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Proletarian issue 64 (February 2015)
On n’est pas Charlie
We’re not Charlie. Workers must not allow themselves to be taken in by the corporate media’s hysterical cries about ‘free speech’.
Nobody can have escaped the news that on 7 January 2015, a pair of armed jihadists stormed the offices in Paris of a French ‘satirical’ magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and murdered 10 of its journalists in cold blood, along with two police officers who were standing guard over the premises. Later that day, another jihadi stormed a jewish supermarket, murdering four innocent shoppers and a policeman.

These were atrocities that can only be condemned without reservation.

The same cannot be send for the various bourgeois opportunists who have tried to take advantage of the horror these atrocities caused for the purpose of (a) glamorising as mere satire racist propaganda of the kind put out by Charlie Hebdo, and (b) stirring up anti-muslim hatred among the non-muslim populations of western countries.

What a sickening sight it was to see all these imperialist world leaders, who think nothing of raining death and destruction on people all over the world in pursuit of their mercenary interests, putting themselves at the head of a march held in protest at the murders. How sickening it was to realise that the millions who had been mobilised for that march had come at the instigation of the bourgeois media, who spend most of their time applauding the infinitely more vicious crimes of imperialism.

Free speech

People who were mobilised by imperialism for this march for the most part believed they were there to defend ‘free speech’ against religious obscurantists who want to extend the prohibitions specific to their religious beliefs to everybody.

We must be clear, however, that Charlie Hebdo was not in business simply to make jokes about religion in general and Mohammed in particular: it was in the business of producing grossly insulting cartoons that weren’t even funny, both about Islam and about Christianity. Judaism was spared, no doubt because French law criminalises expressions of anti-semitism and the jewish community is well organised to ensure that the law is enforced and to have racist publications closed down.

Anti-islamism, however, is the French bourgeoisie’s best weapon for keeping the French working class divided, with the majority community focussed on the wrong enemy, in these troubled economic times when it has to attack the working class with a vengeance in order to survive.

Hence it is for the bourgeoisie quite in order to stir up anti-muslim hatred, just as, at the time of the economic crisis of the 1930s, anti-semitism was the order of the day. Ultimately, the French bourgeoisie happily collaborated with Hitler sending hundreds of thousands of jews to the death camps.

For our part, we would be glad to see racist provocateurs such as those working for Charlie Hebdo put on war crimes charges before a people’s tribunal – just as the racist, anti-semitic propagandists who helped the Nazis make their crimes acceptable were tried at Nuremberg after WW2.

Murder counterproductive

Nevertheless, it should be obvious that murder is not the way to deal with these shameless lickspittles of the bourgeoisie. It only turns them into martyrs and makes the masses even more receptive to their pernicious message.

It hands a weapon to the bourgeoisie to use against the working class.

There are plenty of worse atrocities committed by terrorists against people opposing imperialist interests that leave the bourgeois media completely unmoved. What mass demonstrations were organised, for instance, when the Ukrainian fascists set fire to a union building in Odessa only last May and 42 people died as a result?

As for the atrocities committed in Syria, Iraq or Libya, for example, against defenceless civilian populations in those countries by imperialist-backed and armed jihadists such as those who attacked Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket, these crimes are positively applauded.

Blowback

Ever since it mobilised against the democratic pro-Soviet government that had arisen in Afghanistan in 1979, imperialism has happily propagandised in favour of religious fundamentalism among muslims in order to get them fighting the ‘godless’ communists. Having spent billions of dollars glamorising and proselytising for fundamentalism and gathered together the necessary anti-communist hordes, they then spent further billions in giving them military training and sophisticated military equipment.

Then, having successfully driven out of Afghanistan the Soviet troops who had been protecting the progressive Afghan government (at that government’s request), imperialism took to turning its headbangers against other anti-imperialist governments throughout the Middle East.

It should have learnt from its experience in Afghanistan that jihadi armies are Frankenstein monsters which can turn against their masters. However, there is nothing like the imperialist ambition for world hegemony to interfere with the ability to act on logical reasoning.

Despite the fact that imperialist creations such as al-Qaeda and IS have to a certain degree gone rogue from an imperialist point of view, imperialism is still plotting to see whether they can be used to topple the Syrian government and facilitate the fulfilment of other imperialist ambitions in the Middle East.

The Charlie Hebdo affair is blowback from this imperialist policy of encouraging religious fanaticism that is only very loosely based on Islam, and for the most part goes completely against islamic moral tenets. The bourgeoisie has very ingeniously tried to turn this blowback to its advantage to promote racism and divide the working class.

The proletariat must not allow itself to be fooled. There have already been moves to point out that a muslim was involved in hiding shoppers in a cold store in order to protect them from the crazed gunman in the supermarket, which has gone some way to countering the anti-islamic propaganda orgy. Others have drawn attention to the fact that there was no attempt to tar the whole of white Norwegian society with the brush of fanaticism when the deranged Breivik murdered dozens of innocent unarmed teenagers in the name of white supremacy.

These are the voices of reason, not the divisive howls of the lackeys of imperialism.

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