Nordic Theory and Breivik's ideal society
People have all sorts of ideas about what ‘the ideal society’ should or could be. Some ideas are small and innocent, but other ideas can become radical. Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 people in 2011, also had an ideal society in mind and wrote it down in a one thousand five hundred pages manifesto. But, where did he get these ideas from? What were his sources? Was he really alone in the writing of his manifesto and the killing of 77 innocents?
Breivik's Nordic theory and its roots
On 22 July 2011, Breivik killed 8 people in Oslo and 69 on Utoya Island. His purpose was to ‘save Norway and Western Europe from a Muslim takeover’. In his own manifesto “2083 - A European Declaration of Independence”, Breivik supported the ‘Nordic theory’ in order to argue his point of view on the sustainability of Europe through the preserving of an ‘ideal society’. Although Breivik does not explicitly refer to the concepts of social sustainability nor the ideal society, his argumentation highly supports these ideas.
Throughout his manifesto, he discusses how measures need to be taken because of mass-pollution, overconsumption, and overpopulation in order for the earth, and especially a specific group of society, to be sustained. Breivik wants to preserve the Nordic race and most of his arguments emanate from nationalism. Breivik sets an image of his ideal society which he develops in his manifesto by discussing the genocide of the Nordic race, the ‘Invasion of Islam in Europe’ and the need to ‘sustain the European society’.
The following article discusses how Breivik has found the sources for his argumentation on the topic of ‘ideal society’ and the ‘Nordic theory’ and see how these sources relate to one another. The second part focuses on how the concept of ideal society and Nordic theory still influences actual groups.
It seems like Breivik acted as a ‘lone wolf’, but behind his thoughts and ideas there was - and still is - a group who shares his thinking (Hudson, 2011). One of Breivik’s main ideas is saving Europe from a Muslim takeover, because “it is estimated that the Nordic genotypes will be extinct completely within two hundred years”, Breivik wrote. The idea to save the Western part of Europe arose from the long-existing Nordic theory.
In his manifesto, Breivik refers to several theories and influential writers, like Madison Grant and Fjordman, to support his information about the Nordic theory and, consequently, support his argumentation for the ideal society he has in mind.
Nordic theory is a theory about Nordic superiority, which means that the Nordic race and its physical and cultural features are superior to those of all other races.
The Nordic theory is a theory about Nordic superiority, which means that the Nordic race and its physical and cultural features are superior to those of all other races. Günther described in his book The Racial Elements of European History (1927) some of the physical features of the Nordic race: fair hair color, fair eye color, fair skin color and an accentuated facial bone structure.
The Nordic race is not just recognizable by appearances. Günther (1927) also wrote about cultural features that are characteristic, such as being individualistic, truthful, competitive and innovative. We have seen this theory in practice in the Second World War with Hitler’s Aryan race, but already before that, in 1916, Madison Grant wrote an influential book about it: The Passing of the Great Race. Grant has developed the Nordic theory or Nordicism aiming at preserving the Nordic race based on the idea that populations with Nordic features will disappear.
Breivik’s use of sources
Madison Grant is the main source Breivik uses in order to explain and support his point of view on the Nordic theory. Breivik develops Grant’s ideas more into details. He first explains how the Nordic race is indeed disappearing, referring to countries from the north and central Europe, the north of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus and to some extent the northern parts of the American continent.
In the same idea as Grant, Breivik suggests the maintenance of the Nordic race through the development of biology and biotechnology focusing mainly on eugenics. While Grant introduces ‘eugenics’, a process of selective breeding to improve society, Breivik discusses the importance of using a more specific type of eugenics, ‘positive eugenics’, which refers to the reproduction by individuals considered to have desirable or superior traits. “A solution which seems to be the only option which could work in this modern world would be to commercialise positive reprogenetics programs on a state level”, Breivik wrote, which proves his attempts to reproduce nordic features. Both Grant and Breivik, support additional methods such as laws and military and political enforcement to facilitate eugenics.
Both Grant and Breivik, support additional methods such as laws and military and political enforcement to facilitate eugenics.
Additionally, Breivik uses Wikipedia as a source to explain concepts such as ‘passing of the great race’ and ‘light hair coloration’ through maps. However, the information from Wikipedia is mainly based on Madison Grant’s book. Further content Breivik uses, such as theories and knowledge on Wikipedia about blond hair or blue eyes, do not necessarily mention Grant, but they do however mention their importance in the Nordic theory and the concept of Nordic race.
Fjordman, by his real name Peder Are Nøstvold Jensen, is Breivik’s favorite blogger. Breivik uses many quotes from Fjordman in order to support his argumentation on the decline of the European civilization and the maintaining of specific traditions and cultures. Fjordman is also an important author on the website ‘Gates of Vienna’ on which he has posted many articles used by Breivik in his manifesto.
Fjordman is also known for his anti-Islamic ideas and his idealization of Nordic countries, but only to a certain extent as he also notices a weakening of these countries. He shares similar ideas with Grant when it comes to the extermination of certain groups, and consequently a certain type of ideal society, because of immigration. Fjordman sees immigration as an important cause of many problems in Europe and especially in the northern countries. He suggests that mass-immigration is the reason for which there is violence, raping and thefts, but also a decrease of intelligence, power and purity within the European population.
Through these arguments, Fjordman indirectly marks his preference for the Nordic populations. He goes on by mentioning how human rights are used today as a mean to destroy an entire civilization and its natives. On ‘Gates of Vienna’, he is responsible for texts such as ‘Destroying our Culture’, ‘IQ and Nordic Achievement’, ‘White Privilege: A Colloquy’: articles which clearly show the positioning of Fjordman on what he sees as being an ideal society by idealizing nordic values and cultures. Haven’t we heard this already elsewhere?
