18 min 8 mths

The uninspiring-but-beaut suburb of Eglington in New South Wales Central Tablelands has a secret tucked away in a bedroom on the grid zone of quiet family homes nestled under the expansive southern night sky of this little acre of God’s redoubtable land. Among the meagre population of 2,256 countrified locals who live a measured existence on an out-of-the-way residential street just a kangaroo’s hop from the Macquarie River Plains, and 7km from the more happening city of Bathurst is a 20-year-old white supremacist (sic) with a deep devotion to God as worshipped through the vulgar sect of evangelical Christianity.

Every Wednesday night he logs on to his computer and hosts a live stream to his similarly naïve followers while his parents are oblivious to his nocturnal vice. On those Wednesday nights (barring those he’s busy studying) he presents his show. A scrawny head wearing a precocious smile while exposing immaculate white teeth, wavy black hair, high cheekbones, stretched ears, black obsidian eyes and caterpillar eyebrows are the first things to greet the viewer.

Josh Howes, 21, sits back on his chair in a cramped DIY studio squeezed inside a student’s computer desk with a virtual background featuring an unknown city, dressed in a blue suit, white button-down shirt, and black tie—very much the WASP—as he delivers his chat-relay format, which staggers on for over three brain-deadening hours without ever getting anywhere. Yet, what makes this God-fearing racial warrior upholding the light for the heavenly father guiding the Anglo-Saxon path all the more baffling is his race. See, Josh is half-Sri Lankan.

In that regard, what we publish here is in the interest of preserving the integrity of Australian nationalism…

Joshua Howes snagged the attention of the Australia First Party when they discovered he’d appropriated the party’s name for a streaming channel in which he promotes both himself and his ambitions for establishing a far-right political community.

The Australia First Party had never heard of Howes and was somewhat bothered by his appropriation of their name. The AFP discovered he was using their brand through a third party on Twitter, and reached out to enquire what gives with him. What they discovered left them flabbergasted.

See, Josh Howes is a special case—made all the more so because of whom allows him acceptance.

Howes belongs to a phenomenon that’s spawned an online subculture amongst dissidents of the far-right. It is a melange of politics and entertainment subsequent to the alt-right that has more in common with a youth cult and whose protagonists are primarily preoccupied with achieving celebrity.

Its devotees are “groypers” and “edge-lords”. If you aren’t au fait with those terms then you’re showing your age, which isn’t wise around this chauvinistically ageist clique. The former denotes a white nationalist stirrer (predominantly nativist) working online to expose milquetoast conservatives. The name itself derives from the erstwhile alt-right Pepe the Frog meme through an inexplicable and convoluted etymology. The latter is an extreme provocateur who enjoys rubbing others up the wrong way. Their online world is coded and very much age-exclusive; older nationalists are dismissed as “boomers.”

Joshua Howes found his way into this scene less than a year ago, bounding along with a vigour that needs clarifying. However, only by working diligently between them could he and a qualified psychologist produce that diagnosis.

R-L Josh Howes, Sho Howes, Phil Howes, and his sisters

Howes doesn’t add up. For a start, his mother is of Sri Lankan origin, while his father is white.

The two met in 1998 after his mother Shobana graduated from the University of New South Wales. Shobana (or Sho) is a GP, while Josh’s dad Phil, is the Senior Associate Minister for Families and Young People at Bathurst’s All Saints Anglican Church. A Bathurst boy “born and bred”, Phil Howes’s LinkedIn bio states he graduated with a bachelor of Dentistry from the University of Adelaide in 1974. We’re not sure, but that would make him quite long in the tooth if you do the math. Nonetheless, extracting molars and performing root canals couldn’t fill his spiritual void and at some point, Phil got turned on by Jesus.

But despite his newfound vocation as an Anglican preacher, Phil never swore a vow of celibacy, and his union with the colourful Shobana—aside from demonstrating his “open-mindedness”—produced Joshua and two younger sisters. All of Phil’s children are decidedly richer in their mother’s genes than his and it shows from their strikingly Sinhalese skin tones and features. Indeed, when it comes to whiteness in his immediate family, Phil is the odd one out.

Josh was born on the 21st of December 2002. He grew up mainly in Narromine, near Dubbo, where Pastor Phil rapped to his parish for several years as his wife worked as a GP. We’re not sure, but it’s likely Josh either attended the local high school there or the Senior Campus in Dubbo unless his folks packed him off to boarding school. That’s unlikely given that his parents’ combined income would only have been modest. Unless they were pushing methylamphetamine on the side, which isn’t likely.

