Anders Behring Breivik is a Nerd…
(…and his views are the views of a narcissistic goof, too).
Strip away the mask and expose him for what he is.
I really don’t want to address the alleged sanity or insanity of violent reactionaries like Anders Breivik, or self-seeking speculations concerning his “good” or “evil” nature. Nothing of much use or value in terms of practical knowledge has ever come from the usual sterile debates about these issues in other cases, such as Osama bin Laden and reactionary Islam, or left-wing or anarchist terrorism
None the less, some of the conservative press, (in attempting to account for their earlier embarrassing rush to judgement about Islamic terrorism being behind the Oslo attacks) far from apologising, have resorted by way of rationalisation and self-justification for their slip and lapse of judgement by applying an odious moral double-standard for distinguishing between reactionary right-wing “Christian” terrorism and reactionary Islamic terrorism. (And if you haven’t noticed it, and want examples to support that claim, just inquire in the comments section). Muslims, now, are expected to adhere to an uncompromising absolute moral standard, while many Western conservatives retain the option of merely observing a pragmatic and relative moral standard for themselves.
That is to say, Breivik’s “conservative Christian” terrorism, even if publicly “deplored,” is nonetheless rationalised and excused as having “causes” external to itself, implying legitimate causes (like “socialistic multiculturalism” or “cultural Marxism” or feminism/liberalism/environmentalism/homosexuality, etc in the usual reactionary and paranoid conservative lexicon of existential threat conflation and inflation), while the causes of Islamist terrorism are, contrariwise, claimed to be uncaused by any “legitimate” factor or grievance, being gratuitous, sui generis, and inherent or essential to Islam itself.
This is all caricature and self-caricature, normally funny and the object of legitimate mockery and lampoon. But since 9/11 and Oslo, it has ceased to be funny. Apparently, some don’t get the joke.
On the other hand, since we all know Christians are morally “good people” (Although Jesus even explicitly denies his own goodness, in fact. “Why do you call me good? There is none good but God”), then any wickedness that a right-wing Christian commits is now presumed to be “caused” by factors or elements or evil others external to himself or herself, and not someting inherent to themselves or their own perverse “Christianism“. Such a snake-logic allows for a sneaky and devious moral relativism applied to one’s own conduct, and it permits the conservative and narcissistic Christian the self-interested advantage of hypocritically insisting that others observe an absolute moral code of conduct, while he or she indulges and justifies only a relativistic and pragmatic one.
“The devil made me do it”. And in the case of the Oslo massacres, it’s not difficult to read behind a lot of reactionary conservative commentaries the slyly worded and contrived insinuation that the sacrificial lambs on Utoya Island deserved what they got and invited their own murder (sadly and deplorably, of course) by adhering to a politically incorrect “cultural Marxism” and “multiculturalism”. And being thus possessed by multiculturalist devils and demons, it was deemed regrettable or deplorable, but intelligible, why someone like Breivik would want to burn them at the stake.
Reactionaries of all stripes use the same mendacious, Mephistophelian logic. It’s very devious, cunning, and conniving, but quite consistent with “the rational pursuit of self-interest” and, of course, of worldly power and for gaining personal or national advantage over others. It a lot of cases, it’s pure propaganda. Simply insist that Evil Others observe an absolute moral standard that’s impossible for human beings to meet. Then they must appear bad and wicked, while you, only observing a pragmatic standard, can appear righteous and morally good in your own eyes.
I believe Jesus had a few choice words to say about self-righteous hypocrites like that.
This was, by the way, Nietzsche’s critique of moralism as masked will to power, which too many have misunderstood (and quite possibly willingly and deliberately misrepresented).
This is Breivik’s own form of reactionary “conservative Christianity”, and his own form of “political correctness.” He only conceives of Christianity as a “moral platform” and as such, merely the ideological basis for a totalitarian mass politics of the future. That is, Christianity is treated as being a binding ideology corresponding or parallel to reactionary Islamism: as a Christianism.
