Trot Guide May 2020 Update

… and they’re off!

For those of you coming in late, ‘Trot Guide’ is an overview of the current state-of-play on the Australian far-left. Thus it includes groupuscules that consider themselves Trotskyist (‘Trots’) as well as those who do not. I last reviewed the scene in April 2019 (and prior to that in September 2018). At that point, there were a number of promising developments in the political ecosystem, with the emergence of NEW! groupuscules Left Unity, the Stalin Society of Australia, Victorian Socialists and the Workers League (nee ML Group (MLG)). Sadly, Left Unity appears to have permanently stalled in May 2018 and failed to leave its home in Adelaide, while the Stalin Society has been inactive for a similar period — though local Uncle Joe fans come alive on Facebook. Meanwhile, the Workers League (by way of its publication ‘Redfire Online’) has elevated itself above the pack by denouncing the rest of the left for implicating themselves in a massive hoax perpetrated by the bosses. Thus the Coronavirus circus will go down as arguably the largest ruse ever perpetrated in history. Is Covid-19 highly infectious? Yes. Is Covid-19 highly dangerous? To a very small minority it might be, depending on a whole heap of variables… : mAd props!

As for the Victorian Socialists (VS), it performed reasonably well at the 2018 Victorian state election; in Northern Metro, where Steve Jolly ran, it was pipped at the post by preferences directed to Fiona Patten’s Reason. At the 2019 Australian federal election, VS ran three candidates: Jerome Small in Calwell, Kath Larkin in Cooper and Sue Bolton in Wills. In each case they came fourth behind the majors (Labor, Liberal, Green), gaining about 4.5%.

So far, so-so.

But in news just-to-hand, the Socialist Alliance (SAll), one of the two primary groups which formed VS, has announced it’s quitting:

While Victorian Socialists showed great potential when it was formed in early 2018 and ran two big and exciting socialist election campaigns, it has not lived up to its promise to build a more united left …

… we no longer feel that the Victorian Socialist project is capable of uniting broader layers of socialists in an alliance that has the dynamic to move beyond electoral politics.

Recent decisions have shown that Victorian Socialists is not open to allowing any groups of independents, for example, to develop its political life outside of elections …

Socialist Alternative’s preparedness to use its numbers to restrict the democratic participation of independents in the Victorian Socialists means that Socialist Alliance does not believe that our continued participation in the project can be effective …

This leaves Socialist Alternative (SAlt) in the somewhat odd position, given the history of its tradition, of having — along, of course, with other, non-aligned or independent members of VS — its own electoral vehicle. Still, VS won’t collapse, and its real challenge lies in its capacity to increase its vote at the next round of electoral contests:

Local council elections are taking place in October this year and Victorian Socialists will be standing candidates in councils across the Northern Metro. In the context of the unfolding health and economic crisis, it is more important than ever to win a series of elected Victorian Socialists representatives so they can use whatever platform we can get to give voice to resistance to attempts by government and bosses to make workers’ pay for the crisis.

As for SAll, with its nominally-independent yoof wing (‘Resistance’) having folded back into its parent party (to become ‘Resistance: Socialist Alliance’) in 2014, and largely inactive, I got worry for its long-term future. The party does still regularly produce Green Left Weekly, however, and boasts two local councillors.

NEW!

Disappointingly, Australia has not been blessed by an explosion of Maoism (Third-Worldism) blogs — the Global People’s War appears to have stalled in the Dandenongs sometime in the 1960s — and cannot even boast a Posadist venture. Still, you’ll find some older Maoists on teh intarwebs at blogs like C21st Left and Strange Times (nee Last Superpower). Happily though, there’s a spectral presence of Trots online, including:

Bolshevik-Leninist

We are a collection of individuals who see the need of a Marxist (i.e. Trotskyist) organisation in Australia. We defend the program of proletarian internationalism set by the Fourth International before it was destroyed by Pabloite liquidationism in the 1950s. As Marxists, we recognise that a workers’ revolution would entail liberation of all the oppressed of the world including workers, peasants, women, indigenous peoples, ethnic and religious minorities as well as lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

B-L is a new project allied with Revolutionary Regroupment in Brazil.

Class-Conscious

Class-Conscious exists to promote the unity of the international working class in the struggle for socialist revolution. Closely-aligned to the views and perspectives of the SEP/ICFI (International Committee of the Fourth International), CC is not a party as such, but moar like a project.

