Breivik: Una parte di realtà norvegese (III parte) – Johan Galtung
E quella realtà è ambigua.
Da un lato un alto tasso d’immigrazione musulmana, e qualche conversione all’islam. E un alto tasso di tolleranza di razze e di fedi, che si insediano, acquisiscono la cittadinanza, molti che si integrano appieno; il loro norvegese e il rispetto per le leggi e i regolamenti impeccabile (a eccezione della violenza per motivi d’onore e la circoncisione femminile).
Dall’altro lato pochissimo dialogo interreligioso mosso da rispetto e curiosità, ancor meno reciproco apprendimento. L’ipotesi è che gli immigranti abbiano molto da imparare. E poi la Norvegia partecipa a coalizioni sotto la guida USA, basate sulla NATO, che, quand’anche non si chiamino belliche, comportano che si uccidano musulmani in paesi musulmani da parte di soldati occidentali, compresi i norvegesi (quanti è segreto militare).
Il primo punto è una Norvegia rispettosa su immigrazione e tolleranza; il secondo punto è una Norvegia carente nel dialogo fra le civiltà e nella risoluzione dei conflitti. Forse la peggior combinazione possibile; che espone la Norvegia a qualcosa che non è preparata a trattare.
Immaginiamo una Norvegia isolata, niente immigrazione, né partecipazione di sorta a guerre contro paesi musulmani, avallate o meno da risoluzioni ONU. Nulla che inneschi l’astio di Breivik per il partito Laburista in Norvegia. Avrebbe potuto concentrarsi invece su qualche altro paese per la sua vocazione a difendere razza e culture. Ma quella sarebbe una Norvegia che ben pochi vorrebbero.
Immaginiamo una Norvegia positiva – con disuguaglianze e solitudine in aumento – in dialogo con i musulmani forti nello stare assieme e nel condividere. Questo potrebbe ringiovanire la “chiesa del suicidio”? Il venerdì per le moschee, la domenica per le chiese, il sabato per dialoghi spirituali? E l’Afghanistan: mediare fra islamismo e occidentalismo violenti, esplorare che cosa vogliono gli USA, i taliban e gli altri, smorzare la polarizzazione-escalation; risolvere il conflitto, come con un Afghanistan neutrale in una comunità dell’Asia Centrale? E rendere consapevole la gente di come la polarizzazione eroda la loro razionalità.
Una Norvegia isolata è irrealistica ma non una Norvegia più positiva che potrebbe risultare a lungo termine dal 22 luglio. Le chiese vuote e le moschee piene testimoniano l’incapacità della tradizione cristiano-umanista di reagire alle sfide cercando nuove sintesi aldilà della propria civilità. Alternative: il declino e la caduta. Viviamo in un mondo che va globalizzandosi e dobbiamo imparare gli uni dagli altri.
Una Norvegia più positiva ci avrebbe salvato – noi e il mondo – da un Breivik? Una vittima della triplice polarizzazione – con le idee ricorrenti di tradimento interiore e una vocazione ad agire – né del tutto pazza né del tutto normale, la falsa dicotomia offerta dal processo giudiziario?
Difficile a dirsi. Ciò potrebbe aver stimolato la sua difesa estremista della sua Norvegia indigena, culturalmente cristiana-conservatrice, razzialmente dagli occhi azzurri e capelli biondi. Si deve anche far notare che, lungi dal combattere la polarizzazione, egli l’ha usata, stimolato dalle forze da essa scatenate in lui stesso per uccidere i “traditori”. Come una paese in guerra usa la propaganda, così i soldati si riducono a robot con droghe e giochi. E oltre a questo, ha usato la polarizzazione politicamente, sperando in forti reazioni contro l’estrema destra; tanto forti da rimbalzare in difesa della propria razza e cultura. Come la RAF-Royal Air Force sperava in Germania.
