lørdag den 21. juli 2012

Reflections on the Oslo right-radical terrorist Anders Breivik, republished hours before the 'Anniversary'

 - republished in remembrance of the victims of the Massacre in Norway on 22nd July 2011 by the right-radical terrorist Anders Breivik

By Claus Piculell,

Whereas the first days after the massacre was a time for silent mourning now is a time for intense reflection and sober analysis ...

After dealing with the immediate shock caused by the heinous act by Oslo terrorist Anders Breivik and showing personal deep sadness and solidarity with all democrats in Norway, I think time has come to reflect a little on the consequences of his terror, his alleged reasons and what to do in the near future to give an appropriate democratic answer.

However, it is not a time for 'pointing fingers' at political actors with thinking and rhetoric that seems similar to that of the terrorist. Nor do we need panic politics or ever more controls but to consider what can be done in real life to counteract radicalization and to encourage democratic dialogue and critical thinking so that no overwrought ideologue can think terrorism is ever on the right side of history.

What we need is an open debate environment where people, even in the highest places, are not afraid to admit to their mistakes and learn from them. Consequently, everybody with a stake in politics needs to reflect carefully on how to react to this tragedy, and of course some need to reflect more than others about this particular incident.

Thus, it is for each active citizen to themselves reflect on what he or she can do to prevent further instances of terrorism and to strengthen the democracy that the terrorist wants to overthrow, and we must all enter into a dialogue - a much belated dialogue - on what we can do together.

The radical Right has been growing in Europe over the past decade or more and some right-wingers have talked about a more or less unstoppable "clash of civilisations" and that Europe is being flooded with Muslims.

It is self-evident that such rhetoric is similar to that of Breivik in his video and manifesto. But does that mean that all people with a Cultural Christian and Conservative stance are in any way co-responsible for Breivik's acts of terrorism? Of course not!

Of course it is tempting for the European Left to consider this as payback time against the Right for their often shallow and vindictive persecutions of many decent and humanistic lefties for their youthful naïve transgressions on the back of their dream of creating some sort of Paradise on Earth - persecutions that have often prevented fruitful self-reflection rather than promoting it.

But why should the European Left stoop to such a level and turn into the very vindictiveness that it has striven to stop? And why try to pose as angels without flaws and faults in our baggage when no-one with any brain activity, least of all ourselves, believe it to be true?

History is filled with examples of how even the most peaceful belief or ideology has been taken by some extreme zealot as a reason for violence, including all major ideologies and religions.

However, what has often happened after an shocking instance of heinous violence is that it has later lead serious peace-loving clerics and ideologues to contemplate how to make their case better without giving overzealous supporters a legitimacy that was not intended ...

Danish poet laureate Piet Hein coined the phrase "the noble art of losing face". Nobody has the right to demand of others that they admit culpability for something they did not do. But any decent human being has an obligation to reflect upon how he or she can help the world escape another horror. For history is also full of high-minded public figures that have admitted or accepted to have been wrong.

Churchill praised Mussolini's well-organized society only to be a major instrument in the destruction of Fascism and Nazism. He also mistrusted the motives of Niels Bohr intensely when Bohr approached him to warn against the calamitous effect of nuclear weapons (and suggested Bohr be put under house arrest) only to react with horror at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. And never has there been a more anti-communist Prime Minister of Britain than Churchill but he was the first state leader to propose an alliance with the Soviet Union against Hitler.

One would also do well in remembering that Breivik vehemently denies being a nazi supporter and that he even identifies Nazism as one of three hate ideologies (the others are Marxism and Islamism) that he claims to be fighting but that he at the same time turns out to have been a member of a Nazi debate forum since 2009 and that he apparently does not see Fascism as a hate ideology ...

And how did Breivik get to bomb central Oslo and gunning down innocent Socialist youngsters? By posing as a policeman! So much for fighting with honour! Breivik hints at his reason for doing this when he claims that Islamists feel it justified to tell any lie to infidels to further the cause of Islam. But while Breivik claims to be fighting Islam in an honourable way he doesn't exactly practice what he preaches. On the contrary, he seems to have reached the conclusion that lies and deception are necessary for his struggle too for the end justifies any means ...

