Much like Europe, Australia is facing a growth of far-right support. Groups that previously skulked out of the spotlight, in fear of backlash with their hateful views, are now emerging, whilst gaining support.
Many have theorised, and likely correctly, that the rise of the far-right in Europe is the product of austerity and fear. Promising the world, whilst blaming a nation’s problems on a minority. When you’re in fear and looking for answers, it’s much easier to sell that idea.
Australia is having the same problem. The pandering to the fear of terrorism and fiscal ‘rorts’, all whilst blaming such on a minority, is allowing these groups to proliferate. This is dangerous.
Why is this dangerous?
Because it’s happened before.
The dismantling of the Weimar Republic by the NSDAP was assured by 1933. The NSDAP and Hitler used fear, and economic crisis as tools to scapegoat Jews, communists, and eventually anything non-Aryan, non-able. Support increased exponentially, and with the passing of the Reichstag Fire Decree, Hitler’s unquestionable power was guaranteed. The results were disastrous.
This is no different to groups like UPF and Reclaim Australia. Riding on a wave of the fear of terrorism, whilst blaming measures of government austerity on the rorts of the ‘left’ and ‘Islam’. Rationally, the average person knows this is not true, but as time progresses, people may swing.
It’s actually a very good plan. The minority is blamed for the question, and the far-right professes to have the answer. Much like Europe, the answer from the far-right seems to be a crack down on immigration. This is only the beginning of racial persecution.
Taking a look at the phrases used by the far-right, it is no different to that of NSDAP. Except, you replace the word Jew for Muslim (for now…) and the word Bolshevik for Communist/Leftist. It’s quite simple, and to some degree, it works.
But education is key.
For one individual, it enlightened him, and shocked him.
Mark* approached us, wishing to question our message. Initially, Mark was apprehensive and somewhat aggressive toward ReclaimWhat. This is absolutely expected and understandable.
But after allowing for debate, granted in private, rational dialogue ensued. This is something many aren’t afforded on other pages. We had the opportunity to pose both sides to Mark, but with one key difference. We don’t force people to choose us, or be outcast as a ‘fascist’. That’s populist, and unnecessary. This is completely different to groups particularly like UPF. You join, or you’re a traitor.
Understandably, Mark was shocked. He had no idea of the group he had joined, and had no idea of the past and present ramblings and political ideologies of those he was associating with.
Mark allowed us to interview him. We believe understanding how someone is taken in by these ‘movements’ is crucial in understanding how to keep them in the dark, dank corners of where they originated, out of relevance.
Mark is a young, regular teenager. He attends school, hangs out with mates, studies and is a gamer in his leisure time. But Mark had concerns for his country.
“Drugs, terrorism and pollution. I want it all to stop.” He told us. These concerns were first and foremost for him. These are issues that are plaguing Australia, he told us.
When asked about how these movements first grabbed his attention, Mark told us that the political climate post the Lindt Cafe siege had truly siezed his concerns about home grown terrorism.
“if it can even happen in Australia now… Nothing is safe anymore, I saw an article about stopping IS and keeping Australia safe, and so I joined up. I didn’t know much, and I thought – hell I really thought I knew that I was – stopping terrorism in Australia.”
This article was one that popped up on his news feed, by Reclaim Australia.
We asked Mark how he thought Reclaim Australia was going to stop terrorism in Australia, and through what means.
“[they] were mainly trying to send the message to media and Governments to tighten up security with our chants and posters, and I thought them seeing a large group supporting the fact would make them want to make Australia safer” Mark said.
When pressed about the current failings of the government in counter terrorism, Mark told us that allowing IS fighters to return to Australia was a concern, “I would rather [they] not be here at all, rather than risking [they] escape and cause unspeakable acts of violence.”
Images of the April 4 rally showed us that these movements were gaining the attention of White Nationalists and Neo Nazis.
“but with the one or two people who had the Nazi tattoos, that sort of set me off. But I didn’t really care about them at the time, I was more focused on achieving the goals at hand, not the idiots.” he told us.
We asked Mark if this was a concern amongst other attendees, with these sorts of people in attendance, “Not really, the people who I hung with when I mentioned them said ‘ignore the fuckwit’ or ‘wish he and his kind would piss off’ that sort of a thing.”
Whilst some groups did attempt not to stigmatise or generalise all Muslims, many followers did just that, “They did say to calm down or to shut up” Mark told us when asked how some groups handled those making racist or generalising remarks.
When RAR and UPF split, Mark told us that he believed Shermon was receiving criticism “out of nowhere.” At that time, Mark believed that the criticism coming from other groups was unjust.
“I felt they were newcomers, and I thought they were all right (sic), but I didn’t really care for them much at the time, I was still mainly there because of [Shermon].” Mark told us when asked about how he felt regarding Blair and Neil joining Shermon’s new movement.
We did ask Mark how he felt when Shermon’s attention shifted from Islam to the left.
He stated that he had believed this was good for the movement, “since [Shermon] made a video stating that left defend Islam, and you can’t ignore the left otherwise they make things harder” he told us. Shermon had successfully blamed an entire political spectrum.
Mark did admit to us that his knowledge of political ideologies was quite limited. This was instrumental in polarising him to the belief that the ‘left’ were ‘communists’, something Shermon was happily spreading since being coined by Blair.
As Mark now knew the truth behind these groups and their motivation, he told us that he did hold concern that if they ever were to gain any power, the consequences could be bad for minorities, and could even worsen terrorism if races were targeted. Mark did let us know that in his opinion, the far-right wouldn’t be able to gain a foothold whilst the left continued to disrupt them.
We asked Mark if he believed that others were in the same boat he had been, being unaware of those who were running these groups and what they actually stood for, “I would say so. Most I know are just there to stop terrorism or to get the message across int here heads, which is a good ideal.”
“Make sure you know what your in for. While the many ideals they want do align with a good Group, a few bad eggs can spoil the bunch.”
“Make sure you know what you signed up for” Mark wanted to warn others who were following these groups.
Mark intends on getting back into his regular life, without these far-right groups in the future.
Understanding how people are drawn in and recruited by these groups is crucial.
If you are worried about a group you’ve associated with being down the same path, please message us. We’re more than happy to help you in leaving these groups safely.
For those who wish to do their part if they believe they’ve found someone who may be being sucked into White Nationalism or Neo Nazism, All Together Now had a great guide for social workers on how to handle those going down the slippery slope of “White Pride Nationalist Groups” and getting them out.
*Name has been changed for the protection of the individual