Terrible news from Christchurch in New Zealand, with (at this moment) 49 Muslim worshipers at Friday prayers in two mosques gunned down in a well organised terrorist attack that was streamed live on social media. The shooter is a 28-year old fitness trainer from Grafton in Australia, a seemingly ordinary young man from small-town regional Australia who have become radicalised in the course of a seven-year trip around the world after his father’s death in 2010.
What makes a man apparently plan in cold blood for two years mass murder of his fellow human beings – in this case based on their religion and their status as immigrants in a Western country?
Clearly you are not a normal, well-balanced human being – there are no indications so far the shooter is mentally ill in any way – but it’s for psychologists to debate what parts of your humanity must be sufficiently broken, and why, to enable you to commit an atrocity like this.
But the mass shooting is also a political act, though politics, even extreme politics, turns only a small minority into killers and terrorists.
What are the politics here?
Over the coming days there will be a lot of discussion and finger pointing, as generally happens after terrorist outrages. The perpetrator here is not a complete enigma – he has left behind a 70-plus page “manifesto” of his beliefs, which has now disappeared from the internet, scrubbed by the online host of the document, the same way that terrorists’ social media presence gets deleted by the platforms following terror attacks, so as not to feed a prurient public fascination.
Kevin Roose of “The New York Times” tweeted in the immediate aftermath: “Media: be careful with the NZ shooter’s apparent manifesto. It’s thick with irony and meta-text and very easy to misinterpret if you’re not steeped in this stuff all the time (and even if you are)… Seriously, this entire thing is a minefield. I am Very Online and I don’t feel 100% certain about what’s genuine and what’s just trolling/posting/media-baiting. Please be careful.” Which, I guess, goes to the above point.
Aware of a “minefield”, for whatever it’s worth this is my take on the Aussie-born and bred anti-Muslim terrorist:
He is somebody who actually genuinely fits the political label of a fascist or a Nazi – not as a rhetorical name-calling device to discredit people you disagree with but as a proper historical and sociological description of his ideology.
His primary point of reference and an “intellectual” fulcrum is race; his primary concern is the demographic and spiritual decline of “European” population.
One, perhaps the main but far from the only, factor in this decline is the mass immigration into the West, primarily of Muslim peoples (“the invaders”), and the consequent “replacement” of the native population through their higher fertility rates, or what he calls “the white genocide”.
As such, one of his motivations is to wind up the spiral of violence so that it leads to a race war within the Western societies, but also more broadly a civil war specifically within the United States “that will eventually balkanize [sic] the US along political, cultural and, most importantly, racial lines”. In fact, his rationale for committing the atrocity with a gun instead of, for example, a bomb, is to increase the polarising conflict between the anti-gun left and the pro-2nd Amendment right in the US.
He doesn’t believe in democracy (“a mob rule”) but only “a violent, revolutionary solution” to “the current crisis”.
While rejecting a label of “Nazi” as ahistorical, he describes himself as an ethno-nationalist. “For once, a person that will be called a fascist, is an actual fascist.”
He writes about his beliefs: “I mostly agree with Sir Oswald Mosley’s views and consider myself an Eco-fascist by nature. The nation with the closest political and social values to my own is the People’s Republic of China”.
As to whether he is a supporter of Donald Trump: “As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no.”
Some of the targets he also rages against: “global and corporate run press”, “the education system (long since fallen to the long march through the institutions carried out my marxists [sic]”, “the state (long since lost to its corporate backers)”, “the capitalists”, “conservatives”, “corporate profits and the the [sic] ever increasing wealth of the 1% that exploit people for their benefit”, “Antifa/Marxists/Communists”, “rampant consumerism, nihilism and individualism”, “soulless metropolitan architecture of glass and steal”, “pedophile politicians, pedophile priests, pedophile popstars”, “illegal and legal drug dealers”, “globalised capitalist markets”, “NGOs” and so on.
There is a strong undercurrent of environmentalism: “Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation, save the environment”, “the natural environment is [currently] industrialized, pulverized and commoditized”, “green nationalism is the only true nationalism”.
As for Roose’s “irony and meta-text”, there are fragments like this:
Why? Who know. The idea that a young black female conservative activist radicalised a fascist is preposterous, but the media will very likely somehow buy it.
All this reads like a cross between Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s “The Foundations of the 19th Century”, but curiously without anti-Semitism (or Jews in general, but for one neutral mention), updated for the 21st century (memes!) by somebody with a limited education – like a gym instructor. All the targets of the original 1920s and 30s fascism are here – capitalism and Marxism, democracy and liberal society, the racial enemy and the race traitors. It is a long and tedious – as well as depressing and scary – look inside one man’s mind, though his philosophy, such as it is, is no doubt shared by others (though not as many as he thinks).
Behold – a real, authentic, self-confessed fascist, whose mission is to saw dissension and create bloody conflict – which is how all extremists, whether fascist, Marxists or Islamist, operate. Our response must remain the same.