Nationalist Alternative throw their former Führer under the bus #antifa

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Back in June 2014, Melbourne-based neo-Nazi groupuscule Nationalist Alternative (NAlt) underwent a schism, with NAlt’s leader apparently being deposed and control of the group’s Facebook page assumed by some of his underlings. Since then the page has published various, often quite bizarre material rubbishing their former Führer. In addition to publishing a conversation in which the Führer apparently sent an image of his penis to a young woman (which I won’t re-publish here in the interests of good taste), they included the following images (also since deleted):

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Established in 2009 and with origins in anti-Muslim agitation in Williamstown, NAlt — derided by Dr James Saleam as “just a bunch of students from Melbourne” — has published analysis and produced agitprop (racist leaflets and stickers etc.) but generally avoided taking to the streets. The one major exception to this rule was their attendance, along with a handful of other neo-Nazis and nationalist yoof, at an anti-Muslim rally in September 2012. Beyond this, the only real media reportage the group or its members has received was in February 2014 when one of its members, Neil Luke Erikson, “avoided jail for abusing a Melbourne rabbi in a series of racially-motivated phone calls he tried to explain as a prank”.

As well as providing leadership to his fellow neo-Nazis, the Führer was also very active as one of two moderators, along with ‘Sporran’, on Stormfront Down Under, where he posted as ‘White_Australian’ (join date: December 2005). (The pair replaced Paul Innes, the previous moderator, some years ago. See : Stormfront Down Under Circus : 2008-2013 (w/- BONUS! Derek Black), July 24, 2013.) As White_Australian, The Führer naturally expressed little love for The Jew:

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Indeed, so enamoured of the Stormfront project was the Führer that in 2012 he even travelled to Tennessee in the United States to take part in political education and training conducted by convicted terrorist and Stormfront owner Don Black & Co. This week, however, for reasons best known to himself — but presumably not unrelated to the betrayal by his former kameraden — White_Australian’s account has been ‘Temporarily Disabled by Request’.

Whether or not Mark Hootsen chooses to permanently disable his neo-Nazi and White supremacist political career remains to be seen. In any case, props to the (other) boys in NAlt for spilling their guts.

Posted in !nataS, Anti-fascism, Media, Sex & Sexuality, State / Politics, Student movement | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

In defence of Scott Harrison?

Last week news.com.au reported that:

A member of the Young Liberal Executive Team has resigned in disgust, saying the party has “completely betrayed its core principles”. Marguerite Iliescu, 28, has written a frank assessment of the party’s failings in a resignation letter sent on December 1 to the Liberal Party’s Victorian division, criticising its lack of loyalty, its treatment of young people and abandonment of its core principles.

See : The Liberal Party has ‘completely betrayed its core principles’ says Young Liberal Executive Team member in scathing resignation letter, December 4, 2014.

Although not mentioned by name, in her letter Iliescu appears to be referring to the plight of neo-Nazi turned Young Liberal Scott Harrison when she writes that:

… the manner in which you have treated both candidates and party members that have come to media attention has been absolutely appalling and shameful. Any principled organisation must show loyalty to its members.

I have no interest in being associated with a party that doesn’t stick by some of its people when they are unfairly attacked by the media and throws people under a bus for short term political gain.

I believe in second chances, and we know from history that some of the greatest advocates for liberty and freedom have been converts from other unpleasant ideologies. Those who have come to liberalism from repugnant ideologies should be praised and used as advocates for de-radicalisation, not shunned and banished from the party.

In which context, a few things:

1. Obviously, Harrison is not the first person to have junked neo-Nazism or White supremacism for some other ideology, in his case the curious amalgam of conservatism and liberalism that is the Liberal Party. That said, it’s unclear why Harrison’s case merits special pleading, especially given that he lied to Fairfax about the nature and extent of his participation in neo-Nazi and White supremacist activism: “When contacted by Fairfax Media, Mr Harrison acknowledged his six-year involvement in the neo-Nazi movement but said it had ceased in 2010 and that he now repudiated his former beliefs.” This is untrue and demonstrably so: Harrison’s last post on Stormfront was in November 2011. Further, according to his former comrades in the Creativity Alliance (formerly known as the White Crusaders of the RAHOWA or WCOTR (where RAHOWA means RAcial HOly WAr)):

Former Reverend Scott Harrison – having joined at age 13 – left the Church of Creativity of his own accord in 2012 at age 21, and went “underground” in an attempt to pursue an education and career. Through 2013 he continued to claim Ministerial Status as an Independent Creator. As of 2014, Mr Harrison’s Ministerial Status has been revoked and he has been forever expelled from the Church of Creativity and affiliated organisations.

2. As detailed elsewhere, Harrison’s commitment to neo-Nazi politics was extensive, beginning in late 2005/early 2006 and extending right through until (at least) 2013. Moreover, it only came to a close upon his public exposure in November this year: the first occasion upon which Harrison made any public indication that he no longer advocates neo-Nazism and White supremacism. During this 8 or perhaps 9 year ‘phase’, Harrison made approximately 1200 posts on the Stormfront website — few of which (presumably) would be considered kosher by other Liberal party hacks, current or former.

3. Iliescu and Harrison have a personal connection through both the Young Liberals and ‘Liberty On The Rocks Australia – a project of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance, and part of the international Liberty On The Rocks network’, in which Iliescu serves as the Melbourne organiser and Harrison as the Geelong organiser.

Politics sure makes for strange bedfellows.

Posted in Anti-fascism, Media, State / Politics, Student movement | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

December 8 Penrith Council meeting : “evil anarcho-pinko-anarchist-islamic cabal of dirt” FTW

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Penrith Council met last night (December 8) to discuss a rescission motion put by councillor Marcus Cornish regarding the construction of a Muslim community centre at Kemps Creek. (See : Against the far right; against Islamophobia: Rally in Penrith, December 8, December 2, 2014.) On December 7, Cornish posted the following message on Facebook, asking his supporters to bring “presents” to the meeting:

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For batshit invective, however, I’ve not read anything quite as superb as the ADL’s declaration of war upon “the evil anarcho-pinko-anarchist-islamic cabal of dirt”:

ADLonPenrith

Unfortunately for the Islamophobes, the motion was voted down 9 to 4, with councillors Bernard Bratusa (Independent), Prue Car (Labor), Greg Davies (Labor), Ben Goldfinch (Independent), Jackie Greenow (Independent), Tricia Hitchen (Independent, ex-Liberal), Karen McKeon (Labor), John Thain (Labor) and Michelle Tormey (Greens) voting ‘no’ and councillors Marcus Cornish (Independent), Kevin Crameri (Independent), Mark Davies (Independent, ex-Liberal) and Maurice Girotto (Independent, ex-Australia First Party) voting ‘yes’.

The meeting was also the subject of two rallies, ‘for’ or ‘against’ the proposed development, with the participation of the Australia First Party (AFP — below), Australian Defence League (ADL), Party for Freedom and Squadron 88 on one side and, consequently, various anarchists, antifascists, anti-racists et al on the other. Penrith locals found themselves on both sides of the equation.

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Blogger Preston Towers provides a detailed account of the meeting and protests in Sharia Bushfire and Flood – Penrith Council Meeting No.2 about the Community Centre as well as another of the previous, November 24 meeting in Sewerage and Traffic – Veiled Racism Continuing against Muslims in Penrith. See also : Tensions rise as council approves Islamic community centre, Josh Dye, The Sydney Morning Herald, December 9, 2014 | Protesters clash as Sydney Islamic prayer hall approved, SBS, December 9, 2014 | Islamic prayer hall in Sydney’s west approved as rival groups protest, Allan Clarke and Mohamed Taha, ABC, December 9, 2014 | Penrith Council gives green light to Kemps Creek Islamic community centre, Penrith Press/The Australian, December 8, 2014.

