Know Your Enemy
by Twm Gwynn, via A Beautiful Resistance
this article combines two different posts found on the original website - to see the images accompanying it along with author information, visit the source
“Know the enemy and know yourself, and in a hundred battles there will be no danger”
-Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”
“What do you want?
We must ensure the existence of our people, and a future for white children.”
-Brenton Tarrant, in his manifesto “The Great Replacement”
Brenton Tarrant, currently in custody for his involvement with the murder of 50 Islamic worshippers on Friday, is a fascist. His manifesto does not shy away from that label, in fact he embraces the term “eco-fascist” to describe his politics. He, apparently working with at least two others according to the most recent reports, entered two mosques over a short period on the afternoon of Friday the 15th, killing 41 at Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, then moving on to Linwood Avenue mosque and killing 7 more. Two more people died in hospital, and a total of 42 people were admitted for gunshot wounds, out of the 48 wounded survivors - including a critically injured 4 year old. He released a manifesto online before the attack, as well as boasting of his plans online on the 8chan board /pol/, and livestreamed 17 minutes of footage of the attack as he carried it out. I have read the manifesto, which is now restricted and largely inaccessible online, and saved a copy, for the purposes of accuracy in writing this refutation of his ideology. I intend to clearly undo every argument he constructed and leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that his was an act of needless and nonsensical cruelty, accomplishing nothing worthwhile, with none of the heroism or glory that he has self-ascribed. Tarrant is not a martyr; he is a self-pitying coward lashing out at a world he has absolutely failed to understand. I hope to discover his errors, learn from his mistakes, but also uncover what made the attack – in some ways – tactically successful. In doing so we will build our knowledge as revolutionaries, insurrectionaries, anti-fascists in the world, learning and growing in capability as defenders of what we value – we will defeat the fascists and frustrate their plans every time their tumour of an ideology makes itself known.
I will briefly make my own biases clear. I am an anti-civilisation anarchist, a post-leftist, so when I use the word “leftist” in this writing I do not refer necessarily to my own opinions – my agreement or disagreement with the statements should be fairly clear from the context. I benefit from white privilege, I live in New Zealand, I am a pagan, and I am a man. My biases, privileges, and experiences will naturally shape this response, and I welcome feedback and criticism – the dangers of fascism and white supremacy must be combated collectively, and words in a vacuum will not accomplish this. I have, when I was younger and just getting into politics, been sucked in by some of the apparently easy answers Tarrant put forward in his manifesto; wanting to be a “real man”, wanting to protect the environment. A significant part of my desire to write this response came out of the hope that it might reach other young men who are compelled by the narratives of environmental defence and strong community that Tarrant has claimed to embrace, and clarify the deeply ugly and hateful truths of his position. I also hope to present an alternative, and I believe significantly more honest, view of the problems facing the world and its communities than the horribly warped explanations he offers.
Death to fascism.
Part One: Ideology
Immigration and White Genocide
His manifesto begins with a rant about falling “fertility” rates among Europeans (an ethnic label he expands to include the USA, his home country of Australia, and New Zealand). To him, the “failure” by white people to reproduce creates a crisis exploited by capitalists and immigrants:
“We are experiencing an invasion on a level never seen before in history. Millions of people pouring across our borders, legally. Invited [sic] by the state and corporate entities to replace the White people who have failed to reproduce, failed to create the cheap labour, new consumers and tax base that the corporations and states need to thrive.”
This paragraph interested me as it reads similarly to the basic leftist understanding of immigration. It’s a discussion I’ve heard reasonably often, but twisted, acknowledging that desperate immigrants from impoverished countries are ushered in to destabilise the labour force and create easy pickings for capitalists, undercutting the power of unions and diminishing the ability of the working class to organise, a story that’s been played out over and over in labour struggles throughout Europe, but now grossly distorted by Tarrant through the lens of white victimhood and racialist pseudo-science that “The Great Replacement” oozes. The left usually adds on to this analysis with a materialistic, historically-based understanding of the European capitalist rapacity that caused the impoverishment to the immigrants’ home countries to begin with, the history of colonialism and settler-imperialism that has dominated the majority of the non-white world, glaringly absent from his discussion. On the front cover of his manifesto is an image of the Black Sun symbol, surrounded by a selection of values he attaches to his ideology; one, disgustingly and ironically, is anti-imperialism.
