The following is from an article in Al-Jazeera by Robert L. Lambert, the co-director of the European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC) at the University of Exeter (“Nationalists pose a bigger threat than Al-Qaeda“). Judging by his editorials in The Guardian, Lambert is pro-Muslim.
Breivik may have to explain to outsiders why he did not choose to bomb a mosque instead. Surely, for the violent nationalist confluence he represents, that would have been a direct hit on the enemy. Instead, by choosing to attack a government building and a Labour Party summer school, Breivik is drawing attention to what many fringe nationalists see as the political failure of mainstream and left-wing politicians to confront the Muslim threat. So-called appeasers of the “Islamification of Europe” have become as hated as Muslim activists and therefore face the same kind of attacks.
Terrorism is propaganda, not just violence
In addition, Breivik can claim to have followed a long tradition of terrorism target selection that is intended to send a strong message to politicians in an attempt to persuade them to change policy. As leading terrorism scholar Alex Schmid reminds us, terrorism is a form of communication that “cannot be understood only in terms of violence”. Rather, he suggests, “it has to be understood primarily in terms of propaganda” in order to penetrate the terrorist’s strategic purpose.
Breivik appears to understand Schmid’s analysis that terrorism is a combination of violence and propaganda. “By using violence against one victim,” a terrorist “seeks to coerce and persuade others”, Schmid explains. “The immediate victim is merely instrumental, the skin on a drum beaten to achieve a calculated impact on a wider audience.” This is certainly the kind of rationalisation that perpetrators of political violence have adopted in many contexts in pursuit of diverse political causes for decades.
Many extremist nationalists in Norway, the rest of Europe, and North America will be appalled by Breivik’s resort to terrorism and in particular his target selection. However, Breivik is likely to argue that he has sent a powerful and coercive message to all politicians in the West that will help put the campaign against the “Islamification of Europe” at the top of their agenda.
The fact is that Breivik very carefully chose his target. The victory of the left has meant that there is nothing but personal upside for Whites who administer the slow death of their own people. These are the Whites who are the public face of the entire mainstream political spectrum, from far left to neoconservative right. They have wonderful careers as university presidents, politicians, government bureaucrats, heads of major corporations, talking heads in the media.
At the same time, the infrastructure of the multicultural left has imposed huge costs on its opposition. In America, the SPLC and the ADL are the most important organizations policing multicultural orthodoxy, but their power depends on their ability to get compliance. People who publicly oppose multiculturalism have no hope of rising to elite status in any area. A careless comment can result in job loss and social oppobrium.
Breivik’s actions are a wake-up call for these elites–an attempt to impose costs that will ultimately result in changing elite culture in the West. However, unless Breivik is emulated by others, his actions will ultimately not have any effect on elite attitudes. Indeed, they may be seen as warranting extreme forms of political repression that would speed up the process of Stalinization that we are already witnessing throughout the West.
Moreover, Breivik’s strategy assumes that peaceful means cannot work. The fact is that nationalist parties have already made significant headway in Europe, and they definitely have a bright future. As these parties become more powerful, they will be able to impose more costs on the current multicultural elites and more benefits for nationalist patriots. Indeed, the modest successes of the Sweden Democrats has meant that state funds are provided for nationalist media, meaning in turn that nationalist careers are becoming more viable.
Breivik envisions a 70-year struggle, but if so, why resort to extreme violence so early in the game? His actions may well be a setback for his cause.