Thursday, August 30, 2012

The politics of magical capitalism posted by Richard Seymour

Of course, you know I've written for the exceedingly glamorous, well-funded Jacobin magazine before, and will be contributing in future. For the time being, though, in addition to all my other duties I will occasionally blog at Jacobin as well. Naturally, you still have to come here, to the mother ship, for most of my blogging. But here is my first piece for our American sans-culottes:

"A question, then: are profits like ‘golden eggs’? Does surplus value arise, seemingly ex nihilo, from the mysterious thaumaturgy of the City? One is constantly exhorted to believe so. Save your money, you are told, or invest it, and it will just magically increase in value. Buy a private pension scheme for a fraction of your weekly earnings, and when you retire you can have a lavish, hedonistic lifestyle that would make Mitt Romney blush with noble envy. Better yet, save enough money to use as start-up capital, become a capitalist and one can, with sufficient nous, acquire enough dough to get the Kardashians’ telephone number. Something very nebulous and mystical about the process of abstaining from immediate consumption, and entering this money into circulation as money-capital, causes it to produce a ‘surplus value’, above and beyond what was originally invested. In fact, one isn’t even abstaining from consumption as such. To become a capitalist is to consume commodoties, qua variable and fixed capital, at a definite rate. It is actually in the very act of consuming a set of commodities, that one magically makes the profit appear."

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Chile: not afraid any more posted by Richard Seymour

My latest in the Guardian - badly beaten and terrorised under Pinochet, the militant Left is resurgent in Chile for the first time in years:

"The tendency in these cases is for struggles that would previously have remained local, or sectional, to ignite a wider social rebellion aimed at concentrations of class power. In the context of a global crisis, localised flashpoints can no longer be contained. Diverse constituencies, from students and workers to local community groups, are finding that their aspirations are contiguous, their struggles linked. They have sought ways to unify their demands into a wide, frontal assault that cannot be contained or co-opted. In Chile, this has produced an incredibly optimistic, energised and combative left that dares to challenge the country's social order in a fundamental way for the first time in decades. The country that Pinochet terrorised is no longer afraid."


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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The problem of left unity posted by Richard Seymour

  Dan Hind, enlivened by the Hellenic tumult, calls for a Coalition of the Radical Left in Britain.  I love it.  Of course I do.  But isn’t it, to any rational observer, a perfectly silly idea?   

  Anyone who has spent much time listening to the British radical left these days would no more expect them to coalesce than they would expect grace, humility and talent from Gary Barlow.  The latest rumble has been over Assange, Wikileaks, US imperialism and the rape allegations, which has produced more mutual distrust and resentment on the Left than I have seen for at least weeks.  The disagreement seems to be between those who think the rape accusations against Julian Assange have been politicised in order to facilitate his forward extradition to the US, and those who think Assange’s supporters have greatly exaggerated this risk in order to justify his refusal to go and face these allegations in Sweden.  

  This epic combat between imperialist stooges and rape apologists has made the disagreements over Syria look like frightfully civilized by comparison, and for sheer libidinised apoplectics almost approaches the clash of 'very principled positions' over Tommy Sheridan.  So, we’re going to have a Coalition of the Radical Left?  Are we not, to the contrary, fucked?  Have we not demonstrated that we are as weak and stalemated as the ruling class we oppose?

  There is, however, a potentially comforting straw in the wind.  After all, the Greek left is itself bitterly divided.  Although unity has often been achieved in concrete struggles among networks of activists, the political forces are far from unified.  This is a real handicap, but it has not prevented the emergence of Europe’s most promising radical left for more than three decades.  Part of the reason that Syriza, despite its limited social basis, has been able to project such strong support electorally is its ecumenical approach to the Left.  Although it has never succeeded in winning over the support of rivals such as the Greek communist party, it has sought to position itself as a ‘canopy’ for those forces to the left of social democracy.  And in the elections, it proposed a united government of the Left, with a resulting poll leap that astonished its leadership.  

  This suggests that if sections of the radical left can pull together and strike the right balance between heterogeneity and unity in action, the recalcitrance of other forces need not be a retardant to success.  In a situation where, across Europe, the traditional parties of reform and social democracy are breaking down, there will be unusual opportunities for those radical leftists who come correct.  They will be judged less by their proven social weight (in which terrain they can’t possibly hope to compete with social democracy), than by the seriousness of their intent and the ostensible practicality of their immediate proposals.  (Notice how I’m tactfully leaving aside the jarring differences in the level of organisation and militancy, the persistent, near-insurgent level industrial and social struggles in Greece versus the staggered, uncertain, numerically impressive but tactically cautious responses of the British trade union movement?  I’m just trying to protect you.)  

  But who on the British Left would be up for this?  And how would it be possible for us to overcome the accretions of suspicion and disdain from past disputes?  Even granting that I might be exaggerating these a bit, they do exist and they are an obstacle.  Perhaps part of the answer is to think anew about how we handle our differences.  Here I'm talking just about the level of political culture, not institutions.  Having been through several acrimonious moments, including the car crash that was the break-up of the Respect coalition, I think I have participated in enough sectarian bullshit and petty denunciations to know the dimensions of the problem we have here.  I think we have three related issues.  First, regardless of protestations to the contrary, we sometimes do treat difference as betrayal.  Second, we occasionally forget to subordinate divisions among ourselves to those in the wider society.  Third, for all that we are practical types, we often forget that our arguments should be oriented toward political action in some way.

