Neue Veranstaltungshinweise


Es wurden keine neuen Veranstaltungshinweise in der letzten Woche veröffentlicht

Kommende Veranstaltungen

International | Anti-fascism

Keine kommenden Veranstaltungen veröffentlicht

Book Review: 'Fascists Among Us'

category international | anti-fascism | review author Mittwoch Dezember 23, 2020 16:55author by LAMA - AWSM Report this post to the editors

A review of a book about the ideology of the Christchurch massacre perpetrator.

Whenever a terrorist incident occurs somewhere in the world, a tell-all book or movie-of-the-week is sure to follow. Mostly it’s an exploitative response that is shallow and adds nothing to anyone’s understanding of the phenomenon. Fascists Among Us by Jeff Sparrow is not such a book. It covers the Christchurch mosque attack but eschews such approaches as pseudo-first-person narrative or lurid descriptions of events by on-the-scene observers. Rather, it makes an honest attempt to get into the motivations behind the attack. The most commendable aspect of this being the rejection of superficial psychological explanations, in favour of acknowledging the political impetus behind events. For example, Sparrow argues Brenton Tarrant’s manifesto “…expresses-with stark clarity-a distinctive political program.” (p.10). He references the term ‘autogenic’ to describe massacres driven by psychopathology or personal problems but explicitly notes that the murderer says in his document on the killings that they were “…a politically motivated terrorist attack” but “…he used them to rewrite the massacre script, injecting political content into an apolitical form” (p. 73).

Any book with the word ‘Fascist’ in the title should not shy away from attempting a definition of what is a notoriously difficult phenomenon to pin down. Sparrow tackles this with reference to some of the acknowledged academic experts in the field such as Paxton, Griffin, and Mosse as well as quotes from Mussolini, Hitler and Mosley. He is then careful to place Tarrant’s own words into the mix, showing undeniable links to these ideological predecessors.

The author recognises that despite radical sounding elements, it is the reactionary nature of classical fascism that ultimately defines it. For anarchists, it is a welcome recognition that one element of this reactionary politics is its emphasis on the creation of “…an authoritarian regime based on supposed natural hierarchies” (p.43). Sparrow again places the shooter within that tradition, condemned by his own words, quoting from his manifesto ‘Diversity is unequal, hierarchies are certain’ (p.13). This highlights two important points. Firstly, that while others may waver in their opposition to fascism, anarchists always have been and always will be their most consistent opponents. Wishing to establish a world of social and economic equality and our implacable rejection of hierarchies as an organising principle puts us in existential opposition to fascism in ways that other political movements are not. Secondly, it shows the bankruptcy of some on the conservative Right who erroneously define fascism as a Left-wing movement.

Despite the very real continuities with the past, it’s also important to look at the factors that have aided the contemporary fascists. On a macro scale, this has included the primacy of Islamophobia as a bogeyman that works better as a motivator than the lingering traditional anti-Semitism. Sparrow spends a chapter showing how the fuel of US state actions post-9/11 has created an environment where ‘Islam’ “…has become for many an essentialised, almost biological, term” (p.29). One of Tarrant’s obsessions as outlined in his screed was the birthrates within ‘Islam’ being higher than others and the threat, he saw this having to those he identified with.

Another more recent and obvious influence has been the rhetorical enabling the Trump administration has had upon the fascists. The writer is careful to show that despite being odious in his own right, the fascist label doesn’t apply to Trump. In his chapter on this, Sparrow also outlines how different tactical options were explored that took internet traffic in the direction of street activism. The culmination being the Fascist riot in Charlottesville in 2017 and the death of Heather Heyer. In the end, this was a dismal failure for the fascists and goes some way to explaining the attraction of non-net-based lone wolf actions rather than internet shitposting, incel whining, or LARPing.

Add to the above an interest in eco-fascism and accelerationism, combined with personal experiences in both Australia (where fascists targeted Anarchist social locations) and Europe, and you get some taste of the eclectic toxic political brew Tarrant created for himself. Sparrow does a good job in outlining all of this and clearly separates out different strands of thought that do or don’t apply in this case.

