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128 responses to “On the reaction to the tragedy in Norway”

  1. Robert Merkel


    There are going to be lessons from this, not least in the mechanics of how as well as the why.

    But that can wait.

  2. Liam

    It’d be as tragic whoever were responsible, or if there were no who at all—if it were influenza, a fire, or you know, bears.

    Thanks, Mark.

  3. billie

    I was saddened to hear of the tragedy in Norway. I was especially touched to hear that some people at the youth camp tried to reason with the gun man. They were shot.

    The gun man looked young, clean cut and not at all like Howard’s “be aware, be alert” campaign. The gunman’s obsession with computer games may have desensitised him to violence and being holed up playing on his computer may have been a substitute for social interaction.

  4. wizofaus

    One of my first reactions was just – how can this happen in a country like Norway? With such a small/homogenuous population, with seemingly everything in its favour, for this to happen makes it very difficult to hold on to the ideal that Scandinavian countries often represent to those of us with a particular political leaning. That doesn’t make the event any more tragic, but for me at least, harder to accept.

  5. tigtog

    The gunman’s obsession with computer games may have desensitised him to violence and being holed up playing on his computer may have been a substitute for social interaction.

    Or else he may have been already asocial/antisocial before he decided to spend a lot of time playing computer games. Or else he knew a lot of friends who played that game as a hobby and it was a point of social interaction for him (you do know that WoW is played with teams, don’t you?).

    Or perhaps computer games had only a peripheral effect on his life, and other influences were much stronger. No doubt we’ll hear plenty about his history of interaction with others over the next weeks and months.

  6. Robert Merkel

    With such a small/homogenuous population, with seemingly everything in its favour, for this to happen makes it very difficult to hold on to the ideal that Scandinavian countries often represent to those of us with a particular political leaning. That doesn’t make the event any more tragic, but for me at least, harder to accept.

    But then, while rural Tasmania isn’t super-prosperous, it was certainly pretty damn ethnically homogenous back in 1996.

    Which gets back to Mark’s point; reflect, but there’s plenty of time to draw any conclusions later.

  7. Uncle Buck

    Thanks Mark. A timely, thoughtful and appropriate post. My Thoughts too are with the families and friends of the slain.

  8. Uncle Buck

    And yes: “…more humanity and more democracy…”

  9. Katz

    I think there is a duty to analyse why these things happen, and why they are talked about in the way they are, but I’m not at all certain that a pause for reflection isn’t in order first.

    Reflection is never out of order.

    Young men (and it is nearly always men) who commit murderous violence in the name of larger causes appear to be actuated by a desire to make an impression upon the world. Annihilation of representatives enemy groups is the chosen means of self-actuation. This behaviour is entirely predictable in the context of the sexual division of social roles. This is the sort of thing that men are expected to do.

    Mainstream society will condemn this behaviour not because is never permissible for young men to behave this way but because the particular cause that drove them was deemed to be illegitimate.

    Meanwhile, many cultural institutions, not the least of which is the blogosphere, enables young men to find splinter groups who seek heroes who kill imagined enemies. The killers lose touch with mainstream mores because they are isolated from its influences. Into this moral and emotional vacuum springs the splinter group with its simple, terrible solutions.

  10. dave

    Just a note, I was transiting thru the US today and picked up a discarded Baltimore newspaper while waiting for my flight. The Norway massacre was page 4 news…the local governor who has decided to back same sex marriage and Obama monopolised the front page.

  11. Chav

    Islamic terror attack: Islam as a whole is to blame.
    White Christian conservative: the work of a lone ‘madman’.

    Not pointing this out in the blogosphere is not going make the Blairs and Bolts of this world play nice and reform their ways.

  12. Kim

    Pointing it out in the midst of a polemic won’t either.

  13. Fran Barlow

    Mark said:

    I think there is a duty to analyse why these things happen, and why they are talked about in the way they are, but I’m not at all certain that a pause for reflection isn’t in order first.

    While I agree that the urge to do a left-liberal analog of Blot ought to be resisted while there’s a fair chance new data may come in that might modify what we’d want to say, I disagree that it is a rule of principle. Given the tendency in media to be first with the news right or wrong, it’s simply good risk management to hold off for a bit.

    As it turns out there’s now a question over the integrity of the claim that an Al Qaeda linked group took responsibility.

  14. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Dichotomies are sometimes deadly, and are often obnoxious. In contrast, reflection is generally good. But too much reflection on dichotomies can turn to monomania.

    Breivik (I believe, from his photos in the pages) wrote this 1500 page manifesto, although he preferred to call it a compedium. Reading through it, I see:

    I’ve spent a total of 9 years of my life working on this project. The first five years were spent studying and creating a financial base, and the last three years was spent working full time with research, compilation and writing. Creating this compendium has personally cost me a total of 317 000 Euros (130 000 Euros spent from my own pocket and 187 500 Euros for loss of income during three years)

    And all for what? For 90 plus adults and teenagers dead?

  15. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Sorry, Mark – I stuffed up the blockquoting. The last line is mine, not his.

    [fixed ~tt]

  16. sg

    I haven’t seen anyone who “seems to gloat” that it wasn’t a muslim yet. I don’t understand where this post is coming from. It reminds me of the time an LP post reacted to reports of “anti-semitic leftists” from some conference at a university, and it turned out the “anti-semitism” had been invented by some newspaper.

    I think sometimes LP posters have a tendency to over-react to other left-wingers’ engagement in debate with the insane right, and to see polemic or gloating or sneering or whatever where there is none.

    The reality in this case is that, Bolt said a really nasty vicious thing, something that’s being repeated around the right-wing blogosphere and that we have seen many times before. Some lefty commenters there and here laughed at his stupidity or pointed out his error or were outraged by this tactic. That is all. And note it’s not just Bolt and it’s not just “multicultural chickens coming home to roost” either – he also has a link up to the Hinderaker post about how it wouldn’t have happened if the happy campers were armed.

