Terrorism Outlawed: Why The UK’s Ban Of Neo-Nazi Group The Base Is Important
Dr. Bethan Johnson is the Head of Strategic Planning and Advancement for the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right. Her doctoral research studied the pseudo-intellectual underpinnings of violent separatist movements in the Cold War West.
‘Führer, you were only the beginning. We will finish what you started. It’s not over yet—We carry the torch.’ So swore Norman Spear, the alleged leader of international white supremacist group, The Base. On July 12, the UK Home Office announced that the group, which has been subject to intense law enforcement scrutiny at home and abroad, merited proscription as a terrorist organization.
Home Secretary Priti Patel stated that its designation demonstrates that the UK is ‘[continuing] to take robust action against evil white supremacist groups.’ The Base’s ban marks the fifth white supremacist hate organization to be proscribed in the UK and the third in the last year, figures that warrant further investigation to understand the threat of white supremacism in Britain and in how the government addresses it.
Ideologically, The Base promotes a viciously anti-Semitic, racist, and anti-democratic worldview. A common white supremacist rhetorical strategy, The Base couples the white supremacist belief in the superiority of white people with a declinist narrative about the destruction of civilization at the hands of racial ‘others.’ Contrasting a nostalgic past of white glory with a present punctuated by guilt-inducing claims of white privilege and global citizenry, The Base promotes arguments such as this:
‘There’s nothing for whites to be proud of anymore—All of our greatest achievements are in the distant past—Society today is a culmination of everything wrong with Whites & indicative of how much we’ve degenerated.’
The blame for the degeneration is largely laid at the feet of Jewish people via the Zionist Occupational Government conspiracy theory. A function of this is Jews’ use of immigration, multiculturalism, and political correctness to make white people of European descent submissive; such a belief thereby further paints racial, ethnic, and religious minorities in a negative, if exploited, light as well. According to The Base, once majority-white European countries are experiencing hardships because ‘others’ with distinctly lesser values have been foisted upon them, resulting in white people’s submission and diminution.
The Base’s solution to the supposed denigration of white societies is the establishment of ethno-states, though its primary concern is simply the enforcement of Europe and North America as white-only continents. While it states that it would encourage many ‘others’ to re-migrate to their countries of ‘origin,’ it also permits the forceful removal or genocide the unwilling. Referencing the infamous 14 Words, a Base member explains: ‘Securing a future for White children necessarily entails securing independent territory… We must fight for a new White Homeland.’
As this statement indicates, in service of the founding of such states is the additional level of violence necessary to get rid of any opposition to their plan. In addition to the implications in the previous quotations are statements such as ‘Daily Reminder: Anyone who tells you that the 14 Words can be achieved peacefully is either a fool, a fraud, or a fed,’ and ‘if you want a *White* society…The current System can’t be replaced peacefully.’
Viewing themselves along the accelerationist lines of seeking to trigger race wars that would result in the expulsion or execution of all non-white people from historically white-majority states, The Base has been a prolific publisher of how-to guides and instructive propaganda. Inspired by the likes of James Mason and Louis Beam, The Base promotes violence through lone wolf terrorism.
As one Base statement rhetorically wonders, ‘Theoretically speaking, approximately how many lone wolf attacks per week & over how long of a time period would be sufficient to coerce the System to accommodate pro-White legislative demands?’ Less rhetorical is the declaration: ‘Create a list of every anti-White hate crime you can think of in which there was a miscarriage of Justice—These people have names & addresses. Go forth & balance the scales.’
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While this is near-ubiquitous of The Base’s incitement to lone-wolf terrorism and not novel among accelerationists, it distinguished itself through its emphasis on militarism, and through how it operates. Legal documents and non-profit observers alike have highlighted the significant importance of military-style survivalism in Base thinking. As one court document noted, it ‘is particularly interested in applicants with military and explosives backgrounds.’
It could be argued that is largely because members either do not believe that voluntary migration to be a likely outcome or even a desirable one; as the glorification of violence in their propaganda implies, they draw joy from using violence to achieve their racist ends.
The Base is also such a threat because of its unique self-perception. Unlike other groups, The Base does not place an emphasis on membership or exclusivity, rather viewing its strength as derived from a support base drawn from an array of hate traditions. ‘Most of our members are National Socialists and/or fascists,’ one member observed, ‘although we have some run-of-the-mill white nationalists.’ Seeing itself as more of a conduit of information, The Base requires individuals to merely apply and interview to gain access to its most informative insights and extreme material.
It warrants mentioning that there is considerable evidence that The Base is not ‘all talk.’ Members have admitted guilt or are charged with acts of hate-inspired violence and vandalism. It has also organized training sessions and attempted to purchase land, which would allow for members to train away from public scrutiny and establish a literal base from which to launch their violent efforts.
The novelty of The Base’s UK designation derives from two areas. The Base was only recently listed as a terror group in Canada in February 2021, and no other Five Eyes country has labeled it as such. In fact, The Base is largely a group operating outside of the UK. However, there is a reason why it has caught the attention of authorities and triggered proscription in the UK.
Although the groups do host group training sessions, it remains the case that most Base activities happen online. Using various media platforms as echo chambers and recruitment devices, The Base truly has an international presence. With well-established online recruitment techniques, during COVID, The Base was poised to make inroads among those in countries with extended lockdowns, such as the UK.
The designation here is notable in that it is not necessarily motivated by reactionism due to high-profile cases brought against British Base members or by hate-based propaganda (as was the case with Sonnenkrieg and Feurerkrieg Divisions’ designations, which followed threats against a police officer and the Duke of Sussex).
Second is the reality that this marks the third designation of white supremacist terrorism in the last year in the UK; this rapid increase in designation mirrors that found in other Five Eyes states. With the internal metrics used to trigger potential designation, The Base and others’ proscription testify to the escalating threat of white supremacism. The increased number of designations over COVID times may indicate a state taking white supremacism more seriously than in years past, but may also be that they are observing (as many researchers are) that the threat is increasing as groups target the lonely and disheartened online. This threat is even greater as countries transition away from lockdowns—potentially radicalized individuals have the opportunity to plot mass-casualty attacks.
Proscription does the state’s commitment to disrupting terrorism and seriously penalizing offenders (members of a designated group face up to 14 years in prison). However, it is only a first step and may be viewed as an eerie portend of trouble to come. It appears that the warning issued by a researcher from the Southern Poverty Law Center to the BBC upon Atomwaffen Division’s proscription holds true here too: proscriptions ‘can’t be our only solution to the problem of right-wing extremism…Proscribing the group doesn’t address the fact that their violent and apocalyptic ideology extends far beyond its small network of members.’
This article is brought to you by the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). Through their research, CARR intends to lead discussions on the development of radical right extremism around the world. Rantt has been partnered with CARR for 3 years. We’ve published over 150 articles from CARR’s network of PhDs, historians, professors, and experts analyzing extremism and combating disinformation.