Perspectives on Terrorism is an initiative of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism. Visit website
VOL. XVII, Issue 1

Anti-Government Extremism in Australia: Understanding the Australian Anti-Lockdown Freedom Movement as a Complex Anti-Government Social Movement

This article aims to explore the emergence and consolidation of various actors and sympathisers into the Australian ‘anti-lockdown’ freedom movement, a diverse, hybrid anti-government movement that emerged during the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a qualitative longitudinal analysis of data from the online posts of a prominent branch of the anti-lockdown freedom movement, we identify the movement’s core narratives, motivations, and forms of action, revealing how this social movement developed into a complex form of anti-government extremist movement that combines and conflates anti-institutional, anti-elite sentiments, and anti-government attitudes and beliefs through conspiratorial narratives. Drawing upon interrelated strands of social movement theory and the broader body of research on conspiracy theories and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on radicalisation to extremism, we offer a conceptual framework to understand the movement’s emergence, consolidation, and development. This study furthers our understanding of how conspiracies and disinformation can be utilised and fed into anti-government extremism during times of crisis and emergency.


About ICCT

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) is a think-and-do tank based in The Hague, Netherlands. We provide research, policy advice, training and other solutions to support better counter-terrorism policies and practices worldwide. We also contribute to the scientific and publi.…