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There are no fascists in New Zealand…

Written By: - Date published: 8:34 am, March 4th, 2017 - 69 comments
Categories: racism - Tags: , , , ,

A Guest Post from Matthew Whitehead (original is at Le Matt Juste).

[links in post fixed now]


Or maybe there are?

If you’re on New Zealand Twitter, you’ve probably already been following this story. If not, a bunch of Auckland University students have decided to form a “European Students Association,” which they are currently saying is open to people of all backgrounds to celebrate european culture and cuisine, and they plan to host “historical re-enactments” and “european feasts.” I won’t link them directly for reasons hopefully obvious, but Newshub has some surprisingly nuanced coverage on this.

You may have noted I said “currently saying.” Until recently, their online presence on Facebook was a full-blown example of cryptofascism. It featured subtly altered Nazi quotes, a Celtic logo complete with swords and a quasi-nazi slogan which also fits the cryptofascist profile, and pictures glorifying the idea of German empire. Since they caught media attention, they have scrubbed their facebook presence and now only sport a Celtic logo without swords. One, or maybe two of these things could reasonably be a mistake. (or you know, a genuine interest in Celtic art or German history) Four of these things together implies that someone in this organisation either thinks Nazism isn’t something to be taken seriously, (in which case they’re in trouble with actual fascists as well as with everyone else) or is actually a secret supporter of white nationalism or some other flavour of eliminationism, and was trying to signal to others that either the organisation would be a front for white nationalism.

The Herald identifies one of their spokespeople as Adam Holland, and the group has contested that he is not a member, (as you would expect from a former “mayoral candidate,” being generous to Adam) but have not denied he was an authorised spokesperson for them, and have not required any corrections to be published. Adam is a known troll, which suggests it’s possible that this group started off as some sort of joke. Evasions from their spokespeople on key issues that would upset a genuine club seem to indicate that the group is intending to troll people, either as some sort of joke, or because they think they can stir up some threats against themselves and use that as some sort of propaganda win.

However the group being agitators wouldn’t mean there’s no reason to take it seriously, as even disorganised groups that are out to troll the public can still give serious fascists a chance to meet up and organise, and feel normal, and there are a surprising number of people supporting these idiots. Letting this sort of thing go on and protecting people’s right to preach eliminationism using private resources to build themselves a platform is irresponsible and unjust, and the prevalence of such underground groups organising through secret or just obscure means and fringe websites are precisely what led to Breitbart news, and Steve Bannon, and ultimately the white nationalist support for Donald Trump, and his support in return for white nationalism. You can still support freedom of thought and freedom of ideas while requiring all student groups to have a non-discriminatory purpose, to have no links to hate groups, and not to use known imagery of hate groups. That is a standard exception clause to free speech rights in private institutions, and it’s basically the least you can do to prevent a white nationalist movement taking over.

There is not as mature an organisation of white nationalism in New Zealand, but the attitudes and thoughts that led to it are still here, (colonialism is just another flavour of white supremacy, sadly, and we’re still working on getting to a post-colonial society that values Māori as the indigenous people of New Zealand, and any other recent immigrants as just as valuable as Pakeha. And we have a mature nationalist political party already, so all we need is that nationalism and that white supremacy to mix, and suddenly you have neo nazis in the Pacific) and we need to take the possibility of it being normalised seriously, even when it’s disorganised people who may or may not be trying to have a bit of a joke.

Auckland University has defended itself partly by saying it had recently changed its policy to allow groups to recruit during orientation week before going through their formal process and submitting member lists, which is a reasonable excuse for why this group was allowed to openly recruit during orientation. But that’s the past, what are they saying about the future?

Well, they have stepped into a classic trap of saying they have “no proof” that this group is racist. A confluence of circumstantial evidence is all you ever get when you’re dealing with cryptofascists. Their entire strategy is to play a game of piggy-in-the-middle with accusations against them, where they can maintain plausible deniability if anyone decodes their references to eliminationism or white supremacy, because they try to keep it low-key enough that there is never any substantial proof, which means you have to overreact at least slightly to catch them, and you need to require people to have a good explanation for circumstantial evidence, something that’s counter-intuitive to liberal sensibilities, but is a prerequisite to being an effective liberal in a society with proto-fascist movements. It needs to be very clear that any white supremacy on private property or in public spaces will result in an over-reaction. Nobody will admit to being a Nazi until the Nazis have already reached a critical threshold, a fact that University lecturers surely know, and it’s surprising that the relevant decision-makers haven’t listened to them. In contrast, their Students Association has actually been really good on this issue, and deserves a lot of credit for understanding the nuance correctly.

It is possible, of course, that some people involved in this group really believed the cover story. But at least one person was either joking in a thoroughly inappropriate way about Nazi content, or was serious about it but knew enou gh to try not to be completely obvious. If the group wants to continue without this stigma, all they need to do is remove the people who made that mistake from the group, and notify the University authorities who they were so that they can be watched to prevent other inappropriate behaviour in the future without risking any retaliatory action from overenthusiastic anti-fascists.

It’s bad enough that we have an anglo-centric nationalist party in Parliament, but we cannot have that kind of pop patriotism that buoys New Zealand First and similar social conservative movements turning to the dark side on us in New Zealand. Everyone, right, left, centre, or otherwise, needs to be clear that there’s no place for fascists in New Zealand.

As to whether it’s appropriate to celebrate European culture, of course it is, with the caveat that it has to be legitimately about the culture of all of europe, not just the white parts. (Most white nationalists are interested chiefly in British, Germanic, or Russian cultures. If they branch out into Iberian culture, France, and eastern europe as well, that’s a good sign) If that was legitimately their aim, firstly, they picked a stupid name, and secondly, they should have approached lecturers on various european culture courses to advise them, who would have then been able to substantiate their claims that they were legitimate. Tertiary culture courses do a very good job of digging deep into culture, far deeper than most cultural clubs or associations have a chance to get in their public events, so anyone serious about that goal should have been thinking about using their resources better.

It’s also worth noting that “European culture” is a group culture, the same way “African culture” is. It’s really dozens of different cultures. New Zealand has about four prominent European feeder cultures to our own modern hybrid euro-polynesian melting pot culture, so the first thing to know is that most kiwis already live European culture to some degree, as our culture is largely pieced together from English settler traditions and elements of Māori language and tikanga that have been assimilated, but still notably contains elements of Irish and Scottish culture, especially in the South Island, and even some Germanic influences in certain places and institutions. There is amazing art, (performance or otherwise) literature, and film from all of those cultures.

It’s perfectly reasonable to be proud of those things, but that’s very different from glorifying past empires who committed atrocities and whose time is over, and it’s also different from trying to exclude or hate other groups, which is often what “white pride” or “European pride” is a code word for, and a precursor step to calling for forced migration, at which point we’ve then arrived at eliminationism. Even now, some people reacting to the news are mentioning several of these code words, and this is precisely the point of cryptofascism: nobody can tell if their supporters are actual fascists, or just people who are legitimately proud of their European descent, and that confusion is why we have to push back so hard against this sort of behaviour.

