Far-Right Terrorist Manifestos: A Critical Analysis

By Dr Rakib Ehsan and Dr Paul Stott

Far-Right Terrorists Express Support for Left-Wing Values

An analysis of the published manifestos of far-right terrorists has found a “striking fascination with environmental issues and affinity with traditional left-wing ideals”.

The study published by the Henry Jackson Society evaluates the manifestos of 2019’s most prominent far-right attackers; Brenton Tarrant, John Earnest, and Patrick Crusius.   It finds support across the manifestos for: internationalism, a universal basic income, anti-corporation sentiment, socialised healthcare, and other left-wing causes.

As well as support for these issues, the report’s authors note worrying similarities in the strains of racial hatred promoted in the manifestos despite originating from two different continents. While all three attackers targeted different ethnic groups, each exhibited a belief in belief in white replacement theories.

The report identifies connections between the transnational racial hatred displayed by the authors; one attacker, Patrick Crusius, expressed admiration for another’s, Brenton Tarrant, views on race.  Last night, the report’s co-author said “classic white replacement narratives bind the manifestos” together, across borders.

“Anti-corporatism” is a theme that runs throughout the manifestos of both Crusius who shot and killed 22 people in Texas and Tarrant who killed 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch.  Tarrant blames the “profit-driven interests of private capital” for many of the world’s supposed ills. Crusius meanwhile rants against the “pro-corporation” Republican Party, “corporate America”, free-market capitalism, and globalisation.

Environmentalism enjoys a similarly prominent role in Crusius’ manifesto.  The document is entitled ‘The Inconvenient Truth’, mirroring the title of the famed Al Gore environmental film. In it, Crusius denounces the “shameless overharvesting [sic] of resources” and “urban sprawl” for their environmental consequences.

Internationalism is also a core theme of the manifestos, with the report finding that ‘European’ is a frequently used term.  It appears 69 times in Tarrant’s work and is the tenth most common word in the document released by John Earnest, who targeted a synagogue in California. The report finds evidence in all three manifestos that “pan-nationalist visions”, rather than “nationalist” concerns, dominate far-right terrorist narratives.

The report comes a week after the far-right terrorist attack in Hanau, Germany.  In his pre-attack manifesto, Tobias Rathjen railed against global trade and business – singling out NAFTA for particular criticism.

The report includes recommendations that the UK invests in social cohesion and engagement with “at risk communities”.




In the words of the authors:

“Our research suggests the ideological complexities associated with contemporary far-right terrorism have been somewhat overlooked. From the manifestos analysed, a clear anti-capitalist sentiment emerges. This is based on the perception that Western corporations thrive on the inflow of cheap migrant labour from developing countries, which in turn contributes to both demographic and cultural change.

While classic white replacement narratives bind the manifestos together, explicit support for left-leaning economics and environmental sustainability are commonplace.”

Dr Rakib Ehsan

“This research demonstrates that far-right terrorism finds a diverse range of ideological justifications. Far-right attackers show a striking fascination with environmental issues and affinity with traditional left-wing ideals. 

What unites these justifications is an attachment to a narrow, racially-fixed white identity. These are not patriots or nationalists, but white separatists. Addressing the challenge posed by this violence requires, as a first step, a recognition that conventional thinking about this stripe of terrorism is often inaccurate.”

Dr Paul Stott



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