Yeah Nah Pasaran! #097 w Van Badham on QAnon and On : December 2, 2021

On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah Pasaran! we talk to Van Badham [Twitter], writer and author of QAnon and On: A Short and Shocking History of Internet Conspiracy Cults (Hardie Grant, 2021). Van writes for The Guardian, co-hosts The Week on Wednesday podcast with Ben Davison and also done wrote some plays.

See/hear also : Who is driving the COVID protests across Australia and should we be worried?, Late Night Live, ABC Radio National, November 24, 2021 | QAnon Changes Strategies and Spreads Globally, CJ Werleman, Byline Times, November 17, 2021 | QAnon: how the far-right cult took Australians down a ‘rabbit hole’ of extremism, Van Badham, The Guardian, November 14, 2021 | No, Australia Is Not Actually an Evil Dictatorship, Van Badham, The New York Times, October 14, 2021.

4.30pm, Thursday, December 2, 2021 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website

• Note that the podcast version of this episode contains a longer discussion with Van.
• You can listen to the podcast on Apple, Spotify and other platforms.
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Yeah Nah Pasaran! #096 w Tom Tanuki on #MelbourneProtest & Freedumbs : November 25, 2021

On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah Pasaran! we talk to Tom Tanuki [Twitter] about recent agitations by ‘Freedumb activists’, especially the anti-vaXX rallies of November 20. Under the enormous umbrella of Liberty gathers a divers range of Ordinary Mums & Dads™ (including some very familiar faces). Tens of thousands of these gathered on the weekend, and further rallies are scheduled for the weeks ahead …

See also : White supremacist and far right ideology underpin anti-vax movements, Madi Day and Bronwyn Carlson, The Conversation, November 22, 2021 | Anti-vax rallies stink of Fraser Anning’s populism, Tom Tanuki, Independent Australia, November 19, 2021 | Far-Right and Fascist Organizations Are Leading Australia’s Anti-Vax Movement, Marty Hirst, Jacobin, November 17, 2021.

4.30pm, Thursday, November 25, 2021 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website

• Note that last week’s episode of YNP! (#95) starred Steven Monacelli, who spoke about ‘Strange Days & Dudes in Dallas’.
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Melbourne, Plague Rats, Nazis, Grifters, Cliev & Pied Pipers (Rally on November 20)

Update (November 18, 2021) : Far-right protester charged by counter-terror police amid talk of killing Daniel Andrews, Nick McKenzie and Clay Lucas, The Age, November 18, 2021 | Melbourne man charged with inciting protesters to make explosives, Danny Tran, ABC, November 18, 2021. Note : Along with Imre Pelyva and Kenneth Reinhold Panten being charged with various offences, Kate Callan has been identified as a leading neo-Nazi with involvement in ‘Reignite Democracy’ — Callan is partner to veteran bonehead Scott McGuinness, lead shouter in Australia’s most notorious reich ‘n’ roll band, Fortress.

Above : Cliev’s latest acquisition, Craig Kelly MP, pictured at the weekend anti-vaccination rally in Melbourne alongside his neo-Nazi bodyguard, Stuart von Moger. In the background is Daniel Jones, Avi Yemini’s bodyguard. Below : Yeminem, Jones and von Moger hanging out at a previous rally in Melbourne.


The anti-lockdown/anti-vaXX/anti-Labor ‘Kill Bill!’ rally in Melbourne on the weekend attracted thousands (NCA claims tens of thousands) of participants. The event was celebrated by many Tory luminaries, including political scientist and award-winning journalist Peta Credlin, who portrayed it as a righteous demonstration by Ordinary Mums & Dads who are sick and tired of Dan Andrews and have no desire to go back to Bosnia.

Or something.

According to Cam Wilson (Extremists, conspiracy theorists, politicians and ordinary Australians mingled at Melbourne protests, Crikey, November 15, 2021): ‘… the threat of political violence loomed large. Protestors carried prop gallows. A speaker chanted “Hang Dan Andrews”. Known members of violent, extremist groups like the Proud Boys were active participants in the event.’

Which is par for the course.

Traces of QAnon were also present at the rally, as Claire Woodley, the daughter of The Seekers’ Bruce Woodley, dedicated her performance of I am Australian to the “brave victims of satanic ritual abuse. The protests have won the fulsome support of Fox News Australia (and the Murdochcracy generally), but explicit political support has been limited to billionaires and grifters, with Josh Frydenberg being forced to express misgivings about Dan Andrews being compared to a Nazi. Obviously, given that Cliev’s major function is to funnel votes to the Coalition at next year’s federal election, Josh has to walk a fine line in terms of continuing to denounce state Labor while simultaneously distancing himself from the batshit views of a substantial proportion of the Tory voter base in Melbourne.

