Breivik's Defense

Column by Jim Davies.

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Is Anders Breivik bad, or mad? If his Norwegian judges find him insane, they will lock him up at the King's pleasure with crazies until he proves he loves Big Brother, and that may be forever; but if they find him criminally liable for murdering 77 people last July, he will spend about 20 years in the company of others, about half of whom are probably quite rational and harmless--drug dealers, for example--and then he'll be set free, in middle age. If I were his attorney, I'd shoot for bad.

His trial is interesting, and quite a good account of its first days is here in The Telegraph. He was allowed to make a statement in which he tried to justify the killings, and then he was questioned about it. How different from a US court! He was apparently well composed and while he went on too long (a Scandinavian failing), the statement hung together. He got emotional with patriotic fervor, and his big beef is that in recent decades, very large numbers of brown people with black clothes and hair and blacker ideas have invaded his homeland and are spoiling it. In the last 30 years, Muslims have grown from about 1,000 to 144,000, in a total population of fewer than six million. Breivik blames the government and its indoctrinators for allowing and encouraging this huge increase, and reduces it to a single word: multiculturalism.
That view doesn't just find cultures other than our own interesting and worth study; it's one that says they are all of equal merit, as a premise rather than a conclusion, so making it into a religion like all the others, including government itself. No subject ought to be studied that way; rational evaluation of anything begins with observation, proceeds with reason and ends with a conclusion. A is not non-A, and it's plain stupid to try to prove that ideas which contradict one another can really sit in happy harmony. Yet that, according to Breivik (and he may be quite right) is what a generation of Norwegians have been taught, in government schools, to do. Combine it with generous welfare to all who reach the country, and you have the main reason, he says, for the swamping of Nordic culture by Islam.
So last July, he took direct aim at that perceived cause of the problem; he bombed the existing government, and systematically slaughtered some training to join a future government. As a one-person tactic, disregarding all morality and from his completely false perspective, that's quite a rational way to make his point. He said it was "the most sophisticated and spectacular political attack committed in Europe since the Second World War" and nobody argued; Norway is a peaceful place.  So while he has a bitterly twisted sense of values and premises, I'd say he's not insane.
Breivik's statement scored some points, and it's a fact that the wave of Muslim immigration troubles very many people and not just in Norway, so they would resonate. A telling one was to compare his killings with those carried out by the US and British governments in August 1945; about a quarter million men, women and children were indiscriminately incinerated in Japan. So why was their action good, and his action bad? He requested acquittal. The court gave him no answer, for there is none.
So did Prosecutor Engh, who "tied him in knots," according to reporter David Blair. That's a clever tactic. Take Breivik at his own evaluation--a patriotic intellectual--and show him up as no such thing. She asked who authorized him to kill those teenage Socialist campers; after 20 minutes of wriggling, he had to admit nobody had. (Wouldn't it have been fun if he could then have asked who authorized her to act as prosecutor; Paul Hein's magnificent Shadow Boxing article might have set the whole court into a tizzy.) She also shredded his picture of himself as "commander" of a large movement called "Knights Templar" (after the government armies that recaptured Jerusalem from Muslim ones in the Crusades) by making him admit that actually there are four Knights or fewer in the whole of Europe. Ms. Engh also demolished his claim to represent "Christian culture" by asking whether he is a Protestant. Again he wriggled, ending by saying he was "drawn" to Roman Catholicism, his response made clear that he seldom if ever attended church. I may be wrong, but have the sense that many American anti-Islam protesters are comparably inconsistent.
However, she also scored a low blow by ridiculing his several failures in business on the Internet. To try and fail is one thing, but never to try--just to take a government job, like Ms. Engh--is another. She got him to admit that his recent single success (selling bogus "diplomas") was fraudulent, but then she is working for a fraudulent organization; it takes one to know one.
The trial continues, but our interest is to try to see how freedom would have made a difference to it all; and we can note first from page 322 of his "manifesto" that Breivik explicitly rejects the anarcho-libertarian world view. As I wrote in the Zero Government Blog a few days after the Utoye slaughter, having thus put garbage in, it's unsurprising that he gets garbage out.
First, had Norway not had any government for the past few decades, there would have been no government schools, so the religion of multiculturalism would have been taught, if at all, only in a few cult schools. So there would have been no general belief that Islamic culture is just as good as any other. Cultures would have been compared, by those interested, strictly on their merits. Further, there would have been no government  welfare. Thus, the two "magnets" that have drawn people from the mid-East into Norway would have been absent. No unrealistic washy-eyed overtolerance, and no welfare above what free and generous individuals might have chosen to donate to refugees.
Second, had the absence of government been much more widespread--here in the US, for example--there would have been no invasion of the mid-East in the first place, and hence no powerful incentive to escape the intolerable chaos and violence it fostered. Some might indeed have migrated in search of better work and opportunity, as peoples always have. But there would have been no massive, overwhelming wave of it, and it's the size and scale which is causing millions of Europeans to take alarm, including Anders Breivik.
So the carrot and the stick would both have been missing; therefore, the Muslim donkey would have stayed put. There would have been no particular problem, to excite hotheads to shoot teenage kids like vermin.
Lastly, absent government, there would have been no target at which any twisted malcontent might aim. There would have been no government offices in Oslo which he might bomb, nor any young socialists in training for him to execute.  And if for some reason he had invaded a youth camp with a gun, several campers would have had a weapon in their backpacks (there being no government law to stop them), so within a few minutes they would have shot back. And then there would have been no trial.
In an environment of freedom, for all those reasons, this event could not have taken place. Freedom is right, and freedom works.
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Jim Davies's picture
Columns on STR: 243

Jim Davies is a retired businessman in New Hampshire who led the development of an on-line school of liberty in 2006, and who wrote A Vision of Liberty" , "Transition to Liberty" and, in 2010, "Denial of Liberty" and "To FREEDOM from Fascism, America!" He started The Zero Government Blog in the same year.
In 2012 Jim launched , to help lead government workers to an honest life.
In 2013 he wrote his fifth book, a concise and rational introduction to the Christian religion called "Which Church (if any)?" and in 2016, an unraveling of the great paradox of "income tax law" with "How Government Silenced Irwin Schiff."