July 25, 2011

Norway: A Warning Amidst The Mourning

[This important warning is posted with the author's permission--Jimmy Higgins]

Anders Behring Breivik is not a fundamentalist Christian, he is something worse

by SKS

The New York Times has repeated the lie that Anders Behring Breivik, the butcher of Oslo and Utøya, is a fundamentalist Christian. He is not.

The New York Times' thesis is that he is somehow a mirror image of Al Qaeda, a disaffected Christian turning the tables on Islamic fundamentalism. He is not.

He is the vivid, brutal, expression of a bubbling right-wing political movement of the post 9/11 era, emerging not from fascism or neo-fascism or from "revolutionary nationalism", but from the unholy marriage of Austrian School economics and paleo-conservative cultural identity Romanticism--think Goethe, Scifi/Fantasy novels, and von Mises spawn a child.

To those of us who follow the right, the real right, the ideological right, not the administrative right or the hooligan right, not a single word of what Breivik wrote in his manifesto or his video comes as a surprise. It is part an parcel of this world-wide scene of pan-nationalists, who decry "hate ideologies" like Nazism, Islam, and Marxism, while speaking of a common, mildly anti-racist, pro-Zionist, politically incorrect world of "European tolerance in isolation"--yet harboring violent fantasies of retribution and domination. Fantasies Breivik has merely acted upon, but are not unique to himself.

A well known, and not by coincidence Norwegian, blogger by the pseudonym of Fjordman has been giving expression to these ideas since the early part of the last decade. He was widely read in those circles, and even quoted by "respectable" figures of the right. His preoccupations were the same as Breivik (multiculturalism, imperialism, islam), and a chilling fact emerges: Breivik's manifesto's title is "2083 A European Declaration of Independence", while a widely circulated Islamophobic article by Fjordman from 2007 is titled "A European Declaration of Independence". I know the connection is hard to make, but give it some thought...

Glenn Beck, in the United States, has used formulations from this scene, in particular when he decries "progressives of both parties" and talks of "political correct multiculturalism" and "cultural marxism" and adopts the liberal-left's misguided ideas on totalitarian equivalencies of Fascism and "Communism" to use them against neo-liberal globalization, "cultural suicide" and multi-cultural nanny states.

The difference between the populist libertarianism of Beck and the ideology which Breivik represents is that in the United States, this movement is indeed fundamentalist Christian, populated by sects of millions that would seem strange to an Europeanist of the sort Breivik is. Those people are the actual mirror image of Al Qaeda, or more correctly the Taliban, and they don't need to go around putting car bombs and driving planes into buildings because they have the US Armed Forces do that for them.

They do find themselves allied against the common enemy of Islam and share economic values to an extent, but are very much different ideologically.

(When going incognito on the right-wing IRC channels and message boards a few years ago, a regular told me that he loved European anti-Islamic sites because "they were liberal[meaning left-sounding] but not pussies against the hajjis" and so "they made for great stuff to go for Christian moderates", when I commented they had nothing against gays, I got a smug "nobody is perfect".)

This is what the New York Times misses, even if it has it right in their face: Breivik self-describes as a moderate Christian.

In this terminology, what this mean is that while he is a believer, he is not a theocrat. The concept would be familiar to Catholics world-wide, because it is the tradition of being a sinner knowing full well that your sins will be forgiven. It is was what allowed Central American death squads to murder a Bishop and then go to mass the next Sunday, for example.

This is a clear break with fundamentalist Christians, steeped in Calvinist theocratic values as they are. Breivik's preoccupation with Christianity is as a force against Islam, who he sees as the main enemy. His Christianity is contingent to its ability to deliver Europeans (and he widely construes the European identity, including Jews and Browns - unthinkable in most neo-fascist circles) from the new horde of Eurabia.

In his video and manifesto, he clearly identifies with the figures of the Crusades, in particular the early figures that actually fought a Muslim invasion of Europe. That is why, even being a Protestant, he calls for Catholicism, not out of religious fervor, but because, last time, the Church of the Pope stopped Islam in its tracks (unlike, say, the Orthodox patriarchs).

He doesn't use fascist imagery, nor does he use any source commonly identified with the far-right. His sources are pedestrian conservative and small business capitalist. He even used the infamous Economist "Eurabia" cover.

This is him telling us: I am not a facist. I am normal. I am you. I have brown friends. I have gay friends. I defended them from bullies. But I am mad as hell, and I can't take it anymore.

He is the crisis of the neo-liberal state and its imperialist project, in its reactionary terrorist expression. He is the voice of the white male who finds himself a minority, and losing not just the perceived privileges of gender and race, but the very real privileges of being in the center of an imperial world.

The New York Times' declaration exposes the failure of social-liberal thought to explain the contradictions of the world. When we need to describe someone as something he is telling us he is not, it usually means that there is not space for that identity in our carefully constructed worldview. The New York Times needs to tells us he is a "Christian fundamentalist" to avoid the real questions his action raises.

Questions such as the emergence of a new reactionary wave in Western countries, the effects of the moving of the centers of economic growth and development from the West to the East and the North to the South, the peril of the White supremacist empires of the 20th century... more importantly, the boogie-man Islam, that sedative that the international bourgeoisie feeds as placebo to its formerly well-fed and pacified working classes so that they don't realize that capital has pulled the rug from under their feet, and all these mythologies about patriotism and common struggle against foreign perils were all lies--the bosses are quitely shipping their capital to what we are told are our mortal enemies.

When a lie cracks open, you can either see it and respond against it knowing it a lie, or we can zealously embrace it against all evidence. Breivik embraced the lie: clearly a smart person, he willfully ignored any other explanation for the ills of the world than Islam and its "Cultural Marxist" enablers, and he embellished this lie with a mythology of knighthood, literally quixotic, and more tragically into a justification for his murder.

