The Weirdness of 'White Fascism'

I don't mean the obviously fake kind, where everybody pretends that the National Right to Life Coalition represents some kind of 'Christo-Fascist white patriarchy.' I mean the only-maybe-fake kind, these guys who went to Ukraine to join the Misanthropic Division, Europeans mostly.
THE DEATH OF a French volunteer in Ukraine is the first clear evidence that there are at least some far-right extremists among the foreign fighters who have flocked there to fight Russian forces.... The Misanthropic Division’s violent, hate-filled Telegram channel was the first to announce Bleriot’s death, one day earlier, on June 3. The post said that he died on June 1 in Kharkiv and included a photo in which the thin and bearded Bleriot wears a T-shirt that says “Misanthropic Division” across the front....

Bleriot was a “man who fought bolshevism and antifascism all his life,” according to the Telegram post, a “brother-in-arms,” who died defending Europe and Ukraine from “Asiatic hordes.” ... Bleriot was from Bayeux, a town in the north of France. In an interview with an Argentinian reporter, uploaded to Reddit on March 3, he identifies himself as a Norman, says that he is “ready to kill Russians,” and “ready to die.” He adds that he left behind two children at home, and starts to cry. 

For the years since 2016, I've been reading journalists who inform me that Vladimir Putin was symbolic of right-wing white nationalism broadly, and that the Russian Orthodox church was aligned with Putin in trying to create a Christian nationalism also broadly aligned with this sort of white nationalism. But here are people who feel like it is their moral duty to "kill Russians" in order to make Europe safe from "Asiatic hordes." (Are there Asiatic hordes? China's population is headed off a demographic cliff.) 

Several pages down into the report, we get a clue.

As for the Misanthropic Division, it’s hard to tell how real it is, and how sizable. The extent of its actual association with the Azov Battalion is also unclear. Take Bleriot, for example. There’s no indication that he was with any Azov unit when he died in Kharkiv, in the northeast of Ukraine, far from Azov’s main areas of operation in the south. It may be that the Misanthropic Division is not a real-world unit with a leader and a chain of command so much as a twisted military clique that anyone online can claim. 

Now they've got photographs of a guy with a tattoo on his head, which indicates some level of commitment (assuming it's not photoshopped). It's hard to tell, though, how much of any of this is more than the fevered imaginations of people who spend a lot of time online -- even the ones who actually went to Ukraine. 


Christopher B said...

Made even more difficult by the way most Western news organizations use terms like 'racist', 'fascist', 'Nazi', 'white supremacist', 'hard line', and 'conservative' mostly as indicators who the bad guy in their narrative is, regardless of what their ideology might be.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I recall looking more closely at the Southern Poverty Law Center's report 5-10 years ago about how the number of neo-nazi and fascist groups were growing hugely since Obama became president and looking at specifically who they were talking about in NH. Basically, it seemed to be the same number of people, but they kept founding new groups. Extremists tend not to get along that well, so they break apart and re-form elsewhere. But SPCC still considers the defunct groups to be alive and dangerous. In this case, they included a Feenyite Catholic group that had a guy who bad things about Jews controlling things. There seemed to be more demand than supply for hate groups back then. I had fun with that article and may repost it. Heck I liked lots of March's posts for that year. I often marvel at how much more original and humorous I was even a decade ago.

Grim said...

The SPLC makes its money from donations from older people (direct mail is a huge part of their fundraising) who are worried about evil things lurking in the wicked parts of society. Once upon a time they were a helpful organization, but having won they didn't want to lay down the massive fundraising capacity and luxurious salaries. As a consequence they've tended to over-identify threats because it is lucrative to do so.

Not that they're completely unfair. I've seen an organization talk its way off their lists by pledging to do right while insisting that the disagreements they pointed to were honest ones. It helps that they've lost a couple of lawsuits now and have to worry about that.

Texan99 said...

Trying to sort out the left-vs.-right leanings of an eelbrain is fruitless work. It's probably just as hard to sort them out in the case of someone who's pretty sane overall but has eccentric views about the dangers of the incursion of some societal trend or another.

I may not share the fears about the incursion of an Asiatic horde per se, but I can sympathize with concerns about a particular dysfunctional culture, especially if it's totalitarian and massing militarily on a border I care about. It's no nuttier than worrying about an incursion of Christofascists in the Supreme Court or Congress.

My usual habit is to discount any fear that's expressed in terms of race. On the other hand, people use race as a loose marker for culture, which may be sloppy and dangerous but isn't entirely meaningless. Cultures do align themselves sometimes with ethnic characteristics, at least in particular times and places. This remain indisputably true even if I find the dangers of racism to outweigh the convenience of the loose association and looser talk.

douglas said...

"On the other hand, people use race as a loose marker for culture, which may be sloppy and dangerous but isn't entirely meaningless."

This is largely because of the deliberate tactic of the left of conflating the two terms. Look at how they identify diversity and layer in both racial and cultural elements. This makes it impossible to critique the negatives in black popular culture, for example, without being 'racist'. It's a huge problem and one we need to fight against, but we don't- not nearly enough.