Rebellion Against Pluralism

Image Yascha Mounk in n+1:

If we are to make sense of the horrific terror attack that shook Norway this past Friday, we must try to place it in the context of recent European politics. That context, in turn, points to one fact more than any other: over the last decade, Europeans have grown increasingly obsessed with the threat supposedly posed by foreigners, immigrants, and Muslims.

All over the continent, far-right parties have been celebrating remarkable successes. Establishment politicians, once keen to display their enlightened attitudes towards outsiders, have honed their populist rhetoric against foreigners. Books about the doom that would ensue if ethnic Europeans should become minorities in their own countries—like Germany Does Away with Itself, Thilo Sarrazin’s runaway success last year—have topped bestseller lists week in and week out.

Naturally, some commentators have expressed concern about these developments. But both in newsrooms and on the streets they mostly have been decried as fools whose obsession with multiculturalism is a naïve remnant of a more innocent era. Nothing wrong with their good intentions, Europeans of all nationalities and social strata intone, but they are sadly inapplicable to the 21st century, when islamofascism in general, and hordes of unwashed Muslims in particular, are threatening the European way of life.

Anders Behring Breivik, who has admitted responsibility for the death of seventy six innocents, is undoubtedly a madman. But madmen can be spurred on by anything in their environment they are able to construe as legitimation or encouragement—and, in recent years, there was plenty of that to go around in Europe.