It has been widely recognised that fascists, when they’ve got their anti-capitalist hat on, will attempt to steal elements of leftist theory, lending credibility to what would otherwise be nothing more than hateful drivel and allowing them to slide in some gentler-seeming racist claims that can be made to appear more justified when obscured with, for example, half-truths about capitalist usage of immigration. It’s not been necessary for every white terrorist to be a sparkling intellectual for them to leech off socialist and anarchist theory – it’s in the culture of the right wing to warp, debase, and troll the successful practices and ideas of genuine radical and anti-capitalist movements. This has been better discussed elsewhere, but I will briefly say that we must always be cautious in our theorising and propagandising on incendiary issues like immigration to never leave ambiguous and potentially race-related doors open, as others have been quick to take advantage of our failures in this area. Successes by the right wing in recruiting among the white working class are, I believe, largely owed to simple, but deliberate and calculated, misrepresentations like those in Tarrant’s own manifesto – once workers are divided by race, with white workers feeling victimised by immigrant “job thieves” and “welfare parasites”, not to mentioned feeling all fired up over the destruction of their environment (which I will discuss shortly), it’s a few short steps to ignite racial conflict and terrorism like Tarrant’s. Blaming immigrants for the capricious manipulations of cynical capitalists is an easy scapegoat, apparently, allowing as it does the continued benefits of white privilege by furthering and playing off the structural racism of Western societies. On a different but related topic, Tarrant does not read like someone well informed on the issues he discusses, and the level of connection to right-wing meme culture in both the manifesto and the livestream suggests that the internet, particularly right-wing blogs, vlogs, and forums, has been his primary source of information. It’s fairly clear to me that he is a young man radicalised by online propaganda and white-identarian talking heads, who does little but regurgitate the poorly-argued points of other fascist “thinkers” throughout his own writing. From the “FAQ” of his manifesto:
“From where did you receive/research/develop your beliefs?
The internet, of course. You will not find the truth anywhere else.”
An attempt at meta humour for his fans, but also probably true.
From later in the same section:
“By living in New Zealand, weren’t you an immigrant yourself?
Yes, and it seems we immigrants seem [sic] to bring a whole host of issues. Nah, not really. An [sic] Australian living in New Zealand is much the same as an Austrian living in Bavaria. They aren’t going to ethnically replace the people, nor change the nations culture.They [sic] are the same people, they are the same culture.”
Overlooking the sick joke, one of the less horrific but still genuinely sad parts of white identarianism is the tendency to totally erase cultural differences between people of similar skin tones – he self-identifies as of “Scottish, Irish [sic] and English stock” and I am confident his Irish ancestors would have noticed a change in the “culture of their nation” after English imperialism. People with lighter skin are not homogenous, we have our own unique cultural legacies and histories of cultural development and change, as well as being colonised, usually by the English. As a first-generation child of Welsh immigrants (or colonists, I should say) I have three things to say on this subject – firstly, claiming white people are guiltless in terms of colonisation, even among other people with pale skin, is just a flat-out lie: as always, ffyc y Saes. Secondly if he genuinely wants lands returned to their “original inhabitants” I’d say all us Homo Sapiens had best head back to Africa and leave dear old Europe to the Neanderthals to which it rightfully belongs – or is that before the arbitrary cut-off date? The history of the human species is a very mobile one, and migrations and colonisations are overwhelmingly common – this isn’t to say that colonisation shouldn’t be resisted, but that also brings me neatly to my third point: migrants and refugees aren’t colonists. There’s a world of difference between colonisation (noun: the action or process of settling among and establishing control over the indigenous people of an area) and refuge-seeking (refugee, noun: a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster) or immigration (noun: the action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country). The people Tarrant blames for his problems have either harmlessly moved in the world in pursuit of a better life, or fled countries torn apart by imperialist wars and are seeking a fresh start, and neither are the predatory heralds of the death of the white race. Our species has ebbed and flowed over the earth too many times to count, and buying into absurd fear-mongering about “replacement” because people are, shock and horror, moving around is just ridiculous.