Wilson:

What made Sunday different was the increasingly close bonds between the political establishment and those holding extreme ideologies.

Researchers from anti-fascist group White Rose Society noted that federal United Australia Party MP Craig Kelly was photographed with Stuart Von Moger, an Australian neo-Nazi who was part of the now-defunct Lads Society. Kelly confirmed that he had security on the day but said he couldn’t recall the names of the personnel.

Liberal state MP Bernie Finn, who spoke at the protest, authorised a print advertisement for the rally in the Herald-Sun on Saturday. The advertisement linked directly to the Telegram channel for the organisers, who have repeatedly featured speakers with extreme beliefs in their events. Finn’s office did not return a call for comment.

Von Moger is one of many ‘right-wing extremists’ who work in the security industry (Licence Number : 807-109-91S) and, funnily enough, has also been employed in that capacity to protecc precious white babehs (and Bernie Finn).

Politics makes for strange bedfellows eh.

Above : Wedding photographer turned rally promoter Rukshan Fernando with veteran neo-Nazi serial pest Neil Erikson.

See also : How Daniel Andrews’ beleaguered pandemic bill became fuel for Victoria’s anti-government protests, Calla Wahlquist and Michael McGowan, The Guardian, November 16 2021 | Alt-Right Memes and Clive Palmer’s Return to Politics, Jordan McSwiney, Pop Politics Aus, September 18, 2018.

… and remember, the twentieth of november …

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Yeah Nah Pasaran! #094 w Vashti Fox on anti-fascism, 1970s Melbourne & 1980s Perth : November 11, 2021

On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah Pasaran! we talk to Vashti Fox about Jack Van Tongeren’s ‘Australian Nationalists Movement’ in Perth in the 1980s and the ‘National Socialist Party of Australia’ in Melbourne in the 1970s. Vashti is the author of The Story of Palestine: Empire, Repression and Resistance (Red Flag Books, 2020) and ‘“Never Again”: Fascism and Anti-Fascism in Melbourne in the 1990s’, Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (No.116, May 2019). Vashti is currently completing a PhD the University of Western Australia on the history of anti-fascism in post-WWII Australia.

See also : From the Archives, 1972: Mob destroys Nazi Party house in St. Albans, The Age, June 10, 2020 | ‘Between the bomb and the ballot box’: the history of the far-right in Australia, Evan Smith, The Guardian, August 16, 2016.

4.30pm, Thursday, November 11, 2021 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website

• You can listen to the podcast on Apple, Spotify and other platforms.
• We also have a Facebook page for the show, which you’re invited to ‘Like’ and to ‘Follow’.
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Yeah Nah Pasaran! #093 w Daphne Halikiopoulou on Golden Dawn and the right in Greece : November 4, 2021

On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah Pasaran! we talk to Daphne Halikiopoulou [Twitter] about Golden Dawn, populism, ‘economic anxiety’ and the welfare state, New Democracy and the far-right in Greece. Daphne is a professor of comparative politics at the University of Reading and the co-author of The Golden Dawn’s ‘Nationalist Solution’: Explaining the Rise of the Far Right in Greece (Palgrave, 2015).

See also : How welfare state policies prevent the insecure from voting far right, Daphne Halikiopoulou and Tim Vlandas, The Loop, May 18, 2021.

4.30pm, Thursday, November 4, 2021 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website

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• We also have a Facebook page for the show, which you’re invited to ‘Like’ and to ‘Follow’.
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antifa notes (october 31, 2021) : Fuhrious Nazis Go To Court, Tactical Dining & Boikov Decides

Thomas Sewell, Jacob Hersant, based51

Above : A teenage Jacob Hersant being groomed by former ‘United Patriots Front’ (2015–2017) lvl boss and sometime Sky News commentator Blair Cottrell, August 2016. (Cottrell goes to Frankston Magistrates’ Court on December 6 but, like Over 9,000 other nazis, he otherwise keeps busy grooming teens on Telegram.)