   Let me take each of these in turn.  First, it’s clear that differences over concrete questions such as the Assange issue or Syria don’t necessarily reflect a logic of betrayal.  One’s interlocutor may not, in fact, be an imperialist stooge or a rape apologist.  There are plenty of both about, and posing the question of left unity always raises the sub-question: on what basis?  Surely not on the basis of keeping schtum when another leftist does or says something destructive?   Naturally, no.  There is no question of politeness in the face of attack.  But where there’s any doubt, it would be helpful to assume good faith.  Nor are the differences between leftists merely capricious.  Serious political differences reflect judgement calls based on specific historical experiences.  At a certain level, these questions are not resolved by logic or empirical data, but by what is commonly called ‘gut instinct’.  This just refers to the way in which people from different political traditions reflecting different experiences tend to solve questions whose answer is indeterminate.  

  The most interesting writing on both of the subjects I mentioned has been that which has tried, with different emphases, to transcend these specific experiences and point to the underlying unity of apparently counterposed priorities: democratic revolution vs. anti-imperialism; feminism vs. anti-imperialism.  The least interesting interventions have simply reproduced the polarising tendencies that are amplified through social media like Twitter, where snark and self-righteous sentiment-mongering is the currency of interaction.  (Imagine being stuck in a room with a bunch of intelligent people who nonetheless constantly trademark their mundane thoughts with a hash-tag, or over-value expressions such as ‘roflcopter’, ‘lmfao’, ‘wtaf’, ‘zomg’ and ‘step away from the internet’.  Then imagine they won’t shut up, ever.  Then imagine you’re one of those people.)  

  Second, it seems to me that the most destructive invective flying about on the Left has always been incredibly insular, insensible of how these arguments relate to the discussions taking place beyond the Left.  We should by no means be wary of giving the impression that we have substantial disagreements and lively debates.  Nor should we scruple to criticise our allies if need be.  But we should certainly avoid giving the impression that we’re paying no attention to what is going on around us, or that the outcome of internecine feuds actually matters more than the outcome of social and political struggles.  Finally, such venom is all too often not oriented toward doing or achieving anything concrete, but rather has to do with posturing, spectacle-positioning: we who are virtuous say ‘down with this sort of thing (careful now)’.  One way of testing for this is to ask what, concretely, mutual denunciations are supposed to achieve apart from mutual dissipation and disorganisation? Or, which of the contending 'very principled positions' are actually being advanced?  If the answer is, 'actually none', then there's possibly a problem.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Anders Behring Breivik and 21st Century Fascism posted by Richard Seymour

I contributed a chapter to the excellent ebook, On Utoya, which I strongly recommend you read and digest before taking the mainstream media too seriously on the Breivik verdict.  I have the editors' permission to post up a version of the article I wrote, making the case that Breivik signifies the emergence of a specifically 21st Century fascism.  What I'm posting here is the unedited, unexpurgated version, warts and all.

Breivik’s 21st Century Fascist Manifesto
Richard Seymour

Introduction: new model fascism
  2083: A European Declaration of Independence is the product of intense disillusionment.  Its author, the son of professional parents, a loser on the stock market and a failed businessman, resembles nothing so much as the “exasperated petty bourgeois” identified by Leon Trotsky[1] as the seed of Hitlerism.  Whence the exasperation of Anders Behring Breivik?  By his ‘own’ account[2], it arises from the moral and social decline of European nation-states in the post-war era.  A family from the 1950s that was able to visit a European city in the 2000s, he maintains, would encounter a landscape of crime, homosexuality and pornography.  “Were they able, our 1950s family would head back to the 1950s as fast as they could, with a gripping horror story to tell”.  (p 21)  The continent has somehow lost its “cultural self-confidence” (Breivik’s definition of nationalism, p 13), leading to an accommodation with Muslim immigrants who will have “demographically overwhelmed” Europe within “a few decades” if “a sufficient level of resistance is not developed”.  (p 17) 
  Breivik’s brief, as he sees it, is to anatomise the causes of Europe’s decline and vulnerability to Muslim takeover, and provide “patriots” with the information necessary to organise both political and military resistance.  2083 is a patchwork of polemic, autobiography, plagiarised materials, weapons instructions, military strategy, and historical excursions, most of it only loosely fitting together.  The resulting text is a manifesto for a peculiarly 21st Century form of fascism.  In saying this, I mean not merely that Breivik is advocating a violent rightist putsch, though he is.  Long sections deal with the use of weapons of mass destruction such as anthrax and nuclear bombs against “cultural Marxists” and other “Category A and B traitors” (pp 960-73), and the “systematical and organized executions of multiculturalist traitors” (p 1436).  Breivik specifies the strategic value of military targets in Europe by reference to their Muslim population, and urges priority assaults on left-wing political meetings, media outlets, Muslim gatherings, and so on.  But the attempt to take power through armed attacks on opponents is a classic feature of fascism.  What is distinctive here is the particular set of ideological articulations that make this a fascism far more adequate to 21st Century circumstances than the tenets of extant neo-Nazi groups.  It reminds us that fascism in the 2000s will not simply be a Third Reich re-enactment.
  In making this claim, I have to tread carefully.  The great historian of fascism and Vichy France, Robert Paxton, has argued that it is no accident that there is no Fascist Manifesto, as fascism possesses no coherent ideology or philosophical system.  Fascists have shared neither assumptions, nor enemies.  European fascists were often hostile to Christianity, for example, but this was not true of Franco or Petain.  Similarly, while fascists from the northwest and east of Europe directed their most deadly ire against Jews, Mediterranean fascists were far more conspicuous in their hostility to the Left and colonized peoples.  At the same time, fascists have rarely elaborated a programme and stuck to it.  Mussolini’s 1919 programme promised sweeping social change, from the eight hour day to workers' involvement in industrial management. The 'Twenty-Five Points' of the Nazis in 1920 boasted hostility to all forms of non-artisanal capitalism. In neither case did the programmes prefigure the regimes, both of which involved coalition with conservative elites.[3] 
  In general, the core ideas of fascism seem to differ little from those of reactionaries of other stripes, leaving it in doubt whether there can be a specifically fascist credo.  Arguably, what is distinctive about fascist ideas is less their substance than the contexts in which they are deployed.  Moreover, the historian Dave Renton has pointed out the difficulties arising from attempts to identify a fascist ideational core.  These tend to take the statements of fascists about themselves at face value, and as a consequence fail to anticipate the actual conduct of fascists when in power, and ultimately suffer from the same incoherence that fascist ideology itself suffers from.[4]
  Even so, much recent scholarship on fascism has been concerned, as the sociologist Michael Mann put it, to take fascist ideology seriously.  Mann describes fascism as a “movement of high ideals”, able to offer seemingly plausible solutions to social problems.  To ignore fascist beliefs, says Mann, is to view fascism “from outside”, and thus gain only a partial understanding of it.[5]  Indeed, taking fascist ideology seriously need not mean treating fascist self-descriptions uncritically.  For example, Breivik is by his own account a democrat, and an anti-fascist.  Taking this claim seriously entails understanding what it means in his world-view, not accepting it at face value.  Therefore, despite some reservations about Mann’s approach[6], we shall take his advice and consider in detail the specific articulation of ideas and actions commended by Breivik’s sprawling pronunciamento.
  As we will see, the burden of Breivik’s argument involves a recitation of standard reactionary complaints – multiculturalism, Islam, political correctness, leftists and the European Union all conspire to degrade the nation and abridge its sovereignty.  What makes these complaints into a fascist diatribe is their specific articulation.  The political theorist Ernesto Laclau argued that the character of an ideology is determined less by its specific contents than by its “articulating principle”.    None of the ideas of fascism are distinctive to it – this is why it has been called a “scavenger ideology”, appropriating dis-embedded elements from other ideological traditions.  These elements are capable of being appropriated because they possess “certain common nuclei of meaning,” which can be “connotatively linked to diverse ideological-articulatory domains”.  Yet, fascism is a distinctive ideology and behaviour.  And the “articulating principle” that quilts these heterogeneous elements is precisely that point at which ideology becomes practise: the call for a mass, extra-parliamentary movement of the right to take power through violence against opponents.[7]  At any rate, this is the approach I will now take in examining each element in Breivik’s doctrine.

