Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 2

Vol.XVIIINo.

2,Fall1998
MillenarianismandViolence
Rinehart,JamesF.RevolutionandtheMillennium:China,Mexico,andIran.WestportCTandLondon:Praeger,1997.
Barkun,Michael,ed.MillennialismandViolence.LondonandPortland,OR:FrankCass,1996.
Robbins,ThomasandSusanJ.Palmer,eds.Millennium,Messiahs,andMayhem:ContemporaryApocalypticMovements.NewYorkandLondon:Routledge,1997.
Forreligiousmovementsofallkinds,bothestablisheddenominationsandmoresociallytransgressive"sects,"religion'senormousforceliesinitssummoningofthepower
ofthesupernaturalasanallyofthefaithful.Thismayrangefromtheinnocuoushopeforabetterlifeinthehereafter,to,forinstance,abeliefintheefficacyoffaithtogrant
immunityfromtheenemy'sweapons.Howreligiousbeliefsorculturalsurvivalsofreligionarechanneledtoapoliticalormilitaryendisthefocusofthreerecentbookson
millenarianmovements.
Thedangerouspotentialofmillenarianismhasbecomeevidentinrecentyearsaslawenforcementauthoritieshaveconfrontedheavilyarmedgroups.Encounterswithsuch
groupscanbevolatilesincemillenarianmovementsdonotreactinmilitarytextbookways,butinsteadaccordingtotheirperceptionofGod'splan,somethingthatcanbe
difficultforoutsiderstoassess.Also,highercasualtyratesarelessofadeterrenttothemthantheyareforordinaryleadersandtroops.
Some,suchasJapan'sAumShinrikyo,haveperpetratedfatalterroristattacksonthepublic.Thisisreflectiveofanerawhenthetechnologytocommitheinousactsof
massmurderisavailablenotonlytothestate,butalsotoindividuals,inawaynotpresentbeforeinhumanhistory.ThesociologistJacquesEllulhasreferredtothis
phenomenonasthe"democratizationofevil."(RobbinsandPalmer,p.321)
ThecollapseoftheEasternBlochasallowedsophisticatedarmsand,potentially,weaponsofmassdestruction,tofallintothehandsofterroristgroups.Lawenforcement
agenciesworldwidearenowonthealertagainstthethreatofbiologicalandchemicalattacks,"thepoorman'satombomb."AumShinrikyo,whichmadeanervegas
attackontheTokyosubway,experimentedwithbiologicalweapons.Theymadeanunsuccessfulattempttospreadanthrax,andsentateamtoZaireinanattemptto
collecttheEbolavirusforpotential"weaponization."
Thepotentialofmillenariangroupsturningtheircapacityforviolenceonthemselvesandtheirfollowersisalsoaconcern,borneoutmostrecentlyinthemasssuicidesof
theBranchDavidians,theHeaven'sGategroup,andtheOrderoftheSolarTemple.
Recentstudiesofmillenarianmovementspossessvaryingmandates:JamesF.Rinehart'sRevolutionandtheMillennium:China,Mexico,andIranlooksathowindigenous
beliefswereutilizedbyrevolutionarymovementsintheThirdWorld.ThecollectionMillennialismandViolence,editedbyMichaelBarkunandfirstpublishedasaspecial
issueofthejournalTerrorismandPoliticalViolence,scrutinizesthemotivationsandinternaldynamicsofmillenariangroupsfromvariousculturesandperiods,bothancient
andcontemporary.Anothercollection,Millennium,Messiahs,andMayhem:ContemporaryApocalypticMovements,editedbyThomasRobbinsandSusanJ.Palmer,
examinesabroadspectrumofbehaviorandbeliefamongmostlyChristianinfluencedNorthAmericangroups.