Thomas Sewell, The Boy from Balwyn (Who Went To Prison), was back in court again this week, along with his sidekick, Jacob Hersant. Balding wanna-be fuehrer Tommeh! and OpSec geni0use Jakob are accused of leading a smol group of Ordinary Mums & Dads™ in an attack upon some hikers in the Cathedral Range in May. Specifically, these two Very Fine People have been charged with armed robbery, affray, violent disorder and several other offences. AAP reported (Alleged neo-Nazi victim feared death, Karen Sweeney, The Canberra Times, October 28, 2021):

Prosecutor Danielle Guesdon earlier failed in a bid to have Sewell and Hersant’s supporters removed from court over “coded hate speech” posted in a chat by a man going by the name Jimeone Roberts, who also held up a “Free Tom Sewell” sign.

Five witnesses gave evidence against Sewell and Hersant on Thursday, all choosing to keep their face masks on throughout. Ms Guesdon said they had concerns about their safety.

Magistrate Peter Reardon knocked back the request but put rule breakers on notice.

Suspected supporters including Neil Erikson, Mr Roberts and a man going by “based51” turned on their cameras in response.

After the magistrate’s warning two images were flashed on screen – a gorilla doing a Nazi salute and a topless woman.

The hearing is continuing. Sewell is in custody while Hersant is on bail.

See : ‘Screaming in terror’: Man describes attack allegedly carried out by neo-Nazis, Simone Fox Koob, The Age, October 27, 2021 | Two Australian neo-Nazis face court over alleged assault in Cathedral Ranges State Park, Danny Tran, ABC, October 27, 2021 | Hikers ‘terrified’ by neo-Nazis who allegedly smashed car windows as they fled, Melbourne court hears, The Guardian (AAP), October 27, 2021 | ‘I thought we were going to be killed’: Hiker tells court of alleged attack by group of ‘neo-Nazis’, Caroline Schelle, news dot com dot au, October 28, 2021 | Alleged neo-Nazi leaders plead not guilty to armed robbery of hikers, Simone Fox Koob, The Age, October 29, 2021.

Notably:

• Erikson is a veteran neo-Nazi serial pest whose utter contempt for the (((courts))) has been remarked upon since 2014 (when he was convicted of stalking a rabbi), but who was also exonerated by The Australian’s Chip Le Grand in December 2017. He’s currently appealing a prison sentence for disrupting a church service.

• ‘based51’ is a reference to the 51 Muslims slaughtered by the National Socialist Network‘s hero in Christchurch and a handle used by former University of Melbourne Liberal Party student activist — and licensed gun owner — Stefan Eracleous (AKA ‘Australian Meditations’ AKA ‘Zorba Dundee’ AKA ‘zorba dundee 51’).

• While reference is made to both the ‘European Australian Movement’ (EAM) and ‘National Socialist Network’ (NSN) — and to Hersant and Sewell as being the fuehrer of one or the other — the two organisations should be regarded as functionally synonymous, Hersant as being Sewell’s sidekick (whose brief but disastrous leadership of the groupuscule was bestowed on him by Sewell following his incarceration in June) and leadership of the budding génocidaires as having been assumed by former ‘Proud Boy’ Jarrad Searby, Brad Ingram and whoever else wanted to stick around after the August exposé.
• The nazi Boy Scouts apparently believed that the hikers they encountered were anTEEfa. This line of thought has been vigorously pursued by NSN member David Hiscox on his blog XYZ.
• It’s unclear if the mobile phones that were allegedly stolen from the hikers were ever recovered.
• Six others have been identified as ‘persons of interest’ by police, investigations are ongoing, but ‘a number of seized electronic devices … were yet to be analysed because police had not yet been able to access them’.
• That members of Sewell’s fan club employed (other) electronic devices to zoombomb court proceedings was predictable, but will not affect the outcome.
• Having already lost their first bunker in Cheltenham and then its replacement in Rowville, the nazis have also recently been evicted from ‘Racism HQ’ in Eildon Parade.
• Sewell and The Lads were once employed by Sky News Australia’s Lauren ‘The Great Replacement’ Southern. However, while she’s since gone on to fame, fortune and further corporate sponsorship, unlike Lauren, poor old Tommeh! has struggled to find a lucrative-enough fan base, and his legal defence is being partly funded by the sale of a card game, but largely through donations from his fellow nazis.

From Collett to Sewell And Back Again

Sewell’s name popped up earlier in October when The Times did some digging into Mark Collett and his fascist groupuscule ‘Patriotic Alternative’ (see : At the gym, in the hills, the far-right fight clubs where men train to make Britain white, Dominic Kennedy, October 9 2021: ‘Experts fear extremists are forging a force primed for street violence’). According to anti-fascist research group Red Flare:

Collett was filmed training martial arts with members of the now-proscribed neo-Nazi group National Action (NA). The Times investigation also reveals that PA risks being proscribed over comments made by guests on its livestreams. Australian neo-Nazi Thomas Sewell called for the mass rape of police officers on a PA affiliated livestream, since deleted over fears that it had broken the law.