Islamophobia: Muslims as the ‘Other’ of the nation
  The pressing threat to European nationhood in Breivik’s testimony, as we have seen, is the Muslim problem.  “Islam is NOT a race,” Breivik insists, so “patriots” should not “make this war about race or ethnicity.”  But his argument about racist language is strategic, rather than moral.  “You have to keep in mind,” he says, “that most people in Western Europe have been systematically indoctrinated for the last 4-5 decades. ... internal filters against these words [“race war”, “ZOG” and “kill all the Jews”] are all hardcoded into the base thought patterns of a majority of Europeans through decades of multiculturalist indoctrination”.  (pp 679-80)  Thus, the focus on Islam as the major enemy of the nation brings with it the convenience of allowing one to avoid politically toxic ‘race’ language.
  Yet, he does allow that a religious faith can be the basis for a cultural bloc, or civilization.  For example: “Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.”  It is for this reason that he seeks the preservation and strengthening of “the Church and European Christendom in general” by “awarding it more political influence”.  (p 1309)  Christianity is in this reading a potentially resistant cultural bloc underpinning European civilization; Islam is its Other.  Such civilizational, culturalist discourses have been validated by the ‘war on terror’, during which the ideas of Samuel Huntington and Robert Kaplan (both cited in Breivik’s text) enjoyed a spike in popularity.
  And if Islam is “not a race”, Breivik attributes to it essential characteristics which make it, in his words, “more than a religion”.  Citing the Serbian-American rightist, Serge Trifkovic, he argues that “Since its early beginning in Muhammad’s lifetime it has also been a geo political project and a system of government and a political ideology.”  Citing Robert Spencer, the founder of Jihad Watch, he finds that Islam is a “political and social system”.  And citing Walid Shoebat, a fraudulent ‘expert’ on Islam whose dubious finances and false claims to be a former PLO militant have been exposed on CNN, he discovers Islam to be a “form of government first, THEN a personal application”, an “imperialist system” that completely controls the lives of believers.  In the context of the ‘war on terror’, such thinking has gained a mass audience, and its logic ultimately leads to Geert Wilder’s assertion that Islam is a “cult” rather than a religion: a worldly, materialist social doctrine in devotional get-up. Thus, Breivik asserts that it is “a historical fact” that Islam has always been “an overtly militant and aggressive cult”.  (pp 109-10 & 151)
  Not only does Islam seek to achieve complete control over its believers in this view, but it also seeks to kill and enslave the non-believers.  Thus, again quoting Robert Spencer, 2083 warns: “we have very clear instructions from Muhammad that it is the responsibility of every Muslim to meet the unbelievers on the battlefield to invite them either to accept Islam or to accept second class Dhimmi status in the Islamic state.” (p 113)  Indeed, this is not just the view of right-wing hate-mongers, but also of liberal atheist writers such as Sam Harris, who maintains: “the basic thrust of the doctrine is undeniable: convert, subjugate, or kill unbelievers; kill apostates; and conquer the world”.[8]  It follows from this that it would be impossible to live alongside very many Muslims, without oneself suffering subjugation or death.  “As soon as Islam reaches a few percent [of the population],” Breivik asserts, “it begins to show signs of chauvinism which is the essence of any fascist, racist and imperialistic ideology.” (p 1404)  Thus, Islam is not merely a religion, but a cult, a complete totalitarian social and political doctrine, an imperialist ideology and ultimately “fascist”.  In this reading, Breivik would be the “anti-fascist”.
  Unsurprisingly, the mere physical presence of Muslims is considered a state of war.  Breivik alerts readers to the “demographic” situation, which has been “falsified by multiculturalists”.  “Europe is under siege by Islam. It is under demographical siege,” he explains.  By 2070, the age at which he expects his right-wing revolution to mature and begin to bear fruit, the Muslim population of the UK will have reached 38%.  In Norway, the figure will be identical.  In Germany, it will be 50%, and in France it will be 70%.  Russia, with a 72% Muslim population, will be the most ‘Islamified’.  (pp 575-6)  The resulting situation for those living in these countries will be one of ‘dhimmitude’, which Breivik translates as ‘slavery’.  In a passage excerpted from the Blogger ‘Fjordman’, 2083 explains: “all non-Muslims will live with a constant, internalised fear of saying or doing anything that could insult Muslims, which would immediately set off physical attacks against them and their children. This state of constant fear is called dhimmitude.”
  Breivik is not innovating here.  His culturalist racism has been the dominant form of racist reaction since Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech.  And his representation of Islam draws on a network of counter-jihadist websites and writers, from the Israeli website MEMRI to Jihadwatch, Little Green Footballs, Frontpagemag, and various right-wing pundits such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer (both co-founders of Stop the Islamization of America), Daniel Pipes, Bat Ye’or, Bernard Lewis, Samuel Huntington, and Martin Kramer.  Indeed, as with previous segments of the manifesto, some of these passages consist of material simply copied wholesale from The Weekly Standard, Frontpagemag and Islamophobic blogs.  But also striking is just how much he depends upon perfectly mainstream news outlets – not just Fox News, but the BBC, for example.  His ruminations about the demographics of Islam in Europe are redolent not of Nazi pamphlets but of mainstream conservative writers such as Mark Steyn and Christopher Caldwell.  This adverts to a problem with the mainstream media’s coverage of Islam, which has been more than adequately documented elsewhere.[9] 
  Racism toward Muslims, resting as it does on essentialist stereotyping about a diverse population practising diverse interpretations (or none at all) of Islam, has been normalised by the ‘war on terror’.  But if the global situation thus ordained since 2001 has identified Islam as the Other of the West, with the far right capitalising heavily on this shift, this has had ramifications regarding fascist enunciations of another, kindred form of racism.

