Norwegian Terrorist Knows His Conservative Canon

Anders Behring BreivikAnders Behring Breivik, the guy who’s confessed to the Norwegian terrorist bombings, doesn’t just have ideas about multiculturalism and Muslim immigration (in case you haven’t heard, he’s not crazy about either)—though you wouldn’t know that from the media coverage, which focuses almost exclusively on Breivik’s identitarian interests.  Breivik also has a fair amount to say about capitalism and its critics.  In his lengthy manifesto, he proffers opinions about Naomi Klein (dislikes) and Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman (likes). He also seems more than passingly familiar with some of the leading figures of conservative thought like Roger Scruton. I haven’t had time to immerse myself in Breivik’s statement—it’s 1500 pages!—but from the bits I’ve read, it’s clear that there’s more here than Islamophobia.


  1. Stephan July 24, 2011 at 5:32 pm | #

    Hmmm … Me thinks after a brief look at the footnotes that he is also familiar with the Left Canon: Luxemburg, Gramsci, Marx, Hobsbawm, … Being a European lefty I think it is a waste of time to come up with grandiose theories about a lonely crazy.

    • Corey Robin July 24, 2011 at 9:28 pm | #

      Not sure what grandiose theory you have in mind here. This is what I wrote: “Breivik also has a fair amount to say about capitalism and its critics.” Perhaps if you took more than a brief look at the footnotes, you’d see that what I wrote here is warranted.

  2. Gabriel Brahm August 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm | #

    I’m not sure how noting that Breivik prefers the rather interesting Scruton to the rather dull N. Klein (a lot of people do) is supposed to help explain his demented outburst. I’d say that much is to his credit. The Underground Man has always been an avid reader, but surely that in itself was never what’s wrong with him.
    I think you’re right though to suggest that “Islamophobia” doesn’t cover it. I’d be more open to that over-hyped notion if he’d targeted Muslims (a), and (b) if he’d done so because of some widespread, culturally ingrained, deep-seated animus of longstanding that expressed itself as loathing for Islam per se. Qualms about immigration, doubts about multiculturalism, or anxiety over the threat of mass-murder terrorism can all be legitimate or illegitimate (fairly reasonable or grossly exaggerated), it seems to me, and can surely be expressed in legitimate or illegitimate ways.
    Calling all this what it is–various forms of uneasiness pertaining to relatively concrete circumstances of fairly recent vintage–rather than inventing another essentializing pathology (how many sorts of “-phobia” can the Western subject reasonably be imagined to harbor within itself?) for college students and their timidly, ingenuously PC teachers to check themselves for, confess to, and police the ubiquitous signs of, won’t excuse those who get carried away by events in little (Juan Williams) or big ways (Breivik).
    To stress one of the salient differences between an honest journalist, however, and Norway’s newest Travis Bickle (did you see some of those kitsch poses/outfits? I could almost hear him saying “You talkin’ to me?” in Norwegian) just seems crazy to me (unlike most terrorists, who, of course, are evil-doers but not crazy). Granted I’m not a medical doctor…
    Or maybe he’s just a “radical loser,” as my friend Alan Johnson argues,
    Anyway, thanks for the thought-provoking blogposts.

    • Gabriel Brahm August 5, 2011 at 8:31 am | #

      Oops. Typo. Meant to say in last paragraph above that Breivik JUST SEEMS CRAZY TO ME–not that stressing the differences between him and J. Williams is crazy! Thus, it should read:

      To stress one of the (many, no doubt) salient differences between an honest journalist and Norway’s Travis Bickle,, Breivik seems crazy to me.

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