You can learn more about Red Flare’s investigations into Collett and PA by way of the 12 Rules For What podcast: ‘We discuss the the weird history of their leader Mark Collett, how PA dance around their nasty politics, the shift from civic to ethno nationalism on the UK far right, and much more!’ Just as Sewell has been celebrated in fascist media in the UK, Collett has also starred on various far-right media platforms in Australia, appearing at the 2021 virtual conference of Hiscox’s XYZ blog and being interviewed by Timmeh! Wilms of The Unhinged (AKA ‘The Unshackled’) blog.

Avi Yemini, Tactical Force Jones

After having spent several years as a semi-professional Islamophobe, serial pest Avi Yemini is now making a name for himself as one of several pied pipers to local plague rats. Along with smashing windows, kicking dogs, dancing on bridges, pissing on shrines and spreading the virus, COVIDIOTs like Yeminem and his bodyguard Daniel Jones have been busy picking fights, most recently outside a Melbourne restaurant. If not an especially bright scholar, Jones is certainly a large gentlemen, and the former Goth has now been employed for years by Yemini to protecc him as the diminutive troll goes about town, acting like a dick, and thereby generating content for his Canadian employer’s enormous online audience.

See : Avi Yemini cowers as guard shoves diners celebrating end of Melbourne’s lockdown, Ben Graham, news dot com dot au, October 24, 2021.

Jones, Daniel James is a capable and, unlike Yemini, licensed professional (Private Security Individual Licence 827-892-10S) who runs his own company (‘Obsidian Security Solutions’, Australian Business Number 45 727 115 843) providing hands-on solutions to mouthy diners. As such, it’s unlikely he’ll get into trouble for laying hands.

See also : Citizen journalism on the rise in Australian fringe politics, Tom Tanuki, Independent Australia, October 23, 2021.

Boikov & Bikies ~vs~ CFMEU

Above : Simeon Boikov with Jordan Shanks outside Downing Centre Court, October 13, 2021.

In the last month, YouTube personality Simeon Boikov has declared WAR! on the CFMEU. You may remember Boikov from such ABC reportage as Putin’s patriots (Sean Nicholls, Jeanavive McGregor, Mary Fallon and Alex Palmer, 4 Corners, February 15, 2021) or
The strange case of Putin’s self-declared fifth column in Australia (Kyle Wilson, Inside Story, August 12, 2020) or even Australian Cossack may have flown to Ukraine to support pro-Russian rebels (9 News, July 30, 2014). Like Avi, Simeon is sponsored by YouTube, where he publishes propaganda under the title of ‘The Aussie Cossack’.

Boikov was awfully excited by the smashing of the CFMEU office in Melbourne, and declared that he looks forward to similar union-smashing in Sydney. He’s also published an interview with a man who claims to have special insight into outlaw motorcycle clubs in Australia, and their apparent willingness to ally themselves with Boikov in his manly struggle to dismantle building unions. Boikov The Businessman also owns and operates a labour hire company called ‘True Blue’ (ABN 31 649 101 020), so fingers crossed his bikie mates are able to open up the industry for little Aussie battlers like Simeon and he will decide who comes into the building industry and the circumstances in which they work.

Bonus PROTEST! Oppose the anti-vax far right – Melbourne, November 20

According to the Campaign Against Racism And Fascism:

On November 20 the anti-vax movement will be holding another rally. Those organising the protest are linked up with far-right movements around the world. Their politics are deeply reactionary. They stand against public health measures including the restrictions and vaccines that have saved countless lives. While our hospitals and healthcare workers are being overrun, they celebrate selfish individualism that would see the bodies pile high as the virus rips through the community unabated.

Perhaps as many as 1,000 attended an anti-vaxx rally on October 30 outside state parliament, so it will be interesting to see what happens on November 20. For more details, see the Facebook event page and please note that This is organised as a COVID-19 safe event. All participants are requested to come fully vaccinated and wearing masks.

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Yeah Nah Pasaran! #092 w Jason Wilson on COVID, Facebook, Portland & Tyranny : October 28, 2021

On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah Pasaran! we talk to Jason Wilson [Twitter], our semi-regular Portland-based correspondent.

