Saturday 5 June 2021

Who Poses the Bigger Threat: The Far Right, Or the Far Left?

Anyone Heard Of The 'Horseshoe Theory'? The notion that the political spectrum isn't really a straight line, but actually more of a horseshoe shape, is making something of a comeback in the 2020s. Its great appeal lies in the fact that it places those at the very ends of the Left-Right spectrum much closer to each other than to those at the centre. Listening to the diagnoses and proposed cures of those purporting to be opponents of the Far-Right, one is tempted to say: "If the horseshoe fits ..."

EVEN THE HEADLINE is misleading: “How the SIS Missed the Threat of the Far Right”. Marc Dalder’s latest posting on the Newsroom site purports to offer evidence of the Service’s failure to adequately assess the danger posed to New Zealand society by Far Right and White Supremacist groups. In fact, from the documents Dalder relies upon, it is clear that the SIS assessed the threat potential of New Zealand’s right-wing extremists with considerable accuracy.

That the SIS failed to prevent the “lone wolf” attack perpetrated by Australian extremist Brenton Tarrant is undeniable. But, once again, the official documents cited by Dalder make it very clear that without the assistance of the most extraordinary dumb luck the detection and prevention of such attacks is next-to-impossible. Curiously enough, this is also precisely what the Royal Commission of Inquiry Into the Christchurch Mosque Attacks concluded.

Dalder’s post highlights a paper produced by the National Assessments Committee of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (not, you’ll note, the SIS) entitled “The Right Wing in New Zealand: Myth versus Reality”.

According to Dalder:

The bulk of this paper examined the threat of far-right groups, even though previous right-wing terrorists like Anders Breivik were not affiliated with a specific organisation. It determined that ‘established, overt groups’ like Right Wing Resistance and the New Zealand National Front ‘posed no threat to domestic security’ and ‘there is no information to suggest either group has the intent or capability to impose their ideology through illegitimate means’.

Greater threats could be found in ‘small [extreme right wing] groups or individuals acting outside the sanction of established organisations’ who ‘are the key vector for harm associated with the far-right ... Extremist racist acts are rare and have not routinely featured the use of firearms, but the relative ease of access to semi-automatic firearms means that a ‘lone wolf’ attack scenario remains a possibility.

Reassuringly, the SIS agreed. Dalder quotes the relevant findings from the Service’s January 2018 Combined Threat Assessment Group report – the last issued before the Christchurch attacks:

This document briefly notes that publicly available information ‘indicates the popularity of far-right ideology has risen in the West since the early 2000s’ but that New Zealand's far-right groups don’t have ‘the intent or capability to promote their ideology by an act of terrorism’.

Yet again, this focus on groups appears to have slipped up the agency. What about a lone wolf attack?

As has been evidenced in similar jurisdictions to New Zealand, an extreme right-wing lone actor attack remains a possibility, albeit a remote one.

Dalder’s judgement of the New Zealand Intelligence Community – revealed in sentences like: “Yet again, this focus on groups appears to have slipped up the agency”, relies entirely on ex post facto reasoning. He knows that Tarrant’s terrorist attack occurred, and therefore feels entitled to say that the SIS “slipped up”.

Except that it didn’t slip up. The SIS and its sister agencies looked at New Zealand’s tiny – and, frankly, rather ridiculous – Far Right community and quite correctly assessed its miniscule groups as possessing neither the intent nor the capability of carrying out a terrorist act. Far from slipping up, the SIS made the right call. It advised the Government that New Zealand’s Far Right groups were nothing to worry about – and they weren’t.

The ideologies of overt white supremacism and/or National Socialism simply do not attract New Zealanders in anything like the numbers required to merit the serious attention of the SIS. Every time these wannabe stormtroopers attempt to strut their stuff on the streets, they are monstered by a far superior force of genuinely aggressive anti-fascists – so much so that they usually require Police protection! Terrorists should be (and are) made of sterner stuff.