Back to the question of colonisation, though, his wilfully blinkered avoidance of the settler-colonialism that created both Australia and New Zealand becomes clear:
“Why do you care so much about Europe, aren’t you an Australian?
Australia, just like the rest of the colonies of Europe, is simply an offshoot of the European people. A finger on the hand of the body of Europe. The origins of my language is European [sic], my culture is European, my political beliefs are European, my philosophical beliefs are European, my identity is European and, most importantly, my blood is European.”
It’s stunning to read his blasé use of the word “colonies” only a few ranting pages after this absolute blinder: “all those who colonize other peoples [sic] lands share guilt”. His ideals demand retention of the racist status quo – lands colonised by European imperial powers must remain in the possession of their conquerors, indigenous peoples utterly erased, and, suddenly blameless, these European lands must rise up and defend themselves against the Islamic hordes trying to destroy their traditional way of life. Incoherent is too gentle a word. Like all white identarians, his apparent interest in racial harmony and equality is crowd-pleasing gossamer over nothing but a desire to see the Aryan race continue putting the rest of the world under its boot.
The title of Tarrant’s manuscript is taken from a book of the same name – “The Great Replacement”, by Renaud Camus, has been adopted as part of the white genocide conspiracy theory canon since its publication in 2012. The book argues for the same idea Tarrant repeats in his manifesto, that “European” people are being replaced by immigrants from chiefly Middle Eastern and African countries, and that low birthrates among “European” people coupled with this fact are leading to a point where white people will be “replaced” in nations that Tarrant and other white supremacists perceive as rightfully theirs. This argument is based on bad maths, reliance on poor data, and wilful misinterpretation of social conditions; I’m not a statistician, and based on his writing neither is Tarrant, so I’m not going to engage with this particular point – others (The Great Replacement Isn't Real) have dealt with these lies much more completely and fully than I could hope to, and I’ll leave it to them.
“Why focus on immigration and birth rates when climate change is such a huge issue?
Because they are the same issue, the environment is being destroyed by over population, we Europeans are one of the groups that are not over populating the world. The invaders are the ones over populating the world. Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation and by doing so save the environment.”
Climate change has much less to do with population than liberals and eco-fascists would like to make out. It fits very comfortably into both politics to place the blame on the third world population, to justify either condescending imperialist cultural interventions expanding the reach of capitalism and Western values, or outright incarceration, deportation, and/or slaughter of immigrants. Both perspectives fail absolutely to confront the driving force behind the climate collapse we are seeing in the here and now: the beast to be hunted is industrial society as a whole, and, as a side, the lifestyle excesses throughout the Western world that are so hungry for resources and energy. Demand for cars, for meat, cellphones, computers, the list goes on as a roll-call of first world luxury at the expense of the natural environment and the many communities that share this planet, human and non-human. Tarrant states further into his manifesto:
“The left has controlled all discussion regarding environmental preservation whilst simultaneously presiding over the continued destruction of the natural environment itself through mass immigration and uncontrolled urbanization, whilst offering no true solution to either issue.”