See : ‘Tyranny’: US rightwingers portray nightmare vision of Australia’s Covid response, The Guardian, October 10, 2021 | Policing of the anti-lockdown protests, Melbourne Activist Legal Service, October 17, 2021 | Here are all the Facebook Papers stories, David Pierce and Anna Kramer, Protocol, October 25, 2021.

4.30pm, Thursday, October 28, 2021 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website

• You can listen to the podcast on Apple, Spotify and other platforms.
• We also have a Facebook page for the show, which you’re invited to ‘Like’ and to ‘Follow’.
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Yeah Nah Pasaran! #091 w Cas Mudde on Populism & The Far Right : October 21, 2021

On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah Pasaran! we talk to Cas Mudde [Twitter], a Dutchman who doubles as an academic (Stanley Wade Shelton UGAF Professor of International Affairs) and podcaster (Radikaal) and has written extensively on the subjects of populism and the far right.

See : Surprised to see US Republicans cozying up to the European far right? Don’t be, Cas Mudde, The Guardian, October 15, 2021 | The Far Right Today, Cas Mudde, Wiley, 2019 | Populism: A Very Short Introduction, Cas Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Oxford University Press, 2018.

4.30pm, Thursday, October 21, 2021 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website

• You can listen to the podcast on Apple, Spotify and other platforms.
• We also have a Facebook page for the show, which you’re invited to ‘Like’ and to ‘Follow’.
• I have a Patreon account which youse are also invited to support.

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#CFMEUForever : COVID-19, Construction & COVIDIOTs

On September 20, the Melbourne office of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) was attacked by a group of angry anti-vaxxers and their allies: a motley assortment of malcontents, including union members, fueled by far-right myth-makers on social media. I wrote a little about what happened for Overland (‘Constructing a narrative: the CFMEU protest and the far right’, September 23, 2021), provided links to a few more articles of interest in a blog post and last week responded to a critic of the Overland article in another.

One immediate effect of the protest was an announcement by the Victorian state government of a two-week suspension of all construction work: work resumed on Tuesday, October 5. A longer-term impact was dozens of COVID-19 infections among CFMEU officials, staff and their families.

Work stoppages and infections weren’t the only fallout from the protests of mid-September, however, and not all CFMEU members are happy to dance to the tune being played by Avi Yemini — to put it mildly. According to one group:

The CFMEU is one of Australia’s last fighting unions. This amazing institution is a living memorial to all the workers who made it what it is today.

In September 2021 a group of Alt Right[ists], fascists, white supremacists and Trump lovers attacked our union office, its members and staff. They were supported by a handful of CFMEU members.

Our union will never stand with the Alt Right. They seek to destroy the working class and its institutions and we must never back off from fighting this scourge.

‘CFMEU Forever’ has published a website and Facebook page, is ‘not endorsed by the union’ and ‘would like to identify all members and others who participated in recent attacks on our union or stood side by side with those that did’.

Interesting times …

See also : ‘Tyranny’: US rightwingers portray nightmare vision of Australia’s Covid response, Jason Wilson, The Guardian, October 10, 2021 (‘The feedback loop between US conservative media and Australia’s fringe right has intensified as New South Wales and Victoria have struggled with outbreaks’) | Neo-fascists exploit ‘no-vax’ rage, posing dilemma for Italy, Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, October 14, 2021 (‘Italy is wrestling with how to deal with a neo-fascist party that has violently exploited anger over the government’s anti-COVID restrictions’).

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Deconstructing a criticism : A reply to Jeremy Salt

[A few weeks ago I wrote something for Overland titled Constructing a narrative: the CFMEU protest and the far right (September 23, 2021). Last week, Jeremy Salt offered some criticism of the piece and, because my reply is so long, I thought I’d publish it here instead of there. I don’t expect it to be of much interest to others but, having inflicted myself with the task of responding, I figure it’s okay if others are provided an opportunity to share in my distress.]

I obviously don’t know what Mr Salt’s experience of the last eighteen months in Melbourne has been like, but I certainly didn’t mean to infer that it’s been sunshine, lollipops and rainbows for the millions of Melbournians who’ve been subject, willingly or unwillingly, to what is now the world’s longest lockdown. As amply documented elsewhere, things have been especially difficult for the precariat, and for those who weren’t already paying attention, the pandemic has brought into sharp relief the consequences of growing economic and social inequality for public health management. Further, the longer lockdown has persisted, the more the limits of public endurance have been tested. When combined with a bungled vaccine rollout by the federal government on the one hand and an enormous fountain of dis- and mis-information about COVID-19 generated by social media on the other, I think it’s fair to say that the general conditions of life for many have degraded to the point that, notwithstanding the potentially disastrous consequences, protest of the sort witnessed recently was likely inevitable.

