Class Theory of Terrorism: A Study of Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria

Ayodeji Bayo Ogunrotifa


This paper uses an interesting and but rather neglected theoretical discussion of Karl Marx’s Historical Materialism in order to shed light on the discourse of terrorism that pervades the contemporary global society, and present a class theory of terrorism based on the study of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. This theory states that terrorism is an expression of an unending class struggle implicit in the hidden structures of oppression and structured contradictions of global capitalist system. The antagonistic class relations between the ruling class and the lumpen class translate into state and individual terrorism that has featured prominently in the recent times. Through this perspective, it is argued that: the discursive frame of terrorism cannot be analysed in isolation of its class nature and the socio-economic conditions that gave rise to it; and that investigating terrorism must be limited to specific context and society that is crucial to the explication of the action that will be required to transform that context. Boko Haram insurgency is a potentially useful model for the case discussed, thereby making it possible to develop an analytical construct and explanation for terrorism across societies. The paper concludes that as long as the endemic socio-economic problems caused by global capitalism remains, the use of individual terrorism will inevitably become a recurrent event or normal social response to the state of affairs.

Keywords: Terrorism, Class, Boko Haram, Capitalism, Individual terrorism, State terrorism, Nigeria.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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