I warned some time ago, in the former Dark Age Blog, that a reactionary ideological conservative “Christianism” was going to be an even bigger problem for the future viability of Western civilisation than a reactionary ideological Islamism. The fact is, they are identical in their purposes, their motives, and their methods. Breivik himself admired bin Laden and his organisation as a model for his own bizarre, fantasist Knights Templar Order of Terrorists, Bullshitters, Berserkers, and Manure Spreaders Templique Solomonici. He even mused in his manifesto about his “Knights Templar” clandestinely cooperating with terrorist groups like Al Qaeda to achieve mutually desirable objectives and goals — namely, the destruction of multiculturalism and of what he calls “cultural Marxism” in favour of the clash of civilisations scenario (originally advanced by US conservative Samuel Huntington in his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order).
(This was, by the way, that old Cold War academic Samuel Huntington’s rationale for promoting a clash of civilisations and global culture war. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, Huntington reasoned, Americans (Westerners in general, one supposes) needed a new enemy against which to morally define themselves and preserve their identity, which led to “the search for enemies” in the ’90s. It also, fortuitously, served to re-legitimise the bloated budgets and power position of the military-industrial-government-academic complex, too. Pentagon insiders, like Thomas Barnett, wrote (not disapprovingly) of the near panic that set in around the Pentagon after the fall of the USSR, as concerns for careers, promotions, and budgets set in).
These are true choices and alternatives for the Planetary Era despite politically self-serving declarations about “the end of history” — multiculturalism, or this clash of civilisations scenario. It is my own view that the Earth as a whole will not survive a reactionary “clash of civilisations” in the Planetary Era and we will descend into a Dark Age if it does… even if we survive it.
Therefore, if life on this earth is to endure and prosper as a whole, this ideology must be challenged, discredited, and defeated, if not even suppressed. That is why Breivik launched his “pre-emptive” strike against multiculturalism by killing those kids on Utoya Island, and why (ironically, even hypocritically) he was willing to work with Bin Laden to ensure that “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet” (or attain a peaceful accommodation and even friendship) as that old Victorian imperialist apologist Rudyard Kipling once penned.
(And as I wrote in the old Dark Age Blog, this perverse and absolute dichotomisation of East and West arises from the wound inflicted on the unity of Being, when Being was dichotomised into incommensurate Subject and Object universes following the philosophy of Rene Descartes and his metaphysical dualism, which led to Hegelian Idealism and nationalism on the one hand, and Marxian historical materialism on the other).
Breivik cited (again, ironically) the English socialist George Orwell’s 1984 as one of his favourite books. Don’t believe for a moment, however, that a mentality like Breivik;s took away from Orwell the same message that Orwell intended us to take from it. This assumption is a grave mistake. He seems actually to have admired the very totalitarian society that Orwell depicted for us as being a totalitarian nightmare. Orwell’s brilliance in dissecting the foundations and premisses of totalitarian order and society is seemingly exactly what Breivik admired about it, taking away from Orwell what any democratically inclined readers certainly would not.
That’s one reason, I think, why we should deem Breivik “morally insane”, and possessed not just by an extraordinary narcissism, but also of an equally extraordinary Mephistophelian cunning that few (even his lawyer Geir Lippestad) seem to be able to comprehend, and so grasp for predictable and familiar notions such as “insane,” “crazy,” “nuts,” “mad,” or “evil incarnate.”
It is not “insanity” in the normal or clinical sense. Here is something about Breivik and what I mean by “Mephistophelian cunning” that I really implore you to understand and comprehend:
It is not Breivik’s view that he himself is actually in captivity! That demonic triumphalist smile on his face in the photographs as he was raced into the Oslo courts is genuine. Breivik truly believes the exact opposite: that his lawyer, his followers (real, imagined, or potential) as well as you and me are the ones truly his captives, prisoners of his malignant intent, will, and strategy, based upon what he calculates to be the predictable human responses and behaviours to his acts as laid down in his manifesto. That’s why he spoke of his rampage as “gruesome but necessary.” He had to set his strategy in motion, anticipating and controlling for all the possible or predictable outcomes, in full confidence that human beings would fall under the spell of the horror of his atrocity, and routinely respond like automatons to his acts — as predicted. He has worked that all out as part of his overall strategy. He truly believes that he will become an icon and an object of religious veneration (a saint in other words) in due time, and that, based upon his perception of predictable and routine human behaviours and responses, that it is he who is the master here and holds everyone else in his thrall as a kind of “command performance.” Others, regardless of who they are or of their religious or political affiliations and loyalties, are simply performers playing out and fulfilling their predicted and scripted role, regardless of their political loyalties and affiliations, dancing like puppets at the end of his strings, marching to his drumbeat.