I have been watching the video by Anders Breivik and managed to remain calm enough to make these observations: a) much of the video could have been made by any cultural conservative but b) Breivik claims to belong to a group that revived the Order of Knights Templar in UK in 2002, c) he calls for a Conservative and Christian revolution to "cleanse Europe", d) his alleged reason for his attack on the Young Socialists was to his "duty to decimate the Cultural Marxists".

I find it important to know the enemy of all democratic-minded people's enemy i.a. by understanding their thinking, and Brevik's manifesto - albeit to a large degree copy-pasted from the Unabomber's manifesto of 1995 - shows that he sees himself as more of a European Christian-Conservative Crusader than a traditional nationalist and that he wants to start a Conservative Revolution to cleanse Europe of Islam and the "alliance of Cultural Marxists, Suicidal Humanists and Global Capitalists".

Is Breivik basically mad?

Is he a stupid monster that nobody should take seriously?

When I say that Breivik is basically mad, I mean it in the sense that he is an extremist 'gone overboard' and is probably suffering from delusions of grandeur and perhaps seing the world in a strongly twisted perspective. However, could not the same be said for e.g. Hitler's ego when he attempted a politcal coup d'etat in 1922 and his maniacal going on about the "Jewish-Bolchevik" conspiracy?

Did he very deliberately choose to shoot very young people to provoke 'counter attacks' and / or more laws to encroach on our democratic civil liberties?
Hell yes - he writes a much in his Manifesto when he recommends attacks on women and children!

Should we give him the satisfaction of reacting as he has planned?
I think you can guess my answer to that one ...

"For Youth" by Nordahl Grieg - remembering the victims of Breivik...

 - republished in remembrance of the victims of the Massacre in Norway on 22nd July 2011 by the right-radical terrorist Anders Breivik

Some may have come across the broadcast of the Memorial Service of Sorrow and Hope from Oslo Cathedral on the 25th July 2011 and listened to the Congregation singing a beautiful tune by Norwegan Poet and anti-Fascist Nordahl Grieg: "For Youth". Here it is in Rod Sinclair's translation in a simple version from Youtube followed by the Rod's English text.

Lovely girl with a lone guitar and a lovely voice performing one of the most beautiful peace songs ever written

FOR YOUTH - English version of the tune sung at Oslo Cathedral today

Faced by your enemies
On every hand
Battle is menacing,
Now make your stand
Fearful your question,
Defenceless, open
What shall I fight with?
What is my weapon?

Here is your battle plan,
Here is your shield
Faith in this life of ours,
The common weal
For all our children’s sake,
Save it, defend it,
Pay any price you must,
They shall not end it

Neat stacks of cannon shells,
Row upon row
Death to the life you love,
All that you know
War is contempt for life,
Peace is creation
Death’s march is halted
By determination

We all deserve the world,
Harvest and seed
Hunger and poverty
Are born of greed
Don’t turn your face away
From needs of others
Reach out a helping hand
To all your brothers

Here is our solemn vow,
From land to land
We will protect our world
From tyrants’ hand
Defend the beautiful,
Gentle and innocent
Like any mother would
Care for her infant.

And here is the same girl with an even prettier simple version of the original Norwegian poem by Nordahl Grieg to music by Danish Composer Otto Mortensen followed by the text of the one of the best peace poems ever written.

"Til Ungdommen"

Ung pige med en guitar og en helt utroligt smuk sang!

Kringsatt av Fiender,
gå inn i din tid!
Under en blodig storm -
vi deg til strid!
Kanskje du spør i angst,
udekket, åpen:
hva skal jeg kjempe med
hva er mitt våpen?

er er ditt vern mot vold,
her er ditt sverd:
troen på livet vårt,
menneskets verd.
For all vår fremtids skyld,
søk det og dyrk det,
dø om du må - men:
øk det og styrk det!

Stilt går granatenes
glidende bånd
Stans deres drift mot død
stans dem med ånd!
Krig er forakt for liv.
Fred er å skape.
Kast dine krefter inn:
døden skal tape!

