The attacks in Paris have aroused the revulsion and anger of millions of French workers and youth. Three days later, these feelings are still far from dying down. The fear of new attacks is palpable. It is fed by the obvious failure of the authorities to prevent Friday’s carnage, ten months after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. This weekend the streets of France’s major cities were all but deserted, bearing witness to this collective anxiety.
[This article is written by the French section of the IMT and first published in French on their website, Révolution]
Gradually however, fear and indignation are coupled with pressing questions which lead to important discussions. Beyond the direct organizers and perpetrators of the massacre, who else bears responsibility? Where does the so-called Islamic State come from? What imperialist support has it received and does it still receive, directly or indirectly? Exactly what role has French imperialism played in the matter? What is the real attitude of the ruling class and the French government towards fundamentalist organizations today, in Syria and elsewhere? What are the real objectives of the French military intervention in Syria?
We have already published an article on these issues. The government and the bourgeois politicians make every effort to drown them in a sea of lies and hypocrisy. It is simply a war between the (Western) "defenders" of "peace" and "democracy" on one side – and fundamentalist barbarism on the other. However, even those who swallow such foolishness are torn by an increasingly keen doubt. After all, for the past few decades, as the imperialist powers – including France – intervened militarily in the Middle East, as they sowed death and destruction in the name of "peace" and "democracy", the fundamentalist barbarism has hardly decreased! On the contrary, it has continued to grow. From there it is only a small step to understand that, far from being the enemy of fundamentalism, the Western imperialists have primary responsibility (and have often directly supported it).
This truth will make inroads in the minds of millions of people. The elementary duty of the workers’ movement is to contribute to it by cutting through the fog of propaganda which covers the foreign policy of France and all the big imperialist powers. War is always nothing more than the continuation of politics by other means. It is conducted by the ruling class in pursuit of its own aims - that is, at the end of the day, the race for profits. In France, the systematic destruction of our social conquests is carried out in the name of “preserving the French social model”. Imperialist wars are carried out in the name of “peace”.
With their usual limitless cynicism, the government, the ruling class, the right and the National Front exploit the emotion aroused by the attacks for their own reactionary purposes – to divide workers along national and religious lines, in order to adopt new undemocratic “security” laws to ban demonstrations, rallies, strikes, public meetings, etc. This has already begun. The primary duty of the labour movement is to denounce these reactionary maneuvers and firmly reject calls for “national unity” which serve as cover for them. We must reject any restrictions on our democratic rights in the name of “security,” starting of course with the state of emergency that Francois Hollande announced he wants to extend by three months. The state of emergency will weigh very heavily on our democratic rights, but it will be of dubious effectiveness in the face of terrorist actions which require few logistics.
The left parties and the trade union movement have even more need for democratic freedom now, as they need to mobilize massively to protect the Muslim community from the aggression to which it is and will be subject, on the part of fascist groups or individuals encouraged by the anti-Muslim discourse of reactionary politicians. We absolutely cannot rely on the state in the matter, because it is itself infiltrated at all levels by racist elements.
Finally, the general political conclusions must be drawn from this new tragedy. Ultimately, it is the consequence of a system mired in a deep crisis, a rotting system that refuses to die and which everywhere sows misery, war and chaos. Lenin said that capitalism is “horror without end.” This idea was illustrated in a terrible way in a great city, whose population could believe itself immune to such abominations. We must admit that it was not, not any more. The crisis of world capitalism and chaos of the imperialist wars push all borders of barbarism. The French and international labor movement must respond by reviving the goal to end capitalism and its “horror without end.”