From Unity & Struggle No. 25, Spring/Summer 2013
On July 22, 2011, Norway experienced the worst massacres since the Nazi occupation during World War 2. A total of 77 people, most of them young people attending the summer camp of the Social Democratic Youth League (AUF), as well as some civil servants and passersby in government locations in Oslo, were slaughtered in these terrorist actions.
The culprit was a Norwegian fascist, Anders Behring Breivik (32), with social roots in the district of the better-off class in western Oslo and a former member of the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet), an ultra liberal right-wing party with an electoral base of about 20%.
“Our answer is more openness, more democracy”. Such were the words expressed by Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Social Democrat) after the fascist onslaught on July 22, 2011. A similar attitude was expressed in the massive popular demonstrations with flowers in Oslo and other cities. The whole world was baffled by this mild response to the diabolical act that had shocked the whole nation. People who never had taken part in any sort of demonstration, on their own initiative and took to the streets with flowers and said: “We will not be silenced, nobody will take away our right to think and speak”. In this situation, the seething rage among the people might easily have turned into calls for revenge, into demands for massive strengthening of the police, their weaponry and authority at the expense of democratic rights. But this did not occur.
The Prime Minister’s idea of openness and democracy is radically different from the way the popular masses conceive these words. This became clear a year later. For the government and the ruling elite, openness and freedom apparently applies mainly to racist and fascist views and concepts made widespread by the media. Fascist organizations are still allowed to operate, not only in social media, but also in public demonstrations. Although Breivik appeared to have acted on his own, there is plenty of evidence that he had established broad connections through social media and otherwise with Islamophobic, racist and Nazi organizations throughout Europe. He was also in close contact with the fascist English Defence League (EDL). Ideologically, he was not in the least a “lone wolf”.
Despite this experience, fascist and racist organizations are free to operate. One could say that Norway seems to have learned nothing whatsoever from the July 22 tragedy.
A Just Verdict
On August 24, 2012, after a trial of more than two months, Breivik was finally convicted of the killings. The court proceedings were thorough and a number of eye-witnesses gave touching and heart-breaking testimonials concerning each one of the victims and his or her last minutes.
Taking the bourgeois democratic legal framework into account, the verdict was as fair as one could expect. Breivik was sentenced to the maximum punishment, which is 21 years and the possibility of extended imprisonment. However, the court proceedings and the public debate have shed light on a series of embarrassing circumstances and scandals involving the police, the secret police, politicians and government officials.
In the first hours after the explosion in the government complex in Oslo, while the identity of the attacker was still unknown, the press, media and right-wing parties were preparing their headlines stating that “Islamist terrorists” were to blame. The social media were full of hateful statements, and a number of immigrants from Muslim countries were harassed and threatened on the streets.
As soon as it was clear that the terrorist actions continued on the island of Utøya some 30 kilometres from Oslo, and that the mass murderer was an blonde ethnic Norwegian wearing a police uniform, the atmosphere rapidly changed. Although the killer’s political past and his ideological agenda was revealed rapidly (he also revealed it himself by posting his fascist “Manifesto” on the web prior to the onslaught), forces were put into motion claiming that the culprit was simply a “lunatic”, a lone individual with a difficult childhood who had simply lost his grip on reality.
Fascist or just a “Lunatic”?
Throughout the entire court proceedings, this was the claim of the Attorney General and his staff, supported by a couple of appointed psychiatrists. But this claim was not accepted by the public, and a heated debate compelled the court to appoint a new team of psychiatrists. Their conclusion was the opposite of the former team. They concluded that the culprit was sane, and undoubtedly inspired by his fascist ideology.
This was important because in the Norwegian legal system the mental state of the assassin is crucial when it comes to the question of conviction. If in doubt, the court is compelled by law not to sentence a person considered insane or mentally ill. Instead, such a person should be sent for compulsory psychiatric treatment and is not considered responsible for his actions.
Popular opinion as well as the report of the second group of psychiatrists eroded any doubt of the judges. Breivik was therefore convicted as fully responsible for his actions. He did not appeal the verdict; he has all along argued that his detailed plan of diabolical action was ideologically based on his concept of the need to fight “multiculturalism” and “cultural Marxism” with all possible means.
Mass Media Utilized As a Tribune for Fascist Propaganda
During the trial, the killer was given extensive opportunity to “explain” his ideological concept, besides describing his crimes in detail. He had prepared for this opportunity, and he utilized it to the maximum, orchestrating a propaganda show for his fascist concepts, anticipating that they would reach a wide audience. Although he was obviously a narcissist and fanatic, nothing in his appearance or speech gave proof that they came from an insane person. On the contrary, Breivik’s speech in his defence was no more “insane” than the testimonies of Göring and all his Nazi collaborators in the Nurnberg trial.
