THE BLOG

Nazis Now on Campus

03/03/2014 16:50 GMT | Updated 29/04/2014 10:59 BST

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Could they be your classmates? National Action Activists (source: National-Action.info)

For years, Britain's Neo-Nazi movements have struggled to gain any foothold in the higher education system. But now a new race-hate group, led by university students, has held what is believed to be the first action by an overtly Neo-Nazi group on a British University campus for many years.

Last month Professor Alex Callinicos, of Kings College London, was due to give a research seminar in French Studies entitled "Deciphering Capital: Marx's Capital and its Destiny". The talk was bound to be controversial; Professor Callinicos has been involved with the "Socialist Workers Party", which has been categorised as being part of the extreme-left in academic literature (here, p.187) and which has also been criticized by some womens' rights campaigners. As a result, a number of student feminists attended the seminar to protest, holding up placards making allegations relating to criticisms they have of the SWP. According to the University of Warwick Anti-Sexism Society, which published photos of the event, the seminar still went ahead but "... there were way more protesters than people listening to him :)"

But student supporters of National Action, a new, student-led race hate group gatecrashed the protest. Soon after the event, a post appeared on National Action webpage showing a placard from the demonstration with the caption "Protesting ... Alex Callinicos speaking at a West Midlands University. Marxists off Campus!". On a white supremacist web-forum, a National Action student official, writing under the pseudonym "NationalYouth", boasted "Today, NA activists joined a contingent of students at a university in the West Midlands to disrupt and close down a talk being given by Marxist academic, Alex Callinicos ...". He also recounted that National Action activists had photographed other students attending the event, writing "our activists did get a few photographs inside the room and of him leaving, but they contain other people in them and we're not really willing to publish them as the university isn't too happy about having one of its departmental seminars disrupted like this". Other fascists on the website lined up to praise the action; User "DW" posted "What I find encouraging about this action is to see the Commies own tactics being used against themselves" and user "Celtic 88" (88 being a numeric reference to HH, Heil Hitler, common in the Nazi scene) congratulated "nice work, NA". There has also separately been concern about National Action leaflets being found on the Warwick University campus this week.

Of course, the far-right, the BNP and the short-lived Liverpool-based National Culturists, have previously attempted to agitate on campuses. But what is new and threatening about National Action as a phenomenon is the group's overt, totally unconcealed admiration for Adolf Hitler, its links to the ideology of violent terrorists, and most significantly the advanced, potentially ground-breaking propaganda tactics the group employs .

National Action is a small, highly secretive student-led group that uses slogans such as "For A Free White Britain", "Show The World That You're A Man" and "Nationalism is for stormtroopers, not for plebs". As one supporter remarks on a white supremacist web-forum, the group uses anonymity to shield its student leader from criticism and exposure:

"... I know the founder and leader of National Action personally and if he wishes to remain anonymous to non-NA members (because WE all know his real name), then it will be because he's at university and doesn't want to get any **** from fellow students, et cetera, or from that of future-employers.

Running a NS youth-movement isn't exactly a great thing to put on your curriculum vitae, now is it? .... I'm bloody 17 years of age ...Now please, go read Mein Kampf or something of that nature. Hell, go listen to John Tyndall on JewTube, even."

National Action makes clear on its blog that it seeks to imitate the violent Greek Golden Dawn party, which has been accused of numerous murders;

"Golden Dawn in Greece are a perfect example of what we'd like to replicate - not their ideas, slogans, meanders, etc. obviously but the actual infrastructure of their organization and its development."

The group held several protest activities in Birmingham, including draping banners with the slogan "Anti-racist is a Codeword for Anti-White" over bridges under the cover of darkness. National Action's own strategy manual features a quote from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. National Action official "NationalYouth" boasts online about attending a London rally in favour of Golden Dawn as well as a National Front event. He further admits that he is "totally disinterested in the democratic process" and writes:"

"National Socialism was a Socialism. Socialism is compatible with Nationalism. It's late, so I won't elaborate further other than recommend you educate yourself by reading: Hitler's Social Revolution, Part I".

At the end of January, National Action also organised a "flash-mob" demonstration outside a restaurant in central Coventry allegedly serving halal meat, holding up banners stating "National Action - National & Socialist".