This is another example of half-truths used to disguise deeply sinister messaging – that leftists are often at the forefront of critiques of capitalist excesses of production and consumption, while also failing to offer meaningful solutions to climate collapse themselves, is broadly accurate, as even the “green” technologies usually brought up in leftist circles as solutions, such as solar, wind, and hydro power, have serious issues in and of themselves, and little else is seriously discussed; like Tarrant specifically, and eco-fascists in general, some leftists are guilty of verbally tacking “eco” in front of socialism, making the occasional concession about cleaning the oceans and using less oil, and calling it a day. Yet the idea that the left has “presided” over immigration and the development of society in general shows a broad lack of knowledge about both what leftism actually means and how much ideological power it wields in the West, conspiracy theories aside – to clarify, we’re living in a capitalist society right now, which is the first hint that the left hasn’t had much to do with it. Tarrant himself is miserably remiss when it comes to addressing the causes of the climate crisis by nonsensically claiming the root cause as overpopulation in the impoverished third world, and immigration from those countries into Europe and European-colonised countries, as I quoted before. This position is deluded and demonstrably false; in the face of the failure of what has been called “green” capitalism to find practical solutions to ecological collapse in the West, and the failure of eco-socialism to find theoretical ones, the number of poor people suffering through capitalist depredations in the third world matters very little to the questions of climate change, in that the carbon footprint of a person in the third world is functionally incomparable to that of someone in the first world – according to this article the average American, for example, is responsible for sixty six times the emissions of the average Kenyan, a yearly output of 19.8 tonnes of carbon emissions versus 0.3 tonnes. This is to say that, according to these statistics, the lifestyle of the average American family of five (two parents and three children, to ensure that all-important replacement fertility) that the right loves to fantasise about would produce a tonnage of pollution equal to that of three hundred and thirty Kenyans.
The pressures on the most vulnerable peoples in the world will only intensify as the effects of climate collapse worsen. If we can claim to have any interest in building equality and solidarity in the world then those oppressed communities living at the knifes’ edge of industrial exploitation must be defended from their predators – this can be done most effectively by ending capitalism and industrialism altogether, but also, crucially, by crushing any white nationalists like Tarrant who want to heap even more suffering into the laps of these communities already so devastated by centuries of exploitation. His “solution” is ignorant to the point of the inane, and nothing but a racist throwaway line to attempt a justification of his murders to the edgy environmentalist crowd that haven’t quite got their heads out of capitalism yet – perhaps it’s seductive to kill migrants when they get too close, if the alternative is brutally exploiting them from half a world away. I would argue that the only possible argument against immigration on environmental grounds is that it puts more people in the position of using the resource-hungry facilities of the first world, and I’ll quickly re-iterate my point from the last section to make the emphasis clear – people do not flee their war-torn homelands because they want an iPhone or factory-farmed meat, they are rushing to escape deliberately destabilised states torn apart by imperial power struggles. This does nothing but lead us to the same answer – we in the West have as our responsibility the abolition of our globalised industrial civilisation, capitalism, and the imperialist states that support both, and once that’s done it really doesn’t matter who lives where. Answering climate change with genocide is a false, demented logic, and these myths of overpopulation are perpetuated wilfully to ensnare and radicalise gullible individuals like this shooter while avoiding the placing of blame where it belongs – the solution to climate change is to destroy industrial society, to end capitalism, and to adopt new ways of living closely tied to, and in reverence of, nature.
gendered sexual assault
White nationalists believe they have a right to possess the women of their ethnicity and countries, in both the sense of sexual objectification and as breeding vessels for the white race. This has been borne out by a sickening, and seemingly endless, tirade of deeply sexist white supremacist propaganda and literature, of which Tarrant’s manifesto is merely the latest. Discussing birth rates again:
“The only people that seemingly do not face such issues are those with strong traditions, gender norms, societal norms; the [sic] poor and the religious, usually a combination of all. This should give us an indication of what may be truly at the heart of the issue.”
Earlier, on assault perpetrated by migrants:
“For the disgrace you have heaped upon the European people and the distress you have caused to European women, you will die.”
His only mentions of rape come thick with anti-immigrant sentiment, and culminate with the explicit sense of ownership of European women he feels. There is no care for the struggles of women to achieve equality (he is explicitly anti-egalitarian elsewhere in the manifesto), only a clear claim made over their bodies as reproductive vessels, and as the sexualised-yet-virginal flowers of his imagined future Europe. I never thought I’d pick holes in someone wanting to see rapists dead, but this isn’t about violation of a living being, it’s not about protecting women from the threat of male violence, it’s about violation of a possession, and about using the shock factor of sexual abuse cases to provoke anti-immigrant sentiment, turning the abuse of women into social and cultural capital to fuel fascist agendas. It’s outright enraging to me that Tarrant, and plenty of other white supremacists, can wax mournful about horrific stories of group assault by radical Muslims then spout paragraphs like the one I quoted just above, praising strong gender norms and patriarchal religious pressures (implicitly based off his warped view of Islam) as the solution to his imagined population collapse. What he means by “what may be truly at the heart of the issue” is, I would assume, feminism and the gradual, long-overdue erosion of male power in the sphere of women’s reproductive rights. I believe he sees women as lacking the external domination required to mould them into happy little producers of white babies, and he somehow believes this partially places them at fault for his imagined white genocide, and that he desires an introduction of draconian gender roles modelled on the very society he claims to loathe to remedy this fictitious situation. This is one of the greatest moments of pure hypocrisy in the whole manifesto, and he appears totally blind to the fallacies he has constructed.
