Matt Feldman – Joseph Conrad: “Terrorologist”

Matt Feldman, reader in contemporary history and co-director of the Centre for Fascist, Anti-fascist and Post-fascist Studies at Teeside University, commences by looking at the prescience of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent which, despite its eloquent mastermind, depicts the attempted bombing of London by “simple” Stevie. This approach to the dynamics of terrorism is in keeping with recent research on the vulnerabilities – psychological or otherwise – of radicalised extremists in the last generation. Yet more importantly, by focussing on London during these years, this presentation turns to two instances of terrorist bombings targeting London since 1999. In both cases, David Copeland and the 7/7 bombers, like Stevie, came from “networks of support” that were not, strictu senso, traditionally hierarchical, terrorist groups. In fact, distinguishing between latter groups like the IRA, and wholly self-radicalised lone-wolf terrorists like the US’s Unabomber, this paper argues, is the single most pressing issue facing the study of home-grown terrorism today.

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