Comments on Anders Breivik's Opening Statement

Roughly a week ago, I went to see Milo Rau’s performance piece ‘Breivik’s statement’. It’s a dry reading of Breivik’s opening statement and afterwards a debate. Rau criticizes the notion that journalists have excluded Breivik’s statement from their reporting because they do not want to give a platform to his ideas. It’s necessary to confront these ideas, he says, because they’re very much alive today. It’s necessary to enter into the debate. I couldn’t agree more and would like to add my comments on his statement as well. You can read his (more or less) complete statement here.

Delusions

  • He believes after the World War II, there’s been a conspiracy of Marxists. Because they were too radical for political parties, they infiltrated the schools systems and cultural institutions in order to spread their ideas. Of course, this is a convenient delusion for him, as he can always dismiss scientific evidence or journalisticdata that contradicts his argumentation.

  • Breivik thinks Norway is being colonized. He compares the ethnic Norwegians to the native-Americans in their struggle against European colonization. He’s convinced that Muslims want to install sharia in Norway. They’re being helped by Saudi Arabia in their goal. Those who claim that they’re secular Muslims are just trying to deceive us.

Faults in his reasoning

  • “Today Norway and many countries are suffering cultural self-hatred due to multicultural ideology”, Breivik stated. But he has things mixed up. Just the occurrence of both cultural self-hatred and multicultural ideology doesn’t mean there’s a causal relationship between the two. Both of these phenomena are, however, related to our heightened sensitivity to racism. After ethnic glorification was completely discredited in the Second World War, and after the human rights violations of colonization came to light and were further investigated, cultural pride has been rather low. Why? Because we’ve seen the tragic ramifications when pride turns into feelings of superiority, and we feel guilty by association. To call this “cultural-self-hatred” might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s certainly true that cultural pride has decreased. Another effect of our heightened sensitivity to racism is multiculturalism.

  • He believes it to be undemocratic that the Norwegian people have never been asked by means of a referendum if they want to live in a multicultural state.
    Democracy has many forms and the popular referendum was coined a method of “direct democracy.” However, is it really such a democratic tool, if you think about it? It reveals the voice of the majority, nothing more and nothing less. As a perverse side effect, it crushes the voice of the minority. It’s not based on consensus – no, because how can you have a debate with 5 million Norwegians? A popular referendum would only be truly democratic if you could have a debate about it, discussing the ups and downs of the issue, giving a voice to the minority/ies. Parliamentary democracy thus, is a necessary and superior alternative.

  • Breivik also stated that it’s undemocratic that Norway would admit so many African and Asian immigrants that “ethnic Norwegians” would be made into a minority in their own capital.
    First, his notion of “ethnic Norwegians” is not logical. While he seems so obsessed with culture in the sense of a valuesystem (conservative, Christian values), his notion of what constitutes an “ethnic Norwegian” is more related to “flesh and blood”. His definition excludes 3rd generation immigrants and children with at least one parent from a non-Nordic area. I fail to see how a black kid who’s been adopted by a very traditional Norwegian family when he was a baby and takes pride in the Norwegian culture would be less Norwegian than a Norwegian whose ancestors have been in Norway for years but does not take pride in the Norwegian culture, nor feels “Norwegian”, in fact he/she might even practice Buddhism.
    So, if these “ethnic Norwegians” become the minority, Norway is no democracy anymore, he claims. He “predicts” that his opponents would say “Yes, Norway would be a democracy as long as there are free elections.” But no, free elections do not suffice to have democracy. For example, Palestinian-Israelis can freely vote but due to the lack of other political rights – like the right to deny Israel is a state for Jews – Israel is rather an ethnocracy instead of a democracy. Or think of the methods that were employed during the 50s-60s in the US to keep African-Americans from voting. However, the sole factor of “ethnic Norwegians” becoming a minority is not enough for democracy to disappear. Only when the non-ethnic Norwegians would act as a cohesive block against the ethnic Norwegians, this would be the case. Given the great heterogeneity of 1st class immigrants and the integration into the Norwegian society of 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants, there’s no chance this will ever happen.