The Black Flag – Western Sydney Peoples Collective, one of the groups involved in organising to oppose the far right presence at Penrith, issued the following statement after the evening’s events:

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the black out for the past hour, we had a lot of stuff to carry on the way out. After a number of ANTIFA were threatened with arrest by the cops if we stayed, we left in a large block. The fascists behind us shouted they had won the day, yet our comrades who stayed behind at the #Penrith council meeting have informed us that the vote to build the community centre has been upheld!

For all of their posturing about Jihadists, Sharia Law and other such nonsense levied against a peaceful migrant community they have failed. They might say that they have won today but for the third time they have rallied to stop Muslims from associating freely, and for the third time they have failed. So long as good people are willing to stand up to evil ideologies, they will always fail.

So long as good people are willing to stand up to evil ideologies, they will always fail. #ANTIFA

In terms of the far right presence, it seems as if Ross ‘The Skull’ May did not attend, despite having attended on November 24 and promising violence at the December 8 meeting (in a now-deleted video published by Squadron 88 on YouTube). About 6 or so members of Squadron 88 attended and a handful of these are featured in some of the state/corporate media reportage (though are not mentioned by name):

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TO BE CONTINUED …

Posted in !nataS, Anarchism, Anti-fascism, State / Politics, War on Terror | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Against the far right; against Islamophobia: Rally in Penrith, December 8

    Hola compañerxs,

    Below is an account of events surrounding the meeting of November 24 at Penrith Council. (See also : Owners of the new Islamic community centre owners just want to be part of community, Ian Paterson, Penrith Press, November 27, 2014.)

    Please note that council has scheduled an extraordinary meeting to take place on Monday, December 8 at 7pm to further discuss the proposal for a Muslim community centre in Penrith.

    The meeting will again attract a range of neo-Nazis, White supremacists and other racist and fascist oddballs drawn from the ranks of the Australia First Party, Party for Freedom and Squadron 88.

    A Facebook event page has been created to promote attendance by anti-fascists and anti-racists.

    Please join and invite your friends to the event. For further information please write [email protected]

    Thanks to Anonymous for the text!

Introduction

On Monday the 24th of November, Penrith City Council (in outer Western Sydney) held a meeting to discuss a development application for a community centre and prayer space for the local Muslim community. A previous meeting of the council on the same issue attracted a hostile crowd of racist locals, egged on by Councillor Marcus Cornish‘s disgusting rhetoric about the crime such a centre would bring to the area, and culminated in the applicants for the centre and supportive councillors requiring a police escort home. [NB. Another Councillor opposed to the development is Maurice Girotto. At the time of his election to Council Girotto was a member of the Australia First Party. He subsequently quit the party.] Appeals from local Islamic community groups and the Nepean Greens for support were answered by (primarily) young people from across Sydney, determined to take a stand against racism and challenge the pervasiveness of Islamophobia in Australian society.

What happened in Penrith on this particular Monday night needs to be understood as representative of a broader pattern of far-right activity. As part of a strategy that seeks to fragment communities along lines of race or ethnicity, the far-right acts to channel the populist anti-Muslim bigotry peddled by politicians, talkback radio demagogues and tabloid hacks into localised expressions of exclusion and marginalisation. The idea of a small community of people having somewhere to meet, worship and celebrate things like weddings doesn’t seem so threatening, so it must be framed as the first step towards a much more dangerous future. In the same way that vocal sections of the Australian internet are trying to portray Vegemite’s Halal certification as support for “ISIS”, a community centre in Kemps Creek is conflated with the spectre of “radical Islam”.

The process begins with challenges to development applications, whipped up online and resourced on the ground by ostensibly respectable, well-funded organisations like the Q Society. When these efforts fail, as they often do due to their spurious grounds and the blatant agendas underpinning them, the campaign will escalate to the staging of volatile displays of apparently ‘grassroots’ opposition. This is nothing short of an invitation to the extreme-right, and must be named as such.

Protest and counter-protest

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From the early afternoon, anti-racists from Sydney’s west gathered at the site to scope out the situation, and to ensure that a clear anti-racist message of solidarity would greet members of the local Muslim community arriving to attend the meeting. By five o’clock they were joined by a number of autonomous antifascists and anti-racist students from a number of Sydney universities. Our numbers continued to grow steadily as the afternoon faded into evening. Discussions were had about what an effective political response to the Islamophobic hysteria would look like, what was in our power to achieve, and how people thought they would best be able to contribute. We also approached members of the Muhammadi Welfare Association to convey our solidarity and ask about anything we might be able to assist them with.

Not long after we arrived, two or three local ‘anti-Islamists’ turned up, dragging a huge stack of placards along with them. A bloke wearing a ‘Royal Australian Infidel’ t-shirt tied a Strayan flag around his shoulders, produced a copy of the Quran and came over to favour assembled anti-racists with a host of tired canards about the evil contained within. Not in a racist way, you must understand, cos he’s not racist. That a British organisation who also call themselves the Infidels are a group that split from the English Defence League because the EDL wasn’t racist enough is just a coincidence. He gave his name as James, and informed us that he’s a proud Army reservist. He’d die for the flag, for Straya, and for Penrith.

But he’s not racist. Not like the Australian Defence League, or those scum from Australia First. In fact, he hates Nazis. Don’t ask him, he’ll tell you.

James is rumored to be a manager at a McDonald’s (presumably not at one of the branches that serves Halal certified burgers), and beyond the Colours of Cronulla ’05 ensemble, he was doing a pretty good job of playing the downtrodden workaday Aussie bloke. Despite his sudden and rather curious interest in the finer points of local development ordinances, James makes for a convincing ‘concerned not racist local’ because his resentful ethno-nationalism is submerged beneath an almost evangelical feel-good patriotism. Counter-posed to all the bollocks about the exceptional peril posed to the globe by Islam is a seemingly positive politics, concerned with the promotion and celebration of the inherent virtues of Australian society.

It’s not terribly coherent, it is aggressively and demonstrably ignorant on a whole range of questions, but it definitely resonates. The narrative is a familiar one, beloved as it is by the political and media classes, and functions to twist anger about undeveloped local services (that might otherwise be leveled at politicians and their campaign donors) into an active, festering resentment of “undeserving” minorities. It sounds pretty racist because it is, so the trick is to claim it all in the name of a core Australian value that itself is viewed as beyond reproach, in this case ‘the fair go’ (or variously ‘ANZACs’, ‘freedoms’ and ‘our way of life’) to make it sound more positive and legitimate.

James went through this whole routine for us a couple of times, but nobody had told his mate who was rather more forthright about his feelings about people of colour, came over to have a go and was swiftly relieved of his placard. Shortly afterwards, James had a go at the anti-racist banner and briefly lost his flag. He came up shadow boxing and yelling about how no one touches his flag. It was all a bit sad, and the cops wandered over to stand in the middle.

So far, so predictable.

Shortly afterwards, it became apparent that the anti-racist gathering was being filmed, discreetly, by a man and woman with a video camera some 50 metres away partially behind the cover of some trees. Aware of potential Australia First spotters in the area, the couple were approached and asked why they were filming us, and which media organisation they were working for. They were instantly defensive, claiming they were just there to ‘film the building’ and they had every right to do so because it was a public space. It was just a coincidence that they were filming anti-racist activists in the process, and that they had chosen this particular evening to come and film the dull concrete façade of the council chambers was purely happen-stance. What was certain is that they had nothing at all to do with the planned anti-Mosque demonstration, but for some reason they packed up in a hurry and told us to go back to our Greenie heroin squat as they buggered off.

To an experienced eye, it was quite obvious that this was an intelligence gathering exercise, and no one was surprised when they both joined the racist mob later on. Though it may seem a rather trivial encounter, it does raise important questions about safety and security for anti-racist activists (on which there is more to say later), and foreshadowed what was to come.

