The far-right in the traditional neo-Nazi context lacks the historical and even societal relevance in Singapore and most ASEAN countries. However, the unfettered rise, perceived and real, of the far-left Marxist-Leninist ideology resurfacing will invoke nationalist reactions by conservative segments of society. The shift in political landscapes applies to Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries in Asia subjected to proxy campaigns conducted by a variety of actors.
And here lies the threat to Singapore’s national cohesion and its multi-cultural society that make Singapore unique in the region. Hong Kong is a clear warning of the threat this often-foreign inspired artificial position created. This paper argues the regional trust in some of the institutional partners to the region is challenged by the far-left extremist proxy actors.
Populist policies to appease some global fades to secure political consensus from the electorate will only further create a dissonance within the fragile political social ecosystems and alienate the largely conservative electoral base.
Singapore and most of countries in the region undergone some economic transformation adopting to global agendas. Driven by the corporate culture the political and economic costs are creating some of the drivers for dissent exceeding the consensual agreement of the governed. The visions of doom are increasingly questioned. Avoiding reputational or market share losses these contributors provided the financial oxygen for the global Marxist vanguards of change. And at the final analysis will, as they have been in the past, turn out costly, even dangerous social experiments at best.
Society does not benefit from rapid social shifts of political change, apocalyptical nihilistic, one-world views, and other social experiments with the economic costs borne by pressurized society. Appealing to the conservative views of domestic audiences this gives rise to a far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-foreigner sentiment rearing its ugly head. With the Singaporean, the Indonesian, the Hong Kong, or the Malaysian dream lays in shatters incompatible to the economic reality of daily life.
Denying the upward mobility for segments of society, the sudden loss of wealth or perceived injustices creates the fertile ground for a Hong Kong like-scenario. The ultra-rich, so aptly depicted in Crazy Rich Asians, turn from a fictional flic to a comparative social reality identifying the known tycoons and their siblings and turning them into real hate objects. Others include the police which in Hong Kong and the United States are target of a far-left extremist campaign. Failure to achieve a victory against the police the far-left extremist movements always turned against the bourgeoisie and resorted to terrorism, the weapon of the weak.
This is giving rise to an older, more conservative worldview set to clash with the Marxist doctrines of the far left acting as an outlier for rejection of policy narratives, old biases, and triggering dissenting views. It set the stage for violent disobedience if the political avenues are closed or perceived of preserving the status-quo and protecting the elites.
Historically, the far-left extremist often collaborated on the periphery with far-right narratives with the sole aim to capture political power challenging policy makers. For example, the far-left groups reject the automatic weapons ban. This will result elected officials to reinvent the commonsensical, and reasonable policies that address, public housing, loan facilities, job creation, and social security that fit Singaporeans, Indonesians, or Malaysians and less serves the global financiers that triggered protracted unrest in Greece and gave rise to the far-right in Germany.
Switzerland does provide some examples with society bucking the trend rejecting many of the European leftist populist policies when it comes to defense, integration, immigration, and society. In a tough neighborhood the pragmatic policies of Singapore served the republic, and its neighbors, best.
But challenges are on the horizon.
A lack of policy regarding the left has undoubtedly contributed to the rise of the right. The far-left extremist movement understand these trends and has steadily developed its structures, organizations, and ideological narrative to challenge the state-order in Indonesia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Singapore. These groups, as extremists are always, are small, dedicated, interconnected, and committed violent Marxist believers.
Embedded in militant civil society including environmental action groups, serving as beachheads and vanguard collectives, the extremist far-left Marxists drawing from the hereditary links of the Marxist Autonomes, the Revolutionäre Zellen, or little known groups like the May 19th Communist Organization, the M19CO, the Black Panthers, and an variety of localized nativist and indigenous militant based splinters, the neo-Marxists are calling for revolution, under the disguise of social change.
The revivalist Marxist groups exist in Southeast Asia for some time. Under a variety of names such as the Marxist-Syndicalists, the Anarko-Syndikalis in Indonesia, the Federation of Anarchist in Hong Kong, the resurfacing of the People’s Army in the Philippines or the West Papua National Liberation Army the existence is largely ignored. Some are based in Australia and using variety of countries as launchpad operations in Asia seeking legitimacy under collectives such as the Oslo Freedom Fund, or other dubious civil society structures. The complexities of these structures include peer-state interests which are exploited by the extremist far-left groups.