Although many statements in the trial were not broadcast, the press found it “necessary” to transcribe every word of Breivik’s hour-long propaganda speech and make sure that millions of readers would absorb his “arguments”.
The Communist Platform (KPML) responded by sending a well-founded complaint to the ethical organ of the Norwegian press and media, the PFU, pointing out that the (bourgeois) press had trodden on its own ethical guidelines by promoting ideas and viewpoints that incite hatred against groups or individuals. Furthermore, the KPML accused the press and media and the Norwegian government for their disregard of the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), ratified by the Norwegian government. In Article 4 this declaration obliges that the signatory parties to, among other things,
“(a) declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to commit such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin, and also the provision of any assistance to racist activities, including the financing thereof;
(b) declare illegal and prohibit organizations, as well as organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and to recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offence punishable by law; “
Of course, the “ethical organ” of the press found no reason whatsoever to criticize the reprinting of fascist propaganda in the mass media. According to them, it was their duty to inform the public. As far as the obligations from the UN convention are concerned, the PFU did not even bother to consider this point of the complaint.
Fascism on the Rise
Fascist organizations have never been able to gain strength in Norway, because the working class and the progressive left have resolutely chased them whenever they showed their face. Nevertheless, there have been some incidents of fascist and racist killings in the past 30 years. The KPML and other organizations demand that fascist and Nazi organizations be banned. However, organizations of a racist and Nazi type are still not illegal in Norway. On the contrary, in the aftermath of the July 22 killings, these groups have increased their activities. Many of them have put on a new face, saying that they are “anti-jihadists and anti-Muslims”. A couple of these small groups dared to stage a demonstration in the city of Stavanger the day after Breivik was sentenced. Naturally, there was a strong anti-racist and anti-fascist demonstration protesting this provocation. However, hundreds of police and helicopters ensured that the racist and fascist organizers could benefit from “openness and democracy”.
The Role of the Police
The court proceedings and other investigations have proven that the police rescue action on Utøya isle was chaotic, lacking leadership and coordination. While the media reported the events from helicopters, the police were unable to launch their own chopper. They also delayed in seeking the aid of Air Force helicopters. However, here we must point out that these resources were also very limited, partly because a number of helicopters and personnel are allocated to the NATO occupation forces in Afghanistan!
Had the police been on the spot thirty minutes earlier, some 20 to 40 young people might have been spared from being slaughtered.
Besides the ordinary police, the Norwegian Secret Service (PST) is once again involved in a scandal. Despite their active surveillance, the PST never “observed” that Breivik was a dangerous individual, in spite of his active postings on fascist and anti-jihadist web-sites and also in spite of the fact that he ordered chemicals and other materials for producing his bomb online from Poland and elsewhere.
Yet again it was revealed that the PST has a “blind right eye”. Their sole concern is the “extreme left” (which have never planned or carried out any kind of terrorist act in Norway) and the so-called Islamist threat.
The Two-Faced ‘Red and Green’ Government
To sum up, the official claims of “openness and democracy” are in part a hoax, as are the official statements against racism. The truth is that the events of July 22 will be used to militarize the police and diminish the sharp distinction between civilian and military state force. The truth is that Norway has adopted the EU Data Directive, which allows extensive surveillance of ordinary citizens. The truth is that for ten years Norwegian troops have been waging a brutal war against the Afghan people in the name of “democracy”. The truth is also that Norway’s asylum policy is a racist policy. Young refugees coming to Norway are allowed to stay, but no longer than until their 18th birthday. When this day arrives, they are brutally expelled back to their country of origin, whether or not they have family, relatives or sustainable living conditions there or not. Finally, the ugly truth is that Norway still does not respect the UN convention and the UN committee recommendations that compel Norway to ban racist and fascist organizations.
Considering these facts and the hypocritically government signals, it is no wonder that xenophobia and hatred are allowed to thrive among broad sections of the people. It is clearer than ever that the struggle against fascism and xenophobia has to be waged on two fronts: against the fascist organizations as such, but also against the state that gives them shelter. The latter shows a lenient stand towards fascism, while at the same time it makes use of the terrorist threat to gain support for further militarization and fascisation of the state.
The government speaks warmly of tolerance for minorities, ideas and concepts. In this it clearly includes tolerance for fascism and racism, precisely the one ideo-political factor that rejects and excludes any kind of tolerance.
Among the lessons of July 22 are these: The bourgeois state machine always protects the privileges of the rich and their system, but it is incapable of giving protection to ordinary citizens when they are in jeopardy. Secondly, in the struggle against fascism to preserve democracy, the working class and people can never put faith in the state and its apparatus; they must wage this struggle relying on their own forces.
Fascist killings in Norway: The massacre of the Knight Templar