Jacob Heilbrunn

Europe's "Cultural Suicide": the Norway Shootings

The bombing and massacre in Norway, like most such cases, are triggering an attempt to understand what lay behind them. Sometimes nothing more than sheer insanity is the explanation. But in this instance,  Anders Behrin Breivik, who has confessed to the bombing of government offices and shootings, apparently left behind a manifesto decrying the "cultural suicide" of Europe. Apparently he also saw the writings of the Unabomber as an inspiration.

It's an old lament, one that evokes Europe's fall at the hands of the barbarians. Does he invoke Charles Martel battling on behalf of Christendom as well? It's become a constituent part of European mytthology to evoke the Muslim threat. For decades magazines on the right have sought to uphold the idea of European blood and soil, to fan an old toxic nationalism back into life.

Here is what the Los Angeles Times reports about Breivik, who liked to haunt internet sites that touted his kind of thinking:

The chilling manifesto advocates an armed campaign against the Muslims it says are overrunning Europe. A hate-filled brew of political, ideological and militaristic cant, the treatise denounces Europeans who support multiculturalism and argues for spectacular violence using tactics similar to those seen Friday, such as adopting a police disguise to fool victims before killing them.

In his synoptic survey of the European right, the scholar Ian Kershaw concluded in the National Interest that perhaps the right could make a comeback if economic conditions became dire enough in Europe. Already far-right parties are making a comeback in countries such as Austria, where the Freedom Party, which has always served as a gathering point for former Nazis, could form the next government. So it isn't just the Scandinavian countries that are redoubts of the far right. Interestingly, Germany is the one place where the far right does not seem to have much of a toehold. The right is simply taboo. There is a party called die Linke, or the Left, but no party called die Rechte, or the Right, exists. But all around Germnay the right appears to be experiencing an upsurge in popularity. It would be no small irony if Germany ends up an island of tolerance in the midst of a sea of anger at Muslims.

But a specter is now haunting Europe—the specter of a revived right that is ready to practice violence against an allegedly pusillanimous establishment that refuses to tackle the issue of Muslim immigration. Islamic terrorists, in their Leninist mindset, will welcome any intensification of  the battle. They want to inflame the continent. So Europe, already in rough shape, may be in for even rougher times.

Image by Anders Behrin Breivik