Members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US, hold a swastika burning after a rally in 2018 in Georgia [File: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP]

The new coronavirus has already infected hundreds of thousands of people, taken more than 20,000 lives and caused a level of economic, social and political disruption not seen in decades.

But for many far-right hardliners, it’s a crisis to be welcomed.

The hardest-core “accelerationists” – violent neo-Nazis who want civilisation to crumble, hope that COVID-19 will turn out to be their secret weapon.

“The situation is ripe for exploitation by the far right,” Cynthia Miller-Idriss, American University sociologist and expert on the far-right, told Al Jazeera. 

Aside from feeding into “accelerationist and apocalytic ideas”, Miller-Idriss

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