|A lunatic Chaplin imitator|
and his greatest fans
|First as tragedy|
|Then as farce|
Iron March was a far-right website describing itself as a fascist social network. The site was allegedly founded by Russian nationalist Alexander Slavros. The site went offline in November 2017, after hackers of varying hat colors took the site down. It spawned an ideological successor/copycat called Fascist Forge in May 2018, promoting much the same worldview as its predecessor, which also appears to have gone down since. After the hack and takedown of Iron March, the database was sat on for two years for safety reasons and was published to the world on archive.org in November 2019. It is currently being researched by law enforcement and other parties.
The site was an example of weird online 'trolling' subcultures creating fascists, a good few years before Gamergate and the alt-right made everyone find that out en masse - though being radicalized by being upset over feminists complaining over videogame breasts may be only slightly less lame than being radicalized on Deviantart. Yes, Iron March was the result of a bunch of weird Deviantart users, aligned to the various 'trolling' and 'drama' groups of the site, getting together and deciding to make their Warhammer-inspired LARP sessions a deadly reality, with its various admins all having somehow been allowed to post weird hateful 'artwork' (read: crappy Photoshop posters) on the site for years. Being born from a site full of weird edgy teenagers probably explained the site's meme-obsessed and 'shocking' tone compared to even other far-right sites at the time, and eventually it was home to many white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and garden variety right-wing extremists. A slogan on the site's homepage read "Gas the kikes, race war now, 1488 boots on the ground!" Unlike sites like Stormfront, which attempt to cloak their racism in code words and a veneer of civilized debate, Iron March was out and proud with its bigotry, and contained explicit calls for and celebrations of murder and genocide against non-whites, Jews, LGBT people, and everybody else they didn't like. Non-violent political activism was dismissed as a dead end, one that would require compromising with a system that they believed sought their extermination, and as such, they called for the complete overthrow and destruction of that system through violent revolution, with zero tolerance for anybody who diverged from that party line. Members of the forum expressed sympathy toward Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik and the Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, as well as towards the '60s cult leader Charles Manson.
Again, it really needs to be reiterated just how much the site was both run by and populated with edgy manchildren - most of them tended to be nerds obsessed with Warhammer 40,000 or videogames, with Ironmarch even briefly having it's own Let's Play channel whose logo was a Totenkopf in a gamer headset, so perhaps over time they'd have considered Pewdiepie an ideological hero too. And it seemed like despite the calls to violence and macho posturing they were all still cowards, as pretty much every admin ran off into hiding when the site was taken offline - the exception being former admin Benjamin Kyle Raymond (one of the founders of National Action as well), who kept his public tryhard presence until he ended up finally getting arrested thanks in part to his public bragging. Perhaps he thought real life was just like posting on Deviantart still.
The site's main contribution to the far right was a rediscovery of the works of James Mason, a previously obscure neo-Nazi activist who, from 1980 to '86, published a newsletter entitled Siege that called for a violent neo-Nazi revolution against the US government, The Turner Diaries-style. The website's owners actually got in touch with Mason and convinced him to come out of retirement and start writing new material, while condensing Siege into a .pdf file for mass consumption and promoting it to their members. The chief legacy of Iron March has thus been a revival of violent, militant neo-Nazism within the far right in the latter half of the 2010s, rejecting the non-violent, PR-focused strategies of other white supremacist groups in favor of an insurgent/terrorist approach of the sort that Mason advocated in Siege. Even after the site went down, groups inspired by its extreme rhetoric, positions, and worldview continued to proliferate on far-right social media channels.
One issue that the site's American users attempted to grapple with was the fact that, while fascism was built around an inherent appeal to tradition, the values and history of the United States were utterly antithetical to the kind of tradition they had in mind (the pseudohistorical arguments of David Barton et al. aside). The nation was forged in a revolution rooted in liberal Enlightenment values that established it from the start as a democratic republic without a formal aristocracy, it was built by people whose roots in the land were shallow by Old World standards (from colonial-era settlers to urban immigrants) and who were seen as the refuse of Europe, any separate national or ethnic identity they had was dissolved after a few generations of the American melting pot, and the entire conception of the American nation and people rested in the civic nationalism of the United States Constitution and citizenship law rather than in any sense of "blood and soil". In short, the United States represented everything they despised, and moreover, their hatred of such ran to the very foundation that it was built on. As such, they felt that returning America to its traditional values and the original ideals of the Founding Fathers would solve nothing, because those values and ideals were the problem to begin with. (Canada and Australia, both fellow settler/frontier nations, had the same problem in their view, but they focused on the much larger US.)
