What does Europe want? Beyond the multiculturalist deadlock

What does Europe want? Beyond the multiculturalist deadlock
What does Europe want? Beyond the multiculturalist deadlock

Back in the 1930s, Hitler offered anti-Semitism as a narrative explanation for the troubles experienced by ordinary Germans – from unemployment to moral decay and social unrest. Simply evoking the “Jewish plot” made everything clear by way of providing a simple “cognitive mapping.”

Does today’s hatred of multiculturalism and of the immigrant threat not function in a similar way? Strange things are happening, financial meltdowns occur which affect our daily lives, but these events are experienced as totally opaque, and the rejection of multiculturalism introduces a false clarity into the situation: it is the foreign intruders who are disturbing our way of life.

There is thus an interconnection between the rising anti-immigrant tide in Western countries (which reached a peak in Anders Behring Breivik’s killing spree one year ago this week) and the ongoing financial crisis: clinging to ethnic identity serves as a protective shield against the traumatic fact of being caught in the whirlpool of non-transparent financial abstraction – the true “foreign body” which cannot be assimilated is ultimately the infernal self-propelling machine of the Capital itself.

There are things which should make us think in Breivik’s ideological self-justification as well as in reactions to his murderous act. The manifesto of this Christian “Marxist hunter” who killed more than sventy people in Oslo is precisely not a case of madman’s rambling; it is simply a consequent exposition of “Europe’s crisis” which serves as the (more or less) implicit foundation of the rising anti-immigrant populism – its very inconsistencies are symptomatic of the inner contradictions of this view.

The first thing that is striking is how Breivik constructs his enemy: the combination of three elements (Marxism, multiculturalism, Islamism), each of which belongs to a different political space – Marxist radical Left, multiculturalist liberalism, Islamic religious fundamentalism. The old Fascist habit of attributing to the enemy mutually exclusive features (“Bolshevik-plutocratic Jewish plot” – Bolshevik radical Left, plutocratic capitalism, ethnic-religious identity) returns here in a new guise.

Even more indicative is the way Breivik’s self-designation shuffles the cards of the radical Rightist ideology. Breivik advocates Christianity, but remains a secular agnostic: Christianity is for him merely a cultural construct to oppose Islam. He is anti-feminist and thinks women should be discouraged to pursue high education; but he favours a “secular” society, supports abortion, and declares himself pro-gay.

Furthermore, Breivik combines Nazi features (for example, his sympathy for Saga, the Swedish pro-Nazi folk singer) with the hatred for Hitler: one of his heroes is Max Manus, the leader of the Norway anti-Nazi resistance. Breivik is not so much racist as anti-Muslim: all his hatred is focused on the Muslim threat.

And, last but not least, Breivik is anti-Semitic, but pro-Israel, since the State of Israel is the first defence line against the Muslim expansion – he even wants to see the Jerusalem Temple rebuilt. His view is that Jews are alright as long as there aren’t too many of them – or, as he wrote in his “Manifesto”:

“There is no Jewish problem in Western Europe (with the exception of the UK and France) as we only have 1 million in Western Europe, whereas 800 000 out of these 1 million live in France and the UK. The US on the other hand, with more than 6 million Jews (600% more than Europe) actually has a considerable Jewish problem.”

His figure thus realizes the ultimate paradox of a Zionist Nazi – how is this possible?

His figure thus realizes the ultimate paradox of a Zionist Nazi - how is this possible? Click To Tweet

[Extract. Appeared in ABC on July 24th 2012.]

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