[Update (March 28, 2021) : Neo-Nazi groups banned in the US and Europe set sights on Australia, Linton Besser and Roscoe Whalan, ABC, March 28, 2021. The item concerns a joint by ‘the UK’s Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR) and Hedayah, a UAE-based violent extremism research centre’, which I’ve not read, but it doesn’t really seem to contain any revelations.]
Several reports about the neo-Nazi terror network known as ‘The Base’ dropped this week.
First, The Base Tapes: Part 1 by Alex Mann and Kevin Nguyen for ABC Radio National’s ‘Background Briefing’, in which ‘Secret recordings reveal how a global white supremacist terror group actively targeted young Australian men for recruitment, including a One Nation candidate for federal parliament’. Part 2 will be published shortly.
Secondly, US neo-Nazi group recruits young Australians, secret recordings reveal and From One Nation to neo-Nazism: Australians being drawn into extremism by Nick McKenzie, Jason Wilson, Joel Tozer and Heather McNeill for 9Fairfax (March 26 and March 27, 2021). Wilson also wrote about The Base and its Australian connections for the Southern Poverty Law Centre in August 2020; we spoke to him about it for ‘Yeah Nah Pasaran!’ in January 2020.
‘Among the biggest insights provided by the leaked tapes is the way Australian local neo-Nazi groups who publicly disavow terrorism, such as The Lads Society (which has morphed into the National Socialist Network) and David Donis’ SWAN, were viewed by The Base as recruiting grounds’, write 9Fairfax. Among those getting a guernsey in the reportage are: Dean Smith, a former West Australian candidate for PHONy at the 2019 federal election; Grant Fuller, a leader of The Lads Society (TLS) in Brisbane; David Donis, a former Liberal Party volunteer who runs TLS splinter group Society of West Australian Nationalists (SWAN) and finally; James Greig (AKA ‘James Jameson’), another nazi from Perth, who apparently enjoys watching the Christchurch killer massacring Muslims while having dinner.
The Usual Suspects, in other words.
See also : US Neo-Nazi Group ‘The Base’ is Recruiting Members in Australia, Gavin Butler, VICE, March 26, 2021 (‘Leaked recordings reveal that the terrorist paramilitary group tried to recruit high schoolers and former politicians for an anticipated race war’) | New Report Warns of Rising Threat of Domestic Terrorism, Adam Goldman, The New York Times, March 17, 2021 | South Jersey man admits organizing neo-Nazi group’s ‘Operation Kristallnacht’ synagogue vandalism campaign, Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 17, 2021 (‘A Camden County man admitted in court Friday that he organized the vandalism of two Midwestern synagogues earlier this year with fellow members of a neo-Nazi social group known as The Base’).
ASIO has been in the news of late for opining on political extremities, with director general Mike Burgess somewhat remarkably agreeing with Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells that, if you go far enough left, eventually, you’ll end up on the right. Or something. It’s all a bit undergraduate Tory, and a situation which would be funny, I guess, if they weren’t the ones making all the decisions. Guy Rundle (Time for the right to take out its own trash on terrorism, Crikey, March 23, 2021) writes:
While first Canberra and then the nation became preoccupied with other matters, the farce of ASIO’s “reclassification” of potential terrorist activity unfolded further as, in estimates, director-general Mike Burgess played patsy to Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and her attempt to dodge the reality that right-wing terror represents one of the major threats to our safety today.
To recap: ASIO has recently reclassified specific terror threats as general ones, relabelling Islamist terror and right-wing terror as “religious” and “ideological” respectively. This move appears to be in response to ideological pressure from within the Coalition to sever the visible public link between the mainstream right, and the increasingly deranged and violent far right growing in numbers across the western world.
Burgess’ and ASIO’s weak and compliant response to this demand only serves to de-concretise the real threat of right-wing terror, the specific milieu from which it emerges, and to legitimise what ASIO has always loved to do most — treat left-wing protest and civil disobedience as part of its remit in fighting “subversion”, and infiltrate such groups, thereby corroding democracy and a pluralist open society.
ASIO’s de-labelling of political terror as “ideological” has been criticised not only by the left but by the right — Greg Sheridan, Janet Albrechtsen and Jennifer Oriel have all, to their credit, explicitly slated the move in the last few days, which appears to have stung Burgess into saying that he “won’t hesitate” to talk of “Islamist” and “right-wing” terror if the situation demands it.
So he appears to have been appeasing political operatives all along. Whether that is good new or bad news about operating principles remains to be seen. The appeasement continued, when Fierravanti-Wells used national security issues for cheap sophomoric political gotchas, with the old absurd falsehood about Nazism and “national socialism” being “on the left” and emerging from communism. Burgess was happy to compliantly agree with the senator that socialism and fascism were “two sides of the same coin”.