In examining these protests, however, I didn’t intend to provide a comprehensive or even partial account of the economic, political and social effects of the pandemic or to make an assessment of the adequacy of the policy responses implemented by the Australian federal and Victorian state governments. Nor did I intend to canvass media reportage of these matters, embark upon a comparative analysis of the global anti-lockdown movement, or explore in any detail the ethical and legal dimensions of mandatory vaccination. Rather, I was invited to offer some thoughts on a subject much more limited in scope: the protest outside the CFMEU office, unions, and the far-right.

For the record, then, I don’t believe that the response of the Andrews government to the pandemic or the policing of recent protests are beyond criticism. I also flatly reject Mr Salt’s assertion that the article is entirely shaped towards undermining the authentic nature of the street protests against mandatory vaccination, and I simply disagree that this is what it does.

More specifically:

Insofar as I have concerns about public assemblages, they’re informed by the potential of such events to help spread a deadly virus and the health impacts this would have on vulnerable segments of the population, including but not limited to the elderly, people with disabilities and the immunocompromised. The risks of such mobilisations are heightened when, as in this instance, they involve individuals who inter alia chant ‘Fuck the jab!’, sing ‘You can stick your fucking vaccine up your arse!’, shout ‘Come outside and fight you fucking dogs!’, hurl debris at and smash the windows of the John Cummins Building, and otherwise demonstrate a remarkable disregard for OH&S. In other words, what happened outside the CFMEU office was not merely that some workers directed a few naughty words (injuriosum retines verba) at Mr Setka, calling him a ‘dog’, a ‘rat’ and ‘Dan Andrews’ bitch’: as unpleasant as this experience may have been, I’m almost certain that Mr Setka’s been exposed to curse words before and — with the support of his colleagues — I’m confident he’ll survive this latest one.

Sadly, however, the fact that on September 29 the CFMEU Melbourne Office was declared a Tier 1 and 2 exposure site and [t]he union said four positive cases had been recorded to date and a number of staff and officials had been forced into two weeks’ quarantine, suggests that Mr Setka and other CFMEU staff and officials have more serious concerns. More recently (October 6), the union claimed ‘dozens’ of COVID-19 cases now linked to Melbourne construction protest.

In terms of semantics, I suppose ‘putative’ would be preferable to ‘nominal’ construction workers, but otherwise: when, over a century ago, Luigi Fabbri complained of bourgeois influences on anarchism, one key feature he identified was the tendency of the literati to celebrate its alleged sociopathy: The most curious thing is that the literary types had a propensity to most approve those acts of rebellion which anarchist militants least approved of because of their extremely obvious antisocial character.

The day after smashing the office windows of a building dedicated to his memory, the mob paid further tribute to Mr Cummins, once a member of The West Gate Bridge Memorial Committee, by dancing about and singing ‘Horses’ from the Bridge’s heights. The day after that, the vox populi didn’t sing ‘The Internationale’ but ‘Advance Australia Fair’, and if they chanted a name, it wasn’t ‘Cummo’ but ‘Avi’, a self-proclaimed former Israeli Army sniper and right-wing grifter. When parading through the streets, the Red Ensign was considerably more popular than the Red Flag, and MAGA hats were more numerous than those paying tribute to Mr Marx.

Are such actions ‘authentic’? If so, what do they authentically express? Probably, not a shared commitment to the realisation of communism (omnia sunt communia).

Still, while mandatory vaccinations for construction workers was obviously a key concern of those who protested outside the CFMEU office, the Victorian government’s failure to provide a reasonable timeframe for workers to actually get vaccinated, along with the sudden closure of crib rooms, was also germane. So too, the longer-term effects of the pandemic on the construction industry and the consequent loss of jobs and incomes for many. With regards who attended, then, I repeat: the CFMEU claimed a minority were members, Ben Schneiders writes many were, and — from my perspective — whatever the exact proportion, many if not most are receptive to and informed by conspiracist and counterfactual ideas promoting Covid-19 disinformation.

Mr Salt writes: Mr Fleming refers to the occupation of the Shrine when no protestors appeared to be inside. They were sitting on the steps outside or strolling on the grass, peaceful until the police charged at them and almost all peaceful even after that except for the occasionally flung water bottle.

