Leaderless Resistance Loses Revolutions
Leaderless resistance is the strategy of providing inspiration and vague direction and hoping that someone else will take action. Although the inspired individuals sometimes do act, without an organization to capitalize on that action (or provide strategic direction and logistical support) it is short lived at best, counter productive at worst (i.e. most of the time). In the 70 years since it was first defined, leaderless resistance has not once ever effected change anywhere. Archive
Colonel Amoss’ Big Beef
The origins of leaderless resistance is a paper written in 1953, then updated in 1962 by Colonel Ulius “Pete” Louis Amoss. His primary concern was to get the West to minimize the losses of fighting Communism, in lives and money. His secondary concern was to fight Communism by adopting a more secure underground structure.
An analysis of the paper  written by Colonel Amoss shows that he was frustrated with the way the war against the Communists was being fought. In the West, a large number of “opposition in exile” groups were getting massive funding from the intelligence agencies. In exchange for this funding, they were providing nothing of value, and worse, everyone that joined the opposition from inside Communist Europe ended up dead or in jail. The whole large organisation approach was a complete disaster, with people dying and money being wasted.
The “Leaderless Resistance” paper is basically Colonel Amoss saying, “Fuck this! We can’t win, but at least we can stop wasting money and actively leading people to their deaths.” This paper isn’t a strategy for winning, it is an admission of defeat and a strategy for minimizing loss. Amusingly, it was adopted as the white supremacist movement as their primary strategy. A number of other ideologies have adopted leaderless resistance, including radical hippies (ALF/ELF) and radical Islamists (AQAP/ISIS).
In Soviet Russia KGB Infiltrates You
Leaderless resistance was born out of the frustration of the high costs of supporting and maintaining in country “revolutionary” groups and emigre parties (i.e leadership structures). It was proposed as a way to minimize the exposure to mercenary emigre groups, insincere informers selling information (mostly bogus) for cash. Also, emigre groups don’t have interests perfectly aligned with the US so need to shield against their biases and their deliberately false reports. Where it is impossible to recruit directly because the security is too high, leaderless resistance offers a mechanism for providing some means of “shaping the battlespace” / fostering a receptive environment.
In the 1950s and 60s the West was focused primarily on courting emigre groups and establishing anti-communist parties. These groups were thoroughly penetrated by the Soviet counterintelligence agencies. In fact, in some cases, such as the Polish WIN party, they were actually run directly by the KGB.
Colonel Amoss correctly diagnosed that the problem was with the Western approach to running a covert organisation. This approach was developed during WWII against the Germans in Occupied Europe. The underground organisations where huge, with dozens or even hundreds of people known to each other and connected via couriers and controlled by OSS/SOE agents. These huge structures had poor internal security, due to no compartmentation, and were easily rolled up once the Germans captured even a single member. The KGB was significantly more effective at penetrating this sort of organisation than the Abwehr.
Aware of the security problems of a huge sprawling network of operatives, Colonel Amoss proposed a more secure structure . The solution he proposed was to create an organisation of autonomous cells that are self directed. This would protect them against penetration by the KGB since each cell would be completely compartmented from the others. This is an extremely secure system, however there are obvious problems with command and control.
It wasn’t possible to create these isolated cells via an agent, they had to spontaneously self form and self direct. The solution that Colonel Amoss hit upon was to promulgate a compelling ideology that would encourage people to commit to the cause independant of an organisation. These individuals and small groups would somehow spontaneously structure themselves and direct themselves towards effective action in promoting the ideology.
This approach was not adopted by the US intelligence agencies. Although the intelligence agencies did work to promote an ideology of the West (rather effectively too), there were no spontaneous groups that formed and helped destroy Communism.
Despite the poor track record of leaderless resistance as a strategy, it has been adopted by marginalized groups with nothing to lose.
White Power Adoption
In the 1980s the leaderless resistance idea (an ideology that encourages adherents to action) was adopted and promoted by a racist white supremacist douchebag Louis Beam . His main goal was to not face repercussions for illegal activity, so he wanted other people to commit crimes without his direct involvement. Basically he wanted all the glory of being a war time leader, but was too cowardly to face any of the risks.
Radical Christians (also Racists)
There are large number of terrorist attacks in the US perpetrated by domestic terrorist groups that are primarily focused on anti abortion and racist or homophobic targets. These groups are motivated by an ideology and self directed towards attacking soft targets, for example burning black churchs, firebombing abortion clinics, etc.
Arguably the most effective leaderless resistance cell was the Norwegian, Anders Breivik. Breivik spend thousands of euro and three years teaching himself the skills required to pull of a terrorist attack. He documented his findings extensively in his meandering 1515 page manifesto  which is illegal to possess in some countries.
The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) are both radical environmental groups that adopted direct action as part of their strategy. They operate in the US and other countries with extremely advanced and tough security forces. In order to survive against the opposition they need to have very high security. Since they have an ideology already, they put out a number of guides for like minded and motivated members to form their own cells and conduct direct action.
The cell formation guides put together by the ALF/ELF are some of the best you’ll find anywhere:
- http://www.animalliberationfront.com/ALFront/Activist%20Tips/Security/CellSecurity.htm Archive
- http://www.animalliberationfront.com/ALFront/Activist%20Tips/Security/Choosing_Your_Friends_Wisely.htm Archive
- http://www.animalliberationfront.com/ALFront/Activist%20Tips/Security/Secure_Affinity_Group_Meeting_and_Communication_Practices.htm Archive
- http://www.animalliberationfront.com/ALFront/Activist%20Tips/Security/Security.htm Archive
The al Qaeda in the Arabian Penisula (AQAP) group, based in Yemen, put out the Inspire magazine. This magazine has one of the goals of providing information for ideologically motivated Islamic extremists to plan and conduct their own attacks. Generally, terrorists for AQ have gone through training camps, because building bombs and planning operations is actually kind of hard. It takes a special kind of highly functioning and well motivated individual to pull off an effective operation without outside guidance or training.
Leaderless resistance is a strategy for losing ideologies who’s adherents face such a strong security environment they are unable to organise effective resistance. Any movement using leaderless resistance is so weak that they have no alternatives. They may be dangerous, but one thing they aren’t is successful.: there were political reasons that Colonel Amoss felt warranted ignoring the large organised network approach; for example he didn’t trust any emigre group to be objective, or to have the same interests as the US. See his paper, archived here: http://www.publiceye.org/liberty/terrorism/insurgency/Leaderless-Resistance-Amoss/ : http://www.publiceye.org/liberty/terrorism/insurgency/amoss.html : http://www.louisbeam.com/leaderless.htm : https://publicintelligence.net/anders-behring-breiviks-complete-manifesto-2083-a-european-declaration-of-independence/ NOTE: it may be illegal to possess this document as it is hate speech (racist bullshit) and contains detailed instructions on terrorist techniques such as bomb making.