The Spark

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

Don’t Let Our Class Enemies Set Us Against Each Other!

Jan 19, 2015

These articles come from the January 9 and January 16, 2015 issues of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France. They discuss different aspects of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris that we don’t know about here.

The horror of the recent attacks has shocked the population. Several million women and men expressed their indignation during the weekend of January 10 and 11. But in the name of national unity, political leaders gave themselves a boost that is a trap for the workers.

Yes, these assassins are barbaric. They decimated the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo with the pretext that the magazine had committed a blasphemy. In the process, they killed a maintenance worker and several police officers. They killed four people in a market because the victims were Jewish. These assassins are not only enemies of freedom of expression, they are enemies of all liberty and, at the same time, class enemies.

It is necessary to combat them in the name of the interest of the workers, because the violence meant to silence all diverse expression strikes above all at the exploited classes – their freedom to fight, to organize and to demand, whatever their nationality, ethnicity or religion. That is what happened in Algeria during the terrible civil war of the 1990s. The same kind of attacks were carried out first on journalists, then against feminists and against unionists.

For these people, religion is only an instrument of struggle for power. They use Islam and religious divisions to dig a ditch of blood and to impose themselves, through terror, as the sole representatives of those whom they call their “community.” Against these would-be dictators, the workers must recognize a single and unique community, that of the workers and the exploited of all countries.

It is necessary to reject all calls for a sacred unity of the French people. Just as the U.S. government exploited the emotion of September 11, 2001 to carry out a war in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, French President Hollande wants to profit from this emotional situation to justify interventions in Mali, in Central Africa and in Iraq. In the name of the antiterrorist struggle, he wants to legitimize in advance the military invasions to come.

But who sows the barbarism throughout the world? The jihadist groups, who terrorize parts of the Middle East and Africa and who seek to act here, are not born from nothing. They are the fruit of the filthy politics and the wars perpetrated by the great powers in Afghanistan, Libya and in Iraq to impose their domination.

“War is declared,” one hears after these attacks. But France has been at war for a long time. The Palestinian people and the Israelis have lived in a state of war for half a century!

The Great Powers pillage and bomb whole regions on behalf of the capitalists. They sow frustration, injustice and terror in the oppressed countries. Today, we reap this violence, because barbarism engenders barbarism. For our battle, we need to challenge the capitalist society itself.

On Sunday, January 11, millions of people demonstrated for liberty and tolerance. And what did they hear from Hollande, Valls and Sarkozy? That more security measures are necessary, that it is necessary to harden the rules against immigration. And, worse, they heard from the National Front that the death penalty is necessary!

For a few petty thugs caught in the web of terrorism, how many youth of the poor suburbs will be confronted by racism and generalized suspicion? Young people don’t need more prisons, the primary source of recruitment for the jihadists; they need jobs, education, and a society that offers real possibilities for everyone.

The emotions we feel must lead to class consciousness and class struggle, because the working class today is being ground up.

In the name of the struggle against terrorism, we are supposed to align ourselves behind the camp of the supposedly democratic governments who cover the planet in fire and blood. On January 11, Hollande made a part of the population march behind African dictators like Bongo or state terrorists like Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. That says it all about his politics.

We can’t let ourselves be regimented in this unholy union! Don’t let Hollande, or Sarkozy, or Le Pen speak in the name of the workers!

We are all workers, whatever our origins. It is vital that we, workers, exploited, oppressed, we see ourselves as one class united by our interests, to defend ourselves against our exploiters but above all against a capitalist system that plunges humanity into barbarism.