Anders Breivik's Roots in Right-Wing Populism
As news of the horrifying massacre on the Norwegian island of Utøya began spreading, it wasn't long before it became clear that the perpetrator came out of the anti-Muslim, extreme nationalist camp. For years, he had been leaving his traces in several right-wing blogs and in other online writings.
It also didn't take long for those behind many of the sites carrying those blogs and writings to go on the defensive. They immediately tried to distance themselves -- not, of course, from the nationalist, anti-Islam tone, but from the methods used.
Anders Behring Breivik, the message seemed to be, may have been a follower of right-wing convictions, but he had misunderstood core elements of the ideology. Bombs and mass murder, according to the argument, are not among the tools one should use in the effort to free the Western world from Muslims, multi-culturalists and Marxists. Nationalists and Christians, according to one right-wing blogger, do not murder children -- and "certainly not children of their own race."
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Drawing the Line
But the right wing sees it as a "conservative catastrophe" primarily because of the danger that blame might extend from Breivik to the extremist scene itself. Indeed, wherever Breivik left his digital calling card in recent years, he hardly stood out from the crowd of similar missives. "What he writes," reads an offering on Politically Incorrect, "are largely things that could be found in this forum... Whether Breivik suffered from a psychological illness that has since become worse is not known to us."
Contributors to Document.no -- where Breivik had been active for months and sought out a direct exchange with publisher Hans Rustad -- also seek to draw the line between themselves and Breivik. Given the large degree of ideological crossover, it is not a simple endeavor. The fact that Breivik, as early as Sept. 8, 2009, announced his intention to publish the 1,500 page treatise which is now in circulation -- and repeated the announcement on at least two other occasions -- does not make the effort any easier.
Breivik is also not the sole author of that tome, a work called "2083 - A European Declaration of Independence" and which calls for a crusade against Islam in Europe. Hundreds of pages were written by other right-wing bloggers, Breivik simply copied and pasted them into his treatise. Dozens of chapters were published in recent years on blogs like Gates of Vienna (GoV) and The Brussels Journal, two of his most-cited sources. Breivik himself claimed to follow the "Viennese school of thought," a direct reference to GoV.
Such blogs provide a window into a strange scene: pro-Western, exceedingly pro-American and friendly to Israel -- but extremely anti-Muslim, aggressively Christian and openly hostile to everything which is liberal, leftist, multi-cultural or internationalist. It is a "patriotic-nationalist" scene which detests the Nazis but is sympathetic -- to the point of maintaining informal contacts -- to the Tea Party Movement in the US, to the right-wing populist Freedom Party of Austria, to the right-wing football fan group known as the Casuals and to the stridently anti-Muslim English Defence League.
It is a scene which is considered to be militant and ultra-right wing, but which has in the past cooperated with the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a group which has been branded a terrorist organization in the US. Such a connection would be unthinkable for neo-Nazi groups. Indeed, the JDL has even joined demonstrations held by the English Defence League -- a surprising alliance perhaps, but the crossover is clear: Islam is the enemy.
A central tenet of the writings coming out of this scene is that Muslims are currently in the process of taking over Europe with a "demographic Jihad." They use statistics, historical references and precarious prognostications in an effort to feed the extreme right with an intellectual-sounding foundation for their hatred of foreigners. The scene is extremely well networked and growing rapidly. Breivik himself claims to have participated in the creation of a Norwegian chapter of the English Defence League, called the Norwegian Defence League.
Both groups sought to distance themselves from Breivik on Sunday. "We can categorically state that there has never been any official contact between (Breivik) and the EDL," read a statement on the EDL website.
Searching for a Way into the Mainstream
Nothing is as important to the far-right as establishing a respectable presence throughout Europe. Members see themselves as "anti-Jihad," a counter balance. They are striving for attention in the media, on the streets and in parliaments. Breivik himself was engaged in Norway's right-wing party the Fremskrittspartiet, or the Progress Party. They must be relieved that he left the party early on.
According to some evidence, the suspect shifted his political activities some nine years ago to the written word and subversive sources. For a number of years he has been sprinkling his views around right-wing blogs. On Saturday Breivik's web presence -- in particular his ideological proximity to one of the biggest stars of the right-wing scene -- sparked a bizarre conflict. A far-right blog called LittleGreenFootball, known simply as LGF to insiders, started a rumour that Breivik was none other than the well-known rightist blogger "Fjordman."
The blogger, known for his radical, elegantly formulated essays against Muslims, liberals and multi-culturalism, has since made a number of postings denying the rumor. Since then web chatter has focused on how, as an arsonist, he was "only" Breivik's inspiration.
Fjordman, the Intellectual Stooge
There are almost no arguments to disprove this claim, thanks to Breivik's activities. Already in 2009 Breivik, whose email address was firstname.lastname@example.org, directly contacted Fjordman in hopes of interesting him in what was then a 1,100-page document outlining his ideology. But Fjordman was reportedly unmoved because it offered nothing to differentiate itself "from all the others," and contained nothing that Fjordman hadn't already heard "at the pub."
But the top blogger has missed something. Though it may have been without his consent, as Breivik's most-quoted source, Fjordman is the most important co-author of the polemic.
The document by Breivik is no monograph or political-literary outpouring by a madman, who had clearly been planning a devastating attack for years. Instead it is a type of collage. The document "2083" comprises long sections of articles and essays found by Breivik in various "patriotic," "national" and "conservative" publications and blogs. This makes Fjordman the actual author of several hundred pages in the convoluted bundle -- in total some 38 chapters or subsections stem from his work. These sections fit in seamlessly with this "opus," which calls on Europeans to engage in a bloody anti-jihad movement that goes as far as martyrdom.
The enemy, he makes it clear, are all those who are responsible for the Islamization of Europe -- those who are not nationalists in the same vein as himself. In his words it sounds like this: "(...) it's in your interest to help out your French, British, German, Scandinavian etc brothers to defeat the cultural Marxists/multiculturalists here in European metropolitans. Travel here yourself, transfer funds, give your moral support, become a martyr in the fight yourself --anything will be greatly appreciated."
And that's what Breivik did. On the island of Utøya alone he shot 68* young people who, according to his warped senses, embodied "cultural Marxists." He invested years in planning these murders, and even more. In his "2083" scribblings he wrote: "Creating this compendium has personally cost me a total of 317,000 (...) All that, however, is barely noticeable compared to the sacrifices made in relation to the distribution of this book, the actual marketing operation."
Two catastrophic, cold-blooded attacks with a total of 76* dead and hundreds of others traumatized for life or injured. This, in the words of the perpetrator, is a "marketing operation."
*An earlier version of this article stated that 85 people had been killed on the island of Utøya, and another seven in the bomb attack in Oslo, totalling 93. Police have since adjusted this count to 68 on Utøya and eight in Oslo, bringing the total dead to 76.