How should the labour movement respond?
Right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik’s horrific massacre at the camping island of Utøya outside on Friday is unique in its cruelty, with 76 dead and many wounded, and several more still missing.
A further seven were killed in Breivik’s car bomb attack in the capital Oslo. Today, shock and grief dominate, while many questions need answers.
What is behind the right-wing terrorism? How should the labour movement and socialists respond?
By Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden)
For nearly ten years, the terrorist Anders Behring Breivik planned his deed, combining methods from two of his right-wing predecessors, the Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh and those who carried out the school massacre in Columbine.
Like McVeigh, he built a huge bomb. As the school shooters did, he pursued his victims in cold blood.
The terrorist attack in Oslo was designed to get maximum attention. The bomb turned the streets and neighbourhoods around the government buildings at Youngstorget to ruins.
There is talk now that the prime minister’s skyscraper might be demolished. Seven people were killed, but police are still searching if there are additional victims.
All Norway’s police resources were called to the centre of Oslo, while the terrorist went to his primary objective, the social-democratic youth (AUF) camp on the small island of Utøya.
He pretended to be a heavily armed policeman, tasked with protecting the island from attack. On arrival, he ran cold-blooded executions for one and a half hours, shouting ‘you should all die’, interspersed with cheers.
While Breivik drove to the camp in a half an hour, it took the police an hour and a half to arrive. Once they were out on the island the terrorist immediately surrendered.
A few hours before the attack, Anders Behring Breivik emailed a 1,500 pages-long right-wing manifesto to selected recipients, and posted a film on youtube.
The manifesto also contains a diary that began back in 2002. The manifesto’s two main headings indicate his targets: “1. The Rise of Cultural Marxism”; “2. Islamic colonization”.
Breivik hated Marxism, internationalism and Islam, and confessed immediately, although he did not admit that his deeds were criminal. On the internet he described himself as conservative, rather than a Nazi or neo-liberal.
He is a practicing Christian, was a Freemason and, in the years 1999-2006, was active in the racist Progress Party, the country’s second-largest party until recently.
He has announced his admiration for the Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders and tried to start a Norwegian branch of the notorious English Defence League.
He was also active on the Swedish Nazi website nordisk. The social-democratic Labour Party in government and the AUF, which for Breivik represented the labour movement, were the targets of his terrorist attack.
Therefore, there is all the more reason for the trade unions, socialists and left-wing organisations to discuss and take initiatives. Conservative politicians and commentators do not know what to say, limiting themselves to empty phrases about democracy and defending Norway.
They wanted everyone to look in another direction. In Sweden, both the racist Sweden Democrats’ press secretary and the front page of the Dagbladet newspaper, as well as political commentator Henrik Brors in Dagens Nyheter, quickly ‘identified’ Islamists as responsible for the attacks.
Now the establishment media and politicians only talk about extremism in general, avoiding a discussion on Breivik’s right-wing agenda. Dagens Nyheter’s editorial page (Sunday, July 24) downgraded the Oslo attack by equating it with the imagined threat from left-wing extremism.
Socialists oppose terrorism
In fact, both Breivik and Al-Qaeda are right-wingers; against the labour movement, socialists, democratic rights and women’s rights. Socialists, however, are opposed to terrorism from both these groups, as well as the state terror carried out by US imperialism and its allies, including Sweden and Norway.
The terrorist attacks last Friday are just as shocking for Norway as September 11 in the United States and the murder of Olof Palme was in Sweden. In Norway, solidarity with the victims was expressed immediately when boat owners, risking their own lives, saved those who were swimming from Utøya.
Mountains of flowers have been placed outside the social-democratic premises and churches. There is the potential for a growing number of workers and youth who will want to get actively involved.
Terrorism is essentially a product of society. The former, stable, welfare-based societies in Norway and Sweden have been eroded with widening gaps and new injustices.
Without the option of fighting workers’ organisations there is room for racists and right-wing extremists to single out scapegoats. Racists, Nazis, and Christian fundamentalists blame the workers, socialists and immigrants.
Establishment politicians pave the way by harsh treatment of refugees and the undermining of solidarity with the attacks on the sick, the unemployed and so on.
To take away the breeding ground for terrorist attacks requires an active, campaigning labour movement internationally. It is necessary to combat terrorism, war, capitalist globalisation and racism.
This must start now, with the mobilisation of workers and young people in mass protest and action against terrorism, and offering a socialist alternative.