Saturday, July 23, 2011

A terrible day

The grim news from Norway is that 91 people have been murdered by Anders Behring Breivik. A person has committed an act of evil, of such a nature and scale, that it seems as if society has been dragged down to another low point.

We don't know much yet about Breivik or his motivations. However, he does appear to have been part of the political right. It is already the case that some on the left regard white males as the "cosmic enemy" - as the group responsible for creating privilege and hate and holding back progress toward equality and justice. Breivik's crime is going to encourage this negative way of identifying white males.

I don't know what will come out about Breivik over the next few days. However, there are a few things to be said about the information to hand.

First, the information so far does not point to Breivik being a fundamentalist Christian, as a few newspapers are reporting. It's true that he was baptised into a Protestant church and that he wanted the church to go back to basics. However, there is a picture of him in masonic uniform and he listed masonry as an interest on his Facebook page. He wrote too that he wanted to defend the "cultural aspects of Christianity" rather than Christianity itself. Finally, he listed his favourite books on his Facebook page and these are nearly all key works of non-Christian (or non-orthodox Christian) liberal philosophers such as Hobbes, Mill, Kant and Adam Smith.

The first two books he mentions are by William James and Richard Rorty. Both of these men deny the idea that there is an objective good that we should seek to live by. According to James, a belief was true if it had good consequences for the believer:

A belief was not a mental entity which somehow mysteriously corresponded to an external reality if the belief were true. Beliefs were ways of acting with reference to a precarious environment, and to say they were true was to say they guided us satisfactorily in this environment. In this sense the pragmatic theory of truth applied Darwinian ideas in philosophy; it made survival the test of intellectual as well as biological fitness.
Richard Rorty was a self-described "bourgeois liberal" who denied that there was an intrinsic structure to reality. Instead, what was "objective" was what a group of people decided amongst themselves to be true:

Maybe someday the idea of human beings answering to an independent authority called How Things Are in Themselves will be obsolete. In a thoroughly de-Platonized, fully Protagorean culture the only answerability humans would recognise would be to one another. It would never occur to them that “the objective” could mean more than “the agreed-upon upshot of argument.” In such a culture we would have as little use for the idea of the intrinsic structure of reality as for that of the will of God. We would view both as unfortunate and obsolete social constructions.

These ideas are a long way from orthodox Christianity (Rorty even describes the will of God as an "unfortunate and obsolete social construction"). They are not what you would expect a fundamentalist Christian to approve of or to recommend.

As for his politics, Breivik seems to be a radicalised right-liberal. What I mean by this is that he identified with classical liberal thinkers like John Stuart Mill (whom he quoted in his one twitter message), but he also saw the growth of Islam in Europe as a threat to such values. So he was against open borders and multiculturalism. He blamed the Frankfurt School and cultural Marxism for what had gone wrong in Europe.

But there has to be something else. None of this really explains why Breivik would commit such an act. Even if I'm correct and Breivik was a "cultural Christian" rather than a more orthodox one and a "cultural conservative" (i.e. a right-liberal who wants to defend a Western liberal culture from Islam), that still doesn't supply the motivation to commit such an atrocity.

You would have to think that certain traits of character or personality will emerge over the next few days that might help to fill in the gaps.

25 comments:

  1. Reverse racism with more than likely loneliness and blue balls as well aren't conducive to a happy society. He lashed out. The evil committed against him and many like him over the years are finally come home to roost. And it ain't over by a long shot. No pun intended.

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  2. Lashing out doesn't cut it.

    The rightists need to get with God. Lashing out is sin. Getting with God is virtue, in spite of what the radical feminazis in the state wish to do with us. Men, we can and must resist with virtue, not with violence.

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  3. he identified with classical liberal thinkers like John Stuart Mill (whom he quoted in his one twitter message)

    Anybody know what the quote was? Something very brief, if it was on twitter.

    His beliefs seem to have been incidental to his actions in this case. There's nothing about being an anti-Jihadist or even anti-Muslimist to explain killing a bunch of Norwegian children. If he'd shot up a mosque we could blame it on his beliefs.