Antisemitism: the National Jew vs the International Jew
  A common trope in anti-Semitic ideology plays the ‘good Jew’ off against the ‘bad Jew’.  So it is with Breivik who re-states in his own language a distinction notoriously made by Winston Churchill, between the ‘National Jew’ and the ‘International Jew’.  In a 1920 article, ‘Zionism vs Bolshevism: A struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People’, Churchill had explained the difference between “Good and Bad Jews”. The good Jews were those ‘National Jews’ who, while practising their faith, exhibited undivided loyalty to their nation of habitat.  In contrast, the ‘International Jew’ who showed no such fidelity, or was disloyal, or revolutionary, was a bad Jew.  For Churchill, Zionism was to be endorsed, as the creation of a “Jewish homeland” in British Mandate Palestine would serve the interests of both Jews and the British Empire, and siphon Jewish energies away from revolutionary projects.
  So it is for Breivik, who distinguishes between “loyal” and “disloyal” Jews.  The former are Zionists, and thus nationalists, the latter anti-Zionists and cultural Marxists.  In this respect, he poses the question of whether Hitler’s anti-Semitism was rational:
“Were the majority of the German and European Jews disloyal? Yes, at least the so called liberal Jews, similar to the liberal Jews today that opposes nationalism/Zionism and supports multiculturalism. Jews that support multiculturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism (Israeli nationalism) as they are to us. So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists. Conservative Jews were loyal to Europe and should have been rewarded. Instead, [Hitler] just targeted them all.” (p 1167)
  Breivik’s objection to Hitler, then, is that he was indiscriminate in his punishment of Jewish disloyalty, when only “the majority” were disloyal.  The implication is that only the latter should have been “targeted”.  This is not so much Holocaust denial, as Holocaust affirmation.  And in Breivik’s treatment, even loyal Jews are better disposed of in some far away land:
“[Hitler] could have easily worked out an agreement with the UK and France to liberate the ancient Jewish Christian lands with the purpose of giving the Jews back their ancestral lands ... The UK and France would perhaps even contribute to such a campaign in an effort to support European reconciliation. The deportation of the Jews from Germany wouldn't be popular but eventually, the Jewish people would regard Hitler as a hero because he returned the Holy land to them.”  (p 1167)
The second principle objection to Hitler, then, is that he did not simply ethnically cleanse the Jews from Germany in the cause of Zionism.  For Breivik is fanatically pro-Zionist, seeing in them the ‘good Jews’ that nationalists can work with.  While most, approximately 75% of European and American Jews are “disloyal” today - being “multiculturalist (nation-wrecking) Jews” – only 50% of Israeli Jews are “disloyal”.  This “shows very clearly that we must embrace the remaining loyal Jews as brothers rather than repeating the mistake of the NSDAP.”  This is a vital strategic point for Breivik, who maintains that in Western Europe, only the UK and France have a “Jewish problem” – in contrast to the US which, due to its relatively high Jewish population, “actually has a very considerable Jewish problem”.  (p 1167) 
  Breivik’s embrace of Zionism puts him at odds with many fascists and neo-Nazis, but he is not out on a limb among his fraternity.  For several years now, far right groups in Europe have been gravitating toward a pro-Israel position.  Geert Wilders, though not a fascist, represents a strain of radical right opinion that is pro-Israel.  Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean Marie Le Pen and leader of the fascist Front National (FN) in France, argues that the FN has always been “Zionistic”.  The BNP’s legal officer, Lee Barnes, gave full-throated supported to Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon: “I support Israel 100% in their dispute with Hezbollah ... I hope they wipe Hezbollah off the Lebanese map and bomb them until they leave large greasy craters in the cities where their Islamic extremist cantons of terror once stood.”  The BNP declared itself “prudently” on Israel’s side, for reasons of “national interest”: Israel was part of a “Western, if not European” civilization whose opponents were “trying to conquer the world and subject it to their religion”.  An article on the BNP’s website explained that the party had cast off “the leg-irons of conspiracy theories and the thinly veiled anti-Semitism which has held this party back for two decades”.[10] 
  This realignment reflects a geopolitical reality in which the ‘war on terror’ has revived colonial discourses and designated Islam as the eternal Other of the ‘West’.  In this situation, Israel is seen as an ally against the Muslim peril.  Thus, it is quite logical that anti-Semitism should take the form of embracing the ‘good Jew’, and Zionism.[11]  Yet history, and the thrust of Breivik’s argument, suggests that even the ‘good Jew’ would not be safe from a reconstituted European fascism.

