Fascists Among Us by Jeff Sparrow

Fascists Among Us by Jeff Sparrow

Writer, editor and broadcaster Jeff Sparrow's latest book, Fascists Among Us: online hate and the Christchurch massacre, provides a detailed analysis of the events leading up to and following the 2019 Christchurch massacre. The March 15 massacre involved two consecutive shootings that were perpetrated by an Australian gunman at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people attending Friday prayers and injuring 49. The gunman live-streamed the first shooting.

Sparrow places the massacre within its historical context, demonstrating the significance the digital platform (in particular, ‘4-' and ‘8chan') has for the proliferation, dissemination and normalisation of radical, far-right and fascist content in the 21st century. In so doing, Sparrow distinguishes between fascism and right-wing populism by the primacy fascism gives to violence, power and violence for violence's sake. However, Sparrow also identifies the significance of right-wing populist rhetoric in fuelling violent behaviour by creating fertile grounds in which "actual fascists" can emerge.

Sparrow takes his analysis even further by looking at the psychological factors that might contribute to manifestations of 21st century fascism: feelings of alienation, impotence and entitlement in a world of increasing diversification and interdependence; seemingly contradictory preoccupations with the environment (‘eco-fascism') that are stimulated by illusions of a former pastoral purity (i.e. before the ‘invasion' of immigrants); and the gendered nature of fascism in that, more-often-than-not, it is disaffected young men who are radicalised.

Fascists Among Us is an essential piece of reading for anyone who wishes to understand the nature of 21st century fascism. As the Christchurch massacre has spawned several copycat attacks since, Sparrow's incisive analysis proves a timely and valuable contribution to both the literature and towards the potential prevention of future attacks born of contemporary fascist ideology.


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