    We saw this with the previous couple of shooting spreeds and stupid crimes in the US (e.g. that tax-protesting suicide flier, the last school shooting). It’s a trick for maintaining in the public eye the image of multiculturalism as the threat when the real threat is the froth of murderous propaganda these commentators are putting out.

    This is an ideological program, kids, and if we don’t engage against it we will be overridden by it. It’s that simple.

  17. akn

    It may be the case that we are witnessing the politicisation of pathology here whereby someone with marginal emotional stability or indeed an undiagnosed disorder acts out anger, rage and dispossession on politically identified ‘targets’ who are the objects of hate. At the same time the perpetrator has access to serious firepower.

  18. Dave Bath

    [email protected] – I’m kind of glad I haven’t seen any gloating about the facts of the tragedy as such – although there might be some pleasure in seeing the discomfort of the worst of the right-wing propagandists.

    Even if there was gloating about any red-faces of right-wing pundits (it’s unlikely they’ll actually feel their faces go red), the left should ponder just how many of the best-and-brightest of the left were pre-emptively removed from history, and the effect this could have on the quality of political debate over the next decades in Norway specifically, and western Europe in general. It is a massive loss not just in personal terms. not merely a horrible and undeserved shock to a peaceful nation – the difference to society these kids would have made is considerable, and that includes any influence the quality of political debate in Europe has on the quality of debate world-wide.

  19. Lefty E

    A counsellor would at this point say there’s no ‘correct’ way to deal with one’s feelings over an awful tragedy like this, so arguing over what’s appropriate is actually pointless. My guess is most people are simply overwhelmed by the scale of the horror. I certainly am. God help those who are directly affected by it.

    I would suggest, though, that any ‘two dogs barking’ equivalence between Bolt (a syndicated columnist with a Murdoch newspaper and thus a massive impact) and some lefties posting on blogs in response to his obscene idiocies is self-evidently a false one.

  20. wmmbb

    I agree with akn, to the extent that I question how can any person engage in such behavior. Given that it seems to have been deliberately planned, the notion of a lone madman does not seem to fit. Max Blumenthal provides what may in part explain and give context to these appalling acts of inhumanity.

  21. Lefty E

    Mark – Im referring to GregM’s comments ( which may be on the other thread). Something about gutters and dogs, and most definitely seeking to draw an equivalence.

  22. Mercurius

    @17 Quite so, sg,

    We needn’t fear to tread here, for the fools have already rushed in.

    Nor need we concern ourselves with low-rent ghouls like Andrew Bolt, when you can find perfectly reputable, respectable organs like Foreign Policy magazine, the US diplomatic corps and Norwegian police and intelligence service, all of whom put two and two together and came up with…MUSLIMS!!!

    Hopefully at some point when we are sufficiently indulged from our reflect-a-thon, the Norwegian intelligence community, police and Prime Minister will find some time to reflect upon why it is that their terrorist-busting efforts in recent years were focused on people who were *cough* not so close to home. And why it is that the Norwegian Prime Minister could say in a press conference on the day of the atrocity that ‘compared to other countries I would not say we have a big problem with right-wing extremists in Norway,’

    Then witness the terrible irony of this article from December 2010 Norway anti-terrorism efforts inadequate which features some Americans at the US embassy in Oslo whinging that Norway isn’t doing enough to prevent attacks by jihadists.

    Then there is excresence from Foreign Policy magazine (which really should know better):
    Norway’s 9/11?. Errr, no. It isn’t Norway’s 9/11. It’s Norway’s Oklahoma City. That noise you can hear is the sound of a once-reputable journal going around the u-bend.

    There is indeed much to reflect upon. Thanks to a, well, let’s say, a bit of a blind-spot, when it comes to profiling terror suspects, Norway has nearly a hundred dead kids on their hands. I’d be reflecting pretty damn hard about that, right about now, if I were the Norwegian Chief of Police.

  23. akn

    I’m in general agreement with both sg and Dave Bath here; sg detects the consequences of programmatic hate speech that creates an anti-democratic culture of acceptable violence that is manifesting itself internationally; Dave Bath very correctly nominates this as an attack on the young centre-left of Europe and indeed the world. Right wing Australian press fulminators go off half cocked, incorrectly attacking Muslims as the perpetrators while the victims still are bleeding. The far right is showing its true colours.

  24. GregM

    Dave @20. A most thoughtful post.

    With the Bali bombing Australia lost eighty-eight of its people, most of them young. The grief to us at this loss was palpable.

    Norway’s population is about four and a half million. The loss to them of eighty of their young people is to us as if we had lost four hundred.

    In the circumstances you point out, an assembly of what they would hope to be their best and brightest and the hope for their future, adds an extra poignancy to this tragedy.

    Your concluding words are so true and so touching that I will not comment on them but just reproduce them:

    the difference to society these kids would have made is considerable, and that includes any influence the quality of political debate in Europe has on the quality of debate world-wide.

  25. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Pathological he probably was, akn, but it doesn’t help that Breivik lacked any sort of irony whatsoever. (Which may be pathological as well.)

    Opening the ‘compedium’ I linked to above completely at random, I found a “Motivational music tracks” section. One that leapt out at me was “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” – yes, the same from the Liza Minnelli musical Cabaret. A little further along, Breivik mentioned Clint Mansell’s Lux Aeterna:

    Comment: I love this work. Lux Aeterna means “eternal light” and it really is an appropriate title. I’ve listened to this track several hundred times and I never seem to get tired of it. The track is very inspiring and invokes a type of passionate rage within you. In Lord of the Rings – a good version of this track (Requiem for a Tower version which I think is the best) is performed during the most intense fighting of one of the central battles. Since it has worked for me, it is likely that it will work for you. An invigorating piece of art.