Their answer to this came in what they called "American futurism", probably the closest they came to laying out a unique, coherent political philosophy beyond just regurgitating postwar neo-fascist writings. Named after the Italian futurist movement, which was among the inspirations for Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party, American futurism broke from "classical" fascism in its rejection of tradition altogether, on the grounds that, in an American context, "tradition" meant the liberal values of the hated system that had built America, and trying to shoehorn that tradition into a fascist narrative would merely serve to uphold and strengthen the liberal status quo rather than challenge it. In lieu of tradition, they embraced a goulash stew of Italian futurism, Project Mayhem from Fight Club, and a survivalist fetishization of the frontier, the post-apocalypse, barbarian tribes, and "outside-the-system" subcultures like bikers, gangsters, rednecks, and even RVers. Since they felt that America never had a "golden age" to look back to for inspiration, they framed their cause in revolutionary terms rather than counter-revolutionary ones, envisioning a second American Revolution that would undo the legacy of the first.
Crimes and terrorism
In February 2015, three people were arrested for planning to commit a mass shooting at a shopping mall in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Valentine's Day. One of the suspects, 23-year-old Lindsay Souvannarath of Illinois, was found to have been an active member of Iron March and to have made many online posts in favor of fascist or neo-Nazi ideologies, despite her ironically being of mixed race herself. The other two suspects, two young men from the suburbs of Halifax named Randall Shepard and James Gamble (the former being Souvannarath's online boyfriend), were also involved with online circles fascinated with dictators and spree killers, and met Souvannarath through them.
A number of violent neo-Nazi paramilitary fascist groups, such as Atomwaffen Division and Antipodean Resistance, were also formed at Iron March. Members and associates of Atomwaffen has been connected to five murders: Devon Arhurs killing his roommates Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk in May 2017, Nicholas Giampas killing his girlfriend's parents Buckley Kuhn-Fricker and Scott Fricker over his views in December 2017, and Samuel Woodward killing a 19 year old gay, Jewish University of Pennsylvania student named Blaze Bernstein in January 2018. Vasilios Pistolis, a member of Atomwaffen and the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Workers Party (both of whom share significant overlap), also attacked a counter-protester with a Confederate flag/Black Sun symbol hybrid during the Unite the Right riots in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11-12, 2017, as well as being present at the torch march/brawl.
On November 6, 2019, Iron March's entire SQL database was leaked to the Internet Archive, containing the user names, registered emails, and IP addresses of all of its users, as well as the forum’s public posts and private messages. Owing to the site's reputation as a breeding ground for real-world violence and terrorism, people immediately began poring over the data seeking to identify its members. Some turned out to be active-duty military, or at least people who claimed to be such. Data from the leak was used to ban numerous white supremacists from services like Airbnb.
- The Daily Stormer
- Neoreactionary movement - a similar example of people too weird for the rest of the far-right getting together online.
- ↑ "Fascist Forge: A New Forum for Hate." Anti-Defamation League, 15 January 2019 (recovered 21 January 2019).
- ↑ Subcomandante X. "Iron March Copycat Forum Offers Valuable Insight Into Fascist Tactics." American Odyssey, 23 September 2018 (recovered 21 January 2019).
- ↑ [https://archive.org/details/iron_march_201911 "Database from original website, current to the minute the takedown of the site occurred, along with custom scripts to help convert the DB tables into a human-readable format."
- ↑  "Mysterious Hacker dumps database of infamous Iron March neo-nazi forum."
- ↑  "Mysterious Neo-Nazi Advocated Terrorism for Six Years Before Disappearance"
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Beauchamp, Zack. "An online subculture celebrating the Charleston church shooter appears to be inspiring copycat plots." Vox, 7 February 2019 (recovered 8 February 2019).
- ↑ "National Action: Ben Raymond jailed for eight years"
- ↑ Southern Poverty Law Center Extremist Files: James Mason
- ↑ "Terrorgram: A community built on hate." DFRLab, 20 April 2020 (recovered 10 October 2020).
- ↑ Bedingfield, Will. "How Telegram became a safe haven for pro-terror Nazis." Wired, 1 March 2020 (recovered 10 October 2020).
- ↑ An archived post with the self-explanatory title "America is Cancer".
- ↑ American Futurism Workshop
- ↑ "The Woman Who Plotted a Valentine's Mass Murder Shares How the Internet Radicalized Her".
- ↑ "Illinois woman with Neo-Nazi leanings charged in Canadian mass murder plot".
- ↑ "Massive White Supremacist Message Board Link: How to Access and Interpret the Data." Bellingcat, 6 November 2019 (recovered 14 December 2019).
- ↑ McKay, Tom. "Neo-Nazi Web Forum Iron March Has SQL Database Dumped on the Internet Archive." Gizmodo, 8 November 2019 (recovered 14 December 2019).
- ↑ McKay, Tom. "Airbnb Bans Over 60 White Supremacists After Iron March Forum Database Leak." Gizmodo, 13 December 2019 (recovered 14 December 2019).