Revolution Australia

Seemingly a placeholder for the IMT (International Marxist Tendency), fingers crossed the IMT recruit at least one local member prepared to update their site with original material.

BONUS! The Internationalist Communists Oceania (ICO) have formed! Unfortunately, their website is down at the moment, but they have Facebooks and Twitters and several of their articles may be found online, including Breaking from Stalinism (Intransigence, November 2, 2018) and several writings on libcom.

OLDE!

Still having a crack :

1. (Alliance for) Workers’ Liberty
2. Australian Communist Party — A nü/olde entry, the ACP split from the CPA in 2019 ‘after analysing the marked inadequacy of the parties of the left and deciding on a new path in the movement for socialism in Australia’.
3. Communist League
4. Communist Party of Australia
5. Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
6. Communist Workers Party of Australia — ‘Newspaper coming soon!’
7. Freedom Socialist Party
8. Progressive Labour Party [Facebook] — ‘With recent influx of new members we are re-launching during 2019 to expand our political impact. We invite all supporters to contact us on email to get involved in the re-launch.’ (Unlike the others on the list, the PLP is a non-Leninist grouping, and could be compared to the ‘Australian Workers Party’.)
9. Socialist Alliance
10. Socialist Alternative
11. Socialist Equality Party
12. Socialist Party — The Socialist Party has re-branded as ‘Socialist Action’. Previously a member of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) — which underwent a split in 2019 — SA has instead opted to join the ‘International Socialist Alternative’, which one side in the split created in February 2020.
13. Solidarity
14. Spartacist League of Australia
15. Trotskyist Platform
16. Workers League

Not still having a crack :

The Socialist — A recent derivation from The Socialist Party, ‘The Socialist’ appears to be moribund.

See also : Being Left-Wing in Australia: Identity, Culture and Politics After Socialism, Geoff Robinson, Australian Scholarly Publishers, 2019.

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Yeah Nah Pasaran! #018 w Max Kaiser on Jews against fascism (then & now) : May 14, 2020

On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah, we talk to Max Keiser Kaiser about Jews against fascism. Max recently completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne (Between nationalism and assimilation: Jewish antifascism in Australia in the late 1940s and Early 1950s) and is co-host of the New Books in Jewish Studies podcast. Max’s thesis argues ‘that Jewish antifascism was a major political and cultural force in Australian Jewish communities in the 1940s and early 1950s. It charts the emergence of a non-nationalist and anti-assimilationist Australian Jewish antifascist political subjectivity, and examines its ideological basis, cultural and political practice, and the circumstances of the rapid demise of its hegemony.’

See also : Australian Jewish Democratic Society : Statement against fascism and Milo Yiannopoulos in Kensington (December 10, 2017) | antifa notes (december 2, 2016) : jewsagainstfascism ~versus~ One Nation Party (December 2, 2016).

4.30pm, Thursday, May 14, 2020 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website

• We also have a Facebook page for the show, which you’re invited to ‘Like’ and to ‘Follow’.
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‘The Australian Scene’, Jack The Anarchist, Red & Black, No.5, April, 1973

Source : The Canberra Times, October 1, 1974.

[Source : ‘The Australian Scene’, Jack The Anarchist, Red & Black, No.5, April, 1973.]

After twenty painful years of struggle the A.L.P. finally succeeded in becoming a government. The event was greeted by the left as a triumph for radicalism and socialism.

The term “radicalism” often creeps into the New Left phraseology. It has been the catchword rallying all forces opposed to the war in Vietnam, to conscription, the Establishment and the Liberal Government. Soon after the defeat of the Liberals, the official termination of the Vietnam War, the end of conscription and the installment of a [Labor] government, radicalism has been quickly absorbed by the A.L.P. The reasons: its objectives were the old authoritarian socialist cliches: capture the state and change it into a weapon of the revolution. The facts: paradoxically, no socialist state is any nearer to socialism. The state is an extension and a creator of class divisions and social antagonism and, as such, is an extension of the bourgeoisie.

The radicals have dispersed, to appear here and there as staunch supporters of the A.L.P.’s policies. As its agents they are trying their quixotic task: to radicalize the Public Service and the Commonwealth Police. Also they are trying to smooth over the antagonism between labour and capital and to stabilize the existing social order. And so they are becoming the spearhead of the bourgeoisie.

Their proclivity to such nefarious activities lies in the radicals’ misconception of radicalism. If we adopt Webster’s definition of radicalism “overturning and changing the existing state of things” then the A.L.P. has no claim to it.