In the conclusion, the author criticises sections of the mainstream media who argued that it was wrong to publish extracts from Tarrant’s manifesto. They said that just mentioning he was radicalised in Europe was enough. Sparrow rightly takes them to task for this by pointing out “He was ideologically committed to fascism, a movement that is consistently handed propaganda victories by a mass media unwilling or incapable of understanding it.” (p.116). An excellent point.

It feels necessary to take issue with Sparrow though on a related informational issue. He chooses early in the book to consistently refer to Tarrant as ‘Person X’. The two central explanations being that by naming Brenton Tarrant it somehow diminishes his victims and that since he was anonymous prior to the attack and that there are others similar to him out there, such a pseudonym makes him emblematic of future such operators in the future (pp. 4-5). There are a few problems with this no doubt well-meaning sensitivity. Firstly, this book isn’t about the victims, but the perpetrator. A book that examines the lives of the victims would be a worthwhile project, but this isn’t it. Secondly, by allowing Tarrant to retain his anonymity it if anything lets him off the hook for personal responsibility for his actions. Yes, he is a ‘type’ but not just an abstraction. He is a living individual who did something. Thirdly, the excellent analysis provided describing how Tarrant became Tarrant applies to him. Future fascist terrorists will not be carbon copies of him, in the same way, that he was inspired by, but was not a direct copy of others. Fourthly, Sparrow sensibly adopts the usual journalistic and academic convention of footnoting. Fine except the writer explicitly names Brenton Tarrant and the title of his manifesto in the very first footnote of chapter 1 of the book! This undermines the moral high ground attempted in the explanation of the Introduction and makes ongoing use of ‘Person X’ redundant. Also, if Sparrow has no problem mentioning Hitler, who surely had a far more devastating and lasting impact than Tarrant, the reader should be able to handle seeing the name of the latter. Lastly, there’s a bit of an air of fundamentalist Christianity to it, as if invoking the name will somehow empower Satan. Given Sparrow’s worthwhile quest to inform, including the perpetrator's name just would’ve made more sense.

Jeff Sparrow has done a mostly solid job of showing what (if not who) lay behind the Christchurch massacre. It’s a text that can be recommended to anyone who wants to understand the political poison of Fascism, how it began, and how it has morphed across time. For anarchists, it is a reminder that we can never afford to let others do the work of Anti-fascism for us and must remain eternally vigilant and active in pursuit of a better world. No Pasaran!

Verwandter Link:
This page can be viewed in
English Italiano Deutsch
George Floyd: one death too many in the “land of the free”

International | Anti-fascism | en

Sa 16 Jan, 04:21

browse text browse image

textOlympia Residents Stop Nazi March 11:18 Mo 23 Jan by oly anti-fascist 0 comments

Olympia—Hundreds of Olympia residents confronted Nazis outside of the corporate newspaper building here today. Nine members of the Nazi group National Socialist Movement gathered to test Olympia for future recruiting drives and a possible larger rally in July. Many of the Nazis dressed in SS Storm Trooper brownshirt uniforms and displayed large Nazi and American flags. Olympia residents were given less than a day’s notice to spread the news and organize a response.

textNew pamphlet: Beating Fascism: Anarchist anti-fascism in theory and practice 02:48 Mo 24 Okt by KSL 1 comments

"Beating Fascism" is a new compilation dealing with the anarchist critique of fascist ideas and the practical ways their deadly authoritarian project has been challenged. It goes from the 'People's commandos' who fought against Mussolini's bootboys, through the Spanish Civil War, to the anti-fascist activists of the eighties, nineties and beyond who took up the challenge from a new crop of boneheads.

textReport from the antifascist march today in the center of Athens 07:58 Fr 20 Mai by ΟRA MIDEN 2 comments

More than 2.500 people today in the antifascist march in the center of Athens.