Someofthesegroupsseektoviolentlybringaboutthemillennium,othersquietisticallyawaittheendoftime.Thesebehaviorsareknownrespectivelyaspostandpre
millennialist.Schismscanoccurbetweenpostandpremillennialistfactionswithinasinglegroup,oranentiregroup'sdoctrinecanshiftfromonetotheother.Theterm
millennialismisusedgenerallytorefertomovementsassociatedwithChristiandoctrine.ItderivesitsnamefromthebookofRevelation'spurportedthousandyearreignof
Christ,theculminationofwhichisexpectedtoresultintheviolentdestructionoftheworldandtheestablishmentofGod'sruleonearth.Theculminationofthemillennium
doesnotnecessarilycoincidewiththeWesterncalendar'smillennium,thoughmillennialistanxietywasrampantintheyearsbeforeandafter1000AD,andhasreemerged
tosomeextentinanticipationof2000.Thetermisoftenusedinterchangeablyintheliteraturewiththemoregeneraltermmillenarianism,whichreferstoanymovement
anticipatingagrandsocietaltransformation,regardlessofwhatyearthepredictedtransformationwilloccur.1
MostofthescholarsinthesethreebooksderivetheirdefinitionofmillenarianismfromNormanCohn'sseminalstudyInPursuitoftheMillennium:MessianisminMedieval
EuropeanditsBearingonModernTotalitarianMovements.Cohndistinguishesthesegroupsbytheirbeliefinachangethatwouldbe"collective,thisworldly,imminent,
total,andsupernatural."(Barkun,p.4)ThemostsignificantvariationonthisdefinitionistheexaminationofseculargroupssuchasEarthFirst!whoseapocalypticideology,
rhetoricandbehaviorresemblesthatofareligiousmovement.AlsoexaminedintheRobbinsandPalmercollectionaregroupsthatsubstitutesupernaturalinterventionwith
thebeliefthatextraterrestrialbeingswillbethesaviorsordestroyersofthepresentorder.
TheauthorofRevolutionandtheMillennium,ProfessorJamesRinehart,teachesattheUSArmyJohnF.KennedySpecialWarfareCenterandSchool.Hisworkargues
thatthetwentiethcenturyrevolutionaryupheavalsinChina,Mexico,andIrancontainedasignificantmillenariancontent.
WhereasNormanCohnhadinterpretedmillenarianismasaformofaberrance,orpsychopathology,Rinehartrejectsthisview,citingmillenarianism'stendencytoeruptat
particulartimesofsocialunrest.RinehartalsorejectstheconclusionsofEricHobsbawm,whoseesmillenarianismasaformofirrational,"prepoliticalbehavior."Instead,
hebaseshisstudyontheworkofanthropologistAnthonyF.C.Wallace,aspecialistinnonWesternmillenarianism,whoarguesthatthesemovementshaveastheirgoal
societalrevitalization.Theyariseinsocietiesthatareundersuchseveresocialdislocationthatthroughparticipationinsuchmovements,individualsgainpsychological
catharsisaswellashopeforsocialchange.RinehartarguesthatChina,indigenousMexico,andIran'sencounterswiththeimperialWestsoseverelycrippledtheprevious
socialorderthatsuchmovementsbecamenecessary.ThesefolkmillenarianmovementswerelatercooptedbyarevolutionaryleadershipwhofusedsecularWestern
notionsofrevolutionwiththenativemythos.
Rinehartistobegenerouslycreditedforthewealthofinformationthathehascollectedaboutthesethreecultures.RevolutionandtheMillenniumisexceedinglydetailed
anderuditelyannotated.Butsinceitsfocusishistoricalanddealswithmovementsatthenationallevel,thepsychologyofmillenarianismislessapparent,otherthanthevery
generalstatementshemakesaboutmillenarianism'sroleinprovidinganoutletforthosesufferingtheeffectsofsocialdisintegration.
Foramoreindepthtreatmentoftheinternalmechanicsofmillenarianmovements,severalcontributionsinMillennialismandViolenceprovidevaluableinsights.Dick
AnthonyandThomasRobbinssurveythepsychologicalliteratureonsectmembershipandargueforashiftfromwhatistermedtheextrinsicmodel,whichviewsmembers
ofmillenariansectsaspassivevictimsofcharismaticleaders,toamodelthatassertstheindividuals'voluntaryparticipation.DrawingonthewritingsofErikEriksonand
RobertLifton,theyarguethatindividualswhojoinsuchsectsareoftensubjecttoidentityconfusion.Theypossessa"splitself,"partofwhichidentifieswithconventional
sourcesofauthority,anotherwhichrejectsthatsameauthority.Oftentheseindividualsseekouthighlystructuredandauthoritarianmovementsassubstitutesforthe
conventionalauthorityfiguresthattheyhaverejected.