I’m not sure what Mr Salt’s point is. Yes, no protesters were literally inside the Shrine. It was closed, after all, and to enter the building would have required not only a little more ‘Freedom!’ but also a little B&E (as a treat). Obviously, then, the occupation was of the site surrounding the building. It’s possible, I suppose, that the RSL is simply unaware of the critical distinction between ‘occupying the Shrine’ and ‘holding a political rally on its steps’. In which case, if brought to its attention, the RSL might conclude that it was utterly wrong to claim that the ‘mob’ was being in any way disrespectful by merely assembling at (not occupying!) the Shrine. It’s also possible that the Shrine’s CEO, who claimed protesters pissed on it, would himself be massively relieved to discover that, according to Mr Salt at least, urine never touched it. That said, the many hundreds of thousands of people who’ve attended dawn services over the years would likely be surprised to discover that, having failed to be ‘inside’ it, they were never really at the Shrine in the first place.

Be that as it may, I didn’t attempt to give a fulsome account of what transpired on Wednesday any more than I did the events of Tuesday or Monday, but to summarise it as protesters occupied The Shrine of Remembrance and were violently dispersed by police is, I think, both concise and accurate. If I was to recommend an account, it would be that provided by Ben Hillier in Red Flag.

Mr Salt says both he and I have no idea how many fascist agitators were out and about at the recent protests, and that therefore such talk is simply a means by which the mainstream media, for its own reasons, can unfairly tar those who participated with the fascist brush.

By way of response, I’ll note the following:

• In April 2014, Martin McKenzie-Murray wrote a profile of me for The Saturday Paper. He quoted a hostile critic as follows: That guy’s anti-white. And there’s no Nazis in Australia. Get your fucking facts straight, mate. If you mean right-wing people who care about their culture and don’t want blacks turning it into a Third World shithole, then yeah.
• In October 2015, inre ‘Reclaim Australia’, I wrote in The Guardian about how it was important that others Don’t get sucked in by the hijinks of far-right activists: active neo-Nazis are welcome and hold leadership positions in a movement gaining in appeal.
• In August 2017, ‘United Patriots Front’ leader Blair Cottrell tweeted: I’ll never run around wearing the ‘nazi’ tag. It’s like diving into sewerage then wondering why the public is avoiding you.
• In December 2017, Chip Le Grand, writing about anti-fascism for The Australian, claimed: A problem for the Australian antifa, and indeed for anti-fascist groups in Europe and the US, is that few people and organisations they oppose here have much to do with Nazism.
• In November 2018, Barnaby Joyce initially expressed skepticism regarding the infiltration of the NSW Young Nationals by neo-Nazis, declaring: I’ve seen Prince Harry in a Nazi uniform, I’m pretty certain he’s not a Nazi. Joyce quickly changed his tune, and 22 individuals were eventually banned for life from the party.
• In January 2019, when Fraser Anning held a beach party in St Kilda, Alan Sunderland was moved to declare that it would be unfair to label a man photographed brandishing a motorcycle helmet with the SS flag on it a neo-Nazi. At the same time, Mr Sunderland failed to detect the presence of Tom Sewell and a dozen or so neo-Nazis belonging to ‘The Lads Society’, perhaps because none of them were wearing Nazi helmets or chanting ‘Heil Hitler’.
• In August 2021, following his public exposure, a member of the ‘National Socialist Network’ told The Standard in Warrnambool: I don’t hold any neo-Nazi or national socialist views, nor do I want to be part of any [K]lan activity. I just see myself as patriotic.

A few weeks ago, when Rukshan Fernando interviewed former UPF member Linden Watson outside the CFMEU office, he didn’t ask Linden if he was a neo-Nazi, but if he had, I’d be surprised if Mr Watson answered in the affirmative.

In summary, while I confess to being unfamiliar with Mr Salt’s scholarship on the contemporary far-right in Australia, based on my own observations, I think it reasonable to claim that some, at least, have demonstrated a degree of political acumen. As a result, their tactical repertoire extends beyond having swastika tattoos, wearing jackboots and screaming racial abuse at strangers on a train. Given also the unavailability of detailed surveys into the exact political opinions of protest participants (perhaps of the sort undertaken by a formal workers’ inquiry), we must, for the time being at least, rely upon other sources of information. In the article I wrote: The influence of far-right actors on such events is typically more indirect than it was alleged in this case. Whatever the exact number of ‘right-wing extremists‘ were on the streets this week, their influence was chiefly expressed via social media platforms such as Telegram. Days later, an article by Plus 61j identified 24 groups, with nearly 100,000 followers, that espouse antisemitic or neo-Nazi views [and] pursue a political agenda with endorsements of right-wing politicians; on October 1, Nick Bonyhady in The Age wrote that A set of “fake unions” with links to current and former Liberal and National party figures are capitalising on anti-vaccination fears to recruit doctors, teachers and nurses and exploit dissent within the labour movement about mandatory vaccinations.