“It feels very terrible that he quotes me in his much-featured book. I do not know what else I can say.” (Fjordman 2011)
From the way Breivik discusses and quotes Fjordman throughout his manifesto, it would seem that Fjordman is not only influential for Breivik’s book but that they also share the same line of thoughts to some extent. However, the blogger says that this is not the case. Although Fjordman is an influential writer for Breivik, Fjordman wrote several times that he does not want to be associated with Breivik. He thinks it is terrible, Fjordman wrote in one of his blog posts “It feels very terrible that he quotes me in his much-featured book. I do not know what else I can say” (Fjordman, 2011).
Nordic theory is still around
Breivik acted as a lone wolf, he acted alone and not in the name of a wider organization. However, as described in the previous part of this paper, it is obvious that there are writers and groups who share the same point of views or lines of thoughts as Breivik. Whereas Grant and Fjordman were inspirational for Breivik, more recent extreme right groups of today such as the ‘Finns party’ and ‘Schild en Vrienden’ grew in the same niche of ideas and have thus similar point of views on what the ideal society is, eventually through similar theories as the Nordic theory.
Let us start with the Finns Party in Finland. The Finns Party, a populist and nationalist-oriented political party became very popular with its main political message of anti-immigration. So far Finland has been seen as an exception in Europe: the country has lacked an extreme right, or the usually successful ‘ideal-type’ of the populist right defined by Herbert Kitschelt and Anthony McGann (1997), which combines right-wing market ideology, political authoritarianism, and anti-foreigner attitudes. The Finns Party aims to prevent immigrants to acquire Finnish nationality or claim asylum in Finland. Their solution for declining birthrates is to encourage young women to study less so that they can give birth to more Finnish children (Sundberg, 2015). These point of views resemble to some extent what Breivik argues in his book: “As such, the Nordic tribes will become extinct if we do not resist and seize political and military control of our countries.”
A second example of groups using the ideas of Nordic theory to some extent in their ideal society is Schild en Vrienden in Flanders, Belgium. They were recently mediatized due to their increasing influence in Belgium and Europe and scandals relating to the use of racist, homophobic and anti-feminist messages online. As Jan Blommaert explains in a blog post after the diffusion of a revealing video on national TV about the real intentions of the group, Schild en Vrienden is a Flemish-nationalist organization for the Flemish radical nationalists youth. This organization started online, but pretty quickly started meeting and rallying offline.
In their promotional video, with English subtitles to reach a large audience, they seem to have a conservative, but professional goal to protect Europe and Flanders from the opening of the European borders for migration. From the inside and more specifically online, this group seems to have a much more racist goal than they show the public. Private conversations on social-media, several memes, texts and images have been found on which members of the group have not only been racist, homophobic, anti-feminist and anti-Europe, they have also shared comments which relate to an ideal society through discriminating several groups of people. They want Europe to go back to a ‘white’ Europe, where men are strong, healthy and able to protect the country, women who take back the role of housewife, and with people who attach importance and help maintain western and national identity, values and traditions.
In their public speeches they share these ideas in a less direct and negative manner in order to convince others in a subtle manner. In the same line of thoughts as Anders Breivik, this group has an idea of how society should be. Although this group does not refer to the Nordic theory, nor Nordic cultures as a superior culture, they attach importance to being white and European and that power should remain in the hands of Europeans.
So, was Breivik a ‘lone wolf’?
Although Anders Breivik was writing his manifesto and killing 77 people all by himself as a 'lone wolf', he was certainly not alone. Breivik was influenced in his work by online communities, in our case ‘Gates of Vienna’ and ‘Wikipedia’ for example, but also by theorists and writers such as Grant and Fjordman. Breivik seems to have taken arguments and ideas from writers sharing his line of thoughts to apply his personal and extreme logic to it. Additionally, he was part of a community: a community who is not publicly visible, but a group in the shadow. They share their ideas and opinions and have a big influence on their followers. Breivik is still communicating with his supporters using gestures in court and looking straight into the cameras (Seierstad, 2016).
Although Anders Breivik was writing his manifesto and killing 77 people all by himself as a 'lone wolf', he was certainly not alone.
Today, the Nordic theory is still present in a specific form in groups as we have seen in the two cases discussed. These groups are not only active online, they are also part of official and public groups and communities offline. Even if groups such as the Finns Party and Schild en Vrienden might not directly see the association between them and Breivik and his ideal society, they are sharing similar lines of thoughts. It is thus important to remember that sharing ideas and opinions online is not innocent, but also that such extreme ideas as those of Breivik can still play an active role in today’s society.
Blommaert, J. (2018). Niet Hitler maar Breivik is het model voor Schild en Vrienden [Blog].
Berwick, A. (2011). 2083 - A European Declaration of Independence [Ebook]. London. Retrieved from
Definition of eugenics in English by Oxford Dictionaries. (2018).
Definition of lone wolf in English by Oxford Dictionaries. (2018).
Grant, M. (1916). The Passing of the Great Race. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York.
Günther, H. F. (1927). The racial elements of European history. EP Dutton and company.
Fjordman. (2011). Thoughts on the Recent Atrocities [Blog].
Hirst, K. (2017). Who Were the Aryans? Hitler's Persistent Mythology [Blog].
Kitschelt, H., & McGann, A. J. (1997). The radical right in Western Europe: A comparative analysis. University of Michigan Press.
Hudson, J. (2011). The Roots of Breivik’s Rage.
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Seierstad, A. (2016). Is Norwegian Mass Murderer Anders Breivik Still A Threat To Europe?
Schild & Vrienden. (2018). Schild & Vrienden defends Gravensteen from open-border activists [Video].
Sundberg, Jan (2015). Who are the nationalist Finns Party?
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VRT NWS. (2018). Wie is Schild & Vrienden echt? [Image]