As left and right face each other in their perpetual moral standoff, the Breivik rampage appears to offer the left a major propaganda coupe. With a 1500 page manifesto to cherry pick from, and an extensive internet activity trail in the wake of Breivik’s self publishing, under various aliases, the left will fulfil its own image of the right by proxy, according to its bent.
Indeed, so hot is the war of interpretation and association, that Breivik’s wikipedia page has been rapidly evolving from a collection of dry reports as they fed in from the initial press releases on the 22nd July 2011, into a maelstrom of rhetoric and pejorative adjectives, as Breivik’s character is being perpetually reassessed to form an ever more exotic and potent mud-pie, to sling at the opposing political side.
Breivik is relatively unique, or if familiar to any science, of such a rare breed as to be near impossible to categorise by mere association. Any expert in the phenomena of rampage killings, would risk ridicule as though possessing a PhD in the nature of horses, whilst pontificating with authority about unicorns. This episode is becoming an exercise, not of rational understanding of the human condition, but a public display by those desperate to ride their personal political hobby-horse, entitled “Why all good people like me, are not infected by the ‘Breivik’ touch... YOU’RE IT... NYAH NYAH!!!.”
As an illustration, how many on the left will point out that from the age of one, Breivik, along with one of his step sisters, was raised by his single-parent mother? Thought not.
One of the collateral victims by indirect association, was Dr Theodore Dalrymple; whose selected writings were included in Breivik’s manifesto, via a third party quote. Dalrymple is a noted critic of policies of which the left wing hold dear; but his measured style could not possibly be considered inflammatory, except to puritans of the left extreme.
Below is a short analysis by Dr Dalrymple, that appeared in the Daily Express 26th July 2011:
HOW does a man in one of the most peaceful societies in the world come to the conclusion that shooting a large number of people unknown to him is to serve the cause of his country?
Several ingredients must be in the witch’s brew of Anders Breivik’s mind.
First is resentment; second, self-importance; third, the desire for fame or notoriety; fourth, the search for a transcendent meaning to life, and fifth, a difficulty in forming ordinary human relationships, whether of love or friendship.
A final precondition is an above-average level of intelligence, for this is necessary in order to rationalise the commission of a deed that would otherwise be repugnant.
Resentment arises when you are not treated or rewarded as you think you deserve to be. Your merits, whether by virtue of birth or accomplishment, go unrecognised. You are therefore a victim of injustice. By definition you can do no wrong when you try to right them.
Self-importance prevents you from putting the wrongs you think you have suffered into any kind of perspective. You do not see that, by the standards of most people, you have suffered little. You cannot see the difference between mere inconvenience or distaste and severe oppression.
In a world in which celebrity seems so important, obscurity is felt by many as a wound to their ego. Why should others be famous and not me?
If you cannot achieve celebrity by force of talent, then you can do so by means of murder – witness the Crossbow Cannibal.
A wider cause gives meaning and purpose to your life, and persuades you that your resentment, your anger, is not petty or personal, but something much grander. Breivik thought that by acting on his personal resentments he was a saviour of Europe; he might just as well have been an animal rights activist as a nationalist. His monomania relieved his inner emptiness. A difficulty in forming normal human relationships is another cause for resentment of a man like Breivik, and of yet another wound to his ego. It has to be compensated for somehow, and producing an event of historic importance is one way to do it.
A man must be intelligent to act like Breivik – for he needs not only to plan and execute his “historic” deed, but to be able to weave a coherent, if paranoid and ultimately stupid, justification for it.
The pity for others of a mass killer like Breivik is nil; for himself, infinite.
Dalrymple also writes here:
It is always hazardous to pronounce on the mental state of someone one had not met, and about whom one knows only a little and third-hand. But all the same, one is tempted...
The first trap to avoid is to say person x did act y because [he] is or has z, and we know he is or has z because he did y. This is circular.
But there does seem to be evidence that Breivik was narcissistic, grandiose, paranoid, socially and sexually inept, and deeply resentful. This is a horrible mixture, though any explanation will always be incomplete and not pluck out the heart of his mystery.
I think it unlikely he is legally insane according to the M'Naghten rules that govern legal insanity in a lot of the English-speaking world. He knew the nature...[a]nd quality of his act and that [it] was (legally) wrong, to use the wording of the rules, and therefore would not be entitled to a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Despite the relative uniqueness of Breivik, there is a genuine risk that the left in positions of authority, or its influence upon, will use this atypical episode as an excuse for enabling further legislation against free speech and association.
Compared with another leftwing political system, whose parliament building, the Reichstag was set ablaze by one Marinus Van der Lubbe, it is to the great credit of the Prime minister of Norway, that he announced his intentions of maintaining the principles of liberty, despite the reflexive reactions to the contrary.
Returning to the Narcissism theme, referred to by Dalrymple above, there seems a certain characteristic link with martyrdom demonstrated by both Breivik and Lubbe:
Breivik: ... [T]he purpose of the attack was to save Norway and Western Europe from a Muslim takeover and "The price for this they had to pay yesterday"... A former classmate has recalled that he was an intelligent student who often took care of people who were bullied.
Lubbe: ... While working for the Tielmann factory a strike broke out. Van der Lubbe claimed to the management to be one of the ringleaders and offered to accept any punishment as long as no one else was victimised, even though he was clearly too inexperienced to have been seriously involved. During the trial, he tried to claim sole responsibility and was purportedly hostile to the idea of getting off free.
Like all martyrs, they crave the ultimate love. To fulfil that which they may feel they have command over; as happens when a child is raised and allowed to manipulate a parent or guardian, who mistakenly offers a display of affection to their charge, in purchase of a moment of peace. Whereas the unconditional love from a father, which is given and never purchased, is immune from such manipulative corruption; and any cherished child that tried to buy love with a selfish plea, would be met with by sour scorn.