AnthonyandRobbinsalsonotethephenomenonofgroupsthatcurtailproselytizingandturninward,directingtheirattentionto"internalsurveillanceandmonitoring
memberstomaintaingroupsolidarity,"(Barkun,p.36)inordertopreservetheirthreatenedworldview.Thismayalsoincludeaphysicalretreat,suchasthePeople's
Temple'smovetoGuyana.ThepropensityforviolenceatthisstageishigherAnthonyandRobbinsspeculate,becauseproselytizationallowsawaytoconstructively
confrontahostileworld,yetatthesametimekeepthemoreexcessivetendenciesofthegroupinchecksincetheymust"beabletoconnectwiththerealityconstructions
of(eventroubled)outsiders."(Barkun,p.36)AnthonyandRobbinswarnthatpenetrationofthegroup'sboundariesattheretreatist"Mormonsolution"stagecanleadto
violentreactions,suchasthosethatoccurredatJonestown,Waco,andpossiblytheSwissandQuebecenclavesoftheOrderoftheSolarTemple.
AmongothercontributorstoMillennialismandViolence,JeanRosenfeld'sessayonthenineteenthandearlytwentiethcenturyNewZealandindigenousmovementsPai
Marire,showsamillenarianmovementthatdrewuponChristianthemes,integratedwithMaoritraditions,andorganizedaroundresistancetoBritishcolonialauthority.Due
totheviolentnatureofapocalypticrhetoric,sheobserves,itisoftenunclearfromtheliteratureandutterancesofmillenarianleaderswhatoutcomesmayoccur.Many
observersmistakemillenariangroups'violentsymbolismwithanactualwarplan.Itisthusimportanttodeterminetowhatextentthegroupispostmillennialist,i.e.how
prominentintheireschatologyisthegroup'sroleinusheringintheendtime.Shealsopointsouthowapunitivestanceonbehalfoflawenforcementofficialscanescalate
thegroup'scapacityforviolence.
JeffreyKaplan'scontributionontheUSantiabortionmovement'sturntoviolencetracestheroleamillennialistworldviewhadintheradicalizationofwhatwasinitiallya
civildisobediencemovement.ReinaldoRomn'sessayonpremodernChristianmillennialismshowshowabroadvarietyofbehaviorcanemergefromasingletradition.In
oppositiontotheothercontributors,hearguesthatthesourceideaisthebestexplanationforsubsequentbehaviorofthemovement,notexternalsocialfactorsor
psychopathology.
MarthaLee'sessayontheradicalenvironmentalmovementEarthFirst!appliesconceptslearnedinthestudyofmillenarianismtoasecularmovementthatemployedthe
threatofanimminentecologicalcatastropheasjustificationforitsviolentactsofsabotage.Themovementwaslatertoexperienceasplitinitsranks,withmanyofits
leadershiprepudiatingviolence.Althoughnoobjectioncanbemadeagainstusingthesameframeofanalysistostudyseculargroupsasreligiousones,Leedoesnot
remarkinthisessay,orinasimilaroneonthesamesubjectfortheRobbinsandPalmervolume,thatthesecularnatureofEarthFirst!mayhavebeenwhatenabledmuch
ofitsleadershiptochangetheircourse.
LeeemphasizeshowEarthFirst!couldnotreconciletheirbeliefinbiocentrismthebeliefthatallorganisms,fromvirustoman,possessedamoralequivalenceandrightto
survivewithapostmillennialistworldview.Thoughonecaneasilysaythatasecularmovementismillenarianincharacter,Lee'sanalysisseemstoforgetthatitissimpler
forasecularmovementtochangeitsdoctrinebecauseitdoesnothavetoengageinanelaboratereinterpretationofthetenetsofthe"faith."Theadamantinecertaintythat
religionprovidesitsfollowersalsomakesreligiousmovementslessflexible.AcloserhewingtoNormanCohn'soriginaldefinitionofmillenarianismashavingasupernatural
contentisperhapsrecommended.Althoughthereisnodenyingtheintertwiningofpoliticsandreligioninmillenarianbeliefsystems,thelevelofreligiousversussecular
fanaticism(ifsuchadistinctioncanbeassessed)mightbeasignificantfactorindeterminingthedirectionamillenarianmovementmighttake.