Update: So, despite writing this last night and scheduling it for this morning in case sleep elucidated anything, it looks like there’s already a resolution. The Herald reports that the AUESA is going to disband. Good. This reinforces my perception that they were trolls who picked a culture battle they didn’t know they weren’t going to win, because people were ready for them.

They claim to have been threatened with violence: if that’s true, (and I admit to some skepticism that it is, given that fearing for your own safety is a great excuse to back down from failure anonymously, and we still only have rumours about who the people behind this group were) please don’t threaten violence on fascists unnecessarily. These were not powerful fascists who were putting people in imminent risk who arguably justified symbolic resistance or an actual life-or-death struggle like actual Nazis did. These were not influential media figures who need to be stood up to. They were just as likely to have been defeated with criticism, mockery, and general social disapproval, as they were a bunch of disorganised jokers. If every cryptofascist were this easy to stop, we wouldn’t be bothering to debate about the ethics of punching nazis, and it wouldn’t be as serious an issue as it is. Peaceful resistance is an effective tool and it should always be the first resort.

That said, this will no doubt be the point at which some troll says “liberals are as bad as what they claim to be against, they’re racist against Europeans, and they want to take away our freedom to speak about fascism.” Anyone who seriously thinks that needs to crack a book. You can’t be racist against white people, or “Europeans,” because racism requires bigotry and institutional power set against you. Most institutional power is set up to support people like me. And you’ll notice, all anyone was calling for was the university not to register a simple club. Nobody’s actually gagging fascists, but you better believe there will be real consequences to free speech, because free speech only protects you from the government, and most private institutions don’t want any white nationalism getting on them if they can help it, especially not when ordinary people notice it and call it out.

This does reinforce my belief that the old advice to “not feed the trolls” is at best outdated, if it did ever work outside a particularly narrow context of certain types of attention-seekers in small, tight-nit communities back when most internet was dialup. Oh look, we stirred up a lot of media attention…. and the trolls couldn’t withstand its withering gaze. It’s almost as if the threat of being held accountable in real life for their behaviour actually discourages them, right?

The people behind this group are continuing to pretend they did not engage in unacceptably cryptofascist behaviour, and/or fail to bring it to account. They’re asking us not to believe our “lying eyes.” They provided no credible explanation for the content they posted, took no responsibility for excluding the responsible party or safely reporting them to the university, issued no apology, and evaded or dodged every criticism they could in engaging with the public or media on the issue, never having a substantive discussion about how four separate pieces of cryptofascist imagery ended up on their page by “misunderstanding,” when there have been claims from people that they know the artist for their logo, who is, surprise surprise, connected to Adam Holland. I have little doubt they are simply playing for sympathy either to make this die down or try and build momentum for another group later. Please have your scorn ready for anything these idiots try in the future.


69 comments on “There are no fascists in New Zealand…”

  1. Carolyn_nth 1

    Very well explained. thank you, Matthew. This sums up the problem with the Auckland University (once was) European Association’s facebook images and slogans.

    One, or maybe two of these things could reasonably be a mistake. (or you know, a genuine interest in Celtic art or German history) Four of these things together implies that someone in this organisation either thinks Nazism isn’t something to be taken seriously, (in which case they’re in trouble with actual fascists as well as with everyone else) or is actually a secret supporter of white nationalism or some other flavour of eliminationism, and was trying to signal to others that either the organisation would be a front for white nationalism.

    And it is evident that the perps behind it were trying to fly a bit under the radar. As the post says, claiming they disbanded won’t mean these guys go away, or won’t try something similar, but also in a similarly obscure way, in the future. i.e. trying to maintain an acceptable front for white nationalism and/or eliminationalism – “build a wall” to keep Mexicans out; export Muslims, etc).

    I note that in Adam Holland’s love-note-to-Trump vid on youtube, he talks about exporting illegal Muslims. But it it’s about exporting criminals or illegal immigrants, why signal out one ethnic or religious group only? (I’ve linked to that in another TS discussion, don’t want to keep giving it air.)

    • Because he’s a christian supremacist?

      • Carolyn_nth 1.1.1

        He doesn’t seem very Christian to me. But then, neither do many Nat and Republican Christians.

        AH seemed to be just supporting Trump’s selective immigration and deportation policies.

        His alleged mate Rees allegedly was telling Curwen Rolinson to go back to India – according to Rolinson’s Facebook page, because Rees apparently assumed Rolinson was Indian or non-white.

        • Yeah, you don’t have to be overtly Christian to believe that only cultures influenced by Christianity are acceptable, it’s about Christian culture not about Christianity as such. It’s a weird little piece of right-wing logic, but there you go. Some of them very politely include jews too, but the real reason for that is that they know that Israel is controlled by an incredibly right-wing regime that hates Muslims as much as they do, and that it has a very mature white/Jewish supremacist movement that has infiltrated the government and what you or I would consider normal people under any other context are now openly preaching eliminationism against both Palestinian and even Israeli Arabs. (this is without getting into the details of Israel/Palestine, of course, which I realise are more complicated than JUST supremacist movements, but it’s important to realise this issue is very a real part of the impediment to peace there.)

          Yeah, Rolinson’s FB page was one of the places I checked out doing research on these jokers. He’s got their number down, and it’s nice to see even people who know them are not impressed by their antics. I left his allegations about Rees’ involvement out because nobody else substantiated it, while it was very clear Adam was the “spokeperson” for the group talking to at least some of the media.

          • Carolyn_nth

            I guess it’s about white/anglo Christian culture. Mexicans are Christian, but their culture is somewhat different from the bulk of white US Christians.

            I guess Rolinson’s is a personal statement, so can’t be easily verified. But his connecting Rees with Holland, and the Alt-right association reinforced my view of Holland as being alt-right from his yt videos.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              It really depends on the context. White supremacy and Christian supremacy, for instance, are basically the same thing in the USA. The movements are inextricably tied together, and have huge tendrils into the Republican Party, to the point that the attorney general is now a former member of the KKK. This is part of why white supremacy co-opts so many religious symbols, they’re cultural touchstones to the races they deem acceptable, which are largely celtic, germanic, russian, or nordic, and maaaybe sometimes Indian, at least back when they believed the whole Aryan thing, anyway.

              In New Zealand, there’s not much of a market for extremist religion, and those who want it generally go to organisations like the Exclusive Brethren instead of more violent ideologies like Destiny Church. We’re actually a hugely Christian country, but a lot of that is “cultural christianity” where people aren’t actively involved in church. Despite being an enthusiastic atheist, I’m arguably in that category too, not just from sheer anglo-New Zealand osmosis, but because one of my parents is very enthusiastically Anglican. But, despite the fact we don’t like to talk about it this way, we’re actually a very liberal country overall, and we like our religion to be that way, too, so that makes it hard for the Christian supremacy part to stick, because the Christians in New Zealand are more worried about their fellow human beings and doing good deeds generally than they are about Other People Persecuting Them For Conservative Beliefs. So the True Believers have drunk some of the religious cool-aid too, but they’ve realised they need a different strategy to get to the mainstream populace.