Tarrant includes, in his section on migrant assault, a list of Wikipedia articles to various child sex abuse rings and mass sexual abuses, allegedly or actually committed largely by immigrants or refugees, all of which are depraved and sickening acts. That those are expressions of patriarchal war on women, and should be met with the most severe counter-violence that can be mustered, is not what is being debated. What is highly dubious, once again, is his selective choice of high-shock-value modern sex abuse scandals linked to immigrants from Africa and the Middle East alone, totally glossing over the majority of other cases where white men are responsible. The statistics linked also discuss the fact that rape is, 8 times out of 10, perpetrated by someone already known to the victim, or in juvenile cases 9 times out of 10, in total contradiction to white supremacist fear-mongering about roving gangs of Muslim criminals haunting European streets. The following is a short list of articles and websites I found useful in disproving these claims, which I leave here for ease of further research by anyone interested.
On the racial demographics of people involved with child sex abuse in the United Kingdom.
General discussion of sexual offences in the United Kingdom.
On racist and unsubstantiated claims regarding the ethnicities of Swedish perpetrators.
Disproving fear-mongering about rape in Sweden generally.
I would like to finish this section by re-iterating my central point: neither Tarrant nor any other white supremacist cares about rape the way someone who sees women as living, sentient beings cares about it. The sexual abuse of European women is used in their context as a tool to garner political favour and sympathy without ever addressing the crux of the issue: patriarchal societies encouraging the viewing and treatment of women as sexual objects, regardless of the predominant religion or race of the society in question. Once this is understood, the next logical step is simple: combating of patriarchal social relations and toxic masculinity on all levels.
Part Two: Response
Numerous vigils and protests have sprung up in New Zealand in these days after the attack, in solidarity with the New Zealand Muslim community and as demonstrations of opposition to racism and fascism, and there are various fundraisers available to donate to victims and their families. A strong front of unity has emerged in many places, demonstrating a successful counter-response to one of the shooter’s avowed intentions:
“To incite violence, retaliation and further divide between the European people and the invaders currently occupying European soil.”
This otherwise largely strong and determined response to Tarrant’s violence has been soured in places by the nature of the government’s actions. While the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has been praised worldwide by liberal media, pundits, and politicians for her words and actions after the shooting, her first statement on the shooting has been derided in New Zealand:
“[The victims] are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not ... There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence.”
By othering him and his actions, she places the spectre of white supremacy at a comfortable distance, turning a blind eye to the dangerous racism in this country. I have personally stood face-to face with white supremacists at a counter-protest to a National Front rally on the steps of the New Zealand parliamentary buildings, I have seen everyday racism in the actions of co-workers and employers – two of the five bosses I’ve worked for have been outspokenly, and at times aggressively, racist. My personal experience is borne out by the dark side of the responses to this shooting – from swastika-clad loiterers to distributers of the livestream and public harassment, white supremacy has a presence in this country that will only continue to grow as crises of capitalism and climate collapse worsen, further inflaming already divisive issues around immigration and population.
Ardern’s comments further remove culpability from both the State and Pākehā New Zealanders by erasing the history of brutal war against the indigenous people of these islands, and the ways in which that legacy is lived out today. This country, as “New Zealand”, was founded on exactly the sorts of ethnically-motivated violence that Ardern is now condemning, and while such violence should absolutely be condemned it’s also hypocritical to try to place that kind of ethical distance between the New Zealand State (which is still responsible for the racist over-representation of Maori people in the criminal justice system, among many other issues) and those who perpetrate racist violence in more direct ways. It’s dangerous to dismiss the problems in this country as the actions of a few extremists when some experts believe a significant part of his radicalisation happened here in New Zealand, a position I can support based on my own experiences. Although he says in his manifesto that he only moved to New Zealand to plan and train for an attack elsewhere at a later date, it’s entirely feasible that he may have either lied in his writing or, in making sympathetic connections to New Zealand white nationalists, he may have been led or encouraged to make the attack for their perceived benefit.