Mr Salt may be right to claim that the problem with ‘the left’ is as he describes it, but I would suggest that a broader perspective is necessary. In either case, a thorough diagnosis of the state of the left in Victoria is not something I intend to undertake here.

Like Mr Salt, I’m aware of the fact that there have been many protests in many cities in many countries about COVID-19, vaccines, lockdowns and related matters, and while rightwing participation may or may not be ‘convenient’ for the reason he claims, insofar as it’s real, I think it should be taken note of. As for quoting Sally McManus here, again, is what I quoted: An upper house member of the Victorian Parliament attended Monday’s protest and gave vocal support to the extremists, a federal Senator tweeted his approval of the violence. If I ‘approve’ of this quote, then, it’s because I agree with the ACTU head that An upper house member of the Victorian Parliament attended Monday’s protest and gave vocal support to the extremists, a federal Senator tweeted his approval of the violence. Mr Salt is of course at liberty to interpret it as meaning something other than An upper house member of the Victorian Parliament attended Monday’s protest and gave vocal support to the extremists, a federal Senator tweeted his approval of the violence, but I think a more reasonable interpretation is An upper house member of the Victorian Parliament attended Monday’s protest and gave vocal support to the extremists, a federal Senator tweeted his approval of the violence.

Along with the nature of the ideological and repressive state apparatus, Mr Salt obviously has much to discover about Mr Fleming. Pro-tip: Just as the ‘so-called liberal media’ have been engaged in propaganda for much longer than the past 18 months, so too have the police (including the Soldiers of God) been engaged in repression. If Mr Salt has nothing to say about this history, it would be wrong to assume on that basis that he neither knows nor cares. By the same token, if the use of the VKS Pepper Ball firearm makes an appearance in his statement of concerns, but the deployment of the BearCat does not, this should not be read as evidence of any underlying lack of concern over police brutality.

I’m unsure why Mr Salt believes that mismanagement of the government’s hotel quarantine program caused no outrage. When Health Minister Jenny Mikakos resigned in September 2020 it was following criticism from the state Opposition, health workers and unionists. While the December 2020 inquiry concluded the decision to hire private security guards was not made by an ‘individual’, it nonetheless identified a range of serious failures on the part of the state government.

Like the failings of the left and the allegedly devastating effects of Dictator Dan’s rule over Victoria (Mr Salt claims There is no longer a Victorian community. Family and friends have been turned against each other), I’m unsure why Mr Salt believes that most Victorians obey Andrews’ decrees without question providing that by doing so Dear Leader doesn’t render them penniless. I think such hyperbole is unhelpful and does little to engage with the issues he raises or, alternatively, the ones I chose to address.

I didn’t know Stephen Murray-Smith, and I confess to having limited familiarity with Melbourne’s literati (though I can boast of once having joined Christos Tsiolkas on a bus trip). But whatever reaction Murray-Smith may have had to recent events, I hope he wouldn’t join Mr Salt in deliberately conflating his production of ‘What Andrews Has Done To Victoria And Its People’ with my rather more modest attempt to analyse the protest outside the CFMEU office and the far-right. I should also add that while I didn’t consult with an editor or a writer, along with reading the accounts of other workers, I did take the opportunity to speak to a friend from the CFMEU before I wrote the article. He was in quarantine at the time, having worked at one of the growing number of construction sites at which there have been outbreaks. He had much to say on the subject of the protest outside his union’s office, labour organising, working-class solidarity in the face of far-right attacks, and more besides. It’s my hope that his will be one of many voices that take these matters seriously, and responds accordingly.

Finally(!), news of my excommunication from anarchism — on the basis of my being a Dan stan — will no doubt come as a shock to many comrades here in Melbourne. Perhaps, at some point in the future, Mr Salt will see fit to allow me re-admittance? Then again, his status within the anarchist community is not at all obvious, and neither is his role as gatekeeper. Certainly, comrades can respond to Mr Salt’s news as they see fit.

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