Certainly, the Christchurch Shooter was made of homicidally sterner stuff. Stuff which, as New Zealand’s national security analysts rightly warned, is almost impossible to detect or prevent. Yet, even here, their predictions proved accurate. They had rated the chances of a “lone wolf” New Zealander emerging to wreak the sort of havoc unleashed by Anders Breivik in Norway as “remote”, and, once again, they were proved correct. Brenton Tarrant was an Australian, radicalised online and overseas, who chose to carry out his “mission” in New Zealand precisely because it was just about the last place on earth where anyone would expect such a dreadful tragedy to happen.

So, what, exactly, is Dalder hoping to achieve by constantly berating the SIS and the rest of New Zealand’s national security apparatus for missing a “lone wolf” Australian terrorist? Especially when our spooks had repeatedly warned their political masters that “lone wolf” terrorists were almost impossible to intercept? Is he hoping that by repeating these charges over and over again he and his supporters will establish a political climate in which truly draconian levels of state surveillance are accepted as both urgent and necessary?

Assessing the response of the “anti-fascists” to the clearly illegal communication of genocidal ideas via a YouTube posting (quickly taken down) from a person later confirmed by the Police as suffering from a mental illness, one is left wondering. Our current laws prohibit the sort of violent, racially-charged speech posted by this individual – who may yet find himself charged with inciting racial hatred.

A small measure of comfort should, however, be taken from the fact that his anti-Maori threats were broadcast on YouTube, and were, consequently, detected almost immediately. Would that Brenton Tarrant had stated his murderous intentions so publicly: because, had he done so, the Christchurch Massacres would never have happened.

Sadly, this is not the way the “anti-fascists” think. The call has gone out from the Maori Party for a special “joint taskforce”, comprised of the Police and the SIS (and, perhaps, Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon, from the Human Rights Commission, who has gallantly volunteered his assistance) and mandated to step up the surveillance (and harassment?) of Far-Right and/or White Supremacist groups targeting Maori.

Even without such a taskforce, New Zealand’s own version of Antifa has succeeded in getting one such purveyor of Far-Right (but not illegal) online content sacked from his job.

What would a national security profiler say, presented with an individual, already dangerously radicalised, who loses his employment amidst a shrill chorus of public condemnation? Would the profiler be concerned that the subject’s anti-social inclinations might be even further inflamed? That his imagination would soon be seething with bloodthirsty revenge fantasies. Scorned and shunned, could he see such a person descending into the criminal underworld and letting it be known that he’s in the market for a military-style semi-automatic rifle?

One suspects a national security profiler, presented with such a case, would recommend that the subject be declared a “person of interest”. It is to be hoped that law enforcement would have the resources to keep an eye on him 24/7. Although, strictly speaking, until he actually acquired an illegal firearm, he would have committed no offence. So, round-the-clock surveillance might not be possible. What about the SIS? Well, no, the SIS is not permitted to engage in law enforcement – that’s the Police’s job.

Perhaps that’s what the Maori Party has in mind: the spooks and the cops working together, side-by-side – ably assisted by Meng Foon and an unofficial collection of civilian spies and YouTube monitors. Once the accusation of Far Right, White Supremacist and/or anti-Maori proclivities was made, these folk could swing into action. Maybe take the suspect into protective custody? Maybe interrogate him?

After all, interventions of this kind, targeting communists, socialists, gays and Jews, worked really well for the Nazis.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 4 June 2021.


Tom Hunter said...

So, what, exactly, is Dalder hoping to achieve ...

I think your concept is a little over the top, even for the Maori Party. I would suggest instead that little more than partisan, petty politics is what Dalder is hoping to achieve.

As I see it the plan is as follows:
- First sell the idea that the Far Right presents as White Supremacism and is a threat to NZ.

- Second sell the idea that any opposition to ideas currently being pushed by the Left, starting with Critical Race Theory, White Privilege and White Fragility, is a mark of White Supremacism, thus pushing the argument into more plausible areas than someone grabbing a gun and shooting Maori or Muslims.

- Third, associate all this with supporters of ACT and National, who will be doing the objecting.

- Fourth, make it both implicitly and explicitly clear that voting for Labour, Greens and the Maori Party is the only way to prevent the nasties from rising.

