- This is the first of three reports analysing Siege Culture from a subcultural perspective with a focus on whether subcultural participation has the potential to be a protective factor against violence.
- It provides an overview of the development of Siege Culture with an emphasis on the role of defiance, youth, style, and organisational fluidity.
- It then goes on to review subcultural theory as currently used in terrorism studies, including a focus on radicalisation and calls for greater attention to be paid to wider social settings.
- The conclusion suggests that Siege Culture can be interpreted as a subculture and that doing so allows for a better and more granular understanding of participation in Siege Culture.
- Siege Culture is used as shorthand for a distinctive grouping within the extreme-right centred on the book Siege by US neo-Nazi James Mason.
- The core beliefs of Siege Culture are:
- A focus on an imagined community of whites (Aryans), that is fiercely anti-Communist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and racist in outlook.
- Adherents view themselves as being special, even amongst others in the extreme-right.
- Arrayed against Siege Culture is “the system”, a combination of big brother and the Zionist occupation government (ZOG) filtered through a general loathing of the establishment.
- Supporters believe their interpretation of fascism is fundamental and incorruptible, representing a universal natural truth that cannot be compromised.
- Accelerationism is a core tenet of Siege Culture; participants believe that societal collapse should be hastened through acts of terrorism.
- National Action 2013-2016
- Siege Culture in the UK begins with the creation of National Action in 2013, well before the book Siege re-emerged.
- National Action was intended to be a legal national socialist group with a focus on youth activism and style but was proscribed in December 2016.
- Atomisation and Americanisation: 2016-17
- Siege was (re)popularised on the web forum Iron March from 2016 onwards.
- Siege and author James Mason were championed by US neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division.
- Coupled with the use of distinctive aesthetics, shared internationally, this growing profile resulted in the emergence of an identifiable Siege Culture.
- Cultic Drift 2017-2021
- From 2017 there was clear evidence of a growing influence of spirituality and in particular Satanism in Siege Culture.
- New leadership within Atomwaffen exhibited ties to left hand path Satanism and this was echoed in the UK group Sonnenkrieg Division.
- The cultic phase of Siege Culture in the UK produced some of the most lurid headlines and concerning details, including possession of indecent images of children and interest in and actual cases of sexual violence.
The non-violence Paradox
- Siege, despite its militant presentation and connections to violence (including murder) and terrorist plotting activity, resulted in fewer successfully completed terrorist attacks than might have been expected.
- This can be explained in many ways including the vulnerability of Siege Culture to law enforcement and limiting factors within Siege itself.
- This does not rule out more violence from future ideological developments.
- One further possibility is that the emergent subculture around Siege and related groups acted as a check on serious violence as participants were reluctant to give up access to the benefits provided by the subculture.
Siege Culture as Subculture
- Subcultures are groups of people that stand apart from mainstream norms, often framed as being somehow opposed to the ‘normal’ way of things.
- Subcultures are generally held to be associated with young people.
- Criminal and political explanations for subcultural formation have informed much of subcultural research.
- Rejection of mainstream social norms in many youth subcultures has also been achieved through conscious use of style and expression.
- Subcultural theory has developed some traction within terrorism studies. The dominant preoccupation of this research has been to explain radicalisation using subcultural theory.
- Some research however has focused more on the stylistic appeal and internal meaning of subcultures for participants.
- Siege Culture can be interpreted as a subculture for four reasons:
- The purposeful and defiant inversion of mainstream norms and values.
- The focus on youth.
- The importance attached to style and presentation.
- Its organisation as a complex network of overlapping groups, idealogues, and individual actors.
- This does not mean that the political and revolutionary aspects of Siege Culture can be disregarded, only that they need to be considered alongside the stylistic aspects.
- A subcultural analysis of Siege Culture is useful for research for four reasons:
- The concept of subculture can encompass branded groups, influencers and actor within a broader milieu of shared values and beliefs.
- Subculture allows us to think about and take seriously the stylistic elements present in Siege Culture and their meanings.
- Subculture reflects that adherents are free to participate as much or as little as they like and have lives outside of Siege Culture.
- Most importantly, subculture promotes the possibility of different roles, many non-violent, for individual actors within the broader subculture (discussed more in the next report).
- While uncomfortable, considering Siege Culture from a subcultural perspective provides an opportunity for a more granular understanding of participation and its meaning for participants.
- This in turn allows for a more holistic consideration of the risks to individuals and wider security threats posed by Siege Culture.
Download this report and two others from this series below:
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