The A.L.P. is a conservative social democratic party. It stands for the stability of capitalism. It supports the existing social order. Its function is to paralyse any revolutionary awareness; to harmonize social antagonisms and thus prevent the workers from seeing through the liberal-bourgeois ideology. It encourages nationalism at the expense of internationalism and thus strengthens the dominant social relationship.

The war in Vietnam, the conscription, the myopic internal and external policy of the Liberals have produced confrontation between the forces of law and order and their opposition. In the process of confrontation there has been observed the awakening of a revolutionary tendency. To prevent such trands [sic] from materializing, the most progressive bourgeois shift allegiance from the Liberals to the A.L.P. Once in power A.L.P. militancy ends in Social Democratic social harmony. Social Democracy today more than ever stands for virulent aggressive neo-capitalism. Where the Liberals have failed labour tries to succeed, as usual at the expense of the revolution.

To speak of the A.L.P. as a socialist party is absurd. A party which preserves the capitalist structure in the mode of production, exchange and distribution cannot be classified, or thought of, as a socialist one. Socialism means workers’ self-management. It means autogestion, direct involvement and participation in the control of production, distribution and the problems of the environment. It means an end to the master-slave relationship, and its corollary: leaders and elitism. Socialism, stripped of its ideological content is pure anarchism. This was clearly understood by the anti-authoritarian sections of the [I]nternational in their congress at Saint-Imier one hundred years ago. They declared:*

1. The destruction of the political power is the first duty of the proletariat.
2. To organize the proletariat in a provisional political party capable of accelerating the destruction of the state is a deception and as dangerous as any of the existing governments.
3. We reject all compromises as a means to achieve the Social Revolution. The proletariat of all countries has to establish the solidarity of revolutionary action outside of all bourgeois politics.

But one may argue that for some socialists, radicals and leftists history does not exist except when it is used as an “historical method” to apologize for the historical function of their dysfunctional socialism and counter-revolutionary social practices.

*My translation.

See also : Jack ‘The Anarchist’ Grancharoff (1925–2016), May 21, 2016 | The Far Left in Australia since 1945, Jon Piccini, Evan Smith, Matthew Worley (eds), Routledge, 2018.

Source : Direct Action: Paper of the Industrial Workers of the World, Vol.1, No.14, Industrial Workers of the World, Sydney, October 1, 1914.

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Yeah Nah Pasaran! #017 w David Neiwert on militias, history, Trump & Hawaiian shirts : May 7, 2020

On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah, we talk to US journalist David Neiwert about Trump, the far-right, COVID-19, the AltRight, and history. David writes for Daily Kos and is the author of many books, including Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump (Verso, 2017/2019). David also has a blog and tweets here.

David was a guest at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival in 2018, and you can listen to him in conversation with Sally Warhaft here. On the AltRight, see also : Ctrl-Alt-Delete: An Antifascist Report on the Alternative Right (Kersplebedeb, 2017) | Making Sense of the Alt-Right, George Hawley, Columbia University Press, 2017 | Insurgent Supremacists: The U.S. Far Right’s Challenge to State and Empire, Matthew N. Lyons, Kersplebedeb/PM Press, 2018.

*Note that the podcast version of this episode contains a longer discussion with David.

4.30pm, Thursday, May 7, 2020 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website

• 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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Yeah Nah Pasaran! #016 w Eviane Leidig on the far-right, India & The West : April 30, 2020

On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah, we talk to Eviane Leidig about Hindutva, India and the far-right. Evian is an Affiliate at the Center for Research on Extremism in Oslo, and her ‘doctoral dissertation traced transnational connections of the far right between India and the West, particularly through Indian diaspora supporters of Brexit and Trump in the UK and US’. Some of her recent writings include #CoronaJihad”: How the Far-Right in India is Responding to the Pandemic, Global Network on Extremism & Technology, April 15, 2020 and The Far-Right is Going Global, Foreign Policy, January 21, 2020.

See also : Yeah Nah Pasaran! #005 w Shuddhabrata Sengupta on BJP, CAA, Delhi & fascism in India : February 13, 2020 (February 12, 2020) | On Savitri Devi and esoteric neo-Nazism, see : Hitler’s Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, NYU Press, 1998. For shits + giggles, hear : Spear of Longinus, the Brisbane-based reich ‘n’ rollers and sometime devotees of Hitler’s Priestess.