              So they’re most likely going to play the racialised economic populist angle, that European culture is being eroded by asian immigration, by “political correctness” to Māori, never mind the astounding bad faith Pakeha have acted in up until just very recently and the fact that Māori society is still barely recovering in some ways from that, and by stoking incorrect worries about the economic impact of migrants. (fun fact, immigration is correlated with some of the key stats the alt right worry about, but it’s correlated negatively, lol. They’re not just wrong, the exact opposite is true- migrants are generally good for the economy, controls are really more necessary to prevent capital shortage or other adjustment problems causing unemployment, rather than to “save jobs for the rest of us”)

              I thought Rolinson’s points were good, and he’s clearly been in circles that run slightly close to these jokers even though he has no tolerance for that kind of nonsense, so I would have liked to talk about what he had said if Rees admitted to being involved or if someone covering the issue for the media had mentioned his name, but yeah, there’s enough going on with the AUESA itself that it’s easy to come to the same conclusions as the Rees connection gets you simply by using inductive reasoning, so there was no particular need to discuss those comments given I didn’t find any substantiation for them, and I’m also conscious of the fact that mis-identifying anyone as supporting this group may bring real fascists in contact with them, (at which point they may be pressured into joining up if or made an example of if they fail to voluntarily express enthusiasm) which even idiots like Rees don’t deserve.

            • adam

              Carolyn_Nth can I recommend this book “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” by Chris Hedges.

              Here a link to the intro, you can get on amazon if you have the money, or the Auckland Library service have it.


              I have a list and names of the churches in Auckland which are along the same lines, and have US connections. ( a list I wish was smaller) Myself and others keep a regular eye on them.

              I’ve said before on the standard, that on the question of theology, and practice, some churches in country are very iffy. I’d be tempted to argue that they have Christian in name, and that about it.

              • Urgh, I stand corrected. Please watch and mitigate the actions of religious extremists, it’s not a thankful job but it needs to be done.

                • adam

                  Oddly enough, one of the criticism’s of this book is that the Christian Right don’t have militia’s, like other ultra right groups.

                  Well that seems an odd criticism, it’s like they never heard of blackwater. Oh and the head of blackwater, has a sister in trumps cabinet.

          • WILD KATIPO

            Mary Hopkin – Goodbye (live) (HQ) – YouTube

  2. Red Hand 2

    There’s a Muslim students association and a Maori one and possibly other race or religion based associations.



    The European language and culture based associations like Alliance Francaise and Goethe Institute are there for those with an interest and don’t risk the fascist, racist, cryptofascist, white supremacist, trumpite, anti-immigration accusations.

    • solkta 2.1

      I very much doubt the Maori one is ‘race’ based. ‘Race” is not and has never been a Maori concept.

    • Carolyn_nth 2.2

      The latter tag comes from promoting white or European culture while putting down other specified cultures, often quite abusivlaly and viciously. And as Matthew says, it also includes an element of power – promoting cultures that already have considerable power in our society, while discriminating against those with least power.

      And especially from the eliminationist angle – build a wall to eep out Mexicans, no immigration of Muslims from selected countries, etc.

    • I actually cover this very lightly in the post I believe, but I do mention it- organisations like the Muslim Students Association or Māori Students Association are basically there to give students a space where they can decompress from constantly feeling like a minority, to discuss the challenges for them of being in a university that is filled with people from a different culture, to help students of a similar background make friends who will understand their challenges without having them explained, and to provide moral support.

      A “European Students Association” is a very trollish name, because it’s suggesting New Zealanders of European extraction need the same thing, when we don’t. The relative prevalence of Pakeha/European New Zealanders in most universities is precisely the reason you don’t see a “European students association.”

      And you come to precisely the point when you mention organisations like Alliance Francaise and the Goethe Institut: these organisations for European languages and culture at least partially already exist, and are usually specialised down to a per-nation level, which if you were genuine about being a culture club, you would be doing too, except that wouldn’t have explained their trolling name. And regardless, if they were serious on that issue, they should have consulted with lecturers to get aid, because culture courses at university are crazy in-depth and having the lecturers at your disposal is a huge resource, and anyone serious about a new cultural club would absolutely love that help.

    • weka 3.1

      Try reading the post past the subject line Morrissey.

      • Morrissey 3.1.1

        Thanks for the tip, weka. I was just itching to have a go at Messrs Brash, Ansell, and Bassett, and as soon as I saw the trigger word “fascists” I couldn’t resist.

    • Missed the reference did you? 🙂

      • Morrissey 3.2.1

        Oh, I got the allusion to that piece of mediocre agit-prop, thanks. (Thank God that Don McGlashan graduated to much better things, otherwise he’d be consigned to the wastebasket of best-forgotten along with those who played in such other eminently forgettable bands from that time, like the Screaming Meemees, Coconut Rough and Flight X-7.)

        Surely, in a post about fascism in New Zealand, it’s appropriate to post up links to a triumvirate of New Zealand racists?

  3. Bill 4

    Most of the links in the main body of this post are ‘page not found’ etc…

    • Nic the NZer 4.1

      Was the Auckland University Student Association destroyed (from the internet) in order to mitigate the Fascist threat? We honor their sacrifice!

    • I brought up this issue with Weka when I messaged the source of this post over, but I think the links got truncated in the process because it turned them into actual links. They’re correct on my blog until Weka can have a look at them!

      The AUESA is still on the internet, although I was careful never to link to them directly because I don’t actually want to drive any additional traffic to these losers.

  4. Karen 5

    Excellent post Matthew. I’d love to see more from you here if you have the time

    • I actually already posted new content today at my blog already, so feel free to go read my rant about why the metaphor of household budgets for national budgets is completely wrong and stupid. (My name links through to my blog, and you can also find the address at the top of this post and just click out of the specific post about Auckland cryptofascists) I wrote the majority of this piece three days ago, and updated it the next morning before it fired off as scheduled, as the AUESA had announced it would disband at like, 3am in the morning or something while the post was still waiting to pop into the blog at a reasonable hour.

      I blog somewhat irregularly as I also write fiction and those two activities use the same “muscles,” but I am trying to make a habit of blogging at least weekly. Daily is clearly too often, but from time to time I post on consecutive days.

      I am a regular in the comments here, (have been since waaaaaaay back when, although originally under the pseudonym “Ari”, but I changed to using my real name when I started this current blog Le Matte Juste, as the point of using the pseudonym was always to avoid any embarassment our slightly different views might have caused my father, (who to my knowledge is still a Labour supporter with far more orthodox policy views than me) who was a rather senior public official at the time, but has since moved into that semi-retirement former chief execs get where everyone is offering them part-time board or consultant positions, and thus isn’t going to be disturbed by my name being out there on the internet anymore) so if you’re willing to check back on posts a few hours (or even a day later…) you will often find my two cents here too.

  5. Kevin 6

    Probably just testing the waters.

    NZ is a funny old place and it does not pay stick your head over the parapet to early.

    I think the like minded individuals who are this type of organisation’s demographic will just bide their time. Depending on how this years election goes, the will either get more brazen or more underground.