The next forty minutes to an hour was uneventful with the anti-racist contingent leaving the patriots to defend an empty concrete square and moving closer to the entrance to link up with other Mosque supporters. A few cops stood around looking bored. Anyone entering the car park was greeted by the massive ‘Smash Racism’ banner, and that meant that new arrivals on the scene picked their side of the square and pretty much stayed there. Whilst a few more attempts were made by members of the Muslim community to reason with the anti-Mosque lot (needless to say they weren’t particularly fruitful), activists settled on a plan to provide a visible, vocal opposition to anti-Mosquers when they marched to the entrance of the chambers.

It was about this time we noticed some familiar faces mixing with the anti-Mosquers. A few were identified immediately as supporters of the Australia First Party, three to five of them at this point, with one even helpfully dressed in an Australia First Party t-shirt. They quietly distributed some literature. No sight of Dr Jim [Saleam, Führer of the Party] yet, but it’s pretty likely he was in a car nearby whilst his underlings figured out whether it was worth him appearing in person. A few other faces anti-racists recognised were regular attendees at Islamophobic events in Sydney (such as the anti-Halal demonstration at Woolworths in Marrickville a couple of months back), though are more likely rallied by anti-Islamic Facebook groups, overlapping with the far-right rather than claiming a specific allegiance to it. While we stood around dutifully waiting for the eventual shouting match to begin, numbers on the anti-Mosque side continued to grow, from a dozen to maybe three or four dozen, and the longer they stood around the angrier they got.

I can’t say exactly when it all kicked off, but it would have been about 6:30 when suddenly they all started coming across the square towards the entrance. Anti-racists moved too, partially blocking their path with the banner, but with too few numbers to actually stop them. A few of our group were punched and there was lots of pushing and shoving before the small handful of police on the scene got between the two sides and forced them apart. A heated, and at times surreal, conversation then raged over the police line. Constructive dialogue it was not.

Alongside a long list of standard tropes and crusader rhetoric about Islam so familiar that it makes discussion of it redundant, the anti-Mosquers focused their attention on personally threatening anti-racists. Though there were some overt threats of violence, particularly against the anti-racists the crowd thought to be Muslims, they were mostly concerned with painting a detailed picture of what would happen to individuals under the global caliphate that would be sure to emerge if Penrith’s Shia population was able to build a community centre. For instance, a queer comrade was approached by an anti-Mosquer, and asked if he was “a gay”. When he answered in the affirmative, a few locals gathered around to tell him what would happen to him “under Islam”. Women were also singled out for this treatment, informed with relish about the barbarity of female genital mutilation/circumcision and how violence against women is enshrined (apparently uniquely) in Islam. They were told they’d deserve this treatment in the future for supporting Muslims now.

Our mob wasn’t buying any of it, and tried to challenge the racist nonsense, with little success. After more than a decade of hysteria about terrorism, Islamophobia has gone mainstream enough to be embraced with an ironically religious fervour. Because we didn’t want to engage in a ‘my flag is better than your holy book’ conversation, by the end, pretty much all we learned was that they weren’t racist because Islam is *not* a race! We, on the other hand, were racist. Against white people! How dare we have the temerity to be Australian and not ‘proud’!? We chanted ‘no pride in genocide’, they chanted ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi’ with tears literally welling in James’ eyes.

Jim Saleam, captain of Team Australia First, picked this most opportune time to emerge from the car park, and our crowd greeted him with a chant inviting him to follow his leader. Though the Führer himself apparently didn’t feel like mixing it up with the locals, he was accompanied by a couple of his minions carrying a large Australia First Party flag. Despite earlier claims to the contrary from James, the arrival of actual neo-Nazis was not met with confrontation, disavowal or even unease by the local ‘non-racist concerned citizens’. Several Australia First representatives, in addition to Dr Jim and his flag, were pointed out by anti-fascists to a crowd who really didn’t seem too bothered.

Indeed, some were enthusiastic, endorsing AFP’s hardline racist and nationalist platform on the basis that it stood up for Australia (at one point someone claiming to be a local even threw a Nazi salute during a rendition of ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie’, defending his actions on the basis of (sic) “I’m German”). Others refused to recognise the presence of the white supremacists, or engage with calls from the anti-racist side to denounce them, preferring to endlessly change the subject to something irrelevant but comforting like ‘ANZACs’ or the monarchy. Maybe there were a few in the crowd who weren’t entirely comfortable with associating with a bunch of swastika-lickers, but they were silent. For the moment, the nazis were allies of convenience and they were going to stand together. They were in an angry majority, with licence to say whatever they wanted and they were going to make the best use of this time.

So much for the respectability politics of James & Co.. But there was more yet to come.

As the clock approached 7pm and the cops began to allow people into the public gallery, the anti-racist side was joined by about twenty young women of colour who told us they saw the public call out, organised themselves and travelled out to Penrith to challenge the rising tide of bullshit. Hats off to them. They were snarky, tenacious and extremely resilient in the face of a hostile crowd that had now expanded to include Ross “The Skull” May and about five of his goons from neo-Nazi groupuscule Squadron 88. Also spotted lurking in the carpark at this time was pseudo-celebrity racist Sergio Regdelli, of the ‘Ban The Burqa’ mural on Station Street in Newtown, who attended the Faceless Parliament stunt dressed as a Klansman.

As a few boneheads in unseasonable bomber jackets threatened and jeered at anti-racists from behind the police lines, The Skull performed his decades-old ‘white power’ routine for the crowd and a couple of nearby TV cameras. It was a turgid, despicable display and he was given free reign by the police to personally taunt, dehumanise and humiliate the people of colour who had come to stand with Penrith’s Muslim community. From ‘mud races’ to ‘Jewish conspiracies’, ‘Chinese masters’ to ‘illegal refugee scum’, The Skull’s lengthy rant was designed to polarise.

But here’s the thing: it really didn’t.

No one broke with the mob, no one challenged him. At best, there was silence. If there’s only one thing worth remembering about everything that went down in Penrith on this balmy Monday night, it’s that even the crudest embodiment of a neo-Nazi caricature will be welcomed into a ‘non racist concerned local’ crowd as long as he’s also against the Mosque.

In one particularly revolting example, a young woman of African descent was singled out by The Skull for particular attention. He loudly taunted her, calling her “nigger” and referenced the ‘good old days’ when people like her were enslaved and Australia was ‘pure.’ He went on to accuse her of having Ebola and AIDS while he made monkey noises at her. A sizeable chunk of the remaining locals laughed in approval, and those who didn’t, I suppose, would rather pretend that this wasn’t happening. Though most of this interaction was captured on film by a cameraman working for Channel 9, it was not broadcast, and none of the articles available about Monday’s protest even bothered to acknowledge the presence of self-identifying neo-Nazis, even when they – perhaps unwittingly – published photographs of some of them.

Nicholas Hunter-Folkes, the public face of the ‘not racist but’ Party for Freedom, was the last far-right shit-stirrer to arrive. A bit of a shame for him that he arrived a bit late to catch all the locals before they went into the meeting, but he gave it a good old go anyway. A mainstay of the Sydney far-right, Nick and his mates from the anti-Muslim protest group Faceless currently think it’s the height of awesome to don Islamic garments and ‘infiltrate’ public spaces because ‘something-something-radical-Islam’. Though Nick and his mob aren’t exactly beloved by the Australia First Party (or other neo-Nazis), mostly due to their Zionism, there was no indication of acrimony between any of the far-right camps. The leaders of both organisations kept amongst their own, but their lackeys were much more fluid.