    As many of you know, Clint Mansell also went by the monicker “Clint Poppie” when he was the frontman of Pop Will Eat Itself. He wrote their anti-Far Right song “Ich Bin Ein Auslander”. It would be utterly horrific (especially to him) if Breivik used his song to psyche himself up before the massacres.

  26. Zorronsky

    That this horror can be visited on innocents in the name of whatever motivates the perpetrator should surprise few who take note of actions involving the mindless killing of women and or children to appease personal grievances.
    Incitement to mass produce this mania is not unknown.
    That this terrible event occurred in Norway rocks credibility.
    Had it happened here I for one would not have been surprised.

  27. Jeff

    I think this is wrong, and quite dangerously so.
    It’s not a question of ‘gloating’ (only a monster gloats about mass deaths). It’s a question of recognising that there is now an Islamophobic movement in Europe and the US that uses violent, eliminationist rhetoric.
    Clearly, this invidual was disturbed. But it’s not so surprising that someone translates the rhetoric of ‘war’ against Islam and its supposed enablers into action.
    Already, there’s an effort to depoliticise this, to suggest it was simply the work of a lone nutcase. In reality, it was an assault on a political youth camp carried out by someone steeped in the Islamophobic rhetoric of the far right.
    If you look at the guy’s writings, an awful lot of his eliminationist ravings would have slotted quite nicely into the publications of groups like the English Defence League (which, as it happened, he admired). That’s not to say that everyone in the EDL is a potential mass killer. It’s simply to make the obvious point if you go about preaching the need for all out war against the Muslim enemy within, well, you have to take responsibility when nutters answer your call.

  28. Jeff

    This piece, which, incidentally, comes from a website once strongly associated with the Islamophobic right, is very good on the links between the accused gunman and the so-called ‘counter Jihad’ movement.

  29. GregM

    Mark – Im referring to GregM’s comments ( which may be on the other thread). Something about gutters and dogs, and most definitely seeking to draw an equivalence.

    Lefty E, with Mark’s indulgence on this thread I’ll respond to that.

    I didn’t seek to draw any equivalence between you and Bolt. I wanted to do the opposite.

    I know your calibre from your comments. I was pointing out to you that you don’t have to stoop down to his level when you hear him barking.

    My point to you is that you are much better than that.

  30. Mr Denmore

    I’ve written about the pitfalls of instant punditry in the face of breaking news over at The Failed Estate.


  31. akn

    wmmbb’s link @23 to Maz Blumenthal’s piece highly recommended. Thanks for that. (http://maxblumenthal.com/2011/07/anders-behring-breivik-a-perfect-product-of-the-axis-of-islamophobia/)

  32. Sir Henry Casingbroke

    From The Guardian site, Breivik’s manifesto – it vowed revenge on those who had betrayed Europe.

    “We, the free indigenous peoples of Europe, hereby declare a pre-emptive war on all cultural Marxist/multiculturalist elites of Western Europe. … We know who you are, where you live and we are coming for you,” the document said. “We are in the process of flagging every single multculturalist traitor in Western Europe. You will be punished for your treasonous acts against Europe and Europeans.”

    Police spokesman John Fredriksen confirmed that the essay was posted the day of the attacks. The document signaled an attack was imminent: “In order to successfully penetrate the cultural Marxist/multiculturalist media censorship, we are forced to employ significantly more brutal and breath-taking operations, which will result in casualties.”

  33. Kim

    Comments are now re-opened, but please ensure they are on topic.

  34. paul walter

    Going back to @9 and many since, he’s another Martin Bryant and this is his Port Arthur. He planned it for ages, like Bryant planned his big “statement” in Tassie.
    He needed the triggering effect of incitemental rightist propaganda and activism to eventually set him off, its a shame he “met up” with it, so to speak.
    Western Europe has become more conservative over recent decades, part of it is to do with neo liberal economics and policies instigated over the same time span as increased numbers of refugees and migrants are arriving.
    The powers that be generally across Europe, were too dense to see the coming problems back then and were irresponsible concerning tax cuts for the rich, free trade agreements that impacted on the developing world and spending cuts for social infrastructure, let alone all the idiot, expensive wars, to allow for the sort of money that could have lubricated the process.
    Besides, it’s suited them to have different elements within a community scrapping, easier to pass more “controlling” anti terrorism and surveillance while things are this unsettled.

  35. Katz

    From the LGF link of Jeff @ 34:

    The revelation of the Labour government’s conspiracy to flood the country with immigrants to “rub the right’s nose in diversity” was of great interest to him. I’m sure the bien-pensants in the British left will now want to reflect soberly on the folly of pushing people too far.

    Note that this self-confessed RWDB is happy to claim ideological kinship with the killer. Nothing surprising here. Symbolic murder is acceptable in the strange universe of the Wingnut.

    Note too the “proper” function of political murder. The Left are warned to change their alleged aims and methods, or else. Thus those young leftists gunned down are by implication provocateurs who bear some responsibility for their fates.

    The murderous Right therefore is entitled to punish their enemies.


  36. akn

    Sir Henry @ 38 cites the killer’s disquiet at what the killer imagines to be the dominance of “cultural Marxist/multiculturalist elites”. Any number of commentators in Australia have used this language. Hanson whinged about elites as did Howard and his cronies during the ‘history wars’. We’d do well to remember that Bob Brown has been shot at a forest action in Tassie years ago by some unhinged bastard. My concern is that the hate speech of the MSM in Australia towards the environment movement may well spill over into terrorist violence against activists. This shocking attack on the centre left in Norway and Europe is a harbinger of things to come.

  37. tssk

    I’ve been hanging off for a couple of days as I was left too speechless to comment.

    I guess the first thing that struck me was some of the comments at mainstream media blogs. Of course you can’t debate with these people without being dragged down into the mud yourself. So it doesn’t matter if they say that a far right wing fundamentalist Christian terrorist is actually nothing to do with the right wing, Christianity or gun ownership. You cannot engage without automatically losing the debate for having lack of respect for the dead.

