Anders Behring Breivik's political platform

26 Jul 2011 by CST

When Anders Behring Breivik set out to commit mass murder last Friday, he left behind a huge amount of material explaining his motivations, intentions and preparations: mainly in the form of a 1,516-page written manifesto and a 12 minute video, both of which can be found here. There is something very unpleasant about poring over Breivik's political testimony, knowing that this is precisely what he wants everybody to be doing; but nonetheless, it contains important pointers to his motivations and the new kind of far right politics he represents.

The manifesto covers a huge amount of ground. Titled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, it is designed as a handbook for what Breivik believes will be a European civil war between the "cultural Marxists" who currently control Europe, and the "cultural conservatives" like himself who will overthrow them. This war, he believes, began in 1999 and will end in 2083. The manifesto is written in English, under an English-pseudonym (Andrew Berwick of London), and has a particular focus on the United Kingdom and France as key countries for his struggle.

front cover

The front cover of Breivik's manifesto, bearing a Knights Templar cross (all images in this post are taken from the manifesto)

The manifesto contains lots of detail about Breivik's life, upbringing and political development, including a 60-page interview with himself; advice on weapons training; body armour; tactical planning; logistics; explosives testing; building a paramilitary organisation; all in phenomenal detail. It includes written statements to be used in court after a successful terrorist attack (this may be one reason why the proceedings have not be televised so far). Disturbingly, there are long lists of the categories of people in European society who, he believes, need to be killed. Bizarrely, Breivik has even designed a system of medals and ribbons to be awarded to fighters in the coming civil war, and tombstone designs for those who are killed. There are other, more chilling, details: he advises would-be terrorists to wear a police uniform in order to sow confusion, and to carry out a feint attack in one place, before launching the real attack elsewhere. Furthermore:

Once you decide to strike, it is better to kill too many than not enough, or you risk reducing the desired ideological impact of the strike.

Breivik claims that he acted on behalf of an organisation called the Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici (PCCTS - the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon), or the Knights Templar (KT), formed in London in 2002 and which has other members ("Justiciar Knights") across Europe who are ready to strike. However, the manifesto and video seem to be more directed at encouraging copycat attacks from others who are inspired by his example, but who have not yet made any preparations of their own.

Rather than writing in more detail about the practical and logistical details of Breivik's terrorism, I intend to focus in this post on some of his political beliefs, and the changes they reflect on parts of the European contemporary far right.

Culture, not Race

The first half of the manifesto is a compilation of hundreds of blogposts and newspaper articles (written by others) which Breivik uses to construct the argument that all the areas of power and influence in Europe - politics, journalism, academia, media, education and so on - are controlled by what he calls "cultural Marxists", but what most would call the liberal left: people who support multiculturalism, diversity, immigration and feminism. In contrast, he argues, "cultural conservatives" who hold views similar to his own are demonised as fascists, racists and Nazis, and excluded from positions of influence. The "cultural Marxists", he argues, are encouraging mass Muslim immigration and the Islamisation of Europe in order to destroy European civilisation and culture and create an "EUSSR".

Marxist hunter badge

A "Marxist Hunter" badge for England, apparently created by Breivik; he wears a similar badge for Norway in the picture at the end of this post

Breivik brackets multiculturalism with Communism, Islam and National Socialism as "hate ideologies".

Justiciar Knight badge

The badge of the "Justiciar Knights": a Crusader cross killing Islam, Communism and Nazism, ideologies which all bring death

Breivik's basic narrative, therefore, is one of grievance, resistance to political oppression, conspiracy theory and self-defence of vital interests; and the desperation of the moment demands violence. This is a very common theme in justifications for all forms of terrorism. Moreover, the idea that immigration is a tool used by elites to destroy the white race has been common on the European far right for decades. What is different, and important, in Breivik's politics is one word: culture.

Breivik explicitly rejects racism in his manifesto:

Know that we, the PCCTS, Knights Templar, are not a racist organisation. Individuals of all races, providing that they are Christian, can join and fight for the Knights Templar as Justiciar Knights.

And:

The candidate [for membership] must not be a Nazi-sympathiser or support white supremacy ideologies as those are considered hate ideologies.