Beyond that the New Zealand Army is currently deployed in many countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, and Lebanon, in support of imperialist foreign military deployments, predominantly from Western and European nations. Imperialism is not a new position for the country, and making a redress of these issues – which are tied inescapably into Friday’s terror attack – requires more than placing verbal distance between ourselves and the deep-rooted cruelties and oppressions in this country’s past and present.
There are also questions to be raised about the government’s response in terms of the firearms used during the shooting. While the laws are not yet finalised, on Thursday 21st it was announced that the government was immediately banning sales of military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles, along with plans to shortly implement a law change finalising the ban on sales and applying it to ownership in general, and a buyback scheme to remove banned guns from the community. There have been a variety of responses to the move, from Bernie Sanders to the obvious Second Amendment tear-jerking by NRA spokespeople, but there’s more to this than Twitter liberals vs. Twitter conservatives. The terrorist acquired all his weapons legally, as far as can be known at this stage, and tying this attack into a larger debate on gun control was entirely a part of his intention:
“[One of the intentions of the attack was] to create conflict between the two ideologies within the United States on the ownership of firearms in order to further the social, cultural, political and racial divide within the United states.This [sic] conflict over the 2nd amendment and the attempted removal of firearms rights will ultimately result in a civil war that will eventually balkanize the US along political, cultural and, most importantly, racial lines.”
“I chose firearms for the affect it would have on social discourse, the extra media coverage they would provide and the affect it could have on the politics of United states [sic] and thereby the political situation of the world. The US is torn into many factions by its second amendment, along state, social, cultural and, most importantly, racial lines.
With enough pressure the left wing within the United states [sic] will seek to abolish the second amendment, and the right wing within the US will see this as an attack on their very freedom and liberty.
This attempted abolishment of rights by the left will result in a dramatic polarization of the people in the United States and eventually a fracturing of the US along cultural and racial lines.”
As an anarchist, for me the question of gun control is a convoluted one – I hate the machismo of gun culture, particularly in America, and the links between the culture of gun violence and lack of gun control are clear in that country, while in New Zealand the last mass shooting occurred before I was born. I’m also opposed to the existence of the hyper-industrial framework required to produce them in the first place. With that in mind, though, I think guns can be used in a deeply liberatory way - whatever liberals want to tell you, basically every liberation movement in history, even the supposedly pacifist ones, had at least some armed backing, from the Civil Rights Movement with the Black Panthers through to Ghandi and the Indian National Army. Guns and armed struggle have opened doors for oppressed people by allowing individuals and movements access to a little of the same kind of strength available constantly to the State, helping to combat the unjustifiable monopoly the government, its armies, and its police hold on force. While his actions represent one of the worst possible abuses of a potential tool for self-defence and liberation, I don’t think that in and of itself is an argument against an armed working class. There is also evidence emerging from the terror attack to suggest that the relatively low death toll at the second mosque was owed to a “good guy with a gun” returning fire, but other stories discussing the acts of heroism by Abdul Aziz at Linwood Mosque that no doubt saved many lives have not included that information. Essentially, the argument for arming oppressed groups and minorities to facilitate their self-defence against oppressive forces such as the State, and fascists like Tarrant, is one I find very compelling.