And the lie he believes in is no different than the lie many of his generation have killed, maimed, and been killed and been maimed for in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even the embellishments are not unique.

Breivik is fighting for the clash of civilization ideas that same system he attacked fed him. The New York Times is, not surprisingly, unwilling to accept its responsibility in that system--in their view only a "fundamentalist" could do such an atrocity in the name of politics--it seeks to continue framing the debate in a modified version of the clash of civilization, one were us moderates have to fight "fundamentalists" of both religions. Yet, Breivik's heinous crime is no different than what the New York Times asked that American soldiers do in Iraq when it beat the loudest drums of war in its history. He is not the chicken coming home to roost. He is the chicken who never left home.

We are yet to see if this iceberg means something world-changing, or if it will remain in the sub-surface only to give us a murderous jolt. After all, I am sure Geert Wilders abhors this crime as much as the next person. What is clear is that the same problems that affect and preoccupy the radical left in the Western world are being felt by the ideological right, and that their response will not always come packaged in the usual packages of State collusion, fringe parties and street hooliganism, but might take forms such as Breivik's, and perhaps even other forms of violence. It is too early to tell if this action will have a cooling effect in this particular ideological space - similar to what McVeigh unwittingly did to the then exploding militia scene - or if it will be a spark that lights a prairie fire. What is clear is that we have to sit down and think long and hard about how to respond to these movements, now that they have shown their teeth...


NYT Article (behind paywall if you have reached your free limit)

2083 A European Declaration of Independence (Breivik)

"Fjordman" - A European Declaration of Independence (2007)

(There are unsubstantiated reports that Fjordman is indeed Breivik, but this is in doubt and wouldn't harm my point, as Fjordman has been given so much credence, he even has a long-standing wikipedia page in both English and Norwegian Bokmål.)

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July 17, 2011

Playing the Piano…
People's Organization for Progress
ups the ante of struggle in NJ

POP members, supporters, and community residents honor the 1967 Newark Rebellion at the site of the monument to 1967 at the intersection of Springfield Ave., Irvine Turner Blvd., & 15th Ave.
Updated  8/1:
There was a time some years back when "playing the piano" was the phrase folks would use to describe carrying out multiple revolutionary campaigns simultaneously. We could, it suggested, have one hand doing one thing while the other did another. With the People's Organization for Progress organized Daily People's Campaign for Jobs, Peace, Equality & Justice, POP has upped the  ante. But with the past week's 44th annual We Remember the Newark Rebellion & its Victims" event, we proved we POP can "play the piano"…

The People's Organization for Progress has held this annual event for more than 25 years, sometimes at the precinct house where the rebellion initially began and often (since the monument to the citizens who died was first placed on the 30th anniversary in 1997) at the monument itself (to see a slide show of Ingrid Hill's excellent photos from this year's remembrance, please click on this link). 

On July 12, 1967, Newark erupted in a rebellion against the scourge of police brutality and oppressive racially-biased living conditions. The rebellion prompted a massive police riot and a brutal armed crackdown marked by the National Guard and other police forces occupying the city for several days. It would lead to 39 people, overwhelmingly unarmed Black civilians, getting killed in that dramatic upheaval.
The next (and subsequent days this week) the People's Organization for Progress was back at the Lincoln statute in front of the Essex County Court House for our ongoing campaign for Jobs, Peace, Equality & Justice.

POP's ability to sustain and carry out multiple campaigns simultaneously is a testament to the organization's maturity, both politically as well as structurally!

Thanks to the reader who suggested we track down brother Hamm's speech at CEMOTAP. to view Larry's presentation click on this link. Then go to Drums in the Global Village to see the full speech.

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July 10, 2011

People's Organization for Progress "Daily People's Campaign," Part II

People's Organization for Progress daily demonstration attracts community residents
as well as POP members.
Monday, July 11 will mark the third week of daily demonstrations since the People's Organization for Progress launched our bold "Daily People's Campaign for Jobs, Peace, Equality & Justice" on June 27! As POP state-wide chairman Lawrence Hamm noted, “There have been times in history when the people have been faced with grave challenges, and they have met those challenges with profound, sustained actions that have made a difference, and we believe that this is one of those times.” 

Among the issues the campaign will address are a need for a national jobs program, a call to end military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, a call to stand against police brutality, a call to preserve workers rights and collective bargaining, a call for a moratorium on foreclosures, a call for national health care and for affordable higher education, and more.

POP is calling on a broad range of organizations to endorse and participate in the campaign. This is in an effort to contribute to the forging of a progressive united front for social justice for this area. This is a bold and audacious effort in this period, but the response from motorist driving past the Court House  shows without a doubt that the campaign reflects the sentiment of the community. Other organizations are beginning to commit themselves to participation. This past weekend, members on NJ Chapter-21 of Veterans for Peace responded excitedly to a call to join the daily pickets in front of the Lincoln Monument at the intersection of Springfield Avenue & West Market Street.
Michael McPhearson, a longtime POP member and former Executive Director of the national Veterans For Peace, interviewed Chairman Hamm about this campaign (click on the video image above or the linked "INTERVIEW" before the parenthesis to watch video).

The daily actions continue daily from 4:30p.m. to 6:00p.m. at West Market Street and Springfield Avenue, near the Lincoln Monument and will take place their everyday for an indefinite period of time.

On Saturdays the actions take place from 12noon to 2:00p.m on corner of Broad and Market Streets in Newark.

On Sundays the action is from 2:00p.m. to 3:00p.m. back on West Market Street and Springfield Avenue, near the Lincoln Monument.

For more information, please call (973) 801-0001.

Special thanks to our POP Corresponding Secretary, Ms. Ingrid Hill, for her 
excellent photography

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