Goran Davidović, Führer of Nacionalni Stroj (National Alignment/Formation), a Serbian neo-Nazi group, has been arrested in Germany, 10 months after a court in Novi Sad issued a warrant for his arrest and he fled to Italy (and his wife). AP:
Authorities say a Serbian neo-Nazi leader who fled his homeland after being convicted of inciting hatred has been arrested in Germany. Goran Davidovic was arrested Tuesday aboard a train near the Austrian border, said Alfons Obermeier, a spokesman for prosecutors in Munich. He said Davidovic was arrested under a Serbian warrant and now faces extradition. Davidovic was convicted in Serbia of inciting national, ethnic and religious hatred for infiltrating an anti-fascist rally in 2005. He was sentenced to one year in prison but fled to Italy.
A small group of Serbian pointyheads have previously drawn attention to the rather lax attitude of Serbian authorities towards fascist groups such as Nacionalni Stroj:
We live in a state where there is no guarantee that a person will be prosecuted for his or her promotion of racial, religious and national hatred. In all these years, members of the [clerico]-fascist organisation Obraz (operating without problems since 1993) and the Serbian nationalist movement 1389 (which presents itself as “patriotic” while maintaining close contacts with Russian fascist organizations) have not been held criminally responsible for their acts which involved threats against the LGBT population and numerous attacks and beatings of their members! The leader of a nazi organization “Nacionalni stroj”, Goran Davidović, (“Fuehrer”) was allowed to openly mock the legal system of Republic of Serbia, when he succeeded in his complaint against the guilty verdict in his case, basing it on the fact that documents of the trial were written in Latin letters.
Such attitudes may also be usefully contrasted with that adopted by the Serbian state towards its anarchist opposition. Thus The Anarchists Currently Known As The Belgrade Six face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of the dastardly act of vandalising the Greek Embassy in Belgrade, aka “international terrorism”. Note that “According to the prosecution documents, the total amount of damage done to the Greek Embassy in the August vandalism incident amounted to 18 euros.”
Russia (For Dion)
Sky News, by way of Amanda Walker, has sit up and taken notice of the fact that there are neo-Nazis in Russia, and they’re killing people. Apparently, “The chilling face of extremism was revealed when another neo-nazi group calling themselves “the warriors of the white revolution” unveiled their video message of the attack on Ghanaian Solomon Attengo Gwa-jio in St Petersburg. They described the footage as “a new year gift” as they pledged further acts of terror. No one has been arrested for the December attack, during which the victim was stabbed 20 times.”
(Asked for comment, local yuppie Dion said “OMGWTFROFLMAO!”)
In conjunction with the routine murders committed by neo-Nazis and other racists, Russian authorities are also encouraging the destruction of alternative spaces, as Russians Rally Around a Falling Enclave (Michael Schwirtz, The New York Times, February 1, 2010). Chronic economic dysfunction, social barbarism, and widespread, and occasionally murderous, political repression may be generating stronger opposition, however. Thus ‘Kremlin shocked as Kaliningrad stages huge anti-government protest’: “Special envoy sent to Russia’s western exclave as thousands take to streets in biggest protest since Soviet Union fell” (Luke Harding, The Guardian, February 2, 2010).
See also : [For Dion] Russia ~versus~ Terrorism (December 1, 2009).
‘In Germany, a Disturbing Rise in Right-Wing Violence’ writes Tristana Moore in Time (December 23, 2009):
“On average, two to three far-right-motivated violent crimes are committed in Germany each day. And there are around three to four anti-Semitic violent crimes each month,” says Jörg Ziercke, president of the BKA. “There’s a real danger to people’s lives because far-right attacks tend to be very spontaneous, brutal and violent.” Right-wing radicals have become increasingly brazen too, carrying out attacks in public places such as train stations, bus stops and outside bars and restaurants. In addition to el-Sherbini’s murder, Ziercke says, there were five politically or racially motivated attempted murders by the far right in 2009.
