By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
It remains one of the most shocking mass murders in recent memory. Last week Anders Behring Breivik appeared in a public court in Oslo and admitted to killing 77 people last July. He wasn't repentant. Instead, Breivik pleaded not guilty to terror charges, claiming he was in a state of war to protect Europe from being taken over by Muslim immigrants.
How could the culture of Northern Europe, known for social welfare states and generous foreign aid budgets, create a killing machine like Breivik?
An important new survey sheds some light. The think tank Demos conducted the first-ever quantitative investigation of far-right groups in Europe online. This is especially important because the Internet following of these parties dwarfs its formal membership. Remember, the likes of Breivik are created and radicalized online.
So Demos reached out to more than 400,000 Facebook followers of 14 far-right groups across Europe. More than a quarter of the respondents said that violence is acceptable if it leads to the right ends. And if you thought the far-right's members are aging and disconnected, think again. A third of those surveyed were under 21; two thirds were under 30. Compare that with the average age of Facebook users - only half are under 30.
So it turns out that supporters of Europe's far-right groups are increasingly young and connected. They're also mostly male, deeply cynical about the European Union, and deeply worried about immigration and a perceived spread of Islamic influence in Europe.
They are extreme versions of a growing reality in Europe. The European Union does seem dysfunctional; jobs are scarce; and at least three major European leaders - Germany's Angela Merkel, France's Nicolas Sarkozy, and Britain's David Cameron - have recently admitted that Europe's experiment with multiculturalism has failed.
Whoever's fault it is - society's for not offering enough opportunities to integrate or the immigrants for clinging to their own practices - the reality is the immigrant experience in Europe has been complicated and has produced a backlash. And now, with youth unemployment skyrocketing in some countries, could rage against immigrants be the escape valve?
Maybe, though please note: Norway has not really had an economic downturn. This leads to a key point: It's important to understand that Breivik is a complete outlier. He does not represent most of the far right. He represents evil - unrepentant to this day for slaughtering dozens of young Norwegians.
But having said that, it's clear to me that Europe needs to take a serious look at its policies toward immigrants. It needs to offer more integration and opportunities, and it should ask immigrants for much more assimilation.
A final thought - since 9/11, the world has focused almost exclusively on Islamic terror in the form of al Qaeda and other groups. But the European Union's latest terror report shows that of the 249 terror attacks committed in Europe in 2010, only three were by Islamic terrorists. The rest were by separatist groups, the far right, or the far left.
For all the attention that has been paid to Islamic terrorism, there are likely more Breiviks out there, and we need to examine that danger as well.
The irony is that Breivik has become a mirror image for the very thing he seems to be against. He's young, disaffected and a mass murderer. And when he is taken to court to answer for his crimes, he says he's fighting a kind of holy war. Sound familiar?