The white supremacist far right – how we got here and what to do about it

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The white supremacist far right – how we got here and what to do about it

How we got here

We are seeing in Aotearoa New Zealand right now a rise in organising and activity by the white supremacist far right.

White supremacists in Aotearoa have always blamed society’s problems on people of colour, and the flames of their discourse have always been fanned by racist fearmongering and scapegoating by politicians and the media.

The groups and individuals involved in the movement have been emboldened in recent years, largely as a result of stepped-up Islamophobia and xenophobia communicated by politicians and the media. See What is Islamophobia.

This century’s “War on Terror” has played a significant role in this. It has been commonplace in Western political discourse to blame Muslims for the imperialist violence in the Greater Middle East and particularly for the blowback acts of terrorism which have struck closer to home.

At the same time, the tougher economic times since the global financial crisis of 2008 have caused new anxiety and discontent in countries like ours, and politicians and the media have deflected attention from the deficiencies of the economic system by blaming immigrants. The NZ Labour Party, for example, was elected to power in 2017 on a platform of curbing immigration in order to ameliorate the housing crisis and under-resourced public services.

This racist discourse has lent support to the ideas of the white supremacist far right, which has attracted new followers and developed a more organised presence in our towns and cities. 

The current white supremacist movement in New Zealand

At the moment, the white supremacists are comprised of an older core of long-term fascists, as well as a range of newer activists of different varieties. They can more or less all be described as white nationalists.

The older core is dominated by the New Zealand National Front, which is mostly made up of middle-aged Nazi skinheads but now includes a non-skinhead, younger component. The group was founded in the 1970s.

The newer white supremacist activists are different from the old, and have diverse approaches themselves, however the main factions/groups appear able to work together.

A country-wide informal network of conspiracy theorists, anti-Islam bigots, fascists, and conservative Christians coalesced in 2018, though it is primarily based in Auckland. They are campaigning against Islam, non-white immigration, and the “liberal left”, and have held protests in support of “silenced” white supremacist figures (Lauren Southern, Stefan Molyneux, and Tommy Robinson) and in opposition to the UN Migration Pact.

In Wellington, a fascist group called The Dominion Movement started up in 2018 and it is modelled off “identitarian” youth groups in Europe and North America. They are careful to present themselves as nationalist rather than fascist, and market themselves towards young white men who they recruit and train in fitness and fighting. They are opposed to non-white immigration, equality and democracy.

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