Fanaticism, Mass Murder and the Left

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The suggestion that Breivik’s behaviour resulted from political rage – let alone from reading thinkers such as John Locke, John Stuart Mill or Winston Churchill – is frankly itself an opinion in need of treatment. The man is either in the grip of a psychosis or he is a psychopath – in other words, a grossly abnormal personality incapable of human feelings of empathy (my money is on the latter). What he himself says about his own opinions or state of mind therefore does not bear examination. Yet throughout the west, apparently intelligent people have been not only ascribing to him rational thought processes but have been poring over his own words to extract clues about what made him do this. Repeat after me very slowly: Breivik did not murder dozens of teenagers because he was ideologically opposed to cultural Marxism; he mowed them down because he was grossly mentally abnormal.

In the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens makes a useful point – and also explains why the frenzy of demonisation being directed at writers and thinkers who were name-checked in Breivik’s ‘manifesto’ is quite so vile, as well as deeply stupid. Observing that Breivik was neither Christian nor conservative but intended to detonate an apocalypse, Stephens writes about this particular pathology:

What it is is millennarian: the belief that all manner of redemptive possibilities lie on just the other side of a crucible of unspeakable chaos and suffering. At his arrest, Breivik called his acts ‘atrocious but necessary.’ Stalin and other Marxists so despised by Breivik might have said the same thing about party purges or the liquidation of the kulaks.

These are the politics that have largely defined our age and which conservatives have, for the most part, been foremost in opposing. To attempt to tar them with Breivik’s name is worse than a slur; it’s a concession to a killer with pretensions of intellectual sophistication. And it’s a misunderstanding of what he was all about.

Indeed. That’s why the relationship between even ultra-nationalistic thinking and acts of terror is very different indeed from the relationship between Islamist radicalism and Islamic acts of terror. The former is characterised by terrorism perpetrated in pursuit of discrete and limited aims. The latter aims to effect an apocalypse in order to bring about the perfection of the world. The former may be appalling in its effects but is nevertheless fundamentally rational since its goal, however noxious, is achievable. The latter is fundamentally irrational since its goal is a utopian fantasy. Consequently those who are in the grip of millenarian apocalyptic fantasies tend to be lunatics or psychopaths; and so it is as ridiculous to ascribe the pathologically murderous behaviour of Breivik to political rage as it would be to do so in the case of Stalin, Hitler or Ahmadinejad.

There is however yet another aspect of the millenarian mindset which should not be overlooked. In my book The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth and Power, I consider at some length the millenarian fantasies not just of modern-day Islamists but also of the modern left. (I owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Richard Landes, who generously talked me through millenarian theories when I was writing my book some two years ago and whose own magnificent book on the subject, Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of Millennial Experience, has just been published.)

All the totemic creeds of today’s ‘progressive’ classes  – environmentalism, egalitarianism, multiculturalism, anti-Zionism and so on — are millenarian, in that they all posit in their different ways the perfection of the world (just like, in their time, the Inquisition, Stalinism and fascism).

Consequently, today’s militantly secular leftists display some astonishing similarities to both modern-day Islamists and medieval Christian fanatics. There is the same belief in the Revealed Truth – Revealed, that is, to them alone – from which no-one is permitted to dissent. Anyone who denies it is a heretic and has to be destroyed. Because the left believes it embodies virtue — on account of its desire to perfect the world – anyone who dissents or opposes it is evil. Because it is Manichean, all who are not left-wing are right-wing (even if they are in fact liberal). So all who oppose the left are evil right-wingers who must be destroyed. That to leftists is a moral project.

They are therefore in effect a modern secular Inquisition. They are in the same mould as the religious and political totalitarian tyrannies of the past; they make in this respect common cause with the Islamists whose agenda poses a mortal threat to their own lives and liberties and most cherished beliefs; and they share the characteristic of a closed thought system which is totally impervious to reason and destroys all who challenge it with the monsters of history and Anders Behring Breivik.

That is surely why the left seized upon the Norway atrocity with demented joy and detonated a terrifying eruption of distortion and demonisation, irrationality, hatred and sheer blood-lust as it saw in the ravings of Anders Behring Breivik the mother and father of all smears which it could use to crush those who refuse to surrender to cultural totalitarianism.  So those of us who fight for life, liberty and western civilisation against their enemies found ourselves – and by implication, the many millions who share these mainstream views – grotesquely damned as accessories to mass murder by those who actually cheer on religious fascists and genocidal madmen and who are set upon silencing all who resist.

The appalling actions of a Norwegian psychopath tell us next to nothing about our society. But the reaction to that atrocity tells us a great deal more.

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  • http://americafarm.wordpress.com americafarm

    Where is the glitch in his thinking? Please point it out.

