This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books
Book: 2083: A European Declaration of Independence
Author: Andrew Berwick, real name Anders Behring Breivik
Type of Book: Paranoid manifesto, conspiracy theory
Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Sigh…
Availability: It’s all over the Internet.
Comments: (edited to add: I mistakenly refer to the site Gates of Vienna as Gates of Brussels several times in this discussion. Mea culpa and I would change it but this article has been reproduced several places and the mistake is sort of cast in e-stone. Just know that the site is Gates of Vienna.) When I learned that the Norway mass murderer had salted his manifesto all over the Internet shortly before he went on his rampage, I knew I was going to have to read it. After all, I read odd books. And more to the point, I have an unapologetic interest in the aberrant mind. From all the commentary I read online and from news reports, Anders Behring Breivik was a fundamentalist Christian, he was a fascist, he was a racist, he was an Aryan supremacist, he hated Muslims, he was a loner, he was a part of a larger anti-Islam group, he was a lunatic, he was a mastermind – he was all kinds of inconsistent things and I wondered what was correct and what was the typical media rush to judgment. I wondered if the people who were postulating about him and his sources had actually read the manifesto.
So I read it. Every last word. I will admit that at about page 1200 things at times got a little vague for me. Reading every word of this disjointed, strange monster of a manuscript would make even an Adderall addict bleary. I also admit that after a while, all the articles explaining the horrors of Islam and all the terrible things Muslims have done wore a bit thin. I have a feeling that were I forced to read some of them again, it would be like I was reading them for the first time. That’s okay because all that “evidence” was not likely to be of much interest to me anyway. It’s largely unimportant because I examined this manifesto from the perspective of a person interested in strange minds and conspiracy theory. On both fronts, this manifesto was quite interesting.
Strangely, Anders Behring Breivik (to be called ABB from here on out) is not the most interesting part of this manifesto. Rather, it was the cast of characters who led him to the conclusions he reached and provided confirmation for his strange ideas. Most notable is Fjordman. So notable is Fjordman that I intend to devote two entries to discussing him. Initially, I declared Fjordman to be a complete asshole, and parts of that assessment still seem true, but as I reread and wrote my discussion, I began to find him pitiable. Not pitiful, but definitely pitiable.
Fjordman, who revealed his identity recently as Peder Jensen, a 36-year-old man who seems largely unremarkable, greatly inspired ABB’s thoughts and the terrible rampage that killed 77 people. Because Fjordman influenced many of ABB’s ideas, it seems logical to me to discuss him first. You see, though much of this manifesto consists of articles from other writers, the bulk of the articles came from Fjordman. If you have not read or browsed the manifesto, many articles from anti-Islamists are reproduced in full in the manifesto. Part two of this three-part manifesto was almost a static wiki of articles from other people. Though my eyes admittedly glazed over at times, I believe I counted 40 articles from Fjordman reproduced throughout the 1500 pages. Though there are articles from other writers (one of them a hilarious pearl-clutching treatise on the horrors of rap music), Fjordman’s words take up the most space and show a very clear path of how his words affected ABB. Though there are theories about a Brit in Malta who may have influenced ABB’s rampage, the fact is Fjordman’s paranoiac and violent rhetoric influenced ABB’s mindset and his plans more than any other writer or thinker. In fact, the subtitle of this manifesto comes from the title of one of Fjordman’s articles, and the date of 2083 seems very much influenced by estimates that Fjordman posits about the decline of Europe if Muslim immigration is not stopped soon. So logically, for me at any rate, to understand ABB, we first must talk about Fjordman’s articles and the part they played in ABB’s anti-Muslim fears.
Before you read part one of my discussion about Fjordman, there are some things I would like to share with you, gentle reader. Unpleasant things. Of course, I will never not be a little shocked when I discover a whole mess of people willing to accept conspiracy theory as irrevocable fact. I may devote my life to reading books about conspiracy theory, but it is unsettling when it hits home how deeply people can believe in it. It was shocking to realize that there are people who take the word of Bat Ye’or, the woman responsible for creating what I like to call The Protocols of the Elders of Mecca, as historical truth. It was horrifying to realize that people like Diana West (ahahahaha!), Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer are not laughed out of every quarter of contemporary political thought. It was disgusting to realize that there are no depths too low for the likes of Glenn Beck, Pamela Geller and Debbie Schlussel to sink as they try desperately to keep their names and ideas relevant in the minds of those who live and breathe race hate and bigotry.
But as unpleasant as all of this is, it is important that we understand how common conspiracy theory is in some form or other for a good many people in this world. For many the natural impulse is to dismiss ABB as a crazy man, and we dismiss him as a lunatic at our own risk because if he is a lunatic, so are many, many others. It is hardwired into the human brain to believe strange things, I think, and it’s hard to look at a man like ABB and realize that he is just one of many, a man who is different solely because he took things just one step further. That is why I ultimately feel pity for Fjordman. Fjordman, a True Believer in Bat Ye’or’s Eurabia conspiracy theory was building castles in the air via his online essays, never once thinking that his words, taken at face value, could have been seen as a call to arms.
We have a vested interest in dismissing all violence as crazy, labeling people like ABB as The Other, but his views are derived from other people and are influencing other people even after anyone with common decency would dismiss him. Killing innocent teenagers for a bizarre political and social agenda should have rendered ABB’s ideas untouchable for anyone with sense and a conscience – Fjordman is appalled by what happened on Utøya – but there is a fringe element who see what ABB did as being the work of a patriot. Think I’m exaggerating? I don’t recommend visiting Pamela Geller or Debbie Schlussel’s sites because if you do, you are rewarding their dreadful antics to draw attention to themselves. Rather, check out the analysis of some of these people on sites like Loon Watch, Spencer Watch, and, interestingly enough, Little Green Footballs. (It had been years since I had visited Little Green Footballs. Last time I visited the site, it was a hive of scum and villainy. Discovering the site is no longer devoted to race hate and biogtry was perhaps the sole pleasant element to come from reading 2083.)
Before I begin my discussion of 2083, I need to make it clear, very clear, that I am not discussing any specifics of the immigration situations in other countries or the specifics of Muslim immigration in Europe. I am not qualified to discuss it and I have no interest running to ground all of the statistics, determining what information is sound and what information is not. But even though the sites I have read that discussed some elements of 2083 focus solely on the question of Islamic immigration, there is so much more than that to be found in 2083. So much, in fact, that what began as just another of my long-winded looks at strange writings turned into what I think will be a four part series: two entries about Fjordman and two entries about ABB.
But being who I am, only part of the manifesto interested me. If you want a hard political look at Muslim immigration and the social implications of it, there are plenty of political sites on both sides of the issue to accommodate you. My examination of Fjordman will look at his beliefs and an analysis of his writing. My examination of ABB will be to look at his plans and his theories, and some postulation about his brain because I cannot resist the urge to armchair psychoanalyze him. And it should be mentioned that I am not going to stray from the text. Everything I discuss about either man comes directly from 2083, and to make it clear, every word from Fjordman comes from articles that ABB found so important that he reproduced them in full in 2083. I also will end up snarking some because, given the text we are discussing, how can I not? Some ideas, even those that lead to tragedy, have an arrogant comedy in them that cannot be ignored by a woman who has a black belt in sarcasm.
So begins Part One: Fjordman.