On Wednesday March 22, a 52-year old man born in Kent, Khalid Masood, launched an attack on Westminster Bridge using a rented SUV and a kitchen knife. As a result 6 people died including a police officer and the assailant himself; dozens more were injured. The propaganda machine of the bourgeoisie went into overdrive, powered by the incessant and breathless news reporting of its media. With the attack's proximity to the British parliament and the details of the assailant, this propaganda drive has not been anti-Muslim as such but has rather taken the "Jo Cox"[i] line which is that of the "unity of all" behind the interests of British imperialism.
The phrases are predictable and could be written by almost anyone: the attack was "evil" and "evil will not win"; "British values will be maintained" as will "British resolve" which means that "Britain will not be beaten" ("broken" or any one of a dozen such descriptions). You would think that Britain had been attacked by a fleet of war-planes and that this wasn't a murderous assault by a lone individual who shouted before the attack that "This is for Syria".
There's been plenty of "why did this happen" throughout the media with a multiplicity of motives put forward for what lies behind such an attack. There have been various analyses of backgrounds and the like to this and very similar cases that are too complicated to go into here - let alone the interpretation of religious fundamentalism adhered to by groups or individuals and its relationship to violent jihad. The attacker had spent some time in Saudi Arabia and on his return to this country came to Luton where there was a known fundamentalist milieu. Despite the real shock of relatives and friends of attackers in these cases it is rarely a case of a "lone wolf"[ii] attack - somebody usually knows something about its direction even if only through the internet. But the words of the attacker are no mystery: "This is for Syria". First and formost it's an example of the decomposition of capitalism and the asymmetric warfare of the "War on Terror" led and fed by the major powers. It's testimony to the growing weakness of Isis, particularly its international reach, that increasingly it has to rely on individual criminal or unstable types armed with vehicles and kitchen accessories; and despite the best attempts of the British bourgeoisie to uncover a complex international plot or conspiracy around the killer, nothing has been found so far. Indeed, as is increasingly usual in these cases, all of those arrested in police "swoops" have now been released, including those which the police called "significant arrests".
Though the phenomenon is by no means finished, the populists haven't had a look-in here: the racist Nigel Farage (another 52-year-old from Kent) and his mates were spreading their anti-migrant poison on Fox for a few dollars more and were roundly mocked here for their "analysis" of the situation. Ex-leader of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, who was in the vicinity at the time of the attack and tried to get a public meeting together, was ridiculed and ignored by all (and had to be collected by his Mum when his car broke down). The "inclusive", multi-cultural classical bourgeoisie swung into action here talking about how "we won't be divided" and Muslim victims of the killer were pushed forward while the "multi-faith" druids performed their religious rituals for strengthening the national interest. This whole campaign has the right and left wings of the state on one side and working class unity and solidarity on the other. While in the Daily Mail Katie Hopkins shat out her anti-migrant opinion to some derision, its editorial was talking about "shared values" and the defence of "liberty", as did most of the right wing press.
The whole spectrum of capitalist interests is engaged in this campaign for democracy, including "British fighters for the YPG"[iii], ardent supporters of Kurdish nationalism and British imperialism. Through this process, no less racist than the populists but more insidious, Muslims in Britain have to demonstrate their "Britishness" and show themselves worthy to be represented by the "Mother of Parliaments"- a tumbledown building full of self-seekers, crooks, windbags and individuals with much more blood of innocents on their hands than anyone else.
In the face of this "pure evil", British imperialism won't be deterred from defending its imperialist interests. In fact it is perfectly willing to use it as a mask for the continuation of these murderous interests. Over a few days around the same week as the London attack, hundreds of civilians in Mosul, Iraq, were killed and many more injured in US coalition air-strikes that have included British Tornado jets with British military personnel on the ground, and with any building with a roof on it a legitimate target for an air strike. It's a similar situation for Raqqa in Syria. In Yemen the slaughter and starvation of civilians continues with defenceless refugees shot to death while fleeing war on the seas. British interests, weaponry and military personnel are involved here also, mainly through the medium of “our ally”, the fundamentalist regime of Saudi. The hypocrisy and phoney "outrage" over this event can also be measured against the historical and current role of British imperialism in the endless war and its consequences around South Sudan.
The whole narrative around this attack in London is that the working class doesn't exist and as individuals we have to rally behind the defence of the state and its forces of repression, which is also strengthened in this process, a state that is one of the leading lights in devastating wars across the Middle East and Africa. Isis and its adherents are just a bunch of amateurs compared to these killers. The bourgeoisie's response in this case was able to take advantage of the fact that the more rabid forms of populist ideology are not very strong in London. It cynically used genuine expressions of solidarity and sympathy towards the innocent, random victims, and hijacked them in defence of the sanctity of Parliament and democracy. And for them, that's where the reflection over this event should begin and end.
Baboon, 9.4.17 (This article was contributed by a sympathiser of the ICC)
[i] Jo Cox was a Labour Party MP who was killed in a right-wing terrorist attack in June 2016. The murder of this unfortunate woman unleashed a similar flood of democratic "multiculturalism" across all the major parties. Her killing was indeed brutal and disgusting, but that doesn’t mean we should forget that Jo Cox and the general interests of the ruling class that she represented were exponents of this "multiculturalism". She was also in favour of extending the bombing raids of the RAF further into Syria.