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Breivik’s Brain

The Norwegian killer is no Christian fundamentalist but a right-wing imitator of Marx and Lenin. By Steve Sailer | August 1, 2011 It has long been anticipated—with foreboding on the right but with something approaching longing on the left—that mass immigration would lead to a ghastly backlash atrocity. Thus, when in January a young white […]

The Norwegian killer is no Christian fundamentalist but a right-wing imitator of Marx and Lenin.

By Steve Sailer | August 1, 2011

It has long been anticipated—with foreboding on the right but with something approaching longing on the left—that mass immigration would lead to a ghastly backlash atrocity.

Thus, when in January a young white man in Arizona, the frontline state in the struggle over illegal immigration, attempted to assassinate his Democratic congresswoman, numerous voices of respectability, such as Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, blamed the massacre on the hate-filled bigotry of Arizona Republicans, the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and anybody else they happened to loathe.

Almost immediately, copious evidence emerged that the killer was psychotic and had never paid attention to conservative commentators. When confronted with the facts, though, some of the press doubled down.

Now in Norway the long-expected enormity has finally happened. Yet the killer of 76, Anders Behring Breivik, turned out not to be a lowbrow soccer hooligan taking out his rage on immigrants. Instead, he is a cold-blooded, excessively rational highbrow who turned his guns not on immigrants but on the children of their sponsors, the white liberal elite.

Among terrorist monsters, Breivik is perhaps the most lucid since the Unabomber, whom he plagiarizes in the 1516 page “compendium” he posted online just before his crimes. So I undertook the unpleasant task of trying to understand what motivates him. Is he a Christian fundamentalist fanatic, as has been widely assumed by the U.S. press? Or is there something else going on here that won’t make sense from an American perspective?

Having thought about this rotten person longer than I’ve wanted, I have finally grasped that Breivik only makes sense when viewed on his own terms, which are those of the bloody history of continental European ideology. Breivik, I’ve come to realize, is a Marxist heretic.

Breivik’s hundreds of pages of planning 72 years of conflict in his manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence reflects a Marx-like confidence in his own science of history. His turn to terrorism to begin the recruitment of a revolutionary vanguard is reminiscent of the urge of the first major Marxist heretic, Lenin, to hurry history along with violence. Like the second world-historical Marxist heretic, Mussolini, who substituted for Marx’s emphasis on class his own emphasis on nation, Breivik wants to substitute “culture.” He argues that white leaders influenced the Frankfurt School of “cultural Marxism” import Muslims to deconstruct the indigenous conservative culture they hate. He will set off an (oxymoronic) “conservative revolution.”

Breivik, a smug egomaniac who boasts, “I have an extremely strong psyche (stronger than anyone I have ever known),” looks rather like a 1975 Chevy Chase signing off from Weekend Update on “Saturday Night Live” with the catchphrase, “I’m Chevy Chase … and you’re not.”

The only good news is that there probably aren’t many more like him. His odd combination of personal viciousness with self-sufficiency (Norwegian police have concluded he was a “lone wolf”) and the willpower to defer gratification during years of planning makes him rare among murderers. Hollywood has been churning out movies about bad guys just like him for decades—for instance, in 2011’s Jake Gyllenhaal thriller “Source Code,” an ultra-skilled domestic terrorist blows up commuter trains. Fortunately, Breivik is the first to actually have been conjured up.

In the decade since 9/11, we’ve started to notice that many would-be Muslim terrorists in the West, such as the Underpants Bomber and the Times Square Fizzler, aren’t always Islam’s best and brightest. The recent British comedy film “Four Lions,” about a Sheffield jihad cell of Ali G-like morons, satirized this pattern.

Last Wednesday, for example, U.S. Army private Naser Abdo confessed in Killeen, Texas to planning his own personal jihad against Fort Hood, where another Muslim soldier, Major Nidal Hasan, murdered 13 people in 2009. Abdo was caught because he bought his weapons and bomb-making supplies at the same gun shop where Hasan had purchased his murder weapon. The once-burned store personnel, acting on (no doubt deplorable) stereotypes, called the cops.

In tragic contrast, Breivik’s crimes epitomized the Nordic propensity for careful planning. He first set off a bomb in Oslo’s central government building, which drew police downtown. That gave him 90 minutes on the outskirts of Oslo to hunt down and slaughter 68 people at the annual Labour youth camp for future leaders of Norway’s dominant left-of-center party.

His tactic of targeting the next generation of ruling elites for mass assassination is an appallingly horrible refinement of terrorist technique. While liberals gloated that the Norwegian mass-murderer will discredit the right the way that Timothy McVeigh helped launch Bill Clinton’s re-election drive in 1995, Breivik’s calculation is that one such massacre per decade would demoralize and disrupt elites.

The threat of personal assassination tends not to deter politicians because if they don’t show personal bravery, they’ll get replaced by more charismatic figures who do. For example, some of Geert Wilder’s rise in Dutch politics stems from the obvious risks he is taking with his life. Two earlier Dutch spokesmen against Islamic domination of their cities paid with their lives: Pym Fortuyn, killed in 2002 by a Dutch leftist, and Theo van Gogh in 2004 by a Muslim.

On the other hand, in an era of small families, people are more cautious about their children than themselves.

Marketing Murder

Not surprisingly, the analyses of Breivik offered by American pundits have mostly been obtuse.

For self-interested reasons, American liberals have clung to an initial description by a harried Norwegian policeman of Breivik as a “Christian fundamentalist.”

In reality, Breivik used “Christian” as an American might use “Judeo-Christian”—as a cultural identity moniker in the armed conflict he wanted to launch against Muslims and, more importantly to him, elite whites.

The most notable traits of Breivik’s character are a Nietzschean lack of Christian compassion and guilt, grandiose ambition, self-confidence, competitiveness, cynicism, and a lack of normal human emotions. The standard assumption is that he is an unstable individual driven to rage by reading anti-jihad websites such as Gates of Vienna. But I don’t sense a huge amount of anger in the hundreds of pages I endured. Instead, 2083 reads more like a marketing and strategic document—a business plan, as it were—for how to build an ideology and a movement that will win a struggle for control of Europe.

Liberals will be disappointed that Breivik repeatedly claims that his cause is anti-racist, anti-ethnocentric, and anti-anti-Semitic. But it’s difficult to know how much to believe the 1,516 page document he left behind because in it he revels in the need he perceives for insincerity: “In order for conservatives to succeed, they must copy the Marxist strategies. We must actively use deceit … As Muhammad once said: War is Deceit (al-Taqiyya). Many Muslims are masters of deceit, and it’s time we start adapting to these realities as well.”

Breivik is a devout marketer looking for a winning spiel:

“When an American nationalist discuss with a European he will immediately bring up race as this factor correlates with the US issues (Mexican immigration, African Americans etc). Using this form of rhetoric will cause a majority of Europeans to “run for the hills.” … Everyone should know this by now and should be more considerate when choosing their rhetorical approach, because the most essential thing at this point is to continue to build a broad and strong consolidation of conservatives. For Europe, this rhetorical approach will for the most part involve cultural defence relating to Islam(isation) as it is the only issue at the moment that has the potential and potency to unite enough conservatives.

He labels his cause an “Indigenous Rights Movement,” cynically explaining: “Rhetoric related to ‘indigenous rights’ is an untapped goldmine … playing the victim card is the most potent strategy of our times. … The most pragmatical way to move forward is to play the victim card in combination with cruel methods of armed resistance. We must literally focus all our efforts at creating an optimal environment for recruitment.”

Obviously, there’s a logical contradiction between his advice in favor of moderate rhetoric and his terrorism. Perhaps he assumes that his trial will give him a platform for his rhetoric?

Overall, I don’t sense that he’s fundamentally motivated by the reasons he gives. Instead, he seems extremely motivated by competition, by the urge to develop a winning strategy. This is a man who took a year off at age 25 to play World of Warcraft (the popular medievalist online role playing videogame) full time running a guild. His crimes and his vast plan to triumph in Europe over the next 72-years seem like a monstrous scaling-up to the real world of WoW strategizing.

Norway’s McVeigh?

Rote comparisons have been made to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, although there are others that shed more light.

