Monday, February 06, 2012

Taking the Far Right Seriously

Well, we made The Guardian again today. And, since the author of the piece below said similar things in his radio appearance, we also made the BBC (the audio is here).

The EDL has staged a couple of successful operations over the past few days. Maybe that’s why the house organs of the Left have felt compelled to load their rhetorical shotguns with salt and spray it in all directions.

I have to admit to a sneaking admiration for Matthew Goodwin’s mastery of propagandistic techniques. As an amateur polemicist, I can see the devious effectiveness of listing Gates of Vienna and Storm Front side by side. GoV, Nazis — same thing!

Right? Right!

Let’s face it: July 22, 2011 provided the far Left with the exact opportunity they had been waiting for: a real right-wing terrorist — the first since 1995! The children’s bodies had barely thumped to the shore of Utøya when the op-eds started rolling out of the presses denouncing the “extreme right”.

Notice how the case against us is framed. We’re “not openly violent”, “nor do [we] advocate violence as a political strategy”, but that’s not enough to exonerate us. Our motives in rejecting violence are merely tactical: “most parties on the far-right wing reject violence because of their electoral ambitions.”

Yup. Uh-huh. That must be it. If I weren’t worried about my future prospects on the hustings, I’d be out there spraying all the Progressives with my AK-47, wouldn’t I?

As if it were impossible for a person to hold right-wing views and still reject violence as a matter of principle!

Our opinions are said to encourage a “culture of violence” — which assertion is impossible to disprove, since the Left believes that violence is inherent is the principles espoused by conservatives. To disagree with the connection between conservatism and violence is to reveal yourself as weak-minded, foolish, or perhaps — gasp! — a secret fellow-traveler of conservatism. The horror!

Anders Behring Breivik (or whoever wrote his manifesto) is said to have been inspired by the extreme right, which therefore must bear at least partial responsibility for the psychopath’s slaughter last summer.

Funnily enough, the same argument is never considered when the ideological arrow points in the opposite direction. Karl Marx inspired inter alia Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, and Pol Pot. At a conservative estimate, these five men were responsible for the deaths of a hundred million people.

Yet Marx has lost none of his luster. He is highly revered in the cloisters of academia, from Berkeley to Barcelona to Brisbane. His philosophy is lovingly transmitted from generation to generation by the guardians of our cultural inheritance within the ivied halls of our finest educational institutions.

Yes, the rules are different for us “right-wing extremists”. But we knew that coming in, didn’t we? None of us can honestly claim to be surprised by all this.

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Excerpts from Mr. Goodwin’s remarks in The Guardian are below. I’ve bolded some phrases that are relevant to this discussion. They serve as reminders of the arguments that are likely to be used on both sides of the Atlantic when the time comes to carry out the wishes of the OIC and crack down on all the dangerous “Islamophobes”:

The threat of far-right extremism warrants more than lip service

The committee report on the roots of violent radicalisation draws attention to the danger of ignoring far-right activity

by Matthew Goodwin

Have we got the balance right in our current approach to countering extremism? For much of the past decade, western states have focused the bulk of attention on tackling al-Qaida-inspired terrorism, and the underlying processes of radicalisation that lead some citizens toward this specific form of violent extremism. The result is a large body of evidence on both the terrorist groups, and the factors that “push and pull” some individuals into engaging in violence on their behalf.

Given the new priorities of national security that emerged in the shadow of 9/11, this focus was both justified and understandable. But more than 10 years on, the challenge from extremism looks rather different. This point is reflected in a home affairs committee report on the roots of violent radicalisation, that is published today, and to which I gave evidence. As the report points out, while al-Qaida-inspired terrorism remains the dominant threat, the challenge from extremism is becoming more varied, and hence requires a more holistic approach.

In particular, the report notes that one form of extremism that has remained neglected for too long is the far right. Though often derided as a lunatic fringe or a movement of “ignoramuses and bigots”, the far right continues to escape our serious attention. As the report points out, one view held by many is that government strategy on counter-extremism “only pays lip service to the threat from extreme far-right terrorism”. In contrast, and after collecting evidence from a range of different experts and opinions, the committee concluded there was “persuasive evidence about the potential threat from the growth of far-right organisations”, and that “[t]he Prevent Strategy should outline more clearly the actions to be taken to tackle far-right radicalisation”.

For those of us who have long argued about the need to take the far right more seriously, this point is particularly welcome. The vast majority of far-right parties in Europe are not openly violent, and nor do they advocate violence as a political strategy. Nor, with some notable exceptions, are most supporters of these parties pro-violence. While there are borderline cases in Europe, such as the National Democratic Party (NPD), which is currently under the microscope because of its links to a violent neo-Nazi cell, most parties on the far-right wing reject violence because of their electoral ambitions.