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  4. Breivik seems to be a radicalised right-liberal. What I mean by this is that he identified with classical liberal thinkers like John Stuart Mill (whom he quoted in his one twitter message), but he also saw the growth of Islam in Europe as a threat to such values. So he was against open borders and multiculturalism.


    John Stuart Mill was against open borders and multiculturalism, so I dissent from the "radicalised" part of your description.

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  5. Demirogue, I agree with you that being single and lonely wouldn't have helped his mental state. But I don't accept the "lashing out" idea. There is nothing that was done to him that justifies or even explains the evil he committed. Given that he was on the political right we have to make clear that he is someone we regard with contempt.

    Knightblaster, I had similar thoughts. It concerns me that Breivik was reading writers like Machiavelli, William James and Richard Rorty - all of whom were moderns in the sense that they denied that individuals were bound to transcendent moral goods.

    It can't have been a good influence on an "outlier" personality.

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  6. Anybody know what the quote was?

    "One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100000 who have only interests."

    His beliefs seem to have been incidental to his actions in this case.

    Good point. That's why I think it's likely that some kind of personal mental issues will emerge.

    Anon,

    My point regarding Mill is that right liberals are usually in favour of open borders. However, with the arrival of Islam in Europe in large numbers some right liberals have had to think twice - because if Islam becomes a major force then right liberal values will be displaced by Muslim ones.

    Geert Wilders is a good example of a right liberal who had such a rethink and who has led opposition to open-bordered multiculturalism in The Netherlands.

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  7. I think it's likely that some kind of personal mental issues will emerge.


    He wrote a 1500 page book, "A European Declaration Of Independence", in which he describes himself as:

    "Andrew Berwick, London, England - 2011

    Justiciar Knight Commander for Knights Templar Europe and one of several leaders of the National and pan-European Patriotic Resistance Movement".

    Which lends support to the notion that he's mad as a hatter. OTOH, glancing through the book, much of it seems to be the standard conservative critique of the left and multiculturalism. I agree with much, maybe all, he says, I just don't see the part where jumps from his sensible sounding principles to murdering a crowd of children - Norwegian children at that.

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  8. Anon, thanks.

    It has also come to light that he posted at a neo-nazi forum - so you have to throw that into the mix of masonry, knights templar, anti-Jihadism, classical liberal philosophy, Rorty, etc. So although his writings can be lucid, there's political oddity emerging.

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  9. From his book:

    According to a YouGov poll taken after Question Time, no fewer than 22 per cent of British voters would 'seriously consider' voting for the BNP.

    That nearly one quarter of British people might vote for a neo-Nazi party with views inimical to democracy, human rights and common decency is truly appalling.

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  10. It has also come to light that he posted at a neo-nazi forum

    We'll have to wait and see exactly what he posted there. He seems to have been a critic of Nazi's and neo-Nazi's.

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  11. Look, we all know how it works. When a Lefty or a Muslim goes berserk and kills a bunch of people, the media bends over backwards to insist the perp is a "lone nut" and his acts have nothing to do with his Lefty beliefs or with Islam. When a Righty goes berserk and kills someone, it doesn't matter if the guy is obviously insane, the media will leap forward to "connect the dots" and insist that right-wing views are dangerous and inherently violent, and that a hidden cadre of violent racists / nationalists lurks within our society.

    Now the Left will feel triumphantly vindicated in its view that "white Christians" are just as threatening (if not more) than non-white Muslims. Thanks, ABB!

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  12. His Facebook page, or one of them at any rate, seems to have been hacked. The stuff about being a "Christan conservative" was added to it. Go to Atlas Shrugged for more details.

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  13. Didn't say I agree with it but he lashed out.

    I'm telling you that we in the west are about to experience a decline in society because of the current doctrine that hasn't been seen before. You simply cannot prop up women and minorities to the point you feel so slighted and your voice goes unheard and think that people won't take their frustrations out in these ways.

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  14. Further stuff about the Facebook hacking:

    http://cofcc.org/2011/07/norwegian-killer-facebook-hoax/

    The remark by ABB that the mass media won't mention to you: "we have to ensure that we influence other culturally [sic] conservatives to take our anti-racist pro-homosexual, pro-Israeli line of thought." He also condemned the VB (Belgium) and the English Defence League for "extremism".