    "…Also, during the “crossroad phase” I had lost all faith in the Progress Party as a solution to Norway’s rapid disintegration due to multiculturalism and Islamisation. A moderate cultural conservative political party like the Progress Party is un-capable of solving any of our primary problems as they are systematically ridiculed and isolated by all other political parties and a united media sector. This, even despite of the fact that they have taken measures and gotten rid of all true nationalists ending up with only opportunistic career cynisists unwilling to take any political risks.

    The Progress Party is now a part of the problem as they continuously give the Norwegian people false hope and thus contributes to pacify them. They should rather be honest and admit that all hopes for the democratical change of the society is futile and rather encourage all patriotic Norwegians to resist the multiculturalist regime through armed resistance. Their unwillingness to do this makes them a central part of the problem and in fact an obstacle to the liberation of and the reconquista of Norway.

    I anticipate that the Norwegian media will persecute and undermine the Progress Party for my earlier involvement in the organisation. This is not a negative thing as an increasing amount of Norwegians will then have their “illusions of democratic change” crushed (if the Progress Party is annihilated by the multiculturalist media) and rather resorts to armed resistance. From a tactical and pragmatical viewpoint; the PC Medias defeat of the Progress Party will benefit the armed National Resistance Movement in Norway. The more moderate alternatives are persecuted the more likely it is that the average nationalists illusions of peaceful reform will be crushed, which will lead to him seeking “other means”. Because at this point, armed resistance and the violent overthrow of our regime is the only thing that can save us…" – Andrew Berwick

    • ajnn

      "encourage all patriotic Norwegians to resist the multiculturalist regime through armed resistance. Their unwillingness to do this makes them a central part of the problem and in fact an obstacle to the liberation of and the reconquista of Norway"

      i think the call to "armed resistence" has some problems. This notion of 're-taking' the body politic with violence is consistent with the 'millenarian' [i like the phrase 'apocalyptic millenarianism', but that is apparently includes a redundency] philosophy which, however internally consistent and logical, is based on an article or point of faith which few of us in the modern world find acceptable.

      in the vernacular; blowing up the world to save it is nuts.

      • http://americafarm.wordpress.com americafarm

        Get it through your head – Breivik attacked and killed multiculturalists to save Europe from multiculturalism.

  • tarleton

    Mellanie wrote…
    Consequently, today’s militantly secular leftists display some astonishing similarities to both modern-day Islamists and medieval Christian fanatics
    ============================

    The human mind craves order and meaning and will not suffer a vacume of ''nothingness and exzistential despair''.; and is hardwired to believe in a ''god'' reguardless if god exists or not ….it's the desire for a father figure , bodyguard , insurance policy or just a panicky ffight from a horrible reality

    In Europe in the 20th century ,Xianity has been undermined by the advances of science and is now hopelessly anachronistic….communism and nazism were both religious substitutes…secular religions of both class and race ..the religious impulse chanelled into secular form

  • tarleton

    (continued)….with their holy book , holy symbol, holy prophets and their desire to build heaven upon earth ..they had theit holy icons , holy parades and their orders of warrior monks ; communism even had it's Martin Luther who tried to reform it's corrupt and wayward direction , only to have the whole facade come crashing down around him

    Enviromentalism is the latest version ,; pre christian paganism dressed up in modern clothes …high tech Deism , or just Animism with a post modern spin to it
    It has it's craving for a ''heaven upon earth '' and a vision of the apocalyspe with the subcult of ''global warming ''…all that is missing is it's holy symbol ?…. hmmm…a green windturbine that is evocative of the ''cross'' and could be worn as a shoulder patch on their ''greenshirts''

  • tarleton

    Just wait for the inevitable ''holy inquisition'' to root out heretics , jews, enemies of the people or climate deniers

    ''Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live ''

  • kowalskil

    Is moral sensitivity of people sufficient to protect world societies from mass murderers? Probably not. What else is essential? Elimination of extreme poverty and injustice. How can this be accomplished? Many sociologists have asked this question. Karl Marx was one of them. He believed that the "proletarian dictatorship" was the answer. I suspect that the 20th century will be named after this kind of dictatorship. The idea was tried in many countries and failed. It did not create justice; it replaced old tyrants with more brutal tyrants. Lenin, Stalin and Mao are well-known examples.

    Is man's inhumanity to man avoidable? Perhaps not, perhaps it should be accepted as part of human nature. If this is so then episodes of mass murder can be compared with other calamities, like epidemics, earthquakes and wars. But scientific understanding of epidemics has often resulted in great improvements. Likewise, constructing less vulnerable buildings, or avoiding certain locations, can minimize consequences of earthquakes. We do not accept natural disasters passively; we do everything possible to prevent them, or at least to reduce their undesirable consequences. Why should man's inhumanity to man be accepted as unavoidable? Humanity is also part of nature. Most people want justice and deplore suffering. Shouldn't this be the basis for working toward elimination of man-made calamities?