PalmerandRobbins'Millennium,Messiahs,andMayhem:ContemporaryApocalypticMovementsexaminesabroadspectrumofbehaviorandoutcomes.Itismore
orientedtothescholarofreligion,butscholarsofsecurityandlawenforcementissuesmayfindthebookinformative,particularlyasittracesthecontinuumofbehavior
amongmillenarianmovements.Afterall,manygroupsultimatelyeschewviolencedespiteyearsofhighlyoppositionalideologyandrhetoric.
Forinstance,RonaldLawson'scontributionlooksattheevolutionofSeventhDayAdventismfroma"sect,"whichisdefinedbyscholarsofreligionasbeingareligious
movementthathasaconflictualrelationshipwithsociety,toamoreestablishedandmainstream"denomination."2Lawson'sessayaswellasMassimoIntrovigne'schapter
onMormonism,looksathowthesechurchesfacedthedifficulttaskofjettisoningtheirmillennialistideas,whichhadbecameinappropriateduetotheirmoreestablished
positioninsociety,whilestillattractingandmaintainingadherentswhoweredrawntomillennialistideasthatremainedpartoftheinformalfolkcultureofthechurch.
SeveralcontributorstoMillennialismandViolencealsomakecontributionstothisvolumeaswell.EssaysbyMichaelBarkunandbyDickAnthonyandThomasRobbins
arguethatlawenforcementauthoritiesneedtobecautiouslesttheirconfrontationofmillennialistgroupsplayintothegroups'visionofanevilworldseekingtodestroythe
faithful.BarkuncommentsthatthislessonwasapparentlylearnedbyauthoritiesafterthedisastrousconfrontationsatRubyRidgeandWaco,andassimilatedintotheir
morecautiousstrategyusedwhenfacingtheMontanaFreemen.BarkuncitesstudiesofBritishyouthgangsinwhichapunitivereactionbyauthoritiestothegroup'sinitial
deviancetriggeredachainreactionofincreaseddeviancefollowedbymorepunitivereactionsfromauthorities.Heseesasimilarphenomenonoccurringinthecaseofthe
AmericanChristianIdentitymovement.Hissuggestionisthatauthoritiesmusteitherbeextremelypunitive,essentiallybreakingthebackofthemovement,orexceptionally
tolerant.Midrangeormixedmeasuresappearonlytoamplifydeviantbehavior.
Millenium,Messiahs,andMayhemregrettablycontainssomelessadequatepieces.ThechapteronAumShinrikyoisunfortunatelybriefanddoesnotcontainmuchmore
informationthananindepthnewspaperarticle.JamesAho'sspeciousattackonpostmodernismhaslittlebearingontheothercontributionsinthebookandseemsa
needlessdistractioninacollectionthatotherwisedoesnotaddresssuchmatters.
Despiteanyminorobjections,amongthesethreeworksthereemergesaroundedviewofthevarietyofmillenarianmovements,somesalientsuggestionsforassessingtheir
propensityforviolence,andsomewarningsthatshouldbeheededbythosewhosedutiesmightrequirethemtoconfrontsuchvolatilegroups.
SteveZitrin
ColumbiaUniversity
Endnotes
1.AlthoughtheJudeoChristianconceptionoflineartimeisconsideredthebasisofmillennialistandmillenarianideas,suchmovementshavealsoarisenincultureswhere
cyclicalnotionsoftimearethenorm(RobbinsandPalmer,pp.5455).
2.Theheavilyarmed,butlikelyharmlessBranchDavidiansweremillennialistschismaticsthatemergedfromtheSeventhDayAdventists.Foradiscussionofthe
denominationalizationofsects,seePaulWilkinson,SocialMovement(NewYork:Praeger,1971)pp.6568.
