The Oslo Killer’s Manifesto

There’s an interesting analysis of the Oslo killer’s manifesto from UC Davis sociologist John R. Hall that I’d like to bring to your attention. Here’s a snippet:

As others already have commented, the label of ‘Christian fundamentalist’ seems wrong, at least in conventional use of the term today. Certainly the author represents himself as a nationalist/European federalist conservative opposed to ‘cultural genocide’ of the Enlightenment West, and seemingly he proposes reinstitution of monarchy as more representative of a nation than democracy can be. Only very late in the missive, p. 1134, does he embrace Europe’s return to the traditional Catholic Church, for its apostolic succession of authority and its capacity to guide believers in matters of scripture. This development is to be coupled with a re-initation of patriarchy, developed in substantial detail (p. 1141ff.), and concern about ‘the ongoing genocide of the Nordic tribes’ and a discussion of its genetic basis and the dangers of miscegenation and sexual promiscuity (including a discussion of ‘erotic capital,’ leading to a frank discussion of the possibility that the state could ‘play an essential role in national reproduction’ (p. 1157ff.; quote, p. 1185). The treatise goes on to mention future education, economic, pollution-control, population-control, crime, cultural/anti-multicultural, deportation, and youth policies, as well as discussing financing an organization, categories of traitors (A, B, and C). In short, it is a comprehensive (in Mannheim’s terms) ‘utopian’ vision, i.e., one that could never be realized in the world as it is presently institutionalized.

Read the whole thing. It’s not terribly long.

At first glance and at a distance since I haven’t read the heinous perpetrator of the murders in Norway’s manifesto and don’t plan on reading it, it appears to me that he has embraced the underlying apocalyptic utopian viewpoint of Al Qaeda, substituting Christendom for Caliphate and Templars for Islamist martyrs. Disquietingly, the manifesto does not appear to be the ravings of a madman but, rather, “incredibly chilling in its ruthless rationality and relative coherence”

I can only hope that, like the Unabomber, the Oslo killer is a solitary aberration rather than the vanguard of a movement.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    it appears to me that he has embraced the underlying apocalyptic utopian viewpoint of Al Qaeda, substituting Christendom for Caliphate and Templars for Islamist martyrs.

    Really? You think that’s an Al Qaeda thing? They didn’t invent apocalyptic utopian viewpoints, you know. The Christians have been pushing one since, well, since the beginning. And they aren’t alone.

    At first glance and at not much of a distance, your comment appears to me to be a lot of wishful thinking. Maybe more wishes than thinking.

  2. hey norm says:

    This guys manifesto was 1400 pages long?
    I guess if I couldn’t find an editor in the entire nation of Norway I might blow the place up too.

  3. Liberty60 says:

    I haven’t read the 1500 pages either, but I did watch the video, and it strikes me that had the video been publicized before the massacre, I have no doubt it would have been given thunderous approval from the American rightwing blogosphere.

    Even now, no one is disputing that his essential points are in perfect alignment with Pam Geller or Mark Steyn; everyone is simply trying to claim that they disaprove of his methods.

    Which I guess is like saying one approves of Osama Bin Ladin’s opinions, but he was merely extreme in his tactics.

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    If the term Christian Fundamentalist isn’t correct because the killer has sociopolitical views, then the term Islamic Fundamentalist isn’t correct either. While individual martyrs of Al-Qaeda may have strong religious beliefs, the goals of the leadership are sociopolitical in nature. Bin Laden didn’t order the attacks on the world trade center in order to please Allah, he did it because of America’s support of Israel, and because of his dislike of US troops in Saudi Arabia. These are sociopolitical motivations. The same goes for the attack on the Cole, and the bombing of the American embassies.

