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The Heart of Utoya

Written By: - Date published: 8:09 am, July 31st, 2011 - 46 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags:

So Breivik has given us an eyes wide open gaze into the abyss. Chilling isn’t it? Much has been written in the last week about the political atrocity he committed, yet this article in the Sunday Star Times today is equally wrong. Here is why.

Many years ago I recall listening to a BBC correspondent reporting from the war in Kosovo. It was one of those 30min slots which allowed for some real depth. And for the first 15min or so we got depths alright. All these years later and I’ve still heard nothing quite so graphic or disturbing. It detailed what happened when war came to these small towns and villages, when neighbours who’d lived as companions all their lives found themselves and their families on wrong sides at wrong moments.

I’m tempted to go for effect and retell one story that haunts me still, about a girl gang-raped in her own home and what they did with her eyes afterwards. Sometimes you have to think that if us humans had any conscience at all we would collectively and simultaneously simply cease to exist under our cumulative, crushing burden of shame. But that will do.

The crucial question this BBC man asked was this. How was it that these people who had grown up together, had lived, worked, traded and married among each other… could so tragically turn on each other with such venom? How did this happen in a country that while it had it’s problems, like all others, was a by and large quiet, pleasant place to visit and have a nice holiday?

And the answer he made was the best I have heard yet.

The fact is that there is always evil among us. The psychopaths and misfits, the dysfunctional and the angry who are always capable of these acts. There are a thousand Breiviks lurking at any moment, who’ve sedulously nutured a myriad narrow grievances to justify their hatreds. They are the loners, both physically and metaphorically, who’ve drifted too far away from the rest of us. Human love hasn’t touched them in too long, their souls starved, their egos fed fat with grief, anger and bitterness.

In the normal course of events society holds them in check. The will of the majority acts to suppress and for the very large part prevent their twisted idle fantasies from become real.

But not all times are normal, and all societies have their hidden fault lines. These cracks in the human psyche can be racial, or religious, or economic… but for the most part they lie dormant. Yet they store a dark power… a power that ambitious actors, self-serving political leaders sometimes seek to exploit for their own personal advancement. When the political discourse becomes tainted with this poison, deliberately fed to us … those evil ones at the bottom of society, thrive upon it. Their dark plots, their soaring orgies of death are suddenly, instead of being vile and unacceptable, are now vindicated. And the unacceptable suddenly becomes possible… approved of even. Instead of universal voices of condemnation, you know there are others out there who will believe you died a hero.

Of course no-one necessarily directed Breivik to make these bombs, arm himself and commit slaughter. But his motives for these evil acts were empowered by those who approved of them.

And it only takes one act at the wrong moment, one act of terror that strikes unreasoning fear and loathing into the ordinary people, and these dormant fault lines are activated. The people polarise into mutually suspicious, energetically fearful blocks. One act of terror becomes several, and they feed on each other. Then… and this is the dread thing…. society unzips from the bottom upwards in an unstoppable torrent of death. No-one is exempt, nowhere is safe.

John Key was correct in this particular… this unravelling can happen ahywhere, it is wrong to think little safe NZ is somehow immune.

The lesson we must learn from Breivik is not the one he had in mind. We must learn, as each generation must, that the correct response to terror is to have the courage to face it fully in all its pale dripping ugliness, and to reject the power it seeks to have over us.

The lesson we must learn from Breivik is not the one he had in mind. The correct response to terror is the courage to mourn your losses with dignity, and facing your enemy ask, “Is that the best you can do?” And then patiently seek justice… not vengence.

The lesson we must learn from Breivik is not the one he had in mind. He sought to activate our fault lines. And we must learn to disarm them.

This is why we will not tolerate the injustices of casual sexism, racism, greedy exploitation and callous cruelty, because these acts only feed the subterranian tensions between us. All these non-essential differences must be put aside. There is but one human race, there is but one planet that nutures us, and all the life we share it with.

