The Destructive Impulse in Society.

The way the actions of Anders Breivik in Norway are interpreted in different media and different societies is as instructive as the initial knee-jerk accusation of some imagined al Qaeda linkage. The denial of the right has been the strongest response. It ain’t our fault!

Whose fault it actually is can be revealed by a little investigation of the sources. The right wing immediately blamed something outside the society for the atrocity. The centrists—Toronto Star and the NY Times as good examples—focussed on anti-Moslem ideology. The Pope deplored the “senseless violence.” as if the perpetrator had no deliberate plan he acted out. The response outside of North America and its complacency—looking at Al Jazeera and Guardian, for example—was more to the point. The attacker intended to “radically change Norwegian society” through his attack on the Labour, leftist, government and the youth summer camp of that same leftist party. This was a calculated attack on progressive society by its rightist enemy.

The acts of right wingers against progressives extends beyond this. The assassination of abortion doctors; the attack on social programs by the Tea Party. The Koch brothers and their financial support of anti-social activism must be included.

The right wing religious are implicated. The Abrahamic religions lend themselves to beliefs in personal righteousness that disregard the humanity of opponents as others. The Chosen people are inevitably set against those lesser who are not chosen. Hinduism is similarly afflicted with the same dangerous illusions as the other Theistic religions.

We are beginning to see the great differences in social reactions between Norway in 2011 and the USA in 2001. Even commentators in the US are pointing it out. The first reason for the differences to note is that between the persons in charge—between Jens Stoltenberg and George W Bush. This is clearly the difference in social values and maturity between the two men…and by extension between the societies they lead or led. The reaction in Norway has been exemplary and reasoned; to protect their social values by withstanding the urge to weaken them by hysterical attempts to enhance some chimera called homeland security. It has not been an instinctive reacion for everyone, and may yet be marred by the acts of the deeply fearful who take refuge in reactionary politics.

The reaction in the US in 2001 is still degrading that society with Moslem witch-hunts, widespread phone tapping, corruption of citizens’ rights, and failed wars that cannot find an end. The Americans fell into the trap Bin Laden set for them like shills at a county fair stocking up on snake oil—tearing their own society apart in a half-assed hunt for enemies within that completely overlooked the real enemies—the Anders Breiviks born and bred in the country and twisted in their minds by ruthless right-wing ideologies.

Is it possible for the US to see the example of Norway and reverse its course of the past ten years? Is it certain that everyone wants to do that? Perhaps a slight majority who might carry the rest? There surely are many who profit in power and finances from the present situation.

It seems clear to me that any initiative must come from the citizenry rather than the political classes that skulk in their bunkers trapped into an endless conflict with the mirror images of themselves. In their fear of the dictatorship of monarchs the founders of the republic succeeded in creating a system that is vulnerable to seizing up when most in need of decisive action. The USA is reaching what the chaos theorists called a bifurcation point—from here, things could start to improve or else descend into a death spiral.


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