The massacre on the island of Utøya and the attack in Oslo’s government district targeting the Scandinavian labour movement was horrible, the worst kind of right-wing terrorist act. How could it happen? How could such an extensive and long-term terrorist plot go completely unnoticed by the security police? Let there be no mistake about it, this was a political deed, politically motivated and directed against political targets. Nevertheless, the first official reaction denied this: it depoliticised the terrorist attack as an outcome of madness or evil, directed at everyone, at the “open society” as a whole, to be met with the kind of crisis management appropriate for a tsunami, with appeals for calm, sadness and national cohesion.
Also in Sweden, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt appealed in his press conference to the need for cohesion and national unity, rather than focusing on the political threats to us, since such a discussion would only benefit the “extremists, living in symbiosis with each other” – extremists, a totally non-political force, a form of hooliganism without motives.
Why does it hurt so much to analyse this new right-wing extremism? Why aren’t we even allowed to attach the epithet “right-wing” to it? Security-police analysts sitting on sofas in front of TVs have assured us that they have good intelligence on the “white-power milieu”. Yet they could not foresee this attack. These two aspects are interrelated. They are part of the same blindness. The searchlight has been turned in the wrong direction. We do not have one extreme right-wing anymore, but several. The new form of right-wing extremism that has taken shape in Europe over the past five years did not emerge from the periphery. It did not emerge from the neo-Nazi groups or white-power milieu (a designation that neo-Nazi groups themselves stopped using ten years ago, when the white-power music scene fell apart). It did not emerge from the street-fascist movement that the security-police routinely monitors.
The terrorist deed came from within established right-wing populism, the extreme right today considered to be housebroken, euphemistically called “immigration-critical”, “Islam-critical”, “xenophobic”. It has much closer links to Sverigedemokraterna (the Sweden Democrats) than to Svenska motståndsrörelsen (“the Swedish Resistance Movement” – a Swedish openly Nazi group with around 100 members) or Fria nationalister (“the Free Nationalists” – a looser network of Swedish neo-Nazis), the heirs of the white-power scene. This new current is an extreme right wing acting on a European level rather than nationally, being pro-Israel and pro-Zionist rather than anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and culturally racist rather than rooted in racial ideology, seeing the cultural struggle as a major venue, and disguising its rhetoric in a supposedly “anti-racist” language rather than an onerous and stigmatised extreme right-wing rhetoric.
It increasingly appears that Anders Behring Breivik’s massacre of young leftists was planned far in advance and the target selected with care, to provide maximum shock effect in the community and maximum circulation of Breivik’s opinions, summarised in the 1,500-page copy-and-paste manifesto “2083 – A European Declaration of Independence”. The diary part of the text shows how the terrorist action was planned in detail, making it one of history’s best documented acts of terrorism. The massacre was only a means to draw attention to Breivik’s worldview and provoke more terrorist acts. Instead of focusing on those in power with high positions, he chose to focus on the grassroots, those without personal protection – a “quantitative” act of terrorism rather than a “qualitative” one. The number of slain young people would give his deeds greater impact and shock effect than whould a single act of terrorism directed against the “heart of power”.
Breivik’s views, as expressed in the manifesto, are well-entrenched in the two pillars forming the basis for the new European extreme right wing: counterjihad and cultural struggle.
The Counter-Jihad Movement has arisen from the straggling Islamophobia that has grown since September 11, 2001, inspired by the conspiratorial Eurabia theories. In the past five or six years, a network of European blogs has been created, gathered together under the label Counter-Jihad. The leading ones have been Gates of Vienna, Brussels Journal and Fjordman from Norway.
In April 2007, the network came together for a joint meeting in Copenhagen, “UK and Scandinavia Counter-Jihad Summit”. The meeting was organised by the bloggers of Gates of Vienna and Fjordman to bring together and coordinate the new movement, supported by Anders Graver Pedersen’s Danish network Stop Islamicisation of Denmark (SIAD). In addition to a myriad of bloggers from Norway, Denmark and Sweden, one sole Scandinavian party participated with a representative: Ted Ekeroth from the Sweden Democrats. This event was followed by annual conferences in Brussels in 2007, Vienna in 2008, Copenhagen in 2009 and Zurich in 2010.
Gates of Vienna summarises the movement’s goals in a brief manifesto:
“The goals of Counter-Jihad are:
1. To resist further Islamicisation of Western countries by eliminating Muslim immigration, refusing any special accommodations for Islam in our public spaces and institutions, and forbidding intrusive public displays of Islamic practices.
2. To contain Islam within the borders of existing Muslim-majority nations, deporting all Muslim criminals and those who are unable or unwilling to assimilate completely into the cultures of their adopted countries.
3. To end all foreign aid and other forms of subsidy to the economies of Muslim nations.
4. To develop a grassroots network that will replace the existing political class in our countries and eliminate the reigning multicultural ideology, which enables Islamicisation and will cause the destruction of Western Civilisation if left in place”.
The main ideologist and organiser of the network is the Norwegian pseudonym Fjordman (Peder Jensen), who also guest-writes at Gates of Vienna and Brussels Journal. Breivik calls the ideology he accedes to the “Vienna School of Thought”. Most of Breivik’s manifesto is directly copied from Fjordman’s texts, and Breivik declares Fjordman to be his favourite author. After the terrorist deed there has been speculation about the link between the anonymous Fjordman and Breivik. On his blog Ted Ekeroth has himself defended Fjordman, insisting on the separateness of Fjordman and Breivik. At Gates of Vienna Fjordman argues that he never met Breivik in person.
Godfathers and financiers of the Swedish branch of the Counter-Jihad movement are the brothers Kent and Ted Ekeroth of the Sweden Democrats, who conducted a series of anti-Islamicisation conferences. Their Anti-Islamicisation fund finances the movement’s conferences. Member of Swedish Parliament and international secretary of the Sweden Democrats Kent Ekeroth is also a signatory of the bank account for the important Swedish movement-blog Politiskt inkorrekt/Politically Incorrect.
If the Counter-Jihad bloggers’ role in the first place has been to conduct a “cultural struggle”, more political initiatives have emerged from the movement as well. Anders Graver Pedersen’s SIAD has tried to create a European equivalent through Stop Islamicisation of Europe, SIOE. The Counter-Jihad movement and SIOE have also shown great interest in the emergence of the militant movement English Defence League from the British football hooligan scene. Through a combination of Facebook, social media and provocative violent demonstrations in front of mosques in connection with football matches, the EDL quickly grew into a major mass movement and is described by the British police as the biggest threat to internal order in the UK. EDL’s ideologue Alan Lake was invited by Kent Ekeroth to his Anti-Islamicisation conference in 2009 and in the summer of 2010 the Swedish equivalent, the Swedish Defence League was formed by a group of SD backers.
Breivik showed great interest in the English Defence League, and on the Norwegian forum Document.no he has advocated the start-up of a Norwegian counterpart to strike at the Norwegian anti-racist organisations. On the forum he describes how he has been using the EDL’s Facebook group to spread his propaganda material, has had chat contact with several leading EDLers and helped them formulate ideological texts. Breivik and the EDL have shared the same fascination for, and identification with, the Crusaders as a symbol of the struggle against Islam.
Norway’s central forum for an anti-Islamic discussion is journalist Hans Rustad’s Document.no, founded in 2003. In the past year, the association “Documents venner” (Friends of Document) was formed, organising seminars with big names from the Counter-Jihad movement (like Roger Scruton), but also personalities like the Swedish provocative artist Lars Vilks, who has been a target of threats from militant Islamicist activists since he portrayed the prophet Mohammed as a dog. Breivik has been an active writer on the forum and also participated in the seminars. At the forum, he advocated that Rustad’s site become the basis for a cultural conservative newspaper and tried to promote the creation of a Norwegian EDL or a Norwegian version of the Tea Party movement. Document.no has collected Breivik posts here.
Thus in the space of only a few years, the Counter-Jihad movement has evolved, with ramifications for the parliamentary sector, a “cultural-struggle” current operating through the blog networks, a militant street branch – which now with Breivik had their first terrorist expression. These different expressions cannot be understood individually, but must be assessed on the basis of thewhole that they constitute and the interactions that occur between their various branches. What distinguishes the different branches is one of degrees, not of species. Their basic analysis and world view is the same, the only difference between them is the perception of temporality, how imminent and urgent the threat of Islamicisation is. The “moderate” elements believe that the war against Islam has not yet broken out, that there is still a chance to reverse the process politically and curtail the expansion of Islam – while the militant elements (both the street militants like the EDL members or the terrorist ones with Breivik) consider the war to already be upon them, the political class to be corrupt to the core and time far too short for anything but direct acts of resistance. 2083, the main title of Breivik’s “terror manifesto”, is meant as the year in which Islam will have won the war and it will be too late to act – an allusion to when the Ottoman Empire stood at the Gates of Vienna 400 years earlier and “threatened European civilisation”.
Islam should not be seen as a religion but as an ideology, according to the Counter-Jihad Movement. The movement equates Islam, Communism and Nazism as three forms of totalitarian ideologies. The Marxist ideology is considered guilty of having opened up the doors for the process of Islamicisation, with the goal of destroying the Western world.
The way they view the left is taken from the French New Right (Nouvelle Droite) and their discussion of cultural struggle and meta-politics. According to this view, the left in 1968 tried to challenge capitalism and lost the battle for political and economic power; however, it managed to take cultural power. Economic “hard” Marxism collapsed with the collapse of real socialism, while “soft” Marxism was able to keep its grip on the institutions producing knowledge and ideology: education, research, culture and media. Through their controlling of the production of ideology the left achieved a cultural hegemony, the privilege of formulating problems and thus setting the framework for the fundamental values and norms which since then have shaped all politics. The root of this “soft”, infiltrating Marxism, “cultural Marxism”, which accomplished its “long march through the institutions”, the Nouvelle Droite saw in Gramsci’s theories of hegemony and in the Frankfurt School. The concepts of cultural Marxism, multiculturalism and political correctness are used in a parallel manner by the Counter-Jihad Movement to describe the same phenomenon.
In Sweden, these theories have mainly been put forward by the Nordiska förbundet (the Nordic league – a neo-Nazi think-tank with the publishing house Arktos), their blog portal Motpol and the internet community Nordisk.nu (where Breivik had an account). The “meta-political” struggle, the struggle for problem formulation, words, concepts, norms and values is seen as the precursor of politics, and the blog authors and “trolls” of the comment fields as a vanguard in this cultural struggle. The fight against “political correctness” and the underdog perspective that unite the extreme right (and parts of the established right) are in the theory of the new right formed into a coherent political project.
The above article is published in: transform! european journal for alternative thinking and political dialogue, 9/2011.