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Left-wing extremism: Activities

Some of the activities taking place in left-wing extremist environments in Denmark are described here.

Left-wing extremist activities in Denmark are multifaceted, with a variety of forms of expression and diverse objectives. However, it is essentially possible to divide them into two categories:

  1. Clandestine activities and planning involving a small core of experienced left-wing extremist activists who play a leading role in the environment and have practical experience of violence and other forms of criminal activism. Clandestine meetings and preparations of this type are typically discreet as they are generally convinced that they are being monitored. There is also crime in the form of hacking and virtual and physical surveillance and recording of political opponents.
  2. Open activities such as demonstrations and other forms of activism with the aim of creating broader political sympathy for a specific case, recruiting new activists or creating a foundation for political alliances with moderate left-wing groups and parties. Whether moderate or criminal methods are to be used in any given situation is typically determined by the most experienced activists, who are frequently the most extreme in political terms as well.

Clandestine activities may, for example, involve preparation of major demonstrations or events involving the planning of attacks on the police, political vandalism or assaults on political opponents from the extreme right wing. This political violence is typically based on militant anarchist environments or individuals who are typically concerned about individual cases – militant anti-fascism, animal rights, the environment and opposition to racism and xenophobia, for instance. Other methods involve sabotage in the form of arson or other targeted destruction of property, such as the property of multinational corporations or the offices of public authorities, vehicles, etc.

There are a few key individuals in the left-wing extremist environment who have a great deal of authority due to their eloquence, political understanding or practical experience of streetfighting, assaults and political vandalism. These individuals have special status and influence in the environment. These key individuals typically have the casting vote when it comes to planning the form any given demonstration, action or event should take. Other leading activists may specialise in hacking, surveillance and recording, for instance, forming a basis for a series of other criminal activities.

Left-wing extremist groups and individuals are generally very international in outlook and react proactively to conflicts, individual cases and suchlike involving foreign groups and parties with which they cooperate or express solidarity. Clearance of buildings occupied by squatters or prosecution of prominent individuals from the left-wing extremist environments in other countries may trigger sympathetic actions of varying kinds. Similarly, individuals from the Danish left-wing extremist environments are very sensitive to Danish and international debate on the refugee crisis, deportations, etc.

Violent assaults on or political vandalism against political opponents, where prominent right-wing extremist individuals and renowned social commentators and politicians are at risk, are typically planned by smaller, clandestine cells, thereby aiming to prevent investigation of the attacks.

Open, outward-facing activities may involve planning and participating in peaceful demonstrations and meetings, gatherings, various activist events, cultural events and political training in the form of reading groups and book cafés.

At the milder end the scale in terms of criminal activism, we find outward facing activities in the form of political graffiti and posters and stickers being posted in public areas.  These activities typically involve younger, less experienced activists whose spirit of self-sacrifice and particular activist talents are tested to see whether they are worthy of a place among the experienced, often older members of the inner circle.

There is a considerable grey area in the left-wing extremist environments where reflections on strategy and objectives in individual cases determine whether violent or peaceful methods are used.

This text was written by researcher Chris Holmsted Larsen.

last modified Jun 08, 2018