    • That is my take too, and why I absolutely applaud every single person who helped blow this tiny situation up into a huge issue, even if it makes us all look like “SJWs” to right-wingers. I actually can’t think of a bigger compliment than to have that hurled at me like an insult. 😉

      If every time this happens, their stupid little code is laid out for the public to see, and people don’t stop yelling about how unacceptable it is until the news starts covering it, then we actually have a chance at shutting down fascists before they ever gain critical mass without any actual violence. We’re not guaranteed to win with that approach, but it seems like by far the best way to shoot down these minor threats.

      We just have to realise that the really serious ones will be a lot better at hiding than this, and will be counseling anyone this incident has got them in touch with to bide their time more carefully, to be more discreet, and will of course be ready to hurt them if they weren’t sufficiently serious about white nationalism. That’s why I’m actually a little glad they retained anonymity to a degree: If any actual fascists find out who they are because of this, they will give them an offer they can’t refuse.

      But them biding their time is not my nightmare scenario. I can think of an organisation that is perfect for them to infiltrate and use as a front, (which I’m not going to name or even hint at so I don’t accidentally give them the idea) but fortunately I know other people with similar wariness of fascism are already watching it for clues, so they’re only getting in if they make absolutely no fuss as they do it.

      The real danger are the smart cryptofascists, who actually can credibly pretend to be right-wingers supporting democracy but just want it a little more Christian, or a little more economically populist. They will subtly try to push politics far enough in their direction until they can leap out of the shadows and start a full-blown white nationalist movement in the open, like many of Trump’s supporters did.

  6. Michael 8

    This is a great thread; my congratulations to everyone who contributed to it. Fascism remains a danger to those of us who wish to live in a free and democratic society. We should never forget the blood earlier generations spilled to keep us safe from fascism; if necessary, we must be ready to make the same sacrifices. FWICS, the best antidote to fascism was social democracy and its greatest exemplar in countries like ours was the Labour Party. Whatever happened to it and why don’t people believe it has anything to offer them any more?

    • weka 8.1

      I keep hoping that someone will write a post on social democracy.

    • Social democracy isn’t an antidote to fascism per se, in fact I’d say actual socialism is better, because social democracy has way too much corporate in it, and corporatism is part of what makes fascism possible.

      Fascism works by exploiting the worries of ordinary people, about their economic status, about their security, and about their fear of the other. If you address the problems that lead to those worries well, the fascists don’t have an opening.

      Really, any type of good government that helps everyone will work. Centrist or right-wing democracy, as we’ve seen in the US, does not prevent fascism, in fact I would say it’s particularly vulnerable. European-style social democracy combined with globalisation may be okay, but I wouldn’t bet on it just yet.

      Basically, a strong left wing is your best innoculation to fascism. Take regularly. 😉

      As for contributions, I did the writing, but a hit tip is owed to these two fabulous people:

      https://twitter.com/bootstheory – she was the person who brought this issue to my attention. I don’t know if Stephanie is still around TS, but if she is, she’s awesome and deserves to know it, and I fully credit her for raising a fuss on this issue.

      https://twitter.com/LewSOS – for confirming a couple of the bits of text on the FB site were in fact crypofascist. Some of their obfuscation is good at defeating search-engine confirmation and I wasn’t able to confirm it myself.

  7. Ad 9

    It’d be more interesting if they formed a political party to stand at the 2017 elections. The scrutiny would be useful.

    MMP enables all sorts of splinters, including ethnically based ones already there.

    • Oh, some of the people who may have been involved with this shit show were talking about doing precisely that. They wanted an alt-right party.

      If one shows up, we need to humiliate them as the little fascists they are until they’re clear nobody will vote for them.

      • Carolyn_nth 9.1.1

        Well, the 1Law4All Party is regathering for the coming election to Newshub. They are not exactly alt-right, but do hide under a banner of alleged equality, to promote White culture in NZ. They are connected with Don Brash.

        McLean of Tross publishing claims responsibility for having some of their racist propaganda delivered to Kingsland (Auckland) letterboxes.

        • Well they’ll need to get enough members to re-register first, lol.

          And looking at the kindling they’re publishing on that site, it’s no surprise they’re willing to bankroll outright racists. I look forward to consuming their sweet, sweet tears when, like TOP, they don’t even register in the polls. 😉

  8. Skeptic 10

    A nice article that I found quite accurate using the author’s definition of fascism. The comments are spot on as well. If I might add my observations, I find the definitions of Fascism and Nazism, as they apply in the 21st century, too narrow to be confined to their 20th century parameters. To bring these definitions up to date I think requires a broader spectrum. I tend to think two things – 1) the differences between Fascism and Nazism are in today’s terms so minuscule, that they are to all intents and purposes the same thing – so I just call them all Nazis! and 2) given the history of WWII and the subsequent Nuremberg Trials with their settling once and for all the civilized world’s legal position of racial Nazism, we now can expand the “superiority” ethic of Nazis to include Religious Nazis, Economic Nazis, Law & Order Nazis, Benefit Bashing Nazis, Poor Nazis – in fact anyone who, without scientific or other incontrovertible evidence deems their good fortune/religion/economic status etc superior to all others.
    On this basis, I would say fundamentalists of all religious colours are Religious Nazis. I would include in this definition, as Economic Nazis, all economists who, without any proof, call their economic system superior to all others. Similarly, those groups, even here in NZ, who refuse to acknowledge that upbringing, circumstances and environment have more to do with criminal behaviour than DNA, and so blindly call for tougher sentences, reduced parole and tighter bail restrictions, are Social Nazis. Likewise those who take a single or minuscule number of benefit fraudsters and trash the whole system of Social Welfare, are nothing more than Class Nazis in my book.
    I short, I agree wholeheartedly with the author, in that Nazism is alive and well in NZ despite our ancestors having shed blood to rid the Earth of their kind. As to the future, well as one eminent person said “for evil to succeed all good people have to do is nothing” (slight misquote). So I will continue to attack Nazis and bullies whenever and wherever I find them with the power of the pen (or laptop). I might add – My uncles got medals for killing Nazis – do they still give them out for attempting to remove Nazi DNA from the Human Species?

    • Oh yeah, I didn’t bother to call them Nazis because:
      a) Most modern fascists don’t specifically self-identify as Nazis, even the ones from Germany.
      b) It drags the debate into the quagire of “but things aren’t as bad as in Nazi Germany.” They don’t have to be.

      I have no problem with saying that fascists are effectively Nazis. Nazis are just a specific iteration of fascists, the same way that the New Zealand Labour Party is a specific iteration of the Labour Movement. I used the general term so that it avoided confusion, and also because it’s more relevant that these idiots were cowardly cryptofascists who won’t even stand up as proud Nazis, and need to have their little club meetings in secret, using code to attract other Nazis. 😉

      I’ll take a little issue with your quote about “removing Nazi DNA,” for two reasons. First, don’t meet these idiots with violence when it’s clearly not necessary. There is no need for that kind of rhetoric just yet, even if it is clearly getting to the point where we have to watch certain people like hawks. I hope we’ll never need to resort to violence with them, but if it comes down to standing between them and whoever their “enemy” is, yeah, of course, then we should be there. Often they use the threat of violence against them as a political weapon, so making the first move against them could be very ill-advised, and of course, it’s illegal, even if I can’t exactly blame people for wanting to hurt Nazis or other fascists, you shouldn’t do so if their threats of violence are not yet imminent.