Capitalist globalism and Eurabia
  The predominant theme of Breivik’s manifesto, as with most fascist texts, is the over-riding importance of the nation-state.  This does not mean support for the existing state authorities.  As he puts it: “we CANNOT and should not trust that our police forces and military act in our interest now or in the future. Both our police forces and military are lead by the multiculturalist traitors we wish to defeat.” (p 1240)  Thus, an extra-parliamentary movement is needed to recapture the state apparatus, and restore the nation-state’s standing.  But what has so enfeebled the European national state?
  If the immediate danger for Breivik is the presence of Muslims, this is merely a symptom of a much larger problem internal to European societies.  Two major enemies combine in Breivik’s purview.  The first is the capitalist globaliser, driven by greed, and the second is the “cultural Marxist”, driven by hate.  We shall deal with an example of the first here.  Like most on the European hard right, Breivik is an opponent of the EU.  He draws on the analysis of the British ‘Eurosceptics’, Christopher Booker and Richard North, to argue that it is at root a project aimed at creating a tyrannical multinational state, inspired by the USSR (hence, “the EUSSR totalitarian system”, p 1384) and driven by France.  The idea is that France is, in pursuit of continental dominance and in great power rivalry with the Anglo-American axis has sought to suppress national sovereignty in the interests of a Greater France.   (pp 294-5) 
  Worse, however, is that this is bound up with the aim of pursuing a pro-Arab foreign policy.  And this is where ‘Eurabia’ comes in.  Bat Ye’or, one of Breivik’s muses, and the author of the ‘Eurabia’ thesis, is credited with explaining how “French President Charles de Gaulle, disappointed by the loss of the French colonies in Africa and the Middle East as well as with France's waning influence in the international arena, decided in the 1960's to create a strategic alliance with the Arab and Muslim world to compete with the dominance of the United States and the Soviet Union.”  The result was Eurabia, a political-cultural entity bound by markets and migration, turning the Mediterranean into “a Euro-Arab inland sea by favouring Muslim immigration and promoting multiculturalism with a strong Islamic presence in Europe.” (p 289)
  In fact, Breivik goes further.  Citing newspapers such as the British Daily Express (the most right-wing of UK tabloids), he asserts that the EU has decided that “the Union should be enlarged to include the Muslim Middle East and North Africa ... has accepted that tens of millions of immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries in northern Africa should be allowed to settle in Europe in the years ahead ... is planning to implement sharia laws for the millions of Muslims it is inviting to settle in Europe ... [T]he EU is formally surrendering an entire continent to Islam while destroying established national cultures... This constitutes the greatest organised betrayal in Western history, perhaps in human history”. (p 318)
  Like fascists past and present, Breivik has no objection to the profit system.  He is himself someone who has invested in the stock market, and set up two private businesses.  What he objects to is an effect of capitalism, which is its tendency to break out of the bounds of the national state and to transport cultural, religious and political trends with it.  What he wants is the impossible: a ‘national’ capitalism, subordinate to the imputed cultural, spiritual and material needs of ‘the nation’.

