‘The Great Replacement’ – Decoding the Christchurch Terrorist Manifesto

The term “Bühnensucht” describes an irrational desire to perform on stage, a notion that resonates with the idea that terrorism is akin to theater, as suggested by Jenkins in 1974. In today’s digital era, the internet has become the new stage, blending the roles of content creators and consumers into “prosumers” of online content. This blend makes it challenging to distinguish between content production and consumption, especially in the context of what Bauman labels as ‘autotelic violence’. The transition from thought to action is evident in the cognitive and behavioral aspects of radicalization.

The 2019 Christchurch attack by a far-right terrorist was deliberately performed in real life to gain widespread online attention. Facebook’s removal of 1.5 million videos of the attack within the first 24 hours underscores the strategic use of terrorism for communication. This act was interpreted as being orchestrated for the digital age, sharing similarities with ISIS’s media strategy to maximize impact through staged narratives.

Brenton Tarrant, the attacker, highlighted the internet’s significant role in shaping his worldview and radicalization, promoting the internet as a platform for discovering unfiltered truth and fostering a libertarian and counter-hegemonic discourse. Tarrant praised the internet for breaking traditional media’s hold on public discourse, allowing for open and anonymous discussions outside mainstream control.

The manifesto of Tarrant, advocating for ‘third position’ radical right ideology, exhibits themes such as white decline, Islamophobia, ethnonationalism, eco-fascism, and various conspiracy theories. It stresses the perceived existential threats to white Europeans, criticizes multiculturalism, and advocates for racial and cultural segregation. Tarrant’s narrative also includes a sense of vulnerability and a complex of inferiority, despite the supremacist claims.

Tarrant’s manifesto also delves into his motivations for terrorism, aiming to incite violence, deepen societal divides, and provoke political change. He outlines his desire for a racial segregation in the U.S. and expresses admiration for figures and events that align with his anti-Islamist and white supremacist views.

The manifesto itself is a mix of interviews, ideological statements, and strategic thoughts, structured to present Tarrant’s radical right ideology and the reasons behind his terrorist act. It concludes with a vision for a society striving towards an ethnically segregated utopia, emphasizing themes like environmentalism, traditionalism, and nationalism.

This summary presents the article’s key points and arguments without endorsing the views expressed within the manifesto or the act of terrorism itself.

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