      Secondly, fascism is an idea, not a gene. You can’t kill it, that’s the whole problem, and if you even could, congratulations, you’ve probably just become a fascist yourself, because you’ve proposed genocide- that’s part of the insidiousness of the whole problem, you have to beat them without playing their game. You have to watch for it, even if the entire last generation of the problem have died, their idea was passed on, and people still practice it covertly. It’s okay for them to stay covert, so long as they never get into any significant position of power. If we decide we’re okay having them run for office, (personally, if it ever comes to the point they’re ready to form a political party, I say we let them and see how they’ll like their reception, I guarantee it won’t be friendly. But I’d prefer to break up their little pity parties before then if we can) that means everyone who’s not a fascist needs to agree to no coalitions with them ever under any circumstances, even if it means supporting the other side politically.

      Fascism does exist on a spectrum. It generally combines three phenomena:
      a) Populism seguing into authoritarianism. Most fascist politicians don’t look like fascists until they get into power. They start out with a populist message of some sort- it’s usually a combination of economic promises and nationalist ideology. They sweep into power and focus on the popular parts of their agenda first, but as they do so, they start… “testing” the public, by violating the norms of good government bit by bit, accumulating more power for themselves, glorifying the police or the military, and integrated them heavily into the political movement. (Look at Trump with ICE and the cops, for instance, this is classic behaviour for a new dictator- he is shoring up his power with law enforcement)
      b) The consolidation of other types of power, religion becomes intertwined with the government becomes intertwined with business becomes intertwined with social institutions like youth clubs or the media. Any institutions that can’t be absorbed are attacked and destroyed and new ones built in their place.
      c) Demonisation and eliminationism. There is usually an enemy identified. At first, the enemy will be causing economic trouble, and regulation is needed to stop them! Then the enemy is propagandized: they were no longer taking the jobs of the deserving, they are now the enemy of the entire country, and they need to leave, because they’re not welcome here! Finally, the enemy will become so hated that even with the best intentions, the fascist leader will have to concede to violence against them, which can lead to force-marches, to mob beatings, to killings, or genocide even without official sanction. This is the really scary part that people think is the only marker of fascism, but it actually comes last.

      The spectrum is usually how advanced the ideology is, as these three things usually progress together at a certain rate once the regime siezes control of the state. Things like the racism, the religious discrimination, what have you: they’re just down to who the particular group of fascists decided to chose as their scapegoat, it is in some ways incidental to the ideology itself. Hitler chose Jews and queers. Trump has chosen Muslims and illegal immigrants. Who knows what it would be in New Zealand, but people like you or I won’t like it. I wouldn’t confuse all religious extremists with fascists- fascism’s goal is covert but complete takeover. Some religious extremists are instead terrorists, who want to cause us to betray our values by making us afraid. Some religious extremists want their own theocracy, and they don’t particularly care about the world outside their country. Not everyone who’s discriminatory and wants power is immediately a fascist.

      • Skeptic 10.1.1

        Nice clear and concise summary, Matthew, of Fascism – especially the spectrum or continuum ideal. You’re dead right about not being able to kill an idea, but you can educate about it with the appropriate lessons on human rights and dignity. Lessons from the past reinforced with ethics and morality (the evils of chasing money to exclusion of caring for your fellow man, etc) – you know – what’s commonly called history, but some politicians see history as bunk – as do most economists. This sort of thinking has infiltrated even our state schools, to the point where some have forgotten the role appeasement played in the rise of 1930s Nazism. Are we in danger of it happening again – I hope not, but…… Dumbfuckistan in USA seems to forgotten, so I wouldn’t be too sure Kiwis and some other Nations aren’t immune. That’s why I quoted Bentham – or was it Wilks?
        Your summary of Populism, Power and Group-think are correct, and the dangers of Theocracy – I agree it’s important to recognise fascism in all its guises – not just race and religion. I note that our SIS are charged with “protecting the State of NZ against infiltration from both the extreme left and the extreme right”, but I wonder if this definition includes “those who would do harm to ordinary NZ citizens through economic means” – ie those who would inflict on NZ a system that guarantees poverty or economic hardship to the majority while ensuring a tiny minority live with excessive wealth at the expense of the rest. If that’s not Economic Nazism, I stand corrected.
        There is some schools of thought that if the Great Depression hadn’t happened, and German unemployed didn’t reach the levels it did, then Hilter’s gang (and Mussolini’s in Italy) might not have gained enough of the vote (they maxed at 33%) to get into a position of negotiating for power. Hence at the end of WWII, there was much emphasis placed on full employment (in all Allied nations) to make sure those particular circumstances never arose again. Pity the right-wing economists of the present didn’t learn that lesson.
        Yes, the semi-serious joke about removal of DNA was a bit much, but given the insidious global rise of protectionism, populism and theocracies in Western States, I wonder if it isn’t prudent to sound the alarm sooner rather than too bloody late? Better to jump on this sort of thing very early with both feet than try to be an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff (so to speak and terribly mix my metaphors) – wouldn’t you agree?

  9. …all anyone was calling for was the university not to register a simple club.

    Yes, we did notice that. Are we supposed to be grateful you weren’t calling for the University to subject the club members to a public flogging or something? Fortunately the University was able to recognise that refusing to a register a club isn’t as trivial a matter as you suggest.

    • It is a trivial matter, in fact, most private organisations have policies that they will not be associated with any other organisation involved in discrimation or hate. It’s not hard, and as the University is not a government institution, it’s not an obstacle in terms of freedom of speech.

      Without endorsing this kind of rhetoric… you know that your post is exactly the sort of stuff people used to be talking about when they called people “nazi sympathisers,” right? I was trying to make clear that I was not the kind of person who would engage in the witch-hunt you seem to be expecting, and that I would very much like to simultaneously defeat fascism and keep as many of my rights as possible.

      I merely think you are not getting how big and serious a problem this ideology can be if you’re worrying about whether it’s okay to deny assistance to a stupid club of idiots at a university, as opposed to how violent or otherwise unpalatable the solution to this crap may end up having to be if we let these idiots have free reign and they actually form or infiltrate a credible political party, and we don’t kick up a fuss about them at every turn. Germany still doesn’t have freedom of association, despite being a liberal democracy, and people have even argued they are the new “leader of the free world” in the post-Trump era, and they restrict that right because they were so worried about Nazis they wrote an exemption to the political right of freedom of association directly into their constitution. Imagine if we decided to write down our constitution for the first time and it was legitimately on our agenda that we had to ban nazis because they’d previously executed a coup. That is how vulnerable our democracy will be if we are not aware, watchful, and careful, and don’t think it can’t happen here, because it has already happened in America, and we’re not as different as you’d hope. We have white supremacy here already, even if it’s not as advanced yet, and we actually have our fair share of nationalism too.

      Don’t think they’ll ever control the government? Neither did Germany, in fact there were several articles that, were they written in English, you could swear were about Trump. And the Nazis were only ever in coalition before the coup. They blamed a fire on communists, declared all the opposition MPs they had already had arrested to be absent for the purposes of a quorum, and then declared a state of national emergency. After that, no coalition partner needed.

