, normally by enticing youths already prone to criminality to do what comes natural. Most of them may or may not support a common goal, but have a common recognized interest, and once the group mentality takes over none of the differences matter. flashChaos ensues, and amongst it, a handful of the organizing cadre will be seen wearing message clothing attached to the movement. It is this cadre that must be identified; they hold the keys. Within this category, there’s two levels; localized, being isolated in a sole store, mall, or other limited area associated with the oppressor, and second being a riot. I must at this point emphasize that during the “Arab Spring”, each of the riots followed this same model, including Ukraine. My personal belief is that the same people caused the chaos in all locations, but I digress. It gradually accelerated into full blown civil war. Pictured below is Egypt, Ferguson, and Ukraine, respectively in their riot phases. The similarities should be obvious, and cannot be ignored.

Overt Warfare is the final phase of action in an insurgency. This cannot occur until the sides have fully galvanized and but one way forward is realized. The people, who will bear the complete burden of the actions of the guerrilla, must completely support the combatant element. The entire populace, naturally, will not support your efforts. But a good number in a region bound by common attitudes must. This should be accomplished through the propaganda phase and continues by highlighting the successes of their forces. The victories must outweigh the setbacks, the poverty must be justified, and the population must be willing to run the risks associated with criminal activities. Rebellion is always a criminal act.


Standoffs are dead ends. That’s reality. Failing to act at crucial points is also a dead end, killing a movement in its infancy. Failing to grow your base is a dead end. All three of these traps are pitfalls which the Liberty Movement continuously finds itself mired in.

In order to succeed, the Right must understand and competently deliver a response beyond simply countering propaganda. The Liberty Movement in particular must remove the wanna-be stigma, and in order to do that must appear on its face to be legitimate in the eyes of its potential support base. This means knocking off the Tac-team crap in public. Through legitimate actors, another obstacle exists in that most are competent, productive citizens unlike our Leftist counterparts who are largely unemployed or the product of a wealthy bourgeois existence they so despise. We stand to lose while the Left only stands to gain through unconventional social activity. Until this changes, it’s hard to counter. It must also be realized that the Right views the world from a moral high ground; the Left sees no such thing. Their idea is to win at all cost, and morals can be recreated to fit the needs of the new state later, normally at heavy cost of life. Until a movement can begin to successfully exploit the roots of anger, using every method possible to stir up as much fury as possible, it cannot get past the visibility phase. Once at that point, it must act. Morals are relative to the situation; we’re a long way past civility.

All is not lost; if they could’ve won completely by now they would have (although they’re a lot closer to it than we are), but to simply dismiss yourself into an ineffective half-model and staffed by lazy or ignorant people is a recipe for loss. Now is not the time for games. The Left will begin to go fangs-out soon, likely coupled with an economic implosion, but if not that then definitely from the next election(provided we make it that far) seeking the minds of the masses in an effort to blame the same factors they helped create. If you’ll also notice, the entire model I’ve used is based on actions of the Left(and their Islamist proxy), concluding Overt Warfare. They’re getting ready, already meeting both of the first two conditions of action, and we’re the target.

Leaderless Resistance is much more than a simple fantasy of running amok in the countryside with little to no discipline.

26 thoughts on “On ‘Leaderless Resistance’

  1. mtnforge

    Oh I like that, you put a lot of thought and consideration into this essay.
    Appreciate you NCS. I hope everyone gets to reading this.

    I’ve tried to become a connoisseur of agitprop of sorts, I’ve noticed in this digital graphic age the visual associations has a very important part to play. It conveys meaning and messages in a way mere words are not capable of. You can see an evolution on the liberty side that strikes me as more agile and perceptive, also more timely than the cultural marxists variety. Seems like legitimacy and moral high ground are an important aspect of that.

  2. Pingback: “We Have Leaderless Resistance, You Can’t Tell Me What To Do!” – Mason Dixon Tactical

  3. Pingback: “We Have Leaderless Resistance, You Can’t Tell Me What To Do!” | Prepper's Survival Homestead

  4. Sawbuck

    Another GREAT essay – and the title had my laughing hysterically as I saw myself as a young teenaged “know-it-all” who in retrospect couldn’t find my fanny with both hands, a seeing eye dog and a Triple-A map. I hope everyone who loves liberty sees this, and carries the message forward.

  5. Pingback: Brushbeater: On Resistance – “Leaderless” And Otherwise | Western Rifle Shooters Association

    1. No one should agree with me 100%…I certainly don’t all the time 🙂

      I’m simply pointing out the general phases which insurgencies go through; they all follow a general pattern, regardless of motivation.

  6. hillbillynick

    Excellent! Simply outstanding work. Concise and plain spoken, the Liberty movement needs more of this and less of “What AR ya runnin”? Recruiting graphic designers/printers should be high priority.

  7. Centurion_Cornelius

    As usual, NCS is right on the mark. Speaking of marks, the idea of IMAGES is critical.

    Q: Why are so many men addicted to porno?
    A: Simple: images. The shrinks and M.D.s tell us the male mind reacts and processes IMAGES much better than emotions.

    Let’s get and keep these “Leaderless Resistance” concepts and FREEDOM images out there, front and center.

    Images are like a hot branding iron on the minds of freedom loving men!

  8. Good article. Id be interested on reading what your thoughts on a Left vs Right, fight would look like, after sides are chosen and the overt warfare begins..

  9. Pingback: CORE KNOWLEDGE: On ‘Leaderless Resistance’ – brushbeater – The Americanist

  10. Student


    Do you have a suggested reading list so the average Joe can get a very basic education on this material. In many ways your blog is way above my head. I want to improve upon this.


