Posts Tagged ‘violence’

Anders Breivik’s Plagiarised ‘Manifesto’

25 July 2011

Fascist sculptureIf Anders Breivik has just printed off the internet, maybe we shouldn’t make too much of his manifesto just yet.

Among the blogs I read every day is My Right-Wing Dad, where appalled young American Democrats share emails they’ve received from relatives who have done the “FORWARD TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!!” thing. Among the icky racist cartoons and the odd genuinely funny bulletin-board-style gag are volumes of interminable implausible “research” about Bad People.

It’s the type of content that’s sometimes neither visible on the normal old web, nor hidden in the darknet: the stuff that pings in and out of inboxes, across forums and onto Yahoo! Groups. And if you’ve read that stuff too, Anders Behring Breivik’s “manifesto” must seem drearily familiar.

Why, you might otherwise wonder, would a Norwegian who claims an affinity with England write with the rhythms and cadences of amateur American net culture? And why is he so interested in the 1980s curriculum at Stanford University? The answer may be that Breivik didn’t so much “write” much of what he calls his “book” as copy, paste and twiddle. If you’re fascinated by plagiarism – I know I am – the twiddling will be familiar too – find/replacing terms throughout, the odd rejigging of sentences at the top of paragraphs to leave an apparently new document, still leaving inconsistency in tone, spelling and style.

Hulking chunks of the document come with attributions, and the latte wing of the UK twitterverse is currently sharing mentions of Jeremy Clarkson, Melanie Phillips and other apparent provocateurs; simultaneously scary and pathetic is the amount that should be attributed, but isn’t.

The lengthy “how the world is” section, for example, is a barely-finessed paste of a 2005 report called Political Correctness: A Short History of an Ideology by American think-tank the Free Congress Foundation; Life Site News hosts what appears to be the original. Breivik might have found it all together, or in the various forms it’s been scattered across the net.

Here’s an extract from Chapter 1, What is “Political Correctness”? by William S. Lind, apparently a military pundit and sometime senatorial aide:

"If a man from America of the 1950s were suddenly introduced into America in the 2000s, he would hardly recognize it as the same country. He would be in immediate danger of getting mugged, carjacked or worse, because he would not have learned to live in constant fear. He would not know that he shouldn’t go into certain parts of the city, that his car must not only be locked but equipped with an alarm, that he dare not go to sleep at night without locking the windows and bolting the doors – and setting the electronic security system."

And here’s Breivik, changing the location to Europe:

"If a man of the 1950s were suddenly introduced into Western Europe in the 2000s, he would hardly recognise it as the same country. He would be in immediate danger of getting mugged, carjacked or worse, because he would not have learned to live in constant fear. He would not know that he shouldn’t go into certain parts of the city, that his car must not only be locked but equipped with an alarm, that he dare not go to sleep at night without locking the windows and bolting the doors – and setting the electronic security system."

From Chapter 2, The Historical Roots of “Political Correctness” by Raymond V. Raehn, apparently a strategist:

"The significance of the historical roots of Political Correctness cannot be fully appreciated unless Betty Friedan’s revolution in sex roles is viewed for what it really was – a manifestation of the social revolutionary process begun by Karl Marx. Friedan’s reliance on Abraham Maslow’s reflection of Frankfurt School ideology is simply one indicator. Other indicators include the correspondence of Friedan’s revolution in sex roles with Georg Lukacs’ annihilation of old values and the creation of new ones, and with Herbert Marcuse’s transvaluation of values. But the idea of transforming a patriarchy into a matriarchy – which is what a sex-role inversion is designed to do – can be connected directed to Friedrich Engels book The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the Sate. First published in 1884, this book popularized the now-accepted feminist belief that deep-rooted discrimination against the oppressed female sex was a function of patriarchy."

And Breivik:

"The significance of the historical roots of Political Correctness cannot be fully appreciated unless Betty Friedan’s revolution in sex roles is viewed for what it really was – a manifestation of the social revolutionary process begun by Karl Marx. Friedan’s reliance on Abraham Maslow’s reflection of Frankfurt School ideology is only one indicator. Other indicators include the correspondence of Friedan’s revolution in sex roles with Georg Lukacs’ annihilation of old values and the creation of new ones, and with Herbert Marcuse’s transvaluation of values. But the idea of transforming a patriarchy into a matriarchy – which is what a sex-role inversion is designed to do – can be connected directly to Friedrich Engels book The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. First published in 1884, this book popularised the now-accepted feminist belief that deep- rooted discrimination against the oppressed female sex was a function of patriarchy. "

Finally for now, here’s the end of Chapter 3, Political Correctness in Higher Education by T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr, apparently a Reagan aide:

"One of Edmund Burke’s most famous sayings is that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” For generations, Americans have treated higher education with respect and awe – a token of their faith in the liberating power of the liberal arts. But in the face of Political Correctness, it is time for the American public to temper its respect with a critical sensibility and to undertake a more direct effort to call academia to account. It is time for good men and women to demand that American higher education live up to its best traditions and eschew the tyranny of Political Correctness."

And, again, with a transatlantic transplant:

"One of Edmund Burke’s most famous sayings is that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” For generations, Western Europeans and Americans have treated higher education with awe – a token of their faith in the liberating power of the liberal arts. But in the face of political correctness, it is time for the Western European and American public to temper its respect with a critical sensibility, and to undertake a more direct effort to call academia to account. It is time for good men and women to demand that Western European higher education live up to its best traditions and eschew the tyranny of political correctness."

If this really took Brievik nine years, someone should have told him about CRTL+C; CRTL+V. You don’t need to type it all back in again. “Nine years” is a great line to get attention, but not one to be repeated without a bit of scepticism.

There’s plenty more, of course: Unabomber borrowings; reading lists cribbed from university courses, inevitable Wikipedia scrapes, and a critique of mass media seemingly lifted from an old leftish site after the removal of an approving reference to a John Pilger programme about Palestine. If you’ve ever said to yourself, “what a world we live in!”, you’ll probably shudder as you find something you agree with: even the bonkers end of the net is right at least twice a day.

It looks at the moment as if Breivik is positioning his murders as a kind of “marketing” for these pages of bilge, hoping they’ll be translated and read across the globe. So here’s the thing.

We should bear in mind that Brievik hasn’t, as some reports have it, proved himself “articulate”, or “well-read”, or some kind of intellectual mastermind. There’s little in his manifesto that couldn’t be produced after an all-nighter on the net hopped up on meds. There are, let’s say, plenty of self-published first-time authors whose work deserves more serious attention.

The manifesto might contain technical clues of use to the police; it  might contain political or philosophical clues as to why he did what he did. I’d be fascinated if it did, but I don’t know, and neither do you.

Perhaps Boris Johnson is right, and this is a story about “a narcissist and egomaniac who could not cope with being snubbed” by a girl “in favour of a man of Pakistani origin”; perhaps anti-conservative commentators are right that the amount of hate-text and fear-screeds already published are necessary or sufficient for acts of terrorism. It’s – obv – far too early to say.

But it’s not too early to say that Breivik is trying to build up his pontification in court today in the hope that international media will handle it like an evil genius’s plot-changing scene in a thriller rather than a mish-mash of other people’s wibble. That would seem to be missing the point and playing a loser’s game.