      So, are you worried about Germany bringing political parties to their constitutional court to determine if they’re Nazis or not? Because all things considered, I actually no longer take issue with that precaution, I used to think it was going too far, they’d solved the problem, and it couldn’t happen again, but I have come around due to a number of factors, from visiting both Germany and the US, from seeing Trump sweep into power despite actually having lost the election by any reasonable standard, to seeing how his own party are letting him break the law, I’m not at all doubtful it could happen here, too, if we let down our guard.

      It would have been a reasonable compromise between freedom of speech and safety to have said the group must cut ties with whoever was responsible and discreetly notify someone in authority of their identity, and publicly denounce hate groups to continue. That’s not a requirement that would bother any legitimate club, but it would cause issues for fascists, because fascists who denounce their beliefs generally get in a lot of trouble with the other fascists who are still underground. And it’s not some police state bullshit that takes away their freedom of speech or of association- they still have those, they just have to pick someone else’s private property to exercise them on.

      And no, I don’t require you to tell me how “grateful” you are. I was pre-emptively putting things back in perspective because I knew someone would have issue with my stance on this issue and think I was going to far, because I would have argued against myself that same way before I had really internalised what I had learned about fascism. Before Trump’s election I would probably have been saying the same thing, but it put a lot of what I learned about Fascism studying german culture and in political science into a very real and terrifying context. It can happen here, and we need to be prepared to think about what restrictions we’re okay with enacting to prevent fascists from trying to sneak around in secret, and the earlier we catch this problem, the less we’ll have to compromise our values to deal with it.

      I want the very minimum in disruption to people’s rights to do that, but the freaky thing is nobody knows what that minimum is, and I say that as someone who generally thinks that security-based arguments can get a touch paranoid. We know it’s probably less than what were in hindsight may have been the witch-hunts of the Entnazifizierung, and we know that it’s probably going to take a lot more than a “peace in our time” attitude towards the problem. I accept that there is a very real tension there and that you’ve got to fight fascists without becoming them. I think overreacting a small amount at the very early stages, before you need to engage in persecution or violence of anyone, is probably the very best type of defense, and I welcome a good-faith discussion about that balance. But I won’t ever apologise for taking the doctrine of eliminationism as a serious threat.

      • Psycho Milt 11.1.1

        …you know that your post is exactly the sort of stuff people used to be talking about when they called people “nazi sympathisers,” right?

        What, was “nigger-lover” already taken? Actually giving a shit about freedom of association isn’t being a Nazi sympathiser.

        So, are you worried about Germany bringing political parties to their constitutional court to determine if they’re Nazis or not?

        Yes. It was a mistake to exclude freedom of speech and freedom of association from their constitution. If they absolutely had to butcher their constitution due to the risk of murderous totalitarians staging coups, they should have specifically banned communism as well. Singling fascism out makes it look like Germans are either somehow predisposed to fascism, or their constitution was written with their occupiers in mind.

        • Well, I can respect that we honestly disagree on this and that you’re consistent in your position, but I hope that we retain at least a few people who are gonna watch for this stuff even if you retain that view in the years ahead. I would love to be able to relax and not worry about the possibility that this movement is gonna go global, I really would.

          I would have been on your side a few years ago, but the rise of Mr. Trump has convinced me that fascism is ready to pounce just when you think it’s gone, and thus I don’t blame the Germans for being a little paranoid.

          As for singling out fascism, I think the reason they did that is that they felt reasonably confident that it would take a fascist movement to unseat their democratic traditions, and that banning other movements that might lead to authoritarian tendancies could lead to banning legitimate reformers.

          The constitution was written after the occupation ended, FYI, but at that stage it was the west German constitution- which I think makes it clear as well why they didn’t feel it necessary to ban stalinist-style dictatorships: they saw how badly it was working out for their neighbours and figured there was no risk of anyone going back to that.

          • Psycho Milt

            The thing is, Trump is a threat, but in the sense of ordinary old right-wing nationalist authoritarianism a laPutin or Erdogan, not fascism. If we start shouting “The fascists are coming!” every time there’s a right-wing threat of any description, people start assuming “fascist” is just a bullshit propaganda term for “someone who isn’t a leftist.”

            I’m interested that you think the reason the Bundesrepublik Germans didn’t ban communist symbols and slogans in their constitution is because it was clear to their citizens how bad communism had turned out in the DDR and they thought it would take a fascist movement to overturn their democracy. In the late 40s it was a lot more clear to west Germans how badly fascism had turned out for them than it was how communism was turning out in the DDR. Also, quite a few west Germans remained enthusiasts for communism even after it really was clear just how bad it was, and some of them were actively working towards overthrow of German democracy. Fascism on the other hand had a snowball’s chance in hell of making a comeback. It was the preserve of a few Waffen SS veterans and die-hard anti-communists.

  10. Ian 12

    Why the diddums don’t you talk in plain English Mathew? What a load of crap.

    • Anne 12.1

      Let me explain the problem Ian. There are some people who are just too thick to understand what Matthew Whitehead is saying so they justify their lack of ability by claiming something is crap. You appear to be one of them.

      • Ian 12.1.1

        You sound like his sister.Or his mother.

        • My mother doesn’t read blogs as far as I know, she’s strictly into RNZ.

          Neither of my sisters are called Anne, and the only one that’d bother to read TS is (in my opinion) smarter than I am, so that wouldn’t be her choice of defense, she would be far more likely to resort to mockery. 😉

          I recognise Anne by her avatar pattern, she’s a regular commentator here, but otherwise I don’t know her. I am of course grateful for her endorsement. 😉

          • Anne

            Well actually Matthew Whitehead I consider Ian’s comment @12.1.1 to be a compliment although I suspect he doesn’t mean it as such. 😎

    • Uh, it’s either the philosophy classes I took or learning German, both make you talk in longer sentences. 😉

      I’m happy to restate things if you’ve read enough to get the gist. What’re your questions?

      • Ian 12.2.1

        You are obviously very smart because I understand very little of what your talking about .I don’t understand all the aggravation that is been shown to The Auckland University European Students Association When The Auckland University Muslim Students Association ,the Christans ,The Tongans and every tom dick and Harry has a club.
        I think your stirring shit ,and are backing a horse that will kick your head in.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          What part don’t you understand?

          1. The connections between the AUESA and neo-Nazi symbols and statements or,
          2. Why people have such negative reactions to neo-Nazis.

          • Ian

            Please elaborate on the connections you talk about. Names ,places ,facts ,whatever dirt you have nobody .

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Read the Newshub link in Matthew’s article. It’s all laid out in detail for you. If there are any bits you don’t understand please quote them and outline your confusion and I’ll see if I can help you out.

              • It’s a good starting point, but it doesn’t make clear just how evasive these guys are. I literally asked them on facebook why they haven’t found out who was responsible for those images and dobbed them in to the Uni so they could continue if European culture was really their goal – they said: “but what if they weren’t a Nazi?”

                That’s not really believable, you don’t fall asleep at the keyboard and accidentally post a picture that glorifies the German empire with a nazi slogan as text, they commissioned someone to design their logo in celtic style too, and their slogan which they said “they thought sounded good” was also Nazi-related.