    1. David Kilcullen is an excellent, accessible and contemporary author on the subject. MAJ H. John Poole’s works are critical also, particularly Phantom Soldier, Dragon Days and Tequila Junction, explaining eastern populist warfare, Chinese methods of influence, and Marxist movements in South America, respectively. John West’s Fry The Brain is another good work, related, but more centric to the role of the sniper as an asymmetric weapon. Dr. Joseph P. Martino’s Resistance to Tyranny is a very scholarly work as well, one that I don’t necessarily agree with in the areas of small unit development, but important all the same.

      Although a Marxist, and one who deserves a good amount of scorn, Che Guevara’s Guerrilla Warfare is a very simple to understand format of populist movements. There’s a reason it’s an encouraged read around many units concerned with counterinsurgency. Bert Levy’s older book of the same name is a good, quick read also. He was a socialist as well, but was tasked by our government to develop a guerrilla training program in case of invasion during WWII, and travelled around the US doing so much like many gun coaches these days.

      The information contained is valuable, historically proven(in case anyone happens to argue otherwise) and will give the reader a better idea of reality vs. myth.

      1. Yeah, William Lind and MAJ Poole go hand in hand- Lind, IIRC, first coined the “generations of warfare” theory, placing the current paradigm in the fourth generation. He also wrote the preface to a few of Poole’s books.

        Quite simply, it’s the weaponizing of the media. And it occurs just as I described in the article, creating a propaganda machine before initiating any sort of visibility; then highlighting visibility through propaganda.

      2. Absolutely.

        One could easily argue that the mess we are in is a direct product of external propaganda. It’s also the main driving force behind a lack of positive change, in terms of greater Liberty, and prosperity, for all.

    1. I don’t disagree at all.

      Firearms have a very specific place, and are one dimensional on the battlefield.

      They’re only tools; that’s why I don’t talk about them much on here.

  11. Ralph

    One distinction in political versus religious terror: a political actor has an inherent limit on the nature of the act – the act has to be “Recognizable” enough to draw attention to the cause, but not so horrific as to alienate the target audience. In contrast, the religious actor, or any other nihilist, has no such constraint. If non-believers die in mass numbers and in a particularly gruesome manner, this is “God’s will” and all to the good. The prospect of negotiating with a political actor and finding some common ground is not impossible – whereas it most certainly is with a religious, or nihilistic actor. Similarly when you’re trying to reconcile with any “faith-based” ideology – “gang green” for example: total disregard for factual data that would dispute the accepted dogma…no reconciliation possible – victory must be absolute.

    1. Yes, you’re correct.

      I did not make that distinction because that was outside the aim of the piece; the models for violence are the same, if the ends are altered just a bit.

      It must be understood though, that religion is a form of political influence.

  12. Paul767

    NC: Good article. Not having read your blog before, I don’t know your beliefs, but I sense that you are a freedom, limited government actor.

    One mistake in your piece: The belief that the “left” has no moral code. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hench the continuous losses to the “left” worldwide, and finally in this country. Until that moral code is repudiated, no progress will be made in reversing the gains of the left. It does not matter that their goals bring about destruction and desolation, their goals are RIGHT and MORAL.

    Most conservatives and Christians cannot refute their moral code because to do so would undermine their beliefs.

    The moral code of the left, the great injunction which cannot be refuted by the Christians is the belief that you must sacrifice yourself for your fellow man. All else falls by the wayside in the pursuit of the sacrificial goal. As the ONLY moral injunction of the left, they are permitted to lie, cheat, steal and kill to achieve this moral high ground. And because you are SELFISH (evil), you must be forced into the sacrificial furnaces at the point of a gun. You must be made moral like them. If not, you are evil, racist, unconcerned with the poor, heartless, etc., etc. Because Christ said the same thing, the Christians are powerless to fight this battle, and continuously lose in the battle of ideas for the minds of men.

    This moral code was laid down in a book by a Christian philosopher, a German, in 1776. “Critique of Pure Reason” was written with the express goal of bringing Science and Religion back together. In it, Immanuel Kant postulates his morality, the morality that is used and abused the world over, the morality that gave rise to Communism and all it’s forms: Altruism. “An action is not moral unless you derive no benefit from it whatsoever”. 1776! Think on that. Since that time there has been NO philosopher, but one, who has refuted the moral goals of the Collectivists and gave voice to the productive people of the world. It takes better ideas to defeat consistent philosophical systems. Good ideas drive out bad. But it also takes time to spread the word. It was 237 years for his ideas to gain enough following to take down one complete country (Russia). It may take an equal amount of time to reverse the world-wide trend of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy! Already the correct ideas are spreading around the globe, only 68 years after publication. These ideas had a head start though, because our founding Constitution implicitly advocates for them (not explicitly) and the American people will not go quietly into slavery. Only time will tell.

    Take the oath: “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never be a slave to another man, nor allow another man to be a slave to me”.

    1. I thank you for the kind compliments, and yes, I am indeed a Minarchist.

      As for the moral code of the Left, I vehemently disagree. The Left as a structure seeks all inclusiveness usually sought by the Bohemian class; thus using them as a social weapon. These are your useful idiots.

      Once victory is attained, these people are the first to be eradicated; they serve no more use to the state. Morals are re-created to fit the needs of the new nation, strict adherence to the Center’s needs are enforced both overtly and in secret(through such organizations as the Stasi and the NKVD) and the truth becomes what they say it is.

      The cultured, university front that embodies the Left(and has for it’s history in this Nation) embraces and reinforces a furthering moral breakdown of social order to replace with their own later.

      That’s happened every single time in every Marxist uprising.

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