4.30pm, Thursday, April 30, 2020 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website

• 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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Yeah Nah Pasaran! #015 w Patrik Hermansson on (Infiltration &) The International Alt-Right : April 23, 2020

On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah we speak to Patrik Hermansson, a researcher with Hope Not Hate in the UK and a co-author of The International Alt-Right: Fascism for the 21st Century? (Routledge, 2020). In 2016/7, Patrik infiltrated Alt-Right networks in Europe and North America, the resultant exposes proving to have had some disruptive effects:

Over the last year, we have infiltrated the very heart of the UK far-right, from which we have gained access to some of the most important alt-right figures in the world. The information we gleaned is spread across this report and the whole story is also told in detail. This unprecedented access allows us to understand the alt-right like never before and allows us to expose their often extreme and sometimes dangerous world. This report includes bizarre and even funny details about the esoteric and extreme UK movement, never before seen photos of leading American alt-right figures such as Greg Johnson, and exposes claims by Jason Jorjani from AltRight Corp that he had links to the Trump administration.

See : We Had a Spy on the Inside, That’s Right, Patrik Hermansson, Hope Not Hate, September 24, 2017 | Undercover With the Alt-Right, Jesse Singal, The New York Times, September 19, 2017. See also : The Murky World of ‘Extremism’ Research, Richard McNeil-Willson, The New Ethnographer, April 15, 2020.

4.30pm, Thursday, April 23, 2020 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website

• 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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Yeah Nah Pasaran! #014 w Anastasia Kanjere on Fascists in & out of uniform : April 16, 2020

On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah, we speak to academic and writer Anastasia Kanjere about critical race theory (CRT), whiteness studies, and the contemporary Australian far right. Anastasia presented a paper titled ‘Fascists in and out of uniform: making sense of street fascism in the broader context of white supremacy’ at the Histories of Fascism And Anti-Fascism in Australasia Symposium in Adelaide in December last year; fingers crossed it’ll be published at some point. See also : A “Policing Point of View”: On The Borders of the Polity, XBorder, July 29, 2015.

*For those wanting to explore some of the issues and texts referred to in the interview, on the origins of CRT Anastasia recommends: James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name (1961); Derrick Bell, Faces At The Bottom Of The Well (1992); Angela Davis, If They Come in the Morning (1971); Richard Dyer, White (1997); Toni Morrison, Playing In The Dark (1992). On Noel ‘Race Traitor’ Ignatiev, see : Our Symposium on the Life and Work of Noel Ignatiev, Insurgent Notes, March 16, 2020. See also : Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association.

**See also : White Privilege // Whiteness Studies (October 7, 2008) /// Whites not all right! Anti-White Conference bad! Exclamation marks good!!! (December 5, 2008) /// The Invention of the White Race (May 29, 2009) …

4.30pm, Thursday, April 16, 2020 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website

• We also have a Facebook page for the show, which you’re invited to ‘Like’ and to ‘Follow’.
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A Tribute To Black Star (1996 — 2020)

Sad but true.

After almost 25 years of service, the Black Star PA Collective has dissolved.

The Black Star PA Collective (BSC) has recently announced that they’re winding-up as a collective. For 24 years, BSC provided audio for the activist and underground music communities of Melbourne. To compile a definitive list would be impossible, but some of the events they provided sound production for included the Friends of the Earth annual ball and Such is Life punk festival, fundraisers for the Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO), and numerous gigs at the Pink Palace, Black Goat and other DIY venues.

BSC also provided sound for many rallies and protest actions, both big and small. These included S11 (the protests in Melbourne in September 2000 against the ruling-class summit known as the World Economic Forum), May Days, refugee solidarity events (including the infamous ‘Woomera Breakout’), the enormous anti-war rally of February 2003, anti-racist and anti-fascist protests, and numerous other events organised by local anarchist and socialist groups.

BSC’s remaining equipment is being sold and the proceeds donated to various worthy causes around town. A portion is also being donated to the Solidarity Sound System Collective, ensuring that the good vibes and righteous anger BSC helped fuel over many years carries on into the future …

A sincere and heartfelt thank you to BSC for all its efforts over the years — you rock!

Posted in Anarchism, Art, Collingwood, Death, History, Media, Music, Poetry, Sex & Sexuality, State / Politics, Student movement | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reclaim Australia, Five Years Later : Where Are They Now?

