Monday, 2 February 2015

Capitalism a civilisational clash, Dr Saulat Nagi

Capitalism a civilisational clash, Dr Saulat Nagi February 02, 2015

No one can deny the hideousness of the crime committed in France by two brothers of Algerian origin. It must be condemned but not before determining the cause and revealing the truth

The world has been ripped off by another explosion of extreme proportions, bigger than what is happening in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Pakistan. Gigantic and even bigger than the cold blooded slaughter of nearly 150 people, mostly children, in the city of Peshawar by a group of mercenaries called the Taliban, once an allied ally of both the US and Europe. The gory murder of more than a dozen people in France, including cartoonists of a weekly newspaper, has been portrayed as the most atrocious crime ever committed in the history of humankind. The responsibility of this grisly crime allegedly lies on the shoulders of two psychopaths suffering from ‘infantile neurosis’.

“Religion”, according to Spinoza, “is a ‘tissue of mysteries’ that attracts men ‘who flatly despise reason.’” In 2011, the deadliest attack carried out in the history of post-world-war Norway took many more lives than the tragic incident in France. The cynical crusader Anders Breivik belonged to the ultra-right wing of Christianity and for enemies he had chosen both Islam and cultural Marxism. According to his own statement, through this bloodbath, “he was only trying to market his ideas”. In principle, market laws are not subject to any criticism since they regulate themselves. Like private property, ‘privatisation of reason’, the rational irrationality of civilisation too is the hallmark of market economy. Probably under the spell of the same (un)reason, no one cared to mention the reincarnation of savagery in Christianity, which dominated and till now continues to cast its sombre shadows over the history of this religion’s medieval era. Nietzsche, while analysing this eclipse of reason, states: “where market place begins the noise of the great actors and the buzzing of the poisonous flies begin too”. All sane voices are likely to drown in this shrill.

No one can deny the hideousness of the crime committed in France by two brothers of Algerian origin. It must be condemned but not before determining the cause and revealing the truth that, according to Democritus, “lies at the bottom of a well”. Without undergoing this ordeal how can one claim to be privy to the facticity of the reason lurking behind this phenomenon? While confronting Nietzsche’s intellect, much eloquent wisdom is likely to become mute. He defines the subtle difference between the conditions of truth. “It is not when truth is dirty,” he states, “but when it is shallow, that the lover of the knowledge is reluctant to step into its waters.” That is when truth is not desired for its own sake but for something alien or different from the truth itself.

In this case, the actual truth, however muddy it becomes, leads us to one fact that at least one of the culprits, Cherif Kouachi, was not alien to the secret agencies of the world, let alone France. In May 2008, on charges of terrorism, he was condemned to prison for three years. As word goes, he worked for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of Islamic State (IS), who was assassinated courtesy a drone attack by the US. The question is how he could manage to stroll half the globe, including Syria and Egypt, unscathed? Was he assured a deliberate safe conduct or were the agencies, which can spill the blood of Lumumba and Allende with nonchalant ease while successfully spying on their own presidents (the Watergate and Lewinsky scandals to name a few) with equal skill, looking somewhere else, to some other benign target, or was he left alone to fill his bosom with religious bigotry, which ultimately led him to execute a handful of journalists? Or was he a plain puppet prepared and armed by the west to be used against Assad, hence bound to be liquidated once the mission was apparently accomplished?

Whatever the reasons, this phenomenon as a whole highlights a society seriously lacking in freedom. A society that fails to provide peaceful means of catharsis falls in the category of a sick society where id is repressed to the extent that ego, the suppressor, transcends its limits hence elopes with thanatos. It explodes. Yet again it proves the ‘fathers’ as guilty; they are not only intolerant but the freedom offered by them is equally false. By making their sons guilty they wish to salvage their own guilt, their own shame that comes with the guilt. But the sons do not want to live in a world based on chicanery and violence. Hence, through ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’ means, they are expressing their resentment. The instinctual aggression has moulded itself into an intellectual resistance against a system that is based on alienated labour where no escape from the life of toil and misery seems possible.

In this society, the oppressed is left with two alternatives: outright rebellion or a brazen show of violence. The former is a remedy, the latter a meaningless, sometimes lethal, reaction, lethal not against society at large but the very cause one is espousing. This is exactly what happened on that day in France. In the aftermath of this incident, who suffered the most? Muslims in general and the unity of the international working class in particular. The energy and aggressiveness that was otherwise meant to overthrow an exploitive system could not be steered to fight the real enemy, hence allowed to hit upon a wasteful phenomenon of religiosity. The establishment, while fully realising the real basis of this revolt, not only added fuel to the fire of religious hatred but also unleashed all the forces of law and order against it to nail the real cause of rebellion. “Law and order,” Herbert Marcuse says, “have always had the most ominous sound; the entire necessity and the entire horror of the ‘legitimate force’ are condensed and sanctioned in these phrases.” ‘Fathers’ yet again, albeit temporarily, have won the battle.

