Some in the media have leapt to identifying Anders Breivick’s ideology as “libertarian,” and as a Norwegian branch of the Tea Party. In truth, Breivick should be described as an anarchist. Anarchism is not the same thing as libertarianism. Libertarianism aims to maximize every individual’s potential for advancement, mainly (but not exclusively) through economic success. Anarchism, by contrast, is a purely anti-nomian impulse fueled by a wish to destroy the existing order.
Most tellingly, historically speaking, while libertarianism seeks to maximize individual liberty within a constitutional democracy, the fulfillment of anarchism is never a regime that enhances individual liberty, but instead a collectivist political and social order. It encourages individual violence in the present only to usher in this new order where liberty will be crushed. Thus, Bakhunin’s Anarchism led to Lenin’s Bolshevism. Early Nazi defector Walter Rauschning observed that the Nazis totally conscripted the anarchist movement in Germany. Libertarians want to build sky-scrapers. Anarchists want to blow them up.
Clearly this is also Breivick’s vision. Despite a superficial admiration for the Tea Party and other libertarian movements, his rambling 1500 page manifesto displays little interest in economic free enterprise or in individualism of any kind. The latter he interprets more as the decadence that has allowed “cultural Marxism” and “multi-culturalism” to to take over. His vision for the future is fascistic. Like the earlier fascist movements of the 1920s and 30s, he is not strictly speaking a mere nationalist (his own country and victim, Norway, does not even appear on his list of important sites for the coming revolution). Instead, he sees himself as “Pan-European,” the term of choice among many neo-Nazi and neo-Fascist movements throughout Europe. He wants an authoritarian and patriarchal order where social discipline and cohesion are restored. Like the earlier fascists, he is an admirer of blood and soil ethnic tribalism — hence his sympathy for the Serbs in their wish to exclude Muslims from their homeland and his criticism of the NATO operation to help the Muslims. The seemingly paradoxical combination of the blood and soil nationalism of autochthonous peoples with the universal appeal of pan-Europeanism goes back to the Fascist “international” of the 1940′s, where the SS, for instance, recruited from “Aryan” peoples all over Europe. The fascist vision for Europe, then and now, is of a kind of imperial league of autochthonous and rooted “peoples” at the same time knit together in monolithical totalitarian unity. Breivik terms it a “national and pan-European patriotic resistance movement.”
Speaking of Breivick’s championing of Serbian Slavic nationalism, I detect echoes in his views of the leading Russian “Eurasianist” ideologue Aleksandr Dugin, in many ways the hidden king of the new fascism in Europe as well as Russia. Breivick dreams of a “conservative revolution” for Europe, echoing Dugin’s call for a “revolution of archaic values.” Dugin wants Russia to return to its pre-modern “Eurasian” heritage of Slavic wholeness, echoing a standard motiff in European fascism, the longing for a fantasy version of the Middle Ages, to be found in the writings of Nazi ideologues like Goebbels and Himmler and in the Volkish writings of Heidegger in favour of the Third Reich. Breivick’s fascination with the “Knights Templar” and his fantasy of himself as a “commander” of that order recalls Himmler’s fantasies about the SS being the new incarnation of the “Teutonic Knights” of east Prussia. Common to both is the vision of a brotherhood of warriors making a stand for Europe against the hordes of the East.
Much is being made of Breivick’s “pro-Israel” stance in contrast with his hatred of Muslims. But, just as he is not a genuine libertarian, neither is he a genuine Zionist. On closer inspection, his pro-Israel stance is a version of fascist philo-Semitism. This is brought out by his strange remarks, reported in the Jerusalem Post, that the Jews of pre-war (meaning WW II) Europe had been “disloyal to Germany,” just as leftist, multi-culti Jews in Europe are disloyal to Europe today. Zionism, in his view, disabused the Israelis of those leftist illusions and spurred them to create Israel in the face of relentless centuries of Muslim persecution. Several things stand out here. First, he appears to endorse the preposterous view that Nazi Germany’s treatment of the Jews was somehow warranted by their “disloyalty” to Germany, whereas, of course, Nazi Germany wanted to exterminate the Jews as a race regardless of their views, including everyone from Communists to holders of the Iron Cross, throne-and-altar conservatives and third generation Christian converts. While it is true that Jews were persecuted by some Muslim regimes or rulers for long periods, to downplay Nazi persecution in his account of why Israel came into being is a striking omission.
I believe that Breivick’s professed admiration for Israel is for an Israel that is precisely the embodiment of the kind of intransigent and homogeneous authoritarianism that he would like to see in Europe, the same kind of regime to which pre-war Jews were “disloyal” in Germany — certainly not the real Israel which, in its political diversity, includes many who embrace precisely the left-leaning views that he excoriates in Europe, and whose citizens have suffered mightily at the hands of Breivick’s mirror-image opposite counterparts in Jihadist terrorist movements. A weird kind of philo-Semitism was always a component of the earlier fascism. Hitler, Goebbels and Eichmann admired the Jews in an odd way because they attributed to them precisely the qualities of a master race to which they aspired themselves. Eichmann at one time even flirted with encouraging them to emigrate to their own new country. But this is not a healthy form of being in favour of Israel, and the same goes for Breivick’s alleged pro-Zionism.
Waller R. Newell is currently writing a book about the diffrerences between ancient and modern tyranny for Cambridge University Press. His previous books include What is a Man? 3000 Years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue, The Code of Man: Love, Courage, Pride, Family, Country and The Soul of a Leader: Character, Conviction and Ten Lessons in Political Greatness (Harper Collins).