    Are mass killings avoidable? Hitler's holocaust was based on racism; Stalin's and Mao's slaughters were based on the concept of class struggle. Can we say that these two ideologies of intolerance are responsible for mass killings? Or should the tragedies be attributed to the evil nature of leaders? The two tyrants were not alone; it is impossible to kill millions without favorable social conditions. Can such conditions be identified? Can they be eliminated? How can this be done? I am not sure how to answer such questions. But I believe that all occurrences of mass genocide should be analyzed and exposed, not hidden or forgotten.

    Mass murder occurs when brutal and sadistic criminals, to be found in every society, are promoted to positions of dominance, when propaganda is used to dehumanize the targeted population and when children are inoculated with intolerance and hatred. It occurs when victims ("inferior races" or "class enemies") are excluded from the norms of morality, when ideological totalitarianism is imposed and when freedom is suspended. Fear and violence, the preconditions of genocide, are likely to be found in societies with large numbers of thieves and informants.

    Stalin and Hitler were fanatical leaders inspired by a gang mentality and by the concept of "historic mission." They believed that intolerance and large-scale brutality were necessary ingredients of social order. Each of them was also supported by the “cult of personality.”

    Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia)

    His profile ==> http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/my_profile.ht

    • tarleton

      thank you for taking the time to post here

    • ajnn

      "What else is essential? Elimination of extreme poverty and injustice".

      this is a conclusion necessarily based on 'faith'. it has yet to be proven.

      however, there is evidence to the contrary. the mere reduction of "poverty and injustice" correlates with increases in radicalism and brutal, sadistic behavior.

      in essence your posting is an 'ode to moden leftist beliefs'. your conclusions are theories more likely to be wrong than right. many believe that conflict is a part of life; on the individual, community, national, and international levels. your philosophy assumes, without evidence, the contrary.

  • aspacia

    Excellent article Melanie. There is no apologizing or reason to massacre unarmed civilians. Defeat political parties with words not bullets.

  • Ozzers

    Well I don't know Melanie…
    I live in a violent, crime infested impoverished neighborhood, and as you know there are beheadings, just well, well, never, now that I think of it.
    You may well be onto something.

  • rmsoran

    Nice try at pushing all what characterized and still characterize the Right Religious, Nationalist, Ethnoracist, Segregationist fanatics onto the Left, Melanie's favorite enemies.
    You can see,smell,taste and hear her hatred between the lines, as well as the demagogic-propagandistic style inherited from the ones who once were our genocidal oppressors and killers, the national socialist party and its voluntary intellectual and journalistic servants and instigators.
    There is a huge difference between leftist and rightist activism and terrorism. It's more than 20 years that the terrorism from the Left more or less vanished, while terrorism from the Right swelled and became more and more deadly.
    Reportedly (see FBI) there were dozens of Israelis caught in US hours or days after 9/11 who have openly manifested their joy after the planes had hit WTC 1 and 2. None of them was classified as leftist, but either as rightist, right, or center-right … No wonder, there were similar cases in the whole of Europe and in Muslim countries. Just checking the news archives clearly shows that all those laughing, dancing and just being happy were on the right of their local political spectrum. Terror is married to the right and sometimes vice-versa, too.
    Be careful Melanie, if you get to close to the fire, you'll get alight … I hope, not. Regards,

  • LindaRivera

    This filthy monster and all who perpetrate mass murder are totally EVIL. Those who seek to exploit this dreadful massacre to attack, demonize and BLAME innocents are intensely evil. It is beyond perverted to use the killings of children to viciously attack innocent, peaceful, gentle people who had NOTHING to do with this shocking crime. These wicked character assassins should be sued to the max for defamation.

    • tarleton

      or better still ….they should be burnt at the stake …''thou shalt not suffer a witch to live ''

  • Ghostwriter

    Thanks,Melanie. But,basically Breivik was little better than a lunatic. He should be called that.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    I have lived long in a World of villiany, evil, murders in unimaginable numbers
    where mercy was unknown, love abandoned and amongst people so selfish
    they rot the ground under their feet. Breivik is bound in bitterness and bondage
    and it is and outgrowth of permissive socialism, he is not alone in Norway
    and the rest of the Socialist mindset. Crazy, madman, psychopath are words
    to describe people who out of their minds and or so evil when they apply
    their lives to political conditions the outcome is devistating. Hitler wrote Mein Kampf
    in prison, what will Breivik write, his darkness is there and it is not over.
    William