This also has the added benefit of deflecting people's gaze away from the way that Left Wing institutions like Public Health and Public Education have failed Maori, as well as the current government's failure to get much of anything actually built.

It's basically the current Democrat playbook in the USA, and for much the same reasons as the Great Society literally goes down in flames in Democrat-controlled inner cities.

But I think even this plan would be a stretch in NZ.

Anonymous said...

"Is he hoping that by repeating these charges over and over again he and his supporters will establish a political climate in which truly draconian levels of state surveillance are accepted as both urgent and necessary?"

You got it, Chris. It all becomes clear if you look at the political funding that was laundered through the Philanthropy Sector over the past 5 years. Those interested funders are all in AI, health tech, Edtech, or pushing Digital ID initiatives. The most interesting funding is that which went to civil society groups able to mobilise protest action and to mob social media.

Interestingly, the leaders of those civil society groups were all sent to Australia to participate in training at the Centre for Australian Progress, an organisation with which Marc's father has had long involvement with.

Anonymous said...

I think you sum up the situation very well Chris. If someone is a genuine lone wolf and is law abiding right up to the time they go amuck, how will any bureaucracy detect them? It is ever so easy to complain that the system should do something, but people unsurprisingly are reticent to say exactly what.
It is not hard to get illegal weapons and ammunition in NZ - smuggle them in inside containers. Look at all the drugs that arrive. It is not hard for someone who knows what they are doing to turn a legal weapon into an automatic. You can't ban guns, as they are essential tools for many of those who live and work in provincial NZ. It is not hard to make explosives. And knives are everywhere.
In fact, with the number of people having mental health issues, I am genuinely surprised we don't have more people going postal.
Chris Morris

The Redbaiter said...

Well said Tom Hunter. IMHO a very accurate appraisal of what motivates Daalder's scribblings. To emphasize your points, we need only ask for a definition of "far right" or "white supremacist". Progressives like Daalder have no answer, precisely because its your answer that is the correct one, and they can't speak that truth because it exposes their covert agenda.

Daalder's techniques are nothing new. In Soviet Russia when the propaganda campaign against Kulaks began, they were rich farmers, factory owners etc, but later, as the campaign of elimination went on, it came to mean anyone who disagreed with or posed any threat at all to the communist ruling class.

Same pattern in Communist China, with a similar campaign against "rightists", which again eventually came to encompass anyone who disagreed with Mao's ideas. A murmur of disagreement could see you executed.

The irony is that (leaving his obvious insanity aside) we don't even know whether Tarrant was right or left. That he opposed Muslim immigration hardly makes him one or the other, given it is an idea intermittently shared by both sides. From what little I have read he thought the Chinese commies were pretty much OK. How does this make him "Far right"? Marc Daalder may well agree with Tarrant on that point.

Daalder and his comrades attempt to use Tarrant as a figure head of the "far right", but this is a deceit they are well aware they are committing. The truth is Tarrant is mad. His insane actions show he rejects reason, which is the concept that should underpin his thinking if was indeed any kind of "rightist".

The right's primary desire is to be left alone by govt, and to leave others alone. They want low taxes and fewer regulations. They want to conserve the good things of society and change them only if absolutely necessary. They abide by the law. They don't murder unarmed people, because its a breach of law, its indecent and it is cowardly. They don't build big powerful governments, because they want govt to be weak an unable to impose someone else's political will upon them.

In summary, the so called right today is merely the old status quo, and therefore can't be viewed as exceptional. The real exceptions are the post modernist progressives like Daalder who are sweeping across the west like a hoard of locusts and want to change everything for the sake of change and build big powerful govts so they can boss everyone around.

So we end up back at the question asked by Mr Trotter in the title of his article. Who poses the bigger threat? In the rational world the answer is obvious and plain.

John Hurley said...

Goff in retrospect (a bit like the dog who barks and sees off the postman)

Anonymous said...

Note the following:

What's the conflict of interest?