Vol.XVIIINo.2,Fall1998
MillenarianismandViolence
Rinehart,JamesF.RevolutionandtheMillennium:China,Mexico,andIran.WestportCTandLondon:Praeger,1997.
Barkun,Michael,ed.MillennialismandViolence.LondonandPortland,OR:FrankCass,1996.
Robbins,ThomasandSusanJ.Palmer,eds.Millennium,Messiahs,andMayhem:ContemporaryApocalypticMovements.NewYorkandLondon:Routledge,1997.
Forreligiousmovementsofallkinds,bothestablisheddenominationsandmoresociallytransgressive"sects,"religion'senormousforceliesinitssummoningofthepower
ofthesupernaturalasanallyofthefaithful.Thismayrangefromtheinnocuoushopeforabetterlifeinthehereafter,to,forinstance,abeliefintheefficacyoffaithtogrant
immunityfromtheenemy'sweapons.Howreligiousbeliefsorculturalsurvivalsofreligionarechanneledtoapoliticalormilitaryendisthefocusofthreerecentbookson
millenarianmovements.
Thedangerouspotentialofmillenarianismhasbecomeevidentinrecentyearsaslawenforcementauthoritieshaveconfrontedheavilyarmedgroups.Encounterswithsuch
groupscanbevolatilesincemillenarianmovementsdonotreactinmilitarytextbookways,butinsteadaccordingtotheirperceptionofGod'splan,somethingthatcanbe
difficultforoutsiderstoassess.Also,highercasualtyratesarelessofadeterrenttothemthantheyareforordinaryleadersandtroops.
Some,suchasJapan'sAumShinrikyo,haveperpetratedfatalterroristattacksonthepublic.Thisisreflectiveofanerawhenthetechnologytocommitheinousactsof
massmurderisavailablenotonlytothestate,butalsotoindividuals,inawaynotpresentbeforeinhumanhistory.ThesociologistJacquesEllulhasreferredtothis
phenomenonasthe"democratizationofevil."(RobbinsandPalmer,p.321)
ThecollapseoftheEasternBlochasallowedsophisticatedarmsand,potentially,weaponsofmassdestruction,tofallintothehandsofterroristgroups.Lawenforcement
agenciesworldwidearenowonthealertagainstthethreatofbiologicalandchemicalattacks,"thepoorman'satombomb."AumShinrikyo,whichmadeanervegas
attackontheTokyosubway,experimentedwithbiologicalweapons.Theymadeanunsuccessfulattempttospreadanthrax,andsentateamtoZaireinanattemptto
collecttheEbolavirusforpotential"weaponization."
Thepotentialofmillenariangroupsturningtheircapacityforviolenceonthemselvesandtheirfollowersisalsoaconcern,borneoutmostrecentlyinthemasssuicidesof
theBranchDavidians,theHeaven'sGategroup,andtheOrderoftheSolarTemple.
Recentstudiesofmillenarianmovementspossessvaryingmandates:JamesF.Rinehart'sRevolutionandtheMillennium:China,Mexico,andIranlooksathowindigenous
beliefswereutilizedbyrevolutionarymovementsintheThirdWorld.ThecollectionMillennialismandViolence,editedbyMichaelBarkunandfirstpublishedasaspecial
issueofthejournalTerrorismandPoliticalViolence,scrutinizesthemotivationsandinternaldynamicsofmillenariangroupsfromvariousculturesandperiods,bothancient
andcontemporary.Anothercollection,Millennium,Messiahs,andMayhem:ContemporaryApocalypticMovements,editedbyThomasRobbinsandSusanJ.Palmer,
examinesabroadspectrumofbehaviorandbeliefamongmostlyChristianinfluencedNorthAmericangroups.
Someofthesegroupsseektoviolentlybringaboutthemillennium,othersquietisticallyawaittheendoftime.Thesebehaviorsareknownrespectivelyaspostandpre
millennialist.Schismscanoccurbetweenpostandpremillennialistfactionswithinasinglegroup,oranentiregroup'sdoctrinecanshiftfromonetotheother.Theterm
millennialismisusedgenerallytorefertomovementsassociatedwithChristiandoctrine.ItderivesitsnamefromthebookofRevelation'spurportedthousandyearreignof
Christ,theculminationofwhichisexpectedtoresultintheviolentdestructionoftheworldandtheestablishmentofGod'sruleonearth.Theculminationofthemillennium
doesnotnecessarilycoincidewiththeWesterncalendar'smillennium,thoughmillennialistanxietywasrampantintheyearsbeforeandafter1000AD,andhasreemerged
tosomeextentinanticipationof2000.Thetermisoftenusedinterchangeablyintheliteraturewiththemoregeneraltermmillenarianism,whichreferstoanymovement
anticipatingagrandsocietaltransformation,regardlessofwhatyearthepredictedtransformationwilloccur.1
MostofthescholarsinthesethreebooksderivetheirdefinitionofmillenarianismfromNormanCohn'sseminalstudyInPursuitoftheMillennium:MessianisminMedieval
EuropeanditsBearingonModernTotalitarianMovements.Cohndistinguishesthesegroupsbytheirbeliefinachangethatwouldbe"collective,thisworldly,imminent,
total,andsupernatural."(Barkun,p.4)ThemostsignificantvariationonthisdefinitionistheexaminationofseculargroupssuchasEarthFirst!whoseapocalypticideology,
rhetoricandbehaviorresemblesthatofareligiousmovement.AlsoexaminedintheRobbinsandPalmercollectionaregroupsthatsubstitutesupernaturalinterventionwith
thebeliefthatextraterrestrialbeingswillbethesaviorsordestroyersofthepresentorder.
TheauthorofRevolutionandtheMillennium,ProfessorJamesRinehart,teachesattheUSArmyJohnF.KennedySpecialWarfareCenterandSchool.Hisworkargues
thatthetwentiethcenturyrevolutionaryupheavalsinChina,Mexico,andIrancontainedasignificantmillenariancontent.
WhereasNormanCohnhadinterpretedmillenarianismasaformofaberrance,orpsychopathology,Rinehartrejectsthisview,citingmillenarianism'stendencytoeruptat
particulartimesofsocialunrest.RinehartalsorejectstheconclusionsofEricHobsbawm,whoseesmillenarianismasaformofirrational,"prepoliticalbehavior."Instead,
hebaseshisstudyontheworkofanthropologistAnthonyF.C.Wallace,aspecialistinnonWesternmillenarianism,whoarguesthatthesemovementshaveastheirgoal
societalrevitalization.Theyariseinsocietiesthatareundersuchseveresocialdislocationthatthroughparticipationinsuchmovements,individualsgainpsychological
catharsisaswellashopeforsocialchange.RinehartarguesthatChina,indigenousMexico,andIran'sencounterswiththeimperialWestsoseverelycrippledtheprevious
socialorderthatsuchmovementsbecamenecessary.ThesefolkmillenarianmovementswerelatercooptedbyarevolutionaryleadershipwhofusedsecularWestern
notionsofrevolutionwiththenativemythos.
Rinehartistobegenerouslycreditedforthewealthofinformationthathehascollectedaboutthesethreecultures.RevolutionandtheMillenniumisexceedinglydetailed
anderuditelyannotated.Butsinceitsfocusishistoricalanddealswithmovementsatthenationallevel,thepsychologyofmillenarianismislessapparent,otherthanthevery
generalstatementshemakesaboutmillenarianism'sroleinprovidinganoutletforthosesufferingtheeffectsofsocialdisintegration.
Foramoreindepthtreatmentoftheinternalmechanicsofmillenarianmovements,severalcontributionsinMillennialismandViolenceprovidevaluableinsights.Dick
AnthonyandThomasRobbinssurveythepsychologicalliteratureonsectmembershipandargueforashiftfromwhatistermedtheextrinsicmodel,whichviewsmembers
ofmillenariansectsaspassivevictimsofcharismaticleaders,toamodelthatassertstheindividuals'voluntaryparticipation.DrawingonthewritingsofErikEriksonand
RobertLifton,theyarguethatindividualswhojoinsuchsectsareoftensubjecttoidentityconfusion.Theypossessa"splitself,"partofwhichidentifieswithconventional
sourcesofauthority,anotherwhichrejectsthatsameauthority.Oftentheseindividualsseekouthighlystructuredandauthoritarianmovementsassubstitutesforthe
conventionalauthorityfiguresthattheyhaverejected.
