Comparative Politics

B05 - The Far Right in Canada and Beyond: From Ideas to Actions – Session 2

Date: Jun 12 | Time: 03:30pm to 05:00pm | Location:

Chair/Président/Présidente : Audrey Gagnon (University of Oslo)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Yannick Veilleux-Lepage (Royal Military College of Canada)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Efe Peker (University of Ottawa)

While often depicted as immune to salient outbreaks of far-right politics, recent social and political developments demonstrate that Canada is no exception. From the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories involving corrupt governments or hostile and powerful religious minorities, the emergence and rapid expansion of mobilization against a variety of progressive policies and issue positions related to women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, to the perpetration of hate-motivated actions and crimes, the far right has been relatively visible and active in recent Canadian politics. However, this phenomenon remains largely understudied in the Canadian context – particularly when compared to the European and American context. This panel aims to explore the actions of far-right movements, such as their protest action, hate crimes, and both online and offline activities. In conjunction with a panel on the ideas of the far-right, these panels aim to deepen our understanding of both phenomena, while paying attention to the interplay between the two.

Acting Like Men: Performing Masculinities and the Legacies of National Socialism in the European Extreme Right: Katherine Kondor (The Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies)
Abstract: While largely homogeneous in their attitudes, contemporary cultures of the extreme right throughout Europe vary depending on historical, cultural, and political differences across national contexts. This is especially the case with presentations of masculinity, health, and fitness, with variation evident across Europe often due to differing legacies of the far right and National Socialism. These differences in ideas and motivations can lead to a variety of salient differences in what actions extreme right organizations take to express their masculinities. Using the cases of Germany and Hungary, this paper argues that differences in the legacies of historical National Socialism are evident in their influence on contemporary attitudes towards masculinity, and hence on how extreme right organizations perform masculinities. To explore this idea, this study examines the Telegram channels of several German and Hungarian extreme right organisations, to get an unfiltered view of how the organizations present their cultures. This paper suggests that the legacies of National Socialism do indeed play a part in how the contemporary extreme right interpret masculinities and the roles of men, and may influence the actions of various organizations.

The Evolution of Cultural Practices in the Manosphere: Aspirational Masculinity, Self-Help, and Eugenic Reasoning Over Twenty Years (2001-2021): Jade Hutchinson (Macquarie University and the University of Groningen), Bharath Ganesh (Amsterdam University), Kenton Bell (University of Wollongong)
Abstract: The rise of the manosphere online is a significant threat to the security of women and gender equality in contemporary democracies. Research has focused on its subcultural trolling practices, its homologies with reactionary white identity movements by blaming the marginalization of men on feminists and The Left, as well as local constructions of masculinities. Continuing this research, we use computational methods to understand the manosphere at scale and in its evolution over time, seeking to the evolution of ideal, aspirational constructions of masculinity (and related concepts like fatherhood) in the manosphere; the production of self-help knowledge; the construction and deployment of eugenic reasoning in manospheric discourse. Drawing on a dataset of 44 million posts across 12 forums covering 2001-2021, we develop a distant reading technique to understand the evolution of masculinity and manosphere culture across a wide spectrum of misogynistic subcultures and across a wide range of topics from anti-feminism, extreme misogyny, fatherhood, exercise, and diet. Using dynamic topic modelling and word embedding (two natural language processing or NLP techniques), we analyse the evolution of the cultural schemas, practices, and debates that took place in the manosphere online in the past two decades.

Hate, Extremism, and Terrorism in the Canadian Prairies: Michael King (The Organization for the Prevention of Violence), Michele St-Amant (The Organization for the Prevention of Violence)
Abstract: This presentation will reveal the results of a project funded by Public Safety Canada to map the landscape of violent extremism and targeted violence in the Prairies. Since 2017, the Organization for the Prevention of Violence (OPV) has been researching and tracking the rise of violent extremism and targeted violence in Alberta. This research revealed a growing threat fueled by right-wing and anti-government grievances, with law enforcement repeatedly raising the latter as an emerging but poorly understood threat. While the OPV suspects this trend is also occurring in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, research is needed to ascertain the nature and scope of this threat in the Prairie provinces. To address this gap, the OPV is using similar methodologies from our research on Alberta to map the landscape of violent extremism and targeted violence in the Prairies. These include analysis of media reports and academic work on extremist events, semi-structured interviews with local stakeholders, experts, and police, as well as political and intelligence officials. Preliminary research has identified a host of diverse violent extremist actors in both provinces. In Manitoba, these actors have primarily adopted xenophobic and anti-authority ideologies. Similar ideologies have motivated actors in Saskatchewan, including some with links to the accelerationist group Diagolon. Conspiracy theories have continued to spread across the Prairies, leading to at least one QAnon-linked murder in Saskatchewan, and both provinces have experienced hate incidents directed toward the 2SLGBTQI+, Indigenous, Jewish, Muslim, and Asian communities.

Printing Terror: The Symbolic Appeal of 3D Manufacturing Technologies Amongst REMVE Actors: Yannick Veilleux-Lepage (Royal Military College of Canada)
Abstract: On October 9, 2019, a gunman attempted to kill worshippers at a synagogue in Halle, Germany, crossing a new threshold: it was the first time a terrorist had perpetrated a deadly attack using a crafted firearms in combination with 3D printing technology. This presentation investigates the intersection between additive manufacturing technology, online forums, and Extreme Right political thought, in order to better understand (1) the aspirations of online extremist groups around their approach to 3D printing, (2) how might these groups consider incorporating 3D printing into their long-term political aspirations, and lastly (3), whether their understanding of additive manufacturing lines up with what is currently feasible with existing commercial. This research project employs a mixed-method approach, combining a digital ethnographical survey of extreme right forums, interviews with First and Second Amendment activists; and industry experts. This research demonstrates that 3D printing technologies hold a particular symbolic appeal for extremists on multiple fronts. For one, the ability to manufacture weapons and other illicit items in a decentralized manner aligns with anti-government and anti-institutional ideologies, circumventing traditional regulations and controls. Secondly, the technology embodies a form of empowerment, allowing extremists to create tools that are otherwise restricted or monitored. Lastly, the very act of using 3D printing serves as a statement against established systems, reinforcing extremist narratives about self-reliance and resistance to authority.