The Myths of Oslo
The more I look at the Oslo massacre, the more I am struck by how archaic it all is. The killer fancies himself a noble defender of a Western world that no longer exists, and has not existed, really, since the First World War destroyed it. He is the sort of fascist who believes in the myth of a Golden Age that must be restored, and vaingloriously sees himself a member of the elite chosen by history to defend the mythical West.
He fancies himself a warrior fighting against two mortal enemies: "Marxism" and "Islam." He needn’t have bothered; they both died a long time ago.
The first was effectively demolished in the Cold War with the defeat of the Soviet Empire. Yes, there are certainly Marxists around, and even communists, but there is no longer a worldwide mass movement challenging the West in the name of dialectical materialism. Their contemporary warriors are intellectuals, not workers, and they are more often masked as liberals or moderates than openly leftist revolutionaries. That’s because there is no market for revolutionary Marxism, as Van Jones can explain to you.
The second, “Islam,” has been moribund for centuries. Virtually all the countries calling themselves "Islamic" are failed states whose citizens are starving, whose industries are generations behind those of the contemporary West, and whose most talented young people are mostly eager, even desperate, to live and work in infidel countries. Yes, there are certainly plenty of murderous jihadis around, but although they work very hard at killing us (typically often blowing themselves up instead, or setting their own underwear on fire), they are most effective against other Muslims. Even outside the “Muslim world” -- as President Obama called it during his unfortunate address in Cairo in 2009 -- the hard-core pro-jihad, let’s-create-a-new-caliphate crowd visits misery on correligionaries packed into ghettos and force fed a particularly nasty version of shariah.
Anders Breivik’s demons did not drive him to attack Muslims, although there may have been some among his victims; his targets were his own people, those he called “traitors” for betraying the mythical West to the mythical global forces of Islam and Marxism. Quite a bizarre tapestry: A fight to the death among and within three spent forces which had already died.
This archaic mythology is not only Breivik’s; the Marxists and the radical Islamists embrace it just as avidly. The Marxists embrace the myth of class struggle in a Western world that is no longer capitalist and where there is no working class. The jihadis embrace the cause of holy war (no accident, the Marxists might say, that jihadis raced to take “credit” for the mayhem in the first hours) against a Western world described as Christian and Islamophobic. That, too, is an archaic remnant from a past long dead and buried, especially in Europe. The Old World is secular, and, certainly among its elites, more anti-Semitic and anti-Christian than anti-Muslim. Just look at the thoroughly disgusting remarks by the Norwegian ambassador to Israel AFTER the massacre, in which he showed greater “understanding” of Palestinians killing Jews than of a Norwegian massacring fellow countrymen.
It is thoroughly understandable, then, that some have responded to the Norwegian mass murder with myths of their own, beginning with the fable that Breivik is the tip of a very large iceberg, that includes not only deranged would-be killers but also writers and politicians. Thus they conjure up yet another phantasmagorical mass movement — a vast conspiracy with countless followers, some hidden, others public. There is no such movement. Yes, there are crazy people who think they are fighters in the great cataclysmic struggle of the days of the Last Judgment (and if you want a fine survey and analysis of the enormous variety of such beliefs, and their dreadful effects over the centuries, get yourself a copy of Richard Landes’ timely study “Heaven on Earth”). But I doubt there are enough of them to feed more than a handful of Knights Templar, let alone a full-fledged political movement.
We're living through a revolutionary moment, all over the world. The world we knew and believed we understood is gone, and we don't know where we're headed. No wonder chaos disrupts orderly thought, and mythology replaces common sense.
UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the generous quote and link. What would we do without him?