Edelt er mennesket,
jorden er rik!
Finnes her nød og sult
skyldes det svik.
Knus det! I livets navn
skal urett falle.
Solskinn og brød og ånd
eies av alle.

Dette er løftet vårt
fra bror til bror:
vi vil bli gode mot
menskenes jord.
Vi vil ta vare på
skjønnheten, varmen
som om vi bar et barn
varsomt på armen!

tirsdag den 17. juli 2012

Dear Diary, my Facebook doesn't Understand Me!

Dear Diary,

What do I mean by stating that my Facebook doesn't understand me? 

Well, several things, as a matter of fact. Computers, information technology, and not least the Internet have meant a fundamental change to the way humans communicate, relate to and entertain themselves and each other. The newest sprout in the virtual garden of Humanity is Facebook which on the one hand presents fantastic possibilities for reaching out and on the other hand entails frightful consequences for our possibility of reaching deeper than a few inches of topsoil, as it were.

It began with small groups of “friends” connecting either due to previous acquaintances or the need of “networking” at least semi-professionally or because they shared a cause, an interest, or a debate that they wanted to delve into more. But today Facebook is a rapidly becoming not only a commercial machine abusing people's personal information for profit but also a completely unstoppable, uncontrollable and actually unpalatable 'mal-stream' of would-be consciousness and conversational litter from the chattering classes, which by the way seem to be threatening to engulf just about all humans on Earth, including the once-thinking ones.

I've already let you in on the fact that I'm a Dane. Well, Danes have another informal Constitution besides the laws of Jante: 'The rules for Happiness'. And yes, the rules are FOR happiness as no Dane will easily get by expressing any kind of anger, frustration, sadness, sorrow or just moaning at the sometimes cumbersome existence on Earth. Express but one critical concern, let alone one ounce of dismay, and the 'Happiness Police' will be all over you! That's actually an additional and a fairly good reason for writing in English, it occurs to me now …

And Danes are reportedly the happiest people on Earth – at least when you ask themselves in a public-opinion-poll kind of way and compare their answers to well-prepared questions with the replies of people of other Nationalities. Much has been made of the fact that Modern Danes may be regarded as almost a tribe, after losing our little yet not unimportant Empire in the parts of Europe around us and various slave colonies that we prefer to forget about, and before we in the late 1960's began receiving about as many non-European immigrants and refugees as well as their families in about 30 years as we received in the 300 years preceding that, i.e. since the Danish Nationality and Naturalization Act had to be introduced as we were left with ourselves and to our own devices.

That "influx", the results of which is well under 10% of the entire population, made for quite some rumble in the Danish jungle and meant that a former anti-tax party, the so-called Progress Party, turned from being ultra-liberal bordering on libertarianism and right-wing anarchism to being extremely nationalistic Conservatives and most of the party went on to form the so-called Danish People's Party – a party that almost 15% of the electorate vote for because of its mix of populism, xenophobia and a self-imposed role as the guardians of Danish welfarism, but few will publicly admit to what they are doing in the voting booth.

This brings the Danish 'Happiness Rules” into a somewhat different perspective, as the Danish People's Party embrace some of the traditional Danish “happiness” but is careful not to extend that to non-European foreigners … Moreover, the party presently commanding almost 35% of the likely-to-vote respondents in the polls, the so-called Liberal Party, has not only been building a political coalition with the Danish People's Party but is also claiming to share their core values. So, quite a lot of Danes are in fact not that satisfied, at least not with their neighbours, and that actually goes for certain tribe members that are out of bounds as well.

Much has also been made of the fact that Denmark has a fairly large degree of equality compared with other countries and of the fact that the Danish national welfare state provides for the now world-renowned flexicurity – a unique combination of state-provided social and economic security combined with a high degree of flexibility in the job market - which many politicians and economists around the world see as a great act to follow, and I suppose that most social scientists and just generally sensible people will surmise a certain connection between flexicurity and equality.

It's something of a pity, then, that the Danish political (and economic and cultural) elite has more or less decided to dispense with both equality and flexicurity, and they have already made extremely important inroads into the very social fabric as well as the law that underpin both concepts. I suppose that to a Liberalist, flexicurity and equality in a society based on Capitalist principles, albeit with a “human face” and a democratic state with separation of powers, must seem like the bumblebee that flies even though science until recently viewed it as totally unable to do exactly that.