I also think it’s important to point out that the police are only becoming more heavily armed, and the number of – mostly mentally ill –people they’ve killed (here in New Zealand) is growing correspondingly. To me it is naïve to assume that broad narratives of gun control have had at their heart the aim of reducing violence, just shifting who is targeted by it – I reiterate that New Zealand maintains an active military presence in many countries, and I also think it’s important to point out that in the past gun control has been used as a front to disarm radical groups like the Black Panthers in America, while gun ownership by leftist and indigenous radicals in New Zealand has also been harshly and illegally targeted by the State in the recent past. The article on the Black Panthers just linked also discusses the NRA’s support of restrictive changes to American gun laws in the 1960s motivated by racist fear of radical groups such as the Black Panthers; ironic in the face of their current refusal to budge on issues of gun control when the danger is terrorism by white men – an issue that is both seriously underreported and more prevalent than Islamic terrorism in America.
Part Three: Counter-Attack
“Expect death, expect struggle, expect loss that you will never forget. Do not expect to survive, the only thing you should expect is a true war and to die the death of a true soldier.”
I do not want to convert you, I do not want to come to an understanding. Egalitarians and those that believe in heirachy [sic] will never come to terms. I [sic] don’t want you by my side or I don’t want share power. I want you in my sights. I want your neck under my boot.
SEE YOU ON THE STREETS YOU ANTI-WHITE SCUM”
I’d have liked to make a snarky comment diminishing what he’s saying in those two quotes, because they’re ridiculously melodramatic and you can almost see him starting to froth at the mouth writing them, but he killed people. Not taking fascists seriously has killed people before, and if this is news to you I’d suggest firstly looking up World War II, then nearly every hate crime perpetrated in the Western world after it. The recently mounting violence between the far right and far left in America has already claimed lives; now another fifty names are added to the roll of needless deaths caused by racist hatred. It’s past time for us to stop thinking candlelit vigils are going to do anything at all to stop fascists. Tarrant was radicalised by right-wing media, and tolerance for the existence of that media, for the survival of those “philosophers”, for the platforming of the pundits and propagandists responsible for his radicalisation and so many others, must stop. To be blunt, they must be confronted and crushed. Richard Spencer is afraid to leave his own house now because of the work and struggle of anti-fascists in America, Milo Yiannopoulos is going broke, Jordan Peterson is protested almost everywhere he goes, Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern are in the same boat. The pressure is building against them, but protest and flag-waving is not now and can never be enough, not when they themselves are setting the stakes at life and death. The left has fought a defensive fight of non-violence and moralism for too long now, and innocent lives have been the mounting cost of that idleness.
The rise of the militant anti-fascist left in America has demonstrated unequivocally the tactical success of the black bloc structure in riots, but a riot is largely directionless, and what Tarrant did was a long way above that in terms of sophistication and planning. If there’s one thing to take away from this essay, I hope you take this: we’re behind the times. The fascists are organising much faster than us, left or post-left, and they’re stealing our own tricks to do it. I remember reading a pamphlet called “Principles of Anarchist Organisation” a few years ago that discussed the use of small leaderless cells as both a successful military structure and a general organisation principle for decentralised mutual aid groups, a tactic that has worked excellently for direct-action activists like the ELF, the ALF, and Earth First!, but now being co-opted and altered by terrorists across the political spectrum, from ISIS to fascists like Tarrant. Much of the information regarding his attack is vague, but it is generally understood that he did not perpetrate this attack alone, and it’s also ridiculous to assume that he had no contact with fascist groups in New Zealand. He says outright that his “mission” was “blessed” by another far right group:
“I did contact the reborn Knights Templar for a blessing in support of the attack, which was given.”
The Knights Templar, if you aren’t aware, are the same group that the white nationalist Norwegian mass shooter Anders Breivik claimed to be a part of in his own manifesto. In the last few days questions have also emerged regarding a financial link between Tarrant and the far-right European group “Generation Identity”, which I take as further evidence of broader links between him and his cronies’ apparent “lone wolf” attack and a much larger and more significant support network enabling this act of targeted violence. This structure of above-ground organisations for propagandising and recruitment feeding into illegal cells of direct action is a bog standard practise for a wide variety of radical groups, but far-left radical cells in the Western world, in spite of increased anti-fascist militancy, really haven’t got off the ground in the same way as the fascists have, at least to my knowledge.
