Sunday, July 24, 2011

After Utøya: the politics of a monster

The news from Norway is horrific. What sort of monster could do such a thing? Placing a bomb and running away is one (terrible) thing, but is perhaps easier an act to commit than coldly walking around a small island shooting kids dead at close range. Anyone who has visited this blog over the years knows that I have researched terrorism for quite a long time now, but one thing I've always thought about "terrorism studies", if there is such a thing, is it too often focuses on the political ideology of groups and doesn't consider the psychology of individual actors.  We use our difference (most of 'us' being white secular Europeans or North Americans) from them (the brown, religious, Arabs or South Asians) to focus on their political/religious rhetoric and not ask the simple question: in comparison to all the other people like 'them' who don't viciously murder innocents, are they just fucking nuts?

Is Anders Behring Breivik just totally fucking nuts? Perhaps it is easier to comprehend or accept if he is. Definitely that is how Finland has dealt with its mall bomber and school mass murderers - just freaks, nothing to learn here, please move along. Surely Breivik was in some way mad, but there was an awful lot of careful method and planning for his ultimate act of madness. And therefore we have to look at what he has said, the politics of his dispicable actions. It is not enough to just say he is mad.

Even as I write this, what looks like his 'manifesto' and is coming to light, and the translation of the collection of his comments on a Norwegian "immigration critical" website show exactly the political background that he comes from. He is a product of the "Counter-Jihad", the transatlantic anti-Muslim, anti-immigration movement. He quotes leading 'thinkers' of the Counter-Jihad like Fjordman and leading blogs like Gates of Vienna. This is a specific political trend that isn't classic "far right", in terms of fascists and neo-Nazi. For instance a BBC article on the Norwegian far right completely misses this point. It isn't the old far right of Jew hatred and hating non-whites. It is a hatred of Muslim immigrants who come from a different culture and an ever-spiralling hatred of European politicians and general people in European societies who feel that actually we can live perfectly well in countries made up of people of different colours, religions, political persuasions and the like.

I've written about this movement here and elsewhere for a few years now. I always feared their impact on European electoral politics, sowing distrust and fear in diverse societies. But this is just sick; they have bred their own monster - not just a fire-bomb against a Mosque wall, or an angry street protest hurling abuse at British Asians - but a man who killed almost a hundred kids from his own fucking country because he didn't like their politics.

9 comments:

Yeti said...

Yes, it is definitively a too simple solution to just call him mad and move along. Sure, the person who actually performed the massacre is disturbed in one way or another, but he still seeks (and gets) justification and support from a much larger group of people.

And this could have happened in Finland as well.

Sick...

Bob Wightman said...

Is it possible that the bomb was a (very large) diversionary tactic and the real target was the island so the bomb would buy Breivik more time for the killing spree? I've not been following the side commentaries so don't know if has already been mentioned but it is a possibility.

The far right in Britain has made inroads in to local politics not because of genuine popular support but because the main political parties effectively refused to take on the perceived favouritism to other ethnic communities, the "They're taking all our jobs" attitude, and parties like the BNP have preyed on that and other "fears". Betraying my own insular nature I have to admit that I don't know if this is also the case in the Scandinavian countries.

Ultimately I think we have to accept that there will always be "nutters" but there shouldn't be a knee jerk reaction to this event. Legislation to curtail the open society that Norway has enjoyed would only serve to vindicate Breivik's horrific behaviour and possibly encourage others, though it is doubtful that such twisted minds would follow any logic.

Toni said...

One thing that should be done is to set much stricter gun and firearm laws. I know that someone immediately says that it doesn't solve all the problems (and of course it doesn't) but it's better than do nothing, what has been basically the case in Finland. I was absolutely in disgust after the Kauhajoki shootings when the interior minister of the time, Anne Holmlund, defended the right to exercise shooting hobbies. WTF?! Generally I don't like politics and politicians but at least Matti Vanhanen said that it should be considered if weapons can be allowed outside shooting fields.

The current state of things is intolerable. Practically we all live in fear when this will happen again, and again.

Ed said...
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ed said...
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Ed said...

That 'they have bred their own monster' line is chilling btw...

Anonymous said...

You fucking turd. I read your piece of shit article in FP. You claim people are kooks for pointing out 'social democrats' are at base, socialists. You are full of shit. Social democrats simply dropped the suffix 'ist' from the word socialist. They are all about using state power to redistribute wealth and socially engineer and take away individual liberty. Oh, and the Nazis were the The National Socialist German Workers' Party. Notice the word socialist in the name you dipshit?

F@bien said...

The previous comment pretty much demonstrates the point made by the article in Foreign Policy. Nice work!

KGS said...

A very new low for Archer. Superficial at best, disingenuous at worst. No sweat though, your aim was to influence the finnish media and you did the job.

Never mind the fact that Breivik embarked on his journey of mass murder and mayhem nine years ago, more than 5 years before the CJ came into being.

Also left unmentioned in your piece was the fact the guy repeatedly misrepresented himself to the very people he was claiming to be in sync with.

What you've done Archer was in fact a hit piece, because you've always had it in for those who denounced multiculturalism for what it is, classic socialist driven identity driven politics that systematically locks people into groups instead of individuals then feeds off them for votes.

Disgusting.

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