But while not openly violent, I would argue that many of these movements do foster a culture of violence among followers, and a particular set of narratives that would deem violence acceptable under certain conditions. Like most political movements, the far right offers supporters its own vision of society, and reasons for them to get actively involved. But unlike mainstream parties, the narratives that the far right cultivate among its supporters — or what are known in social science as their “vocabularies of motive” — are in many respects different.


Furthermore, like previous decades, these narratives are further embedded through “narrowcasting”, whereby supporters obtain their news and information from only one source. In this way, and like other extremist groups, the far right often manipulates statistics and events in a way that amplifies notions of threat, survivalism, urgency and action. For Breivik, this process appears to have taken place within prominent far-right blogs, such as Gates of Vienna. In Britain, it is found within websites such as StormFront.

Like today’s report, my view is that we need to take this movement and its potential for violence far more seriously. If Norway taught us anything, it is that dismissing the far right as a collection of cranks is an outdated and inaccurate view. More research is needed on what might “trip” someone like Breivik from joining a radical far-right party into violence or, alternatively, what might pull these individuals back from the brink. But overall, we need to modify our view of this movement, and its adherents.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

Matthew Goodwin has written similar material on numerous occasions in the past. Check his archive in the Grauniad if you’re interested, or see this piece, which was written while the smell of cordite still hung in the air over Utøya.

Many thanks to DF for all the background material.


Anonymous said...

Breivik is not psychotic

Forensic expert Henning Værøy:
- There is no way I can find any trace of psychosis with Breivik

- He does, however, seem to be a very immature person with extreme political points of view, says Værøy after Breivik's court appearance in Oslo on Monday

What Værøy said in November 2011:
"It is difficult to draw the line between extreme political opinions and psychosis in psychiatry"

Chiu ChunLing said...

One of the most profound divisions in political discourse is between those that believe that politics and violence are separate and those that understand that they are fundamentally inextricable.

It seems that, for the naive person of formless good-will shaped by a civilized upbringing where kindness and "fair play" are among the guiding principles of how they were taught to assess right and wrong, there seems to be a strong temptation to imagine that the process of government is one in which all the "reasonable" people agree to something and then the issue is settled. Those who resort to "violence" to get their way are bad and one doesn't think too hard about what to call the response of those hired by the "reasonable" people, its "law-enforcement", and is thus somehow not an exercise in violence to have things the way the "reasonable" people want them.

For many of the "reasonable" people, concerned as they are with kindness and "fair play", it is not even "violence" when they resort personally to coercive force (rather than trusting to the employees of the state) to have their way.

This is not to say that defining "violence" cannot be a serious philosophical pursuit that goes beyond simplistic ideas about absolute personal boundaries that perfectly define individual spheres of rightful liberty. But meaningful participation in such discourse cannot precede the recognition that all political activity is ultimately aimed at deciding questions by the use of limitless coercive force.

To denigrate as "Machiavellian" all examinations of the actual methods by which governments necessarily operate under the strictures of real world conditions is not just a disservice to a clever and humane (for an Italian) Renaissance philosopher. It reveals a dangerous predisposition to excuse without qualification any degree of violence undertaken in pursuit of one's own agenda while deploring every other agenda because of it's violence. The fact is that every discussion of what people should do ultimately comes down to a discussion of how far we are justified in going to accomplish our ends. The only way to avoid that is to simply assume unlimited justification for anything that serves oneself rather than examining the question openly.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force.

Chiu Chun-Ling.

Anonymous said...

One of the psychiatrists stated that Breiviks belief that Europe was in War against Islam prooved his insanity.
11/30/2011 8:59 AM

Arfan Bhatti, "The Face of Islam in Norway", in front of Norwegian Parliament, January 2012

"Faktum er at Norge er i krig med islam og muslimer, sa Bhatti."

"It's a fact that Norway is at war with islam and muslims, said Bhatti"

Arfan Bhatti, "The Face of Islam in Norway"
- His own words about his ambitions on the SKUP seminar for Norwegian journalists March 2010.

(How could he grow such a long beard in less than a year?)

Anonymous said...

- Beard extensions..?

Anonymous said...

Yet Matthew Goodwin and The Guardian and the BBC cannot be ignorant of the Europol TE-SAT terrorism reports every year. They show that Breivik was a black swan -- most swans are white, and most terrorism in europe is by the left (animal rights, ethno-nationalists) and by muslims.

