Tuesday’s decision to declare neo-fascist Anders Behring Breivik insane was driven by the political interests of the Norwegian and European ruling elite.
The man who massacred 77 people in a twin bomb attack in Oslo and a mass shooting of children on Utoeya Island in July has been deemed unfit to face trial and his incriminating testimony dismissed as merely the ravings of a madman.
This decision has nothing to do with concern over Breivik’s mental state. Rather, it is motivated by the fear in ruling circles that even a limited investigation of the events leading up to July 22, which a trial would undertake, would raise uncomfortable questions for those with connections to Breivik.
This includes not only parties of the far right across Europe, some of whom had direct links with the Norwegian terrorist, but also the political establishment itself, which has promoted the reactionary nostrums upon which Breivik based his fascist ideology.
Considered from a legal standpoint, the decision to declare Breivik insane is absurd on its face. All the evidence points to an individual with a clear political programme, who embraced positions identified with fascism and the far right. He viewed himself as a “crusader” against multiculturalism and immigrants. In some recent reports, it has become clear that his aim was to target the leadership of the Norwegian Labour Party, which he viewed as “Marxist.”
His acts of terrorist violence were meticulously planned and carried through, as he explains in his own words in his lengthy “manifesto” published online. These acts were directed towards a definite political agenda—in his own words, to create a “cultural-conservative revolution” throughout Europe.
Mere articulation of such views, even in private diaries, is enough for Muslim extremists in Europe, the US and elsewhere to be hauled up before the courts. Had Breivik’s professed ideology been Islamic fundamentalism, there is no question that he would have been put on trial, received extensive media coverage, and been imprisoned for years.
But clearly the “war on terror” does not apply to fascists.
By dismissing Breivik’s actions as those purely of a psychotic individual, the political establishment hope to portray him as a “lone wolf” who acted without any support.
All available evidence shows the contrary. Ever since Breivik was taken into custody, details have emerged linking him to far right organisations within Norway and internationally. Police investigators have confirmed that Breivik claims to know of 80 “cells” across Europe who share his political outlook and violent aims.
Breivik remained a member of the anti-immigrant and far-right Progress party until 2006, having joined its youth wing nearly a decade earlier. His ties to the fascist English Defence League (EDL) also became known, with Breivik having engaged in several discussions with leading members. At one such discussion in London in 2002, he claimed that some of those present at a meeting of the “Knights Templar” were EDL leaders, whilst others came from paramilitary groups in the Balkans.
Investigations of these connections have been extremely limited. There has been no attempt to pursue any of those figures mentioned in Breivik’s manifesto or subsequently linked to him. Even when a group of individuals were arrested at a flat belonging to Breivik in the days following July 22, they were promptly released.
Within the political establishment, notwithstanding initial expressions of outrage and horror, no investigation is being conducted to examine the attacks. Norway’s commission of inquiry did not even intend to question the head of the PST intelligence services. It was compelled to request her presence before a parliamentary committee only after details emerged uncovering the PST’s failure to act on information regarding Breivik’s ties to a Polish businessman who provided the fertiliser for his bomb.
Internationally, no attempt has been made to seriously investigate any of those with whom Breivik met and discussed his political agenda. These include Alan Lake, a businessman who bankrolls the EDL, and Paul Ray, a blogger who writes under the name Lionheart and is referred to in Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto.
It is not possible to explain this merely as a negligent response: definite political calculations are at work.
In this context, revelations that a far-right terrorist group in Germany has been collaborating closely with the state intelligence forces for over a decade are particularly significant. The group, whose outlook mirrors that of Breivik, has been responsible for at least nine murders of immigrants since 1998. State intelligence operatives not only turned a blind eye to their activities, but actively participated and facilitated the group’s actions.
There is no reason to believe that similar relations are not replicated between the far right and state intelligence services across Europe. In Britain, the EDL has long been recognised as an organisation infiltrated by informers and intelligence operatives, who assist in the planning and staging of so-called “demonstrations” that in reality are organised provocations against Muslims and the immigrant population of Britain. Placing Breivik on trial raised the prospect of such ties being brought out into the public arena.
The political establishment is also conscious of the fact that Breivik did not draw his disturbing ideological outlook out of thin air.
Many of the positions of Breivik and the far right in general have become standard fare in Europe’s ruling elite. Breivik’s “manifesto” contains the names of leading political and media figures whose increasingly anti-immigrant rhetoric inspired his conceptions.
His hostility to “multiculturalism” draws succour from those such as Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s David Cameron, who have both announced its failure. More openly, Thilo Sarrazin, a prominent German Social Democrat, has blamed foreigners, particularly Muslims, for turning Germans “into strangers in their own country.”
The adoption by the political elite throughout Europe of conceptions associated with the extreme right is linked directly to the crisis of the capitalist system.
In every country, the bourgeoisie is moving to discard its traditional forms of parliamentary rule as it seeks a new base of support against emerging class struggles.
It is this that accounts for the increasing integration of far-right parties into the political mainstream. The most recent expression of this was the inclusion of the neo-fascist LAOS party in the Greek coalition government imposed by the international financial elite, led by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
This process has been exemplified in Britain by the calls made by a number of Labour party figures associated with the “Blue Labour” tendency for cooperation with the EDL. Maurice Glasman—an academic who helped initiate the project, which is said to represent “flag, faith and family”—stated that he wanted to see “people who support the EDL involved within our party.”
The Breivik case must act as a warning to working people.
As the world has entered a period of economic crisis not seen since the 1930s, conditions are again being created for the fascist far right to play a leading role in the defence of bourgeois rule. The massive build-up of the security apparatuses of capitalist states around the world is not a guarantor against such a development. Rather, these institutions work to nourish and cultivate such tendencies to use in the struggle to suppress the development of a political movement of the working class.