Tarrant claims diversity is weakness – in this he is deeply wrong. Nature is totally opposed to monoculture, and the success of real ecosystems is owed largely to their diversity – complimentary, mutually-beneficial communities are the norm in nature, with endless interplay and flow between individuals and types. Our communities should resemble those found in nature, without the compartmentalisation typical of industrial civilisation, but our war on fascism, on industrialism, on capitalism, on patriarchy, on white supremacy, on every rotten pillar of his ideology, should resemble nature too. Like weeds that spring up from cracking concrete, when our movements make themselves known they emerge from widely dispersed, untraceable seeds, with deep roots of rage, wisdom, and community, breaking what was already straining, and in the flower creating inspiration for further strikes. Avoid attack on what is heavily defended, unless there is no other option – with a little creativity, new, softer targets emerge in multitudes. Fascists walk undefended, and doxxing doesn’t save lives. Never be a coward – he was a coward, mowing down children at prayer, and fleeing at the first sight of resistance – but do not become a martyr. Living, free heroes are always preferable to dead or imprisoned ones. Water wears away stone over time and grinds valleys where there were mountains – it does this by avoiding the strong places and stripping away the weak. Without that support the hard places crumble. His attack had online support, and direct non-combatant support, if the information about his European connections is accurate, and he was created by the persuasive bile of right-wing “intellectuals”; they are not now in prison. These are the weak places, now we must be the water.
Our unity must be based on hard-earned trust – work with your closest friends, and bring in new faces slowly, if at all. Form new cells, don’t join movements: where one is tight-knit and resilient, the other is easily infiltrated and derailed. Signs and signals for co-operative action should be arranged; as I said before fascism cannot be fought in a vacuum, and, contrary to their narrow understanding of the world, our diversity, our variety, is one of our greatest strengths. Your attack is something only you can fully direct, as only you can understand the limits of your own ability and what is most needed where you are, right now. These principles need not be violent – I think doxxing, protesting, and internet arguments are not where our energy is most needed, but if that’s all you are able to do then do it, and do it well. The insurrection needs propagandists, it needs support networks, medics and suppliers and trainers and whatever else it takes, but most of all right now it needs fighters – the insurrection means attack. But the attack must be wise, or it will fail. All of us, living in the anger and the pain and the sorrow that has been forced on us as we scrape through our lives, have to let go of those emotions – I’m not saying don’t get furious, because rage, frankly, is the only sane response to these times we’re living through, but I am saying never let those emotions rule you. Become aware of them, move past them, breathe through them. Let go of the heat, allow yourself to cool, then make plans. Never act in anger, never act in sorrow. That is when you will be caught, or defeated. Take inspiration from deep and powerful emotional experience, but never make yourself a slave to it. Tarrant outright claims provocation as one of his intentions:
“To agitate the political enemies of my people into action, to over extend their own hand and experience the eventual backlash.”
Do not play into their hands. Act wisely and cautiously. While the State holds great resources and armies, we have very little. Our positions are not enviable, but much has been done by people with vastly less than we have access to.
What Tarrant has failed to realise, I think, is that his attack is having a significant counter-productive effect. Anti-fascism was taboo in this country, and is now talked about at the dinner table. Racism that festered silently is being strung up by mainstream media outlets, and opinion pieces from both the Islamic community here and anti-racists in general have flooded public discourse with intelligent conversation about these issues – discussions that are also beginning to seriously confront the anti-indigenous racism in Aotearoa as well, allowing a wonderful flow-through of anti-racist ideology to areas where it has been seriously under-represented. In the city where I live, Wellington, there are anti-fascist groups organising even as I write this, building the momentum he unwittingly created. Things are a long way from perfect, we have a long way to go, and struggle must massively intensify and expand if we intend to prevent tragedies like this from happening again; he hoped to incite a race war, and, in places, he succeeded in creating hostility – America and the UK in particular, from what I hear, are struggling with right-wing backlash. That backlash must be challenged and destroyed. We must be uncompromising in our resistance, but resistance will not take us where we have to go – a fight against the forces that created him must be an all-encompassing insurrection against civilisation itself, against every edifice of racism, colonialism, patriarchy, industrialism, and capitalism that gave twisted birth to fascism.
It is a fight we are capable of winning, if only we commit ourselves to it.