It wouldn’t be fair to call it a love-in, but in practice, there was an integration of far-right forces on the ground. Enough integration, in fact, to keep anti-racists trapped near the entrance to the chambers for the entirety of the meeting with no clear way out. This could not have happened without this de facto collaboration. Whilst the leaders made the speeches, the foot-soldiers fanned out around us and cut off our exit route. A couple of very tense hours followed, though arguably the worst part was not the threat of violence lurking in the darkness, but that we were made a captive audience to Nick and his bloody megaphone.

All told Australia First managed to mobilise about 8-10, Faceless/Party For Freedom similar numbers and Squadron 88 about five. There were also two jokers in Guy Fawkes masks (probably from the so-called National “Anarchists”) and an additional presence from another handful of far-right heavies displaying no particular allegiance, who consorted early in the evening with the Squadron 88 mob as they tried to goad anti-fascists into a fight. Later, a few of them were drawn into Nick’s ‘Freedom’ circle, and stood for a group photo amidst a further round of Aussie Aussie Aussie-ing.

This collaboration, however fleeting, matters because it contributes to their morale and paints a rosy picture of their level of organisation and commitment that makes them credible. The fact that their presence actually continued to grow into the night, reinforced by locals who had arrived specifically for a fight with ‘Muzzies’ is testament to this fact. Whilst it’s highly unlikely that this situation will last, the fact remains that on Monday night, whatever beefs they had with one another were set aside in favour of collectively whipping up as much fear, anger and racial resentment as possible. Those who might argue for ignoring them underestimate how much that would serve to embolden them, particularly in the wake of the first time in recent memory the far-right have been able to appear in public without being quickly dispersed by anti-fascists.

Police

Related to this is the question of the police. Though opinions about the police clearly differ amongst anti-racists, the experience of Monday night should make clear that they cannot be relied upon to protect demonstrators from racial harassment, physical intimidation or even assault. Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act specifically prohibits public acts designed to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate people of a certain race, colour or national or ethnic origin”, but the police allowed these very acts to go on right under their noses all night. Though The Skull was eventually told by the police to go and stand on the corner of High St (where he sieg heiled at traffic in his white pride world wide t-shirt for the remainder of the evening) after repeated attempts to intimidate anti-racist activists, all of his mates standing around looking for a fight were granted the freedom to pretty much do what they wanted.

The hostile police response when some amongst us asked for assistance or protection in leaving the area is also worth mentioning in this context. The best the cops had to offer people who feared, with very good reason, for their safety was a promise to ‘hold the other side back’ whilst they tried to cover the kilometre to the train station. In any other circumstance, this would be absolutely unthinkable. A lawyer in our ranks was incredulous, time and again raising the duty-of-care the police had for anti-racist demonstrators with the chief officer. But these appeals fell on deaf ears. If you consider the number of police deployed to any even vaguely progressive protest in Sydney, and contrast that to the three public order officers and handful of regulars available to protect Penrith’s Muslim community and its supporters from hundreds of hostile racists, you must conclude that they are not neutral actors. When we understand them as such, we are better equipped to ensure our collective safety.

After being trapped in a tense stand-off for about two hours, cut off from leaving safely by a line of large men looking for a fight, anti-racists finally withdrew when the fascists came together for a photo opp. To be honest, they were probably pretty bored by then. Despite all the big talk and chest thumping, there was no meaningful attempt to physically attack anti-racists, and while we stood together it would have been difficult for them to do so anyway: they prefer to attack people when they’re isolated, or if they try to break and run. That’s what the protracted intimidation routine was about, and it doesn’t work if you don’t let yourself panic.

Though the threat of a physical attack loomed over us for much of the night, and for a while the situation looked very bad, we should be explicit when we say that everyone got home safely not because of the cops but because we stood together in tremendously difficult circumstances.

Think of it this way: they did not pass. The boneheads weren’t able to enter the meeting, to attack anyone, or to push their nonsense without consistent challenge. They did not win.

The centre was approved and we demonstrated active solidarity with Penrith’s Islamic community. We all got home safely. In a qualified sense, we achieved what we set out to do.

With these experiences in mind, we must turn our attention to next week.

Conclusion

Next Monday the 8th of December, Penrith council will meet yet again to discuss the Islamic community centre at Kemps Creek. There is a planned ‘locals’ protest, and the Faceless group are announcing a presence from 5:30pm. They must be opposed, and the local community requires our solidarity. To conclude, here are a few things we need to think about between now and then.

Preparation and coordination: when are we arriving, what’s our purpose, how are people best able to contribute and what is our exit strategy? More importantly, what is the Muslim community planning on doing, and how do we work to support these ends? These are all questions better asked in advance. Take some time to consider the options and compare notes with others.

Always stick together: don’t arrive or depart alone. Pick a protest buddy, and be sure to stick with them the whole afternoon. Check in with other demonstrators on a regular basis: it’s imperative to open channels of communication with allies you don’t know immediately. This builds morale and solidarity, but also ensures that everybody knows the score.

Challenge the narrative: though it’s understandable we didn’t have anything to distribute last Monday with such short notice, that’s no excuse this time around. We need literature that challenges the racist filth distributed amongst the crowd by AFP and that makes explicit their neo-Nazi origins. We also need to point out explicitly that ‘concerns’ about infrastructure, though obviously functioning as a smokescreen for racism, are actually legitimate questions with a class orientation. We need to point out that services and opportunities suck in Penrith because governments don’t care about working class areas, not because the Muslim population needs a community space.

Be aware of the far-right, but don’t give them too much credit: it is perfectly legitimate to feel intimidated by a large bloke in camo pants with Nazi tattoos — it’s exactly why they dress like that. This doesn’t make him brave or invincible, and if we outnumber them, it doesn’t matter how tough they want to look. We need a short leaflet that can be used to inform our allies about the danger presented by the far-right, one that encourages vigilance but not despair. Try to keep a cool head, stand together and watch each other’s backs. If boneheads show up, form up in a way that makes you harder to attack, and be sure to keep experienced people capable of defending the group on the flanks. Have multiple exit strategies.

Be aware of the limitations and biases of the police: work on the assumption that they are unwilling or unable to help protect you. This is not about ultra-leftism and is not an invitation to belittle people who feel like they need to ask the cops for protection: it’s about being prepared for any possible outcome.

Be aware of far-right intelligence gathering. This is up to the individual, but the fascists like to take pictures at events like these, and they will sometimes use those pictures to try to harass and intimidate anti-racist activists. Confront them where possible and take steps to protect yourselves. A practical defence is a banner or a flag in front of their camera, or a mask on your face.

Film them back. When ‘non-racist concerned citizens’ stand with neo-Nazis, we need to be able to produce evidence of this. Document who turns up, any affiliations they represent and how they interact with one another.

• This is a wake up call for the left. Penrith, like much of Western Sydney, is a political vacuum. Politicians only pay attention when there are votes to be had, and the overwhelmingly working-class locals understandably resent this. Deciding that it’s too hard to organise on an ongoing basis in the west reproduces this dynamic, leaving this territory open to the far-right and abandoning local minority communities who need our solidarity and local progressives who need our support.

Stay safe, stand together. ¡No pasarán!

Posted in Anti-fascism, State / Politics, Student movement, That's Capitalism!, War on Terror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

token #vicvotes post

dickchin

Blah. Blah blah. Blah blah blah.

See : Beyond Voting.

Left

Socialist Alliance: Sean Brocklehurst for Pascoe Vale and Sarah Hathway for Geelong; Stephen Jolly (Socialist Party) for Richmond. Also, Joseph Toscano (Anarchist Media Institute/Libertarian Workers For A Self-Managed Society) for Frankston.

