The shooting massacre of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand (NZ) set off a global shock wave. The March 15 attack on two mosques killed 51 worshippers, the youngest three years old, and critically injured 50. The shooter is a 28-year-old white Australian from Grafton, New South Wales and living in Dunedin, NZ. He is a self-proclaimed “ethno nationalist eco fascist” intent on saving the “European” population from “genocide.”
While most were horrified by the tragic deaths, the killer’s actions inspired another. On April 27, six weeks later, a 19-year-old white nationalist entered a synagogue in Poway, California with an assault weapon. Shouting anti-Semitic slurs like “Jews are ruining the world,” he opened fire. In an online statement posted before the attack, he claimed inspiration from the Christchurch killing. The anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant rhetoric from his “manifesto” is that spewed by white supremacists around the world.
Rising right hypes xenophobia. A number of far-right and openly neo-Nazi groups have been operating in Christchurch. And they didn’t appear suddenly from nowhere. For 250 years, racism has been the weapon for British, then U.S., control in the South Pacific. From early colonialism to global imperialist rule, capitalist powers have used white supremacy to justify their invasions, land theft and plunder. New Zealand and Australia are part of this history, and they are both complicit. The 1 percent of these white settler states exploited the lands, resources and cheap labour of the First Nations to become prosperous players in the global economy.
Like the rest of the capitalist world, money and race have always been the basis of immigration to New Zealand — also known by its Maori name, Aotearoa — and Australia. Government-fueled xenophobia against people from Asia, the Middle East and Africa remains rife. The War on Terror — unleashed by U.S. President George W. Bush after Sept. 11, 2001 — made Muslims the global bogeyman. Islamophobia has infected the non-Muslim capitalist world, and it’s been a breeding ground for extreme-right and fascist groups.
For the past five years, neo-Nazis and the far right have been organising worldwide, helped by the dog whistling — “Muslim terrorists,” “African gangs” and so on — of politicians, police and media. Since the resurgence of open fascist mobilising in Australia in 2015, the Freedom Socialist Party, Radical Women and many other groups have counter-mobilised every time they’ve shown their faces. Anti-fascists have persistently warned about the all-clear signal these enablers give to bigots and hate groups. For years, Muslim women in NZ/Aotearoa warned the authorities of the potential for attack from the far right.
Successive Australian governments, both Labor and Coalition, also created the climate of racist, xenophobic paranoia that nurtures far-right terror. The brutal “stop the boats” regime sentencing refugees to life in offshore hellholes; the racial profiling, especially of First Nations and immigrants of African and Middle Eastern background; the lie of rising crime perpetrated by non-white gangs; the falsehood that migrants take jobs, university places, welfare benefits and health entitlements from those Australian-born — all this was ammo for the shooter.
Since the Christchurch attack, the dog-whistlers have ramped up their message that the Left is as extreme and violent as the Right. In Australia, parliamentary apologists across the spectrum continue to mislead. The usual types, such as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, have been joined by the Australian Labor Party Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, in vowing to stamp out “extremism” and “hate” from both directions. This is a green light for the state and fascists to go after the Left.
The time is now! On March 16, untold hundreds of thousands marched across Europe and the United Kingdom, in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Melbourne in a coordinated global action against racism and fascism. These rallies expressed solidarity with the Muslim community of Christchurch and everywhere. This kind of independent and united working-class action is what Parliament’s fascist-enablers want to stamp out.
The global situation is escalating, and a sense of urgency is growing. The steady outcry against the emerging fascist threat, and the massive protests on March 16, give us heart. We need to harness this into a united front, through which diverse organisations join in common action to stop the fascists. A united front must be broad and democratic — respecting our programmatic differences and uniting around agreed principles for disciplined action. And it must be led by the working class.
Our survival depends on this. If we don’t stop the fascists now, then this dangerous movement will grow. Its barbarity, shown 80 years ago, is a lesson to heed. Capitalism will use a fascist movement as its shock troops against the working class when it fears revolt. The principal targets will be unions and the Left in order to crush the working class and our capacity to organise. Unions are critical to the united front: this is where workers — those targeted by fascists — are organised.
We can stop the right. The 120,000-strong union marches in Melbourne last year, and again in March, demonstrated what a united front could achieve. A larger, more massive united front would make the fascists turn tail. It would embolden the working class to bring capitalism to its knees. To stop fascism permanently requires socialism, a system created and run by the working class. Without capitalism, there can be no fascism.
This statement was issued by the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP), Australian Section and Radical Women (RW), Australian Section. Both organisations are part of PUSH: Organising and Educating to Build a United Front against Fascism. If you would like to build the resistance needed to defeat the far-right, contact: email@example.com.
The author, Debbie Brennan, leads the work of FSP and RW in the united front effort to stop the fascists. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.