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.
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.”
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.
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:
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.