And yes, Scandinavia was probably fortunate in having a key strategic importance during the Cold War where the nuclear capability on both side would mean an almost assuredly extinction in case of war and where any kind of social bribe was allowed as long as we stayed in line against the terrible Communists. That together with our tribal nature, the terrible memories of the World War II that actually did bring both Capitalism and Humanity close to extinction, and the necessity of making ends meet without an empire but with a strong tradition for seafaring and trade probably made for a general consensus between classes and groups that we all stood to gain from banking on education, stability and a certain degree of social tranquillity. That understanding began to crumble under the two so-called “oil crises” in the seventies and ended altogether when the Berlin wall tumbled down.

I'll also let you in on another fact about myself: During my first fifty-something years I have moved between classes, as it were, and in the later years I have come dangerously close to the bottom of the Danish happy-go-lucky welfare society. When people in the societal elite make a point, people down here turn it into a punch! What for a publicly renowned scholar may just have meant as a whiff of an idea is quickly turned into a whack when people at the bottom take their frustrations out on each other at being both the in the underclass and at same time being blamed for not only having caused the banking crisis by in general living as “fat cats” beyond their means (whatever that means). Sorry, did I say “frustrations”? Naturally, I meant their happy and noble savage instincts that are made especially keen by living in the sewer of the so-called Modern developed world …

Having to do battle with about 17 chronic illnesses as well as the publicly paid 'compassion workers' (strictly nine to five!) and my fellow 'bottomers' does sometimes make me moan. I admit it. And as I as a perfect gentleman or at least a man that has made my way through countless encounters without being careful to have money, official position, network, children or at least friends to show for it (except sometimes my Ex-wife), I have from time to time been using Facebook to vent and ventilate my darker thoughts – among various philosophical, political, ironic and more commonplace statements and links to my undoubtedly ingenious writings (!)

I have been careful, though, only to vent such feelings to what on Facebook is known as “friends”. More general statements or even writings I am both courageous and foolish enough to make in public, hoping that someone will listen sometime. However, my Facebook friends do not seem to care for my intimating sides of my soul that I don't feel should enter a wider public. On the contrary, they either shun me or shame me. I have been taken to school many a time by some person that I knew to some degree at some time – or somebody that I would like to know or – it does happen – would like to know me, apparently until they do - know me, I mean …

A good example is a man that I once studied political science with and who has had a relatively successful career as a University Senior Lecturer with a more or less comfortable life resulting in i.a. two grown boys and an estranged wife, a nice house and considerable tax-supported pension savings and an all but theoretical knowledge of illness. He got enough of my moaning and told me in mail sent from his comfortable University office that it ill behoved anybody to be bitter whatever their particular fate and (mis)fortune...

On my Facebook profile – which few if any read – I have as a favourite quotation Shakespeare's remark put in the mouth of Benedict in the third Act of his Comedy “Much Ado About Nothing”: Every One can Master a Grief but He that Hath it!

Unfortunately very few seem to know the quotation, let alone having understood it, including my now former friend above who probably did have a point but who also grossly mistook my pitch-black humour for something else. However, I can back my claim that few have understood Man and World as well as Shakespeare with the experience of another of my Facebook friends, actually a guy I have yet to meet in person but know from a patient organization and with whom I have exchanged experiences about an illness that we are 'happy' to share.

Some time ago he wrote that he had had to move home and go under cover because of a steady pursuit of a woman scorned … Apparently this woman had for a short while been having an affair with him – and he with her – and she among undoubtedly many things revealed to him that she had a problem with rejection. I'd say!

After a row she had told another former boy friend that my Facebook friend had threatened their mutual child, bringing the boy friend in such rage that he made his way to my friend and demanded to be let in lest my friend wanted to be killed. My friend showed outstanding nerve and presence of mind by opening the door and inviting the enraged parent in for a cup of tea! They had a nice chat about common experiences, including those with the former boy friend's former girl friend, and the father left in relative peace.

