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Breivik’s Philosophy of Hate

We look at mass murderer Anders Breivik’s attempt to imitate Mein Kampf.

On 16 April the trial of the Norwegian right-wing terrorist Anders Breivik started and is scheduled to conclude by the end of June. Breivik has confessed to the bombing in Oslo, killing eight, and the shooting of sixty-nine at the Norwegian Labour Party's youth camp in Utoya.

Like young, white, male right-wing terrorists before him, such as Timothy McVeigh and David Copeland, Anders Breivik (despite his claims to be part of the Knights Templar) seems to have acted alone. Like McVeigh and Copeland, Breivik became disillusioned with co-operating with anyone in larger far-right organisations preferring a kind of messianic narcissistic individualism.

All grew up under the capitalist system, but with varying provision for welfare. McVeigh became transient after the leaving the army, and ended up in a dead-end job with long hours. Copeland struggled through a series of failed jobs before working on the London Underground. Breivik perhaps enjoyed the best welfare provision growing up, McVeigh quite possibly the most meagre. All were alienated from society and all found familiar scapegoats for their degrees of alienation. McVeigh expressed some of this in writing before the bombing and after in a 1,200 word essay. Only well-educated Breivik, however, seemed well-paid and not precariously employed (traditionally the far right exploit unemployment), and took a language other than his first and wrote a 1,518 page manifesto entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence by Andrew Berwick. This somewhat troubles those keen to label anything outside the political mainstream as “extremist” and medicalise his condition as insane. He wrote that his main motive for committing the atrocities on 22 July was to market this manifesto.

The far-right scapegoat which finds the most traction post-9/11 happens to be Islam. It used to be Jewish immigration or Afro-Caribbean immigration. While Copeland talked of a Zionist conspiracy, the far-right, after 9/11, switched support from Palestine to Israel. In any case, like European efforts of the English Defence League, Breivik is more pan-nationalist than nationalist. He writes:

“One of the reasons why hardcore anti-Semites (David Duke would be a case in point) are unreliable allies is that they hate Jews so much that it shuts down the rational parts of their brain and they end up making common cause with Muslims, based on mutual hatred. The same logic applies to hardcore anti-Europeans, of which there are many even at ‘conservative’ websites such as LGF. They have an irrational hatred, a dark cloud in their minds which prevents them from seeing the world clearly. In a way, some LGF-ers thus have more in common with David Duke than they'd like to admit. If mindless anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism should be considered a problem then so should mindless anti-Europeanism.”

What matters chiefly is that the group persecuted by fascists is in a position of weakness. Breivik implicitly acknowledged this "If I was a bearded jihadist there would be no question of insanity".

Only about half of the manifesto was written by Breivik and the rest is compiled from other sources. “I’ve spent a total of 9 years of my life working on this project. The first five years were spent studying and creating a financial base, and the last three years was spent working full time with research, compilation and writing.”

The introductory chapter of the manifesto defining "Cultural Marxism" is reprinted from Political Correctness: A Short History of an Ideology by the right-wing think tank, Free Congress Foundation. Very early on, the fabrications and leaps of logic jump out. “Political Correctness now looms over Western European society like a colossus.” then “Political Correctness is Marxism, with all that implies: loss of freedom of expression, thought control, inversion of the traditional social order, and, ultimately, a totalitarian state.”

By the end of the introduction, Political Correctness and other restrictions of freedom of speech or language are treated as synonymous with Cultural Marxism. The conclusion then is to get rid of both, which somewhat discredits later claims to defend free speech.

It should come as little surprise then that Breivik's particular bête noire was "Marxists". He is reported to have repeatedly shouted during the shooting, "You are going to die today, Marxists!" and the badge on the left arm of his diving suit read "Marxist Hunter".

A lot of what follows is tortuous, wrongly interpreted, one-sided opinion, or just plain invented. Long-term demographic projections, an old favourite of fascists, make an appearance despite being notoriously dubious.

Book 1, entitled “History and Islam” focuses on largely historical disputes about genocides, falsification and apologism.  Islam and its adherents are selectively demonised while religion generally gets a get-out-of-jail free card.  The manifesto states “Negationism in Europe is practised with the most prowess by historians and writers who are under the spell of Marxism. Lenin had wanted to use the Muslims against the French and British colonialists. Modern Leftists with Marxist sympathies see Islam as an ally against Israel and the US.”

Book 2, entitled “Europe Burning” is dull speculation about a conspiracy theory of “Eurabia”, and some reprinted rambling about Feminism. ‘Cultural Marxism’ is also used interchangeably with multiculturalism and becomes a phrase for any bad thing you can think of.

One chapter is entitled “Why the discipline of Sociology must be completely removed from Academia”. As far as Breivik is concerned, the reason for this is that it is Marxist. He suggests replacing it with ideas from The Bible, Machiavelli, George Orwell, Thomas Hobbes, John Stuart Mill, John Locke, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Ayn Rand and William James. The selective philosophising is tedious and tiresome to read. Perhaps because he knows he is on shaky ground with capitalism and democracy, the chapter on “Globalised Capitalism” gets a mere four pages and in any case is traditionally code on the far-right for anti-Semitism.

In the rest of Book 2 he writes chapters entitled “Discrimination and harassment against cultural conservatives” and “ ANTIFA/Labour Jugend – State sponsored Marxist lynch mobs” where he states, “These brave Leftists or ‘anti-Fascists’ do, for some curious reason, seem to behave pretty much like, well, Fascists, a bit like the Brown Shirts in the 1930s, physically assaulting political opponents to silence them.” Some of this unfortunately can be levelled at SOS Rasisme and Blitz in Norway.

The manifesto concludes in Book 3 with a mixture of practicality and pure fantasy. One of the final chapters oddly reproduces a ‘Marxist’ study course.  Breivik also credits Wikipedia. All in all, the manifesto represents years of wasted time, money and effort and, most important, wasted lives.  It reads as a hotchpotch of prejudices, has little nuance and is full of generalisations, principally about wrong assumptions. As if to remind us where these prejudices come from, U.S. conservative commentator Glenn Beck came out with the most offensive stupid response. He compared the victims to the Hitler Youth before being reminded that groups affiliated with the Tea Party movement and the Beck-founded 9-12 Project also sponsor politically oriented camp programs for children.

The trial continues.