And he is largely quite right. It is playing out its course much as he designed it so far. Everybody is playing their expected part in his command performance. And that’s why his lawyer is baffled by him and his views, which seem so contrary to reality (in his lawyer’s “common-sensical” terms, that is).
But the fact is, Breivik’s “narcissism” and Mephistophelian cunning is demonstrated in his belief that all of us, and not he, are the real captives here, and that we have all been mastered by, and subordinated to, his malignant designs and intentions. This is that exact same mystical “triumph of the will” that Hitler credited for his own political “success”.
And I’m concerned and disturbed by that. For, so far, the course of events are playing themselves out largely in Breivik’s favour.
Except in one aspect. Breivik is terrified of being perceived or portrayed as a “goof” or a nerd, and therefore someone who may not be taken seriously. In order to be taken seriously is why he did what he did. It had to be spectacularly and seriously evil to attract attention. We all had to fall under the spell of that horror. To be taken seriously means, to be perceived as a potential object of veneration (as he desires) or even as a monster (which he fully anticipated also). But not to be taken as a nerd or a goof. He has strategies for dealing with all other possible tangents and variables, converting predicted outcomes to his favour and advantage… except this one “Achilles heel” that he fears. To be an object of derision, mockery, ridicule, or perceived as a nerd or a goof is what he can’t tolerate. But this is what he can’t control, and it is a major concern and a cause of great anxiety for him, apparently.
Therefore, it is the one strategy for countering the Breivik’s of the world — mockery. He is so incredibly narcissistic that he would be completely defeated and deflated by his own great fear of being considered a nerd or a goof. This is a possibility that he can’t control for or manipulate even though he went to extraordinary lengths to try and avert and avoid it — getting plastic surgery (reportedly) to forestall any potential mockery of a facial imperfection or disfigurement, for example; to ensure that only self-aggrandising iconic-style photographs of him existed (not caught picking his nose, for example). Hitler had the exact same paranoias and anxieties. (He reportedly had one man arrested and executed who imprudently recollected for some journalists that, as a youth in Austria, Hitler had apparently masturbated or urinated into a goat’s mouth). Nerdy. Goofy. That sort of thing detracts from delusions of grandeur about personal sainthood, heroic status, and promoting oneself as the chosen or elect object of near religious veneration.
This is clearly the counter-strategy to prevent Breivik’s malicious intent from succeeding. He feared that, but with good reason. He is a nerd. He is a goof. He is effeminate (which he actually confesses in his manifesto). Those are the truths about Anders Behring Breivik, which is why he had to construct a false front and pretentious counter-narrative about himself — as manly, a Nordic Christian “warrior”, a “Viking,” a knight chivalrous, a “saviour,” and so on and so forth. One thing after another. These are the false fronts and pretenses which must be stripped away to expose the nerd and the goof beneath the carefully constructed facade and “mask of sanity”.
It’s all Wizard of Oz stuff from here on in. Breivik is a nerd. Expose him for what he truly is.
An old friend of Breivik’s seems to have corroborated my suspicions of Breivik’s Mephistophelian cunning and methodicalness that too many have mistaken as “insanity”. “…he’s playing us like a piano”, says Peter Svaar. Well… that takes method.
The article appears in the Sydney Morning Herald. “Former friend reveals pieces of killer’s past”
Maybe Goethe was the last to really understand the Mephistophelian.