And if he has a conflict of interest that makes him unable to comment on the Christchurch Call, why is he allowed to comment on terrorism here at all?

Anonymous said...

Daalder isn't far left. He's an elite stooge. It's absurd that this guy has has been able to swoop into the country and dominate March 15 coverage. Who gave him the job at Newsroom? It all seems very weird and anyone with half a brain knows something is not right.

Tony said...

Might also be a good idea to question why Israel is hooking up with Maori separatists in Northland.

Trev1 said...

Brilliant commentary Chris. The horseshoe analogy is exactly right. We are in danger from extremists on both sides. People of good will in the Middle need to work together to stop this insanity.

Anonymous said...

@Chris Morris

Thanks, I get it. The reference to containers.

Mark H. Patrick said...

A reason, why perhaps, the 'far'left' were seen as a threat and the 'far right' not so, was because the 'political main stream' were racist. Perhaps the move to accept Tangata Whenua into Tangata Triti society, and the formers' values, has exposed the 'far right' for what it is.

Mark H. Patrick said...

Chris, I use 'a globe' rather than 'a horseshoe' to describe the extremes of political behaviour. About 1970 (5th form) realised Hitler and Stalin were the same. Starting at the meridian of a globe; moving to the left and right with my fingers I end, with them coming together on the other side. The furtherest the two fingers are apart is at the midway point from 'moderation' and 'extremity'. That is actually the point left and right are at their furtherest.

Nick J said...

During the 20th century thd world experienced "hell on earth" from both the extreme Left and Right. The Holocaust, the Gulag, Pol Pot, Pinochet. Too many examples. We have replaced the Devil and Hell as warnings to good behaviour with the real thing. I have faith in the collective goodness of our people to reject the extremes. Currently the extreme Right is the boogie man, and doing little compared to the Leftist nonsense we are exposed to. The people generally have collective wisdom and reject bad ideas, that will be the fate of BLM, CRT and other wokisms as they increasingly inhabit the extremes. We dont need "experts" or SIS, just common sense.

John Hurley said...

See how post-modernism runs through politics and under journalistic scrutiny.

Moira Flag of New Zealand
Replying to

and 6 others
You’re talking about identity and whakapapa to a whenua. But related to that is kaitiakitanga essentiallystewardship

You belong to the land. The land doesn’t belong to you.
John Hurley
That's a modern twist. Instinct runs deeper than culture.
Moira Flag of New Zealand
No that isn’t again- go and learn
Moira Flag of New Zealand
And when you’re talking about instinct, you’re actually talking about your culture. And there’s the rub.
John Hurley
Instincts aren't cultural

Anonymous said...

Dangerous times.

The far left are Trotskyists by way of Gramsci and the far right are Duginists. Both are a kinds of accelerationists for whom racism plays a vital role. Both seek social conditions amenable to revolution. Both sides are being backed by foreign US billionaires who have long histories of involvement with regime change operations.

Anonymous said...

I think this is the preferred outcome. Internet censorship by this impartial third party. The same third party that funded all the left wing groups concerned with speech in NZ:

Jens Meder said...

At last some common sense seems to emerge from these discussions, that the democratic future is not more to the Left nor Right, but the 3RD WAY UPWARDS FOR ALL, through systematically aiming towards at least a minimally meaningful level (or more) of (retirement) wealth ownership by all -

with the poorest welfare beneficiaries also participating in the effort even though it is not expected of them to achieve that level of wealth by their own contributions alone.

But their participation in an egalitarian spirit might help to achieve enthusiastic political support for the THIRD WAY also from higher and highest income earners, which is crucial for success of the effort.

In other words, our welfare system needs perfection through reducing the needs for welfare through widening wealth ownership.

sumsuch said...

There is no 'Far Left'. No equivalence. The freemarket succeeded too well in the early 80s. Wish there was one.

John Hurley said...

I'm making a video that re-vists John Campbells aggressive interview of Peter Brown.

1. He attacks Brown over whether Winston knew or not. Winston was foreign minister; half the world is Asian so why is Brown saying his party is concerned about the "ethnic shift" or what ever neutral sounding word you can find. Clearly he sees Brown as racist and had zero empathy (as in "give nothing to racism"). This is messaging to the NZ Public.