Anticommunism: Against the Marxist Tyranny
  The 2083 manifesto pivots on anticommunism, in an era where actual communism is thin on the ground.  Most of Breivik’s reflections on what communism is are unremarkable, if fanciful.  For example, he calls upon the liberal political economist Friedrich Hayek and the conservative tobacco salesman Roger Scruton to explain the appeal and thematics of socialist ideology (a totalitarian doctrine, based on wrong theories, attractive to wrong-headed intellectuals).  (pp. 63-4)  It is rather when he explains the role of communists in the betrayal of the nation that things become interesting.  For, as Markha Valenta has put, Breivik “hates the left even more than he fears Islam”.[12]  The text of 2083 begins not with Muslims, the EU, or weapons advice, but rather with an extended soliloquy (not, as noted above, written by Breivik) on the influence of “cultural Marxists” in upholding “multiculturalism” and “Political Correctness”.  The burden of the argument is as follows:
  Multiculturalism is what results when the doctrine of Marxism is transposed from economic class struggle to culture.  As a result of the failure of socialist revolutions to spread through Europe in the post-WWI situation, Marxist theorists such as Antonio Gramsci and Georgy Lukacs attempted to locate the source of the obstacle in the failure of Marxists to win cultural battles.  For Gramsci, the winning of such battles meant creating a new ‘communist man’ who would be the ideal subject for a socialist state.  But to win the culture wars meant “a long march through the society’s institutions, including the government, the judiciary, the military, the schools and the media”.  In short, it meant taking hold of the levers of power.
  Later, this mode of analysis was combined with Freud, in the Frankfurt school, and then linguistic theory, to become ‘deconstruction’.  ‘Deconstruction’ exists to prove that any and all texts discriminate against minorities, and has had a powerful effect on educational theory, helping produce the doctrine of ‘Political Correctness’.  This in turn works to control language, thus thought.  Cultural Marxists, wherever they obtain power, expropriate white European males just as much as communist regimes expropriated the bourgeoisie, both on behalf of defined victims –  whether peasants and workers, or Muslims and minorities. (pp 21-3)  In this way, cultural Marxists have quietly formed a treasonous power bloc within the state that is: “anti-God, anti-Christian, anti-family, anti-nationalist, anti-patriot, anti conservative, anti-hereditarian, anti-ethnocentric, anti-masculine, anti-tradition, and anti-morality”. (p 38)
  It is not just on questions of race and culture that the white European male is persecuted.  Modern feminism is also, owing to its Marxist roots, “totalitarian”.  As a result, it is producing a “feminisation” of society and of men.  Breivik regards Adorno’s theory of the “authoritarian personality” as the key weapon in the feminist arsenal, devised for “psychological warfare against the European male”, making him unwilling to defend his traditional gender role. (p 37) 
  An important upshot of this is that ‘Political Correctness’ stifles the unpalatable truth about important subjects.  Breivik cannot say “an evil, retarded and supremacist death-cult that refuses to afford women and unbelievers respect and the most basic of human rights” without being “smeared as an ‘Islamophobe’”.  Nor can he say “Whites are generally more intelligent and creative than blacks and have, throughout human history, solved the problems presented to the human race by Mother nature far more effectively than blacks have” without being “vilified as a racist”.  No dissent from “the childish Liberal fantasy of equality” is possible.  In so altering people’s conscious, the cultural Marxists have inflicted a “mental illness”, and one that only affects “the people of the white race as other races and cultures know full well the entirely natural order of inequality.”  (pp 400-1) 
  The white European male, then, is a pitiable figure, not only expropriated, oppressed and feminised, but also prevented from speaking of it by the Marxist dictatorship: “we, the cultural conservatives of Europe, have become slaves under an oppressive, tyrannical, extreme left-wing system with absolutely no hope of reversing the damage they have caused. At least not democratically”. (p 799)
  It is not necessary to ponder the absurdities, fictions and paranoia of this analysis, taken from a Free Congress Foundation pamphlet.  It is sufficient to note what it means to believe such things.  The idea of the communist as conspirer and traitor to the nation has been a mainstay of fascist polemic since its inception.  For Mussolini, international socialism of the kind advocated by the anti-war Zimmerwald Left during WWI was a “German weapon” of war, a “German invention”.  For Hitler, communist treason was Jewish treason, placing the German masses “exclusively at the service of international Marxism in the Jewish and Stock Exchange parties”.  And while Austrian fascists vituperated against “Judeo-Bolshevism” and the “aliens” and “traitors” who defiled the nation, the leader of the Romanian Iron Guard Alexandru Contacuzino excoriated communism for being “harmful to the essence of Romania and to the national life”.[13]  Their answer was to use terror against the Left.  Breivik’s answer was to bomb government buildings in Oslo, then descend on a Labour Party youth camp on the island of Utøya and gun down 69 unarmed children.