This is the lesson at the heart of Utoya.


46 comments on “The Heart of Utoya”

  1. higherstandard 1

    I whole heartedly agree.

  2. vto 2

    Yes well said Mr Logix. I agree that things in many areas of life can come suddenly undone, rupturing as said along subterranean faultlines.

    It is at times a thin veneer.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    In tough times and economic decline, extremist groups always pick up momentum. People feel excluded and angry about what is going on in their society and they turn to those who vent the same feelings and anger.

    Turning individuals disconnected from broader society against others and against those vulnerable is part of that.

    The NZ Herald says Breivik was networked into a massive Right Wing nationalistic network which spanned across all of Europe.


  4. Jenny 4

    But not all times are normal, and all societies have their hidden fault lines. These cracks in the human psyche can be racial, or religious, or economic… but for the most part they lie dormant. Yet they store a dark power… a power that ambitious actors, self-serving political leaders sometimes seek to exploit for their own personal advancement. When the political discourse becomes tainted with this poison, deliberately fed to us … those evil ones at the bottom of society, thrive upon it. Their dark plots, their soaring orgies of death are suddenly, instead of being vile and unacceptable, are now vindicated. And the unacceptable suddenly becomes possible… approved of even.


    In today’s Herald On Sunday, Matt McCarten puts the same thing, this way:

    “Targeting the vulnerable has no place here”

    Over the years in New Zealand we have had our share of organised race scaremongering over Asians, Pacific Islanders and Maori. But gays, unionists, the unemployed and other beneficiaries have been regularly included too. We will always have among us psychotics with murderous intentions. They seem to poke their heads up when the political climate is heightened by politicians creating a space for these nuts to think of their delusions as justifiable.
    One of the things I’m proud of about New Zealand is that most Kiwis consider themselves fair-minded and accepting of others. Consequently, these sorts of hate campaigns have never gained a permanent hold of our body politic.

    That is a way we can honour those poor murdered and broken kids on the island of Utoya, who were only there because they wanted to make a contribution to the democratic life of their world.

    We have an election in a few months. Any politician who demonises a vulnerable sector of our society for expedient political gain should not receive our vote.

    I’m sure that would be the legacy the Norwegian dead would want to leave us.

    Matt McCarten

    • RedLogix 4.1

      Thanks Jenny… Matt is reliably onnit.

      We have an election in a few months. Any politician who demonises a vulnerable sector of our society for expedient political gain should not receive our vote.

      The lesson is that it’s not just bad politics; at the wrong moment it can be hideously dangerous as well.

    • weka 4.2

      Aye, and it’s why the raids on Tuhoe and activists were particularly despicable. Demonising completely the wrong people but doing it in a way that encourages the people that are the real problem.

      • grumpy czeching in 4.2.1

        Oh, come on now.

        You mean we should clamp down on extremists running around in the bush with guns – but it’s OK if they are Tuhoe and Pakeha radicals??????

        • lprent

          How about giving up on the idiotic rhetoric. As far as I can see from the available information:-

          1. The weapons were reasonably controlled (at least as well as farms I’ have been on). There weren’t people banging off rounds into the air trying to hit frigging magpies.

          2. At the training camps they weren’t running around in the bush with guns. Where they were using weapons it was in a basic range.

          3. What they were doing bears more similarities with the rah-rah exercises I did when I was still around corporates than when I was in the army.

          4. As far as I can see most of the people charged are not extremists. There are a couple of people that I wouldn’t want to get too damn close to. But I can find similar idiots at any rural pub on a friday night as well. Not to mention the “accident waiting to happen” feeling I get when ever I’m around some gun ‘enthusiasts’

          Basically if you want to discuss this stuff then please drop the phrases that immediately associate you with the morons of the sewer. You know the ones – those who appear to be incapable of understanding anything unless it is phrased as some preprogrammed meaningless and inaccurate phrase. Something like “extremists running around in the bush with guns”.