Remember ‘Reclaim Australia’?

April 4, 2015, was the first in a series of rallies held in towns and cities across Australia in 2015 in order to voice opposition to Islam (alternatively: to engage in xenophobic protest to demand the criminalisation of Muslim life). The rallies attracted thousands of participants, from neo-Nazi goons to Ordinary Mum & Dad™ bigots, counter-protests, considerable media attention and much public discussion. Speakers included Queensland LNP MP George Christensen and One Nation’s Pauline Hanson, and were the most significant right-wing street mobilisation for some years. Further national rallies took place in July and November, 2015. These later protest rallies were jointly organised with and promoted by Reclaim’s mutant offspring, the ‘United Patriots Front’ (UPF). For those of you coming in late, the UPF was a coalition of neo-Nazis and Christian fundamentalists which — after emerging in April/May of 2015 as the political vanguard of Reclaim — folded two years later (at precisely the moment Facebook withdrew its sponsorship).

While there were a number of different ah … ‘personalities’ … associated with Reclaim, the most prominent was Cooma council worker Shermon Burgess, the self-proclaimed ‘Great Aussie Patriot’. Having previously spent several years agitating against Muslims with the ‘Australian Defence League’ (AKA his good chum Ralph Cerminara), Reclaim was Shermon’s moment to really shine. Using social media, the previously obscure Burgess was able to establish a relatively large following in his role as Australia’s Biggest Patriot, publishing hundreds of video selfies over the next few years, and becoming increasingly cranky, paranoid and upset. Despite once denouncing ‘nazis’, in 2020 Burgess has now fully embraced Hitler’s legacy and, after being expelled from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, been reduced to espousing Aryan supremacy to teenage boys on TikTok.


So much for Shermon and (anti-)social media. In terms of ‘traditional’ (legacy) media, Alex Cullen fronted an investigation into Reclaim Australia for the (now-defunct) current affairs television show Sunday in October 2015, in which the NSW-based ‘Catherine Brennan’ (Liz Shepherd), Wanda Marsh, and John Oliver were presented as its founders.

Marsh and Shepherd did largely conform to stereotype: in South Australia, Marsh ran on behalf of the anti-Muslim micro-party ‘Australian Liberty Alliance’ for a seat in the Australian Senate in 2016 (with negligible results), while Shepherd was a key organiser of the final, January 2017, Reclaim rally in Sydney. Oliver, however, was a special case, as I’d noted three months earlier:

In other news, the ‘Patriots Defence League of Australia’ has been deregistered in the state of Queensland, where it had fraudulently claimed to be an organisation dedicated to upholding the rights of women.

I don’t like the PDLA very much as one of its nominal Presidents, John Oliver of Newcastle, once opined that (after a man named Robert Godino had been nominated by local meatheads as the author of my blog): “Time to go on a good old fashion hunt I reckon. Drag this piece of shit out of his house by his nuts and cut the fuckers off and sew them to his forehead. Dog prick.”

John is obviously not. a. fan. but this and other such statements — “F*** his fb page, lets find this c*** and beat him to a pulp” — as well as John’s decision to publicly declare that he had established a fund in order to obtain my d0x so that my testicles could be removed and sown to my forehead and/or I could be beaten to a pulp (etc. — there’s lots more) doesn’t really seem to be in keeping with the group’s alleged commitment to ah, feminism.

See : Anti-Islam group deregistered for masquerading as domestic violence group, Bianca Hall, The Age, July 2, 2015.

Fortunately, despite Oliver’s phantasy, I retain possession of my testicles, and the feminist fight against male violence continues without his valuable support. (Oliver also got sprung bringing a gun to town for the July 2015 Reclaim Australia rally in Melbourne.)

As for its origins, just prior to the emergence of Reclaim, in December 2014 I wrote an article for New Matilda which noted that, in the immediate aftermath of the Lindt cafe siege, the far-right had not (yet) capitalised upon the incident. This suggests that, when confined to marginal cranks like Cerminara, the Australia First Party or its now-deceased Sydney-based rival the Party of Freedom and/or neo-Nazi skinhead groups like Squadron 88, the appeal of street mobilisations targeting Muslims is limited. Fortunately for them, however, rabid sections of the tabloid media had already primed Ordinary Mums & Dads™ to take action, and social media giants Facebook and Youtube provided a brilliant tool for the rapid dissemination of anti-Muslim & racist propaganda. Further, Reclaim allowed for and in fact encouraged a range of determined radical-right activists to assume leadership positions. To highlight this fact, in late 2015 I wrote an article for The Guardian, titled ‘The UPF and Reclaim Australia aren’t ‘concerned parents’ or a bad joke’ (‘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’).

