The strange beliefs of Anders Breivik
When news broke of the tragic terrorist attack in Norway, there has been, not surprisingly, a great deal of intellectual acrobatics to understand why an ethnic Norwegian would commit such a horrible act of violence against his own country. While it is not surprising that initial speculations about the attacker implicated Islamic extremist groups, the source of the attack was far closer to home. Anders Breivik was a right wing, nationalist extremist. There is a great deal of speculation and arguing now as to whether he was just a deranged lunatic, a Christian jihadist, or harbinger of a nationalist backlash looming in many European states.
One of the more bizarre conspiracies that erupted was from the sort of fringe anti-government paranoiacs who also thought the Oklahoma City Bombing was a government plot to justify a federal crackdown on the militia movement. They claim that Breivik was also some sort of government plant, a la the stay-behinds of Gladio, intended to justify the oppression of European nationalists. While this is obviously ludicrous, their mention of Gladio is interesting – although in a different way than they intended.
Gladio didn’t start out as a conspiracy intended to conduct false flag attacks – it was a plan to fight the USSR’s armies from behind their lines during a potential World War III. To that end, hard-liners were recruited and trained, caches of arms and explosives were hidden, and coordinating networks were put in place. But to the ultranationalists in Italy, they did not think they needed to wait for the Red Army to actually roll in. In their eyes, the communist invasion was already occurring, and by stealth. So they dug up their arms on their own accord and launched a series of attacks designed to disorient Italian society and provoke a crackdown on the left.
Anders Breivik’s gargantuan, rambling manifesto, and his admiration of Norwegian resistance fighter Max Manus and the terrorists of al Qaeda, do recall those rogue nationalists in that sense. This is not at all surprising. The image of the partisan guerrilla has been an ideal symbol of far right extremism at least since the OAS and Schmitt’s intellectual treatment of that movement – among others – in Theory of the Partisan. The OAS, along with other nationalist and rightist groups during the Cold War, admired, or at least respected, many of the guerrillas of the left for similar reasons Breivik did. Jean-François Thiriart after all described his ideology as a sort of fascist, nationalist Maoism. In the obscure and dark corners of European nationalist movements, unconventional partnerships, or at least sympathies, are to be expected. Breivik adopts the language of indigenous rights and anti-imperialism by declaring himself a Sitting Bull standing up against the Custers of the modern European project (one might recall attempts by European nationalists to forge common cause with America’s Black and Latino separatist movements using similar language about the need for a “homeland”). Despite his invocation of the American founding fathers, he has little admiration for the policies of the US and Western Europeans, who he sees as complicit in the task of the multiculturalists and globalists of the “EUSSR.”
At one point Breivik even discusses the possibility of a tactical alliance between European nationalists and al Qaeda for the purposes of dismantling EU-American hegemony over the Europe of nations – which recalls conservative nationalist Alain de Benoist’s anti-globalist cry that it is “Better to wear the helmet of a Red Army soldier than to live on a diet of hamburgers in Brooklyn.” Breivik speaks endlessly of slaughtering “cultural Marxists,” multiculturalists, and globalists, but his solution to the Muslim “Question” seems to be deportation rather than outright genocide. McCants notes that strange alliances have formed in the world of terror, and he is quite correct. Ex-Nazis, neofascists, National Bolshevists and other conservative revolutionary groups did pursue contacts with Gaddafi, Khomeini, Hussein, and other leaders. Left wing groups such as PIRA, the RAF, the Red Brigades, and ETA are now on the backfoot in Europe. Future states seeking to destabilize Europe may turn to right wing nationalist groups instead.
More disturbing than the conservative revolutionaries and ultranationalists of the post-WWII era, though, is that Breivik is a lone soldier in an imaginary army. He did not need to trick a Western intelligence agency into supplying him, seek tactical alliances to fund him, or foreign support to train him, in today’s age, it takes only a handful of people, if any more than a committed individual, to conduct such attacks. In a way, Breivik’s rambling discussions of Ergenekon, nationalist coup attempts, and other failed conservative revolutionary movements make him sort of a cargo cultist. If he re-enacts the rituals of nationalist violence these shadowy groups did, then the support he assumes pervades loyal Westerners in the European security services will arrive, and implement the policies he advocates. The political cargo will arrive.
What is even more disturbing is that, in some ways, he is getting the very sort of response he desires. By igniting a subversive civil war in the European political arena, Breivik sought to polarize the so-called loyal Europeans and the multiculturalists. The result has been commentary that, in virtually the same breath as it condemn’s Breivik’s act, asks that we recognize Islam as the greater threat, denounces the institutions Breivik sought to attack, and seeks to portray critics of multiculturalism as the next round of victims. Somehow, that it might become harder to extol the “legitimate concerns” of people such as Breivik constitutes the second half of the “Double Tragedy” of his actions.
Even more sickeningly, the Jerusalem Post takes up this line, even though the previous generations of those in Breivik’s line of work and ideological affiliations would have considered the Jews the cobelligerents in the multiculture – well, they might have said zivilisation, because then kultur was a good thing – out to destroy “indigenous” Europe.
Norway, a country so oriented toward promoting peace, where the Muslim population is forecast to increase from 3 percent to 6.5% of the population by 2030, should heed Sen’s incisive analysis.
The challenge for Norway in particular and for Europe as a whole, where the Muslim population is expected to account for 8% of the population by 2030 according to a Pew Research Center, is to strike the right balance. Fostering an open society untainted by xenophobia or racism should go hand in hand with protection of unique European culture and values.
Europe’s fringe right-wing extremists present a real danger to society. But Oslo’s devastating tragedy should not be allowed to be manipulated by those who would cover up the abject failure of multiculturalism.
Ah yes, the legitimate concern and “challenge” of a shocking eight percent Islamic population! As if comparable numbers of Italian immigrants have meant “Romanization” in the United States! Now might be a time to remember that not everything European culture produces is good – Breivik, in my mind, does not represent anything about European culture in need of defending (After all, it was Europe that produced fascism and communism). That said, to launch an ideological attack on the European right and nationalists would be an utter mistake. As much as commentators – many of them foreign, from both sides of the spectrum – would like to see a massive offensive against multiculturalism or nationalism or some other wide-ranging ideology, neither approach actually addresses why men like Breivik actually act.
Breivik’s manifesto does make it very clear about the intellectual and pseudointellectual wellsprings he drew from, but it also makes it clear he exists in a geopolitical fantasy world. That is what is truly dangerous about men like Breivik – they fight at the walls of an empty fortress, in defense of a movement that may not actually exist. A mature political culture would recognize that to turn the ideological guns towards the European left or right at this point would satisfy the political objectives Breivik sought in the first place. The greater danger than any ideology Breivik represents (and it should be clear that more than anything else, Breivik represented the ludicrous, eccentric, and totally futile European conservative revolutionary movement – a movement which, after all, ended up despising the modern European right anyway) is that he was able to undertake his action without a broader network of support. Addressing the ability of a handful, or single man to unleash attacks comparable to those of the ultranationalists during the “Years of Lead” or a large, sophisticated organization such as al Qaeda is ultimately more important than scrutinizing or treating any ideological pathology they subscribed to. After all, the techniques of the partisan and terrorists are ideologically neutral, available those of any flag or creed with the motive, means, and opportunity to take them up.