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“Lone Wolf”

Updated: Jul 21


“Anders…err…are you okay? How’s everything going?” “…” “It’s just you’ve changed.” “…” “And we’re a bit concerned, you just don’t seem to be you anymore; we want the old Anders back…” Sometime later, in a psychiatric hospital, “Mr. Breivik is not what I would call ‘psychiatrically ill’, despite his obsession with the Knights of Malta. I would say, frankly—this will not go in his notes—that his problems mostly stem from his parents’ divorce; and there is a particular ambivalence to his mother that finds expression in misogynistic political statements—of course, it’s not politically correct to say that…”

“However, I see no grounds to detain him from the psychiatric perspective—certainly, he would benefit from therapy, something to give him the coping strategies necessary to advance in the outside world; although he seems quite able to fend for himself from a financial perspective.” The psychiatrist, a terribly reasonable man who would fain be too direct, always gently probes around the subject, leans back in his chair and sips his milky coffee from a paper cup decorated with slogans that reassure the drinker that “Planet-Kind coffee uses 100% recycled material, kinda cool huh?”

“No, Mr. Breivik does not need to be detained. Not like that case yesterday, the man who claimed that God communicates with him in code through the birds—and that he can decode the patterns with his collected Brothers Grimm fairytales. Quite, quite gone—possibly dangerous. We’ve had him on Thorazine to reduce his delusions. It’s lucky we caught him in time.”

Political violence represents the basic stance contained in each political orientation, just crystallised. Hence the “lone wolf” terrorist is a product from the radical right—Anders Breivik being a typical example. The lone wolf emerges from the radical right because the right tells people that the individual counts: the message at once empowers—you are responsible, your fate is in your hands—and suggests a certain way to conceptualise your political opponents. If the individual counts, if you count, then so too are your enemies individuals—and, indeed, the right likes to say, sort of as a way to whistle in the dark, “There are specific people behind what has happened to our country, they have names and addresses”. There is a menace in that, although, really, it is a non-verbal communication—similar to references to Weimar and “you know what happened when everything went too far there”. This is a way to say: “You’re pushing me, I’m not going to push you back—I’m in the right here, I’m violated. On the other hand, I’d stop where you are if I were you, or else…”

Hence assassination is inherently rightist political violence; the assassin thinks that the individual counts—in his mind the people who damage his country, his interests, are known individuals; perhaps they work in a system, but the system has secondary importance. Remove the responsible individuals—irresponsible individuals, in fact—and the system will correct itself. Hence the assassin’s political violence is formed by his political view that he as an individual counts—really can make a difference—and also his view that all political problems can be traced to specific bad actors. Hence a lone romantic gesture, the romantic terrorist attack, becomes a rational possibility—we can be heroes, just for one day.

For the left, this is inconceivable; for the left, nobody is responsible—nominally, even the “oppressor class” is also a victim; they can do no other, perhaps they can even become an “ally” if they really put their minds to it. If nobody is responsible—not even yourself—no individual is to blame; it is pointless to remove an individual—only systemic change can improve the political situation, hence assassination and “lone wolf” actions are almost never leftist. The exception is anarchism—19th-century anarchism really, the bomb chucked into the golden-chandeliered Café Palais when the lights are all aglow so that now the beautiful people have little droplets of blood in their champagne; yet anarchism done properly is really rightist, the black flag is of the right—and anarchists either turn to the right or deviate into watered-down Leninism.

This is not to say there is no left-wing political violence. Leftist political violence takes two forms: the liberal enacts passive-aggressive violence through non-compliance and psychological manipulation—just like a woman. The Extinction Rebellion protester sits in the middle of the motorway while some frantic skinhead out on probation tugs at their banners and screams: “Are you mental? Are you mental? I’ve got to get to work on time or I’ll go back to the nick. Do you understand? Do understand? I’m on probation.” The Extinction Rebellion acolyte mouths the pre-arranged mantra designed to propitiate the motorists, merely winding them up even further in its refusal to genuinely communicate (to even admit this is violence, although it is psychic and moral coercion)—eventually, “the lads” drag them off; and, ready to enact passive violence again, the protester crawls back from the verge into the motorway’s central lane. “Are you mental? Are you actually mental? Are you kidding? I don’t believe this.” Cut cameraphone video.