                A few hours later after my query, they had “received too many threats” and had to shut down. Colour me skeptical that they received any, everyone who was critical that I saw was calling them stupid and mocking them, but I saw no evidence of public threats, and Facebook has mechanisms for dealing with that. It’s possible the group was in active moderation and the public threats had been removed, but the only “threats” I saw were screenshots posted by supporters, which did not contain handles or names.

                There was also a disturbing amount of support for “europeans finally getting a club for themselves,” some of which was overtly racist, others of which had language where you couldn’t tell if they were in on the code, or just had fallen for the excuse.

            • Drowsy M. Kram

              Obviously very nastian shit; stirrer.

        • Firstly, let’s talk as if this club were legit for a moment to answer your question about other clubs. They’re not, but I’ll get to that.

          If it were actually a club designed to connect say, students from Europe with each other, then it would be like the clubs you mention. They exist to support minority students in meeting other people like them, and address issues that they commonly face as minorities.

          What they said they were proposing was a club about European Culture. There are existing organizations that do this, like the Goethe Institut for German culture, and Alliance Français. But there are no signs they talked to any lecturers to get help, and university culture lecturers have some amazing knowledge you’d want if that was really your goal.

          The examples they gave of activities: “European feasts” and “medieval re-enactments,” don’t show that they really understand the topic of European cultures. There’s so much more to Europe than that, if they actually wanted to promote that culture. They also suspiciously failed to mention the “non-white” parts of Europe, like Spain, Portugal, Turkey, etc, which you would expect after being accused of having secret racists in their club, and all their materials previously had focused on Britain and Germany, which coincidentally are two nations idolized by neo-Nazis.

          Secondly, why they’re actually not what they say they are. Fascists nowadays (that’s neo-Nazis, basically) talk in code. They don’t say “looking for other fascists to intimidate Muslim students, whites only please.” They talk about European values, Christian traditions, or White pride. They take Nazi quotes, facts, and pictures, and disguise them, so that you can’t find them in internet searches, but those who are familiar with Nazis can recognize them. They enjoy pictures of the German Empire, which is less controversial than posting pictures of actual nazis. And for some reason they love the “pepe the frog” meme, don’t ask me why. This is because they know they don’t have the numbers to win yet, and want to recruit before they start working towards their goals.

          There were four of these “codes” posted to their facebook page- I personally saw all of them before they took them down, and the news article I linked shows you some of them. One of them was a slight alteration of the SS motto, which translates to “My honour is called loyalty.” Theirs was “our pride is our honour and loyalty,” which was posted on a picture of the German empire. Their slogan was “Strength through honour,” which should also sound familiar, and their logo was styled after neo-nazi designs, complete with celtic swords. It was designed by a friend of a known jew-hater, Adam Holland, who ran for Mayor in Auckland as an agitator, (or “shit-stirrer,” as you put it) and people close to both Adam and his friend have confirmed this. Adam also spoke on the group’s behalf to the media. They have given given a BS denial of him to people asking questions by saying “Adam is not a member,” but never directly addressing the hints that he’s been involved. Their response to basically every serious question was “but what if we’re not Nazis?” which I think you’ll agree isn’t really an answer.

          The organisation refused to talk about why they had posted multiple Nazi “codes” online, a trick which is used to signal to other hidden Nazis that an organisation has secret nazis placed there ready to meet them. This is a well-documented fact about how neo-nazis work, you can ask anyone who’s studied them. One of these “codes” could be a misunderstanding like they claim. But four at once is something someone did deliberately. Most people don’t trip over four times in a row unless something’s wrong with their health, likewise, you don’t post four Nazi signals by accident.

          If you found out someone you worked with had posted Nazi slogans at your workplace, wouldn’t you want to find out who it was? The club refused to look into who was responsible, made no effort to tell the University privately who that was, (because telling everyone through the media or facebook would risk some idiot retaliating against them) and the only defense they had to being Nazis was that “anyone was welcome to join,” which is basically a requirement of university clubs.

          I’m fine if some idiot accidentally posted that stuff, but they need to make some effort to figure out who that was, and dob them in to the university so that it can watch their behaviour to keep other students safe.

          But they engaged with the public a lot through facebook after the media coverage started, and they’ve made no genuine effort to explain these issues or talk about the worries of concerned students who were worried about their safety with what appeared to be a white pride group on campus.

          I have a few more facts and names than this, but a lot of them are “he-said she-said,” or I haven’t found enough proof that they’re worth talking about, so I don’t want to blame people who may not have been involved. A lot of their friends who don’t support this kind of nonsense have been pointing to Adam and a few of his associates on Facebook, but he’s the only one we’ve got 100% confirmed as involved. (some others have been identified by name, but they may not have known all the details, or have not been confirmed as members)

          Was that a bit easier to follow? Cheers for being open-minded, Ian.

          • Ian

            Sounds like a group of right leaning students taking the piss out of you guys. All this crap about nazis is bullshit ,and you know that.
            So all the petals were worried about their safety on campus. What a load of crap. I just hope the SIS and Gcsb are keeping a close eye on the Auckland University Muslim club.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              Oh, it’s highly likely that at least some of them were shit-stirrers. The problem is that it’s not appropriate to make this sort of joke, (if it’s not cracked down on, it makes real nazis feel safe to do the same thing) and we don’t know for sure who all of them are, so we can’t watch them.

              They may also graduate from being shit-stirrers now they have a following, and convert their new fans, too. There’s also a concern that if the information on who did this leaks to the public, any actual neo-nazis around will threaten them to join up or face retaliation. They’re pretty serious too about not joking around about being a Nazi.

              The students were worried about whether this would lead to harassment, yes. My worry is that this will cause genuine recruitment.

              Because nazis so frequently work in secret, it’s actually really important to pressure every organisation that looks like nazis into closing down if they don’t have a good excuse, because you’re likely to miss at least as many as you find. Also, showing you can shut them down generally stops them from trying anything dangerous, or infiltrating political parties. My concern is that the University actually refused to shut them down on this evidence, which I find very naive.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              MI5 says racists help make jihadis, so they should be monitoring you first, especially considering you’re cuddling up to neo-Nazis.

              • Ian

                Yeah right. Time will tell.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  I don’t need any more time thanks. As we saw in your laughable contributions to the recent water quality discussion, you have a massive persecution complex, and now you’ve revealed other typical racist traits and cuddled up to neo-nazis, I feel I’m pretty safe to draw some conclusions about you.

          • weka

            “Cheers for being open-minded, Ian.”

            That’s a very generous interpretation Matthew. Nice explanations though, and well done on taking the higher ground and using the opportunity 🙂 I think this post and thread will be a useful reference point for the future too.

  11. reason 13

    Nazis ………. are very big in the Ukraine at the moment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYyy0aeWrnw

    And Indonesia has mass murderers bragging about their deeds and entrenched in power …. They kill and target unionists….. and undoubtedly would have murdered our late Helen Kelly had she been one of their citizens …..