Ma avrebbe anche potuto evitare un Breivik. La sua narrativa sembra confermare che agiva da solo; si possono trascurare altre ipotesi (islamisti, il Mossad tirava le fila, ecc.). Immaginiamo una Norvegia oltre le culture dove semplicemente si vive fianco a fianco sviluppandosi in qualcosa di nuovo e affascinante. Immaginiamo una Norvegia dove s’insegna alla gente l’igiene del conflitto, che cosa gli causano conflitto e polarizzazione, come si può evitare di pensare solo in bianco e nero, e imparare a pensare e praticare soluzioni anziché violenza. Immaginiamo una Norvegia che mette ciò all’opera nel confronto Occidente contro Islam. Un Breivik, intelligente, avrebbe potuto trovarlo più attraente che uccidere, ma avrebbe potuto diventare anche più disperato.
Bisogna identificare i Breivik, per dei dialoghi profondi.
La Norvegia ha ora un problema esistenziale come ce l’aveva un tempo con Knut Hamsun (scrittore norvegese, premio Nobel per la letteratura, manifestò simpatie per il nazismo, ndt): come può venir fuori una persona del genere fra noi? Contraria alla nostra auto-immagine di “nazione di pace”? Una scappatoia semplice è dichiararlo malato di mente; espungere la forza d’urto da ogni messaggio, segregarlo, infliggergli trattamenti sanitari.
Un altro modo è concentrarsi di più sulla sofferenza delle vittime e di chi patisce il lutto e meno su un incomprensibile malfattore. Ci sono stati atti di estrema bellezza e compassione. Ma erano anche fughe da una realtà di vittime e terrorismo. Le cose peggiorano?
Breivik è politicamente al centro di un triangolo: nazionalismo-razzismo con [elementi di] cristianesimo evangelico, sionismo – suo ideale spesso citato – e islamofobia. In Norvegia, come in USA, c’è da tempo un forte nesso fra i primi due; un aiuto a rimpatriare gli ebrei. Il sionismo intransigente è effettivamente in contrasto con l’Islam. Ci sono intense forze islamofobe e nuove alleanze con cristiani fondamentalisti. Il triangolo sarà rafforzato, in parte grazie a Breivik, pur non citabile.
Non necessario. Il tribunale gli ha fornito un podio donde propagare le sue opinioni, a livello nazionale e internazionale. Ovviamente ha il diritto di dire la sua versione, il ‘che cosa’ e il ‘perché’. Ma aveva confessato e particolari orribili aggiungevano poco al peggiore misfatto della storia norvegese. Il processo a porte aperte avrebbe potuto essere contenuto a una settimana. E l’incapacità di ambo i versanti della compagine psichiatrica di riflettere su che cosa faccia alla gente la polarizzazione del conflitto politico non è argomento giudiziario.
Speravano in un tracollo, nel peccatore pentito in ginocchio come terza via d’uscita? Può anche accadere un giorno, ma non in un tribunale che mobilita e ricompensa la sua energia conflittuale. Merita la maggior punizione disponibile in Norvegia, senza accesso a un podio. Una morte sociale.
E la Norvegia deve affrontare quanto è successo.
Frattanto gli afghani in lutto soffrono, come quelli norvegesi; sia che l’uccisione goda di legittimità ONU o democratica. Senza compensazioni, come ci saranno per le numerose vittime di Breivik.
16 luglio 2012
Traduzione di Miky Lanza per il Centro Sereno Regis
Titolo originale: Breivik: A Part of Norwegian Reality (Part III)
Tad Tietze – Language, violence and politics
la Furia omicida di Anders Breivik non può essere compresa astraendo dal contesto sociale e politico da cui è emersa: L’aumento dell’estrema destra, razzista e islamofobica e i commenti su questa linea in siti web organizzazioni; l’inserimento sempre maggiore di questi temi nei dibattiti tradizionali, e le politiche dei governi incentrati sulla la guerra infinita , la sicurezza nazionale, il controllo delle frontiere, e il controlo poliziesco delle comunità minoritarie sono il brodo di coltura : non è follia.
Anders Breivik’s murderous rampage cannot be understood abstracted from the social and political conjuncture in which it emerged: The rise in far Right, racist and Islamophobic commentary, websites and organisations; the increasing insertion of such themes into mainstream debates; and government policies centred around endless war, national security, border control, and the policing of minority communities.