Right

John-Carbonari-for-Deakin-and-Wigs

John Carbonari’s Wig (Australia First Party) for Bayswater; oodles of right-wing Xtians in umpteen other seats. (Oh, and Paul Madigan is running as an Independent in Hastings.) Sadly, One Nation is not fielding any candidates, but in Queensland Pauline Hanson is today re-assuming leadership of the failboat.

wickedwitchofipswich

Posted in Anti-fascism, State / Politics, Trot Guide | Tagged | 3 Comments

Australia First Party Goes To The Polls (November 2014)

Pauline Hanson has announced her return to the political hustings, again.

How excitement.

One Nation WA is not. happy. with Hanson, labelling her ‘psychotic’. In fact, over the past few years ON in WA has drawn much closer to the Australia First Party

(See also : The level playing field: Hansonism, globalisation, racism (Suvendrini Perera, Race & Class, October 1998) November 16, 2010.)

Speaking of which, AFP managed to come dead last in the struggle for political power in both Marrickville and Newcastle on the weekend. In Marrickville, party Führer Dr James Saleam managed to wrest just 188 votes from the political clutches of the traitor class, leaving the remainder to be distributed among the corrupt forces of the Labor, Greens and Liberal parties.

Marrickville Council West Ward – Burraga – Councillor Election (First Preference Votes)

1. Daniel Barbar (ALP) : 4,577 / 50.08%
2. Justine Langford (Greens) : 3,021 / 33.05%
3. George Andrade (Liberal) : 1,354 / 14.81%
[4. Informal : 309 / 3.27%]
5. Jim Saleam (Australia First Party) : 188 / 2.06%

In Newcastle, Joe Ferguson followed his leader, also finishing in last place.

Newcastle City Council – Mayor Election (First Preference Votes)

1. Nuatali Nelmes (ALP) : 35,198 / 42.30%
2. Brad Luke (Independent) : 19,635 / 23.60%
3. Therese Doyle (Greens) : 11,664 / 14.02%
4. Aaron Buman (Independent) : 9,570 11.50%
[5. Informal : 5,051 / 5.73%]
6. David Chapman (Independent) : 4,240 / 5.10%
7. Rod Holding (Independent) : 1,560 / 1.87%
8. Joe Ferguson (Australia First Party) : 1,341 / 1.61%

In Victoria, AFP’s John Carbonari has thrown his wig into the electoral ring again, this time hoping the people of Bayswater will heed the call for a return to a White Australia policy.

See also : 2013 Australian federal election. How did the far right fare? (September 12, 2013) | 2012 Victorian local council election : far left and far right (results) (October 29, 2012).

Posted in Anti-fascism, State / Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Bernards Magic Shop ~versus~ Creeping Sharia (aka halal certification)

Hey presto!

For reasons best known to itself, Bernards Magic Shop in the City is circulating a Q Society petition:

To the Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition draws the attention of the House to a business model developed by Islamic organisation to impose ‘Halal Certification Schemes’ on all Australians.

We support the freedom to eat according to religious customs. Most food is naturally permissible for Muslims and requires no additional certification. We are concerned about the disproportional growth of halal-certified products and services and the extra cost imposed on consumers. We are further concerned about gender and religious discrimination sanctioned by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service, so Australian abattoirs comply with Islamic sharia law.

We ask the House to amend the Corporations Act 2001 to ensure that:

1. Products and services from halal-certified supplier are clearly labelled as ‘halal certified’ to ensure consumers can make a conscious decision.
2. Any extra cost and fees associated with Islamic halal certification are born by Islamic community organisations according to the ‘user pays’ principle.
3. No discrimination on gender or religious grounds is practiced in Australian workplaces, unless the employer is a recognised religious organisation.

Animals in Australia (with exception of pigs) are now mostly slaughtered by Muslim males in accordance with Islamic sharia law. It is practically impossible to buy non-halal chicken, beef or lamb. All major players in our supply chains are now paying Islamic organisations.

In the discussion on their Facebook page, Bernards states (inter alia):

bernards

Which suggests to me that Bernards is either a little naïve or perhaps disingenuous.

Very odd.

See also : What’s the big fuss about Halal certification?, Bush Telegraph, ABC (Radio National), October 27, 2014.

Posted in !nataS, Media, State / Politics, That's Capitalism! | Tagged , | Leave a comment

#antifa notes (november 15, 2014) : Golden Dawn, Scott Harrison, Australia First Party, Squadron 88

gdthug

Golden Dawn

In news sure to bring tears to local fascists, Golden Dawn (GD) Australia has announced that the planned tour by two Golden Dawn luminaries — MEP and former NATO general Georgios Epitideios and party organiser Michalis Giannagkonas — has been cancelled. Iggy Gavrilidis, the spokesperson for GD Australia, blames the failed tour on being given the bureaucratic run-around by authorities — a situation presumably created by pressure from below. In other words, in this instance, the government is spared having to actually refuse a visa to the MEP while at the same time ensuring the tour doesn’t go ahead. Of course, that doesn’t mean Iggy & Co won’t try and organise a tour sometime next year …

Best of luck with that fellas. LOL.

See :

Golden Dawn MP cancels trip: Georgios Epitideios abandons Australian visit after visa application stalls, Dan Oakes, ABC, November 15, 2014
Golden Dawn tour cancelled after MP fails to secure Australian visa, Michael Safi, The Guardian, November 15, 2014
Golden Dawn MP suspends Australian visit after visa delays, Darren Mara, SBS, November 15, 2014

See also :

Greece’s Neo-Nazis Were Scarier Than Anyone Imagined, Yiannis Baboulias, Foreign Policy, November 13, 2014
GD deputy cleared of raid on migrant stalls in 2012, ekathimerini, November 14, 2014

Scott Harrison : From neo-Nazi to Young Liberal to …

The Liberals enjoyed a minor scandal this week when the Vice President of the Deakin University Young Liberals, Scott Harrison, was exposed as a (former?) neo-Nazi and Reverend in the White supremacist kvlt Creativity (Alliance). Scott took the opportunity to claim that he now rejects neo-Nazi ideology: “I completely distance myself from my past ideology. I now realise how insane it was. I now believe in racial equality and gay marriage.” The genuineness of his response is undermined by the fact that he also claims to have abandoned his beliefs in 2010 whereas he continued to spout anti-Semitic and White supremacist beliefs as an active kvlt member up until at least 2012 and maintained his membership until 2013, ie, the same year he joined the Young Liberals. (See also : Liberal candidate Aaron Lane quits over Twitter comments, Richard Willingham and Deborah Gough, The Age, August 2, 2014.)

See :

Liberal Party campaigner Scott Harrison a former neo-Nazi, Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker and Richard Willingham, The Age, November 12, 2014
Former neo-Nazi resigns from Vic Liberals, The Australian (AAP), November 12, 2014
Victorian Liberal campaigner resigns from party after allegations of involvement with neo-Nazi group, Margaret Paul, ABC, November 12, 2014
Victorian Liberal Party member Scott Harrison outed as a neo-nazi, Michelle Ainsworth, Herald Sun, November 12, 2014
Premier welcomes resignations of former neo-Nazi from Victorian Liberals, 9NEWS (AAP), November 12, 2014
Liberal party campaigner resigns after neo-Nazi links revealed, Melissa Davey, The Guardian, November 12, 2014
Young Liberals campaigner forced to resign after his neo-Nazi past was revealed… including a picture of him giving a ‘Heil Hitler’ salute at a skinhead party, Nelson Groom, Daily Mail, November 13, 2014
Liberal campaigner resigns over neo-Nazi revelations, Michelle Coleman, JWire, November 13, 2014

Australia First Party / Squadron 88

Today Australia First Party (AFP) leader Dr James Saleam will be losing in the Marrickville local council election (as will Joe Ferguson in Newcastle). AFP is hoping John Carbonari’s wig will win a few votes when he and it contest the seat of Bayswater in the upcoming Victorian state election. Sadly, One Nation doesn’t appear to be throwing its own frayed hat into the ring, while elsewhere on the right most candidates appear to be emerging from various Christian parties (Australian Christians, Democratic Labor Party, Rise Up Australia). See also : Victorian state election: Denis Napthine puts Rise Up ahead of Greens, Richard Willingham and Adam Carey, The Age, November 13, 2014.