    The shameless will allways find no shame in accusing you of shamelessness.

    As for local effects, as a gamer I feel pretty safe in saying this. The r rating classifcation for video/computer games is now dead. It won’t be looked at again for another ten years. He was definately a gamer (then again anyone under 40 has probably played video games, even if it’s just Pacman, Snake or Solitaire.) The NSW AG will definately have more teeth to halt the classification in it’s tracks and gamers like us will just have to deal. Because you’d have to be a really insenstive dick toargue the case for them at this time. Mind you that won’t stop 15 year olds from being able to play gun games.

  38. Chris

    Mark @ 45 – this speculation I think would have always happened in the past, it just would not have been reported. But with the ease of communication now we’re able to see what was happening behind the scenes. If the mainstream media don’t report the speculation then they just leave the field to twitter and facebook. I think what is more important is for news services to remind people that how (un)reliable information reported is.

    From BBC news reports people on the island were twittering about what was happening while the gunman was shooting people – not as silly as it might first sound because its a way for them to safely broadcast information to each other. But everyone else gets to see what they are saying.

  39. Lefty E

    Another good peice here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/24/norway-tragedy-extremism-europe?intcmp=239

    “For decades, political violence in this country has been almost the sole preserve of neo-Nazis and other racist groups. “

  40. Neale

    On the day I heard about this horror I was reading Slovoj Zizek whose work maddens and illuminates. Try this (from Zizek: Living In the End Times; Verso 2011):
    …But why this religiously (or ethnically) justified violence today? Becasue we live in an era which perceives itself as post-ideological. Since great public causes can no longer be mobilized, since our hegemonic ideology calls on us to enjoy life and to fulfill ourselves, it is difficult for the majority of humans to overcome their revulsion at torturing and killing other human beings. Since the majority are spontaneously “moral” in this way, a larger “sacred” cause is needed, which will make individual concerns about killing seem trivial. Religious or ethnic belonging fit this role perfectly. Of course, there are cases of pathological atheists who are able to committ mass murder for pleasure, just for the sake of it, but they are rare exceptions. The majority need to be “anaesthetised” against its elementary sensitivty to the suffering of others. Religious ideologists usually claim that, whether true or not, religion can make otherwise bad people do good things: from recent experience, we should rather stick to Steve Weinberg’s claim that while without religion good people would do good things and bad people bad things, only religion can make good people do bad things” (page 97)

  41. wizofaus

    Another one: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/07/23/nyt/index.html

    Though I’m curious about the claim that there were “definitive statements on the BBC and elsewhere that Muslims were the culprits” (backed up only by a twitter link that doesn’t seem to prove anything).

    And while I don’t wish for a moment to defend Mr Bolt, I’m far less disturbed by that sort of thing coming from him than some of the articles published in the the likes of the NYT or WSJ.

    And yes, he was a terrorist. I can’t find a single definition of terrorism that doesn’t fit what happened.

  42. Adrien

    Commentary which seems to gloat “Oh look! It wasn’t a Muslim, but a right wing Christian” reinscribes the crazy narratives about terrorism and political violence which precisely require a more dispassionate analysis.

    Well I’m all for dispassionate analysis but it’s difficult to accomplish. There’s an argument over at Catallaxy where THR is trying to make his right-wing opponents face the ‘racism of the Right’. He couches it ideologically – these ideas permeate the Right, look at Andrew Bolt.

    Well I’d rather not, but thanks anyway.

    The ideas are a cover for a force of nature. You can’t transcend human nature by ignoring it. I think they ignore it in Sweden. And here too. This lone gunman spree thing seems a force of nature too. Like what happens to a certain type (male) human animal when their mind gets blitzed by Technological Civilization.

  43. Adrien

    Sorry I meant Norway. I’m reading about Swedish fascism, whoops.

    The point was there is a Rousseauian assumption in multicultural societies. Norway I don’t think is as bad as Sweden. But just as prone to Ballardian scenarios.

  44. skepticlawyer

    If this is on the wrong thread, Mark, please feel free to move or delete it.

    I think it is important for people (regardless of politics) to face up to the ugly bits that may lurk deep within their political orientation. Breivik went around quoting Mill and Hayek — as well as cutting and pasting from the Unabomber — in his manifesto.

    As someone on the right, I think it would be downright irresponsible of me not to take those associations seriously.


  45. Lefty E

    Waleed Aly: ‘This is not a crazed loner, this is a terrorist’


  46. Lefty E

    This was a systematic attempt to destroy a generation of a progressive political party’s key membership, not a random act of violence. “At least it wasnt terrorism” is a deeply disturbing response to the growing threat of right-wing extremism.

  47. Paul Burns

    The fundy connection diesn’t bother me at all in this. In my view most fundys don’t hurt anyone except themselves, (unless they get into parliament where they’re just a bloody nuisance and they’re mostly obsessed with questions of so called Xtan morality or the primacy of Xanity in our sociewty. My concerns are much wider. For example to what extent does the Oslo bombing/massacre reflect the rise of a violent ultra-right in Europe and elsewhere that in the 1930s was desceibed as fascism? Are we seeing the beginnings or continuation of a violent conflict between the ultra right and the left that was so characteristic of the post WWI era? Certainly the economic conditions of that time might be mirrored in today’s society. Has the left in fact, taken its eye off the ball in regard to the dangers, real and potential of the ultra right? Have we forgotten the historical context – and I don’t just mean Nazism here, but the whole canvas of ultra right movements of the 1930s defined by acts of violence against the state, that, until, quiet recently, one would have thought had been utterly discredited by their past extremes.
    If I’ve missed your point, Mark, please transfer this to Saturday Salon,

  48. Fran Barlow

    This is interesting

    Norway attacks: Breivik was my friend on Facebook. I’ve seen what fed his hatred

    The writer had been a member of the rightwing Swedish Democrats

    Make of it what you will.