Of course, neo-Nazi violence is not the only headache German authorities have to contend with: those fighting against fascism are also a problem. German government sets sights on left-wing and Islamist extremism, Deutsche Welle, January 19, 2010:
According to the latest statistics from Germany’s Federal Crime Office, the number of acts of violence perpetrated by far-left groupings in 2009 went up by almost 50 percent over the previous year.
Left-wing anarchist groups, which have been active particularly in Berlin and Hamburg, have recruited new members. Counter-intelligence agencies put the current total number of anarchists in Germany at around 6,600.
“What we’ve witnessed in Berlin and other big German cities is that young people’s readiness to use violence has increased dramatically”, said Claudia Schmid from Berlin’s counter-intelligence department. “We’ve seen that, since last year’s May Day riots and the 2009 NATO summit in Strasbourg and Kehl, the level of brutality in the left-wing scene has gone up steadily”, she added.
Worse yet, while weaning wankers away from licking swastikas is possible (if sometimes difficult):
Opinions divided over exit program proposals
Some conservative Bavarian lawmakers have suggested that exit programs should be developed for young people wanting to turn their backs on radical Islamism or far left anarchism, similar to exit programs already in place for former far-right activists.
But senior intelligence officials are not convinced that this would be effective..
“Left-wing anarchists are highly unlikely to respond to any sort of contact by authorities. It seems easier in the case of radicalized far-right extremists who want to opt out”, says the president of Germany’s Federal Counter-Intelligence Agency, Heinz Fromm.
See also : Göttingen: Police Raid on the Rote Strasse: Press Roundup + Demonstration Saturday 30.01, 17:00, January 28, 2010 | Police Raids Against Left Wing Structures in Berlin and Dresden, January 19, 2010.
BONUS NAZI RAP! You can’t stop the ararischen jugend!
Free Speech and Fascism
a bunch of revo ratbags
No.46, January 2010
In October and November 2009, two community protests took place outside the Humanist House building in Shepherd St Chippendale. Local residents had recently discovered that a group calling themselves KN (Klub Naziya) were meeting there each month – holding an open discussion and social group. The group exists as a coming-together space for nationalists, white supremacists, fascists and neo-Nazis.
The community demonstrations sought to shut down the meetings, with the aim of having KN kicked out of the space, as well as to draw attention to their presence. The neighbourhood was letterboxed, and postered, and the local community turned out to let this group know that they were unwelcome. Passers-by joined in, as did folks from the local pub. The demonstrations were a success, and in December, KN were kicked out of Humanist House. (In the process it was discovered that many of the far-right had infiltrated the Humanist Society and attempted to sell the $3 million building in order to use the money for an “education fund”).
In the process of these actions questions were raised by some as to whether these demonstrations were in themselves a form of fascism – advocating that everyone is entitled to free speech, and that by shutting down their meetings we were denying them this.
What follows is a discussion of the ideas around these questions. It’s not exhaustive, and we are not experts, but it goes someway to addressing the argument.
Why can we shut down summit meetings without question, but fascists somehow deserve to meet unhindered, under the auspices of freedom of speech?
Protests in Seattle, where communities realised their collective power by shutting down the 1999 WTO conference, were celebrated by the radical left throughout the world. Even in Australia, the shut-down of the World Economic Forum in 2000 is seen as the largest victory of the left in recent years. Blockading businesses, occupying offices, and shutting down pulp mills and coal mines are seen as standard actions for the left the world over. But suddenly when it comes to shutting down meetings of neo-Nazis, folks start worrying about their rights to “freedom of speech”. Summit conferences, pulp-mills, coal mines etc are shut down because of the dangerous activities in which they are engaged. But neo-Nazi groups aren’t sitting around debating how they can raise the most funds for the local homeless shelter. Their ideologies are specifically focused on causing harm to people who are non-white, homosexual, transgender, Jewish, Romani. These are folks who wear swastikas; have “88” tattoos (H is the eighth letter in the alphabet – the numerical equivalent of HH, or “Heil Hitler”); use “Heil Hitler” salutes; and actively celebrate Hitler’s birthday. They don’t do this as part of some cute anachronism, but as expressions of their politics, which are part of a continuous trajectory from 1930s Europe.