  • Culture for Breivik is something static and he wants it to remain that way. He seems to think culture only changed due to outside influences, such as international migrants. This, however, is a false assumption. Culture is being ‘deconstructed’ and ‘reconstructed’ from within as well. Internal forces give way to chance, and it happens all the time; While he’s so eager to claim ethnic Norwegians have been there 12.000 years ago, “his” Christian, conservative, Norwegian values were not. In fact, the Christianization “just” happened 1000 years ago. Why was it okay to embrace that change 1000 years ago, but not today’s changes?

  • In an attempt to proove aying no to multiculturalism makes for a better society, Breivik gives two examples: Japan and South Korea. The fact that they’re now high-tech countries (and reasonably rich) is his main argument. But who’s to say that their economic success has so much – if anything – to do with heir restrictive migration policies in the 70s? He should not overlook U.S. payments, heavy industrialization, low taxes for companies, investments in the communications sector and trade liberalization. Also, this is the first and only time he’s talking about the economy in his statement. He sways away from his obsession with traditional culture as a value on itself. He does mention that they have disciplined cultures which they take pride in, but apart from that it’s rather unclear why he thinks their culture is indeed better. Also, Japan is quite a curious example, as it does have a significant number of religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities in contrary to the widely held view of Japan’s society being homogeneous. There is also a great deal of racism and discrimination in many aspects of everday life in Japanese society. the political and legal situation of one particular indigenous group, the Buraku people, is deteriorating.

  • As an example of “this is why multiculturalism doesn’t work” he gives Greece. Greece’s economic crisis and Greece’s weak political culture – “they don’t trust each other, they don’t pay taxes” – should be the proof of this. Again, he’s conflating different issues without actually giving any proof. Greece’s failing state has to with a corrupt, inefficient public sector and an uncompetitive, unethical and parasitic private sector. Greek busineses owe about 70 billion (!) of unpaid taxes. Little wonder some Greek refuse to pay taxes as well.

Inconsistencies

  • Journalists provide information and should be objective, but they are not objective. It is a mandatory requirement for one who would call himself a journalist”, Breivik’s statement reads. Then, a few lines later: “In reality 30 per cent of news organizations should take our side” (because according to him about 30 per cent of Norwegians are against multiculturalism, which is just an assumption) But the inconsistency is that while he states news should be objective –meaning picking no one’s side, being neutral – he also thinks news should take his side. Also, the idea of introducing a sort of quota system in the news system to present a certain group’s views is really impossible. Should they do this with every issue? First organize a survey before they can start reporting? And how would the quota-system take form when a news item is about overlapping issues (which it usually is)?

  • He’s also inconsistent when it comes to the cultural identity he adheres to. He constantly switches between Norwegian, European and Nordic. Breivik’s similarly inconsistent when it comes to the nationality of the immigrants. Sometimes he speaks of immigrants in general, sometimes of ‘Asian and African immigrants’, and then he focuses on Muslims for a long time.

  • Breivik blames Western democracies for suppressing the culturally conservative parties, punishing them when they hold racist views. This is a violation of the freedom of speech, he claims. Breivik has a point there, but somewhat later the statement reads: “All those who advocate multiculturalism and cultural Marxism should expect to be held liable in the future.” So, clearly he’s being inconsistent here. It’s okay to use violence against ‘multiculturalists’ and ‘cultural Marxists’ over their ideas but not to censor racism? In addition, Breivik also consistently gives wrong or made up data throughout his text (like “90.000 Norwegian girls have been raped by immigrants since the 1960s”) further nibbling at his credibility. It’s unclear why the press did not want to publish it fully when even a silly, little blogger like me can rip it to pieces. Breivik’s statement is the most messy, inconsistent and faulty political statement I’ve ever read.