In the Wake of Paris Attacks the Left Must Embrace Its Radical Western Roots

In the Wake of Paris Attacks the Left Must Embrace Its Radical Western Roots
In the Wake of Paris Attacks the Left Must Embrace Its Radical Western Roots

In the first half of 2015, Europe was preoccupied by radical emancipatory movements (Syriza and Podemos), while in the second half the attention shifted to the “humanitarian” topic of the refugees. Class struggle was literally repressed and replaced by the liberal-cultural topic of tolerance and solidarity. With the Paris terror killings on Friday, November 13, even this topic (which still refers to large socio-economic issues) is now eclipsed by the simple opposition of all democratic forces caught in a merciless war with forces of terror.

It is easy to imagine what will follow: paranoiac search for ISIS agents among the refugees. (Media already gleefully reported that two of the terrorists entered Europe through Greece as refugees.) The greatest victims of the Paris terror attacks will be refugees themselves, and the true winners, behind the platitudes in the style of je suis Paris, will be simply the partisans of total war on both sides. This is how we should reallycondemn the Paris killings: not just to engage in shows of anti-terrorist solidarity but to insist on the simple cui bono (for whose benefit?) question.

There should be no “deeper understanding” of the ISIS terrorists (in the sense of “their deplorable acts are nonetheless reactions to European brutal interventions”); they should be characterized as what they are: the Islamo-Fascist counterpart of the European anti-immigrant racists—the two are the two sides of the same coin. Let’s bring class struggle back—and the only way to do it is to insist on global solidarity of the exploited.

The deadlock that global capitalism finds itself in is more and more palpable. How to break out of it? Fredric Jameson recently proposed global militarization of society as a mode of emancipation: Democratically motivated grassroots movements are seemingly doomed to failure, so perhaps it’s best to break global capitalism’s vicious cycle through “militarization,” which means suspending the power of self-regulating economies. Perhaps the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe provides an opportunity to test this option.

It is at least clear that what is needed to stop the chaos is large-scale coordination and organization, which includes but is not limited to: reception centers near to the crisis (Turkey, Lebanon, the Libyan coast), transportation of those granted entrance to European way stations, and their redistribution to potential settlements. The military is the only agent that can do such a big task in an organized way. To claim that such a role for the military smells of a state of emergency is redundant. When you have tens of thousands of people passing through densely populated areas without organization you have an emergency state—and it is in a state of emergency that parts of Europe are right now. Therefore, it is madness to think that such a process can be left to unwind freely. If nothing else, refugees need provisions and medical care.

Taking control of the refugee crisis will mean breaking leftist taboos.

[Extract. Appeared in In These Times, on November 15th, 2015. (full text).]

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