ExtremismThink Global, Act Local: Reconfiguring Siege Culture

Published 23 March 2021

It is not an easy time to be in a branded neo-Nazi group. Some groups have dissolved themselves, other groups have been proscribed by different governments, while group members of some groups have been arrested for a variety of offenses across the U.S., U.K., Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. Societal attitudes towards the broader extreme-right are hardening, and for the most extreme right-wingers, the future may be less digital, more local, and harder to police.

It is not an easy time to be in a branded neo-Nazi group. Atomwaffen Division has dissolved itself, the leader of The Base was exposed as an American living in Russia, and Sonnenkrieg Division has been legally proscribed in the UK. Feuerkrieg Division has also been proscribed in the UK; its Estonian leader unmasked as a 13-year-old.

Meanwhile, group members have been arrested for a variety of offences across the U.S. and U.K.(Sweep of arrests hits US neo-Nazi group connected to five murdersTeenage neo-Nazis jailed over terror offencesYoungest British terrorist sentenced for neo-Nazi manuals stash).

Societal attitudes towards the broader extreme-right are hardening. The January 2021 riot at the US Capitol was largely mocked within ‘siege culture’ – the rough subculture that has sprung up around these groups named for James Mason’s Siege, a 1980s newsletter since compiled into a key ideological text. Rioters were derided as Qtards and the Boomerwaffen.


“If it’s got a logo, a name, and an online presence, that’s three strikes, run for your life.”


Although some saw the value of disaffected Parler users spilling into Telegram, most were content to mock, secure in the knowledge that they were ideologically purer and far edgier than any Trump supporter.

One side-effect of hardening societal attitudes is greater push back from technology services.

Siege culture has long since been purged from the mainstream internet, forced instead to eke out an existence on the dark web and in the margins of less scrupulous or less well-resourced platforms. Recently, however, even Telegram, often nicknamed “Terrorgram” for its association with the extreme-right, seems to be drawing a line. Prominent channels have been banned which has, in turn, increased handwringing over security and future crackdowns among the remaining extremist userbase.

A further possible sense of unease may come from the fact that siege culture, for all its rhetoric, has yet to give rise to a successful terrorist campaign. Although keen to be associated with “saints” such as Brenton Tarrant and others, the reality is that little of the recent right-wing terrorist violence seems to have been motivated by ‘Siege’.