28 July 2011
In 1890 on the Oslo stage Hedda Gabler, the beautiful daughter of a cavalry officer, saw no way to the future, and took her father’s pistol and blew her brains out. The judge who had trapped her into a fatal impasse on seeing the dead woman exclaimed these famous words: “Slikt noe gjør man da ikke!” – “People don’t do such things!”
In masterpiece after masterpiece, Ibsen’s seven great prose plays demonstrated to a stunned Norway that European culture had come to a nihilistic end. It was over. The Christian claim to recover a purpose to life, even after its useless attempt at rescue by Reformation, had failed. A great people under an ancient dispensation had forged a society that – on incomparable long-boats, still the wonder of the world – had sailed down the Volga in the east and to the Atlantic coast below them in France leaving a vibrant culture, one which from Normandy its Norsemen had raised up primitive England to a complex society that would form the foundation of the modern State. It was the restrictive, guilt-ridden new religion, built on the lie of ‘redemption’, that extinguished the light of the Viking peoples.
Europe embraced Ibsen’s tragic vision of an end-game without escape – Shaw in England, Rilke in Germany recognised that Ibsen had seen the future. In his own country, the Norwegians could not admit what he had seen. They turned away from the releasing tragic vision and lost themselves in a futile crisis of identity and language. Nationalism, the new idol distracted them as Scandinavia was carved anew into capitalist kingdoms under the linked families around Victoria.
In 1940 Norway was occupied by nationalist, race-obsessed German military power. Norway’s leading, Nobel-prize writer, Knut Hamsun, looked to a revival of the ancient Viking force under Hitlerian inspiration. Faced with his ‘treason’ they preferred to humiliate him and declare him mad. His writing had been founded on a rejection of the Ibsenic moment of truth.
Now, today, the largest Punjabi population outside Pakistan is living, marrying and dying in Norway. When the poor, lost Hamsun-ite killer in an ultra-nihilistic act killed sixty seven young Norwegians the reaction seemed worse than the hideous crime. The nationalist King wept openly. Kings do not weep. The masses did not flock to the Christian Church. The masses gathered in the public square for a minute’s silence, which, far from being a Christian ritual, was the humanist-atheist response to the millions-dead soldiers of the meaningless First World War. It is a ritual of confessed ignorance. Yearly in London on November 11, the masses gather around the Cenotaph for the sacred silence. On the Cenotaph is carved the new creed of humanism: “One day we will understand.”
It is time for the Europeans to recognise the new reality. Once they swarmed over America, India, Africa and Asia – the Christian hordes. Now, as the Vikings, the Huns and the Romans before them, have come the Pathan and the Punjabis to Scandinavia and Britain, the Turks to Germany, and the Berbers to France and Spain.
What is needed now has been defined by Knut Hamsun: he said, “In the Northland we had something which we called GANGSYN, SEE-TO-WALK.”
The Europeans now must acquire GANGSYN.
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