I was right, of course.

See also : Far-right fringe raises profile by reclaiming immigration debate [John Lyons, The Australian], August 8, 2015.

The fun in July prompted the UPF to redirect its energies away from Melbourne to the Victorian town of Bendigo, where they organised a protest for the following month against the construction of a mosque. In fact, having constituted itself as the vanguard of Reclaim, the UPF soon left Reclaim behind, and while Reclaim continued to pump out racist, xenophobic and just plain batshit propaganda on Facebook for years, events in meatspace were rare. A rally in Perth in June 2016 and another in Sydney in January 2017 were seemingly the only events organised by Reclaim after 2015. That said, it should be noted that Reclaim was the product of and gave helped give birth to a range of more obscure and temporary political formations, including but not limited to the short-lived ‘Soldiers of Odin’, various groups intent on reclaiming or restoring Australia, the ‘True Blue Crew’ and so on and so forth.

United Patriots Front

In addition to Burgess, the main figures in the UPF — Blair Cottrell, Neil Erikson, Kris0 Richardson, Tom Sewell and Chris Shortis in Melbourne; Scott Moerland in Brisbane; Kevin Coombes and Dennis Huts in Perth — have avoided serious legal entanglements, and while the UPF has been supplanted by its successor organisation The Lads Society, it’s arguable that the organisation found its apotheosis in mass murderer Brenton Tarrant. Of which, Graham Macklin (‘The Christchurch Attacks: Livestream Terror in the Viral Video Age’, CTC Sentinel, July 2019, Vol.12, No.6) writes:

Tarrant wore many of his influences almost literally on his sleeve, and certainly on his weapons. He was, however, rather more circumspect when it came to discussing those closer to home, not least perhaps because they clashed with the account of his political awakening that he wished to present in his manifesto. Tarrant had been especially enthusiastic about two extreme-right Australian groups, the United Patriots Front (UFP) and the True Blue Crew (TBC), and in particular UFP leader Blair Cottrell who helped establish the group in May 2015 following a split within the larger anti-Muslim organization Reclaim Australia. Cottrell, who had convictions for property damage, aggravated burglary, arson, possessing a controlled weapon, failing to comply with court orders, and trafficking in testosterone, had not always been straightforwardly anti-Muslim in his political outlook. Under a photograph of Adolf Hitler on social media, he had once commented, “There should be a picture of this man in every classroom and every school, and his book should be issued to every student annually.” Tarrant donated money to the UPF, too, though Cottrell fervently denied knowing him. “And you won’t find any evidence to the contrary,” he told journalists.

UFP social media was transnational in its inspiration, engaging in a “reflexive mimicry” of European and U.S. far-right politicians, which highlighted the group’s subjective positioning and interaction with a broader field of virulent anti-Muslim politicking, far-right ideas, and eschatological narratives, particularly those espoused by the Identitarians.

Facebook deleted the UPF page in May 2017 at which point it had over 120,000 supporters. A subsequent investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in the aftermath of the Christchurch shootings retrieved the metadata, enabling it to reconstruct and verify the erased messages, thereby revealing Tarrant to have been an active user of the UFP and TBC pages. He made some 30 comments over a 10-month period from as early as April 2016. “Knocked it out the park tonight Blair,” Tarrant enthused after watching Cottrell on television. “Your retorts had me smiling, nodding, cheering and often laughing. Never believed we would have a true leader of the nationalist movement in Australia, and especially not so early in the game.” After viewing a live stream of Cottrell and a colleague celebrating the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency in November 2016, Tarrant gushed, “Simply one of the most important events in modern history. Globalists and Marxists on suicide watch, patriots and nationalists triumphant— looking forward to Emperor Blair Cottrell coming soon.” While clearly viewing Cottrell as the ‘great white hope,’ Tarrant’s posts were also supportive of UFP violence. “Communists will get what communists get, I would love to be there holding one end of the rope when you gets yours traitor,” he commented following a clash between the UFP and anti-fascists in Coburg, Melbourne, in 2016.

