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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Anders Behring Brevik's cultural conservatism « Previous | |Next »
July 26, 2011

Peter Hartcher has a rather strange article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the complex relationship between ideology, Anders Behring Breivik's massacre of Norwegian citizens, Muslims, Islamophobia, extreme xenophobia and religious prejudice.

It is strange, not wing nut weird extreme of say a Jennifer Rubin in Murdoch's Washington Post or the multitude of “terror experts” and “homeland security” pundits who were so quick to blame Islamic terrorists with links to Al Qaeda.

BellSSunBrevik .jpg Steve Bell

Entitled Norwegian massacre is wrong, not far right Hartcher's argument about this form of right wing terrorism is that:

Much media reaction to the tragedy has conflated the incident with the rise of far-right parties in Europe. The coverage implies that Breivik's attack is an extension of the trend and a frightening portent.This is exactly wrong. His use of violence to pursue a "crusade" to halt the "Islamicisation [sic] of Europe" has discredited his cause, not advanced it. This is the worst thing that has happened to the far right in western Europe in years.

Hartcher's argument appears to be that Breivik is a mad butcher. Ideology --ie. ultra white conservatism --- has little to do with his actions, even though Breivik is, judging from his writings, politically, more or less a Scandinavian Tea Partyer, obsessed with the imagined threat of the Islamification of Europe; and an avowed opponent of both multiculturalism and Marxism (ie., leftism) which controls the universities and the media. Breivik styles himself in his writings as a Christian conservative, patriot and nationalist.

The European cultural conservatism is familiar to us in Australia. One strand is the antagonism to Marxism. Another is a resentment of the liberal defenders of diversity. These liberal "elites" are often described as "traitors", "sellouts" or just "naive multiculturalists". Another strand is the conviction that Islam is incompatible with the democratic values of the west. Cultural pluralism is seen as a threat to national cohesion.

RowsonMBrevikNorway.jpg Martin Rowson

These are views of the anti-Islam conservatives gathered around Quadrant in Australia, resolute in their defence of Australian culture. Muslims are not biologically inferior (as the old racist discourse holds); they are culturally incompatible. They then argue that Leftists will happily allow Muslim to flood Australia under the guise of multiculturalism. Their clash of civilization view is one in which there is a struggle between political Islam and Western culture.

Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post is forced by facts to backtrack from her Islamic terrorist claim and acknowledge that it was a blond Norwegian.Then this:

that the suspect here is a blond Norwegian does not support the proposition that we can rest easy with regard to the panoply of threats we face or that homeland security, intelligence and traditional military can be pruned back. To the contrary, the world remains very dangerous because very bad people will do horrendous things. There are many more jihadists than blond Norwegians out to kill Americans, and we should keep our eye on the systemic and far more potent threats that stem from an ideological war with the West.

Rubin makes no mention of the conservative ethno-nationalist ideological war with the liberal, multicultural West. What we are offered is: "There are lone-wolf domestic terrorists, and there are organized jihadists."

Brevik's manifesto. The Brevik video manifesto. These call for a Christian war to defend Europe against Islam.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:16 AM | | Comments (18)


Terrorists are Muslims for western conservatives-- it means violence committed by Muslims whom the West hates.

A right-wing nationalist capable of planting major bombs and mowing down scores of people for the sake of the greater glory of his cause is not a terrorist. He is an extremist. Or a madman.

Hartcher is probably right about the attacks damaging the cause of the European far right. Western nations have ignored these extremists while they obsessed over Muslim extremists. Both groups are pretty much out of the same mould and both should be monitored. Maybe they will be after this. The public will certainly be more worried, which is the point of terrorism after all.

Another argument doing the rounds is that the left should respond to this with some dignity, and apparently ignore the relationship between what has become the mundane right that Breivik references in his writings. I think that's utter rubbish. It doesn't make any sense to defend the people inciting terrorism against your own side. It didn't make sense when the right was accusing the left of defending Islamic terrorism, and it doesn't make sense for the left to provide cover for those defending extreme right terrorism either.

re your comment: "Hartcher is probably right about the attacks damaging the cause of the European far right."

The link between Breivik's terrorism and the European far right is ideology. So ideology does matter. It's strange that Hartcher underplays ideology.

I didn't read Hartcher's article, only the bit you've quoted here. I gather the rest of it was pretty sickening, given the reactions I've seen elsewhere.

Ideology does matter, but you can't expect a lot from a discussion of ideology written by an opinion columnist. Most of them can't spot the ideological difference between a market based policy on climate change and stalinism.

The [far] right wing ideologue horses were at the starting gate breathlessly waiting for the one bit of info they needed - that the killer was islamic or a lefty or capable in any way of being described in the orthodox frame which they had in their hands ready to go as soon as the gates opened.
But they were caught looking in the wrong direction by the unfortunate fact that the killer did not fit into their neat little pre-packaged riding style.
Some had, foolishly, already committed themselves before the gates opened, they had to change whip hands and adjust their words as best as they could to cover up their lack of understanding.
Bolt for one.
Never mind, plan B is to obfuscate and to continue as if the wet track is really dry, to describe what happened in 'wet track' terms, to continue as planned, as normal, as usual, even tho' the reality does not support the description.
It seems to me, from Gary's description [because I have no intention of reading any of the pundits on this matter because they are simply unqualified to comment] that Hartcher is just a bit more sophisticated [in the true origin of the word and concept] in his attempt to continue describing the event in orthodox terms even tho' orthodoxy has no understanding to offer.

The simple fact, bleedin' obvious to all but those who do not have eyes to see, is that this is an act of far right terrorism.
Completely integrated into that ideology.

The commentators cannot admit this.

