Massacre in Paris: terrorism is an expression of rotting bourgeois society

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Massacre in Paris: terrorism is an expression of rotting bourgeois society
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Massacre in Paris: terrorism is an expression of rotting bourgeois society. The discussion was initiated by jk1921.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Not what I expected

This aticle was not what I expected. There was a great deal of sympathy for Charlie Hebdo's project in there, almost to the point where it seemed like RI was claiming it as some kind of kindred spirit. On one level I am somewhat pleased by this--there was no simplistic attempt to draw a false equivalence between CH's irreverent statire and fundamentalist intolerance, but on the other hand it didn't quite feel totally like an ICC article, which usually delights in condemning both sides of bourgeois disputes equally. I got a haunting sense that RI was attempting to defend the Enlightnement heritage itself--something broader than revolutionary Marxism, but of which it forms a part--even to the point of suggesting we bracket CH's sometimes "bourgeois politics" in a forgiving moment of empathy. It almost felt like RI would have no problem with the "Je Suis Charlie" slogan.

i agree with the analysis that this kind of death cult terrorism is something new--a real function of decomposition--but I question if it is totally "iirrational." Isn't the goal here really simply to terrorize, not to achieve some kind of tactical victory? What tactical victory would even be possible? If the goal is pure terror than the attacks seem rationally calculated to bring that about it. Still, I think there may be some connection in the analysis of these kinds of attacks as "new," and "irrational" and the somewhat odd level of solidarity shown to CH in the article. Perhaps, there is a sense that the old categories--the old way we used to make sense out of events--is not totally adequate anymore. Where are the imperialist motivations here? OK, perhaps these guys had some help from AQAP or ISIS or whatever, but in the main these attacks--and the preceding wave of lone wolf attacks from Canada to Australia--seem to reflect something graver than imperialist rivalries--a breakdown of civilizational values itself. Allowed to "rot on its feet" now for more than three decades, perhaps captialist society will soon bring civilization itself to the brink?

Nowhere perhaps more telling was the the change in tone than in the rather awkward insertion into this article of 9/11 conspiracy theory--the statement of continued adherence to the idea that the American state was in some way behind 9/11; yet there is no consideration at all that maybe these attacks in Paris were carried out by French speical forces trying to fufill whatever objective of the French state? Its almost like the old Machivallian categories don't quite have the same explanatory power they once did--in a world increasingly dominated by social and cultural decay.

Still, after reading the article-- I am left confused. Am I Charlie or am I not Charlie? Am I supposed to identify with their project in some way as an expression of some broad critical spirit that was punished by the gallopping forces of irrational hatred, millinerian utopianism, and uncritical submission sweeping the banlieus as a result of decompotision or was this an affair between two sides in a false bourgeois debate about the wrong things?

And here is where the abscence of any considerded discussion of the free speech issue showed. Sure, we all know that the bourgeois state will use the ruse of democratic and liberal values to rouse the population into a false unity, but is there nothing there worth defending at all? Is the issue nothing more --as has been written on this forum in the days since the attacks--a "diversion," a "shibboleth" or "to be rejected entirely"? I honestly can't tell after reading the article.

I saw a book the other day

I saw a book the other day linked to on another forum, claiming that a totalitarian regime doesn't need to suppress the papers. If freedom of the press is a freedom which say assures our other liberal freedoms, then the internet poses unique problems for capital.

Thank you for your considered

Thank you for your considered post above jk, you express some of my confusion about this article too. Obviously all the killing and manifestations of hate involved in this Charlie business are unpleasant and typical now of decaying capitalist society.  But I am not really convinced by the adulation heaped on Cabu, Charb, Tignous and Wolinski by RI, which claims them as "a kind of symbol". Yes indeed.  But symbol of what? Enlightenment values, as jk suggests, or of proletarian resilience against bourgeois ideology? Of course RI doesn't claim the latter for our murdered cartoonists  but does emit a disturbing ambivalence in its write up here and there.  But this is just my opinion and I could be mistaken. 


Cabu,  Charb, Tignous, Wolinski, among the twenty killed in the attacks in Paris on 7 and 9 January, these four were a kind of symbol. They were the priority targets. And why? Because they stood for intelligence against stupidity, reason against fanaticism, revolt against submission, courage against cowardice,  sympathy against hatred, and for that specifically human quality: humour and laughter against conformism and dull self-righteousness. We may reject and oppose some of their political positions, some of which were totally bourgeois. But what was being hit was what was best about them. This barbaric rampage against people who were just cartoonists or harmless shoppers at a supermarket has provoked a great deal of emotion, not only in France but all over the world, and this is quite understandable.

I want to think they stood for intelligence  against stupidity, but something stops me. Because didn't they stand for a limited bourgeois intelligence that saw the stupidity of religious fanaticism but didn't see that capitalism was a major contributing factor to this absurd fanaticism, and that in not apparently attempting to understand this they as cartoonists were unreasonable and  stupid too?

So how can it be claimed then that they stood for reason against  fanaticism? Yes, they disliked fanaticism and saw the danger contained in it but their  mocking response against it, rather than a more rational satirical and sensitive critique of it, merely played into its hands and, worse still, persuaded millions that childish mockery of the things you dislike is the best way of exposing them and trying to remove them.  Charlie lacked a Marxist understanding of the world it cartooned.  But of course they were bourgeois. But what happened to RI's critical faculties in their write up of this event, when they seem to find Charlie's activities commendable? 

We are told Charlie "stood for revolt against submission". Well possibly yes. But a very limited and uncritical revolt against a very limited kind of submission.  Decaying capitalism is the world's number one menace, not religion.  These tragic cartoonists certainly expressed great courage in attacking the thing they had fixated on, but really they had played into the bourgeoisie's hands by seeing religious fanaticism as the enemy not capitalism itself.  But then they were bourgeois cartoonists. 


Finally we we are told they  " stood for humour and laughter against dull conformism and self righteousness."  Oh yes!  We can all applaud that.  RI says this is a "specifically human quality". But what RI doesn't say is that human qualities have a class basis underpinning them.  Bourgeois humour is not the same as proletarian humour, because the bourgeois vision and  understanding of the world is quite different from and more limited in its grasp of reality than  is the proletarian view. The humour and laughter of Charlie Hebdo is of a limited bourgeois kind that doesn't necessarily go down well everywhere.  "Dull conformism and self righteousness" isn't merely a quality of religious fanatics but  generally  of the bourgeoisie everywhere.  Charlie could widen his critique.  But he won't  of course, as he is bourgeois too.

Didn't Flaubert deal with him in  "Madame Bovary"? 

Well, in defence or RI

Well, in defence or RI comedians are bourgeois, I'm not sure comedy is. I'm not Charlie, I don't agree with the paper's racial charicatures, and I don't see them as in any way representing freedom or free thought. But it'd be tough not to sympathize more with CH and its fans than the islamist terrorists and their supporters.

Whether or not there is any need to claim that, on the grounds that CH kinda reads like a propaganda piece. However, I think or hope at least the article was measured enough.

While a certain consensus was

While a certain consensus was reached on the English forum of ICC (consensus also shared by other organizations such as the WSWS or the ITC) to explain the attack against Charlie Hebdo in the context of the imperialist war being waged in Iraq and Syria, and in many other countries, the ICC finds the terrorism origin in “stupidity”, “fanaticism” and “cowardice”.

The ICC idealism jumps so high it hits the ceiling:

“Obscurantist hatred and fanatic desire for revenge here are in the pure state.”

Where is the Marxism when you begin to explain material facts with feelings?

The french event is not even difficult to understand. This is only a small episode of the imperialist war that exist for many years. Thus, no fifth column in the slums. No terrorism come out magically from the turban of Islamist villains. Just war. Imperialist war. If you do not understand this, just shout "wolf!" with the other sheep, and spread the word that this imperialist war is simply an internal police operation.

Firstly. What is Islamism? Islamism is an ideology. Thus we must find what is material behind this ideology. And we find several things:

  • Islamism is a Western creation. The CIA funded and armed Al-Quaeda against USSR. The French secret services armed Islamists in the Libya and Syria wars against Gaddafi and Assad. The United States and their allies support Islamist states, such as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia or Qatar. We can see the French secularism at work in Libya and Afghanistan, which are theocratic states.

  • Islamism is also a creation of the Arab capitalism. No doubt that Saudi Arabia and Qatar funded Al Qaeda and the Islamic state against Syria and for other reasons. But the Arab capitalism is not monolithic. Islamism can represent various interests, and that is why we see Islamists fight other Islamists in Libya, Syria and Iraq.

Political Islam should not be treated differently from the political instrumentation of Christianity. Derived from the tradition, political Islam is an ideology to defend various capitalist interests, including Western interests and Arab interests.

So we can not see the islamist terrorism like an isolated phenomenon. Terrorism is only a weapon in the imperialist war between various capitalists. Terrorism is not the result of ideology or “pure revenge” as stated by the ICC.

Secondly. What is Charlie Hebdo? Charlie Hebdo is a propaganda office. ICC seems to ignore the strong links between the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo and media-political establishment. In 2006, Charlie Hebdo publish a “Manifest” against the “islamist treat”, with various pro-war liberal intellectuals. In 2007, François Holland himself testified in court for Charlie Hebdo in case of Islamophobia. In 2009, Philippe Val, Publication Director of Charlie Hebdo from 1992, was propelled to the head of the public radio “France Inter”. In 2014, François Holland invites the editorial staff in Élysée Palace, to discuss the newspaper future, then in financial difficulty. In 2015, the state pay €1,000,000 to bail out the newspaper after the attacks, and mass-media industry agrees to work for free to sell over 7,000,000 copies. Besides the donations of Google, of the Press Union and of other capitalists...

Racist and Islamophobic drawings of Charlie Hebdo is not a coincidence. Charlie Hebdo makes money by maintaining hatred between atheists and Muslims, Christians and Muslims, for the war. Charlie Hebdo works to make acceptable the murder of Muslim or Black people, because they are “fanatic”, “barbarian”, “despicable”, etc. Charlie Hebdo does not hesitate to present the black or Muslim women as prostitutes, or defend the military dictatorships then they shoots “Muslims”. Support Charlie Hebdo is support the war.

I think that the terrorist

I think that the terrorist attacks in Paris are significant but are “one symptom among many of the putrefaction of bourgeois society”, as the text says. I’m not very clear from reading the text why it says that previous terrorist attacks (London, Madrid, etc.) had a “military” rationale, however weak, and this one did not, that there is something entirely new about it. The attack seems to me to have the same underlying irrationality, hatred, revenge and impotence at its basis as previous attacks. The attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish quarter was barbaric, what then does that make of the attack by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria a day later where hundreds of homes, the vegetation around them and the human beings inside were burnt to the ground, while snipers in trees were posted around the area to pick off any fleeing survivors? The British and American backed regime, along with neighbouring countries, are totally complicit in this act of barbarbism that itself defies description.

There’s been some reporting about how some intelligent, well-educated individuals have been attracted by jihadism and it’s true that we’ve seen some university graduates, doctors and the like drawn into  imperialist war in the Middle East motivated by ideas of revenge and hatred of what the west is doing. That shows how extensive and corruptive this “anti-western” ideology is but these “rich kids” are a small minority of what the text rightly calls “cannon-fodder for jihad”. In Belgium there is 50% unemployment in migrant areas, 30% serious poverty and many migrant children are not even registered and don’t go to school. Studies have consistently found that the great majority of those going from Europe to fight for jihad come from deprived immigrant area with the latest study from Germany saying that it’s around 80%. These are certainly one product of capitalist decomposition.

Apart from the misery, nihilism and alienation that many of these young people feel, or rather along with it,  they have seen their democratic governments backing the most murderous dictators, supporting them or not but in both cases generating further destruction. war and irrationality that would take pages to describe. And as even more irrational forces like Isis – another sign of decomposition – are conjured up by imperialism, millions of refugees from their war zones detest their misery enough to sell up and take their chances crossing the Mediterranean Sea.  Is it any wonder that in the circumstances of western-led and Russian involved wars in the Middle East and Asia and the odious, reeking hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie in justifying their slaughter, that young muslims could be seduced into joining jihadi groups or acting as individuals in order to wreak revenge which, however irrational, is just a pale reflection of the murderous activity of the major bourgeoisies?

The muslim populations, demonised for years in the major capitals, will now face more repression. The BBC and Channel 4 News are now referring to jihadi terrorists as “Islamic” and “Islamists” (the same day, January 15).

I used to read Charlie Hebdo when I went to France and found it, like Private Eye, amusing in places but unsatisfactory – political satire is easily incorporated by the capitalist state which itself promotes it as an ideological weapon. Caricatures were a real development in art and as well as grounding real people in art they also served to mock the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie. I think that some of the “caricatures” of Charlie Hebdo that I saw were more representative of racial stereotyping  in a very similar way as that carried out by Nazi and Stalinist cartoons – particularly its depictions of Jews and Arabs, and the way that British cartoonists in the 50’s and 60’s used to characterise Arabs and the Irish by gross, ugly distortions that we, the majority, could delight in. They were quite shocking and repulsive. This type of political cartoon, however much you wrap it up in the comic, is a powerful weapon of the bourgeoisie, it needs no text, has instant, basic appeal and demonises the minority depicted while reinforcing nationalism.

The values of the French Republic are racism, nationalism and imperialism. The bourgeoisie who uphold these values don’t give a fuck about dead cartoonists or shoppers in a kosher supermarket (though from a report on libcom the French state has subsidized Charlie Hebdo). Just before and after the attacks the French bourgeoisie has upgraded its military assaults in North Africa and the Middle East. The further oppression of muslims is another weapon of the state taking us further into the barbaric descent. And the bourgeoisie use this descent to further attack and divide the working class, to attack its consciousness, demobilise it or mobilise behind it campaigns of “security” and war.

Tagore2Where is the Marxism


Where is the Marxism when you begin to explain material facts with feelings?

The Marxism of living, breathing militants and so forth. IMVHO. Do you have textural support for your claim :) ?

Stop with this word

Stop with this word “irrationality”! ISIS, Al Quaeda fight for create a vast imperialist state in the Middle East and in the Muslim countries in general. Their action is not irrational! Terror, torture, murder, hostage, massacres have always been part of the war, even before the imperialism. There is absolutely nothing "new"! And there is no "new" in an ideology who determines acts of war. This is liberal-idealist stupidity! Imperialist interests determines the war who determines the ideology. Not the reverse!

It's not because you do not understand terrorism that you have the right to say that it is irrational.

"The real is rational, and the rational is real"

Learn your classics!

OK good point, but it's

OK good point, but it's heroes aren't going to be around to see it !

"The real is rational, and

"The real is rational, and the rational is real"

Leaving aside the irony that you're accusing the ICC of being idealist and then using a famous idealist philosopher's aphorism to back it up, as Engels pointed out in "Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy", it's not quite that simple.

"Now, according to Hegel, reality is, however, in no way an attribute predictable of any given state of affairs, social or political, in all circumstances and at all times. In 1789, the French monarchy had become so unreal, that is to say, so robbed of all necessity, so irrational, that it had to be destroyed by the Great Revolution, of which Hegel always speaks with the greatest enthusiasm. In this case, therefore, the monarchy was the unreal and the revolution the real. And so, in the course of development, all that was previously real becomes unreal, loses it necessity, its right of existence, its rationality. And in the place of moribund reality comes a new, viable reality — peacefully if the old has enough intelligence to go to its death without a struggle; forcibly if it resists this necessity. Thus the Hegelian proposition turns into its opposite through Hegelian dialectics itself: All that is real in the sphere of human history, becomes irrational in the process of time, is therefore irrational by its very destination, is tainted beforehand with irrationality, and everything which is rational in the minds of men is destined to become real, however much it may contradict existing apparent reality. In accordance with all the rules of the Hegelian method of thought, the proposition of the rationality of everything which is real resolves itself into the other proposition: All that exists deserves to perish."

Capitalism is real, but is it really a rational system? Communism is rational, but not (yet) real in the slightest.

As for the leaflet itself, it's also an absolutely bizarre criticism that the ICC leaflet "finds the terrorism origin in “stupidity”, “fanaticism” and “cowardice”". It is true that the leaflet talks about the emotional drivers that result in the acts of terror. But it goes on to locate the "materialist" basis for those emotional states:

"Today, all over the world (in Europe as well, and especially in France), many young people with no future, living chaotic daily lives, humiliated by successive failures, by cultural and social poverty ... Lacking their own perspective on the current crisis of capitalism, which is an economic crisis but also a social, moral and cultural one; faced with a society that is rotting on its feet and oozing destruction from every pore, for many of these young people life seems pointless and worthless. Their despair can often take on the religious colouring of a blind and fanatical submission, inspiring all sorts of irrational and extreme behaviour, fuelled by a suicidal nihilism."

In other words, the nihilism of the Islamist death cults fills an ideological vacuum that is created by three interlocking factors:

  • The historic crisis of capitalism (as demonstrated in war, imperialism, economic crisis, social decay, etc.)
  • The accompanying ideological crisis of the bourgeoisie which has result in all sorts of degraded ideological effluence of which "Islamism" is only one (one might also look to fundamentalist Christianity, the far-right which is probably the biggest source of domestic terrorism in the US, conspiracy theorists, etc.). None of these ideologies are rational in any way, shape or form, even if they can still be used to further bourgeois interests. This ideological decline is the inevitable product of a ruling class unable to overcome the crisis of its system;
  • The failure of the working class to develop its own struggles and consciousness in response to this crisis.

In other words, it is the material development of capitalism, the struggle between the classes and the ideological consequences of these developments that result in what we've seen in Paris.

There is, no doubt, plenty to criticise in the statement - I'm not at all sure I agree with the apparent eulogy to Charlie Hebdo which, in the past, had been criticised even by that well-known bastion of tolerance, the French state, for "inflaming tensions" with its mocking of Islam. Criticisms that were shared by the Charlie Hebdo's founder who went so far as to blame Charb for "dragging" the staff of the magazine to their deaths by repeatedly publishing provocative, anti-Islam cartoons.

But regardless of those differences, accusing the leaflet of idealism when it's clearly based on a materialist analysis, is clearly a strawman argument.

agree (but)

I agree with demo that it is mistaken to see the statement as somehow ‘idealist’ rather than marxist; re-read it and you will find it clearly sees the attacks in Paris as the products of capitalist barbarism; denounces the imperialist French state, and the ideological campaign whipped up by the bourgeoisie in defence of democracy.

That said, like jk I was surprised at some of the statement's comments on the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and I share the reservations of Fred and others.

I’m also uncomfortable with some of the language used in the statement, which (unintentionally) echoes the propaganda of the bourgeoisie against “Islamist fanatics”, “delusional fanatics”, “these followers of "Jihad"”, etc.

At the very least, I think the statement’s focus serves to divert attention from the attack on the kosher supermarket and the issues it raises; anti-semitism is ignored even though the bourgeoisie is whipping up a campaign around this very issue and the perceived threat to the Jewish community in France, Belgium, UK, etc.

Also, even the bourgeois media managed to praise the Malian muslim worker who protected shoppers from the terrorists. Was he not “a kind of symbol” of anything worth highlighting by proletarian revolutionaries?   

Finally, although I think Tagore’s rejection of the theory of the decomposition of capitalism is mistaken, I think his emphasis on the dimension of imperialist war is an important one for us to analyse more closely.

Agree with MH and Demo on the

Agree with MH and Demo on the materialist analysis of decomposition which is there in the text. I also repeat what I said about the racial distortions and stereotyping, Jews and Arabs, practiced for years by Charlie Hebdo.

I haven't seen the exact figures but have read that most terroritst attacks in France (numbers if not weight) have been against its one per cent population of the Jewish community. The history of the Republic has been shot throught with anti-Semitism from the Dreyfus Affair to its WWII concentration camps and its assistance in the "Final Solution". It's all been part of the strategy of French imperialism and now it is its muslim population that is taking the brunt of its (entirely irrational) imperialist strategy. - this is being followed by the British bourgeoisie.

Without going back and looking over it, I understand that the ICC''s position on religion, or rather individual faith, is one of tolerance and this follows on (as I remember) from the position of the Bolsheviks in the Third International. I'm surprised, like others, that the deliberate goading of muslims by Charlie Hebdo shouldn't draw criticism from the ICC. According to a poll today four out of ten people in France thought that its "cartoons" about Mohammed were unecessarily provocative. But they do, in a twisted way, support the role of French imperialism.

Wanted to just quickly echo

Wanted to just quickly echo MH's last post, it gets directly to the point.

I’ve re-read the statement.

I’ve re-read the statement. There’s nothing in it about the way that muslims have been demonised by the French state as the “enemy within”. Maybe there are some nuances that I’m missing here, or something blatantly obvious, but I think that it’s a mistake not to mention something about the whole campaign against muslims that’s been going on for years now.

Religious tolerance, such as that defended by the Bolsheviks in the case of muslims today demands an expression of communist support faced with this ongoing state oppression, particularly in France and Britain, and particularly when this oppression and demonization of the “enemy within” is used as another ideological cover for imperialist war. I think that we should certainly denounce these atrocities from a marxist framework - the text does and I agree with its characterisation of another dimension of the slide into barbarism, but let’s also defend those, express our solidarity with, those under the cosh for the religious beliefs in order to further the mperialist war of the state.

One of the great features of the Arab, etc., Spring, was that religious barriers were broken down and secondary to the expressions of struggle and people were able to maintain their beliefs while unifying with others in expressions of solidarity. God knows that religious fundamentalism, under the impulse of imperialism and decomposition, has come back with a vengeance. Within this, the demonization of muslims in France and Britain is both an attack on class consciousness and an ideological justification for imperialist war. The statement doesn’t mention this. Both muslim members of the working class will be keeping their heads down and they are further divided from the their non-muslim comrades. And the state has a freer hand to conduct its wars.

I don’t think it wrong to talk about “fanatics” per se, but let’s remember that it was the Christian Fundamentalist oriented regimes of Bush and Blair (continued by Cameron, Obama and Sarkozy), along with historical circumstances, that unleashed the war on terror and the demonization of muslims. A war that has killed and devastated millions of muslims, that has implemented and generated different religious factions to fight among themselves while killing mostly civilians, a war that at this point is producing the most irrational, but imperialist, abominations in the Middle East and Africa as well as ongoing atrocities in the heartlands..


The scholarly/academic/theoretical merit of a term like "terrorism" also has to be openly questioned.

It is disappointing to see it used by the ICC at all, especially in a way that echos the mouthpieces of the capitalists. These days it's meaning is completely Orwellian, terrorism - much like "hate speech", "incitement of violence", etc. - are totally subjective terms the ruling class uses to whip up tensions amongst us simple proles, amongst other uses. I see baboon has touched on this also. As we saw in the aftermath of the shootings via (the fourth branch of the government) the media had it's so-called "terrorism experts" on to let us know whole parts of England and France, including apparently all of Birmingham - possibly South London - are controlled by Islamists.

The terrorist, along with the communist militant, have been declared "unpersons" by Big Brother and that will and does pose huge problems...


"The scholarly/academic/theoretical merit of a term like "terrorism" also has to be openly questioned."

One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist, the old saying goes. However, I don't think we have to abandon the use of the term terrorist simply because the bourgeoisie uses it. It uses the term "communism" in a way completely antithetical to our understanding of it, after all.

Terrorism has had a long and tricky relationship with the class struggle, particularly in the anarchist currents. The marxist left has usually rejected it, of course, seeing the power of the class in its mass action rather than the actions of minorities.

The question of terror and terrorism - what they are, how to react to them, etc. - is hardly new (as the leaflet points out). Back in the 70s, the ICC produced a text which tries to unpick these questions, relating them to classic methods of class war derived from the class-nature of various social strata:

I get a little squeamish

I get a little squeamish using the phrase "death cult," given how often Cameron has been using it, but it seems to me an apt way to describe the penetration of jihadist ideology among alienated youth. I guess Cameron isn't always wrong about everything.

As far as rationality and irrationality go, I think it depends on the level on which you apprehend it. From the point of view of the individual terrorists it does seem completely irrational--choosing a path that leads to almost certain death (hence the phrase "death cult") isnt exactly in keeping with preservation of the self, but it doesn't mean that such acts aren't manipulated as part of a broader strategy by some actor--state or otherwise--up the line in pursuit of some broader goal. It wouldn't suprise me if some young peoples' idealist desire for transcendence is being exploited by others to achieve more profane goals.

But I think the point of the RI piece was that increasingly terrorism is no longer carried out in pursuit of short to medium term strategic goals, its more often than not carried out in the name of wanton destruction with no other goal than to instill mass terror. The terrorists make no concrete demands (where have we heard this before?) that could possibly be met. Their demands, when stated, are purely utopian--establishment of a caliphate or Sharia law in Western Europe. Fox News notwithstanding, such things are not ever going to happen. Of course, in this case, there weren't even any demands at all, just statements of revenge for perceived insults to an historical figure who died milenia ago.  I guess it is a matter of debate about what this means or how new it really it is, but I think the article was trying to make a point about the changing nature of terrorism as a reflection of decomposition.

 jk wrote:  But I think the


jk wrote:
 But I think the point of the RI piece was that increasingly terrorism is no longer carried out in pursuit of short to medium term strategic goals, its more often than not carried out in the name of wanton destruction with no other goal than to instill mass terror. The terrorists make no concrete demands (where have we heard this before?) that could possibly be met. Their demands, when stated, are purely utopian--establishment of a caliphate or Sharia law in Western Europe. Fox News notwithstanding, such things are not ever going to happen. Of course, in this case, there weren't even any demands at all, just statements of revenge for perceived insults to an historical figure who died milenia ago.  

But the capture by IS of a couple of Japanese men months ago, and their cold  storage till now, when they can be usefully deployed, does suggest a certain IS cunning and that IS is as goal oriented towards money as any other faction of bourgeois exploiters. Because  now  that the Japanese government proposes donating $200 million for the fight against IS, the latter are cleverly demanding a ransom of precisely $200 million for the heads of their captors, which are due to be removed shortly. PM Abe resolutely says NO to the demand as tradition demands. (We should note how easy it is to deny what IS wants if you head isn't under threat!) The final outcome is awaited

As to the unquenchable passion of terrorists for mass terror; don't they sort of have this in common with most of the bourgeoisie?  Surely this class of well brought up, educated, pampered, over civilized and utterly suppressed ego maniacs known as the bourgeois class, have well known but  secretive yearnings for all kinds of  perversion, sexual and otherwise (see the writings of the Marquis de Sade) of which the buying and selling of adults and children for sexual use is the most obvious and simplest universally applied example. The sadistic violence and wanton destruction that may emanate from this suppressed and perverted money-crazed-mind-set finds a variety of outlets from officially sponsored world wars to the endless international gangsterism - nationalized or under private enterprise - that now pollutes and destroys human life on all continents. It appears that the money obsession and insatiable longing for "alternative" physical and often   sexual outlets are inseparable. Public beheadings are a dramatic form of this. They are ritualized like religion, enacted in theatrical costume and in a public  stage setting, and present a kind of substitute orgasm with the sudden removal of the head and the gushing out of blood. This is  human sacrifice of a kind that adds politics and fear to religious subjugation.   Decomposition demands a nightmare world and this is more and more what we have. 

And of course some of these folk really are religious!  The two who tried to destroy Charlie Hebdo may well have been truly religious people.  They really believed in God and the after life, to which they would expect immediate transfer as martyrs, really believed what the Quran says in so far as they understood it, really believed what various Imams have decreed about infidels and the West, and, in short, were probably thoroughly brain washed Muslims. These are not so different from thoroughly brain washed Christians, just more murderously  active at the moment. 


For the views and considerations of thoroughly brain-washed Christians, and thoroughly brain-washed bourgeois politicians, keep watching Fox News - and the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and Sky.  Hollywood, Indian and Chinese  movies, and all the other obnoxious outpourings of the bourgeois media world will keep you well  in touch with what this revolting class of blood suckers is up to universally. 

I think we have to separate

I think we have to separate the motivations of the ISIS leadership from those of the alienated youth that fall victim to jihadist propaganda. I think that whatever their motivations, having captured large swathes of territory--a certain need will develop for ISIS to act more and more like a "normal state"--another player in the inter-imperialist maneoverings in the region. But I think that is a different logic from the death cult phenomena taking place in European cities, even if it is exploited by ISIS higher ups for their own more strategically developed goals.

The Times reports yesterday

The Times reports yesterday that 3000 new police posts will be created as the French state's "first response" to the Paris attacks. The weaponary used by the police will be upgraded in order to match those "used by the jihadists". More police and more security personell will be given "broader powers". The government is also considering reviving the crime of "national indignity" which was used after the war in order to attack low-level Nazi "collaborators" (the high level - those that mattered - mostly getting off scot free). The punishment includes "stripping those convicted of their civil rights" and also access to state benefits. The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, said that these and other measures were essential in order to avoid similar atrocities. But they won't and will only to contribute to further atrocities as the war in the Middle East and Africa comes back to the heartlands.


I think that it was a French news agency that reported last night a statement by the French military that they would now be putting "trainers", i,e., boots on the ground, in Iraq.

I always wonder how many tims

I always wonder how many tims they can "broaden police powers," before it reaches something like maximum capacity. I wonder if at a certain point the expansion of the police state doesn't actually come back to bite the bourgeoisie in the arse to some degree--as some have argued has already happened in the US.

While most of the debates

While most of the debates about privacy vs state intrusion, etc. are undoubtedly for public consumption, I would be suprised if there wasn't some occasional disquiet about the drift towards despotism in fractions of the bourgeoisie as well.

The state is certainly the state of the ruling class but that doesn't mean that it is a puppet: it serves the general interest of capital and has its own distinct interests as well (e.g. taxation). The question, of course, is who decides what the general interest of capital is at a particular moment? The state is thus in a contradictory position - while it serves the "general" interest, it is also a site of struggle between the various bourgeois factions each pursuing their particular interests. This struggle takes a number of forms, including lobbying and behind the scenes fratricidal struggles but you can also see part of it played out in the political discourse of the bourgeois parties and the "free" media. This why the issue of "free speech" and elections, etc. are not completely false questions for the bourgeoisie and its internal life, even if it is for the class relations between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

The state is never a neutral organism, even with regard to the bourgeoisie. Its power will vary at different moments, of course. Sometimes it is capable of imposing its will on the various bourgeois factions - at other times it can be captured by particular interests. One could argue that the Bush administration was an example of this capture - while the whole bourgeoisie supported the Iraq war, there was a deep concern about its conduct: the "privatisation" of the occupation was not only disastrous from a tactical point of view but also favoured those firms with ties to the administration.

Public contracts seem more and more like blatant exercises in "corruption". Firms given contracts to run state services often demonstrate shocking levels of incompetence when they're not engaging in outright fraud. Certain firms are raking vast amounts of money out of the state. Remember, regardless of the surface appearance, it's really only the bourgeoisie that pays tax and they have very concrete concerns about the state as a "cost of production / circulation" that they always want to reduce. They really do seem to think private-sector-is-best, in spite of all the evidence, and certainly the increased levels of exploitation that accompany it are welcome to them but nonetheless there are limits as to how far the productive sectors of capital are willing to finance the profits of their class brothers who are effectively gouging the state for all its worth.

The bourgeoisie doesn't need democracy in any absolute sense, but it maintains it as an effective means of social control over other social strata. Nonetheless, having democracy does mean that you have to deal with the electorate and persuade them to vote the way you want. A particular bourgeois fraction thus needs to be able to persuade the electorate to support its particular interests. Democracy is not simply a means to control the working class, but it also imposes a certain framework of solving disputes within the bourgeoisie - one only has to compare it with the despotic regimes to see the difference where serious disputes are resolved with civil wars and military coups.

There is no question of the bourgeoisie doing away with the mechanisms of democracy in the present epoch - they are too valuable to its class rule. But if more and more despotic control is exercised over "free speech", a control that can only ever mean the control of a particular faction of the bourgeoisie, this surely leaves some of the minoritarian factions wondering where their place at the table is going to be. Moreover, today's dominant faction can be the subordinate of tomorrow - the mechanisms of state surveillance being implemented now may one day be used against the same faction that put them in place!

The hand-wringing over the increase of state powers is not just for public consumption. Part of the bourgeoisie no doubt have real concerns over the current direction and what it means for the future stability of the political system and there are economic questions, too. In the UK, Cameron* has made forcing back-doors into encyption an election issue. The backlash, particularly in the technical media, about this would effective to put all online encryption protocols at risk (and thus the entire online economy: shopping, banking, etc.) shows that there is a real dispute behind the scenes on this question.

* If ever you need an example of the decline of the bourgeois class, surely Cameron is an example. The man is actually stupid. It's bad enough I have to live with exploitation, but to exploited by someone dumber than my shoes is just adding insult to injury.


Demogorgon wrote:

* If ever you need an example of the decline of the bourgeois class, surely Cameron is an example. The man is actually stupid. It's bad enough I have to live with exploitation, but to exploited by someone dumber than my shoes is just adding insult to injury.

Good points in your post Demo. However, surely Cameron couldn't be more stupid than Bush? Everytime I hear that man speak, I still find it hard to believe he was President of the most powerful country in the world for eight years. Of course, Obama--often toted by the media as the anti-Bush--has been plagued by the seeming incompetence of his own administration--the failure to attend the rally in Paris, screwing up the online roll out of Obamacare, etc. He may be a "constitutional law professor," but his administration has come off as quite bungling as of late.

Now, Stephen Harper is one smart guy. Cold, calculating, cunning, ruthless, thouroughly corrupt and most certainly evil--but he ain't no dummy. He sure played that Harvard professor Ignatieff for a fool....

addition to the article

Comrades may have noticed that there is a small addition to the Charlie Hebdo article, making it clear that the shoppers in the supermarket killed in Paris were targeted because they were Jews. The question of the function of Charlie Hebdo, and the specific histories of the individual cartonists who were killed, is a more complex question which we aim to deal with in a more in-depth article about the significance of the Paris events. 

After the attack in Paris the

After the attack in Paris the tone was set in Britain by the "community secretary" Eric Pickles and Prime Minister Cameron, demanding that muslims in Britain prove their "British identity" and demonstrate their support of Britain's national interest - part of which, incidentally, is to wage total, indiscriminate and horrifying war in countries with large populations of muslims. The only body in Britain that records attacks on muslims, the small charity "Tell Mama", points to significant increases in attacks on muslims in the wake of the Paris killings and, within a general increase in attacks and abuse on muslim (or non-white) children in schools, the teaching union NASUWT talks about the "uncertainty and fear" in schools over the issue. The intelligent British bourgeoisie are playing up the divisions that they have already imposed. I haven't seen much of what's going on in France but, with the stepping up of French militarism, I should imagine it's much of the same thing. The anarchist/philosopher Michel Orfray has called the Paris attack "the French 9.11" and appears to be asking for a French "Patriot Act". Other factors of the left seem to be gravitating, more or less critically, around Hollande's call for "national unity".

There are a number of

There are a number of different reports on increased attacks in France on mosques, "muslim" businesses and "muslim" individuals in the two weeks since the Paris attacks. More attacks were reported in these two weeks - and most attacks are unreported - than in all of 2014. Dozens of mosques have been attacked with firebombs, pigs heads and abusive graffiti. Some stores have been burnt down and while the French Prime Minister has denounced these attacks he has done so from the point of view that "muslims" want to defend "French values". To further reinforce divisions both the French and British bourgeosie have launched campaigns for the defence of Jewish areas building on the real fears and increasing attacks that this section of the population is suffering.


I was in Paris about a fortnight ago, apart from a couple of news type discussion panels talking about what had happened, security checking handbags before you enter some shops there's nothing to make you think anything had happened or anyone was making a big fuss about it. I saw no extra armed Police or soldiers on the streets. I assumed the machine gun toting police outside the Ministry of Justice were the norm along with the armed soldier at Calais station. In London however at Piccadily Circus there were some Five Star flags and a small Italian contingent having a good time.


Yes, and there are no

Yes, and there are no French/Algerian bodies floating down the Seine, so everything is coming up roses.

I like to think some of my

I like to think some of my comments are a counter to certain hysteria and alarmist reaction in the ruling class media and communist milieu especially given the claims that 10, 000 troops were going to be on the I said, didn't see them anywhere. The ruling class tried to blow this incident out of all proportion with certain 'elements' to use a phrase tailing behind the furore. But as has been mentioned it was a small barbarous terrorist incident in a sea of on-going calamity and destruction. Hence why to some degree I thought it was being used as a distraction and an 'event' - like an entertainment attraction in a sick and twisted commodified way. To some degree keep partly hidden the mass of barbarism that exists in many countries all around the world. Baboon have you been in this game too long or just need a rest?


I think there is no question that these events will lead to  serious beefing up of the repressive apparatus, even if it won't always take the form of troops on the street. any other view would be naive in the extreme, based on historical experience. Surveillance and 'vigilance' will be the main channels. 

Alf is right, but I think at

Alf is right, but I think at a certain point the "beefing up" starts to produce diminishing returns. How many extra cops can they put out there before the whole thing starts taking on a certain Keystone quality? Look at the problems with the US Secret Service. All these police killings in the US are in some ways less a result of a deliberate policy to murder people in the streets and more a result of a certain hamfisted extension of the police apparatus in such a way that a good number of them never receive proper training, are blatantly incompetent or are of questionable stability. This has provoked a certain backlash and questioning within the population, even if for know it is channeled towards rather typical expressions of democratic reform.

Of course, there are other ways of militarizing society and scaring the shit out of everyone....