AnthonyandRobbinsalsonotethephenomenonofgroupsthatcurtailproselytizingandturninward,directingtheirattentionto"internalsurveillanceandmonitoring
memberstomaintaingroupsolidarity,"(Barkun,p.36)inordertopreservetheirthreatenedworldview.Thismayalsoincludeaphysicalretreat,suchasthePeople's
Temple'smovetoGuyana.ThepropensityforviolenceatthisstageishigherAnthonyandRobbinsspeculate,becauseproselytizationallowsawaytoconstructively
confrontahostileworld,yetatthesametimekeepthemoreexcessivetendenciesofthegroupinchecksincetheymust"beabletoconnectwiththerealityconstructions
of(eventroubled)outsiders."(Barkun,p.36)AnthonyandRobbinswarnthatpenetrationofthegroup'sboundariesattheretreatist"Mormonsolution"stagecanleadto
violentreactions,suchasthosethatoccurredatJonestown,Waco,andpossiblytheSwissandQuebecenclavesoftheOrderoftheSolarTemple.
AmongothercontributorstoMillennialismandViolence,JeanRosenfeld'sessayonthenineteenthandearlytwentiethcenturyNewZealandindigenousmovementsPai
Marire,showsamillenarianmovementthatdrewuponChristianthemes,integratedwithMaoritraditions,andorganizedaroundresistancetoBritishcolonialauthority.Due
totheviolentnatureofapocalypticrhetoric,sheobserves,itisoftenunclearfromtheliteratureandutterancesofmillenarianleaderswhatoutcomesmayoccur.Many
observersmistakemillenariangroups'violentsymbolismwithanactualwarplan.Itisthusimportanttodeterminetowhatextentthegroupispostmillennialist,i.e.how
prominentintheireschatologyisthegroup'sroleinusheringintheendtime.Shealsopointsouthowapunitivestanceonbehalfoflawenforcementofficialscanescalate
thegroup'scapacityforviolence.
JeffreyKaplan'scontributionontheUSantiabortionmovement'sturntoviolencetracestheroleamillennialistworldviewhadintheradicalizationofwhatwasinitiallya
civildisobediencemovement.ReinaldoRomn'sessayonpremodernChristianmillennialismshowshowabroadvarietyofbehaviorcanemergefromasingletradition.In
oppositiontotheothercontributors,hearguesthatthesourceideaisthebestexplanationforsubsequentbehaviorofthemovement,notexternalsocialfactorsor
psychopathology.
MarthaLee'sessayontheradicalenvironmentalmovementEarthFirst!appliesconceptslearnedinthestudyofmillenarianismtoasecularmovementthatemployedthe
threatofanimminentecologicalcatastropheasjustificationforitsviolentactsofsabotage.Themovementwaslatertoexperienceasplitinitsranks,withmanyofits
leadershiprepudiatingviolence.Althoughnoobjectioncanbemadeagainstusingthesameframeofanalysistostudyseculargroupsasreligiousones,Leedoesnot
remarkinthisessay,orinasimilaroneonthesamesubjectfortheRobbinsandPalmervolume,thatthesecularnatureofEarthFirst!mayhavebeenwhatenabledmuch
ofitsleadershiptochangetheircourse.
LeeemphasizeshowEarthFirst!couldnotreconciletheirbeliefinbiocentrismthebeliefthatallorganisms,fromvirustoman,possessedamoralequivalenceandrightto
survivewithapostmillennialistworldview.Thoughonecaneasilysaythatasecularmovementismillenarianincharacter,Lee'sanalysisseemstoforgetthatitissimpler
forasecularmovementtochangeitsdoctrinebecauseitdoesnothavetoengageinanelaboratereinterpretationofthetenetsofthe"faith."Theadamantinecertaintythat
religionprovidesitsfollowersalsomakesreligiousmovementslessflexible.AcloserhewingtoNormanCohn'soriginaldefinitionofmillenarianismashavingasupernatural
contentisperhapsrecommended.Althoughthereisnodenyingtheintertwiningofpoliticsandreligioninmillenarianbeliefsystems,thelevelofreligiousversussecular
fanaticism(ifsuchadistinctioncanbeassessed)mightbeasignificantfactorindeterminingthedirectionamillenarianmovementmighttake.