imageWhat is authoritarian populism and why should it be combated? Jun 02 by Shawn Hattingh 0 comments

The rise of an authoritarian populist politics, which presents itself as against the “Establishment,”” for the “common” people and “anti-globalisation,” is happening worldwide — and there are dangerous signs in South Africa. The populist upsurge sees voters reject big, established parties that embraced neo-liberalism after the economic crisis of 2007, in the context of a retreating working class and left. The author argues that the solution is to build from below for a new society beyond the state, class rule and capitalism based on self-management and production for need.

imageFascism and its cure Sep 09 by Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG) 0 comments

The growth of Fascism is ongoing. The massacres will continue and perhaps keep accelerating until we have a movement that can both confront it physically and address the political issues that give it life. This requires workers uniting across borders to win battles that cannot be won on the national terrain. Whether we are talking about cars, mining, garments or anything else, we confront global corporations and global supply chains. Our response must be global. And by building a truly global labour movement, we can not only defeat Fascism, but open the door to a workers’ revolution that will do away with capitalism forever.

imageA spectre is haunting us: it’s the past weighing like a nightmare on the present Jul 26 by Shawn Hattingh 0 comments

The context we now exist in is one that is defined by glaring contradictions everywhere, its fractured, changing, unstable and confrontational. It is a time of despair, but also pockets of hope. On the one hand, a spectre is haunting us, but it is not the one that Marx spoke of. Rather an authoritarian and extreme right wing form of capitalism, last seen on extensive scale in the 1930s, is rearing its hideous ghost-like head. This right wing extremism has become an ‘acceptable’ form of politics amongst some people in the context of the unresolved capitalist crisis. It is the ‘solution’ amongst sections of ruling classes in many countries to a crisis that is not going away. As part of this, many states are passing laws attacking basic rights that oppressed classes have won through decades and even centuries of struggle (including in South Africa); states are beginning to bare their teeth more often rather than being in a position to rule by consent; toxic nationalisms based on exclusionary racial, ethnic and religious identities (including within sections of the population in South Africa) have once again become acceptable and even embraced by sections of the population (giving rise to the likes of Trump, Le Pen and Duterte and xenophobia and other ills in South Africa); and bigotry and hate are back. Yet there is also hope. In many parts of the world, sections of the working class have fought back. This has seen movements of protests in some parts, attempts to revive unions in others and in some cases the re-emergence of left political parties and projects. But it is also a restructured working class, a working class that is fundamentally different from even the 1970s. New or different forms of organising happen next to the old. It is thus also a working class in which the past weighs like a nightmare on the present in organisational terms; experimenting with the new and different ways of organising, but also falling back into the old.

imageFascism on the march Mär 01 by Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group 0 comments

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group believes the best immediate response to Fascism is an internationalist working class movement of resistance in the form of a united front. Within this, we can put forward a libertarian communist solution to the many crises of capitalism. We participate in the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism because, although it has severe flaws, it does some good work and is the only working class united front available to us at the moment. We hope to contribute to solving its problems, most importantly its isolation from the union movement, and fight for a world where Fascism is consigned permanently to the dustbin of history.

textA Conference of the "National Anarchists" Jul 13 by Wayne Price 8 comments

A libertarian Marxist friend sent me a reference to a report on an international gathering of “National Anarchists.” It appeared in Keith Preston’s site, “Attack the System,” at

This is my response.

more >>

textNew pamphlet: Beating Fascism: Anarchist anti-fascism in theory and practice Okt 24 Kate Sharpley Library 1 comments

"Beating Fascism" is a new compilation dealing with the anarchist critique of fascist ideas and the practical ways their deadly authoritarian project has been challenged. It goes from the 'People's commandos' who fought against Mussolini's bootboys, through the Spanish Civil War, to the anti-fascist activists of the eighties, nineties and beyond who took up the challenge from a new crop of boneheads.

© 2005-2021 Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by [ Disclaimer | Privacy ]