    You can label a movement either by its public statements–religion (or reaction to a religion) for both Al Qaeda and the Oslo Killer/whatever group he is a part of–or you can label it for its true sociopolitical motivations. You can’t have it one way for one group but another way for a different group.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Even now, no one is disputing that his essential points are in perfect alignment with Pam Geller or Mark Steyn; everyone is simply trying to claim that they disaprove of his methods.

    from the NYT:

    Marc Sageman, a former C.I.A. officer and a consultant on terrorism, said it would be unfair to attribute Mr. Breivik’s violence to the writers who helped shape his world view. But at the same time, he said the counterjihad writers do argue that the fundamentalist Salafi branch of Islam “is the infrastructure from which Al Qaeda emerged. Well, they and their writings are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.”

    “This rhetoric,” he added, “is not cost-free.”

  6. PD Shaw says:

    he has embraced the underlying apocalyptic utopian viewpoint of Al Qaeda, substituting Christendom for Caliphate and Templars for Islamist martyrs.

    Hmmm, Christianity already possess apocalyptic utopian viewpoints of it’s own. If, for example, he was trying to blow up some building in Jerusalem or forcibly convert Jews, then I’d say he was Christianity’s crazy uncle who lives in the attic.

    The term “Christendom” has not historically been used to describe a religious yearning for a political state. It was first used less than a thousand years ago to describe a wide variety of states, sharing common Western (Latin) cultures. (It would not have been used to describe Serbs) It sounds like he is concerned about European identity, which is the sum of many things, including a fairly long historical record of smaller states.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Very well put.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    Labels can always be attacked because labels are imperfect means of identifying complex realities.

    There are points of connection between this man’s rhetoric and the rhetoric present in abundance on just about every right-wing American site on the internet. The paranoia about Islam is the same. The urgent need to warn everyone about encroaching Sharia law, the giddy craving for some sort of cultural-religious war. These are people desperate to have an enemy, to identify him, hunt him down and kill him.

    That urge — the hunger for conflict where none exists — is not universal but it is fairly common. I think it’s the underlying truth of all radical movements, from Nazis to Communists to Al Qaeda. First comes the desire to do violence, and then comes the rationale. It’s the real cause of many if not most wars: a desire to attack, dominate, kill precedes a rationale involving resources or ideology. Call it a pre-existing condition.

    I don’t believe normal people are radicalized by events or injustices or genuine threats, I believe violent people are empowered by excuses, some plausible, some not. In the absence of a real need for war men go looking for an excuse.

  9. PD Shaw says:

    Neil, religions aren’t the same. Islam’s founder was a religious, politicial and military leader. When he died, his followers created the office of his successors (the caliphate). There is a poplular religious yearning for the return of the caliphate that al-qaeda can tap into. Bin Laden attacked the U.S. as a step towards re-establishing the Caliphate.

    Jesus was not a political or military leader. His followers by and large retained a separation of religion and state. The killer’s goals do not fit into a similar pre-existing theological construct of Christianity. For one thing, Christianity (unlike Islam) is not a utopian faith.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    It’s rather amusing to see all the justifications, rationalizing, logic pretzels, etc. used to try to separate Christianity from this guy and terrorists like him but, at the same time, doing everything possible to attach Islam to all terrorists who are Muslim…ahh, double standards…

  11. michael reynolds says:

    Jesus was not a political or military leader. His followers by and large retained a separation of religion and state. The killer’s goals do not fit into a similar pre-existing theological construct of Christianity. For one thing, Christianity (unlike Islam) is not a utopian faith.

    You don’t usually write dumb things, but that’s dumb.

    Jesus did not found the church, period. Nor was he a leader. He was dead. He was a martyr. Paul and others founded the church. And that church was very political, very much a part of the power elites that followed — Roman, Byzantine and various Europeans.

    It’s ludicrous to pretend that Church and State were separate when the Pope had an army, or when each governmental action had to be justified in religious terms, when powerful families regularly maintained a foothold in both government and the Church. The Church decreed when slavery was permitted and when it was not, how power should pass from one potentate to the next, how people could worship, what they could write or profess. The Church maintained its own system of justice and regularly carried out arrests, imprisonments, tortures and executions. The Church drew national boundaries on maps, and chose secular rulers. They started and ended wars.

