One of the realities in the contemporary world of online politics is the ability to connect with a vast array of like minded folk from a range of different places. This results in pages and movements receiving large numbers of ‘likes’ and an influx of statements of support from what may seem like a large amount of people.
The thing is, in comparison to the days of pre-internet political organising, these loud and often obnoxious exclamations of support don’t necessarily translate to boots on the ground, and in the case of the far right, this is a fine thing indeed.
The ability for radical right wing groups to operate in an online echo chamber, seems to stir them in to a righteous fervour, post by excruciating post they seem to buy into their own propaganda, and as the hate filled sentiment rolls out, their inflated sense of self worth seems to get confused with actual social or political influence (in their minds at least).
Take for example the ‘White Man March’ organised by the explicitly racist neo-nazi group National Action in England, The organisers of the march, which had more than 3000 FB likes claimed that “only bullets would stop us”. The hype surrounding the event saw racists from all over the world expressing support, if you were to believe the propaganda from these folks you could be forgiven for expecting an army, fully equipped with artillery and tanks, flying the ‘white pride’ flag, marching on poor old Liverpool to reclaim it from the proponents of ‘white genocide’, the immigrant inspired left wing communist enemy within who have a grasp of the country. Thankfully, the reality was just a little different. The foot-soldiers of the aryan master race bravely cancelled the rally twenty minutes before it began and then promptly defended the future of white children from within the lost property depot as large numbers of anti-racist and anti-fascist counter demonstrators pelted them with humiliating jeers and rubbish.
Unfortunately for National Action, but thankfully for the rest of us, the self aggrandising and aggressive online presence of the ‘White Man March’ didn’t manage to cross the digital/physical divide.
A little closer to home, things aren’t much different. This year across Australia we have seen the rapid growth of Far Right anti-Islam protests. For all the anti-Islam rhetoric these groups spout, one could be forgiven for believing that after trawling through their FB pages their greatest enemy is themselves. However set these groups seem on cannibalism, the threat they represent does warrant some analysis. If you want to read up about the establishment and growth of these groups you can do so here or here.
The UPF who are probably the most aggressive, radical and active ‘anti-Islam’ group in Australia at the moment have a significant online following. They use their online platform to campaign against what they deem to be the ‘Islamisation of Australia’ and the ‘Traitorous Left Wing’ who are dead set determined to ruin the ‘Australian way of life’, details of which i will go into at a later date. These guys have had their fair share of humiliations too (Although you wouldn’t realise it reading through their page). Of the 10,000 odd supporters on FB, the most they have managed to mobilise in the streets would be pushing 150 at a stretch. On July 18 when they rallied in Melbourne to ‘smash the left’, they did so with the protection of 450 police who had to escort them through thousands of anti-racism protesters. After a tedious display of brown shirt cosplay and barely literate political rants, these noble campaigners dismounted their non-halal soap box and were escorted home. The rally which they deemed to be a victory, was the result of months of planning and promotion. Countless hours spent recording and uploading emotive videos calling everyday Australians (but specifically white males) to action. Hundreds or even thousands of hours moderating comments and whipping up support through their networks. The result: well a pretty dismal display from a rag tag bunch of tattooed thugs slapping each other on the back and whispering racist insults to journalists. They certainly didn’t smash ‘Islam’ or ‘The Left’, and after they left it seemed for a little while that they were demoralised enough to slack off on the social media front.
But alas, stupid is as stupid does, the UPF are back and after a failed attempt to hold a rally at Cronulla, ‘the home of anti-Islam in Australia’ or as Sherman Burgess puts it in one of his god-awful songs “Australia’s Muslim holocaust“, they have joined in on plans to hold a world wide rally against Islam on the 10th of October, co-ordinating with groups from America, Canada and ‘all across Europe’. If the Last rallies are indicative of the UPF’s ability to actually translate their online support into boots on the ground, it should be a fairly small ordeal, however the effects could have much broader implications. But for the time being, lets just hope the narcissistic hatefulness of these groups and the ease with which one can show online support remain without a real physical manifestation.
…oh yeah, the UPF also have a ‘Tasmanian chapter’, the active membership of which seems to consist of about 7 desperate (but potentially dangerous) souls.
You can find them here.