In 2020, the Reverend was offered a new gig with a $100,000 pa salary at Bathurst. In 2021, he bought a 4-bedroom home in Eglington for a suspiciously cheap $30K, while nowadays his 935²m slice of suburban heaven is valued at around $700k. That’s quite a spike in full value for less than two years. The seller must’ve been desperate. That’s why, as William S. Burroughs said, you never do business with a “religious son of a bitch” unless you get it in writing. Otherwise, “he’ll have the good Lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.”

Given Reverend Phil’s liberal instincts and his mother’s training in mental health care, it’s a wonder they haven’t perceived any red flags concerning their son. And with Phil’s role being so fundamental to the spiritual and social fabric of the Bathurst community it must surely give pause.

Phil Howes outside his Bathurst god-bothering facility

A little over a year ago, Phil and Sho’s eldest had graduated without honours but was itching to explore the world before undertaking tertiary education. On his “Year 13” gap year in 2021, when others of his age were breaking free in the normal fashion by swilling booze, popping pills, and dancing till all hours with their eyeballs bugging out of their skulls, Josh was undertaking more pious diversions out at a Christian retreat.

Hosted by the Anglican Youthworks and held at Camp Wanawong at Loftus south of Sydney, Y13 is a Christian disciple gap year for school leavers to prepare them to “change the world for Christ.”

Photos from Josh’s Facebook reveal him whooping it up with some of the most horrific geeks we’ve seen. The cheesiness wafts from these pictures, depicting the polar opposite of fun in an environment so uptight it’d have any one of us kicking cupboard doors in to find the sacramental wine. Ok, we’re just teasing, but it does look boring—not a six-pack or a cigar within sight. In one snap, Josh is surrounded by well-dressed lads gathered together in an outbuilding, doing nothing conspicuously exciting. Something is missing from these pics, and it’s not hard to figure out what. Indeed, it emanates all the vibes of a retreat for kids with special needs.

Ever wondered what the dweebs do on their break?

One of the lads holds a book in his lap, and presumably, it’s the Bible. However, given Josh’s inexplicable swing to the far right, it could just as easily be a copy of Mein Kampf.

          There is a fine line between liberal degeneracy and sober nationalism, and falling on either side of it has its perils. But to be brutally frank, it’s better to have indulged and gotten wise than to permanently wear the grimacing smile of the lifelong neophyte. Nietzsche would have had a turn for the worse if he happened upon this bunch of stiffs while out for a hike.

          What is most conspicuous is the prevailing whiteness of Josh’s companions, which may provide a clue as to his sudden identity crisis. Despite his brown exterior, Josh has spent his life predominantly among Anglo-Saxons. Just as a duck raised among puppies might grow up believing it’s a dog, Josh is desperate to prove his credentials as one of the pale types.

The future of Australian nationalism in embryo (2009)

          It’s unknown how Josh came to be seduced by the far right, but in his peer group, it’s fair to say that being a walking, talking contradiction doesn’t bother them in the least. His Twitter channel boasts over 800 users, while his YouTube channel has around 438, which isn’t much. However, the latter is a vehicle for promoting his Cozy.TV streaming, which is the Jewel in his Sinhala crown.

          Howes might’ve been introduced to this hybrid of evangelical Christianity and pseudo-nationalism through his young Christian friends. Right now, a style of post-alt-right “nativism” is the basis of a subculture that has as its figurehead the 24-year-old American far-right evangelical Nick Fuentes. A legitimate form of celebrity surrounds Fuentes as a political actor, despite him being part-Mexican on his paternal side. Moreover, aside from advocating authoritarianism, Fuentes promotes himself as a Christian nationalist.

Perhaps Fuentes’s genealogy offers hope to all those of mixed race who feel attracted to White Nationalism. After all, enough whites pretend to be people of colour, so the paradox is not unheard of. Already, certain political commentators are aware of his popularity among Latinos so they write about Hispanic White Nationalism. Yet, the adulteration of Christianity as a Trojan Horse for white nationalism is where those like Howes find an open door.

          This isn’t unique in Australia: Danny Nalliah is a Sri Lankan pastor who MCed at Reclaim Australia rallies on behalf of his defunct Rise Up Australia party. At one of these, in Sydney’s Martin Place in 2015, he led the crowd in a chant of, “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi.” It was beyond belief, more so because the mob obliged his implorations to join in, which, given the dialectic, was surreal. In those days, it was fear of Moslems that lowered the bar and allowed for inclusivity in the “movement” based on “diversity minus Islam.” Blair Cottrell, once a notorious far-right figure, even met with him for publicity purposes.