In other schnews, Saleam’s BFF Ross ‘The Skull’ May has appeared in a new video produced by Sydney-based nazi grouplet Squadron 88. You may remember Squadron 88 from such stories as stuffing postboxes with badly-written anti-Semitic tracts. Anyway, it’s a pretty entertaining video (if you enjoy watching old nazis carrying on like a pork chop). ‘The Skull’ is a regular at AFP and other fascist events around Sydney, most recently supporting the party’s failed campaign to prevent the construction of a mosque in Penrith — despite having the backing of former AFP member and Penrith councillor Maurice Girotto. See : Protest falls on deaf ears as Penrith Council votes in favour of mosque, Ian Paterson, Penrith Press, November 11, 2014.

Posted in Anti-fascism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On Scott Harrison’s transformation from neo-Nazi to Young Liberal

Update : According to fellow Creatard Colin Campbell, Scott did not leave the Creativity religion until 2013, ie, the same year he joined the Young Liberals.

coln

dennisandscott

In a story reminiscent of the hullabaloo that followed the exposure of Labor candidate Peter Watson’s history as a neo-Nazi activist in 2012, a story appeared in Fairfax today concerning Young Liberal Scott Harrison, a man with a similarly colourful history. (See : Liberal Party campaigner Scott Harrison a former neo-Nazi, Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker and Richard Willingham, The Age, November 12, 2014.) What follows is a brief examination of Scott’s political evolution.

To begin with, the photograph which accompanies the story is of a very young Scott, but his commitment to neo-Nazism extended into more recent years via his involvement, inter alia, with neo-Nazi skinhead gangs Blood & Honour and the Hammerskins. This photograph is of an older Scott in attendance at the annual Ian Stuart Donaldson memorial gig in Melbourne in 2010:

theboys

To start at the beginning:

In late 2005/early 2006, inspired by Cronulla (and the gift of a copy of the film Romper Stomper), Scott initially joined both Stormfront and a short-lived group called WAFF, or ‘Worldwide Aryan Freedom Fighters’, one of countless far-right projects that emerge and then, just as frequently, disappear. Several years later, as well as having become a Creatard (a follower of the White supremacist Creativity religion), Scott also fancied himself something of an ‘anarchist’ — a ‘national anarchist’ — under the stewardship of Sydney-based fascist Welf Herfurth, designated by the SPLC as one of the leaders of the neo-Nazi Volksfront gang. During this period, Scott used the handle ‘anarchonation’.

welfvsplc

While at high school, Scott described himself as a racial soldier, claimed to have been in “race wars” at school, and to have bashed a “Red”. Much of the material Scott produced during this period — ie, before he became a ‘Reverend’ in the Creativity Alliance/Movement — has since disappeared online (and/or I couldn’t be bothered tracking it down), but the following are some of the virtual locations he used to propagate his views:

    Scott on White Revolution: http://www.whiterevolution.com/forum/search.php?searchid=61958
    Scott’s blog: http://www.wnblog.org/Eratic/
    Another blog: http://patriotsforwhitepride.blogspot.com/

Scott also had accounts on rahowa.net (‘rahowa’ = ‘RAcial HOly WAr”) and on Stormfront, where he employed several handles, initially ‘Eratic Industries’ (join date: January 2005; 80+ posts). On ‘Eratic Industries’, Scott wrote that: “Eratic Industries was the name of an underground freedom of speech outfit I ran at school, we provided information on making all sorts of things. When I first joined Stormfront I was not a true white nationalist yet, just experimenting so I used Eratic Industries as it was what I was using everywhere else on the net.” Here he describes his plans for the future:

eratic

Later, Scott adopted the handle ‘Skalped For Pride’ (join date: January 2006; 300+ posts), and offered these handy tips on fighting:

tips

After abandoning this handle, Scott adopted ‘NoCrusties’ in November 2006, under which title he posted over 500 comments on SF. It was as ‘NoCrusties’ that Scott made some highly objectionable comments, including one in which he joked about photos published in 2007 of Nazi concentration camp guards thusly: “They are celebrating the girls graduation from Jewish strangulation school? Haha, jokes, haha!”. Finally, Scott employed the handle ‘HatemongerCA’ (join date: February 2009; 300+ posts, last entry late 2011). The following blog post on SF outlines Scott’s racial philosophy in some detail:

For a Whiter and Brighter World!
Posted 10-15-2010 at 01:33 AM by HatemongerCA
Updated 10-25-2010 at 10:04 AM by HatemongerCA

After six thousand years of recorded history, our people finally have a religion of, for, and by, them. CREATIVITY is that religion. It is established for the Survival, Expansion, and Advancement of our White Race exclusively. Indeed, we believe that what is good for the White Race is the highest virtue, and what is bad for the White Race is the ultimate sin.

We have come to hold these views by observing the Eternal Laws of Nature, by studying History, and by using the Logic and Common Sense everyone is born with: the highest Law of Nature is the survival of one’s own kind; history has shown us that the White Race is responsible for all that which we call progress on this earth; and that it is therefore logical and sensible to place supreme importance upon Race and to reject all ideas which fail to do so. No species on earth besides the currently misguided White people willingly aid other species at its own expense.

Our people have faced threats throughout history, but never before have our people faced as grave a threat as it is facing today. Today, our people’s very continued biological existence on this planet is in doubt. In 1920 for example, one out of every three people on this planet were White. Today, only one out of every twelve are White. If present trends continue, one can only imagine what the complexion of the world will be like in another one hundred years.

How did this calamity come about? It came about because of our people’s skewed thinking. Our people have thus far been concerned with every issue besides the issue of their own survival. We have subsidized those not of our own kind at our expense, causing their numbers to soar, while at the same time, White people have scaled back the size of their families, either out of selfishness or because of low-paying salaries and exorbitant taxes. We have divided ourselves into all kinds of organizations and causes, none of whom address the most basic issue: Will White children have a future? With CREATIVITY, this is the issue, and all other issues revolve around it.

Our people everywhere are beginning to embrace the dynamic and inspiring creed and program of CREATIVITY. White people everywhere are beginning to put aside their past differences and divisions and are coming together as one people for their best interests. More and more of our people are beginning to realize that if White people do not look out for their own future, no other people will. As a result, our churches are sprouting up all over the world, our ministers preaching the word of White unity and our members zealously spreading the word to you, our fellow White people. We hope that after reading this, you will decide to obtain more information, will consequently decide to become a Creator, and will decide to join us in this historic struggle.

I call upon you to join with us today, to do what is right for your family and for your extended family – your Race. If you act, you will be ensuring a future of beauty and happiness; if you do not, there will be a future of darkness and sadness. We have the capability to make sure that every child has a smile on his or her face.

Let’s not miss the moment. Generations yet unborn are counting on you.

Precisely when Scott decided to abandon fascism and white supremacy (if indeed he did) is unclear. Thus, all the items on the creativityvic site are now credited to ‘Rev C Magyar’. An examination of the site’s archive reveals that the same articles were previously credited to ‘Rev Scott Harrison’; the *latest* entry on the creativityvic site is dated August 26, 2012, ie, *less than one year* before Scott says he joined the Young Liberals (July 2013). His last posts on SF date from October November 2011.