Militants or reactionaries “do not think and act in a vacuum: their consciousness (true or false) and their goals make them representatives of the very real common interest of the oppressed.” But “as long as a social system reproduces, by indoctrination and integration, a self-perpetuating conservative majority, the majority reproduces the system itself — open to changes within, but not beyond, its institutional framework” (Herbert Marcuse). This is exactly what was anticipated by the establishment, hence in the shape of a march of millions led by the apostles of this criminal system, it ultimately became an unfortunate reality. Upon the ‘sons’ the situation brought back the fear of ‘castration’. Akin to the ‘fathers’, modern capitalism has, through fear, reduced the human being into an instrument, hence converting him into a sublimated slave.

Akin to several other words, ‘violence’ too has not only different connotations but altogether inverse interpretations as well. In case of the state and its instruments of coercion — the police, military, intelligence agencies — this word, though having brutal consequences, is considered a routine practice and hence becomes an acceptable norm but once used by those who wish to ‘subvert’ the system it is decried as inhuman, barbaric and marred with savagery. Herbert Marcuse once again succinctly elaborates the gimmickry hidden in this word. According to him, “In the established vocabulary, ‘violence’ is a term, which one does not apply to the action of the police, the national guard, the marshals, the marines, the bombers. The ‘bad’ words are a priori reserved for the enemy, and their meaning is defined and validated by the actions of the enemy regardless of their motivation and goal. No matter how ‘good’ the end, it does not justify the illegal means... In radical political practice, the end belongs to a world different from and contrary to the established universe of discourse and behaviour. But the means belong to the latter and are judged by the latter, on its own terms, the very terms, which the end invalidates.”

Imperial forces have turned the world into a living inferno. If Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Palestine and Pakistan are set to burn at its lowest part, for how long can those who fuel this incinerator think of keeping themselves away from this fire?
In France, of the leaders who led this march of freedom of expression, a majority of them never possessed the most enviable record. Nonetheless, this show of unity clearly proved one point: “The consensus behind the principle (that they sought) to reaffirm was economically and politically powerful” (Horkheimer). All those who were trying to offend it were forewarned. Despite this harassment, some undaunted voices kept the truth alive. Sean O’ Torrain says, “I was looking at the march in Paris led by hypocrites and governments, which deny freedom of speech whenever it suits them. Not only deny freedom of speech but kill, imprison and torture its own citizens to keep them quiet. The Saudi regime is one of the closest friends of US imperialism and the Bush family. It has just begun to give lashes to a blogger whose views it disagrees with. He will get 50 a week until he gets a total of 1,000. This is extreme savagery by the Bush family’s friends.”

Richard Mellor (Facts For Working People) asks some bewildering questions. He inquires, “Where were the millions and all the phony heads of state when the Zionists went in to Gaza and slaughtered more than 2,000 people? More than 500 children were killed and there were 11,000 people wounded. The Zionists also bombed the hospitals. Figures released recently claimed that 145 Gaza families lost three or more members. Where are the politicians for this? B’ Tselem, an Israeli NGO, reckons that between 2002 and May 2008, at least 387 Palestinians died as a result of Israeli targeted killings, of which 234 were the targets and the rest collateral casualties. I remember reading about two Gazan children feeding their pigeons on the roof when Israeli snipers took them out. Palestinians warn their children about rooftops; they are dangerous places for their children. The killing in Paris, horrible as it is, is small stuff compared to the slaughter of Muslims that has gone on over the past 20 years.”

Coming back to the aura of freedom of speech, which in any case is an inalienable human right, the record of the US and its stooge, the state of Israel, is most dismal though the Saudis do not lag far behind. What about Chelsea Manning, Snowden, Assange and the media-eclipsed Vanunu? The 24-year-old Chelsea Manning, who trusted this hoax of freedom, is languishing in solitary confinement. His only crime was telling the US people what in their name was happening in the wars imposed upon the hapless citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan. Is it the kind of freedom we represent that Sartre alluded to in these words: “Freedom, which chooses, but we could not choose to be free? We are doomed to freedom. We are thrown into freedom.”

