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Porous Borders

Johann Hari on how neo-Nazis are seeking to hi-jack the anti-globalisation movement.


There is growing evidence that far right groups are making a concerted international effort to infiltrate the anti-globalisation movement.

Concern in the USA is now so great about this trend that Oren Segal, a research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League, has issued a high-level warning about the 'active effort' being made in this direction. "I wouldn't want to say that the anti-globalization movement has become a breeding ground for all these negative players," he explains. "It's just the nature of it - you have young people running around with a lot of energy who have a lot of ideas. The right-wing groups want to capitalize on that." He stresses, "I don't blame the anti-globalization groups who don't know that these groups are trying to infiltrate them."

One website in particular - g8activist.com - has caused the ADL concern. It has a disconcertingly similar name to the extremely popular Canadian anti-globalisation site g8activist.ca, and it uses deceptively similar language. Activists are pictured throwing things at barricades - and the site claims that "nationalism is the true anti-globalisation force." Only on close reading does it become clear that it is a website run by the National Alliance, the USA's largest 'White Nationalist' group. They boast that "the anti-globalism movement will either broaden its base of support [to include the far right] or it will wither away."

The term 'globalism' is a far right codeword for a mythical Zionist World Government, and they are trying to insert it into anti-war protests and as many anti-globalisation sites as possible. Anthony Phillips, who is listed as the main contact point for the website, is keen to talk up his organisation's role in the movement, claiming that "you'd be surprised at the diversity found within the anti-globalism movement. The active participation of one organization in particular [i.e., his own racist group] should send shock-waves throughout the establishment, as they break all the stereotypes of the anti-globalism movement being strictly a preserve of the traditional radical-left."

This attempt to capitalise on an overwhelmingly left-wing movement has been apparent since its birth in Seattle in 1999. Matt Hale, the leader of the US white supremacist World Church of the Creator, said that he considered the demonstrations in Seattle "incredibly successful from the point of view of the rioters as well as our Church. They helped shut down talks of the Jew World Order WTO and helped make a mockery of the Jewish Occupational Government around the world. Bravo."

Although this open Nazism is a negligibly tiny fringe of the movement, several activists express concern that anti-semitism is becoming increasingly prevalent at anti-war protests. Chris Stevenson, an anti-war activist and student, explains, "On the recent anti-war demo in London, there was one group - I think they were Islamic fundamentalists - who were chanting 'One, Two, Kill a Jew' and 'Seven, Eight, We will crush your Jewish state.' I'm certainly no fan of Ariel Sharon, but it was pretty horrifying." The New York Post has reported that at the recent anti-war demo there, copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious anti-Semitic forgery, were being openly sold. The French farmer Jose Bove, who has become an icon to the movement, recently alleged that attacks on French synagogues by neo-Nazis were in fact carried out by the Mossad, Israel's secret services, in order to "distract attention" from the abuse of Palestinians' human rights.

Only a handful of leading figures in the movement have spoken candidly about this. George Monbiot, for example, has expressed his horror that his writings are being plugged on the British National Party website. Yet this is a problem endemic in a movement which has such porous borders. Militant Tendency could be chucked out of the Labour Party - but what can the anti-globalisation movement do to prevent fascists trying to hijack their cause? Democratic socialists like Tony Benn have tried to claim the anti-globalisation activists as soul-mates - but can a movement of Trots, anarchists and, now, fascists really be one we want to associate ourselves with?

Johann Hari is staff writer at the New Statesman