If Scott has indeed junked his previous political commitments that’s a good thing. But until today — perhaps — this remained an open question. In any event, Scott’s case does raise some other interesting questions regarding what, if any, vetting processes apply to those seeking to become leading Young Liberals, and why Scott’s not-inconsiderable activism on behalf of fascism and white supremacy was apparently not discovered by those responsible for overseeing such processes. Of course, it could also be the case that Scott has not fundamentally shifted in his political perspective and simply decided that the Young Liberals is/was a more appropriate vehicle for promoting reactionary politics. Who knows?

Posted in Anti-fascism, History, Media, State / Politics, Student movement | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

#Antifa in Russia

Two things:

First, this article at Global Voices Online is problematic but worth reading. I’m yet to encounter a serious account in English of antifascist politics in Russia.

Russia’s Punk Underground on Trial
Lewis May
November 7, 2014

See also : avtonom.org.

Secondly, a blast from the past. The eXile was a zine published in Moscow for the benefit of local yuppies.

Scared Skins
Jake Rudnitsky
The eXile
February 24, 2006

If AntiFA punks and skinheads are brave enough to want to take the fight against Russia’s 50,000 skinheads [sic] to the street, why won’t they talk to the eXile? By Jake Rudnitsky.

I first learned about AntiFA about a week ago while sitting at Starlite with NTV journalist Andrei Loshak. He’d devoted a Profession: Reporter show to the movement last December and a young ethnic-looking guy approached him with a little constructive criticism. AntiFA is the name of Russia’s anti-fascist hardcore skinheads and punks.

The highlight of Loshak’s show was a video shot on an AntiFA’s camera-phone in which they attack a group of neo-Nazi skins near Chisty Prudi. (Yes, even skinheads have 3G phones these days.) The resolution was terrible — even worse than the operativniye syomki, or secret cameras, that his show frequently relies on to catch officials taking bribes red-handed — and the fan wanted to put Loshak in touch with other AntiFA members that could hook him up with better footage and interviews.

The story sounded like a gimme. I wanted to write about for myself. But I should have realized that if Lohsak, with a month and NTV’s resources, couldn’t find anything better than this one camera-vid shot, I’d be facing an uphill battle.

Over a week later, after scouring the internet for contacts, prostrating myself on obscure ru.net chat rooms, and tapping every single acquaintance I have with any possible connection to AntiFA or punk music (including the ethnic guy mentioned above and most of his friends), I finally scored an interview. Well, sort of.

My “interview” with someone from AntiFA was actually contracted out to a journalist Ruslan Korolev whom I met at a ru.net site called the “United Forum of Anarchists.” From there we carried out a long courtship via email before he finally agreed to telegraph my questions to an unnamed representative of AntiFA and send me a transcript of the interview. Who answered my questions, what role he has in the organization, and how much I could trust the info is anybody’s guess. For all I know, my questions could have been asked to a 42-year-old TV psychic for 50 rubles a minute. All I knew was that, according to Korolev, nobody wanted to talk to me without the permission of their leader, and that I was lucky to get even this interview.

On the day that this issue went to press, I finally got to interview a real, live AntiFA activist, nicknamed “Ukrop” (Dill). He told me that he was just about the only one in Moscow willing to talk to the press and, judging by the difficulty I’d had, I believe him. There were a few restrictions — no photos, for example — but at least I’d have something to write about.

Had I had the good sense to call Edward Limonov before embarking on this fool’s errant, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble. Limonov told me, “I have no interest in these guys. They’re irrational.” After all my efforts to secure an interview, I can safely say, he’s right. Ukrop’s name says it all, really. AntiFA is the dill of Russia’s extremist politics: bland, irrelevant, and easily ignored.

In theory, anti-fascism sounds hard as nails: anarchists, punks and skinheads running around and looking for brawls with Moscow’s Nazi-skinhead underground. When I first envisioned this story, I thought it’d be filled with Chopper-like braggarts, righteous, scar-covered thugs living in squats and in a constant state of war. After all, whatever you say about Russian fascists, they’re definitely scary. Last year according to the SOVA Center, which gathers info on racial attacks, they were credited with 28 murders throughout Russia. It’d seem like anyone looking to take them on would have to be equal parts crazy and tough. In other words, anything but dill.

Furthermore, it’s understandable why they’re a bit camera shy. The basic tenet of AntiFA is to challenge the growing neo-Nazi movement in Russia with force; they want to make it hurt to be a Nazi. But they’re vastly outnumbered by Moscow’s real [sic] skinheads, who according to the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights numbered 5000 two years ago, the last time anyone bothered to count. Last November, ultra-rightists mobilized up to 5000 to goose-step down Tverskaya holding racist signs in broad daylight. According to Dima, a skinhead I talked to who is neither AntiFA nor racist (boneheads, as enlightened Russian skins call their racist/fascist brethren), AntiFA activists on a good day can only muster a group of about 50 and their total number in Moscow is no more than 200. I figured they must have brass balls.

So, it was a bit of a surprise when Ukrop asked me to meet him at Bilingua. Nothing against the cafe, which is a favorite among bearded intellectuals and other assorted pencilnecks, but it’s not exactly the hard-assiest place in Moscow. Nor did his lunch of beer and grenadine add to the baby-faced punk’s intimidation-creds. By the time he started telling me that the fascists were on the decline and AntiFA was rising, I realized I’d been had.

AntiFA is just another western fad, no different than riggers, cigar-smoking, and sushi. Russia’s always had a minority of Westernizers in its capitals, looking to the West for trends that they blindly copy. The trend AntiFA’s membership is mimicking is the same soft stuff as the Food Not Bombs and Critical Mass crowd in the States. I got to know those two movements well when going to school in Minneapolis, one of the last places in the States where punk was practiced by people beyond high school. They’d do their thing, occasionally causing a traffic jam or starting an organic garden on an abandoned lot, and nobody would pay them any mind. They bought books at the local anarchist book store, ate vegan, espoused totally impractical politics, and spent their weekends crowding into mattress-lined basements to watch punk shows. They’re as unthreatening as someone with a shaved head can be. That, to the AntiFA crew, must seem like paradise.

With an unintended irony, Ukrop told me about his recent meeting with a bunch of German anarchists and red skins (anti-racist skinheads). “They thought we were lucky since we actually get to fight,” he told me. “But in another five years, the situation here will be just like Germany.”

That’s the big joke. The Germans are actually wishing there were more racists, while all the Russians want is a boring social-democratic regime where it’s safe to play punk! It’s understandable; in Germany and the States, these movements are fringe because they’re totally irrelevant. They’re made up of a bunch of college kids who dig hardcore music and the menacing skinhead style, but don’t want to offend anyone by embracing it. So they thought up SHARP (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) and ARA (Anti-Racist Action), where they could have their cake and eat it. It was a risk-free venture, because the whole of society is anti-fascist and anti-racist, at least nominally. What ultra-rightists we do have tend to confine themselves to bunkers in Idaho and the Upper Peninsula. Taking a stand against racism is a risk-free endeavor.

[Comment: SHARP’s origins are in New York and the UK in the late 1980s. Roddy Moreno, singer for The Oppressed, played a vital role in helping to spread the SHARP message. ARA, on the other hand, has its origins in an anti-fascist skinhead crew in Minneapolis called The Baldies, operating in roughly the same period. (ARA has recently reformed as the Torch Antifa Network.) Otherwise, anti-fascist activity is rarely as risk-free as the yuppie suggests. For example, in 1998, two ARA SHARPs, Lin and Spit, were shot dead by boneheads outside Las Vegas. In May 2014, bonehead Melissa Hack pleaded guilty to her role in their murder.]

Yet, while the westerners are gazing longingly [at] their comrades in Russia, where there’s a clear and present enemy, the Russian AntiFA guys gaze just as lustfully at the West, where the movement’s about aesthetics only. The thing that makes the delusion so ridiculous is that Russia is not going to be like Germany, not in 5 years, not ever. Skinheads [sic] here are not declining, like Ukrop claims. They’re everywhere, and they operate with virtual impunity. The 28 murder figure sited above, or even SOVA Center’s 2004 estimate of 46, is almost certainly a lowball. The militsia often labels hate crimes as the work of hooligans or entirely unrelated to race.