          A unifying feature of the groyper class is that anti-Semitism guarantees almost anyone acceptance. It is a universal code. The black rapper turned groyper hero Kanye West is accepted by alleged white nationalists regardless of his African roots because he dared to “name the Jew”.

Subsequently—and predictably—by confronting the taboo around Semitism cult worship of “Ye” developed among the far-right online. Many incorporate “Ye 24” into their Twitter handles (including Howes) and, despite his race, pro-West memes began to circulate. This indicates a fracturing of unity around the prospect of Trump’s re-election as they shift their support to Kanye West’s unlikely presidential bid, which has about as much potential for success as a new line of KKK Barbie dolls.

With boys as white as Josh, who needs people of colour?

Nevertheless, Josh Howes’s foray into dissident politics is inspired not by his indignation at having watched the transmogrification of the Australian nation into a western liberal international work village—thus displacing ethnic Australians—but by his fan-like emulation of the American nationalist personality Nick Fuentes, who’s likewise notable for his youth. Not that Howes has a skerrick of Fuentes’s charisma or rhetorical gifts. But Fuentes fills an opening left after the exit of the musical “rock star” among edgy youth culture.

Many, like Howes, are more attracted to his celebrity than his ideas, which—in keeping with the rock star simile—are more akin to embracing a genre than a dedicated ideology. To once again apply the pop star analogy, much of the tribal appeal of the rock hero lay in the romance of the dream that anyone might pick up a guitar and one day become famous like their idol.

          Yet, while those bygone youth subcultures frequented pubs, clubs and stadiums to gratify their need for belonging, the youths who comprise this extreme form of conservatism achieved their allegiance on social media; bypassing the traditional route of investigating the established nationalist organisations, and all the instruction they can provide.

This explains why the two parties are largely unaware of the other’s existence. It is also a driver of the generational wedge that renders a mass movement impossible. Moreover, the disrespect that is shown by these “groypers” to anyone outside of their age group—as well as the codified and insular nature of their communications—points to its membership among youth subcultures rather than political organizations.

Mature age is paradoxically a negative with them and grounds to invalidate anyone they don’t wish to hear from. Yet, they protest their allegiance to “traditionalist” principles but abhor anyone old. This is a great illness in the psychopathology of western society that they are impervious to realise that they’re not immune from.

Meanwhile, like a bunch of kids drawing made-up MC patches on the back of their jackets as they ride off on bicycles thinking they’re an outlaw motorcycle gang, the child crusaders behind their keyboards believe their accretion of nationalist idioms gathered from all over and reproduced ad hoc on Twitter qualify them to form a club of their own.

If they weren’t such dags, they’d almost look cool

Their behaviour is foolish and an unforgivable corruption of the inviolable codes governing nationalism. Firstly, their foolishness resides in leaving themselves open to doxing on social media. These kids laugh when they’re warned about the potential consequences because, to many, it’s just a big game. Secondly, having established an inclusive environment for those like Howes, they’re fundamentally altering the DNA of nationalism so that it becomes something different.

Unpacking the singularity of Josh Howes leaves a devastating conclusion. For a start, he fails to see that he is the living embodiment of what nationalists organise against. He is the product of racial miscegenation; he is symbolic of everything we’re agin. This makes his desire—not to just be accepted by us—but to want to “lead” us, an outright affront to everything we nationalists stand for.

Amusingly, in a recent video in which he slammed the voice and the entitlement of Aborigines, he referred to seeking a university scholarship, complaining he didn’t get one because he’s not a person of colour. For a boy who slams the illogic of the transgender community, in which a man can claim to “identify” as a woman, he has yet to win the battle with reality over his own identity. Or is that “identities” plural? He has many. One of those is an “incel,” which is unsurprising. As one comment on his live stream read, “Who is this nigger?” ■

Don’t tell us, tell the judge after you’ve finished your shooting spree
If you ever came across a half-subcontinental woman you’d be looking at your sister

Yeah, speaking of non-Australians
Wow, that’s … um … such a nationalist vision you have there, Josh. Except for the parties you’ve chosen
Denial is also nascent in most people. See, it’s not just a river in Egypt
You are an example of a great replacement, but

The British Empire ruined itself by dint of being an empire
It’s not like them to give away anything for free
You got the race bit right, but you’re a bit hazy on realism
Sure, you’re not a Moslem?

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