New Yorker – Good Read – Stieg Larsson and the Scandinavian Right

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Stieg Larsson studied nutcrackers like Breivik while a working journalist with Searchlight. Conclusion? Don't know, but it's neat that he was with the angels on this one. Photo by Anders Hedberg.

An excerpt from The New Yorker Magazine – Anders Behring Breivik

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In the Timess heavy coverage of the killings in Norway (there were five pieces Tuesday), the name of Stieg Larsson has not come up. That is curious. The major subplot of the stories on the massacre is what many people are now describing as the indifference of the government and press corps in Norway—and, by extension, in Scandinavia and the West as a whole—to native right-wing movements and their potential for violence. All the concern, all the publicity, the revisionist voices are now claiming, was about Islamic terrorists. And yet, homegrown fundamentalist movements have been gaining power in Scandinavia since, decades ago, the citizens of those countries began to lose faith in the benevolence of their vaunted welfare states.

That is what the young Stieg Larsson was saying in the nineteen-nineties, as I learned when I was reading up for an essay on the trilogy of novels that made him posthumously famous: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” Years before beginning work on the novels, Larsson had an unglamorous job as the Swedish correspondent for a magazine, Searchlight, that was English journalism’s watchdog against right-wing movements in Europe. In his articles for Searchlight he describes the car bombings, the rallies, the magazines of Sweden’s extreme right. He has only one message: fascism is on the rise. “For too long,” he writes, “Nazis, in the eyes of society, have been simplistically and credulously equated with a few dozen skinheads on a Saturday-night stampede.” That’s not the case any more, he writes. They are men in suits and ties, and they are getting elected to office.

Larsson’s main concern was the abuse of women, immigrants, and Jews, as was expectable at the turn of the century. Eventually he turned his attention primarily to women, as is clear in his trilogy, with its warrior-queen heroine, Lisbeth Salander. Meanwhile, his society was tilting in a different direction, as a result of the huge wave of immigration, primarily from Muslim countries. The Norwegian government was trying to enfold these new citizens. The summer camp that Anders Breivik invaded last week, a hatchery for the children of the liberal ruling class, included young people whose parents and grandparents came from Africa and Asia.

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