No they’re not, and the suggestion is vile. Socialism is a broad movement across all forms of political expression; fascism is a violent expression of the right, organised around the right’s principle of preserving a hierarchical national culture against alleged globalising and universalising cosmopolitans, whose support for equality is held to be the subversive championing of the weak against the strong.
Nazism was put into national power by the mainstream right, and its first victims into Dachau were communists, social democrats and progressives. Whatever few economic socialists there might have been in the early Nazis, they were soon wiped out — and the economic form was a sideline at best.
Nazi Germany was a capitalist state, run in conjunction with large corporations, who ran the work-death camps during the war, using their accountants to calculate the optimum starvation-survival time of workers for profitability.
Nazism’s obsessive and distinctive organising principle was anti-Semitism, and the myth of the global Jewish conspiracy, alleged to underlie both Bolshevism and capitalist internationalism. Any attempt to integrate Nazism into the political spectrum — as per Fierravanti-Wells and Burgess’ joint effort —denies the specificity of Nazism’s Jew-hatred, and of Jewish suffering, in a manner that has a long and dark history in the Italian-Catholic conservatism that Fierravanti-Wells draws on.
Burgess sounds like an intellectual mediocrity. So too does Fierravanti-Wells, but with a few IPA talking points to wield. She’s working defence, especially with the Italian political heritage. No mainstream right in the Western world has been so entwined with fascism as the Italian mainstream right.
For decades they have coddled and collaborated with fascists, from reinventions such as Gianfranco Fini’s MSI, to the fascist subsections of “the League” to the shadowy terrorist “black hand” groups which contributed to the violence of the ’70s — and were responsible for the most lethal terrorist atrocity of the time, the 1980 bombing of Bologna train station which killed 80.
Right-wing terrorism has often been lethal on a scale beyond political strategy, expressing pure hate, and serving as a precursor to the high death-tolls of the Islamist version (and the Christian state terror of Bush and Blair, for that matter).
I can see why the Australian mainstream conservative right is so desperate to separate itself from the hard right, which ultimately shares an overarching world view, albeit in a pernicious form.
It’s because the next right wing atrocity is on the way, and there’s a good chance it will happen on Australian soil. It’s only a matter of circumstance that the Christchurch massacre didn’t. If or when it does happen, what are we going to find? That the perpetrator admired John Howard, as did Anders Behring Breivik? That they watch Sky News, turned into an open sewer of reaction to get a global audience of fanatics because they couldn’t build a mainstream Australian one?
The Australian right has fed this beast for decades. It has produced one mass killer already, whose origins — and our culpability for him — have been obscured by him committing the atrocity offshore.
There has never been a left-wing act of terror by an Australian and if by any chance the notion of generic “ideological” terror is steering ASIO’s operations, then it will be misallocating resources. There is no point where the revolutionary left and the far right meet, no quasi-mythical underground.
The violent far right will be found in the dank chatrooms and roid-rage gyms, the pathetic patriotic front harassment demos, the gun clubs and the army reserve, and all the other places where the mainstream right are found.
Time for the latter to take some responsibility for their extreme and take out the trash. Maybe I have to say this out loud to target the ‘chino-and-pearls’ student cafeteria crap Fierravanti-Wells is spruiking.
An attack on Australian soil when it comes may be on a mosque. Or it may be on a synagogue. Jewish schools in Australia have security guards out the front. They’re not there because of the Deakin University Palestine Solidarity Campaign — they’re there because of the sort of people who agree with Craig Kelly about George Soros.
I would have thought at some point sheer self-interest would persuade the mainstream right to get real about the nature of the far right —when the vice-president of the US had to be hustled out of the Capitol building ahead of an angry mob.
As the Coalition deal with the political kitsch of a reactionary like Fierravanti-Wells, Labor might want to think about who they would replace Mike Burgess with — unless they’re comfortable with a head spy who thinks socialism is the moral equivalent of fascism (whatever later prevarications he may have offered).
And what they would do with ASIO, a Cold War relic incapable, it seems, of addressing the world without wreathing it in webs of fantasy that conform to the prejudices of its recruits— and who quite possibly stalk the halls, muttering in the manner of Connie Fierravanti-Wells, “…you know, Hitler was a vegetarian…”
See also : ASIO shouldn’t be expected to fix our far-right extremism problems, Tom Tanuki, Independent Australia, March 27, 2021 | White supremacist group The Base should be banned in Australia, federal Labor MP Anne Aly says, Herlyn Kaur, ABC, March 27, 2021.
Speaking of ‘terrorist entities’, Proud Boy lvl boss Jarrad ‘Jaz’ Searby had European Australian Movement/National Socialist Network/The Lads Society fuehrer Tom Sewell on his show the other day. You may remember Searby from such films as ‘Let’s Proud-ly Stalk An Old Age Pensioner!’ and ‘COVID-19 Is Fake And All I Need To Prove It Is $500,000!’. As for Sewell, he recently won worldwide nazi acclaim for (allegedly) punching a black man in the face.