This liberal political violence, as practiced by decadent aristos such as Tolstoy and, in a slightly different form, by trade unions, serves to undermine the system—as it is intended to do—and so opens the way for collapse, a period during which political violence becomes the archetypal “red terror” found in the French Revolution and the Russian Civil War. At this point, the decadent left gives way to men who are masculine albeit in a perverted way, so that Stalin and Castro win rightist respect for “being men”—albeit perverted men—whereas Leo Tolstoy and Bertrand Russell earn contempt as what the Americans call “shitlibs”, basically moaners and whiners who, as with Tolstoy, undermine the Church and the army with their narcissistic moralism and so lead to the revolution—a revolution that smartly pushes their type aside.

Stalin and Robespierre enact political violence against a class in an exterminatory way; questions over individual responsibility are null from their philosophical perspective—bourgeois background or a “mystical fascistic view” constitute sufficient grounds for violence; people are placed on the proverbial trucks to be “processed”, somewhere—since the people behind this violence have no clear notion as regards responsibility, the classes to be removed are vaguely and arbitrarily defined and can expand or retract on a whim.

In colonial situations, the left will often openly radiate between passive aggression and random bomb attacks—the PIRA strategy, in other words. The political wing conducts “peaceful marches” that just happen to intrude into sensitive areas from a sectarian perspective or goad the police into action that results in casualties through passive-aggressive violence. These casualties provide both pity-inducing propaganda to sway the metropolitan mob and liberal intellectuals, and also provide the pretext for “retaliatory” random attacks on the metropolis. The strategy is basically a seduction; just as the woman radiates between affection and ambivalence, the typical leftist “national liberation” organisation alternates passive aggression with indiscriminate violence—blows hot and cold—in an attempt to force its demands on the metropolis.

Sometimes, the domestic left will utilise a similar strategy—as happened in Latin America—although more likely the strike will substitute for the terrorist attack. The commonality is the indiscriminate nature: the rail strike affects everyone, from stockbrokers to single mums to pensioners—but then that is appropriate, very democratic; it treats everyone the same, hits the system—hurts people and then says, “The management are doing this to you, not us; take it up with them.” So the psychological force behind this strategy is the double-bind, inherently manipulative. “We hurt you, but you need to take it up with that guy over there—he did it really, actually we’re victims like you.” “Ah. Um. You hit me.” Whether you paralyse a city with a strike or paralyse several individuals with a grenade thrown into a random pub, it is all, literally, “indiscriminate” violence—chaotic, democratic, senseless. “I keep asking myself, ‘Why my pub? Why did they choose this pub on this day?’”. It can be *any pub* because that is in keeping with the leftist metaphysic.

The formal counterpart to the rightist “lone wolf” is the special military squad, perhaps attached to the navy or some unexpected department, that “disappears” selected subversives at night—again, this is very Latin American; and yet similar behaviour can be seen in Northern Ireland and Algeria. Indeed, in the less violent form, the notion that there could be a “blacklist” to penalise trade union activists or Hollywood writers demonstrates selective “disappearance”—to deny someone an income is violence, in its own way. As with assassination, the accent is on selectivity; and this is why from a raw casualty perspective regimes like Pinochet’s Chile are much better than Castro’s Cuba—better than what Allende’s Chile would have turned into in the end. Better to disappear a few university professors into a jet and drop them into the sea than to be led by a man who wants to “liquidate the bourgeoisie as a class”—hence Pinochet’s regime killed around 3,000 people, not a high casualty rate as far as these things go.

The “disappeared” are very often journalists and academics; and that gives you a good picture as to the actual dynamic that underlies the left-right political division—the naval captain disappears the university professor; even the way in which this political violence is enacted reveals a hierarchy to life, to the way the left is organised—and to who disappears whom.


