Sunday, November 22, 2020

Galea Conviction: The Far-Right and Class and State Power

 Written by: (Contributed) on 23 November 2020

The conviction and sentencing of a fascist to twelve years imprisonment in Melbourne for terrorist-related offences may appear to some as evidence that the Australian state has finally taken the problem of the far-right seriously.

There is, however, a great deal more to the problem which has not been addressed. It remains questionable whether the political will even exists to deal with the matter, for a variety of reasons; the far-right/fascists continue to serve the agendas of others hiding behind respectability inside the corridors of power, in Australia and elsewhere.

The sentencing of Phillip Galea to twelve years imprisonment in November for planning violent attacks on Trades Hall in Melbourne and other targets was the first time the Australian judiciary had found a fascist guilty of terrorist-related offences.  

Galea was closely associated with the Reclaim Australia and True Blue Crew far-right/fascist organisations, together with associations with other similar groups. It was noted he had specifically targeted a central trade-union organisation, people associated with left-wing political opinions and Muslims, which he regarded as 'sub-humans'. (1)

The carefully-worded summing up by Supreme Court Justice Hollingworth and subsequent media release, however, did not place the criminal activity into a meaningful historical context, whereby it would implicate other people, some of whom reside behind masks of respectability, using 'useful idiots' to carry out their nefarious agendas. The fact Galea had been arrested in 2016 and has already spent four years behind bars on remand, had shown how slow the Australian judiciary has been to deal with the matter.

Once on remand, likewise, Australian authorities and correctional services allowed him a high level of freedom of action. An official media release noted he 'had no intention of acting alone and tried to recruit people using his Patriots Cookbook, a document Galea continued to work on after his arrest'. (2) While it was further noted the document was designed to 'facilitate a terrorist attack', no reference, was made to whom he was actually colluding with or naming their organisations as possible and likely conspirators. Justice Hollingworth, nevertheless, acknowledged that his 'extremist political views and information' was directed toward 'like-minded people to arm themselves for violent battle'.(3)

Australian fascism has a long history; it is important it is understood how their chosen method of operation has changed little in nearly a century.

New fascist groups follow an old pattern of behaviour
The New Guard organisation was established in 1931, quickly followed by the so-called Centre Party in 1933. The Australia First Movement was established in the Second World War. During the previous Cold War National Socialist Parties and National Action were formed in the 1960s to 1980s period. In recent years a large number of splinter fragment-type groupings have emerged, lurking on websites and the 'dark net' to avoid detection. They emerge, peddle endless conspiracy theories, then quickly submerge, before repeating a similar pattern of operation elsewhere on the internet.

Their agendas, nevertheless, remain remarkably similar and consistent.

The fascists/far-right are associated with the most reactionary section of the business-classes and their motives are primarily economic: their groups seek to destroy collective working-class organisations, trade-unions and their associated political organisations, to atomise/isolate workers, thereby making them more vulnerable to exploitation by the business-classes and capital.  

It is, therefore, significant to note the main target for Galea was Trades Hall, the centre of the Victorian trade union movement and their political associates.

Far-right/fascist groups also seek to divide working-class organisations using race and religion and the age-old method of creating a scapegoat. Modern-day fascists target non-white people, including immigrants and Muslims as a matter of course, with their White Supremacist ideologies. Galea was noted as seeing himself as a 'patriot … waging war against Muslims and lefties'. (4)

Previously, similar far-right groups targeted other ethnic minorities and religions with the same agenda as patterns of immigration from different regions of the world have taken place.

Other significant links between older far-right/fascist groups and their present -day counterparts can also be seen with strategies of tension.

Documents detailing Our Political Activity by far-right/fascist Aginter Press based in Lisbon, were revealed following the Portuguese military coup in April, 1974. (5) The pseudo press agency had a long history of operation inside intelligence services both in Portugal and their overseas colonies.

Our Political Activity revealed how the far-right/fascists operated: their first phase of their actions included creating chaos inside political systems, to destroy the structure of democratic organisation under a false flag activity; it was noted they sought to implicate left-wing groups as responsible for the chaos through infiltration of their organisations and use of agent provocateurs to conduct covert operations on their behalf.

Secondly, the far-right/fascists then stepped in to provide stability through systematic repression of those associated with the previous order.

