Posts Tagged ‘Anders Behring Brevik’

Where will the next Anders Behring Breivik come from?

July 28, 2011

There are those who say that the ideas and words were correct but the man was a lone lunatic. They are indignant when accused of creating the world in which the murderer lived. They refute the notion that it was their writings and speeches which fed the monster and pushed him over the edge from rhetoric to action. They invoke the dangers of repression of free speech to defend their own speeches or writings. They condemn violence but will not concede that their words and ideas can lead to violent actions.

But I think they need to think again. Forbidding what people may say or write is not the answer. But those who speak and write cannot just disconnect themselves from the consequences of what they speak or write. Words and ideas are not actions but one person’s words cannot be insulated or divorced from the actions of others that they may cause. Using language is not without responsibility. If we want the freedom to speak and write whatever we want then we cannot escape from some of the  responsibility for whatever ensues from what we speak or write.

Anders Behring Breivik was not born a murderer. Somewhere along his 32 years of history he became one. I have no doubt that some part of his early upbringing contributed to this and that his parents bear some – rather diffuse – responsibility. We don’t know enough about human behaviour to be certain what factors in his childhood may have laid the foundation for the choices he later made. But certainly it was at this time that the choices that would become available to him were defined. The possibility that he could become a mass-murderer – the path he could tread – was surely created then. But it was his own choices which took him down this path. He joined the Freemasons and was later seduced by a glorified fantasy of the Knight Templars. His world – by his own choice – for the last decade or so has been in that populated by the anti-left, anti-immigrant, anti-islam, christian fundamentalist bigots and a large part of that world has been on-line. He has devoured the extreme rhetoric that was there to be devoured. That it was readily available and politically acceptable – albeit with a minority – has provided him with a cloak of legitimacy for continuing down his path and eventually making the choices he did. And somewhere along the way, something in this rhetorical environment where hate was not just permitted but was politically legitimised and socially acceptable, pushed him over the edge from compiling manifestos to killing teenagers. In his world his actions were rational and those who helped to create his world cannot just dismiss his actions as those of a lone lunatic. He surely bears the responsibility for the choices he has made and for his actions. But others bear responsibility too.

Another Anders Behring Breivik is developing somewhere right now. And while we may not know where this may be and the environment in which he is developing and what rhetoric is triggering his choices, all politicians and journalists and bloggers and writers who disseminate extravagant rhetoric need to think twice about the consequences of their words. None of them speak or write to be ignored. They all have the intention – or the wish – that their words will be listened to, will form opinion and will lead to actions. And when their words lead to actions – but not perhaps the actions they intended – another Anders Behring Brevik may appear.

Der Spiegel carries a story about the behaviour of one particular group which – to me – sounds like it has the potential for creating another Anders Behring Brevik. It only takes one.

Family Life Among Germany’s Far-Right Extremists

Experts are worried about the children of Germany’s neo-Nazis growing up in isolated extremist communities. The children read Nazi-era books, put together puzzles showing maps with 1937 borders and attend camps with ideological instruction.

….. The more brazen the self-identified “National Socialist Movement” has become in Germany in recent years, the more energy it is devoting to members’ children. Investigators estimate that neo-Nazi households are raising several thousand children to be familiar with weapons, violence, raiding private homes, Nazi cult objects, songs of the Hitler Youth and Waffen-SS, and the worshiping of major figures from the Third Reich. They are unwittingly becoming part of a sworn “fighting community” hidden behind a middle-class façade.

The massacre was Breivik’s Plan B

July 27, 2011

I cannot get the kids on Utoya island out of my thoughts. And how their lives have been so dismissively snuffed out by – it seems – one calculating, deliberate, cold-blooded animal. He was a madman, demented, insane, a lunatic — whatever label which allows us to try and rationalise this massacre – because there is no rational explanation that is possible. But I think that to just put a label on to the individual and “move on” cannot be accepted.

The act flouts all or any possible definition of what makes up – we would like to think – a rational human being. But we should not flinch from calling this what it was – an ultimate act of terror. To terrorise a society into acting as he wanted. He may have acted alone and he bears the responsibility alone. But we cannot escape the fact that it was the world of the right-wing blogs and the extremist political parties and the fanatical movements which have nurtured and encouraged his behaviour. They may escape blame but they need to step-up and confront their own behaviour.

Olof Svensson writes in Aftonbladet:

Anders Behring Breivik’s Plan A was to earn or save the 25 million kronor he needed to advertise and publicise his manifesto.

Through share speculation, he built up a large capital, writes Norwegian Finansavisen.  But when he lost money, he became desperate and went on to Plan B: the massacre. 

As a 24-year-old Anders Behring Breivik earned his first million. This he depicts with pride in his manifesto. A few years later he expressed his intention to earn 25 million kronor to create an organization and use it to lawfully produce and distribute the manifesto. He had already decided to move on to plan B – “surgery” – if it failed.

In 2002 he started his own firm, Anders Behring Breivik ENK to outsource programming services to customers in U.S. and Europe in particular. “Over the next few years, I had seven employees in five countries, one in the U.S., two in Russia, one in Romania, one in Indonesia and two in Norway” he writes in his manifesto. After a few year his capital had grown to four million kronor and he entered a new phase. Anders Behring Breivik put the company into bankruptcy in 2008 and then began to speculate in stocks and commodities to speed up the growth of his capital.

Although the stock market was extremely strong in 2005, he began to lose money. Between 2005 and 2008, he lost two million kronor. “Stock speculation was not succesful. I have to cut my losses and go on to plan B. I have very little money to pursue my two goals”, he writes. The two tasks were the distribution of the manifesto and the military operation, writes Finansavisen.

To minimize costs, he moved in with his mother. He paid a rent of 3600 kronor per month and started selling off his possessions to finance the massacre. A Versace Rosenthal dinnerware service went for 16,000 kronor. However, he chose to keep a 56,000-kronor Breitling watch and a valuable wine collection. The final solution to raise money was to obtain multiple credit cards. Last November, in conjunction with his attempt to buy weapons  he had obtained several hundred thousand crowns from his 25 credit cards. Eventually he sold even his Breitling watch for 14 400 SEK.

When the massacre was approaching his bills and debt had piled up. “I am in a severe credit crisis … this problem could sabotage the whole project” he writes in the manifesto. He could not pay the rent for the farm nor pay for the fertilizer he used to manufacture bombs. He took out all the money he could on his credit cards and asked the landlord and fertilizer company for time to pay.

They said yes.

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