Breivik’s weightlifting and narcissism—“I’m in the middle of another steroid cycle at the moment … I have a more or less perfect body”—call to mind Yukio Mishima, the bisexual militarist novelist and bodybuilder who attempted to overthrow Japanese democracy in 1970. Mishima then committed ritual seppuku, stabbing himself and having an acolyte behead him. (But notice the “more or less” in Breivik’s boast; Breivik is always tempted by the Norwegian urge to try to appear reasonable.)

The Norwegian killer’s assault is reminiscent of the 1997 shootout in North Hollywood, in which two steroid-using, body-armor-wearing bankrobbers fired 1,101 rounds of ammunition at the LAPD. At the time, they were assumed to be the first of an inevitable wave of unstoppable Terminator-like criminals. Fortunately, 14 years later, they remain the American high-water mark for criminals who could have appeared in a Michael Mann movie like “Heat.” Hopefully, Breivik will remain an outlier.

Breivik also bears some resemblances to Charles Manson, who believed John Lennon was sending him a message in the song “Helter-Skelter” to start a race war that would lead to him becoming king of a post-apocalyptic America. On the other hand, Breivik’s only reference to hearing voices is a quote from John Maynard Keynes on the power of intellectuals: “Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”

And Breivik’s general plan of provoking a crackdown by the power structure, which will presumably arouse sleeping allies, is a similar to that of South American Marxist guerillas of the 1960s and 1970s. Their two-part strategy was to cause so much chaos that the military would overthrow the democratic government, leading to the long-awaited revolt of the proletariat. As terrorist Carlos Marighella wrote in his influential 1969 Minimanual of the Urban Guerilla: “It is necessary to turn political crisis into armed crisis by performing violent actions that will force those in power to transform the military situation into a political situation. That will alienate the masses, who, from then on, will revolt against the army and the police and blame them for this state of things.”

Of course, they only succeeded in Part I.

Breivik’s endless compendium is a sort of maximanual of what a researcher with a fast Internet connection can dredge up these days on explosives.

Perhaps the most relevant comparison, but one that has gone almost unmentioned over the last week, is Breivik’s left-wing mirror image in Europe’s immigration conflict: Volkert van der Graaf. A similarly cold-blooded Northern European, van der Graaf, a Dutch legal professional, is about halfway through his 18-year-term for the May 6, 2002 assassination of Pym Fortuyn, the gay Dutch sociologist turned politician. Fortuyn had caused a sensation among voters by arguing that no more immigrants should be allowed in who didn’t accept gay rights and other elements of the Dutch progressive consensus.

Fifteen days before van der Graaf gunned down Fortuyn, Jean-Marie Le Pen of France’s National Front unexpectedly finished second in the first round of the French presidential election, qualifying for the run-off on May 5, 2002. Le Pen’s success set off a two-week hate, a continent-wide orgy of demonization of all immigration restrictionists, even one as obviously different from Le Pen as Fortuyn.

The day after the French election, van der Graaf gunned down Fortuyn. The previous month, Fortuyn had said to the Dutch prime minister: “when I am killed or wounded, then you are responsible because you give me no protection and you make the atmosphere in this country so poisonous that people want to hurt me…”

After the shooting, numerous Euro politicians and editorialists responded by implying that Fortuyn had gotten what he deserved. A myth was spread by the prestige press that van der Graaf had killed Fortuyn for some crazy animal rights reason that had nothing to do with immigration. Yet when the killer was tried a year later, he cited as his primary reason protecting Muslims from a man whom mainstream politicians had compared to Mussolini.

Breivik is a former juvenile delinquent. He brags: “Since I was 12 years old I was into the hip-hop movement. For several years I was one of the most notable [‘hip-hoppers’] from Oslo’s West side… I was the most active tagger (grafitti artist) in Oslo.”

He had a friend in a Muslim gang, so he had a pass to run the streets at night. Over time, though, he came to resent that Muslim gangs could get away with violence against white teens. The only whites allowed to form youth gangs in Oslo, he complains, are the far left violent NGOs like Blitz, which are government-subsidized in the name of fighting racism and fascism.

I suspect that this is the key to his psychology: he wants to dominate at ground level.

Upside-Down Lenin

In contrast to liberals’ attempts to exploit the slaughter, conservatives, fearful of guilt by association, claimed Breivik was obviously deranged. Yet a comparison of his writings to those of Loughner, or of Bruce Ivins, the mad scientist who committed suicide in 2008 after the FBI targeted him as the leading suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, shows a disturbingly sane and fairly sophisticated mind at work.