It’s these politics that mean that even if KN were a group of fascists gathering in Chippendale in order to raise money for the local homeless shelter, their act of gathering would still itself be a violent one. Before even a word is spoken between them, to be seen together: a strong group of neo-Nazis, their presence threatens those in the community they see as their enemies: non-white people, trans-people, queers; and adds backbone to the people in the area who may subscribe to aspects of their ideology.
“Opposing fascism in all its forms”
Some folks have expressed concern with the approach of shutting down neo-Nazi meetings/activities as a form of fascism in itself. Bound up in this concern is the possibility that it could be them doing it to “us”. In essence this is a classic conundrum of anarchist tendencies. What happens when the advocacy of freedom for all comes up against those who would deprive others of lives, safety, homes? But it becomes ridiculously obtuse to suggest that communities should stand by idly in the face of violence against people because of skin colour, ethnicity or sexuality, in order that they should not interfere with the freedoms of the perpetrators. Similarly, to suggest that shutting down neo-Nazi meetings through community demonstrations is necessarily fascist, seems a gross misunderstanding of the nature and extent of fascism.
Is freedom of speech something we even want to defend?
Freedom of speech refers to the freedom to speak without limitation. An often synonymous term, freedom of expression, refers to the act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. Under capitalism, freedom of speech and freedom of expression do not exist for all, despite the rhetoric used by the ruling class. Ideas of freedom of speech are clothed in those of ‘democracy’. It serves to legitimize and consolidate liberal democracy by creating the illusion of freedom. The existing hierarchical class society ensures that it is only a few who have access to the various forms of media and the planning of what is taught in our schools – these are controlled by the government and rich. It follows, that it is the institutionalised racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia that is apparent in both the media and education systems which guarantees that a completely unobstructed access to voicing of opinions on the radio or in the newspapers, for example, is limited to the ruling class.
The idea of freedom of speech has long been associated with impartiality from the government, and as being somewhat of a beacon of truth and justice. However, we only need to look to the historical examples from the civil rights movement to see how freedom of speech is, and always has been, state sanctioned and state controlled. Clearly freedom of speech is related to a person’s right to vote, yet Aborigines have only had that ‘right’ for just over 40 years. Freedom of expression also has clear links to a person’s sexuality, yet it was only in 1984 in Hobart, Tasmania that the last gay man was arrested for having sex with another man on the side of the road in car – he was jailed for 8 months.
A more current example is around the war on terror and the subsequent rise of racism and hate towards Muslim communities. The rhetoric surrounding the war on terror has also ‘justified’ the introduction of new laws that highlight the role that the state plays in determining who does and who does not have the right to free speech. It is now the case that if you are a white, Christian, middle class person, you apparently have more of a right to free speech than, for example a Middle Eastern born Muslim now living in Australia. In anti-terrorism trials in Melbourne and Sydney Muslim men have received jail time for ‘radical talk’; whereas Alan Jones, the radio host who incited the Cronulla riot, received a $10,000 fine (less than a day’s pay).
There are a multitude of examples throughout history that reveal the central role that the state plays in sanctioning who is afforded the right of free speech.
Freedom of speech is not an abstract value that can exist in a bubble separate from everyday life, and relations of power; it is something that only exists in practice, and only insofar as societal relationships work to create it. Rather than unthinkingly defending these so-called “freedoms”, we need to adopt a critical relationship to these notions, in order to develop spaces of genuine freedom.
See also : NSW Humanist Society 1 ‘Public Information Forum’ (January 17, 2010).