    “The Belgian company made the women workers spray a weedkiller with no protective clothing, and the mist would get into their lungs and then into their bloodstream and then into their livers and kill them in their 40s.” …… “when they complained to the company about it as part of their efforts to start organizing a union, the company hired Pancasila Youth, the paramilitary group in The Act of Killing, to attack them. ” ….

    ” What happens when, in a sense, a genocide, at least in one fundamental important way, never ends, because the perpetrators remain in power and continue to keep everyone afraid.” http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/interrogation/2015/07/joshua_oppenheimer_interview_the_director_of_the_look_of_silence_and_the.html

    Yet our NZ mfat website under National states …. “New Zealand enjoys a strong relationship with Indonesia” …. “we’re natural partners.” https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/countries-and-regions/south-east-asia/indonesia/

  12. D'Esterre 14

    Matthew Whitehead: I think we’re clear now. You don’t support freedom of speech; which should be unqualified. Yet you’ve hedged it about with all sorts of conditions.
    With regard to fascism, George Orwell pointed out many years ago that the term has no sure definition. See this:
    It seems that not much has changed. Perhaps it could more accurately be defined as “political opinions I don’t like”. That looks to be how it’s being used here.
    Eliminationism: I note the following definition from wiki: “Eliminationism is the belief that one’s political opponents are “a cancer on the body politic that must be excised—either by separation from the public at large, through censorship or by outright extermination—in order to protect the purity of the nation”.”
    Isn’t that just what you’d like to do to fascists? Once you’ve figured out who they are, of course…
    In a general way, it’s worth noting that for instance in France, there has been violence from the Left against Marine le Pen’s Front Nationale; last I read, not the other way about.
    And – speaking of left-wing violence, see this:
    These events took place in the US over a lot of years. I am old enough to remember many of these events; I find them shocking now, though I’m not sure I did at the time. Which doubtless relates to how they were reported then: the activists’ aim was liberation, so the violence could be excused.
    My view is that universities of all places ought to be centres for free speech – which should itself be without qualifications. The University did the right thing in allowing this group space to recruit. Allusions to violence being brought to bear in an attempt to shut people up is unfortunate, and not worthy of people who see themselves as liberal.
    As to the term “crypto fascist”, as with “fascist”, it’s being used here to name-call. Both terms best avoided, I think.

    • Hi there!

      Firstly, I will say that I am in fact still a very strong supporter of the principle that government shouldn’t regulate political speech, and I would probably have had the exact same objections to an argument like my own a couple of years ago. I understand it treads a little bit on the principle of freedom of speech to say we should pressure organisations into denying people with murderous viewpoints a platform, but there are a couple things to keep in mind here:

      1) Free speech should have consequences, just not from the government. Freedom of speech is about a marketplace of ideas, and if your idea is so distasteful that people will boycott you, and pressure those supporting you to withdraw their funding, or other tacit support, that’s actually still supporting that principle of a free market of ideas, it’s just acknowledging that some ideas deserve to fail.

      2) Fascism is a real political phenomena and it’s very difficult to defeat it thinking entirely like a liberal. It sucks, because liberalism is a great ideology you can throw at almost every other problem to defeat it, but we may have to be a little flexible around the edges in order to stop this sort of thing becoming a legitimate political problem.

      3) And as a bonus point: These are people who legitimately want to eliminate certain classes of people they object to from our country. That’s not okay, and mild measures to oppose them should be kept in perspective against their goals, while still being careful to avoid the trap of over-reacting so much that you progress to “let’s become authoritarians to beat the fascists,” because that’s essentially surrender, too. At the moment, these guys we’re seeing are small fry. I think we can handle them simply by kicking up a fuss at this stage. I don’t want to expose fascists to violent retaliation by doxing them or outing them to the public. I don’t want anyone taking measures into their own hands. I don’t want to threaten them with violence, even if it’s arguably fighting fire with fire. In terms of my “angle of attack,” it’s three things: 1) Embarass them, 2) Ask people not to give them free help getting heard, 3) watch them and report any unacceptable behaviour to the appropriate authorities. That’s all we need to do for jokers like this.

      As for your accusation about fascism meaning nothing: both political scientists and historians would disagree with you, or with Orwell if he made those statements now. They would call it a particular style of authoritarian nationalism. There are also a number of other characteristics it has, like banning opposition parties, attacking the media, the intertwining of state and religion, of state and corporations, and militarization of normal social organisations, such as schools, social clubs, etc… Orwell might have objected to the use of the term in his time, but it’s been defined much more narrowly these days by academics. The reason it’s hard to pin down “what fascism is” is that fascism is a means to siezing the government, it’s not itself an end.

      The end goal is their real idealogy- and in this case, we’re talking white supremacy, which is one flavour of eliminationism: the ideology that you can scapegoat, harass, deport, or kill people you believe “don’t belong in your country,” even if they have committed no other crime than simply being the wrong type of person.

      As for cryptofascism being name-calling: Yes, it is. That’s rather the point. You don’t think someone who is too cowardly to admit their extremist beliefs in public deserves some name-calling? I do, and as someone who believes in freedom of speech, I know you support my right to mock them as special little snowflakes that can’t handle being around brown people like the rest of us can. 🙂 Mockery and derision are the weapons of political discourse, and I while I keep them sheathed most of the time with normal political opponents, I am quite happy to rip into someone who has clearly deserved it, and any literal fascists deserve it.

      I agree with you that avoiding violent over-reactions to these kind of movements is important, but I can’t rule out that some violence might be necessary some day if we let fascism get a toehold here- if it’s a choice between standing by and letting an eliminationist harass, beat, or even kill their target and getting in their way to help, I think people should defend their fellow citizens if they’re unable to get the authorities in time, and sometimes that will involve some violence in return.

      Anyone watching these movements needs to keep things sharply in perspective to avoid becoming like them in the name of beating them. I can’t blame people for wanting to hurt them, but keep in mind a lot of them are trolls and jokers who will never need a punch to be thrown to be exposed as the haters and idiots that they genuinely are, and defeating them without violence is the best way if it can be safely managed- I linked earlier in the thread to the fact that 90s pop band Ace of Base were neonazi cryptofascists, but they have actually recanted that ideology since without anyone having to confront them about it, so it is possible to educate these people through life experience and offering them the very real benefits of liberalism.

      I wish you the very best with your ideology of completely unlimited free speech, I think in almost all cases you’re completely right, and I absolutely support you when it comes to the law as it applies to the government, and I think defense lawyers are on the side of the angels defending our rights even when they have to defend some pretty distasteful people.

      But I am very concerned that not reacting to out, embarass, and isolate white supremacists and other types of eliminationists in our country would be a very naive idea, and thus I won’t be applying that doctrine to fascists myself when it comes to any private spaces I’m involved in, even if I would apply it to almost anything else. Cheers.

  13. For those interested, it looks like a similar group has sprouted up in AUT.


    This one doesn’t have any public racism involved, but apparently people involved in the group are sending a lot of harassment in private to people watching out for them, so they may also be a problem.

    I will admit to having been a little hopeful initially when I saw their logo wasn’t just white people. XD

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  • State of National Emergency extended
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  • COVID-19 updates
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  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
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  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
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  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
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  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
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  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
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  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
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  • Government working to keep air freight moving
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  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
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  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
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