Despite the sophisticated packaging and public image the groups are not democratic, do subscribe to violence, targeting police officers as a matter of strategy, aim to overthrow of governments, draw on sympathetic political leaders and media but are quintessential revolutionary Marxist movements.
Honed in street battles in Frankfurt, Paris, London, New York, Portland, Seattle, Genoa, Istanbul, Chile, Lebanon, Jakarta, East Java, industrial actions in Surabaya, arson attacks in Greece, Jakarta and TATP, IED and letter bomb attacks in Hong Kong the subversive culture and paranoid in-group thinking are distinctively extremist in character, ideology and action.
The hubris of Hong Kong should be a stark warning for Singapore and Indonesia of the economic, political, and social consequence of permitting the far-left extremists under the guise of social change operating unchallenged.
The strategy consists of an above the line overt component and a below the line, subversive strategy. Successfully implemented for the past decade the civil insurrection in Hong Kong 2019 and now the United States is only the tail end of a revolutionary evolution that started in 2009. The far-left extremist groups draw on the apologist media and sympathetic populist political climate of de jour. The claim of a leaderless movement eagerly regurgitated in the media, and in even policy circles is false.
All the key recent ‘revolutions’ are tightly structured, organized and led. This includes the Black Lives Matter, led by Marxist royalty.
Extreme violence against humans is justified and defined in the variety of publications of the far-left extremists. In contrast the definitions by the neo-Nazi scene is often naïve and reflective of past ideological rants of anti-Semitic, or national socialist heritage which lack public traction, political support, or realism to even closely succeed. Equally extreme in outlook the far-right violence is directed to the out-group enemy.
Not so the far-left extremists’ ideological articulation of who is the enemy and when to strike. Doctrine is anchored in the known communist Weltbild, the world vision of Marxism. It seeks a Marxist style takeover of power.
The current trend of far-left narrative claims of “Nazi”-states, dictatorship, absolute favoritism for the police, and bias towards societal fringe segments or claims of social inequality must be firmly head-on rejected. The origin of these claim’s points towards an extremists far-left world view and in the case of the United States to strategies as far back as 2014.
The recent example of the far-left extremist “Chinazi” slogan in Hong Kong are one of many examples creating an enemy aimed to reshape the political discourse. In response to the threat, and the absence of the state to act upon the threat, any society will react given rise to the counterculture groups such as the right wing to starve off the far-left. The first violent clashes between far-left groups and Antifa mobs are replayed on social media in the past days as the result of the vacuum. Small demonstrations in Indonesia signaling such friction are in the making.
Interestingly, the Trump administration is not viewed as the cause for the unrests according to contemporary extremists Marxist doctrinal documents reviewed.
In Singapore, Hong Kong should be viewed as the new gold standard for revolutions yet to come. It has created a setback for the regional bilateral relationships and give the rise to a new form of protectionism because of failed national security policies.
Marxism in Asia has a violent history. Romanticizing or attempting to rewrite history to legitimize what was one of the most oppressive, dictatorial ideologies of human history will force society to relive the horrors of communism. As appealing as Marxism may sound to the few attempting to influence the political discourse through civil society radical and extremist vanguards and beachhead collectives, the attempt to propose national liberation by revolution, fails the litmus test of credible policy and is a deeply flawed proposition.
The far-left, Marxist extremist heritage is steeped in revolutionary doctrine of Blanqui, Georges Sorel, and Marx, repackaged in social media, hip hop culture short cuts attempting to glorify Marxism, national liberation revolution and violence but offer nothing new. In the shadows we find former terrorists with the Red Army Faction and the Marxist liberation groups enjoying the liberal democracies they attempted to topple. One former RAF member called for the formation of new secret underground movements. They offer an equally racist, extreme interpretation of tactics and ideological outlook like jihadis or the far right.
To conclude, policy officials in Asia must accept the premise that a rise of the right-wing, nationalists like in Germany are in response to overly perceived far-left policies rejected by society. This is a plausible scenario for Singapore and Indonesia with society reacting to socialist politics of the far left.
Noticeable none of the far-right or the far-left exhibiting democratic vocabulary, social equality, or cultural values of Singapore and Indonesia in their narrative. Their extremist world view must be rejected by policy, national security agencies, the media, and the public.
Author name withheld by request