It is important to deconstruct the arguments being mustered in the mainstream as to how to respond to this context. Here I critique approaches that have emerged to the problem of violence associated with political language — so as to outline an alternative based in treating both Breivik and the mainstreamed hard Right politically.
The dominant response to Breivik by conventional and right-wing commentators has been to call him insane — acting because of pathology rather than political conviction. This has been buttressed by a court psychiatric report diagnosing Breivik with ‘Paranoid Schizophrenia’. A storm of controversy has erupted in the report’s wake, driven by its sloppy application of psychiatric categories and ignorance of far Right subcultures and ideologies that shaped Breivik’s beliefs.
Yet, even in the unlikely event that Breivik is psychotic, the focus on madness has served a political purpose for those not wanting to deal with the growing influence of the far Right. Behind this ‘insanity defence’ lies the idea that politics is inherently a zone of rationality where, however inflammatory the discourse, the actions that such ideas engender will remain safely within acceptable limits. Thus, those who take action based on open discussion of ‘wars’ with defined ‘allies’ and ‘enemies’, of the need to use ‘force’ to protect against ‘existential threats’ posed by multiculturalism, Muslim immigration, and the loss of national and ethnic sovereignty, have clearly stepped outside the bounds of reason, and must be disowned accordingly.
One is tempted to say, then, that the argument is paradoxical. Because if the hard Right of the mainstream has proposed a militant, life and death struggle against Muslims, multiculturalists and Marxists, then when someone like Breivik takes their words literally they dismiss him by claiming, ‘Look how mad this man is, he actually took us seriously! How could we possibly be blamed for that?’
A second response has come from a pseudo-movement practiced in retailing crude versions of Enlightenment themes, what British writer Dan Hind has called the ‘Folk Enlightenment’. Its progenitors share a rabid commitment to narrowly defined standards of rational inquiry, carried out on the assumption that the status quo of technologically-centred market capitalism is the height of human achievement, its liberating effects merely being held back by backward superstition. One example is the UK-based libertarian website Spiked, which sees the collapse of old binaries of Left and Right as driving the turn to reactionary tropes of the pre-Enlightenment era.
Brendan O’Neill and his Spiked collaborators focus on demands for absolute rights of free speech, arguing that even instances of ‘incitement’ are not enough reason to limit those rights. Such an extreme view must be underpinned by a complete philosophical separation between ideas and actions:
So long as we don’t physically attack someone or something, we should be free to hate it as much as we like and to tell people that we hate it. Hatred might not always be big and clever … but it’s a thing that lies in the realm of thought and speech, and the authorities have no business there.
To maintain consistency, Spiked has been obsessed with denying any link between the rise in Islamophobic ideas coming out of politicians’ and pundits’ mouths with the incidence of discrimination or violence. For instance, they have selectively used UK police and court statistics to ‘prove’ there has been no rise of Islamophobia-in-practice, as if these even begin to describe the experience of British Muslims since 9/11.
The contortions required to explain Breivik’s atrocity were worthy of a gold medal. Reducing the massacre to another of ‘today’s various terror tantrums’ O’Neill dismissed links between the killer’s ideology and the growing noise of right-wing extremist discourse and instead claimed that ‘his outlook, like that of the 7/7 attackers, seems to have been moulded by the estrangement-inducing politics of multiculturalism’:
Breivik’s alleged hatred of multiculturalism actually seems to be driven by a belief that it does not sufficiently respect his cultural identity; his violent act can be seen as a crazy, barbaric attempt to expand the remit of the politics of multiculturalism.
In case we might get the wrong idea from this, O’Neill parenthetically added, ‘This is not to argue, by the way, that the EDL or anti-immigration thinkers bear any responsibility for Breivik’s violence. They do not.’ Spiked’s logic is stupidly self-contradictory: Words don’t lead to actions, except that the discourse of multiculturalism leads to fanatical struggles for identity on all sides, except that it doesn’t.
But does this mean that there is a case for somehow limiting ‘hate speech’ because of its potential for violence? This question was posed after the shooting of Arizona Democrat congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords by Jared Lee Loughner in early 2011. Loughner, although probably seriously mentally ill, had apparently been influenced by inflammatory right-wing rhetoric against Giffords, and fingers were soon pointed at advertisements being run by Sarah Palin targeting Democrats (including Giffords) in cartoon crosshairs. In response to the shooting, Barack Obama argued,
And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not — but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.