However, my friend now decided that his relationship with his present and obviously emotionally frail girlfriend should end and told her so. After that she arranged somehow to have him attacked in his own flat by somebody wearing ski mask who first smashed down the door and proceeded to try so smash my still half-sleeping friend with a very blunt instrument. My friend ran out of his apartment ASAP but the attacker caught up with him and tried to finish the job. A third party, a woman who seems to have everybody's mutual friend, occurred at the scene and persuaded the attacker that my friend had had enough.

My point is this: When my Facebook friend mentioned in a status update (i.e. a sort of statement, once of the week, then of the day, and nowadays about about every half hour) that he had had to move due to an attack arranged by a former lover, I was the only one to express sympathy with the poor man and his predicament. Some “liked” his move – or the status reporting of it, and to yet uninitiated non-Facebookers I would like to explain that this means clicking a button that says “like” under the “status update”. Others, especially woman friends, made jokes about the cost of moving, problems with former lovers and the like. I hope that my memory is playing a trick on me but I seem to remember one comment in the nature of “That'll teach ya!”

The Happiness Police have done their job well! Together, I am tempted to add, with the general decay of any meaningful message being able to penetrate the Facebook network as it grows thicker and thicker. The problem for my friend was not only that he too is a Dane and subject to the whims of the Facebook owners that keep changing the rules on people, but also that being a relatively unknown personality only few saw let alone thought about his update in the Facebook maelstrom.

Moreover, in Denmark we are still living in the Dark Ages when it comes to realizing that women are actually capable of being just a violent and mean as men. Surveys in other countries like ours, especially among our Norwegian 'brothers' but also the UK and the Netherlands, have shown that the two genders are rapidly approaching a tie as to the score on physical violence. Not to mention psychological violence in which I doubt that a company like Ladbrokes would even considering taking a bet! However, in Denmark violence of women against (male) partners has yet to be examined and in the midst of more than fifty shelters for battered women there are four shelters for men – that batter their women ...

But back to Facebook: A public figure or a pundit or any other member of the true elite, contrary to a relative obscurity like my friend, can basically write “fart!” and will instantly receive umpteen “likes” straight away, either because some “friends” want to flaunt their friendship with a well-known person, because the person is their (potential) boss or because they think they know what is meant or because they are afraid to reveal that they don't know what is meant by “fart!” in this case, let alone disprove of such a comment for any number of reasons that we shall never know.

In Denmark, the combined economic, political and cultural elite consists of approx. 5000 people that are in the Media all the time already - only now on Facebook too, sometimes with their latest whiz kid - but not, they claim, because they are notorieties but because they know and say everything that is remotely interesting in the Danish debate … Because despite the laws of Jante Danes are bowled over by "Celebs" the best example of which can be seen in the popularity of an outdated and undemocratic and illiberal institution such as our Monarchy and the attention that is paid to every move, including wrong ones, they make.

Some have tried to convince me that all this could and should be solved with – of all things - an “unlike” button on Facebook… This suggestion seems to me akin to suggesting that we should both explain and counter the dramatic rise of diabetes - all across the world and with both types 1 and 2, by the way – by inventing another name for sugar! (Disclaimer: This was not intended as a pun on the name of the Facebook creator ...)

It is fairly easy to predict what would happen if such a suggestion was carried out: People would be clicking “like” more eagerly than before, thinking now they have a choice, at every utterance by somebody who 'is' somebody, while those that risk the wrath of the Happiness Police and the Facebook Light Brigade by merely suggesting that the Emperor has no clothes on – and what is worse nor have millions of starved children in the world – or even hinting at a personal problem would be “disliked” from here to Eternity … Not to mention how mobbing would entail a completely new and very virtual meaning!

So, dear Diary, I have told of my first problem, apart from being ill and poor, which contrary to International belief is much more closely connected in the so-called welfare state of Denmark, as well as being bereft of e.g. a job network as well as a family of my own: Only having Facebook “friends” left. Soon I will probably only have Facebook left! What should I do? Is there a life beyond Facebook? Is there any substantial meaning that doesn't require a Facebook link? Is there life on Earth?