The incidence of right-wing terrorism is notable by its absence. That's not to say there will not be more who follow the lead of Breivik. But then again, it seems that the governments of europe actually want civil war. Why else invite en masse into every country of Euroep a religious group that sees itself as supremacist, non-integrationist and pan-national.

I have no doubt at all that the Europe of 2040 will make the late 20th century conflict in Northern Ireland look like child's play. And there is no-one to blame for what will be happening in 2040, but the power elite. They brought this on your grand-children.

Chiu ChunLing said...

There is indeed a danger that the 'success' of Breivik's attacks may inspire additional terrorist activity, just as the 'success' of Islamic terrorists seems to have inspired Breivik's attacks. But this terrorismt is unlikely to be "right-wing" in nature. The "right-wing", including actual extremists rather than mere social conservatives, were generally dismayed and upset by Breivik, and seem unlikely to use his tactics (clearly cribbed from Jihadist and anarchist methods) very appealing.

We should be very clear on what is and is not terrorism, especially as this is one of the terms that practitioners of double-think would like to obscure so as to use it for their own purposes.

Terrorism is a specific political philosophy of exerting influence over governments and populations by the use of attacks which have no definite objective aside from the creation of a state of fear and uncertainty.

Thus, an advocate of animal rights who highlights the issue of animal cruelty by throwing blood or paint on persons wearing fur is a terrorist, since the attack accomplishes nothing other than to make people afraid they will come under attack should they be seen as an enemy of animal rights. It does not directly or even indirectly assist in making the lives of animals better unless the attack creates enough fear to stop people from buying fur. Indeed, should the persons attacked be undeterred, and instead buy more (and perhaps lower cost) furs to offset the damage, the animal cruelty involved in wearing fur is only exacerbated.

On the other hand, a community activist concerned about gang violence who decides to kill the most violent members of local gangs will effect a direct reduction in the amount of gang violence, by virtue of the elimination of those individuals directly responsible for much of the violence. True, the indirect effects may actually worsen the violence, perhaps by generating popular sympathy for the gangs and provoking retaliatory attacks against the community. But this does not alter the fact that there is a definite mechanism at work, other than widespread fear, which could produce the result desired by the community activist.

When we send thieves to prison or murderers to the execution block, there is a real and measurable reduction in the crimes that they commit which does not depend on other criminals being made afraid. It depends only on the fact that those who have demonstrated a tendency to commit those crimes are being rendered incapable of committing any more. Thus while it is appropriate to discuss the role of deterrence in reducing crime rates, removal of a given criminal's ability to carry out future crimes is not terroristic (even if criminals are inordinately afraid of such punishment).

While it is not necessarily true that every use of coercive force to achieve an aim is justified, actual terrorism is distinct because it absolutely depends on the terror generated to bring about the desired results. This means that acts of terrorism generally tend to have a very different character from other means of affecting behavior. They will be more overtly horrific because generating horror is pretty much the entire point of the exercise.

Chiu Chun-Ling.

Anonymous said...

Ill just point out that Leftwing terrorism and violence remains leaps and bounds above and beyond any Rightwing or Conservative violence/terrorism.

Where was this guy, when Repsect, Stop the War Coalition, Code Pink and their Communist, Socialist, and Islamic brethern were on the march post 9/11. We had a terrorist plot by American Leftwingers to blow up and attack the GOP National Presidential Convention, FFS!

Radicalism on the Right is reactionary to the radicalism of the Left and Islamics. Just like neighborhood citizen crime watch groups wouldnt exist without gang violence. Who are these radical armed citizens marching up and down the street with flashlights, the horror!

Nemesis said...

I have still to read anything at all that convinces me that the murderer Breivik is 'right wing' let alone 'far right wing' as those who propagandize his murderous rampage for their own political views try to demonstate.

Breivik has classed himself as a 'nationalist' and as anyone being familiar with that kind of description knows, nationalism can straddle both sides of politics.

That the Left immediately went on the rampage and produced some very clever, but nevertheless, flawed in thinking articles was of no surprise to this commenter. I guess the only 'good' thing that has come out of all that vitriolic ranting about 'far right conspiracies' is that the astute reader with some political perception will see them for the propaganda that they are. And isn't that why left wing media sources, particularly newspapers, are declining in circulation numbers while those with a more open face remain steady, or are growing in circulation, like Sydney's Daily Telegraph?

Reading some of the comments from that Guardian article only reinforces, in my mind at least, that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you will never fool all of the people all of the time.

