Left-wing Violent Extremism: Identifying Precursors and Growth in New Zealand

Author: Che Tibby & Cameron Bayly1 

Published in National Security Journal, 19 March 2023

DOI: 10.36878/nsj20230319.03

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As attention to right-wing violent extremism intensifies, accusations of left-wing violent extremism have become more frequent. There is, however, very little evidence of this violence occurring in New Zealand today and international research suggests mobilisation to violence among left-wing extremists is currently uncommon compared to right-wing or other types of extremism, is concentrated in a limited number of comparable countries, and is rarely fatal. This article argues that left-wing violent extremism is not currently occurring in New Zealand because several politico-social factors, which give rise to extremist violence, are absent. Yet it would be a mistake to believe that New Zealand is immune from left-wing violent extremism, especially stochastic terrorism. We, therefore, suggest an ongoing appreciation of several high-level indicators of nascent political violence would enable law enforcement and other security professionals to remain aware of politico-social developments and the potential for violent extremism without overly intrusive monitoring of individuals.

Keywords: Left-wing extremism; New Zealand; violent extremism; national

1 Dr Che Tibby is a Lead Analyst for the New Zealand Police, specialises in National Security, and was formerly Chair of the Terrorism Designation Working Group. Cameron Bayly is the Chief Counter-Terrorism Adviser for the New Zealand Police.