This is partly tactical. Breivik argues at some length that politics based on race, ethnicity and nationalism is so stigmatised in post WW2 Europe that those words must be avoided at all costs. While he admits that "ethnicity and race still is relevant", he argues:

The fear of Islamisation is the most pressing concern for most Europeans and Islam is NOT a race. So avoid talking about race. It is a cultural war, not a race war!

While Breivik uses Christian, and particularly Crusader, iconography and language, this is in a cultural or civilisational way rather than religious. Descriptions of him as a "Christian fundamentalist" do not really capture this distinction. He describes his politics as "cultural conservatism" or "Crusader nationalism"; while the former is clearly too euphemistic to describe a violent revolutionary, the latter label feels appropriate.

Breivik is not opposed to all immigration: while he calls for the deportation of all Muslims from Europe, he does not endorse similar policies for non-Muslim immigrants, "as long as they are fully assimilated...Any future immigration needs to be strictly controlled and exclusively non-Muslim."

The manifesto reflects a fundamental shift that has taken place across much of the European far right: from the language of race and nation to that of identity and culture. The argument he makes about the relative impact of the two discourses has been made many times by the BNP's Nick Griffin, for example. Like many on the far right, Breivik draws on and distorts mainstream, popular concerns about immigration, multiculturalism and Islamist extremism, often using mainstream media sources as well as more extreme, single-issue blogs, to claim that Europe faces imminent destruction from within.

The Vienna School of Thought

Breivik's rejection of neo-Nazism and overt racism is not shared by everyone on the European far right: several of the people convicted of terrorism offences in the UK, for example, still adhere to the old-style racial nationalism which Breivik rejects. He even states that he was expelled from the Stormfront website for arguing this point too vociferously. However, his manifesto crystallises far right themes that have become commonplace in recent years. As such, it will probably become an historic document in capturing this discourse at a key point in its development: the moment when it first motivated large-scale terrorist violence. Breivik has christened this moment "The Vienna School of Thought" (named after the Battle of Vienna in 1683).

Breivik describes the Vienna School as "a hybrid between several sub-ideologies", as follows:

  • 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
  • Anti-Marxism
  • Anti-globalism/internationalism
  • Anti-multiculturalism
  • Anti-Jihadism
  • Anti-Islam(isation)
  • Anti-imperialistic
  • Anti-feminism
  • Anti-pacifism
  • Anti-EU(SSR)
  • Anti-matriarchy
  • Anti-racist
  • Anti-fascist
  • Anti-Nazi
  • Anti-totalitarian

He then adds a list of "controversial principles", which includes:

  • Revolutionary, supports the overthrow of all Western European multiculturalist governments through armed struggle to prevent the gradual demographical extermination of Europeans through Islamic demographic warfare
  • Against excessive US cultural influence
  • Against US military bases/US military personnel on European soil
  • Restriction of media rights. Media should not dictate the policies of the nation or the lifestyles of Europeans
  • Supports the deportation of all Muslims from Europe

Crusaders united

Hatred of multiculturalism and adulation of Crusaders

While acknowledging that violent revolution will not be supported by all "cultural conservatives", nonetheless Breivik tries to construct a more broad political programme to unite all such organisations across Europe, based on some of the above positions. In Britain, unsurprisingly, he identifies the BNP, the National Front and various English nationalist organisations and websites as potential members of such a "non-military" alliance. After the revolution, Breivik writes, mass-participation democracy will be replaced with “a model more resembling the Russian system of administered democracy”.

Attitude towards Jews and Israel

Some commentators have latched onto Breivik's expressed support for Israel, for example in the above doctrine. Again, this reflects a wider shift on parts (but certainly not all) of the European far right, from antisemitism as an unshakeable, core belief, to a more favourable view of Israel based on the idea of 'my enemy's enemy is my friend'.

Breivik in fact is very critical of neo-Nazis who "obsess so much over the Jews". He claims to hate Adolf Hitler, because Hitler's obsessive hatred of Jews, and the subsequent Holocaust (which he does not deny), is what gave birth to the multiculturalism that he believes will eventually destroy Europe. As there are only 950 Jews in Norway, Breivik argues, it is ridiculous to claim that they control the government and are responsible for multiculturalism. However, his attitude towards Jews is not positive. He believes that wherever Jews live in large numbers, they create a problem for that country:

There is no Jewish problem in Western Europe (with the exception of the UK and France) as we only have 1 million in Western Europe, whereas 800 000 out of these 1 million live in France and the UK. The US on the other hand, with more than 6 million Jews (600% more than Europe) actually has a considerable Jewish problem.