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  15. Arthur, thanks.

    It's difficult to make sense of it all. Here's a man who thinks the Vlaams Belang is too extreme (it is nothing of the sort - it's a pro-Flemish parliamentary party in Belgium), and yet he himself is embarking on a path of violence.

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  16. Now the Left will feel triumphantly vindicated in its view that "white Christians" are just as threatening (if not more) than non-white Muslims. Thanks, ABB!

    JP, my thoughts exactly. It's a pity too because some people in the political class seem to be waking up to the idea that the Chinese are going to be the new world powerbrokers and not white men - there's a chance that the "whites as cosmic enemy" idea could start to lose its grip on the political class.

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  17. Reverse racism with more than likely loneliness and blue balls as well aren't conducive to a happy society.

    What, pray tell, is "reverse racism?"

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  18. Anyway, it turns out that he wasn't an omega male frustrated by lack of attention from women.

    He states that he was a player in his younger days, that there is a woman who wishes to have a relationship with him, and that he visits prostitutes at times.

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  19. The Nazis, didn't generally kill children of their own kind (healthy aryan ones anyway). I think it's a bit far-fetched to to do any analysis whatsoever of his political views, he's just a nutjob - wouldn't know a traditionalist political view from his bum crack.

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  20. Now the Left will feel triumphantly vindicated in its view that "white Christians" are just as threatening (if not more) than non-white Muslims.

    Ah, come off it. The left always feels vindicated, regardless of whether they have a lot, a few, or zero data points supporting them. One of their most notable character traits is their extraordinary self-belief and self-assurance, even in the face of overwhelming evidence they are wrong.

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  21. "Ah, come off it. The left always feels vindicated, regardless of whether they have a lot, a few, or zero data points supporting them."

    Probably the most annoying thing about them.

    They claim victory regardless of the outcome. It has to do with the supposed inevitable nature of left liberal ideology.

    Break the spell of a constantly rolling left liberal boulder and their self confidence shatters.

    The difference between the EDL organising football fans to take back the streets from the left and this bloke going nuts with a gun will be in the results.

    The former has enabled a cultural change of sorts in some working class indigenous English areas.

    The latter has achived very little. The idiots slaughtered by the monster will be replaced by new warm bodies tomorrow, perhaps even inspired to leftist stupidities by this event.

    In short, mass violence by lone wolves or small groups not supported by the general population does nothing for you regardless of your cause, think the Red brigades or the original anarchist "propaganda of the deed".

    Concerted action by large groups rooted in the community with a few scuffles is far more effective.

    This guy called the EDL and VB extremists? Interesting.

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  22. He's not a Nazi.

    Yes, that's right I was saying he wasn't a Nazi as well. Even the Nazis generally drew the line at killing their own people (unless they were disabled or mentally ill or communists or other dissidents).

    The Nazis believed that the future belonged to the younger generations who would inherit the "Thousand Year Reich". This fellow was definitely not a Nazi even by their appalling standards.

    He didn't actually kill "children".

    The news reports indicate he killed dozens of "adolescents" attending a "youth camp".

    And they were what he saw as the enemy - leftists.

    I doubt he saw them as the enemy though. They weren't responsible for implementing government policy - most were not even young enough to vote.

    I believe he simply wanted to hurt the ruling party as much as he could and so he murdered children of their supporters who were attending the youth camp. Teenagers are as malleable politically as silly putty and to call them leftists is bit of stretch. More likely they were left-liberals in training. Norway is not pre-revolutionary Cuba.

    Of course one can only speculate about this man's motivation for his act of mass-murder. One thing is for certain. He is the personification of pure evil.

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  23. From what I can tell, Anders B.B. appears to have been some sort of fundamentalist-cultural-Christian. He only nominally believed in Christianity and did not want a theocracy, but believed strongly in a vision of the church as a gathering-place in which to uphold and enforce a single culture and ideology. He loved Christianity for its trappings without caring about its centerpiece.

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