City Journal Winter 2016

Current Issue:

Winter 2016
Table of Contents
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Jens-Martin Eriksen and Frederik Stjernfelt
Understanding the Breivik Verdict « Back to Story

View Comments (12)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.

Showing 12 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
"Enlightenment values" in the subtitle is as far as I got. Quite clearly, the piece must be delusional.

But, thank you - it is welcome to save my time so early on. Usually it takes at least a few lines of the text.
All cogent and clear. I would add two matters, not necessarily critical comment at all. 1) A friend under FBI protection sent me the Bureau's materials on the Unabomber, and asked me to "read" them. I wrote a longish piece observing roots in Academia for its views and trends in social psychology, etc. I did not imagine the Unabomber a mathematical person by training.
2) I attach a link to an essay I published in, Vol 14. #4, September/October 2010, entitled, "Who Killed Robert Francis Kennedy?" The piece sets a modern and very ancient background, to both that assassination, and programs like that of Breivik's today.
The understanding of Conservative, or Right, in the U.S. revolves around personal liberty and responsibility. The further Right, the less Government intrusion (or religious intrusion). Thus, the extreme Right position is Anarchy, not Totalitarianism or Fascism. The connection with the extreme Right and Fascism seems preposterous, at least to an American.
I strongly disagree with the conclusions here, especially the concept that Breivik is sane - he might be sane under the McNaughton test i.e. to understand that killing is "wrong" but his actions were clearly not the product of someone of sound mind for lack of a better way of saying it.

And to put Breivik's murderous acts in the context of a "movement" is a big stretch - this guy was nothing more than a screwball with a gun. His so called rationalizations for his actions were nothing more than the ravings of a lunatic, his 'ideology' nothing more as well. Unfortunately, these diseased Raskalnikov type characters happen every so often - in fact, that fits pretty well.
Don't forget the Finn spin on modernity from very sane extreme philosophers like Pentti Linkola. The radical euro greens do I think hold some of the most extreme views about genocide, eugenics, the need for totalitarian government, and more, ever to come out of Europe and have nothing to do with culturalism.
Also interesting is that in the US I think it highly unlikely that anyone like Breivik would be found sane.
Enlightenment philosophy taught that "no culture or religion deserves special group privileges that violate individual human rights". Agreed. Unfortunately, European and to a lesser extent American,multiculturalism denies this sensible maxim; instead, the indigenous cultural identities of Europe have been overwhelmed by Muslim demands for 'special religious privilege'. The decision to admit hundreds of thousands of Muslims, thereby changing the demographic and cultural face of traditional society has been imposed by (so-called) radical political thinking e.g. Tony Blair in UK. No populace has voted in favour of such transformation. Thousands regard it as colonization by stealth, a perception that has led to angry disaffection (Breivik being merely one extreme example). I included in my generalization "indigenous" those immigrant groups who have, over decades, successfully embraced the laws and traditions of the countries providing sanctuary, welfare, work, freedom of speech and/or worship. All this is dismissed by segregated Muslim communities determined to impose the systems and structures from which they escaped on all FREE societies. This is the history of Islam from its adoption in Arabia - every area they conquer, whether by silent colonization or aggressive conquest, indigenous religions and cultures have been overcome or eradicated. When they have no Infidels or Jews to eliminate, they kill each other. Is this really the future Western Civilization faces? I fear many will die if politicians do not find in their cowardly souls the courage to STOP the invasion now.
The West has absorbed people of all faiths and races. The basic social contract was this: Welcome to our country. You are free to do as you like as long as you don't physically threaten the social order. Implicit in this understanding is the notion that you will abjure old ways that contravene the laws of your new country.

Islam is a force to be reckoned with, because the religion, which is millenarian in belief and outlook, is not separated from the state. The two are one and the same. Thus, a devout Muslim can never be a good citizen of the West because he cannot acknowledge allegiance to the laws of the state which are at variance with those of Islam.

Thus, multiculturalism, which celebrates differences rather than similarities, and accords Islam whatever space it demands in order to thrive, will not end well for the West. Breivik's ideas may be bizarre, and contrary to Western liberalism (old definition), but the paradigm described predicates that his views, or something like them, are slated to gain adherents as the influx of Muslims accelerates and Muslim populations multiply.
It's a tangential, but important, point that your "the extreme European Right that produced Nazism, fascism, and radical conservatism," is completely off the mark. Both Mussolini and Hitler repeatedly identified themselves and their political organizations as socialist. Nazi (National Socialist German Workers Party) governance and Mussolini's corporatist state differed from Soviet rule only in degrees of peripheral detail.
The analysis is interesting, but its reach is limited to the point of missing the scope of the danger. Fundamentalism encompasses the issue with greater breadth, because all fundamentalists want to force everyone into the burqah or chadur of their narrow ideological.
They both abhor and fear the ambiguity of diversity. One can see this in tyrannies right and left - the Inquisitions, fascism, Maoist and Stalinist socialism. It's a abheration of human reality, not a specific ideology, and it's dangerous and naive to limit its scpe and potential breeding ground to such a narrow analysis.
Modernism does not reject multiculturalism, but embraces its richness, even as it limits any encroachment on the rights of other individuals or groups. While rights pertain to the person, there are a genre or rights that pertain to groups, such as Tibetans, Mongolians, Native Americans, Saami, Rom.
The persons identifies him/herself with a group as a cultural or religious, genetic code which specifies and links the person to his/her cultural-religious family.
The denial of multi-cultralism can morph into a fundamentalistic fear of differences while sactimoniously forcing others to deny who they are and with whom they identify in the name of the common good. Sound familiar? It becomes just another burqah everyone is forced to wear.
The author speaks from a European perspective where groups and countries were homogenous. "France is for the French," both the right and the left will insist, each from its own perspective. Immigrant Canada and the USA know this is a falacy where multicuturalism is tolerated and more and more celebratred. Ironically, after 9/11, Moslem are far more tolerated and accepted in the USA than in Belgium, Denmark and other European countries.
In fact, Richard Alexander, the opening line of this piece is: "On August 24 in Oslo ... Anders Breivik was sentenced to the toughest sentence under Norwegian law..."

The verdict was guilty. But the sentence, agwisreal correctly points out, is worthy of ridicule.
Agwisreal, you're referring to the sentence. The authors are referring to the verdict, which is indeed as grave as they get.
The gravity of the verdict? Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman.

One thousand years ago, the penalty would have been drawing and quartering, or some variation on that. Two hundred years ago, death by hanging or by firing squad. Moving along, perhaps life in prison. But this? 21 lousy years? And what if he plays nice and keeps his nose clean in prison and says all the right things? Can they still judge him dangerous? (Should this materialize, I would deem it grounds for thinking him very dangerous indeed, for it would demonstrate that he had all his wits about him and that his apparently delusional beliefs that he blogged and advanced at trial were not literally the result of a medical disorder of the brain.)