In this essay, I examine the growing archive of white supremacist terrorist manifestos to identify how political extremists share a performative ethics inciting them to make manifest the “truths” of their selves through violent word and deed. In doing so, this essay challenges the basis on which rhetorical scholars have interpreted the historical use of parrhēsia (or frank and fearless speech) in political movements that aspire to violent intervention. By tracing how extremist manifestos enact what Michel Foucault called an “alethurgy” (the procedures of disclosing the truth of the self), I demonstrate how far-right terrorists strive to perform parrhēsiastic truth-telling to constitute their own subjectivities within restrictive political imaginaries like white supremacy. Elaborating these dimensions compels rhetoricians to reckon with the political impetus for telling truth to power in and through violence, including the ethical imperatives that become formalized in narratives of resistance.

You do not currently have access to this content.