Similarly, just six months later, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told his people that he would not be pushed into fighting fire with fire when it came to the anti-multicultural Right:
The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation. … We have to be very clear to distinguish between extreme views, opinions that it’s completely legal, legitimate to have. What is not legitimate is to try to implement those extreme views by using violence.
But what can be done about these developments except to decry them and call for greater civility? The responses of far Right ideologues in the wake of Utøya suggests they are deaf to such calls. Writing in Newsweek, Asne Seierstad put the question to the founder of a far Right Norwegian website:
[Hans] Rustad, for his part, is dismayed by official Norway’s reaction to the attacks. ‘Meeting terror with roses and love …’ he says, bitingly. ‘Crown Prince Haakon announced that the streets of Oslo were filled with love. What is this? Woodstock? Flower Power? Feel my pain! We go through the same pile of victims’ stories over and over again. How many memorial ceremonies can we handle?’ He knocks his glass of water onto the table, when I mention the debate over what has been described as covert Islamization. ‘It is not even covert!’
In the face of such intransigence, should the Left go further and demand some kind of state action against the Right?
In Australia the rise in right-wing rhetoric has come at the same time as the Murdoch press has campaigned hysterically against the left-wing Greens party. Its flagship broadsheet declared it wants the Greens ‘destroyed at the ballot box’ and has run opinion pieces suggesting the party has an agenda akin to fascism or Stalinism. In response, Greens leader Bob Brown has called for tough media regulation, in part to curb such rhetorical excesses and partisan bias.
However, one doesn’t have to be a Spiked-style libertarian to see how such calls can play into a culture of greater state regulation that could easily be turned against the Left and social movements.
Such a problem emerged in the Northern autumn of 2011 when some anti-racist campaigners called for a government ban on the English Defence League marching through the multiethnic London borough of Tower Hamlets. Clearly the near-unanimous desire to stop the EDL was a healthy one, and yet how this was to be achieved led some to (inadvertently) invite restrictions on the Left also. Not only did they get a ban but the minister also banned all street marches for a period of 30 days, including the planned anti-fascist counter protest. Luckily anti-racists were able to mobilise a significant protest in contravention of the ban, despite the arguments of some that the campaign had achieved its aims and so should stay at home.
How, then, can the problems inherent in these various responses be overcome?
Any workable Left strategy must reject the simplistic notion that there is no link between right-wing ideology and violence, but also the idea that there is a simple and direct causal chain connecting them. The fact Breivik was impressed by the policies of former Australian conservative Prime Minister John Howard doesn’t mean that Howard was directly responsible for the massacres in Norway.
To understand what connections there may be between the two, it is worth reflecting on the ‘media effects’ debate. In the second edition of their authoritative account of the controversy, Ill Effects: The Media/Violence Debate, Martin Barker and Julian Petley argue that studies purporting to show an measurable link between media representations of violence and violent offending invariably start with the wrong question. By focusing on the chosen commonality between the two — the presence of ‘violence’ (usually imprecisely defined) — they reduce both sides of the problem to a single factor. This approach presupposes what it seeks to answer.
It is in the complexities of context and meaning, of how consumers of media actively interpret its form and content, and of how particular circumstances (personal and historical) come together to shape this dynamic process that any understanding of the links can start to be teased out.
The same is true of ‘hate speech’, and of the militant ideologies disseminated by the anti-multicultural Right. Not everyone who hears or reads their words will interpret them identically, and not everyone will be moved to taking action as a result. The coded anti-Muslim words and actions of mainstream politicians may provide legitimacy for more extreme ideas, but they are not the same as far Right calls for eliminationist policies or fascist arguments to organise street violence. Each has to be understood concretely in its connection with social circumstances.
Such ideas are more likely to outgrow their fringe position in circumstances of economic and political crisis, when ‘normal’ institutional supports start to hollow out and fragment, and sections of the middle class and ruling elite develop worldviews around reinstating national unity on the basis of exclusion and elimination of contaminants, whether ethnic, religious or political.
The hard Right is not just engaging in a polite back and forth but seeking to build its own strength through a mixture of cohering the confidence of its supporters and intimidating opponents via invective and extreme assertions, a natural complement to the physical force used by groups like the EDL. Engaging in a ‘civil’ debate with the far Right only gives such ideas respectability. This is not to say that debating anyone who holds racist or nationalist ideas is futile, but that the hardened ideologues of the Right have no interest in settling matters through polite discussion. The Left should ruthlessly expose the true nature of the Right and its authoritarian project. The far Right must be confronted and isolated, robbed of its respectability and legitimacy, its confidence and coherence broken.
For some such an approach will seem anti-democratic, but the opposite is true. The far Right and fascists have a project explicitly aimed at undermining the democratic rights of the social groups they target. The defence of democracy relies on the marginalisation of reactionary forces that seek to bully their opponents into submission.
Standing up to real social power relations and structures means confronting not just the far Right but the role of the state in perpetuating hierarchies, inequalities, injustices and discrimination. The problem of the far Right is not that it is too ‘extreme’ — as if some notional middle ground is always best — but that it wants to intensify already existing oppressions. Thus it is dangerous for the Left to seek an alliance with forces responsible for those oppressions. It is the state that turns asylum seekers away at its borders, the state that carpet bombs Muslim countries and the state that restricts ordinary people’s legal and political freedoms.
To refuse the far Right or fascists a platform thus requires a radically different agency, one that seeks to unite ordinary people to rob the reactionaries of space to organise. It is a policy that must be enacted by people themselves, as real democracy depends on ordinary people putting their minds and bodies on the line. At times that will expose the Left to claims that it is being ‘extreme’ or that the Left are just as bad as the fascists. At times the police, as they have done so many times in the past, will intervene to defend right-wing thugs’ democratic ‘rights’, in stark contrast to their treatment of left-wing protests.
But any serious strategy to deal with the far Right must be based on breaking the nexus between their theory and practice, of isolating their words to the margins and making it impossible for them to be organised into violent actions. Only through a strategy of refusing to appease the Right, exposing it for its reactionary, anti-democratic nature, and mobilising ordinary people to confront it can those links be broken.
This is an edited version of an essay that appeared in the recent e-book On Utøya: Anders Breivik, Right Terror, Racism, and Europe
‘The teenagers who gathered at Utøya that day could not imagine that they would be enrolled in the ranks of those murdered by the Right’
In a challenging new book, a collection of Australian and British writers respond to the terrorist attack by Anders Breivik, and attempts by the Right to depoliticise it.
On July 22, 2011, Anders Breivik, a Right-wing writer and activist, killed more than sixty young members of the Norwegian Labour Party on Utøya island. Captured alive, Breivik was more than willing to explain his actions as a ‘necessary atrocity’ designed to ‘wake up’ Europe to its betrayal by the left, and its impending destruction through immigration.
Breivik’s beliefs – expressed at length in a manifesto, 2083 – were part of a huge volume of right-wing alarmism and xenophobia that had arisen in the last decade. Yet Breivik, we were told by the Right, was simply a madman – so mad, in fact, that he had actually believed what the Right said: that Europe was in imminent danger of destruction, and extreme action was required.
On Utøya: Anders Breivik, Right Terror, Racism and Europe is a response to this attempt to deny responsibility, and any connection of Breivik’s act to a rising cult of violence, racism, and apocalyptic language. The editors and authors shine a light on Breivik’s actions, and argue that they cannot be understood abstracted from the far-Right racist and Islamophobic social and political conditions in which it emerged.
Organised, written and produced within three months of the killings, On Utøya is a challenge to anyone who would seek to portray this event as anything other than it is – a violent mass assassination, directed against the left, to terrorise people into silence and submission to a far-right agenda. It concludes with an examination of the manufacture of hate and fear in Australia, and considers what is needed in a Left strategy to deal with the growing threat of far-Right organising.
Edited by Elizabeth Humphrys, Guy Rundle and Tad Tietze, with essays by Anindya Bhattacharyya, Antony Loewenstein, Lizzie O’Shea, Richard Seymour, Jeff Sparrow and the editors.