To try to explain the Utoeya massacre and the terrorist attacks of Oslo in the light of an isolated act committed by a deranged madman is an error and a simplicity that hides the deeper causes of these barbaric crimes. As we know today, Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of these heinous crimes, is a conservative right-wing Christian fanatic with links to Norwegian (and European) extreme far right movements, who planned these attacks with disturbing surgical care with the sole intent to decimate the politicians responsible for the climate of tolerance, freedom and social inclusion experienced in Norwegian society.
Breivik identified the Norwegian Labor Party as the main responsible for the construction of such 'progressive society' and wanted «to help the French, English, German and Scandinavian brothers to defeat cultural Marxism and multiculturalism in cosmopolitan Europe».
Strangely enough, in a sense he’s right. Europe today, especially the cosmopolitan, educated and urbanized Europe, accepts the essence of multiculturalism as the base-stone of being European. It is this same Europe that respects the values of freedom, tolerance and political pluralism, and advocates the rules of liberal democracy and the fundamental values of human dignity. It is also true that this discourse has been defended by socialists, social-democrats and labor European parties, which through time have enshrined these values in several public policy programs.
Thus, this weekend massacres have to be seen as an attack on the liberal conception of modern democracy and the fundaments of the European project. And they should therefore lead to a profound reflection by all political actors that directly and indirectly have contributed to the validation of such hate and intolerant discourse. I am referring particularly to the ‘right-wing mainstream conservative political parties’ who have been nurturing the intellectual landscape for such Manichean visions of society, which systematically singles-out and discriminates large sectors of society (such as immigrants, LGBT people, women, ethnic minorities, etc.).
To confirm this assertion one only has to remember the words of German Chancellor about the status of European cosmopolitanism or assess the right-wing reactions to any 'progressive' proposal that seeks to combat discrimination and the lack of inclusion of certain social groups. For those who forgot, I remember that recently Angela Merkel said that "European multiculturalism has failed", a statement that David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy were quick to agree with.
Saying this, I do not mean to imply that mainstream right-wing parties share any direct responsibility in this weekend’s events, but I must underline that they have indeed contributed, through their discourse and set of political and governmental practices, to the broad culture of intolerance and exclusion that infects Europe today. And two main reasons help to explain this: a cynical behavior that tries to takes electoral advantage of the crisis social discontent and a retrograde and conservative vision of the world and of individual freedoms.
In this sense, it is urgent to build a workable answer at the European level for the current financial and economic crisis as the current solutions, and its social consequences, had only been feeding and legitimizing extremist discourses. Therefore new solutions are required, ones that enshrine the deepening of democracy, political pluralism and social progressivism, as Jens Stoltenberg, Norway’ Prime Minister, clearly stated. The problem is that the European Union has been the center of right-wing liberal conservative politics for years and that the socialist/social-democrat/labor European opposition is not providing any sound and alternative political solution, at European and national levels.
To solve this catch 22 a new left-wing-progressive platform is needed; one that could bring together different political platforms (socialists, social-democrats, laborites, greens, some ‘new left’ and liberals), new social movements, NGO’s and civil society. Its true that the heterogeneity of this alliance is still vast and that some compromises and ideological reflections have to be done – especially from socialists, social-democrats and new left national parties – in order to allow the construction of a coherent common program and a sustainable political platform.
The timeframe for such a progressive coalition is 2014, the next European elections. And it is useless to think on any national perspective to address the issues at stake, as it is the European Union that holds the financial and economic tools to act, not the national members. The left has time, thus, to provide this wide and progressive new solution and built a strong and competitive alternative in order to win the next European elections. But this alternative needs to start to be assembled now.