And what about the millions of people who readily gulped the pall of gloom prepared by their oppressors and willingly allowed themselves to be ensnared by their class enemies? Have they gone completely indifferent to the havoc played by imperialism upon the rest of humankind? Is the reality of thousands of innocent citizens dying on the pretext of war on terror lost upon them? A land of revolutions cannot turn into a land of saintly impotent characters. If so, then nothing worse can happen to the future of humanity. Another revolution will be required to reorient the people about the concrete nature of freedom. Freedom of expression is an abstraction. Only an engineered opinion that reproduces the established reality can take this statement seriously. Concrete freedom is freedom from alienated, objectified labour, an ultimate dream of humanity turned into a nightmare by the false consciousness of the masses.
In Freudian terminology, “castration anxiety” is closely associated with “fear of death”. In the modern era, for creation of this ‘anxiety’, a key role is played by the media. Public opinion is distorted through scientific propaganda, which becomes a tool for certain interests. The more this anxiety permeates society, the more public opinion becomes a substitute for reason. Reason itself feels threatened. The media has the power to twist it into a subjective or an instrumentalised one, conforming to the established reality. This erodes the intellectual basis of democracy, which becomes a sham. Through this anxiety and death phobia in the name of security, economic interests are undermined. The hegemony of the ruling class is hence maintained, both through consent and undue coercion.

With hunches, conjectures and surmises, scapegoats have been traced but without providing a shred of concrete evidence. Akin to the tragedy of 9/11, the predator helped the prosecutors in their identification by simply leaving the solid evidence of their identity behind. According to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, “The terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo would never have been caught had they not made one fatal mistake: they conveniently left an ID card in their abandoned getaway car.” Since when have hardcore terrorists become so relenting and merciful? The perpetrator of 9/11, Mohammad Atta, also showered the same benevolence upon the secret agencies operating in the US. His suitcase, which carried the incriminating evidence, was handed over to German police by an ‘honourable thief’ who could not resist the impulse of patriotism. According to the former German minister and intelligence expert, Andreas Von Bülow, it was the joint handiwork of both the CIA and Mossad. What a coincidence that 9/11 hijacker Satam al-Suqami left his passport behind! From the French hierarchy, Noam Chomsky asks a few probing questions:

 “One would naturally ask how France upholds freedom of expression and the sacred principles of ‘fraternity, freedom, solidarity’. For example, is it through the Gayssot Law, repeatedly implemented, which effectively grants the state the right to determine historical truth and punish deviation from its edicts? By expelling miserable descendants of Holocaust survivors (Roma) to bitter persecution in Eastern Europe? By the deplorable treatment of North African immigrants in the banlieues of Paris where the Charlie Hebdo terrorists became jihadis? When the courageous journal Charlie Hebdo fired the cartoonist Siné on grounds that a comment of his was deemed to have anti-Semitic connotations?” The people of France, once out of the traumatic phase, must ponder these queries.

I would like to repeat Rosa Luxemburg, the great leader of the proletariat, where she states, “Imperialism is not the creation of any group of states. It is the product of a particular stage of ripeness in the world development of capital, an innately international condition, an indivisible whole, that is recognised only in all its relations, and from which no nation can hold aloof.” How can France or any other country be an exception? Imperial forces have turned the world into a living inferno.

If Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Palestine and Pakistan are set to burn at its lowest part, for how long can those who fuel this incinerator think of keeping themselves away from this fire? Nonetheless, through this catastrophe, the ruling elite has managed to sweep its crimes of imposing heavy social cuts on the people under the carpet. The liberties and victories attained after decades of struggle are gradually being snatched from the working class under the false pretence of security and terrorism. But people will not take long to realise that “those who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety” (Benjamin Franklin).

The solution is yet again provided by Rosa Luxemburg, who explicitly says: “Dividends are rising and the proletarians are falling. And with everyone there sinks into the grave a fighter of the future, a soldier of the revolution, mankind’s saviour from the yoke of capitalism. The madness will cease and the bloody demons of hell will vanish only when workers in Germany and France, England and Russia finally awake from their stupor, extend to each other a brotherly hand, and drown out the bestial chorus of imperialist war-mongers and the shrill cry of capitalist hyenas with labour’s old and mighty battle cry: workers of all countries unite.” Besides this, is there any shortcut to the route that may lead humanity to liberation? Unlike the advocates of a vulgar economy, who foment the ‘pillows of illusion’, Marxists are not aware of any other.

Daily Times, Pakistan 2/3 Feb 2015 

No comments: