Know Your Enemy: A Green Anarchist Response to the Christchurch Shooter's Manifesto (part 1)
“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.”
From Twm Gwynne
This article discusses triggering concepts involving white supremacy, fascism, gendered sexual assault and extreme hate. Please take this into consideration before going further. We have carefully made the decision to publish passages of an extremely violent “manifesto”, knowing we are capable of adequately refuting its views rather than propagating them. We are confident this analysis can strengthen our fight against fascism, but we are aware it might not be suitable for everyone.
“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.