Campbell says: "We have ___ working for us her parents are Chinese so she looks Chinese. She was born here, you weren't" (pointing a finger at him).

That is cruel. It means belonging starts at birth whereas group attachment goes much deeper than that. I'm deeply attached to European culture - castles, sword fights, ships the stories I grew up with. In other words I have formed an identity but these SOB's reserve the right to deconstruct the identity of the whole nation?

Paul Spoonley says "our research shows that Asians who were born here have different expectations and we may have to look at the flag (he says "flaaag") and anthem". Which reminded me of Parr 2000 's research which found that "NZr's views are not conducive to NZ becoming more diversified globally".

The above "born here" is one point and I have an Eric Kaufmann clip about national identity.

2. Language. On RNZ Mutu and Peace hold forth about the need to learn languages because we are heading towards a situation were migrants wont feel welcome.

3. We don't have open immigration. George Megalogenis and the Australian situation (Fifth pillar of the open economy) suggests we do (to a degree).

4. Ethnoburbs. Kathryn Ryan says we do but it is discrimination's push factor.

John Hurley said...

Here is Spoonley admitting Asian New Zealanders who are born here have different expectations - a different people you say?

greywarbler said...

Tony Please don't drop in statements as you did above. What is that based on? Give us some information and source otherwise you are acting as a gossip or even provocateur.

greywarbler said...

\Chris Morris you use the term - In fact, with the number of people having mental health issues, I am genuinely surprised we don't have more people going postal.

The term 'going postal' refers to a post worker in USA pushed to the max, and his mental processes controlling his behaviour broke down because of the way the system was pushing him just as everyone in our society is under strain. As someone else remarks with the number of implements for harm around it is a wonder there arent more fatalities. However the numher of domestic incidents are a symbol of distress and brutalisation of the human psyche.

Anonymous said...

There's a determined efforts to say that terrorism is homegrown:

Why is this Muslim convert, a lawyer from Florida of Polish extraction, so keen to say so?

John Hurley said...

John Campbell is ultra steamed up that Brown should attack Asian immigration. He is immigration spokesman but Winston is Foreign Minister and Asians make up 2/3 world population Imagine him saying:

"They will form their own mini-societies to the detriment of integration and that will lead to division, friction and resentment."

But what do Asian countries expect of us. Why should they be offended?

Countries have the right to decide how many immigrants they accept and in which parts of the labour market. All societies have limited capabilities to absorb immigrants, who often have very different cultural backgrounds, and it would be wrong to demand that a country goes over that limit. Too rapid an inflow of immigrants will not only lead to a sudden increase in competition for jobs but also stretch the physical and social infrastructures, such as housing and healthcare, and create tensions with the resident population. As important, if not as easily quantifiable, is the issue of national identity. It is a myth — a necessary myth, but a myth nonetheless — that nations have immutable national identities that cannot be, and should not be, changed. However, if there are too many immigrants coming in at the same time, the receiving society will have problems creating a new national identity, without which it may find it difficult to maintain social cohesion.
Ha_Joon Chang 23 Things they don't tell you about Capitalism.

And then we can observe the behavior of East Asian countries.

Boy have we all been conned.

Kit Slater said...

What Tarrant brought about was a shift of attention from Islamic to Right-wing terrorism that even Breivik couldn’t manage. It has reached a level of hysteria matching that of climate catastrophe. Yet deaths due to the extreme Right are dwarfed, one to 703 between 2002 and 2019, by Islamic terrorism. Those of us who have studied Islam’s doctrines know precisely where the greatest threat lies, and it doesn’t come from those who wish to maintain the status quo.

sumsuch said...

The last far-leftist I ever saw was the Trotskyite who became a Wellington City Councillor in later life eating the very fancy biscuits produced for their breaks, when I was a student reporter. The real pleasure we came for. Though I did catch a portrait of my remarkably cheery mutton-chopped presbyterian bachelor mayoral great great uncle.