Was the Norwegian atrocity strategic?
Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-24
I am suspecting that Breivik’s targetting of the best and brightest youth of the left in Norway was not to strike terror – but to remove talent, to weaken the left.
It’s wiped a massive proportion of the talent the left has, talent about to enter real-world politics over the next decade.
It has gutted the left’s talent pool, effective for the next few generations: – the young talent so tragically removed would doubtless have had children and grandchildren of similar talents, of similar leftist leanings.
There are indications about the net that Breivik thought strategically.
There is scuttlebutt about the net that Anders Breivik proposed a long term plan to change Norwegian politics – a newspaper (he should have just called Rupert and he’d get that in 10 seconds), infiltration of NGOs, etc. CORRECTION: Not scuttlebutt, not confined by Norway, and with documents admitted correct by Breivik’s lawyer. See here.
This was not to instill terror, not (as some decent and intelligent righty friends have suggested) merely a means to get a pulpit in the courtroom, not merely to install terror, not revenge.
The youth camp had about 500 of the best and brightest. Not a random collection of people, no non-political-combatants. Breivik wiped out nearly 100 of them: that’s nearly 20%.
I have no doubts Breivik would have killed the lot of them if he could have.
Twenty percent? Risk management disciplines define a 10% loss of income, budget, or resources, as "catastrophic".
If there was a similar double-decimation of targetted killings, for political purposes, it would come close to being labelled (albeit problematically) as genocide.
What Breivik as an individual did was not much different to what fascist parties mid-century did – trying to wipe out communism with targetted killings.
Imagine the effect of an individual with a machine gun or bomb at the annual conference of any political party, at a world conference of climatologists.
Imagine the effect on the stocks of a company if 20% of the best-and-brightest shareholders were taken out at their AGM. Imagine if a cancer patient, family owning a lot of Woolworths shares, wiped out 20% of the most influential Coles stakeholders and executives. The cancer patient’s family would have massively more valuable assets overnight, and would cash in.
Breiviks actions probably had more impact.
The strategic nature of Breivik’s plan demonstrates his insight. Unless there is massive recruitment to the left, others will see Breivik’s action as extremely effective – and there will be more of the same, and not just from right-wing extremists.
The only possible means of nullifying the damage Breivik has done, and the ongoing damage of those who would use similar strategies, is for a population to rise up and become politically active, to become "radical moderates" at least, and preferably ardent lefties/greens.
Unfortunately, moderation correlates with political apathy or at least inertia, unwillingness to rise up.
I fear that Breivik has already achieved many of his goals. I fear that his strategy will be followed by others.
- The "not-a-lone-madman" but "leaderless resistance" model for Breivik is described here, and worth glancing quickly through, although I don’t subscribe to the notion of Breivik being the "perfect product" – that smacks at least a little of the same errors the right commits when slagging off lefties.
- Here is (apparently) a translation of some detailed correspondence from Breivik to the propaganda wing of his fellow-travellers (who may, or more likely not, have similar attitudes to violence). It is worth reading to see the absence of typical "madness" that can be evident in such communications – he writes like a cold hard manager – albeit one with a surfeit of arrogance.
- I actually wrote this post trying to be less emotional than perhaps was warranted, and I did a bit better in a comment over at LP.
Even if there was gloating about any red-faces of right-wing pundits (it’s unlikely they’ll actually feel their faces go red), the left should ponder just how many of the best-and-brightest of the left were pre-emptively removed from history, and the effect this could have on the quality of political debate over the next decades in Norway specifically, and western Europe in general. It is a massive loss not just in personal terms. not merely a horrible and undeserved shock to a peaceful nation – the difference to society these kids would have made is considerable, and that includes any influence the quality of political debate in Europe has on the quality of debate world-wide.
- Update: The Age in Norway’s Breivik planned carnage: lawyer (2011-07-24) reports the long time this was planned – long enough for any associates, extremist or not, to pick up anything that would mitigate, such as depression or schizophrenia:
The internet document – part diary, part bomb-making manual and part political rant in which he details his Islamophobia – explains how he set up front mining and farming businesses to prepare the attacks for which he was arrested on Friday.
"The reasoning for this decision is to create a credible cover in case I am arrested in regards to the purchase and smuggling of explosives or components to explosives – fertiliser," the tract says.
Note he is only talking about having a credible legal cover in order to be able to execute his plans, NOT legal cover to excuse himself. He won’t be pleading insanity, will he, however much the right-wing pundits would like this to be the public perception.