          The people that seems to best describe in operation 8 were probably some of the police.

          • grumpy czeching in

            Let’s wait for the court case eh?

            You’re up early this morning…….

  5. Its not about ‘evil’ as some inborn lurking troll waiting for the right moment to jump out.
    ‘Evil’ is something society does to people. And in particular capitalist society which reduces people to ciphers in the market devoid of humanity. What passes today for humanity is what survives that dehumanisation process. We see it in the Middle East when people fuse as a single force to fight dictatorship.
    The particular ‘evil’ that Redlogic addresses has been searched into most deeply by those who asked why fascism? in the interwar period. One in particular Wilhelm Reich a Marxist psychoanalyst in his books like ‘Listen Little Man’. What seems like some inborn evil force is in reality an authoritarian personality that is the product of capitalism where people are raised as passive victims of an exploitative and oppressive system, and when being offered a plausible reason for their pain, the alien, the jew, the criminal, the communist, then submit themselves to authority and follow the strong leader. Hence the Authoritarian Personality (more commonly knows as ‘passive/aggressive) as normal under capitalism.
    Such a personality type explains better the willingness of masses of people to submit to inhuman actions in the name of some greater good such as racial purity, family values, the national ‘spirit’ etc all the so-called values that underpin 20th century fascism, and some of them to become the shock troops of violent reaction.
    Fascism is a social movement that comes into existence when capitalist crises raise the prospect of socialist revolution, and the ruling class must mobilise social support in disaffected elements to smash that threat. That is why while particular scapegoat groups are chosen, Jews, Muslims, etc the real target is always the threat of ‘communism’ as the post-capitalist moment of modernity when all the old divisions are replaced by the ‘commune’ and in particular that which underlies all that is ‘evil’ in capitalism – private property.
    That’s why Breivik and all those who appeal to such exclusive and particularistic values against the rise of modernity, cosmopolitanism and ‘multiculturalism’, are neo-fascists targeting the biggest threat of all, the rising up of the ‘socialist’, ‘cultural Marxist’ even social democratic masses against the system that dehumanises them and replace it with real freedom based on equality.

  6. aj 6

    Thank you redlogix (and Matt McCarten) for so eloquently pointing out why we must continue to have faith in humanity

    • SHG 6.1

      This would be the Matt McCarten who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the UNITE workers, right?

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        And that, if it’s true, means he was wrong how?

        • SHG

          It means he’s a hypocrite and I shouldn’t listen to him full stop. I’m sure Winston Peters occasionally says sensible things too.

          • Colonial Viper

            Guess you don’t listen to hypocrites Paula Bennett, Bill English or John Key either.

            • SHG

              Arent the lefties supposed to be the good guys? Doesn’t that mean that when a union leader steals hundreds of thousands of dollars from the hardworking Kiwis he represents, that’s EVEN WORSE than when a fatcat company owner does it?

              • Colonial Viper

                So you only pay attention to bad guy righty hypocrites, not good guy leftie hypocrites?

          • Draco T Bastard

            People can be right about some things and wrong about others. Sure, he can’t thunder with self-righteousness about tax cheats and I haven’t seen anything to prove that he stole from Unite. Neither of these things are part of what he wrote about in his column.

      • Deadly_NZ 6.1.2

        It wasn’t workers money tosspot!!! it was IRD’s money.
        Link —> http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/5342791/IRD-chasing-Matt-McCarten-company

        Go read Then come back and try again Troll.

  7. Jenny 7

    I well remember the times when at the height of Winston Peters anti-immigrant campaign in the ’90s, the number of violent attacks against immigrants increased almost overnight.

    There were several news reports of Asian men and women being assaulted as they walked in the street.

    One of the most notorious cases was an organised campaign against a Somali family of refugees in Mt Roskill who were terrorised by stone throwing gangs who regularly gathered outside their rental house to smash the windows.