  49. wbb
  50. jules

    Lefty E @ 53.

    Yes. Thats exactly what it was.

  51. wbb

    Amazing the echoes in the Norwegian terrorist’s writing of Al Qaeda type language.

    Any member of a political group that has allowed Muslims to migrate to their country is regarded as a “target” who deserves “the death penalty”, according to his writings.

    This is strikingly germane to the intent of Mark’s post. The way our language has become inflamed and thus produces its own effects.

  52. Paul Norton

    A couple of other things that have struck me about Breivik’s “Manifesto” and other postings.

    1. The narcissism whereby he thinks that he, and a very few others like him, are the sole really courageous, strong and trustworthy individuals who have remained true to the values of their cause and are prepared to do what must be done to advance it (note his scornful comments about the Progressive Party of Norway, of which he used to be a member).

    2. The unblushing “ends justifies the means” morality whereby it is considered necessary to sacrifice hundreds in order to “liberate” thousands” (and, by extension, to sacrifice millions in order to “liberate” billions).

    This is a mindset which he shares with chiliastic terrorists beginning at least with the C19 Russian nihilist revolutionaries who inspired Dostoyevsky’s The Devils, and continuing through the totalitarian movements and many of the terrorist movements of the C20 and C21.

  53. Geoff Honnor

    “Amazing the echoes in the Norwegian terrorist’s writing of Al Qaeda type language.”

    Indeed. The compelling sameness of extremism. We need to know more obviously but I’ve been struck by the similarity of aspiration between OBL’s dream of the restored caliphate and the return of Al Andalus and this guy’s apparent belief that Europe needs to be restored to some imagined “Judaeo-Christian” civilisation imperative that is as much a reordering of the historical reality as Bin Laden’s.

    By the way, I’ve seen nothing so far that would seem to substantiate the oft-quoted assertion that he’s a ‘fundamentalist christian’ – I get the sense his views are about cultural or tribal christianity rather than faith/religiosity per se.

  54. Sam

    According to the London Telegraph, Breivik harbours resentment from having been made to take knitting lessons in primary school.

    I knew it! See what happens when you interfere with traditional gender roles? You create mass murderers.

  55. akn

    The following link makes the claim that the shooter wasn’t a right wing Christian; according to the shooter’s ‘manifesto’ he was an ‘evolutionist pagan’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi3yn33s308. Also a member of the Masons. The speaker in this report sees the media engaged in a left wing conspiracy to discredit Christian fundamentalism. I’m pleased we cleared that up.

  56. akn

    Cutting edge analysis from US citizen Alex Jones: http://www.christianforums.com/t7579369/

  57. wbb

    On the reaction to the tragedy:

    The biography of a even mass murderer is as complex as our own. There is room for all of us to instinctively defend that part of his bio that we share (whether its his love for violent computer simulations, his religion, his politics, his neglected childhood, his fondness of guns etc etc). We should try to resist offering any of these unnecessary defenses.

  58. Steve at the Pub

    Good point wbb @65:
    His bio includes, but is not limited to:
    Graffitti artist
    Child of Labour Party supporters
    Child of parents who were previous married & brought children to the marriage
    Child of parents who divorced when he was young
    Successful small businessman
    Son of a public servant
    Close friend, of an immigrant who loathed the host nation.

  59. Katz

    I guess Osama bin Laden’s back-story is at least as multiple-stranded. Yet no one has yet sought to explain his actions by reference to the fact that his father was a property developer.

    Funny, that.

  60. silkworm

    Excellent article by Max Blumenthal. Thanks for the link, wmmbb @ 23. Blumenthal mentioned Breivik being inspied by Pam Geller. I read this morning on The Smirking Chimp, quoting the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, that

    New evidence has surfaced indicating that Breivik appears to be a fan of the Tea Party’s favorite Islamophobe, Pamela Geller. The website Little Green Footballs reports that he’s been posting links to Geller’s website Atlas Shrugged since at least 2009.


  61. Katz

    It is noteworthy that Breivik’s planning of his operation was careful and meticulous. He organized carefully his pretext for accumulating a huge supply of explosive. He chose his Labor Party targets with ruthless accuracy, knowing that they would be trapped on a small island. The explosion in Oslo diverted many police who might otherwise have been despatched to the island. Instead, Breivik adopted the persona of protector to maximize the efficiency of his slaughter.

  62. akn

    Yes Katz there is clear and extensive evidence of rationality in the meticulousness of his planning and the execution of those plans. No grounds here for arguing the absence of mens rea. A cool headed terrorist who chose not to kill himself at the end of the day and who is apparently looking forward to explaining himself in court.

  63. Gummo Trotsky

    Cracker conspiracy theorising from Australia’s own Merv Bendle:

    Or was the entire Oslo atrocity a covert, ‘false-flag’ operation, carried out to give just this impression that it was conducted by anti-Muslim, right-wing extremists, but actually conceived and directed by other forces? In other words, was Behring Breivik actually just a dupe, a sociopath manipulated by forces seeking to discredit the very causes that he believed he was defending? It wouldn’t be the first time that terrorists have served the wrong master.

  64. Sam

    Re GT 71

    The good thing about conspiracy theories is that all contrary evidence can be dismissed as part of the theory.

    After 9/11, Imre Salusinzsky published a book called “September 11 and the Agony of the Left”. What we’re now seeing is the agony of the right. They’ve seen one of their own tribe commit the very crimes they’ve accused the left of implicitly supporting, and it is driving them nuts.

  65. Jacques de Molay

    Paul Walter @ 41,

    He’s not another Martin Bryant for the simple fact his target was Norway’s Labour party. The bombing of the PM’s offices and then gunning down the kids at the Young Labor camp on that island. It couldn’t have been more political. Bryant was just a nutter that snapped and decided to gun down as many people as he could.

  66. Adrien

    The narcissism whereby he thinks that he, and a very few others like him, are the sole really courageous, strong and trustworthy individuals who have remained true to the values of their cause

    More proof if needed that sociopathology and Nietzsche are a volatile mixture. Do not stop at Thus Spoke Zarathustra proceed immediately to Meditations for a humility boost.

  67. Adrien

    A lot of the commentary here appears to be gloating at the injury this does to the Right’s moral standing.

  68. akn

    Gummo Trotsky: haven’t got a link for that quote from Merv Bendle, have you? I must say his capacity to see through a conspiracy is without comparison. Those cunning cultural Marxists don’t fool him, no-sir-ee. The students and staff at JCU must feel safe with him…when he’s left the room. I love the dumbarse suggestion that terrorists might have “served the wrong master” which begs the question of whether in his mind terrorism is all good when it serves the right master?

  69. adrian

    Don’t quite understand how this tragedy can injure something that doesn’t exist, Adrien.

  70. sg

    akn, I like the way he conflates “the left, islamists, jihadists and their supporters” and presents the attack as a propaganda victory for them. It’s very slimy indeed. Also the way he pretends that the first people to start speculating were left-wingers (not just media organizations and their right-wing “experts”) is pretty funny. He’s rewritten history within a day of it happening…

  71. Mercurius

    The ‘reaction to the tragedy in Norway’ from some quarters displays a prodigious level of ideological panic.

    @71, a ‘false-flag’ operation? Good lord. I think Merv Bendle is a ‘false-flag’ planted in the JCU Faculty by leftists to give the impression that JCU gave tenure to a twit.

    This sort of nonsense from Bendle isn’t a “reaction” to the tragedy in Norway. It is a bizarre intellectual meltdown. He is supposed to be an expert on this stuff. He lists among his academic research interests ‘Militant Religion and the Crisis of Modernity’, ‘Apocalypticism in Contemporary Culture’, and ‘History and Sociology of Extremist Thought (incl.Terrorism)’. And so he comes up with ‘false-flags’ and paranoiac mutterings about “a far more sinister game, in which there are still many more moves to be made.”

    Now where else have I read ramblings of a similar nature? Oh yes, in The Compendium of Anders Behring Breivik, that’s where…

  72. Sam

    A lot of the commentary here appears to be gloating at the injury this does to the Right’s moral standing.

    Not the Right’s actual moral standing (which is invisible to the naked eye) but to the Right’s self-perceived moral standing, which has been (completely unjustifiably) sky high since 9/11.

  73. Gummo Trotsky

    A lot of the commentary here appears to be gloating at the injury this does to the Right’s moral standing.

    No gloating here – the Bendle quote is presented merely as a specimen from the social pathology lab.

  74. Katz

    More disturbing is this from our Merv:

    If this view prevails it will represent a significant propaganda victory for the left, Islamism, Jihadism, and their supporters, who have been on retreat throughout Europe over the past two years. It is unforgivable that this monstrous massacre should be exploited by these groups in this fashion to consolidate their position.

    This implies that significant sections of the Left are in league with Islamism and Jihadism. Can Merv be serious? Of course he can!

    Contrary to Merv’s slander, the Left parts company with the Right not over support for Islamism and its objectives. On the contrary, the point at issue is how a free and liberal society should seek to combat these threats at home and abroad.

    Let us not forget that the blogosphere Right threw its support obsessionally behind Bush’s War on Everything approach, which has predictably produced nothing but failure.

    Broadly speaking, the Left, on the other hand correctly perceived the Islamist problem not as a military one but rather as a problem of winning hearts and minds of the vast majority of non-violent Muslims.

    If the Right were consistent, they should now be calling for a global war on Aryanists and for invasion and occupation of their safe havens. Of course they won’t because they owe allegiance to these chauvinists and fanatics.

    And, the Left won’t call for a global war on Aryanists either, because, sensibly, they perceive this approach to be stupid and counterproductive.

    So there you have it folks:

    The Right: inconsistent and insincere.

    The Left: consistent and sincere.

    Case closed.

  75. Sam

    What’s interesting is that Brendle’s rant was published by Quadrant, which was once a serious magazine. Can anyone imagine Richard Krygier publishing that crap?

  76. Sam

    My link didn’t work. For the uninitiated, Richard Krygier was the founding editor of Quadrant. He was obsessively anti-communist, but nonetheless a serious man. I venture that he would have no more published that rant Merv Bendle than one from Alexei Kosygin.

  77. paul walter

    Jacques DeMolay, I’m moving closer to your reading on the basis of Neale’s interesting comment, 49#.
    But I still think there is a lot of Bryant in the curent mess, Bryant apparently spent some years planning his outrage and from I’ve read Breivik likewise has worked away on his project for a number of years.
    Sorry mate, I look at him and see that same faraway look in the eyes.
    The difference is, the incessant rightist noise was able to focus that static, footloose mind on a specific issue that coincided with his internal logic. He was wound up by the emotion, accepted the rationale of his garbage mates, as a solution to whatever was bugging him inside.

  78. akn

    Merv is a bit of a worry. He appears to have exactly the same sort of anxieties as the shooter: loss of national identity, loss of ethnic solidarity, fear of terrorists among us. To these we can add concerns about the carbon tax, a fear that Australian jihadists will use bushfire as a tool of terror and a refusal to acknoweldge that US imperial war-mongering qualifies as terrorism; he is widely cited by Christian groups including a mob called Salt Shakers. Now he fears that the mass murders in Norway are a moral and propaganda win for Islamo-cultural/Marxist-multicult-elites.

    Some weird conversations at work have left me wondering how widespread this paranoid thinking has become.

  79. Sam

    he is widely cited by Christian groups including a mob called Salt Shakers.

    Ah, the Salt Shakers. These the people who are both pro-life andpro death penalty. Check out their web site for these and other positions.

    Why am I not surprised that they cite Merv?

  80. Joe

    There has been some interesting commentary here in Europe about what the effects of the massacre/ terrorist attack might have on politics and, predictably, the consensus is it’s too soon to say.

