The world that created Breivik

August 2, 2011

ANDERS BEHRING Breivik was born in London the year that Margaret Thatcher became British prime minister and one year before Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency of the U.S.

He was 11 years old when the U.S. and U.K. led the charge into Kuwait in the first serially televised war, the war in the Persian Gulf (dubbed "Operation Desert Storm" by the U.S. military).

The 1980s in the U.S. and England were marked by the rise of radical neo-conservatism, attacks on trade unions (Reagan fired the air traffic controllers; Thatcher went to war with British miners; Rupert Murdoch destroyed the print unions at Wapping) and the so-called "culture wars" in which feminists, people of color, gays and lesbians were targeted as the "welfare queens" dragging down capitalism's otherwise unearthly ascent.

In the meantime, "Operation Desert Storm" became a hugely successful video game, Sadaam Hussein became temporarily America's best friend as it began its so-called "war on terror," and Anders Breivik spent lonely teenager hours playing World of Warcraft before graduating to study the writings of American Islamphobe Robert Spencer, author of, among other books, The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion.

In 2001, the American Twin Towers went down in flames, George W. Bush evoked a "crusade" against Islam, and, in addition to the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. went to war again in the Middle East--this time in Iraq.

Since 2001, led by the assistance successive British governments, the U.S. has waged war on or military actions in at least four countries with large Islamic populations: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The U.S. and Britain have also backed successive right-wing Israeli governments as they have pushed Palestinians further off their land--standing idly by in December 2008 when Israel slaughtered more than a 1,000 innocent Palestinians in a bombing campaign in Gaza.

Meanwhile Bush and Blair continued the neoliberal policies of Reagan and Thatcher: undermining labor, cutting taxes for the rich, promoting privatization, and deploying an apocalyptic rhetoric--"You are either with us or against us"--to defend their stance of free trade, anglo-hegemony, and the increasing militarization of the West in a real and cultural war deemed by American right-wing ideologue Benjamin Barber "Jihad Vs. McWorld."

ANDERS BREIVIK is, in every way, a child of this world. A would-be computer entrepreneur; a lover of simulated wars; a lay imperial historian of Islam's role in world history; a man who shoots first and asks questions later. He is a copycat Islamophobe and imperialist--a man who has seen the U.S. and British response to Islam and "Marxist multiculturalism" as a template to lead Norway and Europe out of what he perceived to be the Dark Ages.

Fascism has not historically been widespread on U.S. soil. Yet, especially since 9/11, U.S. thinking on the nexus between Islamophobia and neoliberalism has taken deep root in Europe's far-right-wing traditions, watered and nurtured by conservative and even centrist politicians like the U.K.'s David Cameron, France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel.

Since his arrest, we have learned for example that Breivik intended to weaponize anthrax for use in his "counter-jihad," a comic book derivation one of the "subplots" of 9/11 and an indication of just how deeply imprinted in his lunatic mind are the rationalities of neoliberal capitalism and its war on Islam.

As several commentators, including Vijay Prashad, have pointed out, the young people at the Workers' Youth League camp that Breivik gunned down were, in many ways, also the "children" of history--but a far different history. The Workers' Youth League is rooted in Norway's social democratic history; the group is pro-labor, mixed race (unlike much of Norway's population) and representative of social-democratic progressivism in Europe.

According to Prashad, for example, nearly half of Norway's citizens are supporters of an academic and cultural boycott campaign in Palestine, and the Norwegian Trade Union Federation has divested from several Israeli firms. Prashad also reports that Eskil Pederson, leader of the Workers' Youth League called for stronger measures against Israel in an interview with a tabloid newspaper just days before the shootings.

In picking up a gun to slaughter these progressive innocents, Breivik was merely carrying out the laws of the right-wing fathers and mothers of his age. He is perhaps the world's first entrepreneurial fascist, packaging his genocidal ideas on-line, networking the right-wing corners of the planet, from the English Defense League to India's Hindu nationalist National Volunteer Organization.

The 150,000 Norwegian citizens who took to the streets of Oslo against Breivik's politics, and those who will gather in the streets of England September 3, led by United Against Fascists, merit our support and solidarity.

We need a street demonstration here, and now, against capitalist racism. No more copycats. The world is ours to make and win.
Tithi Bhattacharya and Bill Mullen, West Lafayette, Ind.

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