Fascism: organising the counter-revolution
“We, the free indigenous peoples of Europe, hereby declare a pre-emptive war on all cultural Marxist/multiculturalist elites of Western Europe.” (p 812)
  Anders Breivik is not a Nazi.  His manifesto makes it clear that he would be “offended” to be called a Nazi, and that he “hates” Adolf Hitler.  This is because he considers Hitler a “a traitor to the Germanic and all European tribes”, whose “crazed effort for world domination” was “reckless”.  The Nazis “knew perfectly well what the consequences would be for their tribes if they lost, yet they went ahead and completed the job ... And people like myself, and other cultural conservative leaders of today, are still suffering under this propaganda campaign because of that one man.”  (pp 1166-7)  Breivik hates the Nazis, then, primarily because the Nazis made things difficult for people like him.  His objection would be moot were it possible for the Nazis to have won.
  Perhaps it would not be pressing the point too far to say that, on balance, Breivik has more in common with the Nazis than separates him from them.  Indeed, he is sympathetic to present-day Nazis, believing that they are “fellow patriots” and that “90% of the individuals who uses [sic] Neonazi/fascist symbols are not real national socialists. They are only extremely frustrated individuals who have been demonised and ridiculed for too long by the establishment.”  (p 1239)  That said, the fascist agenda that he has outlined does differ in several respects from that of historical fascism.  This is because the context, especially the geopolitical context, is radically different.  Fascism initially arose amid a crisis of liberal capitalism, a wave of revolutionary socialist insurrection, economic turmoil, and the first signs of the decline of European empires and the ascent of the United States.  In a colonial world, characterised by inter-imperialist rivalries, it was still possible to envision solving the nation’s productive problems through territorial expansion – be it the “proletarian nation” grabbing its fair share of the colonies, or the Third Reich reaching for Lebensraum.  In a post-colonial era, far right activism has centred on a defensive white nationalism.  So it is with Breivik.
  Not that Breivik is opposed to imperialism.  His appraisal of colonialism is largely positive, and his objection to the ‘war on terror’ is strategic.  It is impossible to bring democracy to Muslim countries such as Iraq, so “we should shift from a pro-democracy offensive to an anti-sharia defensive.”  We should “talk straight about who the enemy is”.  The real war coming is not this politically correct “war on terror”, but “World War IV”. (pp 524 & 572)  Still, having purified the nation, he wants to batten down its hatches rather than risk any potentially compromising encounters with nefarious aliens: “The best way to deal with the Islamic world is to have as little to do with it as possible.”  (p 338) 
  Similarly, interwar fascists had a steady stream of recruits among young, idealistic men socialised in institutions which moralised violence (such as the army).  They filled up paramilitary units such as the squadristi and freikorps, where non-fascist recruits could be hardened into fascist cadres, through comradeship and ‘knocking heads together’.  Since WWII, mass recruitment for such activities has been an endemic problem for the far right.  This has left fascists with two options.  The first is to seek respectability through parliamentary campaigns, shedding explicit references to fascist or white supremacist language and demonstrating their fitness to govern.  This is problematic for fascists, for whom control of the streets is more important than control of the council chamber.  The alternative is to find substitutes in existing gangs with a culture of violence and nationalism.  The infiltration of football gangs by the National Front in 1970s and 1980s is an example of this.  Today’s English Defence League (EDL), in which organised fascists lead mobs of racist football hooligans in targeted street campaigns is another.  In practise, many fascist organisations have tried to maintain both strategies concurrently.
  Breivik attempts a hybrid of these strategies.  While declaring that democratic struggle is otiose, he is embryonically aware of the need to engage in hegemonic battles, shedding the stigma of the Third Reich.  As he puts it: “Copy your enemies, learn from the professionals”.  The “cultural Marxists” whose dominance “cultural conservatives” bridle under have effectively concealed “their true political intentions by claiming to be driven by humanist principles”.  Thus, while “cultural Marxists” exert dominance through front organisations supporting human rights, feminism or environmentalism, so “cultural conservatives” should embrace front tactics based on alliances “against Muslim extremism”, “against Jihad”, “for free speech”, and for human and civil rights. (pp 1241-2) 
  Intriguingly, Breivik credits the “British EDL” for being “the first youth organisation that has finally understood this. Sure, in the beginning it was the occasional egg heads who shouted racist slogans and did Nazi salutes but these individuals were kicked out. An organisation such as the EDL has the moral high ground and can easily justify their political standpoints as they publicly oppose racism and authoritarianism.” He goes on to urge “conservative intellectuals” to support the EDL and “help them on the right ideological path. And to ensure that they continue to reject criminal, racist and totalitarian doctrines.” (pp 1242-3)  We do not need to take Breivik’s descriptions of the EDL at face value, any more than we accept his idiosyncratic understanding of what constitutes racism.  It is sensible to assume that he is aware of the EDL’s record as a violent street gang, and that no “individuals were kicked out” of the EDL for Nazi salutes or racist slogans.  But it is two features of the EDL that he particularly values: what he perceives as their ability to gain favourable media coverage, and polarise opinion; and their loose model of street organization which “is the only way to avoid paralyzing scrutiny and persecution”. (pp 1243 & 1255)
    The key to his argument, however, is that “patriots” must begin preparing for an armed insurgency.  The moral and political argument for armed struggle is that multiculturalism, “like drugs”, has already destroyed “the heart and fabric” of the nation, such that its subjects “possess no potential for resistance”.  As such, it is not “remotely possible” that a “conservative, monocultural party will ever gain substantial political influence”. “The cultural Marxists have institutionalised multiculturalism and have no intention of ever allowing us to exercise any political influence of significance.... It is ... lethal to waste another five decades on meaningless dialogue while we are continuously losing our demographical advantage” (pp 802-3) As such, “armed struggle is the only rational approach”.  (p 812)
  This insurgency must attack the “category A and B traitors” (Marxists, “suicidal humanists”, “capitalist globalists”, etc), first and foremost, rather than Muslims whose presence Breivik deems to be a symptom rather than the source of the problem.  “We will focus on the Muslims AFTER we have seized political and military control. At that point, we will start deportation campaigns.”  (pp 1255-6)  This is not to say that Muslims cannot be singled out.  Numerous targets are suggested because of a high Muslim population, or because they constitute a major Muslim gathering.  But the priority is to assault “cultural Marxists” and what he regards as the centre-left establishment.  A key section on weapons of mass destruction is headed: “Obtaining and using WMD’s against the cultural Marxist/multiculturalist elites”.  It proceeds to outline ways of obtaining or cultivating anthrax, procuring deadly pathogens, and gaining access to chemical agents.  2083 does not envision “cultural conservatives” getting hold of small nuclear devices until the later days of the insurrection, between 2030 and 2070 – but this is no reason not to think ahead, and the manifesto describes scenarios for their acquisition and use. (pp 960-73)
  Breivik envisions a three-staged civil war in Europe, characterised at first by clandestine cells using “military shock attacks”, followed by a phase of more advanced resistance movements and preparations for “pan-European coup d’états, and finally a period of coups, repression, the defeat of “Cultural Communism”, and the deportation of Muslims.  By 2083, 400 years after the ‘Battle of Vienna’ between the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire, the revolution is to be victorious. (p 813)  Once the revolution is successful, there is to be a transitional phase of dictatorship in which a “patriotic tribunal” will ensure that nationalist-minded individuals are placed in prominent positions in the security forces, and the media, all public offices, publishing outfits, and schools.  It will choose a new “birth policy”, and social structures will go from being “matriarchies to once again becoming patriarchies”.  It will organise the execution of “all category A and B traitors who continue to oppose us”.  This will be followed by a shift away from “mass democracy” to “administered democracy”.  “Mass democracy does not work,” Breivik asserts, “as has been proven.”  It must be replaced by constitutional monarchies and republics.  The tribunal will continue to act as a guardian council to ensure that the nation is inoculated against renewed Marxist infiltration, that the fertility rate is kept to an acceptable level, and that “the suicidal humanists and capitalist globalists do not misuse their influence”.  (pp 795-801 & 1325)
 This sinister augury, supplying – Nostradamus-like – a detailed prospectus of events, many of which the author of these prognoses would not live to see, is of a piece with classical fascist millenarianism.  The European “tribes” are endowed with a destiny, an apocalyptic final reckoning, out of which is to come national redemption.  It is this which, in part, was responsible for the perpetual radicalisation of the Nazi regime.  It was ultimately this which informed Hitler’s decision to provoke a Europe-wide war in a situation in which he was very unlikely to win.  It was this which led to his turning on Stalin and attempting to enslave Russia, despite this adding an impossible dimension to his war.  And it was this which culminated in auto-obliteration as Nazi planes were sent back to bomb German cities to prevent their capture by Allied forces.[14]  The culmination of fascism is not dictatorship; it is catastrophe.

  Breivik’s 2083 is a fascist manifesto not because it apes the language of fuhrers and duces past, but because it has absorbed the elements of contemporary reactionary discourse and articulated them in an agenda of mass rightist insurrection.  He has eschewed many of the obsessions and talking points of much white supremacist discourse, which has been concerned with reviving the prospects of fascism by restoring the reputation of the Nazi regime.  He does not need Holocaust denial to articulate his agenda, any more than he needs the hard biological racism of the colonial period to express his supremacism.  His vituperations about ‘cultural Marxism’ have, by placing crypto-communists in senior positions of authority, provided the conspiracy that he needs to explain the nation’s parlous circumstances.  The nefarious ‘Jew’ of anti-Semitic discourse is not rejected, but is qualified, allied to a Zionist posture, and is at any rate secondary to his wider schema. 
  There are other respects in which Breivik’s manifesto is very different from classical fascist discourse.  For example, there is nothing about trade unions, very little about traditional revolutionary socialism, and also nothing on the global economic crisis, in 2083.  It is hard to imagine a Mein Kampf without some reference to the trade unions, to winning the German workers from the reds, and so on.  To put it another way, there is very little that is specifically addressed to the problems of the working class, or even the insecure petty bourgeoisie.  Unlike most fascist parties and intellectuals in Europe, Breivik has no orientation toward winning over masses.  In politics, he worked as part of a milieu, but ultimately set out to make his most significant contribution to the fascist struggle on his own.  Yet, Breivik aspires to trigger a mass movement, even if he does not attempt to offer plausible solutions to popular problems.  And in defining a ‘revolutionary’ rightist creed that is more informed by this conjuncture than the interwar period, 2083 outlines some of the contours of what we can expect from fascist movements of the future.

[1] Leon Trotsky, The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany, Pathfinder Press, 1971, p. 399
[2] In fact, this section of Breivik’s text is lifted, word for word, from William S. Lind, ed., “Political Correctness:” A Short History of an Ideology, Free Congress Foundation, November 2004 .  Indeed, much of the remainder of the text is lifted, without credit, from numerous sources such as the Unabomber’s manifesto, and a Norwegian blogger known as ‘Fjordman’.  See "Dette er terroristens store politiske forbilde – nyheter",, 25 July 2011 ; ‘Massedrapsmannen kopierte "Unabomberen" ord for ord’,, 24 July 2011 This fact explains some of the oddities of Breivik’s manifesto, which we will return to.
[3] See Robert O Paxton, 'The Five Stages of Fascism', The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 70, March 1998; Robert O Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, Penguin Books, 2004; and Michael R Marrus & Robert O Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews, Stanford University Press, 1981
[4] Dave Renton, Fascism: Theory and Practice, Pluto Press, 1999, pp. 18-29
[5] See Michael Mann, Fascists, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 2-3 & 21
[6] For a fine critical review of Mann, see Dylan Riley, ‘Enigmas of Fascism’, New Left Review 30, November-December 2004
[7] Ernesto Laclau, Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory: Capitalism - Fascism - Populism, NLB, 1977, pp. 160-2.  Strictly speaking, Laclau’s point concerned the ‘class connotation’ of an ideology, but the argument works as well in this context.
[8] Sam Harris, ‘Bombing Our Illusions’,, 10 October 2005
[9] See, for example, Elizabeth Poole, ed., Reporting Islam: media representations of British Muslims, IB Tauris, 2002; and Julian Petley & Robin Richardson, Pointing the Finger: Islam and Muslims in the British Media, Oneworld Publications, 2011
[10] Michelle Goldberg, ‘The Norway Shooter’s Zionist Streak’, Daily Beast, 25 July 2011; Geoff Brown, ‘Why Muslims are the BNP’s Current Target’, Morning Star, 20 September 2006
[11] There are also historical precedents.  Mussolini, though personally anti-Semitic, was not averse to the claims of Zionism, particularly its Revisionist right-wing.  After 1925, he offered to put the Fascist state at the service of Zionist colonization, calculating that it would weaken the British.  Hitler was much more hostile to the Zionist project.  While he gleefully pointed out that Zionism was an admission that the Jews were “a foreign people”, he maintained that Jews were incapable of state-building, and at any rate were only interested in Palestine so that they could create a centre for criminal conspiracy, outwith “the seizure of others”.  Nonetheless, the Third Reich was quite willing to make population transfer and trading agreements with the Zionist leadership.  See Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, 1983, reproduced at the Marxists Internet Archive: ; Francis R Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, Transaction Books, 2000
[12] Markha Valenta, ‘Breivik: killing the left’, Open Democracy, 31 August 2011
[13] Paul O’ Brien, Mussolini in the First World War: The Journalist, The Soldier, The Fascist, Berg, 2005, p. 173; Michael Mann, Fascists, Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 235; Roger Griffin, Fascism, Totalitarianism and Political Religion, Routledge, 2005, p. 154
[14] On Hitler’s calamitous decision, see Adam Tooze, The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy, Penguin, 2007

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