VJMP Reads: Anders Breivik’s Manifesto II

This reading carries on from here.

The first part of the document proper is devoted to the “falsified history” of the West and “other Marxist propaganda”. It begins with a review of the history of Islam, in which Islam is declared responsible for the murder of over 300,000,000 non-Muslims throughout history.

It also lists, at length, the historical crimes of Islam. This exhaustive list of genocides, coupled with lines like “more than 95% of today’s Journalists, editors, publishers are pro-Eurabians” makes it easy to get the impression that Breivik has a particularly paranoid Weltanschauung.

He catalogues in detail the strategies that he considers the Islamic “theofascists” and Marxists to be using to manipulate the popular opinion of the religion in the West. Most of these strategies boil down to either lying or intimidation.

Curiously, despite that he describes himself as a Christian, he nonetheless is able to correctly point out that the vast historical crimes of Christianity are mostly inspired by religious features that are shared by all the Abrahamisms.

Without irony, Breivik describes a supposed rule of the Islamic theofascist propagandists: “If people ignore or refute your distorted version of history, accuse them of distortion and political abuse of history.”

It is taken for granted that his own understanding of history is complete and accurate.

Breivik doesn’t seem to have much time for the idea that there could be many different reasons to believe in different accounts of history. The history of Islam is one of evil, and any attempt to paint a more positive picture can only be part of a campaign of deliberate misinformation.

A noticeable pattern is that Breivik is very selective in what he cites as evidence. At one point he cites a Danish literature student who “concludes that Islamic texts encourage terror and fighting to a far greater degree than the original texts of other religions.”

There is nothing objectionable about this in isolation, but in the context of a determined attack on the legitimacy of the university system – with the attack itself centering on the degenerative effect that subjective textual analysis has had on the truth – it seems a bit contradictory.

However, the criticisms made of the content of the Koran and the Hadith cannot simply be dismissed. The plain facts are that the document calls for the killing and/or subjugation of non-believers at dozens of different points.

In fact, Breivik’s criticism of Islam raises some questions that, although deeply uncomfortable, are also unavoidable if one wishes to honestly evaluate the likely outcomes of Muslim culture expanding into the West.

If Muhammad was the perfect man who all Muslims should emulate, what do we make of the hadith that describes him as consummating his marriage to a nine-year old? Likewise, what do we make of his admonitions to kill adulterers and apostates? Or his decree to have a poet killed for mocking Islam?

“The entire Islamic moral universe devolves solely from the life and teachings of Muhammad,” Breivik contends.

So what do we do about the fact that some of these actions, believed by Muslims to have been undertaken by the perfect man in total accordance with the Will of God, are grossly incompatible with what Western culture considers to be good order?

Surrounding these very pertinent questions are long, paranoid expositions about the supposed Islamic sanctioning of lying and deceit, especially when speaking to unbelievers. Breivik certainly appears to believe that lying to non-believers is an inherent part of the Islamic religion and culture.

In some ways, the general criticisms of the unwillingness of Muslims to peacefully coexist sound entirely plausible, because we know of the history of the previous waves of Abrahamism to Europe. Christians also came to Europe professing a desire to live in peace, and they nevertheless found plenty of scriptural support for their efforts to terrorise the locals for centuries.

In other ways, things are less clear. It’s obvious that the other Abrahamisms – in particular Judaism and Christianity – are no longer as mindlessly bound in ancient tradition as they once were, but is this true of Islam? And if so, to what extent?

Breivik would evidently answer in the negative. He would have it that Islam has not changed at all since those early days of caravan raiding, and that even if it has, it’s liable to regress back into violence on account of the precedent set by Muhammad himself.

It’s certainly a very dark and dire perspective – but is it wrong?

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The VJMP Reads column will continue with Part III of Anders Breivik’s manifesto.

VJMP Reads: Anders Breivik’s Manifesto I

Few are aware that the manifesto of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik has already had a considerable impact on the narratives within Western popular culture, but over the next few months we will have a close look at how. Today we introduce the VJMP Reads column, in which we try to get to grips with lesser-known or suppressed works of philosophy, especially those of a political bent.

Titled 2083: A Declaration of European Independence and published in 2011, the manifesto is not a light read. The version we are using weighs in at 1,515 pages – a similar length to War and Peace or The Stand.

Neither does it have any ambitions to be a light read. The vast scope of the document can be appreciated from a cursory glance at the table of contents, which runs to over 300 items.

The introduction starts off with a very powerful, and very unsettling, argument: that all ideologies are necessarily false. All ideologies, according to Breivik, declare a model of reality to be reality itself, and, when inevitably proven false, attempt to suppress that reality to the extent that they have the power to do so.

Their ultimate goal is to suppress the very thinking of thoughts that, although they may reflect reality, do not further the ideology.

Breivik is very direct about approaching these questions from a conservative perspective. Like many other conservatives, he harkens back to an idyllic Golden Age in the past – in Breivik’s 1950s,

“Our homes were safe, to the point where many people did not bother to lock their doors. Public schools were generally excellent, and their problems were things like talking in class and running in the halls. Most men treated women like ladies, and most ladies devoted their time and effort to making good homes…”

Western Europe, he laments, has been conquered by ideology. The dominant ideology – variously referred to as ‘Marxism’, ‘political correctness’, ‘cultural Marxism’ and ‘feminism’ among others – is one that seeks a classless society where the outcome for every person is the same.

Because people are different, they will end up with different outcomes as a consequence of natural laws. Therefore, in order for equal outcomes to be reality, people have to be forced into this reality against their will and against nature.

Variants of this basic argument are made by most conservative commentators, and to that end Breivik is not unusual.

Much of the introduction to the manifesto is taken up with a history of the ideology of political correctness and Marxism, which Breivik treats as having waged a many-decades long war against the order of the West.

What Breivik is decrying, fundamentally, is chaos; what he fundamentally desires is order. The current order is correct, and therefore efforts to destabilise it are wrong. Although the situation is grim – there is a distinctly paranoid tinge to the introduction – Western Europe can still be saved through a sufficient effort of will.

One curiosity is that Breivik, who is approaching the issue from a conservative perspective, uses many arguments that echo George Orwell, who was a leftist libertarian. “Whatever controls language also controls thought” is a paraphrasing of a famous line from 1984.

This explains why many of his arguments have broad appeal. His criticisms about how the emphasis of higher education has changed over time, from providing an education in the liberal arts to providing a cultural uniform that one learns to wear to display one’s political virtue, ring home with any freethinker that has been through university.

Breivik also identifies with Christianity, decrying a university course “designed to denigrate the Bible as cleverly crafted fiction instead of God’s truth.” The patriarchal nature of this Abrahamic cult is considered by Breivik to be a positive thing.

Indeed, the enemy, in summary, is “anti-God, anti-Christian, anti-family, anti-nationalist, anti-patriot, anti-conservative, anti-hereditarian, anti-ethnocentric, anti-masculine, anti-tradition, and anti-morality.”

And it’s these qualities, Breivik contends, that have weakened European culture and society to a point where Islamic conquest becomes possible.

What’s clear from the introduction to this document is that, if there’s a team yin and a team yang, Breivik is fully committed to team yang. For him it is order, not free expression, that is the foundation of all that’s good and moral in the world, and threats to that order cannot be improvements but are necessarily evil.

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The VJMP Reads column will continue with Part II of Anders Breivik’s manifesto.