Yours truly,.
Claus Piculell - in some semi-detached part of Denmark ...

mandag den 16. juli 2012

Dear Diary, a bit about why I'm writing in English

Dear Diary,

Although I am almost thoroughbred Dane, I am presumptuous enough to write to you in English. By doing so I am going against most of the grain of Danish culture and I'm especially in breach of just about all articles in the informal Danish Constitution,  aka “The Laws of Jante”.

The author that first 'discovered' these norms and set them down on paper was a novelist called Aksel Sandemose, and in his novel “En flygtning krydser sit spor” (which would probably be translated into English thus: 'A Refugee crosses his own tracks' ), he summed up the unofficial yet ironclad rules like this: 'Don't imagine that you are important in any sense of the word and especially don't imagine that you are better than the rest of us!'

In fact, after a certain Anders Breivik had massacred 77 people in Norway as a terrorist action to 'advertise' a 1500-page Manifesto and a 12-minute video published on the Internet only hours before the heinous deed, and importantly both in English, calling for a Conservative European Revolution that would rid the Continent of Muslims, I wrote an analysis of Breivik's actions and messages when I, like many others, had spent some days recovering from the shock, and as his writings were in English, so was this analysis.

Nonetheless, the first comments my analysis got on a Danish website and Facebook was of course: “Why are you writing in English!?” And people were sceptical when I explained that it seemed natural to analyse a Manifesto in English with European pretensions using the same language so perhaps you are beginning to have a hunch what I'm up against here.

But yes, I have to confess to believing that I am of some importance – if to no-one else then to myself - and probably to my dog,  and that what I have to say MAY be of importance. I have lived the life of a human in the so-called developed world for a good fifty years and have been fortunate enough to see quite a lot of said world at various points in my life so far from the top (or at least being on route to it), from the many positions in the middle classes and now in my later years from the bottom so I might have some stories to tell and some points to make.

I know that it is somewhat unconventional to start a diary this late in life, unless of course you have become somebody so that some kind of memoirs are of interest to the general public. Okay, Mr Obama did write his first two books of memoirs before really becoming somebody, but at least he did become President of the USA not much later. And yes, there may be some old folk around that are told by relatives, friends or the like to write theirs.

I have to admit that I have neither excuse (well, one or two kind personal calls, perhaps), just an urge to write. An urge that has been with me since I began to be able to write. Being 50+ in the so-called developed world you are not supposed to be anticipating your own death in any foreseeable future so I don't have that excuse either. And what's worse: My diary of all things is probably one of the poorest part of my highly dispersed writings that need to be done in English, let alone interest more than perhaps a handful of people.

Then why am I doing it? Because I'm a lazy perfectionist! Some of the things I have written, especially a would-be and tentative political manifesto for an ideology for the 21st Century (called “Liberal Socialism”) and various political, economic and social analyses would seem much more appropriate to pick for the larger audience that writing in English makes it possible, albeit by no means whatsoever certain, to reach. It is not that I'm certain that said manifesto or some of its ideas will ever catch on. I just feel that having thought about a way to improve the world without too much bloodshed, suppression and squalor for almost forty years, the least I can do is get bloody thing down in writing lest it would not be read because never written …

But you see, I also wrote that bloody thing – the manifesto or at least the first drafts of it - in Danish and I'm having a hellish time trying to translate my own thoughts from Danish into English myself. It is somewhat peculiar as I have been a part-time translator between English and Danish for years, as well as holding an MA in Political Science and English with emphasis on English-speaking societies …

That's what I mean by saying that I am a lazy perfectionist … I can probably translate political documents better than most and my own thoughts better than anybody else. And having even tried Google Translate I know that technology has to go through several more scientifically based revolutions before the Machines take over that and most other areas of running a developed society as some are afraid of and others look to with hope – having seen Man making a try!
Of course I shall probably slug my way through translating the now infamous Manifesto but you see, then comes a whole host of other stuff – again things I don't know to be worth something but would like to see having a fighting chance. And that, together with the urge to write, the confirmation by science that remaining active in as many languages as possible staves off dementia, and the need to unload some of the trouble created by our “mortal coils”, is the reason why I at 50+ am beginning to write my diaries – in English …

Yours truly,
Claus Piculell