This guy isn’t crazy; he’s evil.

As an example of his calculating nature, after acquiring a small farm to serve as cover while he purchased fertilizer for a bomb, he wrote that this “chemical acquirement phase” was “perhaps the most danger[ous] of all phases … I estimate it is a 30% chance of being reported to the system protectors at the national intelligence agency during this phase.”

And indeed, as we learned a few days after his atrocities, Breivik’s fertilizer purchases did trigger the Norwegian authorities’ interest. They tapped his phone and email for 24-hours, but then lost interest. So his 30 percent guesstimate appears to have been right.

The eeriest thing about Breivik’s 1,518-page “compendium” 2083 is his air of Norwegian reasonableness, as if an unfunny Garrison Keillor were cast as a movie supervillain. In reality, much of the more sensible sounding parts in the first half are plagiarized from conservative and neoconservative sites. He sometimes cites his sources, such as pseudonymous Norwegian blogger Fjordman, Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or, Jamie Glazov, John McWhorter, and Daniel Pipes. Other times he simply steals wholesale without credit, probably to leave the impression that he’s an erudite scholar.

He entitled it 2083 because in the later, less-plagiarized, more vile part of his endless book he offers a detailed scenario for European civil war between the alliance of “cultural Marxist / multiculturalist” and Muslim versus the “cultural conservatives” extending out seven decades until the 400th anniversary of the defeat of the Turks before the gates of Vienna in 1683. (His demographic model is how the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1990 was triggered by the surging Muslim population.)

The killer would be 104 in 2083. Granted, Norway doesn’t have the death penalty, and some of its prisons are notoriously posh, so he might be around, but still his combination of horrific violence now and patience in his world-historical musings is strange.

Generally speaking, prophets of the apocalypse don’t bother with such glacial changes. Usually, the big one is coming real soon now, like in the John Cusack movie “2012” or the neoconservative historian Bernard Lewis’s predicted Iranian Armageddon on August 22, 2006.

Another oddity is that although Breivik claims to be a constant reader of the “anti-jihad” school of blogs kicked off by Charles Johnson’s Little Green Footballs after 9/11—and including Gates of Vienna and Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugged—the overall tone of the analytical section of the first part of the mass murdering terrorist’s book is less strident than, say, Little Green Footballs was during the first half decade after 9/11.

Breivik endorses a platform that he dubs “the Vienna school of thought”:

The ideological platform advocates a strict anti-Jihad/Islamic stance which indirectly establishes a default friendly stance and support to Israel as an integral part of its fundament. The Vienna School of Thought is a right wing, Western European equivalent and reaction to the Marxist-Frankfurt school (ideological caricature). The purpose of the platform is to ensure a consolidation of anti-Marxist forces before Europe is overwhelmed demographically by Muslims.

He’s drawing from the Gates of Vienna blog, which, even though it concentrates on Europe and the Middle East, is run by a consultant in Virginia. Breivik summed up the Vienna School of Thought’s “less controversial” principles as:

  • Pro-Nationalism
  • Pro-pan-nationalism (pro-Europeanism)
  • Pro-national or pan-European crusaderism
  • Pro-Christian identity
  • Pro-cultural conservatism
  • Pro-monoculturalism (pro cultural unity)
  • Pro-patriarchy
  • Pro-Israel

Liberals wishing to tie Breivik to the Tea Party are out of luck. He’s an agnostic on economics:

Economy—the school of thought does not include a description of a clear economical platform. However, a majority of its supporters are generally against a communist/socialist economical model and at the same time against a laissez faire capitalist model. An economical model may contain socialist and capitalist principles (welfare policies included).

Breivik repeatedly claims to be anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-Nazi, and anti-anti-Semitic.

Let me sum up, however, that I see no reason to believe anything Mr. Breivik says. I’ve read far more of his prose than I care to, and I still don’t know if any of these planks he endorses actually motivated him to commit his terrible crimes. He makes clear that he views stances as mere marketing. His repeated endorsements of dissimulation do not add to my confidence.