PalmerandRobbins'Millennium,Messiahs,andMayhem:ContemporaryApocalypticMovementsexaminesabroadspectrumofbehaviorandoutcomes.Itismore
orientedtothescholarofreligion,butscholarsofsecurityandlawenforcementissuesmayfindthebookinformative,particularlyasittracesthecontinuumofbehavior
amongmillenarianmovements.Afterall,manygroupsultimatelyeschewviolencedespiteyearsofhighlyoppositionalideologyandrhetoric.
Forinstance,RonaldLawson'scontributionlooksattheevolutionofSeventhDayAdventismfroma"sect,"whichisdefinedbyscholarsofreligionasbeingareligious
movementthathasaconflictualrelationshipwithsociety,toamoreestablishedandmainstream"denomination."2Lawson'sessayaswellasMassimoIntrovigne'schapter
onMormonism,looksathowthesechurchesfacedthedifficulttaskofjettisoningtheirmillennialistideas,whichhadbecameinappropriateduetotheirmoreestablished
positioninsociety,whilestillattractingandmaintainingadherentswhoweredrawntomillennialistideasthatremainedpartoftheinformalfolkcultureofthechurch.
SeveralcontributorstoMillennialismandViolencealsomakecontributionstothisvolumeaswell.EssaysbyMichaelBarkunandbyDickAnthonyandThomasRobbins
arguethatlawenforcementauthoritiesneedtobecautiouslesttheirconfrontationofmillennialistgroupsplayintothegroups'visionofanevilworldseekingtodestroythe
faithful.BarkuncommentsthatthislessonwasapparentlylearnedbyauthoritiesafterthedisastrousconfrontationsatRubyRidgeandWaco,andassimilatedintotheir
morecautiousstrategyusedwhenfacingtheMontanaFreemen.BarkuncitesstudiesofBritishyouthgangsinwhichapunitivereactionbyauthoritiestothegroup'sinitial
deviancetriggeredachainreactionofincreaseddeviancefollowedbymorepunitivereactionsfromauthorities.Heseesasimilarphenomenonoccurringinthecaseofthe
AmericanChristianIdentitymovement.Hissuggestionisthatauthoritiesmusteitherbeextremelypunitive,essentiallybreakingthebackofthemovement,orexceptionally
tolerant.Midrangeormixedmeasuresappearonlytoamplifydeviantbehavior.
Millenium,Messiahs,andMayhemregrettablycontainssomelessadequatepieces.ThechapteronAumShinrikyoisunfortunatelybriefanddoesnotcontainmuchmore
informationthananindepthnewspaperarticle.JamesAho'sspeciousattackonpostmodernismhaslittlebearingontheothercontributionsinthebookandseemsa
needlessdistractioninacollectionthatotherwisedoesnotaddresssuchmatters.
Despiteanyminorobjections,amongthesethreeworksthereemergesaroundedviewofthevarietyofmillenarianmovements,somesalientsuggestionsforassessingtheir
propensityforviolence,andsomewarningsthatshouldbeheededbythosewhosedutiesmightrequirethemtoconfrontsuchvolatilegroups.
SteveZitrin
ColumbiaUniversity
Endnotes
1.AlthoughtheJudeoChristianconceptionoflineartimeisconsideredthebasisofmillennialistandmillenarianideas,suchmovementshavealsoarisenincultureswhere
cyclicalnotionsoftimearethenorm(RobbinsandPalmer,pp.5455).
2.Theheavilyarmed,butlikelyharmlessBranchDavidiansweremillennialistschismaticsthatemergedfromtheSeventhDayAdventists.Foradiscussionofthe
denominationalizationofsects,seePaulWilkinson,SocialMovement(NewYork:Praeger,1971)pp.6568.