Mass-Murdering Social Darwinist
Rating: 5.00

You are probably cringing at the endless news cycle covering the mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik and whether he was a "Christian." But I ask you to indulge me with this latest analysis which comes from John West, author of Darwin Day in America.

Breivik's long manifesto reveals that, in fact, he revered the ideas of social Darwinism. In "The Professor and the Madman," West is careful not to blame Breivik's murderous actions on anyone except Breivik, but he does show that Breivik has been a voracious reader of committed social Darwinists.


It's good to see you again, VikingMother! To you and Kim, I'll say that a military use of firearms against an enemy is different from a police force's use of firearms against fellow citizens. In particular, in a battle the choice to shoot or not shoot is somewhat more straightforward than it is for the police. I know that soldiers, particularly those of the USA, are increasingly constrained in their use of deadly force. But I would contend that police personnel are far more constrained - especially in European countries. And determining when deadly force is justified is never straightforward; the officer must second-guess attorneys and judges, within a split second. And without a body of recent precedent from which to draw, that decision would take most of the split second, I'd think.

That said, having known a few quite well I would never dare *any* Scandinavian - or Scandinavian-American, etc. - to take me out. ;-)
Most of Britain's police force don't carry firearms. Some units started carrying them because the gangs and terrorists did. Of course there were anti-gun citizens (those who aren't on the police force and probably haven't even been a victim of violent crime) that are outraged that some of them regularly carry them.

I suspect that Norway will arm police officers who have served in the military first. It makes sense. However, how you train the military is very different than how you train a police officer -- police are keepers of the peace.

Ellen, sorry I missed your question, but after posting, I took two days off.
Lee, it seems that Brevik published reasons and justification for his murders before he committed them. But in light of Chuck Colson's commentary on the Norwegian tragedy,
I won't be surprised if he is found "not guilty by reason of insanity."

And I did read the entire "The Professor and the Madman" article, but found no reference to the book of the same name.
Ellen, I'm delighted to have helped. I can't take credit, though; I know what I know because of the influence of Chuck Colson and Jason Taylor. (And, come to think of it, Ben W - even though it's probably not the exact outcome he'd have deliberately sought.)

On the insanity issue, I'd say there's a difference between "insane" and "not guilty by reason of insanity". The former could be applied to a dictator who deliberately and very "rationally" pursues murderous policies. (I'd bring up WWII, but Ben likes to invoke Godwin's Law, so I'll only use Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot as examples.) "Dictator X was insane." Even so, we'd hold them responsible (and have) for war crimes. Someone who, on the other hand, gave all appearance of being sane and then suddenly went on a murderous spree, and afterward being unable to give a justification for it, is a very different story.

An interesting aspect of this story is that now Norwegian policemen will begin carrying sidearms. I wonder how that will work; police in the USA can draw on a long history of how to appropriately use force. Norway will have to learn this very quickly, and I find it hard to believe that even with the best of efforts it will be easy for them.
Jason, while Social Darwinism may be failing in its purpose, the proponents of this ideology still wreck havoc due to acting on their beliefs. Simply the belief that one nationality or type of person is superior to another type of person causes damage in interpersonal relationships. Brevik's actions are an extreme example, but a belief of superiority play out in less extreme actions every day - 'elites' sneering at 'hillbillies', 'hillbillies' rolling their eyes at 'elites'.

Lee, from our previous conversation,
thank you for causing me to slow down and consider the meaning of the words I use. I realize now, due in large part to your patience and excellent explanation, that Brevik's actions in no way exhibit any form of phobia. At, phobias are defined:
"A phobia is an intense but unrealistic fear that can interfere with the ability to socialize, work, or go about everyday life, brought on by an object, event or situation."

Part of the definition for Fascism at is "suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism." Now that certainly describes Brevik's actions and the bits of his manifesto I've read quoted in articles.

The next question I'm pondering: Is Brevik actually insane? Or is it possible to believe an ideology that can cause one to justify murder, self-described by Brevik as "gruesome acts", without being insane? As well, his ideology obviously promotes such acts, therefore, if such acts are "right" then, within such an ideology, are they also not criminal, as Brevik alleges? Because he possesses beliefs opposed to common morality and acts on them, does that mean Brevik is insane? Or is it possible to possess these beliefs and act upon them, all the while being sane? Time to go look up the medical and legal definitions of insanity.
As Brevik is unlikely at this point to be considered an ideal marriage possibility and as the Nazis didn't do all that well when you think about it, one might consider that Social Darwinism rather fails of it's purpose.
I know I should read the article before asking.... but I'm working on a home project that will please my husband very much when I've completed it. So, I don't have time at the moment to read the linked article.

I'm just wondering why John West named his article the same as this book:

Any correlation? Or is it just coincidental?

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