Tarrant clearly identified with the UPF, posting a menacing Facebook message to a Melbourne man who had criticized the group in August 2016. “The UPF is the leading ethno-nationalist group within Australia … When you speak against the UPF you speak against my right to a home for my people and my culture. This marks you,” Tarrant told the man. He concluded by advising him to “chose your words carefully” and “think of who you insult” before stating, “If you are a nationalist I hope you one day see the light and if you are a Marxist I hope you one day meet the rope.” The recipient reported the threat to the police the following month but did not make a formal statement, telling ABC that police advised him simply to block the threat maker on social media.

Tarrant last commented on the UFP page in January 2017, expressing support for Cottrell’s impending court appearance. Cottrell and two other former UFP members were at the time on trial after staging and filming a mock beheading video outside Bendigo’s council offices in October 2015 to protest the construction of a mosque, a sign of what they argued was the increasing “Islamization of Australia.” A judge subsequently found Cottrell and the two other UFP activists guilty of inciting hatred, contempt, and ridicule of Muslims. Cottrell is currently appealing his conviction.[*] Tarrant was not the only violently inclined figure to have gravitated toward the UFP. In 2016, another activist, Phillip Galea, became the first far-right figure in Australia ever to be charged with a terrorism-related offense after police recovered a bomb-making manual, a proscribed chemical (361 grams of mercury), and a prohibited weapon as well as evidence that he had reconnoitred anarchist and left-wing properties, during a search of his house the previous year.

Tarrant’s contacts with anti-Muslim groups in his native Australia did not end there. Lads Society president Tom Sewell, a former UFP activist, stated after the Christchurch attack that he had previously tried to recruit Tarrant online to join a project to create a “parallel society” for whites only. Within hours of the attack, Sewell had written on Facebook “this is not a false flag … take my word for it” and that Tarrant “had been in the scene for a while.” Although they had never met, Sewell said that he had approached Tarrant online about possible membership of his society, though Tarrant had declined citing his imminent relocation to New Zealand as the reason. Furthermore, Sewell claimed to have inferred from Tarrant’s comments contemporaneously that Tarrant “didn’t believe there was a peaceful solution to European people being genocided.”

There’s a lot more that could be said about Tarrant, the UPF and of course The Lads, and no doubt — some day — it will be. In the meantime, see : Right-wing terrorism on the rise in Australia (Drew Rooke, The Saturday Paper, March 21, 2020), and bear in mind that mainstream reportage typically trails behind anti-fascist researchers. Finally, if the racist cloud that was Reclaim had a silver lining, it was to prompt the always-outrageous Briggs and Trials (AKA A B Original) to release the album ‘Reclaim Australia’:

PS. Among the UPF leadership, Scott Moerland was the person most closely associated with Reclaim Australia. An ah, very passionate man, ‘Potty Mouth’ was also driven by his religion. A Christian Soldier, Moerland was a candidate for Danny Nalliah’s (now deregistered) Rise Up Australia Party in the federal seat of seat of Oxley in 2013. As such, Moerland was a useful bridge-builder between the fringe evangelical and Pentecostal communities and the White supremacist and ultra-nationalist milieu that constituted the core of the UPF. In 2019, Moerland again attempted to wrest control of Oxley from the United Nations and Agenda 21, only this time on behalf of Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party. Moerland’s hopes of contributing to a Final Solution to The Muslim Problem from a parliamentary seat (instead of, say, from behind a keyboard) were dashed however, as just 1.63% of the electorate rallied to the cause. (As for Anning, he fled to the United States following his party’s collapse, and has since been declared financially as well as morally bankrupt.)

As for the rest of the UPF:

On a personal level, Blair Cottrell probably gained the most from his involvement in the UPF, with the puny ranks of his supporters in Nationalist Alternative supplemented by a liquorice all-sorts of reactionaries and racists by way of this far more prominent if much more short-lived groupuscule. That said, the decision by first Facebook and then Twitter (if not YouTube) to remove him from their platforms has meant he’s now had to resort to Twitter-for-nazis, Telegram, and other, more obscure channels of online communication to keep his fanboys happy. Losing his appeal against a criminal conviction for being-a-racist-dickhead-very-much-in-public was not unexpected, but did at least confirm John Bolton’s status as ‘Most Likeable’ barrister for the far-right. Currently, the budding fuehrer from Frankston is apparently busy fenceposting, shitposting, and trying to keep his Lads onside.