  12. PD Shaw says:

    That urge — the hunger for conflict where none exists — is not universal but it is fairly common. I think it’s the underlying truth of all radical movements, from Nazis to Communists to Al Qaeda.

    I think I’d sequence that differently. These movments yearn for unity. Al-Qaeda wants to return to a point where the faithful were united in the office of the Caliphate. The fascist idealogy was basically on strength through unity. Communism seeks to unite the masses (or at least the workers).

    Any political movement that seeks to unify the people is going to breed conflict. It’s going to have to eliminate the outliers and smooth the rough surfaces.

  13. Liberty60 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We keep needing to have these sorts of discussions- after Gabby Giffords was shot, after Dr. Tiller was shot, after the Hutaree people were arrested, and so on.

    There is often a tendency to wish that both sides of the politicallandscape are symmetrical, as if for every Andre Beivik there is a corresponding figure on the left.

    But there isn’t- the two politcal factions are not symmetrical. There is on the right an implicit but very loud call for violence. You see it in all the quasi-military trappings and framing of every issue as an existential crisis that demands war.

    Of course these massacres are the work of deranged people; but their madness was fanned and directed by those who now want to avoid responsibility.

  14. Liberty60 says:

    @PD Shaw:
    Continuing where Michael left off-

    Modern Christianity, every bit as much as Islam, is a political movement.

    The Religious Right in America has a near-veto power over the selection of a Republican nominee for any elected office. They openly yearn for a day when religious and political power are intertwined.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @Liberty60: I think that’s right: there is no symmetry.

    I think of ideology as being something like target selection. Given that there are a certain number of loons in the world, given that even not-quite-loony characters crave confrontation and violence, how are those mental illnesses and wild passions framed and directed?

    To shriek about Muslim’s destroying western culture is to say to the nuts and wildmen, look, when you go crazy, when at last you snap and pick up a gun, here’s who you should be killing.

    I don’t argue that they have the same level of responsibility as the perpetrator. I just argue that maybe hatred — especially tribal hates against a religion or a race — isn’t a great thing to spread in a world full of sick or evil men.

    Ideological extremists are placing gas cans within easy reach of pyromaniacs.

    It’s also a reminder to myself not to let the rhetoric go overboard, something I do sometimes.

  16. PD Shaw says:

    michael, the pope by and large has been a leader of the church, while kings and emporters have been leaders of states. The pope’s intermittant and ambiguous control over Italian territoy, neither defines the Pope, nor creates a significant exception to the general thrust of Christian history.

  17. PD Shaw says:

    Liberty60, so you’re claim is that “Modern Christianity” = “The Religious Right in America”?

    Do you gather that from the press clippings of the ACLU or the Religious Right?

  18. An Interested Party says:

    Liberty60, so you’re claim is that “Modern Christianity” = “The Religious Right in America”?

    Well, that certainly looks no worse than a lot of what we see from many conservatives–“Islam=terrorism”

  19. Neil Hudelson says:

    PD,

    Of course religions aren’t the same–but that really sidesteps my whole point, doesn’t it? Al-Qaeda and its ilk are sociopolitical movements couched in a religion. It doesn’t really matter one way or the other if Mohammed created the caliphate right off the bat, while it took Christianity a few hundred more years to do the same thing in their part of the world. Regardless of initial beginnings, right-wing zealots of all stripes use religion–whether Christianity or Islam–to try to organize and inspire other zealots to achieve sociopolitical ends. [Question: Are there left-wing zealots that use religion for these purposes? I’m not trying to turn this into a right vs left issue.]

    His followers by and large retained a separation of religion and state.

    Retained. Past tense. That separation ended about the same time Jesus was crucified. As Michael pointed out, within 50 years to 100 years, at maximum, the Christian church was organizing itself to achieve sociopolitical ends, rather than purely religious. And if you don’t accept that infantile Christianity was sociopolitical, its undeniable that the 2nd millenial Catholic church, Russia, the Holy Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, England under Cromwell, etc. ended that separation.

