Sunday, 24 July 2011

Being White means never having to say you're sorry: on the Christian fundamentalist terror attack in Norway

       One of the chief characteristics of the capitalist ideological apparatus is, as Malcolm X said, to 'make the victim look like the criminal and the criminal look like the victim.' The organisers of the superb 'Slutwalks' are surely aware of this: as are the family of Alfie Meadows or the activists attacked on the Mavi Marmara. The seemingly puzzling response of most Anglophone media to the terrorist atrocities in Norway - atrocities that they refuse to identify as such, preferring to refer to 'violence' carried out by a 'lone extremist' - are explicable once we understand this. Richard has written an excellent post on the topic, to which I can only add these thoughts.

  One could be forgiven for thinking that the near one-hundred victims had, in the opinion of the broadcasters and once the necessary effusions were over, almost brought it on themselves by living in and defending a multi-cultural society, by being immigrants themselves or by some strange osmosis of 'jihadi mentality' into a previously pristine blond head. This Guardian opinion piece suggests that Breivik's violent politics 'may have been a response to the arrival of al-Qaida-inspired terrorism', while informing us that he had 'adopted the language of Muslim jihadists'. The only evidence offered in support of this claim is his use of the word 'crusade': I don't need to tell you what's wrong with the inference there. The BBC news anchor interviewing one of the survivors first summoned the bad taste to ask 'how many guns did he have? Did he stop to re-load?' Then followed up with a question to a previous Norwegian Prime Minister: 'Do you think not enough attention was paid to those who were unhappy with regard to immigration?' Surely, this reduces the normal pandering to racism to a horrific absurdity: yes, he's massacred one hundred children and set off a bomb in the middle of the capital but we have to acknowledge the legitimate concerns.

  It is as yet unknown whether Breivik acted alone. What is known is that mainstream commentators and news are unable - they cannot conceive- of drawing the conclusions they would had their original assumptions of Islamist responsibility proven true. Breivik was formerly a member of the 'Progressive Party', Norway's equivalent of the BNP: an admirer of the EDL and the European post-liberal Fascism on which I have written before, and a frequent contributor to the online discussions permeated with violent Islamophobia and threats against the left. His every word reeks of the wounded, lying pomposity of a comment on the BBC 'Have your say' website. The building blocks of his ideology are repeated daily by Fox News, Melanie Philips and every bore who winges on about how 'they're not integrating.' Were this an Islamist, we would soon have been reminded of how Al-Qa"ida is a network, a franchise, an ideology that inspires terror but must still be rooted out: most certainly not a lone crazy.

But Breivik must be a loner, or something else would come into question. We do not have here a clash of extremisms, of Jihadists (or 'Cultural Marxists') against right-wingers exploiting fears about immigration. The texture of Breivik's ideas, right down to the admiration of Hayek and the claim that 'the inability to create a competitive environment, the over-regulation of the economy, the bureaucratisation, it is going to lead to economic collapse' comes from the ruling class. The Norwegian leftist Aslak Sira Myhre  gets to the bottom of it:
' For at least 10 years we have been told that terror comes from the east. That an Arab is suspicious, that all Muslims are tainted. We regularly see people of colour being examined in private rooms in airport security; we have endless debates on the limits of "our" tolerance. As the Islamic world has become the Other, we have begun to think of that what differentiates "us" from "them" is the ability to slaughter civilians in cold blood.
This is what liberals misunderstand when they see in every niqab a threat to 'tolerance' and refuse to see the EDL and its allies as fascists because they like Israel and Sol Campbell. For them, there really are different 'races', between whom the best relations one can hope for are marjoritarian tolerance. But racism does not produce oppression: it is a product of it. Breivik's murderous Islamophobia is the noxious exhaust of a decade or more of Western wars expansion in Islamic lands, just as much as the ideology of biological racism reflected Europe's imperial heyday.

    There is one final, underplayed or ignored, aspect to the terrorist atrocity that places it firmly on the fascist spectrum. It was an attack on the left and the workers' movement. The murdered youth belonged to the Labour party youth wing and the bomb was directed at the PM's headquarters. Breivik's testament is of course full of denunciations of 'cultural Marxism' and 'Soviet style regulation of the economy in the name of gender equality' - perhaps to be expected from a man who seems almost a cut-out of the failed and resentful petit bourgeois. Where are the Breiviks in Britain, and what service are they likely to provide in the coming years of struggle over austerity? We have a fair idea - you can enter the service of an overt anti-terrorist operation in London on September the 3rd.