And make good sense with both those comments.

Baron, I can't see any reason why you should be concerned about being lumped together with the National Front. There will always be those who will run with whatever they are told, but the thinkers will always bother to check the sources.

Anonymous said...

The Left by it's nature will use any disaster or act of violence as a excuse to condemn the Right.

Take for example the Gifford's shooting in Tucson,Arizona. Immediately after the shooting the Left and their puppet sheriff went on a PR offensive to attack Sarah Palin as the instigator of the shooting and tarring the Republican party in general because they support gun ownership.

The fact is, is that the shooter was just insane and that his family refused to have him put in a psych ward even after he threatened to kill people numerous times. Even though the facts didn't match the Lefty PR offensive, it didn't matter.

This is what the Right is facing.

Chiu ChunLing said...

It certainly is true that one of the greatest weaknesses of the theory that Breivik was part of a false-flag operation is that the documented political views he supposedly killed for don't seem really identifiable as having much of anything to do with those espousing the preservation of indigenous European culture. Of course, that can be explained by the awareness of the leftists controlling the narrative that exposing the actual principles of current "right-wing" movements is far more likely to generate sympathy for them with Europeans who value the foundational values of their own civilization. Thus the presentation of Breivik's mockery of ideology as being representative of "right-wing extremism" despite having almost nothing identifiable in common with any actually significant movement.

I do not feel that it is unreasonable to take umbrage at unfair propagandistic tactics masquerading as journalism. And while certainly those already trained to critically examine arguments will not need assistance in seeing such articles for the rubbish they are, the truth is that skilled thinkers have a responsibility to the portion of humanity that just want to get on with their lives. Not everyone can engage in really independent thinking, even assuming that they wanted to do so. And while I certainly value the art of reason, I recognize that there are other virtuous pursuits to which talent and personal inclination may lead others.

Just as people may rightfully benefit the opportunity to enjoy beautiful music or paintings without themselves having attained any skill in those areas, so too those who (whether by choice or nature) lack the forensic insight to themselves dissect the logical flaws in a piece of propaganda might welcome a well-crafted refutation written by someone dedicated to argumentation.

Of course, people with no appreciation for logic might choose irrational propaganda over reasoned analysis. But that's their choice.

Chiu Chun-Ling.

månesteiner said...

"Notice how the case against us is framed. We’re “not openly violent”, “nor do [we] advocate violence as a political strategy”, but that’s not enough to exonerate us."

The Left is obsessed with smearing the Right as being forever on the verge of violence. That's so much easier than actually addressing the particulars of the argument.

I remember an essay from the Norwegian blogger Bjørn Stærk where he played that hand against Anti-Jihadist writers in general and Fjordman in particular.

"Clearly none of these writers have ever advocated violence. But it is equally clear that there are parts of the anti-Islamic ideology that are compatible with violence"

"compatible with violence"? What does that even mean?

If you break it down "compatible with violence" means almost nothing at all. To say X is compatible with Y is probably the weakest logical association one can make between any two things.

Eating a cheese sandwich is compatible with violence. I could eat a cheese sandwich and quietly watch a movie or I could eat a cheese sandwich and hit my neighbor over the head with a hammer.

So yes, eating a cheese sandwich, or the contents of Fjordman's writings, are, by the inane and weak association of "compatibility", compatible with violence.

Bjørn Stærk knows that the Anti-Jihadists don't advocate violence. He also knows that they don't encourage violence. But he still feels compelled to somehow associate Fjordman and other anti-Jihadists writers with violence. That is a shameful attempt to avoid the discussion.

Anonymous said...

The "right-wing", including actual extremists rather than mere social conservatives, were generally dismayed and upset by Breivik,

breivik killed white people.

Dymphna said...

The previous anon said:

breivik killed white people.

I guess the socialist kids group didn't invite anyone of color to their camp?? Or maybe they did. I haven't read the list of those killed.

ABB had intended to go there to kill the PM, but when the politician's schedule changed, ABB decided to go kill ppl anyway. Wouldn't get as good a chance again...

Breivik got his revenge on several levels when he killed the children of the elites' political party -- the one his stepfather (or was it his father?) used on a number of occasions as an example to ABB of his own inferiority because he'd never belong.

This isn't about white people. It was a delusional and murderous drama played out for his own "reasons"...

It's about Norway's political elites. In Scandinavia how could the ruling class be other than white?

Breivik was killing his cohorts. Please don't reduce a grandiose, convoluted delusional and murderous acting-out to "killing white people".

It demeans his victims.