By Gilad Atzmon
22 July is among the most interesting films in recent years. It is a dramatisation of the 2011 attacks in Norway that were committed by lone terrorist Anders Behring Breivik against the government and a Workers' Youth League Student summer camp. The title comes from the day Breivik murdered 77 people and injured hundreds more.
Paul Greengrass wrote, directed and produced the film and he presents a unique perspective on objectivism. Instead of the usual banal presentation of a killer as a psychotic character removed from any recognisable human path, we meet Breivik, a cold, calculating person who is fully aware of his actions. Motivated by a political call, he takes the lives of dozens. The film examines the logos behind the deadliest attack in Europe since World War II by giving us an intimate look into the mind of an ideological cold blooded mass murderer and exploring his political mantra.
In this profound effort at cinematic objectivism, Greengrass breaks out of the clichéd liberal universe that is limited to a regime of correctness and obscene name-calling. The film invites us to look closely at Breivik’s universe: to examine his logic, to face his lethal boldness, to be horrified by his inhumanity but also to accept that he could easily be our next door neighbour. In his introductory meeting with his lawyer Geir Lippestad, the latter asks Breivik to explain his actions. In the coldest possible manner, Breivik answers, “I have started a war to take control of Norway and the West.” Of the innocent kids that were massacred by him Breivik says, “they were traitors, children of the elite, leaders of tomorrow…” Later, facing a detective investigation, Breivik says it as he sees it. “We want Islam out of Europe.”
Breivik never shows remorse. To the question ‘why kids?’ Breivik answers “I wanted to hit them (the liberals, the elite, etc.) where it hurts the most.” Breivik doesn’t feel sorry for his victims, he sees himself as a freedom fighter. For him it is a war of life or death. He insists upon defending his actions in court despite the fact that his lawyer suggested that he might be able to use an ‘insanity defense’ to be institutionalised instead of imprisoned.
We live in a world in which mass shooting are daily news. They are not just an American symptom associated with the availability of ‘automatic weapons;’ political terror is at least as common. Such killings mark a new development that must be related to a significant global cultural shift. This is not merely an anecdotal battle over the 2nd Amendment, it demands a profound study of the transition in our human conditions that has made mass killings everyday events. I believe the shift has something to do with people growing up in a universe with no prospect of a future. It has something to do with the reduction of the working class into a workless mass. It has a lot to do with the collapse of the family and the war against family values. It has a lot to do with the war against the church. It may also have something to do with the fact that our governments are wiping out countries and people in the name of immoral interventionism and Ziocon interests. And of course, it has a lot to do with the internet and game culture. If people do not go to work, they must be kept busy, and this is done by the internet, computer games and free drugs.
22 July is a crucial document because Breivik is not alone. In fact, Breiviks have won many battles since 2011. They won the Brexit referendum, they won the election in the USA and Breivik’s mantra (as opposed to his actions) has transformed into a popular political stand that is winning ground in the West and for a reason.
To cure our society and to save the West is to roll back time to identify where we lost our ability to listen, to be compassionate, to care for each other and to understand the crucial role of the church and the family. Unfortunately, so-called liberals and the new left aren’t helpful in this goal. Instead, they separate us into self centred identitarian factions dominated by a strict Jerusalemite regime of correctness and righteousness. What we must do is to reinstate the Athenian ethos of true pluralism, governed by the search for truth, beauty, ethics and the universal.