Stephen Yaxley-Lennon

December’s planned far-right speaking tour, “Ann + Milo Live”, has collapsed with ticket holders directed to Penthouse’s upcoming Gavin McInnes Tour.

The “Ann + Milo Live” tour was to feature Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (more commonly known by the pseudonym Tommy Robinson) and former Katter Australia Party Senator Fraser Anning. The tour promoter (believed to be Dan Spiller, aka. Future Now Australia) emailed ticket holders today simply stating that “due to unforeseen circumstances our Ann and Milo tour has had to be cancelled”, no further explanation was offered.

Australia has become a regular pitstop on the global far-right speaking circuit. In the past year Australia has seen tours by Milo Yiannopolous, Lauren Southern, and Stephen Molyneux. The “Ann + Milo Live” tour was one of two far-right tours planned for this coming month, and there are never ending rumours that Steve Bannon intends to cash in on the Australian alt-right’s happiness to throw money at any low-rent foreign racist that shows up in Sydney.

The “speaking tour” is a key source of funding for modern far-right agitators. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon has launched multiple speaking tours to cash in on recent contempt of court proceedings and is due in the United States in less than a fortnight.

Local racists who splashed cash on the “Ann + Milo Live” tour are not being offered a refund. The promoter appears to have instead onsold the ticket sales to rival Penthouse, who have also attached Stephen Yaxley-Lennon to their previously announced Gavin McInnes tour.

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Penthouse have delayed and rebranded their planned Gavin McInnes tour. The Proud Boys founder and far-right thug Gavin McInnes was due to commence his Australian speaking tour this week. Penthouse, having picked up Stephen Yaxley-Lennon from Dan Spiller’s Future Now, are now promoting a Gavin McInnes + Tommy Robinson double bill for the first fortnight in December.

It is still unclear whether McInnes will even be allowed to enter Australia.

Last week Sudanese Australian lawyer Nyadol Nyuon launched an online petition calling on David Coleman and Peter Dutton (the ministers for Immigration and Home Affairs respectively) to prevent McInnes entering Australia. The petition has quickly attracted 30,000 signatures and has prompted national debate.

Nyuon argues that McInnes is coming to Australia to spread hate and encourage violence and should thus be barred:

The thought of Gavin McInnes coming to this country to spread hate is extremely concerning. The fact that his hate speech is often accompanied by violence which is extremely concerning. A man who encourages violence, who formed a gang labelled a hate group and that serially engages in violence should not be allowed into Australia. We should not allow Australia to become the last hope of such a group.

In the Guardian, Jason Wilson similarly made the case for denying McInnes a visa, detailing his history of violence.

These calls have been picked up by the ALP, with shadow immigration minister Shayne Neumann calling on the government to refuse McInnes a visa on character grounds. Neumann wrote:

“Labor strongly supports the refuse or cancellation of visas of non-citizens on character or criminal grounds and the removal of criminals from Australia under Section 501 of the Migration Act.

Under these powers you, as the responsible Minister, have the power to refuse visas for individuals if there is a significant risk that the individual would:
– vilify a segment of the Australian community; or
– incite discord in the Australian community or in a segment of that community; or
– represent a danger to the Australian community or to a segment of that community, whether by way of being liable to become involved in activities that are disruptive to, or in violence threatening harm to, that community or segment, or in any other way”

In the coverage that has followed, even the Murdoch media is now referring to McInnes as the leader of a violent gang (eschewing the usual euphemisms, “provocateur” and “activist”).

Calls to use of Section 501 of the Migration Act for any purpose are not without their critics.

This legislation is more commonly deployed for explicitly racist purposes, deporting so-called “foreign criminals”. Approximately 1,500 New Zealanders (predominantly Maori) have been deported under Section 501 since 2015, despite supposed free movement and residency between the two countries. Section 501 has been used to deport children, split families, and in some cases deport people who have lived their entire lives in Australia.

The political problem is that any appeal to the good graces of the government has the potential to provide cover for the existence of an incredibly unjust piece of legislation. Australia’s “border protection” regime, and all the executive powers that go with it, serve deeply racist purposes. The Australian government detains and tortures groups of asylum seekers, “turns back” (refouls) others, and holds the threat of random and arbitrary deportation over the heads of many more. Migrants and asylum seekers in Australia are held in a state of uncertainty and terror, and Section 501 of the Migration Act is one of the mechanisms the government uses to do this.

The Melbourne based Campaign Against Racism and Fascism put out a statement rejecting calls to deny McInnes a visa on just this basis. The CARF statement read in part:

Although we are disgusted and outraged by international fascists visiting Australia, we also recognise that the Department of Immigration and the Australian Border Force already execute the brutal, draconian border “protection” policy of the Australian Government, and we denounce any expansion or strengthening of that policy. We also bring to attention the irony of a Labor Party MP calling for the denial of McInnes’ visa on the grounds of his white supremacist views when it was the Labor Party themselves who pandered to white Australia’s xenophobia and created the groundwork of the current immigration regime.

The only possible defence against fascism is working class self-organising and self-defence. The Campaign Against Racism and Fascism calls on all those who oppose racism and fascism to reject the false protection of the state and instead take direct antifascist action.

The reality is more difficult.

The far-right is a growing threat in Australia. There is a sizeable audience for fascist ideas within Australia and there are plethora of far-right groups organizing in an attempt to relate to this audience. Tours by far-right agitators like Gavin McInnes help groups like the local Proud Boys franchise recruit and organise. If we want to stop the growth of the far-right in Australia, fascist organizing needs to be shut down.

But no matter how much we might wish for working class self-organisation and self-defence against fascism, the situation on the streets has been very different.

The state has shown a willingness, time and time again, to deploy overwhelming police resources in order to facilitate fascist events and demonstrations, and in doing so brush aside the opposition that has been mounted by small antifascist groups from the far-left.

More people are taking the threat of the far-right seriously; thirty thousand people have signed Nyadol Nyuen’s petition, something that would not have happened three years ago. But there is not yet any mass anti-fascist movement with the capacity to shut these groups down, and majority of people concerned about the growth of the far-right maintain their faith in the police and the state.

It would be preferable to stop a far-right movement before it grows, before it becomes established, and before it has the capacity to crush its opposition. As anti-fascists we have to organise, we make the case that the police and the state cannot be relied on and that working class self-organisation and self-defence are required. But we have not yet succeeded in this task.

Until we do, I welcome any set-back that the far-right faces, wherever it comes from.

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