    These attacks came to an end when a large anti-racist protest called on Anzac day (which was joined by some old soldiers straight from the Anzac day celebrations, some wearing their medals), marched through the main streets of this Auckland suburb denouncing Winston Peters racist scapegoating and urging residents to reject racism. The large turn out of locals supporting the march discouraged the racists who had felt that they had been given legitimacy by Peters public statements.

    Will Don Brash’s plans to run an electoral campaign of slurs against Maori and beneficiaries also encourage thugs to violence?

    • SHG 7.1

      I well remember the times when at the height of Winston Peters anti-immigrant campaign in the ’90s, the number of violent attacks against immigrants increased almost overnight.

      That’s why I instantly feel positively-inclined towards a political party whose leader flatly rules out a partnership deal with Winston Peters.

      And why I feel instant antipathy towards a political party whose leader leaves the door open to working with Peters if it would gain that party the Government benches.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        So you criticise ACT and Brash for their recent advertisements attacking Maori? And think that John Key should rule out working with them?

  8. Bill 8

    Breivik perceived a threat to an external authority he believed in. He had (has) an image of that authority that is informed as much by nostalgic myth as anything else. His equivalence with that fiction resulted in a perceived threat being experienced on a personal level.

    And that’s not evil. It’s sadly prevalent. Many a person identifies with a sports team, builds a myth around that focus and reacts emotionally to events connected to ‘their’ team. And those emotional reactions often include violence. Different magnitude, but same thing.

    Putting the specifics of Breivik aside, there is a world of difference in the effect of individual acts in a coherent functioning society and the effects of acts of individuals in dysfunctional or broken down societies. One doesn’t equate to the other and neither does one usher in the other. In the former situation, presiding centers of authority prevent the ascendancy of any would be pretenders or their organisations and sanction them according to their own rules. That’s not the case in the latter scenario.

    In the event of social breakdown there is no effective presiding authority.

    That wouldn’t be a problem if we were answerable to society for our actions. But we allow ourselves to be answerable to power; to various authorities that preside over society instead. That’s the nub of the problem.

    When those authorities disintergrate, a power vacuum presents itself…there is a ‘free for all’… and conflict or competition aimed at assuming the mantle of authority ensues. And since we are inured to appealing to external authority rather than assuming and excercising our society’s affairs ourselves…directly and democratically…we become subject to a ‘roll of the dice’ to determine the nature of the authority that will hold sway over our lives.

    Ultimately we defer, either fearfully or willingly to the next set of rulers (the ‘will’ of the majority). And there will always be a next set of rulers…and a next set…and a next set, because it is the nature of heirachy that it will ‘crystalise’ and implode under the weight of its inertia at some point in time.

    And in the space between the formation and disintegration of external ( ie detached and heirarchical) authority, expressions of human behaviour will be as expressions of human behaviour are within environments that legitimise disparities of power and agency.

  9. Oligarkey 9

    It’s too easy to blame the social outsiders imo. In my experience it’s creative, intuitive types, who are too conscientious to do what it takes to climb the ladder, that end up being socially marginalised. Granted, many lone wolves on the right, in no way fit this description. But it’s unfair to charge all socially marginalised people with this mentality.

    The real evil actually exists at an institutional level. The international mafia (Cosa Nostra), intelligence, security service, banking, military and secret society nexus is collectively a very closed and insular world. It’s a faceless evil which operates ultimately on a means-to-ends basis. To them, the world is “the grand chessboard”. No crime is too heinous. The darkness which is inherent in the human psyche is exacerbated by this mutually reinforcing evil at the top. It is a case of “as above, so below”. These evil people have been able to convince most of the rest of us that life is all about competition, when we humans are actually most happy when we’re serving a good common purpose in the spirit of cooperation. Pieces of opinion like this by people on the left actually glaze over these truths, and do much damage to the causes that the left are supposed to be about.