Chosen methods of operation included strategies of tension, beginning with rumours and innuendo, escalated to assassinations and bombings.

In what the Australian judiciary called 'amateurish plans' Galea sought to use bombing techniques accessed from an anarchist organisation, thereby implicating another political group. Whether those around Galea had actually infiltrated anarchist groupings was not divulged in the open court case.   

It is important to situate the far-right/fascist political ideology alongside other, mainstream right-wing agendas, particularly in Australia.

The recent summing up of the case against Galea included the statement that he was not being punished for holding right-wing views or making statements others found deeply offensive and discriminatory, despite equal opportunity and discrimination regulations being violated, for obvious reasons.  

There are those in the midst of seemingly mainstream Australian society responsible for the creation of a climate of opinion, creating opportunities for the far-right/fascists to push agendas still further.

Fascism not confined to shadow organisations or individuals

The present-day Coalition government in Canberra and their supporters in big business including the Australia Industry Group (AIG), for example, have continually sought to sideline and demonise trade-union organisations. The so-called Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) agenda of wholesale spying on trade-union activists and their organisations is evidence, in itself, of hidden agendas to enable the business-classes to heighten exploitation of working class people by systematically weakening trade-unions, particularly in the building trades. ASIC is a shadowy intelligence-type organisation used extensively for investigating the CFMEU and other unions. It continually seeks to establish a money trail to then lodge corruption cases.

While the AIG and ASIC fall well short of attempting to kill those they regard as adversaries and bombing their premises, their criticism of those who have advocated and planned such terrorist action has been non-existent. They have remained remarkably silent about terrorism being planned and conducted in their midst.

Australia has also been subject to so-called respectable elected political figures, including Pauline Hanson and her One Nation outfit, targeting Asians and Muslims from inside the four walls of Australian democratic institutions in Canberra and in other provincial capitals. Such people, once again, have not criticised people such as Galea in Australia, or Anders Brevik in Norway or Brenton Tarrant in New Zealand. They, clearly, do not want to alienate some of their supporters.

It is also important to study some of the international connections Australian far-right/fascist organisations have established which provide direct links to class and state power, both in Australia and elsewhere.

The so-called World League for Freedom and Democracy (WLFD) was established in 1990 from a previous body, the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), which itself evolved from far-right groups in the 1950s. 

The WLFD acts as a central body for co-ordinating far-right/fascist activity with affiliated groups in over a hundred countries, including Australia. It was noted in one previous study of the organisation the Australian section 'was represented largely by conservative members of parliament, interspersed with neo-nazis, racists and Eastern European immigrants whose roots lay in the fascist collaborationist armies of World War Two'. (6)

A well-known supporter of the WACL/WLFD is John Howard, a man who has always maintained his central position in the modern day Australian Liberal Party despite some past acquaintances who he later kept at arm’s length, after attending their 21st  Conference in Brisbane in 1989, together with 120 other delegates representing fifty countries. (7)

No doubt the same man who later led the Australian Liberal Party and became Prime Minister for the Coalition in Canberra felt comfortable amongst such far-right/fascists, although chose to play down his connections to them and their organisations. Throughout his entire political career, spanning decades, it should be noted, Howard never once denounced the far-right/fascists.

In fact, one study of the shadowy nether world of the far-right/fascists, intelligence organisations and their support for Apartheid in South Africa and White Supremacist views, established a common pattern of subtle manoeuvring whereby 'a front staffed with mainstream conservatives … were used … who did not necessarily know who was pulling the strings'. (8)

It is by their actions that such people, and their faceless supporters lurking in Liberal voting suburbia can be judged. They actively distance themselves from controversy although they do not openly criticise those whom they secretly support.

In conclusion, it is significant Galea regarded himself as holding 'mainstream views'. (9)
When studying Australian far-right/fascist organisations and their histories it is not particularly difficult to establish why he held such views.

1.     Far-right terrorist jailed for 12 years, The Weekend Australian, 21-22 November 2020.
2.     Ibid.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Ibid.
5.     Wikipedia: Aginter Press, 19 May 2019.
6.     Inside the League, Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson, (New York, 1986), page 59.
7.     Website: WACL, 9 January 1990.

8.     IFF was an intelligence front, Dele Olojede and Timothy Phelps, Newsday, 16 July 1995.

9.   Weekend Australian, op.cit., 21-22 November 2020.

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