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Fascist aspirants: Fascist Forge and ideological learning in the extreme-right online milieu

Extremism
Terrorism
Qualitative
Benjamin Lee
University of St Andrews
Kim Knott
University of Lancaster
Benjamin Lee
University of St Andrews

Abstract

Existing conceptions of terrorist learning often lean towards operational details such as how to make a better bomb, while processes of ideological learning are often overlooked. Drawing on the concept of communities of practice, which has previously been applied in extremist settings, this paper looks at learning practices as displayed on the extreme-right web forum: Fascist Forge. The findings of a qualitative analysis suggest that some of the social aspects of communities of practice have been replicated, but for a combination of technical and ideological reasons, the nurturing aspects of learning have not. We conclude that Fascist Forge offered a behavioural and social model for would-be fascists but constitutes only a weak community of practice. We further suggest that this raises future issues around ideological mutation and innovation by protagonists who are essentially left to get on with interpreting their learning by themselves.