    An extremely committed study of the life and death of John Kennedy is the point i started at to reach these realisations. So to those that think these ideas are “crazy”, i’d simply ask you to think for yourself, and begin with listening to this 5 minute excerpt from a speech by JFK.

  10. Oligarkey 10

    But JFK was just reinforcing what Eisenhower had said in his last speech as president in 1961. This excerpt is only 2 minutes long.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Good clips. I wonder what Eisenhower and Kennedy would make of the State of the Union today.

  11. Oligarkey 11

    If those two videos are enough to spark your interest (and they should be), i’d recommend taking the time to watch the doco series “The men who killed Kennedy” as the next step. There is speculation in this series, but the facts were enough to get me to read more, and now through much reading, and fact checking, i can’t come to any other conclusions than those i’ve expressed above.

  12. SHG 12

    I’m not sure what the word “evil” means in the parent post. Someone want to define it for me?

  13. Vicky32 13

    Extremely well-written, Red Logix, I agree 100%…

  14. Andrei 14

    The crucial question this BBC man asked was this. How was it that these people who had grown up together, had lived, worked, traded and married among each other… could so tragically turn on each other with such venom?

    Because it suited the Socialists in the EU to dismember Yugoslavia and they stirred up nationalism, starting with Slovenia, in order to accomplish their ends.

    And when the lawful Government of Yugoslavia tried to restore law and order as things unravelled, first in Slovenia where it didn’t matter too much, then Croatia where it did and the Bosnia where things came really unglued – that Government was demonized not the least by the BBC.

    And when the lawful Government of the rump of Yugoslavia tried to restore order in Kosovo, you know stop the beheadings, rapes and Church burnings that were occurring there NATO bombed the crap out of Belgrade and also for some strange (not so strange if you understand their real purpose) reason Montenegro.

    And NATO having taken control of Kosovo did not stop the beheadings, rapes and Church burnings in Kosovo – no they continued apace

    And thus was Yugoslavia, a once multicultural and multiconfessional society dismembered by the EUSSR and is now seven, counting Kososv small unviable states ripe for the plucking by the EUSSR, well Slovenia is actually already in their hands.

    • Bill 14.1

      Care to name the socialist governments or institutions, Andrei? And explain what the fuck the military alliance NATO has to do with socialism?

    • Colonial Viper 14.2

      Andrei, you’re taking centuries of ethnic tensions, several clear examples of modern war atrocities, the power vaccuum left from Tito’s death, and blaming it all on the EU? And ‘socialists’? Don’t think so mate.

      • Andrei 14.2.1

        Even the United Nations recommended the Slovenia’s declaration of independence not be recognized but the German’s and the French recognized it any way, thus uncorking the bottle.

        Don’t y’all think it is a little uncanny that the Balkans circa 2011 looks pretty much the way old Adolf had it organized circa 1944.

        I wonder why that is? Can’t be a co-incidence now can it?

        • McFlock

          It’s also pretty similar to how it looked preWW1. So what’s your point?

          • Andrei

            Where did WW1 start my friend? And what was the goal of the aggressor?

            And wasn’t the post war WW1 formation of Yugoslavia an attempt to circumvent similar adventures in the future by creating a strong self sufficient state in the Balkans?

            • Colonial Viper

              Yeah I can tell that talking to Andrei is going to be a historical merry go round of total pointlessness.

              • Andrei

                You don’t even know the history! That is why you still fall for the cargo cult that is Socialism

                • Colonial Viper

                  Yeah I’m a democratic socialist. It is a serious political economic philosophy thank you, not a “cargo cult” lol.

                  And what you say about the Balkan war has no relationship in reality, its your own strange fiction.

                • McFlock

                  To be fair to Andrei, it’s probably an understandable pushbutton for him. A bit like a fmr Eastern European lecturer I had who was good for an extra ten points in any essay if you managed to include the sentence, no matter how thin the pretext, “but this [never/] happened in Eastern Europe and that is why Communism can never work”. Marks for Marx, one might say.