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Coming to a university near you soon? A National Action "Flash-Mob" In Coventry. (source: National-Action.info)

Online materials mention that the protest was "Organised by the hardline British Nationalist youth movement, National Action (NA) and supported by British Movement (BM) and other unaligned Nationalists". This is of particular significance: The British Movement is as a name stands for a historic, violence-linked group, the full name of which is British National & Socialist Movement. One its key activists (now defected), David Myatt , was among those who inspired terror group Combat 18, and the terrorist nail-bomb murderer David Copeland. Another leader of a 1980s BM paramilitary group, Nicky Crane - made infamous by the Daily Mail's truly courageous reporting on his activities- got a number of years in prison on several occasions for brutal political attacks. He admitted to attacking even the unconscious victims "Even though he wasn't moving we all kept jumping on his head... I think he survived. It must have been a miracle".

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A Daily Mail article on Nicky Crane. Source: Schaefer, M. (2011). Children Of The Sun. London: Granta.P.20

Even more viperous is the group's approach to propaganda: Lengthy, rambling, often even semi-illiterate articles, detailing real or imagined grievances, mostly on immigration, have traditionally formed the backbone of online outreach efforts of the British far-right. These are not only dull and uninspiring, particularly for younger readers; It can be argued that the constant negativity, gloom and pessimism they convey may actually serve to drive potential recruitees away into depressive passivity - a feeling that their country has been irreversibly "lost"- rather than giving them the sensation that getting politically involved might actually lead to effective 'change'.

In contrast, National Action uses evocative, professional-quality graphics, focusing on brutally racist, emotional and symbolic imagery of violent struggle, accompanied by carefully crafted, concise, ideology-centred textual messages and memorable slogans. Of course such horrific, bluntly racist materials will alienate wider society much more than a dull, incoherent BNP article about the latest wave of immigrants who mysteriously manage to live on benefits while simultaneously "nicking" all the jobs. But this material can have a fundamentally different effect on young, often socially-isolated, predominantly male-youths who have already accepted the racist and violent premises of extreme nationalism. It can provide a perverse identity-giving discourse of perceived empowerment, superiority, meaning, elitism, and 'coolness'; A discourse that drives them into becoming activists rather than merely keyboard sympathisers or online trolls. The terminology on National Action's website reflects this, promising activists to be part of an exciting,'superior', elite "vanguard" (in the Leninist, anti-democratic sense of the word) that stands apart from, and will eventually lead the "confused and misguided masses".

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A draft National Action Leaflet, which the group admits would be "highly illegal".

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Another brutally racist National Action graphic.

There is a real and significant link between such imagery and the inspiration for violent racist terror. In its own strategy guidebook, National Action gives the street art and propaganda materials of several Russian far-right groups as an "example" it seeks to imitate. Russia's far-right scene is the most brutal in the world, and has carried out hundreds of murders of immigrants, particularly those from the Caucasus and Central Asia, over the past years, including the filmed beheading of an immigrant labourer in front of a Nazi flag. Using simplistic, graphic glorification of brutality and male power, such Nazi terror groups have attempted to make their anti-human ideals appear normal, desirable and even recreational to children. Revealingly, one of the very groups whose logo National Action lists as an example in the strategy briefing, the Wotan Jugend, was also one of the select groupsfollowed on social media by Nazi Terrorist Pavlo Lapsyhn, who was last year sentenced to 40 years imprisonment for brutally murdering elderly Muslim Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham and attacking a number of mosques with bombs.

National Action activists may formally and technically be students. But in 1939, a Polish leftist journal, Czarno na Bialem, produced a very profoundly accurate description of Hitlerism. They called it "terrible venom", a "philosophy of life" that represents the total "negation of all the values of universal culture", of the principle of humanity. As the writer of one article recommended by National Action admits, he does not consider himself part of humanity:"I left the human race to join the White race". The values of science - the pursuit of reason, truth and objectivity- are however universal, and independent of ethnicity, nationality and any other collectivist political, emotive and cultural configurations. Thus National Action activists are not and never can be scientists, researchers or students in any meaningful sense. All they pursue is the irrational cult of blood, war and murder: A cult that has no place anywhere in this world.