On Wednesday, June 6, far-right Canadian YouTube personality Lauren Southern tweeted an image showing that she and far-right American YouTuber Brittany Pettibone had met with the influential ultranationalist Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin.
The meeting represents a surprising generational and geographic convergence. Dugin is very close to powerful Russian Orthodox oligarchs and has been involved in pushing for or facilitating Russian military intervention. He advocates for a united “Eurasian” civilizational bloc led by Russia on the continent, which is shorthand for Russian expansionism. Dugin is known for his elaborate political theory books, which range from the philosophical to the completely mystical. He has been building networks of far-right sympathizers in Europe.
Southern and Pettibone are far-right YouTube personalities popular on the alt-right and associated with its internet culture but known mostly for activist stunts or spreading far-right counter-narratives on the platform.
One link, however, is that Southern and Pettibone have been closely affiliated with the far-right, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim identitarian activists of the group Defend Europe. Pettibone and Defend Europe head Martin Sellner are a couple. Some identitarian thinkers have been involved in Dugin’s networks and projects.
Defend Europe has drawn attention for a series of anti-immigrant PR stunts. In August of last year, they chartered a boat to patrol the Mediterranean, supposedly to send migrants home and to monitor NGO rescue boats, which they accuse of human trafficking.
In April 2018, Defend Europe activists climbed the Alps to install a plastic fence on a summit to “protect the border.” They then patrolled the area and hunted down migrants to hand them off to law enforcement. Pettibone and Southern were present for both “missions.”
Defend Europe has suffered a series of recent setbacks. Seventeen Austrian identitarians, Sellner included, are being prosecuted in Austria. Hungarian and French identitarians were banned from Facebook and Instagram in the last two months. Sellner, Southern, Pettibone and the Hungarian identitarian leader Abel Bodi were also prevented from entering the United Kingdom in March 2018.