        • Colonial Viper

          I think I’m getting a pretty clear idea of your concept of European politics. Blame ‘Socialist EU’ outsiders for the war and the atrocities insiders waged.

        • Bill

          So the UN (a liberal, though in your world ‘socialist’, institution) recommended that Slovenia not be recognised? As a way to dismember Yugoslavia. (sigh)

          Andrei. There is no doubt that a fuck of a lot of ‘real politik’ went on during that time. And there is no doubt that we were subjected to some pretty partisan propaganda. And no doubt that NATO committed atrocities. And that the UN was ineffective.

          But all that, lamentable and condemnable as it is, has got sfa to do with these socialist conspiracy fantasies you espouse.

  15. ChrisH 15

    It’s interesting to follow USA media stories about increasingly brazen flash mob robberies by the poor as America falls apart, e.g., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jvvarvz3DQc. And then read the comments.

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      In 3rd world and developing countries thieves steal copper cabling right off power and phone lines to sell for scrap metal.

      Now it happening throughout the USA.

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    The number of working New Zealanders needing to stop Kiwisaver payments is another sign that many people are not seeing benefit from growth in the economy, says Grant Robertson Labour’s Finance spokesperson. "There has been an increase of 14 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Fight Club failings
    The Corrections Minister must take full responsibility for the widespread management failings within Mt Eden prison, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rethink welcomed
    The Labour Party is pleased that Craig Foss is reconsidering the return of New Zealand soldiers buried in Malaysia, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “For the families of those who lie there, this will a welcome move. The ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Disappointment over UN vote
    Helen Clark showed her characteristic drive and determination in her campaign to be UN Secretary General, and most New Zealanders will be disappointed she hasn't been selected, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. "Helen Clark has been an ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori need answers on Land Court job losses
    Māori landowners, Māori employees and Treaty partners need answers after a Ministry of Justice consultation document has revealed dozens of roles will be disestablished at the Māori Land Court, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Key’s ‘efficiencies’ = DHBs’ pain
          John Key’s talk of ‘efficiencies’ ignores the fact the Government is chronically underfunding health to the tune of $1.7 billion, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.       ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More than 1,300 schools to face budget cuts
    The latest Ministry of Education figures reveal thousands of schools will face cuts to funding under National’s new operations grant funding model, says Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speculation fever spreads around country
    House prices in Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga are going off as a result of uncontrolled property speculation spilling over from the Auckland market, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Speculators who have been priced out of Auckland are now fanning ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand lags on aid targets
      The National Government needs to live up to its commitments and allocate 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on development assistance, says Labour’s spokesperson on Pacific Climate Change Su’a William Sio.  “The second State of the Environment Report ...
    3 weeks ago
  • War on drugs needs more troops
    The Minister of Police must urgently address the number of officers investigating illegal drugs if she is serious about making a dent in the meth trade, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “Answers from written questions from the Minister show ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Doctors strike symptom of health cuts
    The notice of strike action issued by the junior doctors today is the result of years of National’s cuts to the health system, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government starves RNZ into selling Auckland asset
    Just weeks after TVNZ opened its refurbished Auckland head office costing more than $60 million, RNZ (Radio New Zealand) has been forced to put its Auckland office on the market to keep itself afloat, says Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government must be more than a bystander on the economy
    Despite what he might think John Key is not a political commentator, but actually a leader in a Government who needs to take responsibility for the conditions that mean a rise in interest rates, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “John ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Māori Party all hui no-doey on housing
    The Māori Party should stop tinkering and start fixing tragic Māori housing statistics in the face of a national housing crisis, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesman Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour committed to eliminating child poverty
    Labour accepts the challenge from Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft to cut child poverty and calls on the Prime Minister to do the same, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 weeks ago