The Charlie Hebdo Massacre

Another Signal of Capitalism’s Decline into Barbarism

After the French anti-terrorist squad’s blitz there is no doubt that the shocking and barbarous murders of 12 people at the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and 4 more at a kosher supermarket, was the work of jihadist militants. The already rising racist and small-minded nationalist movements across Europe and the world have been gifted an enormous propaganda coup. That is precisely what the killers hope for. If they can provoke an even greater backlash against Muslims in greater discrimination and repression, it will provide their tiny minorities with the capacity to get more potential recruits. And this will lead to even more horrific incidents and even more violent racism. This is the war they want. The pointless futility of terrorism flourishes in a just such contexts of unending brutality and inhumanity.

For most of the 1.9 billion Muslims around the world the actions of a few Salafists (jihadist salafism has less than 10 million supporters globally) are anathema. And though the Salafists proclaim the Prophet as their inspiration the real cause of their attacks has more material roots. It is no accident that that jihadism flourished after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. It is an accident that Western imperialism created it. During the Cold War the Reagan regime furnished arms to the mujihadeen whilst his Saudi allies set up madrassas in Pakistan. The students (taliban) of these madrassas then became the Taliban which eventually captured Kabul whilst out of the mujihadeen arose Al Qaeda. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait the Saudi regime allowed the US to build bases on “holy ground” which enraged Al Qaeda. 9/11 with all its tragic nuances and their involvement led to the subsequent imperialist invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq alone the US and its allies dropped more bombs than in the two world wars put together. 200,000 Iraqis died as a result of the invasion alone. Compared to the innocent millions who have died in these lands since, the Charlie Hebdo murders pale into insignificance. The real problem is that imperialist arrogance has been the breeding ground for jihadism and the struggle against and corrupt and corrupting West. This has taken the form of an Islam based on Sunni sects which even call for the murder of other muslims and the rape of their wives and daughters in order to create a Caliphate which in the name of Allah will safeguard the oil and its financial revenues. The Islamic State led by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is just the latest emanation of that culture which beyond its religious claims perpetuates capitalist barbarism in its worst forms.

But it is not just imperialist actions which have triggered the Charlie Hebdo murders. It is also the world capitalist crisis. The unemployment, discrimination and devastation which Western imperialism has brought to the Middle East and Asia has been matched by the humiliation and hopelessness of youth who can neither find a job nor a meaningful existence in the advanced capitalist countries. Add to that the racist harassment of minority groups in places like the banlieu of Paris and you have the breeding ground for desperate actions. Marine Le Pen in her racist populist banality has called for the restoration of the death penalty. She does not realise that for these people there lives are already worthless and martyrdom gives them at least some meaning.

However the murders have already been a propaganda gift for “democratic states” everywhere. The French Government has skilfully turned the murders into an issue of defence of “free speech and democracy”. The “je suis Charlie” demonstrations singing the Marseillaise have wrapped themselves in the defence of the patriotic values of the French Republic (much to the annoyance of the Front National). But world leaders from Obama to Putin have all rushed to leap onto the bandwagon of defending “our democratic values”.

So, forget the economic crisis which has been driving down your living standards. Forget the zero hour contracts, the casual part-time and precarious nature of your job. Forget the decline in the welfare state and the healthcare systems. Join in the “united front” (French Interior Minister) in defence of democracy. But whose “democratic values” are we talking about? Without economic equality there can be no such thing as democracy. In a system based on profit-making the banks get bailed out whilst the working class face more austerity to pay for it. Yet still more austerity is to come as our democratic capitalists have no solution to the economic crisis. They keep talking of recovery but it is only for the rich.

So don’t fall for this one even if you emotionally identify with the slain. The only way to escape the twin traps of jihadist barbarism and a crisis-wracked capitalist imperialism is to fight on our own issues. This means not accepting more cuts, more lousy working conditions and increasing exploitation. You can vote for whoever you like, but you can’t vote to get rid of capitalism: At any rate, not until workers the world over have risen up to overthrow the existing order. The jihadists, with their dream of a Caliphate, have no alternative to offer beyond the same old domination of capital over wage labour, the system which is at the root of the crisis today. The only practical, civilised way to get rid of the social injustice of capitalism is for the world’s working class to rise up and uproot the system root and branch. We need a genuine anti-capitalist movement with a programme and an international organisation which can put forward a far more attractive and realisable goal than dreams of heaven on earth. That goal is a society free from social inequality and economic deprivation; a real system of workers’ democracy based on directly elected and revocable delegates in a world without money, without exploitation, without classes, and without national borders. Only by fighting for this will we put an end to imperialist war and its offshoots like the jihadist monster they have created in the lands of Islam.

Socialism or Barbarism

There is no Third Road

Statement of the Internationalist Communist Tendency January 10 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Comments

Good article! There is a good one on website wsws.org of Jan 9 entitled "Free Speech" hypocrisy in the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, which also contains a useful summary of the Marxist views of religions.

You are right T 34 the article on the site you give the link to is excellent. In fact this site, wsws.org. which is a Trotskyite site, is full of remarkable articles strikingly similar to those found on left communist sites. I was amazed how good they are. What they don't do however, is contain references to the proletarian revolution or the need for the working class to overthrow capitalism. But I suppose they wouldn't would they? I got this quote off there.

"To abolish religion as the illusory happiness of the people is to demand their real happiness. The demand to give up illusions about the existing affairs is the demand to give up a state of affairs that needs illusions. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the vale of tears, the halo of which is religion.” [Contribution to Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, in Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 3 (New York, 1975), pp. 175-76]

Isn't this a wonderful paragraph? So succinct. So aphoristic. So right. Brilliant!

Charlie, not all articles by marxist organisations automatically contain references to revolution, but that is not to say that they don't work towards it. So far as the wsws is concerned, if you read the Statement of Principles by the Socialist Equality Party, you will be able to see their intentions.

If these organizations are working towards revolution, as you say they are T 34, why do they hide it? Are they embarrassed? God knows we hear little enough sbout the essential need to get rid of capitalism by revolution before it gets rid of us. So why would a truly Marxist organization wish to be coy about this., and not urge the working class to get on with it. After all, the class may not be inclined to go looking round for some Statement of Principles that says that socialism requires us the class to dispose of the capitalist system, if the so-called socialist organization can't be bothered to say this in its articles.

Charlie, I attempted to send a reply with some details to your comment 2015-01-13 02:17, but as it seems to have been blocked, I won't type it all again. If you want to actually examine what the SEP actually says, go ahead. In any case, even when readers of ICT or other communist left sites have internalised their views, it does not automatically follow that their standing should be judged by whether or not they dash into the streets calling for revolution, unless a revolutionary situation has arrived. I am not a member of SEP, but feel considerable support for it.

Is it time to prepare placards 'Je suis proletarian' ?! 'Nous sommes proletarian' !

D'accord camarade!

Well said T 34. You continue to surprise!

Thank you, Cleishbotham and Charlie ! Only snag I afterwards realised is unintended possible reference to a journal of that name in the UK ! As Putin advised last year, "Before you take a step, consider the consequences." ! However, I suppose that we should also consider the consequences of not doing so. I'd better pay the local Borough Council before the discounted rate ends ! Cheers.