Norway’s Terrorism in Context

Scandinavia may look idyllic from a distance, what with royal families and prime ministers almost without security, but it has endured its fair share of violence, from the assassination of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme to two school massacres in one year in Finland, one killing eight, the other ten. Anders Behring Breivik’s rampage, in other words, was hardly unprecedented.

In the past, one had the cold comfort of knowing that deranged acts such as his were carried out by individuals under the sway of extremist ideologies. Not so Behring Breivik. This terrorist lists among his favorite authors George Orwell, Thomas Hobbes, John Stuart Mill, John Locke, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Ayn Rand, and William James. The disconnect between Behring Breivik’s mainstream political conservatism and his psychological derangement presents a shocking new dilemma and challenge.

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