In contrast, while I haven’t read enough of Gates of Vienna to comment upon it, I did subject myself to a fair amount of their role model, Little Green Footballs, back in 2001-2003. LGF proprietor Charles Johnson struck me as a disagreeable fool, but a sincere one. Whatever invade-the-world nonsense he was peddling at the time, he appeared to have fallen for hook, line, and sinker. Johnson always seemed to believe whatever storyline was being circulated by Dick Cheney or Ariel Sharon.

In contrast, Breivik seems too smart to fall for scare stories about Muslim capabilities. From his juvenile delinquent days, he understands how Muslims win at the street level in Europe, but he sees them at present mostly as a demographic weapon used by leftist whites.

Why does he hate the European left so much when he spends so much of his book explaining how to imitate the success they’ve achieved through deceit, control of culture, and intimidating violence?

Breivik is essentially a Marxist-Leninist heretic, in the sense that Marx was a Hegelian heretic. The revolutionary Marx kept much of the conservative Hegel’s framework, but reversed Hegel’s notion that ideas drive history. Instead, according to Marx, economic history drives ideas.

Breivik doesn’t quibble much with Marx’s notion of a science of history. And Breivik certainly doesn’t have a problem with Lenin’s revision of Marx’s economic determinism in which Lenin posited that a vanguard elite (such as, oh, say, himself) can hurry history along with acts of brutality. Like the Frankfurt School of postwar “cultural Marxists,” Breivik emphasizes the political importance of hegemony over culture. Like these cultural Marxists, he’s not very interested in Marx’s obsession with class.

Breivik despises Marxists—they are, to him, the enemy team against which he competes—but he accepts much of their intellectual framework.

Yet Breivik is strikingly lacking in any nostalgia or sympathy for his seeming ideological predecessors. To him, Mussolini, say, is a loser. His image is bad for the brand, so he’s largely ignored in 2083, while liberal Englishmen like Mill, Keynes, and Orwell are cited. Indeed, 2083 is written in English, an odd choice for a supposed Norwegian nationalist but a much better choice than his native language for a marketer of a new ideology. In Breivik’s book, history largely began in the second half of 1945, but the influence of earlier European ideologies on him is unmistakable, even if he wishes, for marketing purposes, to avoid all mention of them.

Breivik updates the timeworn Marxian system of analysis by introducing the new reality of the 21st century: the rapidly growing Muslim population within the main cities of Europe. Government-sponsored multiculturalism uses Muslims’ cultural communities to deconstruct indigenous European cultural communities. Nice European conservatives yield or retreat to the countryside in the face of stubborn urban Muslims backed by elite media and government power. In the long run, cultural Marxists are doomed by the rise of Islam in Europe, Breivik contends, but are blinded to the fate they are crafting for their descendants by their hatred of cultural conservatives today.

To Breivik, demographic change has revitalized Marx’s dream of a predictive science of history. Analysis of fertility rates and immigration allows predictions of the relative size of these cultural communities within Europe over the next several generations. Comparative analysis of conditions within countries with different-sized Muslim populations—e.g., Finland vs. Saudi Arabia—shows the stages European countries are likely to endure.

In particular, the chaotic histories of Lebanon and Kosovo, in which Muslims became dominant through immigration and higher fertility, show what Europe can expect in the middle of the 21st century. Lebanon was, by Middle Eastern standards, prosperous and sophisticated under a Christian majority, but the rise of a Muslim majority led to the awful civil war of 1975-1990.

In online discussions, Breivik advanced some of these ideas. But he maintained a passive public façade of quasi-Marxian historical determinism about the inevitability of these changes so that he wouldn’t be suspected of plotting violence. This served to hide his secret Leninist side, his determination to go down in history as the prophet and first mover of the armed resistance.

Did the Marxist-Leninist heresy he invented motivate his atrocities? Perhaps, but I suspect that he is less a true believer in his own rhetoric than a devious marketer looking to promote himself, even (or especially) if he had to do it in the worst way possible.

He appears to be a young man of some talents who failed to achieve lasting success in politics or business, plausibly because others around him could sense the rottenness of his character. He retreated to plot in solitude the enormities that would make him infamous or, at minimum, inflict pain on this enemies.

Steve Sailer’s blog is isteve.blogspot.com.

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