The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Call to Jihad Reflects a Society at a Dead End

Dec 8, 2014

This article is from the November 28th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Once again we have seen the Islamic State executing an American hostage and several Syrian soldiers. Among the executioners were young Westerners, which reminds us how much what happens thousands of miles away concerns everyone.

One of the executioners was from France, and only 22 years old. One neighbor interviewed back in France, struggling to understand, called the young man “a super guy.” A young man like this had no ties to the Middle East or the Arab countries. Yet here he was.

The French government, claiming to fight terrorism, put in place very harsh laws. A young French man of 28 years, returning from Syria where he had volunteered with an Islamic militia, although he had never participated in combat, was condemned to seven years in prison – for the supposed crime of having “terrorist intentions.”

This verdict is a case of the French government posturing in front of public opinion, but it isn’t likely to convince any jihad volunteer to give up.

The attraction of jihadi ideas, some of the most reactionary ideas in the world, shows that some young people are profoundly disoriented. In part this is the fruit of the economic crisis and a lack of any future prospects for many young people. Capitalist society as it falls apart has nothing to offer except unemployment and misery on the one hand or, on the other hand, individualism and the illusion that one’s human worth is measured by a big bank account.

All the fundamentalist religious views, made worse by nationalism, play on the despair that the economic and political situation engenders. They set one part of society against the others, pushing forward every kind of reactionary idea.

The continuation of the capitalist system blocks the future for all society even though it has created enormous methods for production and advanced scientific capacities that could open a golden age for all of humanity at the level of the entire planet.

To fight for a communist future in which values are not based on having a lot of money or on the power to dominate and exploit others – that is the only perspective that deserves the attention of the world’s young people.