Along with Burgess and Cottrell, Neil Erikson was the most energetically self-promoting of the UPF, and in doing so traded under many names, including but not limited to Cooks Convicts, Patriot Blue, Nationalist Uprising, Australian Settlers Rebellion, Aussie Patriot Army, Ban Islam Party, European Australian Civil Rights League, Generation Identity Australia, Nationalist Republican Guard, Neil Erikson Media, NRG Media, OzConspiracy, Pauline Hanson’s Guardian Angels, Reclaim Australia, United Patriots Front, United Patriots Front — Originals and more besides. And while he’s lead a charmed life with regards the law so far, the attention his 2020 Invasion Day stunt provided him (and that delighted reactionary parliamentarians like Craig Kelly and commentators such as Miranda Devine) was short-lived, and he’s still to face charges of disrupting three religious services (with mentions on April 21). Regarded by some within the patriotik milieu as a police stooge, there’s no reason to believe Erikson won’t Carry One LARPing until he cannot.

I dunno what Kris0 Richardson is up to these days. Designated ‘Prime Organiser and Head of Operations’ by his fascist lvl boss, Richardson was also described as being involved in Australian politics since 2010, from Sydney but now based in Melbourne, as having been described by other members as ‘ruthlessly efficient’ and entrusted with all major communications and tasks involving equipment and resources; Cottrell gave him a scratch behind the ears and even a medal for his efforts on behalf of his superior. In August 2016 I noted that Richardson established something called the ‘United Australian Front’: The UAF was established in late 2014, ie, prior to the emergence of both Reclaim Australia and the UPF. While men wearing UAF merch made their debut at the anti-leftist rally in Richmond in May, 2015, it is now known as Order 15/UAF, and is open about its commitment to white nationalist and fascist doctrines. One variant of ‘Order 15’ was later linked to another YUGE fan of Cottrell: the Christchurch killer.

Tom Sewell has flowered in the last five years, developing from a mere sidekick into a genuwine leader of men (AKA ‘The Lads Society’). Despite having experienced a few hiccups along the way (in Cheltenham and then Ashfield), Sewell’s latest groupuscule is actively organising from a new space in Melbourne’s south-east, and gaining political experience through the allied ‘National Socialist Network’. While initially a very enthusiastic promoter of and investor in the UPF, Chris Shortis later wandered into the white nationalist ‘Australia First’ party, where as far as I know he remains. Finally, while Kevin Coombes is still presumably busy lifting heavy things and throwing his considerable weight around, Dennis Huts periodically does what he can to stop communisms from exploding in Perth. (On joining the UPF, Huts stated: For most of my adult life I have felt a deep sense of disillusionment with Australian culture’s continual slide into Marxist oblivion. When I found the UPF and their passion for restoring that which we have lost I knew I had to be a part of it. The UPF platform speaks directly to the nation’s heart and shakes the foundations of the establishment to its core. Everyday I wake up excited about the inroads we’re making. Most recently, Huts has taken to throwing meat at vegans. Take that, Engels!)

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Yeah Nah Pasaran! #013 w Jason Wilson on Corona, Trump & The (Far) Right : April 9, 2020

On this week’s episode of Yeah Nah, we speak to Jason Wilson, a journalist and columnist with The Guardian. We discuss the response of the right in the US to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Jason has written several articles for Teh Grauniad on the subject over the last few weeks:

Disinformation and blame: how America’s far right is capitalizing on coronavirus (March 19);
The rightwing Christian preachers in deep denial over Covid-19’s danger (April 4);
US far right seeks ways to exploit coronavirus and cause social collapse (April 5);
How the right is responding to the coronavirus: denial, realism or dangerous contrarianism (April 7);
Why Trump’s media allies are turning against Fauci amid the pandemic (April 8).

Jason was also our guest back in January, when we discussed neo-Nazi terrorists ‘The Base’. In March, Benjamin Wallace published a profile of the founder of The Base for New York Magazine, ‘The Prep-School Nazi’: Before he was Norman Spear, hate group founder and possible Russian asset Rinaldo Nazzaro was just another Jersey boy.

***Note that a longer version of our interview with Jason will be available by way of the podcast.***

See also : Trump, Scorsese, and the Frankfurt School’s Theory of Racket Society, Martin Jay, Los Angeles Review of Books, April 5, 2020.

4.30pm, Thursday, April 9, 2020 /// 3CR /// 855AM / streaming live on the 3CR website

• 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.

Bonus! Thoughts & Prayers

Posted in Anti-fascism, State / Politics, That's Capitalism! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment