Paris killings: an excuse for increased militarisation

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The bloody and barbaric attacks in Paris last month gave rise to a massive indignation and disgust. All this was shown in the gigantic gatherings in all the major towns of France and in numerous cities of the world. Millions of people and hundreds of thousands of workers all wanted to express their total rejection of these barbaric terrorist acts. Solidarity spontaneously took hold in the streets and in the squares. But this healthy and necessary reaction was immediately confronted with calls for patriotism, “national unity” and the “sacred union” from almost all wings of the French bourgeoisie – a bourgeoisie shamefully profiting from the emotion which gripped a shocked population. To listen to the politicians and the media France was about “to go to war”. Only the state could protect us; it alone could provide “security for the French”, the defence of “democracy” and “freedom of speech”. And this same ideological poison widely infected the population of Denmark after the recent attacks in Copenhagen. The fear and worry cleverly distilled by all the media was such that inside the head of every terrified proletarian was the idea that the state was the head of the family proposing to the “good people” its benevolent and protective shadow.

Beyond these mystifications some real questions are posed to the proletariat. Who really profits from these odious crimes perpetrated against the journalists of Charlie Hebdo and the customers in the kosher supermarket? What does the soft talk of the government amount to? What is hidden behind the intense media propaganda on the famous “post-January 7”, likened to the “post-9/11”? The truth behind the bourgeois speeches must come out. The proletariat cannot naively accept everything that the state says, or it will pay dearly for it in the future.

The latest attacks in Paris are an ideal pretext for strengthening the militarisation of society

The French bourgeoisie, from the time of the attacks, has displayed its unity. The permanent wars between its different cliques and competing factions have disappeared as if by magic. In the name of the defence of “the country under attack”, of the “French people in danger”, the “French nation” must “face up to the terrorist menace as one”. Dressed up in a humanist facade, hiding behind hypocrisy and lies, the imperialist wolf finds a democratic alibi in order to justify its more marked military engagement in the world, aimed at ensuring that France “takes up its proper rank”. Without hesitation, the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle left for French outposts in this new crusade. We are no longer meant to be disturbed by the active military role that French imperialism is playing in a number of wars which are soaking the planet in blood and which it tries hard to cover up under the flag of “humanitarianism”. Erased is the role played by the French bourgeoisie and its army in the genocide in Rwanda during the time of another Socialist president – Mitterand.  Forgotten are the declarations of the latter according to which the genocide, which led to over a million deaths in this country, was nothing really serious! The extreme barbarity of the attacks in Paris seems to give the French state the right to make war and restrict so-called “freedoms”. After the attacks, the bourgeoisie has thus dressed itself up, without any complexes, in the costume of the guardian of order and security. Faced with irrational, crazy murders, the ordinary barbarity of the democratic state must be presented as “normal”. Its zealous servants, the media, can now show on the TV screens a massive deployment of the forces of order on a war footing. Thousands of police, gendarmes and military can henceforth take over and carve up all the public spaces. And they pretend that this is for our well-being! Without at all holding back, one part of the French right asks for the setting up of a French Patriot Act on the model of what the US bourgeoisie put into effect after 9/11. This is something that the left and the government rapidly and hypocritically “reject” so as to actively prepare measures which are exactly like it. In fact, regarding the ideological and repressive response, there’s a great similarity between the Patriot Act and the policy adopted by the bourgeoisie in France this last month. Moreover, this security policy that the Socialist Hollande has prepared acts as a spearhead within the European Union which has already been seduced and conquered.

We should remind ourselves how the Patriot Act appeared! On September 11, 2001, two planes smashed into the twin towers in New York. Two others crashed in Washington and Pennsylvania. The outcome was terrifying: more than three thousand people killed. Doubts persist about the breadth of complicity of the US state in the attacks but one thing is certain: just like France, immediately after these attacks, the US political apparatus and its media were requisitioned to mobilise the population behind the establishment of a state of war on American soil. The imperialist aims of the United States were not at all absent from this cynical calculation and the orchestration of a war psychosis. For the US bourgeoisie, it had to profit from this dramatic event in order to wipe out the “Vietnam war syndrome”, and prepare its entry into Afghanistan and Iraq. Any terrorist attack of any scale on national soil is always used by the bourgeoisie for its nationalist and imperialist aims. Not only are the anti-terrorist measures of states powerless to stop the growth of terrorism but they are part of the further escalation of terror. They further feed the climate of suspicion towards others by generating divisions within populations. France is no exception to this rule. If terrorism is an arm of war of the bourgeoisie, of no matter which country and whatever religion, it is nevertheless equally a precious ideological weapon of the latter against the working class. Thus the crusade against “the Axis of Evil”, launched at the time by the Bush administration, allowed the implementation of this famous Patriot Act without even the need to pass it though the legislature. Then it becomes normal to have surveillance over e-mails, letters, telephone calls of each one of us and the power to shamelessly enter any dwelling including those where the occupants are absent. A group of people going to work can be stopped without any explanation. As to the police, they are provided with an almost total immunity. The more and more frequent assassinations perpetrated by the police against black people do not in general give rise to any sort of judicial pursuit. In fact what up to now have been punctual and exceptional measures have now become permanent. The exception has become the norm, as in Britain for example where this same pretext has allowed the justification of innumerable surveillance cameras practically everywhere. In democracy exceptional laws have become normal.

Of course in France the proletariat has had quite another experience to that of the United States. The Paris Commune of 1871 and May 1968 are not totally wiped out of the memory of the working class. The French bourgeoisie knows this perfectly well and it’s for this reason that despite everything it remains prudent. It advances in a more disguised way than its American homologue. But two weeks after the attacks in Paris that didn’t stop the office of Prime Minister Valls disclosing a whole series of measures which were supported by all the European bourgeoisies, and which even the American leadership wouldn’t have disowned. This same minister declared that faced with “the strong challenge facing France means that there will have to be exceptional measures”…. which we know will be permanent. The financial burden has gone up to 700 million euros, to be paid for by clear cuts in a public expenditure already in restricted mode. On the other hand the army will not now suffer the cuts previously imposed. And the forces of the gendarmerie and the police will be massively strengthened with men and material. Well-armed cops and soldiers will thus extend their patrols and not only in “sensitive” areas. The proletariat cannot be naive.  A state which shows its force in this way is engaging in a direct form of intimidation. It is a warning given to the workers. Here it’s a question of the power of surveillance  and repression “in all its republican legality”, not only against everything that bothers it and which it considers is outside the norm, but above all to arm itself against the proletariat and its struggle which it is necessary to criminalise. The laws of the Patriot Act are in fact an obsession of the entire democratic bourgeoisie. For proof, in France, even children of seven or eight at primary school can’t escape a very close surveillance. And beware those teachers who do not become informers in this dirty work. In the name of secularism, the government wants infants to receive a “civic” education, thus reinforcing their worship of the state and their total conditioning and subservience to it. This is training in bourgeois rules and values. If conscription is no longer conceivable for the bourgeoisie then it’s a good bet that a strengthened civic service will be soon adopted with total unanimity.

Some well known repressive laws against the proletariat

The dominant class, beyond its own internal divisions, has always understood the nature of its gravedigger. The history of this class abounds with examples of the means with which it has systematically provided itself in order to face up to its only real enemy – the proletariat. In a revolutionary period, the capitalist state will dispense with any legality in order to massacre a proletariat in struggle. The Cossacks during the revolution of 1917 or the Freikorps in social-democratic Germany in 1919 are sinister examples of this. But when the working class doesn’t directly threaten the power of the bourgeoisie, the latter hides its real exploitative nature behind a heap of ideological lies, behind a sophisticated democratic screen. It’s now nearly 150 years ago, at the time when the socialist parties were real revolutionary organisations, that the Chancellor of the German Empire, Herr Bismarck, who had had the help of the bloody republican attack-dog Monsieur Thiers, the executioner of the Paris Commune, promulgated his “Anti-Socialist Laws”. These were laws which banned socialist and social-democratic organisations and all their activities within the German Empire. This repressive law was accompanied by the reinforcement of the military and police presence within all the big German towns. But this policy of the “Iron Fist” was not the prerogative of the German Empire. In 1893-1894, in the very democratic French Third Republic, laws came onto the books under the name of the “villainy laws”. They were aimed, under the cover of the struggle against “evildoers”, at anarchist groups, but overtly threatened all workers’ organisations at the same time. Merely to be under suspicion for having sympathy with anarchism or the workers’ struggle became a crime. As today these laws equally encouraged informers. In 1894, on his way back from Carmaux where he’d supported the miners’ strike which had been violently repressed by the army and military, Jaures, in the Chamber of Deputies, spoke out against the villainy laws: “Thus you are obliged to recruit into crime, those who oversee crime, into misery those that oversee misery and into anarchy, those who oversee anarchy”. The real villains were to be found in Paris amongst those who promulgated these laws. At Carmaux, a certain Tornade, who was active in the strikes of 1892, offered funds from Paris to the striking miners to buy dynamite, thus directly opening the way to repression which was immediately justified in the name of “the struggle against terrorism”. Jaures had good reason to denounce the action against the workers’ struggle and the workers’ voices, which was really the aim here.

From this point of view, “free expression” or “freedom of the press”, much vaunted today after the attacks, have always been illusions knowingly maintained by the dominant class. Not only because the media and the official speeches are the emanation of capitalist property, but because straightaway they show their allegiance to the bourgeois state without it being necessary for anyone to ”guide” them or to systematically dictate the content of their propaganda. Nepotism and clientism are well known among a good number of journalists and the collusion of the media with leading politicians are thus only purely anecdotal consequences and not the cause of their docility.  Any real, critical opposition, anything that calls the capitalist state into question, has no place in the media and it will not be accepted or disseminated by it. “Freedom of expression” is in reality summed up in speeches that are subordinate to the state, to the laws and values of capitalism.

The bourgeoisie is the most Machiavellian class in history

The working class in France, as internationally, is going through a profoundly difficult period. But the proletariat is far from giving up its arms. In a situation where the economic crisis can only continue to get worse and living conditions are deteriorating more and more, the bourgeoisie knows perfectly well that there will come a time when it will have to confront widespread workers’ struggles. The more it prepares for it the better! The dominant class has known for a long time the danger that the revolutionary proletariat and its avant-garde organisations represent for it and its system. Its consciousness of this danger, its unity faced with it, in short its Machiavellianism has no limit. Machiavelli, who lived in the epoch of the Renaissance, has, in this area, been a clear precursor of the bourgeoisie. He declared that “Lies and deception are the means of governing that any Prince must know how to handle with a maximum of efficiency”. In a word the means used are defined by the aim to be achieved. There is no moral principle to be respected here and the current bourgeoisie has carried this method of government to heights never achieved before in history. Lies, terror, coercion, blackmail, scapegoats, pogroms, plots and assassinations are the usual methods of capitalist governance. The assassination of the revolutionaries Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1919 by soldiers on the orders of the social-democratic government of Ebert in Germany is one of the most symbolic expressions of it. As the assassination of Jaures in July 1914 was prepared by a whole hateful and patriotic campaign, this time by the French democratic republic, talking only of the sacred union and wallowing in the mire of the first world butchery. The Machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie is not a perversion of democracy; it is the product of its nature as the most intelligent ruling class in history. Pearl Harbour is a terrifying example of the Machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie. In 1941, the United States wanted to enter the war against Japan and Germany. In order to justify it, being well aware of the imminent attack by the Japanese air force on the military base of Pearl Harbour, the American state didn’t for a moment hesitate to sacrifice its Pacific Fleet and thousands of unarmed and helpless soldiers. In this domain, examples are legion. The strengthening of control of police surveillance, the increase in the weight of the repressive arsenal announced by the government of President Hollande are only some expressions of the Machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie. The displays about protecting the French population, the “citizens”, are only a smokescreen, a simple alibi. Faced with the defence of its capitalist interests the bourgeoisie has always shown a complete contempt for human life. The militarisation of society is the direct strengthening of the totalitarian power of state capitalism and democracy is only an ideological mask for the dictatorship of capital.  A terribly hypocritical mask, making it possible to ensure the monopoly of violence by the state and the maintenance of exploitation with its constant companions: bullying and daily humiliations at work, mass unemployment and a growing pauperisation. In brief, an unprecedented violence against which revolt is forbidden and which is necessary to for the “good citizen” to accept without flinching. Ignoring what’s behind the good will of the state and the humanitarianism of this exploiting class would leave the proletariat politically disarmed. The measures of Valls and Hollande today, like those deployed in the past, are a serious and active preparation for repression. Only the revolutionary proletariat, by affirming its communist perspective, can paralyse the strong arm of the bourgeoisie and its state.  Cyril, 10.2.15