What’s Actually in Breivik’s “Declaration of Independence”

In the coming days I’ll have more to say on some of the specific themes in Anders Breivik’s “2083—A European Declaration of Independence.” But with so much reporting about the contents of the manifesto, an overview of the document itself seems like a good idea.

There are actually three “books” included in the more than 1500 pages sent out to Breivik’s “Facebook friends” just prior to the first of the attacks in Oslo. Some of “2083” is written by Breivik himself, but much of it is lifted from various other sources and included in the document with the original authors’ names (he doesn’t appear to be trying to pass it off as his own), but presumably not their permission. The sources include a number of conservative organizations including one of the founding influences in the religious right, and architect of American “Cultural Conservatism:” the Free Congress Foundation. The sources also include well known promoters of Islamophobia Pam Geller and Robert Spencer (each referenced more than 50 times) and Andrew Bostrom (whom I wrote about here, and who is referenced about 35 times) and another author writing under the pen name Fjordman (whom he referenced more than 100 times).

Initially there was speculation that Fjordman might actually be Breivik but, reading the document closely it’s clear that there are some variations in the views of the two. Moreover, someone claiming to be Fjordman has surfaced claiming authorship of the articles included in “2083” and speaking out to denounce both Breivik and violence, though embracing the anti-Muslim views that motivated the killings.

Scholars have also linked unattributed sections to Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) and also apparently to al Qaeda.

The document includes a sweeping history of Western civilization; including especially the Crusades, which Breivik claims were defensive; and a broad-ranging critique of what Breivik calls cultural Marxism, Marxist-multiculturalism, feminism, academia, and the media. There is a right-wing reading of Islam shaped by Geller, Spencer, Bostrom, et. al., with all the standard criticism concerning a global effort to impose shari’ah, a distortion and exaggeration of jihad and taqqyia, and a critique of what he asserts is Islam’s treatment of women (though the author himself argues for a profoundly sexist gender ideology himself). It’s not clear whether the Knights Templar “military order” envisioned in the document, complete with rituals, sacred oaths, and costumes, is real or imagined (the author refers to the organization as though it includes numerous cells and many co-conspirators, but none have yet been identified).

There is a section which he describes as fictional that lays out an imaginary scenario for a conflict between the multicultural Marxists and the defenders of European civilization. This section does seem in some ways similar to books like The Turner Diaries that shaped the American militia movement and the attack in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh.

There are detailed instructions for planning, funding and launching an attack (that include many details of his own actual attacks as he planned them), page upon page describing of a variety of weapons, instructions for making bombs and making bullets more painful and lethal, strategies for accessing controlled materials like fertilizer and cover stories to keep plots from being exposed. There is an expectation that one will not survive the kind of attack he is advocating and which he undertook himself but there is also discussion of how to maximize the “propaganda” value of a trial should one survive.

There are personal details about his friends, girlfriends, social life, and family life, including a series of photographs at the end of the document. Finally, there is a haunting step-by-step journal for the days leading up to his attack, culminating with a post in which he says he expects it to be his last.

One of many striking things about the overall document is how closely it tracks with the very aspects of terrorism in the name of Islam about which he is concerned. He wants a monoculture ruled by religion (as he understands it). He advocates using deception and violence to achieve his goals (and instructs would-be fellow Knights in strategies for both). Indeed, it’s some of the bomb-making instructions that are thought to have been lifted from al Qaeda. Moreover, for anyone who has ever read closely Mohammed Atta’s instructions for the 9/11 terrorists, the ritual quality, and the methods of controlling one’s thoughts to remain focused on the mission the promise of immortality are hauntingly similar:

Atta: Smile in the face of hardship young man for you are heading toward eternal paradise.

Breivik: This is the big day you have been looking forward to for so long. Countless hours and perhaps years of preparation have rewarded you with this opportunity. Equip yourself and arm up, for today you will become immortal.