    One possibility though, is that in a country like Norway, where the dominant political view has sought to interpret terrorism as being related to social conditions/ political struggle etc. there may well be a movement towards interpreting terrorism and terrorist acts as being a vehicle for ultra violent psychopathic individuals. Not that this is an either or…

    I think it’s unfair to describe the offender as a right wing Christian etc. The development of his pychosis would seem to be the result of other social conditions– the ability to reinforce uncontested his own world-view. Or like, it would seem to be the case with many other such criminals, the ability to clearly live two separate lives. It’s impossible to say at the moment. But anyway, the political angle does seem to be overshadowed by idiosyncrasies.

    Europe is changing quite rapidly and this is difficult for many people. Even since I have been coming here since the early 90s there’s been quite a dramatic disappearance from regionally/ nationally defined cultures. For most people, this is, of course their choice– getting about in lederhosen etc. is seen to be old-fashioned, sentimental and no longer appropriate for modern life. But there are conservative groups who share a belief that this is a catastrophe.

  81. sublimecowgirl

    Katz: So there you have it folks:
    The Right: inconsistent and insincere.
    The Left: consistent and sincere.
    Case closed.

    Consistency and sincerity are great, but you can be consistently and sincerely going in the wrong direction, naively captivated by ideals that belie complex undercurrents and difficult realities.

  82. Katz

    I wasn’t alleging the Left are perfect.

    Just better.

    Perfection is too often an excuse for inaction.

  83. Tiny Dancer

    The wallowing excitement about the slaughter on this blog is appalling

  84. Sam

    Joe 88

    It’s not at all unfair to describe Brievik as a right wing Christian etc. This is how he describes himself.

  85. Mindy

    Foreign Policy magazine, the US diplomatic corps and Norwegian police and intelligence service, all of whom put two and two together and came up with…MUSLIMS!!!

    Typical ‘right-wing’ attacks in the past have been to plant a bomb, and head for the hills to fight another day e.g Timothy McVeigh. Jihadists embrace the concept of martyrdom and so in the past have been more likely to set the bomb and then wait around to gun down people fleeing the blast e.g Mumbai. Thus on first glance the MO seemed to fit Jihadists and the news pundits jumped to the wrong conclusion.

  86. Joe


    Yeah, but people with delusions are… delusional. His behaviour isn’t representative of mainstream Christian or conservative political belief. Thankfully.

    And, I’m not a fan of Christianity or conservative politics, but the offender was an insane psychopath imo. He talked about things like the Knights Templar and all sorts of other delusional crap and ended up killing mainly young Norwegians.

    After the shooting of Giffords, it is, I think, time for the more extreme elements of religious and conservative political commentary to be shut up. And I think religion, of all forms, should be formally kept as far away as possible from governing institutions.

  87. jumpnmcar
  88. Sam


    sure, some of the stuff he wrote about was pure nuttiness, but much of it was bog standard right wing Christian fundamentalist politics. Indeed, thr blogosphere is awash with right wingers saying how they agree with so much of what he wrote.

    (My favourite: the comments in the Jerusalem Post, in particular the comment that the kids at the camp “were not entirely innocent” because they would be the next generation of drafters of the next Oslo Accords. And any people that show a whiff of sympathy to the Palestinians deserve to die. I am not making this up.)

  89. akn

    The consternation at finding out that the terrorist didn’t fit the dominant profile of terrorists promoted by a compliant mass media is not surprising; the shooter is white, clean shaven, educated, economically successful. Sounds like Donald Rumsfeld, doesn’t it? There’s the problem.

  90. akn

    ABC late news claims that the shooter’s ‘thesis’ contains comments approving of John Howard, Cardinell Pell and Keith Windschuttle.

  91. akn
  92. Michael

    It will be interesting to see the reaction of those that ABB quotes in his diatribe as informing his beliefs.

    He’s a climate ‘skeptic’, citing Christpoher Monckton, Steve McIntyre and Bishop Hill.

  93. Katz


    Pell, Windy, Ratty, and Smirk. The Young Ayran has certainly picked the eyes out of Australia’s Crusaders. But no mention of Catallaxy? There will be tears before bedtime.

  94. akn

    I’m a slacker as I’ve never paid attention to the Christian far right before. Found this: The success of Anders Behring Breivik @ http://www.stoptheaclu.com/2011/07/25/the-success-of-anders-behring-breivik/

    I’m gonna deadlock the doors tonight.

  95. akn

    We’re gonna read a lot about how the shooter wasn’t a Christian. However, this quote from his ‘manifesto’ settles it; he writes of his intention to spend some time with prostitutes after which:

    I will probably arrange that just before or after I attend my final martyr’s mass in Frogner Church. It will contribute to ease my mind as I imagine I will get tense and very nervous. It is easier to face death if you know you are biologically, mentally and spiritually at ease.

  96. alyson

    as soon as this terror occurred muslims were to blame ,this was the conclusion that the media jumped to ,had this norweigian been called mohamed islam and he was buying just one bag of fertiliser no doubt the fbi would have been straight onto the case , its time the world woke up to the fact that the the far right poise a dangerous threat just like the nazis and also all other terror cells like al queda ira and the basques he slipped through the net because he was a white norweigien ,he deserves to die for what he has done to these poor innocent youngsters ,instead of labelling all muslims as al quada fans ,this should be a warning to all goverments not to label everyone by putting them in the same boat, in this country right now the edl are ramaging through towns attacking mosques which are places of worship,it reminds me of scenes from bosnia, the edl are not peace lovers they are out to cause trouble

  97. Mercurius

    The wallowing excitement about the slaughter on this blog is appalling

    TD, a technical glitch has caused your comment to be pasted to the wrong site. I presume you meant to paste it on the below…


    Now that’s what ‘wallowing excitment’ looks like.