For example, Argumenty i Fakti wrote about a triple murder on November 28 in Perm that the paper attributed to skinheads [sic], but that wasn’t included in SOVA’s stats. Or there was a Death Porn story we took from MK in late 2004 in which the murder of a Georgian was pinned on two Tajik workers, even though several skinhead [sic] youths were seen running from the scene. The fact is, Russian “justice” is so arbitrary that it’s impossible to say how many racially motivated murders take place every year.

One thing that is clear, though, is that last year only 25 Russians were sentenced for ethnically motivated murder and beatings, according to the SOVA Center, and most of those were associated with two murders in Petersburg of African students. In other words, there are still plenty of skins [sic] running amok out there, and they’re getting away with murder.

* * *

Perhaps I am being a little too harsh on the AntiFA guys; after all, they do go out and fight with skinheads [sic], and several of them have taken some pretty hard knocks. The most sensational was last November, when a Petersburg anti-fascist pacifist activist Timur Kacharav was stabbed to death by skinheads [sic]. “I got an SMS that he’d been killed,” Ukrop said, who’d been hanging out with him just two hours previous. “It was hard to believe.” [See also : Timur Kacharava: Five Years Later, chtodelat news, November 16, 2010.]

While Timur is the movement’s only fatality, several others have been seriously injured over the last year. One friend of Ukrop’s was set upon by boneheads as he left his apartment about a year ago. Eight skins [sic] attacked him with screwdrivers and lead pipes, breaking his arm and several ribs. According to Ukrop, they bought his address from the militsia, who had arrested him not long before for brawling. Vanya, a big name in Moscow’s AntiFA, was hobbled by an attack six months ago and still walks with a crutch.

“The pressure started about a year ago,” Dima told me. “Actually, it wasn’t long after AntiFA attempted to branch out. Before that, they had been mostly involved with propaganda — stickers on the metro, anti-racist song lyrics and whatnot. Once they tried to take the fights to the streets, they got stamped on. Hard.”

According to Ukrop, they face off against boneheads at least once a week. The fights generally take place on the weekends, when AntiFA crashes some bonehead concert. Otherwise, they descend on Chisti Prudy, which is a favorite skinhead [sic] hangout. The fights usually have 15-20 per side and, according to Dima, aren’t terribly vicious. Ukrop said that the most dangerous weapons AntiFA wields are flares and beer bottles, “so that the cops don’t have any excuse to detain us.”

The most serious attacks are when a group of boneheads mobs a person or two. The victims are sometimes punks, AntiFA activists or rappers, but most often non-Russians. While the big brawls might end with a little blood and some bruises, the only hope of escaping this type of attack is running. If a victim falls, the very least he can expect is a few broken ribs.

A friend of Dima’s who sympathizes with AntiFA but isn’t a part of it got attacked by a group of bonehead teens and smashed over the head. He later checked into the neighborhood tram-punkt, or ER, where there were three other guys who’d been attacked by the same group. “The funny thing is, three of the four were Russian and the fourth was Caucasian,” Dima said. “Skinheads [sic] are racist and fascist, but more than anything, they’re just drunk thugs willing to attack anyone.”

Dima contends that many of the ultra-right that come out for displays like the November march aren’t so much skinheads [sic] as racist alcoholics. “They don’t like blacks [meaning non-Russians],” he said. “But who does in Russia?” Part of the reason the picture of racist skinheads [sic] is so blurred in Russia is because there’s a relatively fluid boundary between them, soccer hooligans, and average working class stiffs. Russia’s a country with a huge poor, disenfranchised population where racism isn’t taboo. Most skins [sic] don’t belong to a party or anything more organized than a soccer firm. There are parties like Slavyansky Soyuz (Slavic Union, abbreviated SS), but most skins [sic] come from the ranks of Spartak fans.

Maybe for this reason, Moscow police chief Vladimir Pronin denies their existence entirely. Last year RIA-Novosti quoted him saying, “We don’t have any skinheads [sic] in the city. I have never acknowledged them and do not acknowledge them. There is rabble from Moscow and its suburbs who attack people of various nationalities.”

Ukrop’s own estimates are only slightly less absurd. He claims that the boneheads only really have some 400-500 active fighters, and those are scattered across several groups that are constantly infighting. Apparently, they’re always accusing each other of being Jews and beating the shit out of each other. He qualifies this statement by saying that probably 80 percent of Moscow’s skinheads [sic] are drunk 16 to 20-year-olds looking for adventures. “They’ll eventually grow up, and you’re left with the devoted fascist core,” he said. What he fails to acknowledge is that when they grow up, they’ll be replaced with new teens. As Andrei Urov of the Youth Human Rights Movement told me, “The problem isn’t so much the thousands of skinheads [sic], but a society of millions of sympathizers.”

AntiFA is looking to repeat what happened in New York in the ’80s, where SHARP was born. “What they don’t understand,” Dima said, “is that it’s the exact opposite: in New York the Nazis were the underground.”

* * *

For a group as secretive as AntiFA, it’s a wonder how they ever get any members at all. As recently as a year ago, they advertised with stickers on the metro, until boneheads started attacking their shows. Still, according to both the anonymous interview and Ukrop, membership is growing. Ukrop said that around 300 people identified themselves as AntiFA in Moscow, of which maybe 150 were active fighters. Those are pretty impressive figures considering he said there were only maybe 100 members a year ago.

The only way to get recruited, or even learn about it given the deficit of information even on the web, is to already have contacts with that world. Like analogous Western groups, the best way in is through music. Even that can be hard enough: AntiFA concerts are by invite only. The only way to hear about shows by AntiFA groups like Clowns, Working Boys, and Change the World Without Taking Power, is to get an SMS the day of the show from someone in the know.

However, AntiFA members also serve as security to many of Moscow’s underground punk and even rap shows, which are favorite targets of the boneheads. According to Ukrop, punk shows make a particularly easy target because, “Punks are soft and always drunk.” Dima said that plenty of hardcore bands, like Union, are not AntiFA but have sympathetic lyrics and there’s plenty of crossover.

These measures, and the fear of press, are apparently to prevent infiltration. But that’s not the only reason they do it; the low profile, off-the-grid approach fits in to their anarchist principles. I’ve got the sneaking suspicion that they like it that way because it makes them feel even more underground. After all, punk shows still advertise despite the fact that they’re an easy target.

AntiFA claim that there’s a black list of their members which puts them in particular danger. But, as Urov told me, he too is on the SS’s black list, but he’s not afraid to tell people his name. “It’s that, or get a nose job,” he said.

AntiFA is also careful to distance themselves from another purportedly antifascist group: Nashi, the pro-Putin youth group. Most recently, they campaigned for the resignation of Perm’s governor because he allowed a far-right politician to speak at some youth conference. Ukrop took this as a sign that the Kremlin thinks antifascism has good prospects and is looking to co-opt its ideology.

However, it seems more likely that the Kremlin’s polit-tekhnologs are acting more out of fear of the fascists than the appeal of antifascism. After all, it’s an open secret that Nashi security, at least at its Moscow events, is provided by Spartak football hooligans with ties to racist skinheads [sic]. If anything, they’re interested in co-opting the fascists and turning them into a politically useful tool in case of a threat from an Orange — or a National-Bolsheviks — revolution.

* * *

Postscript: This year in Moscow, skinhead [sic] gangs have already killed a 13-year-old Uzbek kid on January 7, stabbing him 34 times. Their most recent victim, a 29-year-old Armenian on February 15, got stabbed to death 14 times from multiple knives.

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