Breivik’s actions are being called right wing extremism in Australia not terrorism. They--blowing up the prime ministers office and taking out a national conference group of Young Labour Party delegates---look to be an act of terrorism to me.

the link from ideology to violent action is simple. Allow Islam to filter into our country and we will see more acts of murder taking place. Hartcher must know this.

The views that support this are common. We should stop being tolerant of an leftist ideology of multiculturalism (for multiculturalism read islamisation) that allows Islam to filter into our country and which encourages minorities to become majorities and who will never accept our western values. They don't want to integrate with us they want to take Australia over. They don't want to obey our laws, they want sharia law. They hate us.

So we need strong leaders who can and will stand up for the country, keep the Islamists out and stop Australia from being Islamicized. We'll decide who comes here.

The "creeping Islamisation of Europe and Australia " represents a 21st-century updating of the "domino theory" of Communism spreading unchecked throughout the world unless Something Is Done.

Brevik's terrorism was a political act as it involved blowing up the prime ministers office and taking out a national conference group of Young Labour Party delegates who supported multiculturalism and Muslim asylum seekers. This was a training ground for the future Labor politicians of Norway.

Christianity is on the wane in Australia and the Christian right is deeply anxious about this.

So they focus on what they take to be the Muslim tide (scapegoats) and express this fear into a bogeyman--the weirdly dressed Islamic terrorist; or Muslim ares in our cities becoming no go areas for non-Muslims.

If our Labor Government will not protect our way of life and cultural heritage,or listen to the people, then we cannot just lie down and let Islam take over. Action is needed.

"Action is needed. "

That means continued military action and tightening of domestic security (ie., curtailing civil liberties) to fight the Islamic terrorists. It's a dangerous world.

It's the standard War on Terror response that automatically links Islam with violence and hatred of our liberal freedoms.

Many of the right wing comments on Jeff Sparrow's Islamophobia manifested in Oslo at The Drum express sympathy for Breivik's anxiety about, and antagonism towards, increased migration, Muslims, Islam and multiculturalism.

The comments indicate a deep sympathy for Brevik's anger for both the failure of (Labour/Labor ) governments to act against "Islamicisation" and multiculturalism; and his targeting of cultural marxism for supporting and encouraging multiculturalism. For conservatives multiculturalism has failed big time.

Brevik's list of influences include the right wing US blogs: ---Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch; Pamela Gellar's Atlas Shrugs; and the pseudonymously-written blog Gates of Vienna and writings of the unabomber Ted Kaczynski. Brevik's position is that Europe is in a new phase of a very old war.

His manifesto posted online under the Anglicised pseudonym Andrew Berwick quoted Mr Howard, former treasurer Peter Costello, Catholic Cardinal George Pell and conservative writer and historian Keith Windschuttle.

How odd that so many of our wingnut friends have decided to ignore the words of the US government on this matter.

Apparently it's oh-so difficult to pick a definition of "terrorism". Well that does the US govt think?

How about Title 22 of the United States Code?

"...term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant (1) targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience..."

Just about sums it up, no?

Lets blow up God.
End of problem.

It bothers me the way some on the left are using this to beat up on the right generally. It seems to me it would be more productive for all reasonable people, regardless of their political leanings, to condemn extremism and terrorism. After all, the next time this happens it could well be some extremist lefty slaughtering kids at a right wing youth camp.

If such a thing did happen, how would the left go about defending itself?

Lyn says
"it bothers me the way some on the left are using this to beat up on the right generally."

It's likely that everyone cited by the killer as influences were horrified by his acts, and would never advocate anything like them.

However, writers known for their zealous anti-jihadism eg., -- Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Mark Steyn, and several others -- who were mentioned in Brevik's manifesto shouldn't get off too easily. Brevik shared their particular belief that European liberals are enabling a Muslim takeover with their multicultural philosophy. Those who advocate this position --eg., the Quadrant conservatives in Australia --should be called on the way that they all ratchet up more anxiety about Islam than is justified by the facts.

A National Party Senator has won [FFS!] a cake competition with a cake that depicts Julia Gillard being ...wait for it ...eaten by a crocodile.

Right, after a pause for thinking, how big a jump is that from inciting hatred and death of a political opponent, how relevant is that to the level of responsibility of those right wing christian anti-muslim propagandists who are the heroes of the Norwegian killer?

Big gap? Enormous gap, no relevance at all?
Or on the slippery slope of a continuum that goes past the 'fanatic', the 'extremist', the 'radical' who asked Joe Hockey what to do when people start using guns to protect themselves from those crazy Green/ALP warmists, and Joe "understood his anger", then the slope gets steeper when we encounter Alan Jones who wants to take Julia Gillard out to sea in a bag and throw her over and finally we arrive at ...Oslo?

Too much of a stretch?
No stretch at all?

Paul, I agree. But we know that being called on this rubbish by their 'enemies' on the left just makes them worse. It's level-headed right wingers who should be hosing them down.

On Q and A this week someone asked Eric Abetz to criticise Alan Jones for saying Julia Gillard should be stuck in a sack and towed out to sea, but of course Abetz defended Jones' right to free speech and ignored the extremism. Couldn't even bring himself to say politicians shouldn't be stuffed in sacks and towed out to sea.

Utoya Island Meeting was an anti-Israel rally. Check out the ”Boycott Israel” sign. The Norwegian government’s number one issue this week was supporting the recognition of Palestine and criticizing Israel for outlawing boycotts on the settlements. Norway supports settlement boycotts.
Labour Youth League summer camp at Utøya got the Labour Party’s young hopefuls visit by Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store.
The Palestinians ”must have their own state, the occupation must end, the wall must be demolished and it must happen now,” said the Foreign Minister to cheers from the audience×320.jpg