The Proud Lads found much in common (and not only because both have recently been visited by counter-terrorism police). Thus, both affirmed their commitment to white nationalism, the validity of ‘The Great Replacement’ thesis (and the need to combat it), the perils of miscegenation, and so on. If there was disagreement, it was only regarding the possibility of actually realising a return to the White Australia policy and the kind of regime Sewell favours. Speaking of history, Searby nods agreeably while Sewell explains that Marxism is Jewish, The Bolshevik Revolution was a Jewish conspiracy, and that both Misters Churchill and Hitler understood this. Further, the Weimar Republic was doomed the moment Uncle Adolf formed a gang, took power, and proceeded to eliminate Jews: a fairly standard neo-Nazi account of twentieth century Europe, which a gormless Searby happily laps up. Ho hum.
Neo-Nazi serial pest Neil Erikson was in court again this week. Never one to take (((the courts))) too seriously, he represented himself, claimed to be a vegan, and otherwise carried on like a pork chop. The Herald Sun (‘I’m a vegan’: Far-right extremist’s bizarre defence, March 25, 2021) reported:
Erikson, founder of the United Patriots Front, is fighting allegations he wilfully disturbed a peaceful Muslim festival held at Federation Square in April 2019.
Footage shown in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday showed him using a megaphone to yell “Mohammed was a terrorist” and “Mohammed was a false prophet” at a group of approximately 100 worshippers gathered at the holy SalamFest event.
Erikson, who is well known for his anti-Islamic views, could be heard telling police “we shouldn’t have these people here” after they hauled him away from the gathering.
“You’re going to let a foreign entity pray to a foreign god and you’re going to punish me?” he asked.
The footage showed Erikson, still holding his megaphone, attempting to go back to the event before being taken down by several officers.
Amid his arrest he yelled “I’m a vegan” in reference to Extinction Rebellion protesters who managed to block city traffic for hours before being disassembled by police days earlier.
In court, Erikson was self-represented and spent his cross-examination questioning witnesses about their Muslim faith.
At one point, he asked a female organiser of the religious event: “What authority do you believe you have over that space (Federation Square) [versus] someone else in the public?”
He also asked “if you want to have a safe space for [your] religion, isn’t that [what] mosques are for?” before the police prosecutor interjected, labelling the question as “demeaning”.
The woman, Ayesha, said her heart “broke into a thousand pieces” when she heard his hateful words at the worship event.
“As a Muslim, it cut through my heart. I went into shock and didn’t know what to do,” she told the court.
“I could see the volunteers getting upset and the elderly quite sad.
“I felt responsibility for the people there in the congregation and for their safety.”
Ramzi Elsayed, acting imam at the event, told the court he feared Erikson’s alleged actions could have sparked violence.
“I remember being very disturbed, hurt and offended and the next thing I felt was that I didn’t want anyone from our community to approach this individual and take this on because it could have escalated,” he said.
SalamFest aims to tackle Islamophobia in the community sharing the Muslim faith with society.
The contest hearing before Magistrate Rozencwajg continues.
Since his conviction for stalking a rabbi back in 2014, Erikson has distinguished himself as a Melbourne serial pest rivaled only by his sometime BFF Avi Yemini, having also notched up a criminal conviction for vilifying Muslims (along with fellow UPF goons Blair Cottrell and Chris Shortis) back in 2017. But whereas Yeminem has managed to secure the financial support of several foreign sugar-daddies over the years, Erikson’s antics have failed to generate anything like that level of halp, and a number of his ostensible comrades have even denounced him as a police informant. Whether or not this alleged status will assist him at future court dates is of course unknown, but he’s apparently likely to get another slap on the wrist next week. FWIW, semi-pro anti-semite Matthew Roebuck of David Hiscox’s XYZ blog reckons Erikson’s latest conviction is proof that ‘jews are now using their ill-gotten power to directly persecute Christians in our own lands’ and that Christian Soldiers like him are no longer bound to obey the law.
See also : Neil Erikson ~versus~ Law & Order (June 30, 2018).
… and Huts
Another former UPF neo-Nazi serial pest called Dennis Huts had a crack at Extinction Rebellion protesters in Perth last week. He got arrest for his trouble, and was later charged with common assault, obstructing officers and disorderly behaviour.
A YUGE fan of the UPF has been having problems in a Canberra jail (Nazi bikie’s discrimination complaint dismissed, Dominic Giannini, The Riot Act, March 17, 2021):
A member of an outlaw motorcycle gang and self-proclaimed Nazi alleged that he was discriminated against in prison for his political views, but his claim has been struck out by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The man, who is connected to the Nomads bikie gang, pleaded guilty to threatening his ex-girlfriend and her new partner in May 2019.
He was sentenced to more than four years in prison.
See also : Where ‘freedom’ meets the far right: the hate messages infiltrating Australian anti-lockdown protests, Michael McGowan, The Guardian, March 26, 2021.