Orthodox Heterodoxy and the Tragedy in Norway

by W.F. Price on July 27, 2011

Yesterday evening, I stopped by the local vigil for the Norwegian victims of Anders Breivik’s rampage. It was held at the Nordic Heritage museum in Ballard, which is Seattle’s Scandinavian neighborhood. The event was attended by hundreds of people, as Seattle is still home to many Norwegian nationals and people of Norwegian ancestry (I am part Norwegian myself). Norwegian Consul Kim Nesselquist was there, as were Dr. Loren Anderson, the president of Pacific Lutheran University, and a couple Lutheran pastors. It was a Lutheran service, including prayers, some singing and music, a speech by the consul and what was essentially a sermon by the president of PLU.

It was a heartfelt vigil, especially for the Norwegian Consul, whose voice broke as he expressed gratitude to the people of Seattle. It is saying something when a Norwegian man expresses such emotion. To me, what was most touching was hearing the churchgoing women around me sing Amazing Grace in soft tones.

I looked around at the largely Scandinavian crowd, seeing a couple people I recognized, and felt very much at home, despite the fact that I was raised Catholic. Although emotions were subdued, as is the Scandinavian custom, the sense of grief was real and palpable.

My own feelings about the vigil and the tragedy in Norway were those of resignation. Having worked for years cataloging countless atrocities and massacres in the volatile Middle East and other conflict areas, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of inevitability about the killings. When I first heard about it, it struck me immediately that it was a sectarian slaughter, the likes of which occur on a regular basis in places such as Kashmir, Northwest Frontier Province in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, etc.

As I listened to Loren Anderson give his sermon, endorsing the lofty liberal ideals of FDR, imploring us to cherish diversity and individualism, and to contemplate the balance between freedom and responsibility, I felt nostalgia rather than hope. The days when these ideals worked tolerably well are drawing to an end.

Dr. Anderson, president of a university, is clearly a proponent of the liberal orthodoxy that has prevailed in the West since WWII, and is the only true bond that unites the elites of our civilization.

In a society that mirrors the demographics of the people I saw yesterday evening, it is a humane, progressive and functional governing philosophy, but in its endorsement of cultural heterodoxy (i.e. diversity and multiculturalism) it contains the seeds of its own destruction. It is essentially a program of atomization and dissolution in the name in the name of freedom and individualism on the one hand, and a heavy-handed repression of any communal resistance to it on the other. The result is that all balance and natural restraint is thrown to the wind, and political and social movements take on the character of tribalism, which is the default (and savage) form of social organization amongst human beings.

Therefore, we have an elite that not only endorses, but actively strives to create a society that lacks cohesion, is suspicious of others in its midst, and necessarily takes an adversarial position over any and all differences. Is it any wonder that some depraved individual may take this to its extreme conclusion and attempt to wipe out the next generation of his perceived rivals? How, in a “diverse, multicultural society” full of competing interests could we expect there to be a sense of obligation to one’s neighbors, let alone compatriots?

I know how, but it’s nothing like what the Western elites have in mind. In the kind of society they are busy creating, the only solution to endless conflict is an overriding, supreme ideology of some sort, such as Islam, Communism, Christianity or Imperial China’s emperor worship. But they will have none of this. Inevitably, the proposed solution will be more heterodoxy, more multiculturalism — more tribalism in short. And they, and we, and everyone else around us, will get it.

Look to a West that increasingly resembles a sectarian frontier; the kind of place Osama bin Ladin lived out the final years of his life. When the resources of the state dwindle, it will be a much harder place to handle than it used to be.

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