According to a new report from the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE), far-right, white supremacist “Active Clubs” have surged in the US and internationally in recent years. The new report from GPAHE shows 149 Active Club chapters across 21 countries, with a major spike over the last 12 months. Aside from the United States, where more than 49 Active Clubs were identified, other countries with at least five Active Clubs include France, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, and Australia.
The report goes into detail on a number of the Active Clubs by region including their origins, their activities, their logos, and their associations with one another. Click for a complete list of Active Clubs. Unlike many such past movements that have often experienced infighting, Active Clubs work closely with other far-right extremist groups including the Proud Boys, White Lives Matter and Patriot Front in the United States, the Action Française and Identitarian groups in France, and the Hammerskins in Canada, Sweden, and Germany. These alliances strengthen the white supremacist movement globally.
Explicitly racist and violent, Active Club members envision themselves as “fighters” who must protect the white race against a system geared against them, and the clubs focus on martial arts and sport to build their white nationalist movement and spread extremist propaganda. They are inspired by the neo-Nazi Rise Above Movement (RAM), a violent group formed in California in 2020 by Robert Rundo. Most of them use a version of the Active Logo, a large white Celtic cross on a black background, known for being a symbol of neo-Nazism.
“It’s extremely concerning to see this network of hard-core racists increasing exponentially over the last few years,” said Wendy Via, co-founder of Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. “In addition to their rapid growth, what’s particularly worrying is the level of organization and recruitment both online and off, their affinity for violence, and their alliances among similar groups.”
For the most part, the Active Clubs are decentralized in terms of their leadership and organization, but there is still communication and coordination between them, often through Telegram. They collaborate with chapters in other areas, including other countries, participate in common MMA tournaments, and spread each others’ propaganda on their local channels. Contributing to the transnational communication among chapters, European chapters very often write posts in English, or with English translations, to make it easier for foreign groups to share them.
By far, the United States is the country with the most Active Club chapters, with 49 nationwide. Many of these groups are localized to specific cities, however others are state-wide or even exist across state lines. According to GPAHE’s data, Active Clubs are most commonly found in California and Oregon, with four chapters each followed by Washington, Ohio, Virginia, and Colorado with three chapters each.
GPAHE has found that Microsoft’s search engine Bing promotes Active Clubs on its site through its artificial intelligence program, even prompting questions such as “how do I start one,” or “what are the benefits of joining?”
The failure of Bing, or any platform, to address the current gaps in their AI models that lead to promoting harmful content or disinformation makes them complicit in the continued, and rapid, growth of Active Clubs and other hate groups.
“The rise of Active Clubs both in the US and around the world is another reminder that the transnational far-right movement is not slowing down, instead, it is increasingly interconnected from local communities to across borders,” said Heidi Beirich, co-founder of Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. “Tech companies must do what they can to deplatform these clubs, and authorities must act quickly on the potential violence and danger these clubs can bring to communities.”