Paramilitaries, parochialism, and peace: The moral foundations and personality traits of Slovenskí Branci

By Pavel Kosnáč, Justice E. Lane, Monica Duffy Toft, F. LeRon Shults (Monica Duffy Toft is a Professor of International Politics and Director of the Center for Strategic Studies at The Fletcher School)


Paramilitary organizations have increasingly become a cause for concern among policy makers and the media in recent years, in part because the former are often seen as a potential threat to peace (or at least to the status quo of the current political systems) in the countries in which they emerge. Organizations such as the Oathkeepers and 3 Percenters (also known as III%ers) in the United States have grown significantly in the last two decades, while paramilitary organizations playing a key role in both offensive and defensive actions in Crimea and the Donbas Region have become a focus of discussion in the Russian war on Ukraine. Although they have not always garnered as much attention, paramilitary organizations in Central and Eastern Europe have a long history. While most are relatively inactive, others play a wide variety of active roles, sometimes even running operations in parallel with a state’s official armed forces (e.g., the PMO serving the state in Poland, or the Night Wolves helping Russia capture Crimea). Despite the increase in the number and activity of these paramilitary organizations, little is known about the personal, social, moral, and psychological background of the individuals who join them. After reviewing the history and ideology of the largest paramilitary organization in the Slovak Republic, this article presents and discusses the results of a survey administered to the group. This survey used different measures of personality, morality, and identity, as well as information about respondents’ personal background, family history, socio-economic status, and political ideology. We find significant relationships between certain individual personality traits and the importance of certain moral foundations among members of these organizations in relation to their broader social community.

Read the full paper here.

(This post was republished from Plos One.)

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