The militia movement in America is broad, with groups varying widely in their purported goals. Michigan alone has dozens of militia groups with hundreds of members, with varying political and cultural objectives.
“Different groups have different aims,” said Jared Yates Sexton, author of The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore: A Story of American Rage. “Some are only interested in protecting themselves and their families from societal collapse, others are looking to battle the New World Order, some are explicitly interested in creating a white ethnostate for white Americans, others are angling for that second civil war that would start with a race war.”
Private militias are “armed paramilitary groups who take on extralegal law enforcement roles,” said Nicole Hemmer, associate research scholar at Columbia University. “They often have uniforms or insignias, and some engage in training exercises modeled after military exercises. That sense of having law enforcement responsibilities generally separates them from other fringe groups.”
Hemmer added that private militias tend to lean to the right, but not always: “In the modern movement, [militias are] primarily but not exclusively right-wing — Redneck Revolt and the Socialist Rifle Association are two anti-racist militias present at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.” And the political views of even conservative-leaning militia groups can be complex — back in 2016, one right-leaning militia in Michigan took part in protests aimed at the state government’s handling of the Flint water crisis.