The Trail of Evil Can Europe's Populists Be Blamed for Anders Breivik's Crusade?
Part 5: Where Did Breivik Derive His Ideas From?
The killer has a political history, which begins with Norway's populist right-wing Progress Party.
On the fifth day after Breivik's terrorist attack, Progress Party leader Siv Jensen, a blonde woman in a black dress with a design featuring two gray hearts nestled together, is standing in the garden outside the official apartment of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, together with the leaders of all parties represented in the parliament.
In this garden, Stoltenberg intends to announce the establishment of a commission that will investigate the possible mistakes made by the state security agencies, police and emergency rescue forces. But he also wants to send a message that Norwegians are not about to go into hiding, and that the political class is more united than ever.
Shortly after the attack, Siv Jensen stated: "All Norwegians are now young Labor Party members." She has been invited to join the other party leaders, as if her party were being treated the same as all the others. Nevertheless, Jensen has a problem, namely that Breivik was an active member of her party for seven years, serving as the deputy chairman of a local youth organization.
Another of Jensen's problems is that one of her party members published a document a year ago titled "The Dream of Disneyland," which accused the Labor Party of treason. "What was so wrong with Norwegian culture that you want to replace it with something you call multicultural?" the author asks. "And why are you stabbing our own culture in the back?"
Fears of Foreign Domination
There is a new right-wing mainstream all across Europe, which, like Breivik, is turning away from anti-Semitism and declaring Islam to be the enemy instead.
Geert Wilders, the blonde Dutch politician who, together with his Party for Freedom, has supported the minority government in The Hague since last year, is the vanguard of this movement. He has called for a ban of the Koran and has likened it to Hitler's "Mein Kampf," and he wants women who wear the headscarf to pay a "head-rag tax." Wilders has his imitators, who feed on fears of globalization and modernization and stoke fears of foreign domination.
They include the Danish People's Party, which has helped Denmark's center-right minority government stay in power for almost 10 years; Italy's Northern League; the Sweden Democrats, whose leader told that country's parliament that Islam is "the greatest threat to Europe since World War II"; the True Finns; Marine Le Pen in France; Belgium's Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang; and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). Breivik is particularly enamored of Austria, which he mentions 70 times in his manifesto, even expressing his appreciation to his "brothers and sisters" there.
This may have something to do with the polls showing that the FPÖ, known for its anti-Muslim slogans and its claims that Islamism is the "fascism of the 21st century," is on its way to becoming Austria's strongest party.
Germany's debate over Thilo Sarrazin's controversial book, "Germany Does Itself In," would probably have interested him, but it was too late for Breivik's purposes. When the controversy began in August 2010, Breivik had already completed the research for his manifesto, as he says.
In fact, Breivik is less than satisfied with Germany. He writes that it has no serious anti-Islam party and is "simply unable to build a political defence against Islamisation." Nevertheless, he is interested in the neo-Nazi NPD party.
Appealing to Copycats
What do his attacks mean for the far-right in Germany? "It could serve as a blueprint for copycats," says Alexander Eisvogel, the vice-president of Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). "From the point of view of a terrorist, his planning was meticulous and carefully geared toward not attracting the attention of the authorities. He noted all of this in diary form in his manifesto. It is precisely this combination of the attacks and the preparation, which was so carefully planned and is now accessible to the general public, that is now our greatest concern."
So far, however, reactions in the right-wing community have ranged from reserved to hostile, probably, as Eisvogel speculates, because this combination "of the mystification of the Knights Templar and the explicit rejection of Nazi thought is hard to stomach for German right-wing extremists."
Right-wing populists have been more or less quick to distance themselves from Breivik's crime. The FPÖ, headed by Austrian politician Heinz-Christian Strache, has been careful to characterize any attempt to saddle it with the blame as a "primitive and disgraceful" attempt to make political capital out of the Norwegian tragedy.
The English Defence League, which confirms that some of its members were in contact with Breivik via Facebook, praises his ideology. The EDL agrees that Islam poses "a serious problem," a problem that has "cost many thousands of human lives" around the world in recent years, a spokeswoman said. But, she adds, violence is "not the answer."
For the moderate populist right-wing milieu, it would be more convenient for Breivik to be portrayed as a madman, and as a lone, unpredictable killer. But although he found his real, brutal ideological dynamite on the Internet, primarily in the writings of an anonymous right-wing blogger who uses the name "Fjordman," Breivik's roots are in the right-wing populist scene.
- Part 1: Can Europe's Populists Be Blamed for Anders Breivik's Crusade?
- Part 2: How Does an Average Citizen Turn into a Mass-Murderer?
- Part 3: Is Breivik a Psychopath?
- Part 4: How Does the Perpetrator Justify His Crimes?
- Part 5: Where Did Breivik Derive His Ideas From?
- Part 6: Who Are the People Who Influenced Breivik Intellectually?
- Part 7: How Do Right-Wing Bloggers Defend Themselves Against Accusations that They Bear Part of the Blame?
- Part 8: Is Breivik Different from Other Terrorists Such as Islamists and Anarchists?
- Part 9: Why Didn't Anyone Notice What Breivik Was Planning?