The needs of the many will always surpass the needs of the few.
Anders Behring Breivik
Shooter/Bomber on Friday, July 22, 2011
I wasn’t going to blog about the most recent homeland terror assault, I didn’t even particularly want to read about it. But there’s an aspect of Breivik that is too dangerous to ignore – and it’s an issue that I have been working through on this blog previously.
The quote above may well be his own, but it s a haunting familiar line to any Star Trek fan – it is a Vulcan idea that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one – and it is often uttered by Spock or other character that is about to willing sacrifice themselves to save others.
It is a very noble thing to sacrifice yourself to save others – but it is rather less than noble for someone to decide to sacrifice you for ideas that you do not share or a cause that is not your own or without your knowledge and consent.
People who knowingly join up with extremist groups have an expectation of being sacrificed or expendable – people who are going about their day and who die in an attack by these same groups or individuals – are bystander victims not participants.
While Spock and Kirk – as well as other characters in the Star Trek universe – were always willing to lay down their lives and accept losses in the course of duty – they rarely accepted having to sacrifice each other or others, even when it mean saving everyone else. There was always the breathless continued efforts to rescue stranded or trapped people until the last possible moment that disaster could be averted – no, well, we need to close the containment door immediately while people were trapped – it was always, if we don’t get it closed in x number of minutes, the ship will be contaminated. They usually managed to save everyone and not leave people behind.
This is the stumbling block in using violence to bring about social change – if your idea of how society should operate was valid – then it would be compelling on the face of it – by the word and not by the sword.
If you cannot convince people, you are not entitled to compel by brutal force and terror. That is not a sustainable basis for a thriving and productive society – it only works until someone willing to be more violent comes along and violence suppresses productivity, invention and social
Breivik is actually subverting this idea by putting his own individual needs above the few he killed and the many he seeks to impose his order upon by use of violence. This is his need to resist change, his need to be at the top beneficiary tier of the status quo – worse, the very thing he claims to oppose – Muslim rule – is what he intends to impose as Christian rule. He seeks to assert his own religious rules above secular law.
Breivik is a fanatic seeking to impose his idea on everyone else – but since he is unwilling to put in the work to bring about this order by forming or joining a political party and rallying people to his cause – he is outside of the social hierarchy and seeks a short cut to obtain it – violent revolt in a nation with no recent history of civil unrest and no appetite for it – in another country, it is possible to ignite the factions in civil war to overthrow the government with a grassroots uprising.
But Breivik was alone, not expressing a widely enough held sentiment nor effectively tapping into the existing social anxiety and natural xenophobia and change resistance, disconnected to the people of Norway but tapped into the ring wing movement that is rising in Europe – if anything, his actions of attacking his own people, worse the youth of his own people, will unite people peacefully to stand against him – which is the best response to resist escalating his paranoia into anti-immigration social movements and allowing him to actually achieve his goal by igniting more conflict.
No matter how hard done by and disenfranchised a person or group feels in the larger society, you cannot correct this wrongdoing by doing worse by other people – which is what violence is – doing worse than what you perceive was done to you.
I think it is very interesting that two of the most discriminated and vilified groups in western secular societies have not engaged in violence to achieve social justice and equality – gays and atheists.
It seems to take the addition of religion, in particularly, righteousness and the belief that the righteous individual knows best for everyone because they are divinely directed or inspired, to bring about their vision by any means – especially violent and discriminatory means – possible.