Breivik believes that Jews should be treated like every other European: those who are multiculturalist traitors are enemies, while those who are culturally conservative are potential allies. But what are the proportions of Jews who fall into these two categories?

So, are the current Jews in Europe and US disloyal? The multiculturalist (nation-wrecking) Jews ARE while the conservative Jews ARE NOT. Aprox. 75% of European/US Jews support multiculturalism while aprox. 50% of Israeli Jews does the same. This shows very clearly that we must embrace the remaining loyal Jews as brothers rather than repeating the mistake of the NSDAP...Never target a Jew because he is a Jew, but rather because he is a category A or B traitor. And don’t forget that the bulk of the category A and B traitors are Christian Europeans. 90% of the category A and B traitors in my own country, Norway, are Nordic, Christian category A and B traitors.

It is striking that, even as someone who describes himself as "pro-Israel", Breivik believes that half of all Israeli Jews are enemies who, presumably, must be killed, imprisoned or punished in some other way; as are three-quarters of European and American Jews. Classical antisemitism constructs an image of a typical Jew which bears no relation to reality, but is simply a cipher for all that the antisemite hates and fears. Breivik's categorisation of the different types of Jews (and Israel) fits this way of thinking perfectly.

Breivik & the English Defence League

There has been much discussion about Breivik's contacts with the English Defence League. Breivik advocates using Facebook to win supporters and spread political beliefs (he complains at one point that Facebook only allows him to befriend 50 people each day), and he appears to have been in contact with large numbers of EDL members in this way:

I used to have more than 600 EDL members as Facebook friends and have spoken with tens of EDL members and leaders. In fact; I was one of the individuals who supplied them with processed ideological material (including rhetorical strategies) in the very beginning.

He also commends them on their approach:

The British EDL seems to be the first youth organisation that has finally understood this. Sure, in the beginning it was the occasional egg heads who shouted racist slogans and did Nazi salutes but these individuals were kicked out. An organisation such as the EDL has the moral high ground and can easily justify their political standpoints as they publicly oppose racism and authoritarianism.

[...]

When they "bait" the UAF, and Jihadi youth (in the thousands) in to rioting, they ensure that the riots are covered by national and international press. During the Harrod (sic) protest there were only 16 or so from SIOE and EDL, while there were 3000+ Marxist extremists and Jihadi youth. While it is perhaps morally questionable to bait like this they enticed an overreaction which again lead to "favourable" coverage (a significantly unfavourable coverage of Marxist extremists and Jihadi youth). Favourable in the sense that Brits gets an indication of the true potency and potential threat of the Jihadi mob, which again results in more Europeans waking up from their self induced coma.

However, by February of this year Breivik appears to have given up on the EDL:

The EDL, although having noble intentions are in fact dangerously naïve. EDL and KT principles can never be reconciled as we are miles apart ideologically AND organizationally. The EDL even rejects taking a stand against multiculturalism which proves that they are even more naïve than Sarkozy, Merkel  and Cameron who have all admitted that multiculturalism has been a failure and a disaster for Europe…KT was formed back in 2002 as a revolutionary conservative movement because we had lost hope that the democratic framework can solve Europe’s current problems. The EDL, on the other hand, IS a democratic movement. They STILL believe that the democratic system can solve Britain’s problems… This is why the EDL harshly condemns any and all revolutionary conservative movements that employ terror as a tool, such as the KT. And this is why, we, the KT view the EDL as naïve fools, wasting all their energy monkey-screaming to deaf ears while they should instead have focused on means and methods that are meaningful in regards to achieving true political change, in regards to tearing down the multiculturalist regime known as Britain. Unfortunately, the only meaningful resistance at this point in time is to use military force.

This may reflect the development in Breivik's political thinking towards terrorism, as much as any changes in the EDL. However, Breivik is not the only convicted far right terrorist to have had contact with the EDL. It may be best to view the EDL as a gateway organisation: one which does not carry out or explicitly support terrorism itself, but creates and promotes the political discourse and identity-based grievance narrative, from which a small number of individuals move on to terrorism. As such, it demands the appropriate level of intelligence monitoring and police scrutiny, as is applied to similar gateway organisations in the Islamist world.

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