As for the “lone wolf”, he is also—in a Nietzschean vein—the man who has stood outside the mob; perhaps he has a quasi-religious perspective because he stands on the outside—you have to go back into nature to understand the corruption in the city; and, indeed, insofar as men like Breivik are nationalists, nationalism is a religious conviction—or supported by religious convictions, anyway. Breivik, if you remember, particularly attacked the socialist youth organisation at the holiday camp on Utøya; and his decision was characteristically from the right in two ways: firstly, it concerned the elite; it was at that camp that the next socialist elite was to be formed. So Breivik reasoned, in typical individual responsibility mode, that to disrupt the elite to come would be a step to improved political conditions (the fact the people in question were teenagers, children, reflects the anti-social yet coldly rational aspect to Breivik’s act that shows rightist thought taken to its most logical “autistic” conclusion).

Secondly, insofar as Breivik attacked a potential corrupt elite, his act betrayed a concern with seasonality—with the circulation and corruption of elites, and although, so far as I know, he did not conceptualise himself as such, he was either the man against the autumnal turn of the wheel or the man who cleared the ground for a new spring—the two are not exclusive.

Political violence from the right also has an aesthetic component, since it is always highly individualistic—and it is at its most individualistic with the lone wolf; insofar as to be a man is to be capable of violence, to remove and prune, the lone wolf expresses his quintessential masculine nature through violence—births lethal singularity. The notion is connected to warriorship, the warrior is not a soldier—not a conscript; rather, he is a gentleman—possibly the supreme gentleman—and as a gentleman he has distinctive nature so that the violence he enacts contains a qualitative aspect that is identifiable. The perspective is natural because it is amoral, just as with nature—the violent act falls like lightning.

Hence we can imagine a man in a white admiral’s uniform who has an assassin’s knife driven into his breast. “Ah, but it was so artfully done,” he says in his final moments; as an objective man, he stands outside himself and even his own death is an aesthetic experience to be appreciated—he is not angry with the assassin, he does not die riddled with resentment; he simply appreciates the artistry in the act. This was very much the approach taken by Jünger, who would watch bullets rip into his tunic in a similar fashion—detached.

The leftist terrorist seeks to escape, seeks to live again to fight another day—as with a coward. In line with the metaphysic, quantity is important—if you can bomb more pubs, more transport hubs you fight well. You want to escape, to preserve the cell—continue the struggle, more. The rightist terror act, on the contrary, seeks maximum responsibility and rarely seeks survival—consider 9/11, itself a considerable aesthetic act; a religious act that was also the most notable artistic work in the 21st century to date. The self-immolation is essential to the aesthetic of violence—the work of art is sealed with blood; indeed, some artists have believed that their work only “activates” with their death—a view that is also held by esotericists, so that the blood sacrifice is more than a personal gesture but also is a magical operation (for blood is held to be the most potent agent used in magical ritual). Certainly, any right-wing terror act, right-wing violence, tends towards the memorable—towards the event, whereas leftist violence is more about quantity and is more forgettable.

In the Western tradition, the word “wolf” also symbolises Apollo—the Sun god, Lucifer; and, of course, Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf. The phrase “left-wing lone wolf terror” makes no sense; the lone wolf makes an ascetic-hermetic commitment to stand outside society, to see it objectively—and then makes a violent aesthetic intervention so as to wake that society up to its decay, a sigil activated by blood. Now, this is not always conscious and intentional—although in some cases, as with Mishima, it is so; and, further, it must be admitted that many lone wolves are genuinely mentally disturbed. The difficulty being that genuine spiritual ideas, ideas of purity and tribe, are held to be de facto mentally abnormal in modernity, so that the stability of the lone wolf is always somewhat debatable—he may have been a normal man, or, at least, not particularly pathological, in a less debased society. Indeed, the original assassins were a religious sect; the political murder was a religious rite—a path to the sacred, for they acted without thought and consequently without ego. So the line between madness and contact with the divine has always been thin—as acknowledged in the Egyptian saying as regards the mad, “Be kind, he is with God.”

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