    So I guess I’m failing to see your point, or how it really addresses anything in my argument.. No Islam and Christianity are not the same. That doesn’t mean that extremist minorities use that faith to justify violence in achieving nonreligious ends.

  20. Neil Hudelson says:

    That doesn’t mean that extremist minorities don’t use that faith to justify violence in achieving nonreligious ends.

    Missed the edit window by about 1 second.

  21. hey norm says:

    “…Christianity (unlike Islam) is not a utopian faith…”
    WTF???
    What is heaven if not the ultimate utopia?

  22. Liberty60 says:

    @PD Shaw:

    so you’re claim is that “Modern Christianity” = “The Religious Right in America”?

    Fair point. I was in fact talking about American politics. European/ Global Christianity should excepted from my comments.

    I happen to be Episcopal, so I should also except Episcopals, Quakers, and assorted other Christian faiths.

    But really- we are not the dominant force in American Christianity; that power lies on the Fundamentalist/ Catholic axis that claims a vast majority of elected officials, as well as most of the Supreme Court.

    And the Fundamentalist/ Catholic alliance DOES have a near-veto power over the Republican Party. I would be surprised to hear anyone disagree with that.

  23. PD Shaw says:

    Neil, by separation of church and state, I am referring to the fact that the institutions of church and state have historically been kept separate in countries with Christian majorities. There have been exceptions, particularly in small communities like Calvin’s Geneva. Separation doesn’t mean lack of influence. We don’t have that kind of separation in the U.S. today.

    I think you underestimate the importance of a religion’s founding narratives. Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire until 311. All of it’s sacrosanct texts had been created by then, the arguments about their meaning would continue, but the writings are not written with political/military assumptions (let alone belief in a benovelent Empire).

    Islam was inseparable from the state from the beginning. The Prophet established a theocracy. The Koran and the contemporaneous traditions assume the continued existance of some form of theocracy in the Prophet’s successor caliphates.

    Religious fundamentalism refers to returning to a religion’s fundamentals in the past; it is a movement hostile to modernism. Among Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. that means literalism, belief that Jonah was literally swallowed by a large fish. In Islam, that means return of the Caliphate.

  24. PD Shaw says:

    @hey norm: What is heaven if not the ultimate utopia?

    Well, only some of us get to go to heaven . . .

    Seriously though, most Christian sects have views on the end of history that are not really conducive to the belief that man can create a utopian society.

  25. An Interested Party says:

    Among Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. that means literalism, belief that Jonah was literally swallowed by a large fish.

    Oh? Goals that they have, such as outlawing abortion, teaching creationism in schools, and, in general, imposing their views and way of life on the larger society, aren’t all also tied up in their fundamentalism?

  26. PD Shaw says:

    An Interested Party: You don’t know any vehement atheists that want to outlaw abortion? A sheltered life indeed.

  27. An Interested Party says:

    @PD Shaw: The point was about the goals of fundamentalists of different religious faiths…it had nothing to do with atheists…

  28. Loviatar says:

    @PD Shaw:

    You’re arguing against a fact of human nature.

    Religious leaders have always tried to obtain power, whether to protect themselves from persecution or whether to persecute others so to claim that the leaders of the Christian leaders did not meddle in politics is wrong. The examples of Christian leaders meddling in secular politics are too many to name and to easy to find.

    Like Michael said above you don’t usually write stupid things, but this is stupid and you’re making it worse by continuing the argument.

  29. PD Shaw says:

    @An Interested Party: Sorry about the snark. I guess I can’t fathom much that the Religious Right has done or is capable of doing of much importance. Their only achievements are only likely to be those formed with broader coalitions than their religious base.

  30. An Interested Party says:

    I understand, PD Shaw…I was just trying to make the point that fundamentalists of any religion are irrational and unreasonable and need to marginalized…