  98. Mercurius

    The Compendium of Anders Behring Breivik is compelling evidence for the ‘stochastic terrorism’ hypothesis.

  99. tigtog
  100. Tiny Dancer

    I got the correct site. I don’t troll the sites of far right or left idiots like you obviously do looking for some justification.

  101. akn

    The person responsible for the blogs mentioned @104+102 is a local who describes himself thus:

    Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) — former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

  102. akn

    A complete profile of John Jay Ray, former sociologist at UNSW, is available: http://ray-dox.blogspot.com/2006/08/who-am-i-by-john-ray-quick-summary-i.html

  103. Helen

    Tigtog – re your link to the Glenn Beck story at 106:

    Another brick in the Immense Gothic Cathedral of WTF(TM)

    Despite Beck expressing surprise that political movements would hold camps for children, followers of his 9/12 Project – which aims to “recapture the spirit of the day after America was attacked” – have this summer been doing just that.

  104. sg

    I think we can all agree that someone who keeps press clippings on himself from the age of 9, and gleefully reports them in his bio, doesn’t have the same sense of perspective as the rest of us…

  105. Lefty E

    ‘Dr John Bew, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London, admitted there had been a lack of focus on far-right extremism, with research into Islamism often taking precedence. “We have looked at lone wolves in relation to Islamism but I think we haven’t taken far-right extremism seriously enough.”


  106. Paul Norton

    Sam @84, Richard Krygier was an anti-communist social democrat, as was his Quadrant colleague Frank Knopfelmacher and as are many of those that Prof. Knopfelmacher influenced such as Robert Manne. Their anti-communism was rooted in positive democratic values and was a far different phenomenon to the mindless anti-leftism which has engulfed Quadrant since 1998.

  107. Sam

    akn 98, I am shocked, shocked by this news.

    Paul 113, I know, that was my point. Krygier would have no more published the garbage that is in today’s Quadrant than eaten his own shit.

  108. tigtog

    @Helen, yes indeed. I’ve had a go at unpacking Beck’s comment in more detail over at Spotlight The Spin.

  109. Sam

    If I was sufficiently entrepreneurial, I’d start making T shirts with “We are all cultural Marxists now” printed on them. They’d go world-wide viral. $25 each with the profits to the families of the victims.

    I’d also send a batch to John Ray and Merv Bendle, with compliments.

  110. Link

    There is a Turkish saying, ‘Everybody different like the five fingers on my hand’. It doesn’t surprise me this happened in Norway–it could have happened pretty well anywhere, there are angry lunatics anywhere you care too look. Not all end up executing their plans. Most probably can’t be bothered or get drunk or eventually calm down. But very few angry lunatics have a sudden attack of something we might call knowledge of a conscience. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, we live in an extremely violent culture that glorifies anger and physical recrimination. (see Wendy Deng being instantly praised for slapping down Rupert’s (ahem) violent attacker).

    What a sick society we have. Decrying bullying in schools, when the reality is bullying is absolutely commonplace (so one must assume accepted) in society. Being shocked and horrified by someone who is violent and angry, when everyday we blithely watch films, read books, pick up the newspaper or play games that depict violence, bloodshed and revenge and we think it normal or at worst, entertaining.

    This young man is a heinous individual. He is also a product of our time.

  111. Robert Merkel

    Nick Ross at the ABC has posted an analysis of Brevik’s manifesto with reference to computer gaming.

    In short, his enjoyment of computer games appears to have been one of the most normal things about the guy; furthermore, he proposed the use of a purported “gaming addiction” as a cover for spending time plotting an attack.

  112. Paul Norton

    It is telling that the English Defence League has displayed more decency (or, perhaps, less indecency) than Quadrant and Bendle in its response to Breivik’s crimes.

  113. will i regret getting back in the saddle?

    With the exception of the Unabomber (and complelely ignoring a bunch of politically motivated leftists http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-wing_terrorism), I guess we can take comfort in the knowledge that no-one in the educated modern eco left in the mainstream west would ever think the cold blooded killing of children who are percieved to obstruct the greater good is acceptable.

    Oh wait…


    Did no-one read Marks opening post?

  114. Lefty E

    Yes, what Breivik will achieve is a much overdue heightened awareness and security surveillance of far-right terrorist groupings in Europe, and widespread popular revulsion at the core ideas and values they represent.

    There’s a storm coming alright, you creeps.

  115. Fran Barlow

    Having read the EDL piece, Paul, I don’t think there’s much to choose between them. Really, it’s an apolgia for the murderous violence, repeatedly casting breivik as someone who “fought back” (while paying lipservice to not “killing innocents especially children {my emphasis}”. Why someone who thinks “innocents” should not be killed thinks this is especially true of children is something I doubt they could explain plausibly.

    All EDL was doing was attempting to deflect attack while endorsing the motivation for it. That’s easily as repulsive as anything Bendle had to say.

  116. Helen

    I think it’s germane, in the light of the focus on the far right, to mention Brisenia Flores, shot by the US Minutemen. RIP little one.

    They seem to go for the young kids, don’t they? Heroes.

    Dave Neiwert has been trying to draw the world’s attention to these groups for years.

    Also, since another commenter pointed out the new rightwing gang in Northern Melbourne, Bros over Hoes (Charming!), I notice Fight Dem Back is still doing sterling work signal boosting this stuff, which goes largely ignored in our regular News Ltd. induced panics about “gangs”.

  117. Paul Norton

    Fran @123, yeah, you’re probably right.

  118. Sam

    I see that Vladimir Putin, who was also praised by Breivik, has had the decency (not a word one normally associates with Putin) to distance himself from him.

  119. tigtog

    I think SC aka will i regret getting back in the saddle? has a point about where this discussion is trending: explicitly in the direction warned against by Mark.

    Because it’s back to the working week and all the moderators are busier than on the weekend, I’m placing this thread back on full moderation. Have some patience while awaiting your comments’ publication, please.