Outrage in Paris, a World of Oppression, a Crying Need for Another Way

January 20, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On Wednesday, January 7, two gunmen associated with Islamic fundamentalist forces stormed into a meeting of the editorial board of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. They sprayed the room with bullets. Within minutes, a dozen editors, cartoonists, and others lay dead. Eleven more people were wounded in the attack, and four people died in an incident two days later where someone identifying with Jihadist forces took hostages at a Jewish store in Paris.

Millions of people—a collage of backgrounds and beliefs—took to the streets in outrage over the massacre at Charlie Hebdo. Jews, Muslims, Christians, and atheists marched together.

Profound questions are posed: Who, and what, is so afraid of parody that they would carry out a massacre of writers and editors in broad daylight? How can this kind of thing happen in this day and age? How can it be stopped? And what threads weave together the bloody conflicts that wrack so much of the world with the deaths in Paris? And what class outlooks—what underlying forces and interests—are behind the contending programs and solutions being proffered to the world.

Let’s not pull punches here: Any worldview that burns heretics at the stake, that issues fatwas against non-believers, or that murders those who ridicule it or its leaders and symbols is utterly illegitimate. Such outlooks cannot reveal, but can only obscure, the root sources of this planet’s cruel oppression and obscene inequalities, and do not offer any real alternative. They are thoroughly reactionary. The actions Islamic jihadists carry out—and the draconian fundamentalist religious law they impose where they are in control—are of a piece with a worldview born in the era of slavery, reflecting the outlook of slave masters and various feudal strata adapted to and, ironic as it might seem, given new life by a world dominated by tremendous social upheaval and misery churned up by modern forms of exploitation and oppression.

It is another bitter irony that Islamic fundamentalism, which arose with and represents exploiting classes, today appeals to and attracts some of those whose most fundamental interests—as a class of people—lie in overturning all forms of exploitation. Islamic fundamentalists find a hearing and attract followers from some of the most oppressed peoples in the modern-day ghettos of Europe, where immigrants are isolated and subjugated, and in the desperately poor slums of Third World megacities from Cairo to Kabul, because they appear to oppose oppressive powers that have dominated, exploited, plundered, and killed people for years, even centuries. But seeking order, solace, and some kind of pride in these old ways, which are rooted in oppressive relations between people, cannot emancipate anyone—not the most oppressed and downtrodden, and not humanity as a whole.

And the reality is that there is ANOTHER WAY to understand the world, and ANOTHER WAY the world can be that actually COULD liberate the oppressed, a way that corresponds to the interests of those in this world who have nothing, and corresponds to their collective—class—interest in getting to a world beyond exploitation and oppression of any kind. This is communist revolution—specifically the new stage of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian (BA). Get into what that is all about at www.revcom.us/avakian. Our Party is working hard to support efforts around the world to build a movement among these masses, and beyond, based on this.

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That’s one side of the equation. But also at work are the interests of the rulers of “The West”—essentially the representatives of Western imperialism. They are working hard to twist and warp correct outrage at the killings in Paris into agendas, and outlooks, that will tighten the chains of oppression around the world, and unleash new and worse rounds in a vicious clash of reactionary forces that will only tighten the chains of oppression and suffering.

And they are moving quickly to seize on the confusion they are promoting to implement vicious repression against immigrants in Europe, to justify new invasions, assassinations, and torture around the world, and to use this incident to rally people around the grotesque assertion that theirs is the best of all possible worlds.

In response to the killings at Charlie Hebdo, the leaders of the world’s “great powers” and their representatives placed themselves in the front row in the march in Paris. They are the greatest source of exploitation, oppression, misery, and repression on the planet. They brand themselves as global defenders of dissent, tolerance, and secularism, of the separation of church and state, and as the global champions of “democracy.”

Bob Avakian, who has brought forward a new, vital synthesis of communism, cut to the heart of what that democracy is all about:

The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism. (BAsics 1:3).

What the rulers of countries like the U.S. and France preach, practice, and impose is facilitating and enforcing the functioning of a global system of exploitation and oppression (capitalism-imperialism). A system of sweatshops and child labor, obscene inequalities, racism, oppression of women, and environmental devastation. What countries like the U.S. and France bring to the world is exploitation of the billions by the few, and the prisons, murdering police, and global military operations that enforce that exploitation, ideas that justify it, and structures (like the kind of elections they stage) that facilitate it.

The hypocrisy is obscene. These global powers embrace the fundamentalist rulers of Saudi Arabia—where creating a liberal blog is punished with 1,000 lashes of a whip and ten years in jail, and where, on January 19, a woman was publically beheaded by authorities—one of the policemen involved posted a video of the gruesome killing on YouTube (it was taken down by YouTube). The “outrage” expressed by rulers of countries like France over girls kidnapped by Boko Haram or religious minorities massacred by the Islamic State are contingent on if and how this or that outrage serves their economic, political, and military interests. Sometimes the interests of the imperialists lead them to integrate and operate through Islamic fundamentalists, sometimes those interests cause them to oppose the Islamic fundamentalists, but those calls are, again, based on their interests as capitalist-imperialist exploiters. Despite what the imperialist rulers claim, these decisions are never made on the basis of “freedom of expression.”

Look at who they linked arms with in Paris: the Saudi rulers, the Egyptian military tyrants, and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, who is promoted by these “champions of tolerance and freedom” as the leader of the “sole democracy in the Middle East,” but who heads a state carrying out violent ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Palestinian people, and who last year directed the slaughter of 2,000 Palestinian people in Gaza—hundreds of them children.

The Western imperialists—those who rule countries like the U.S. and France—are seeking to rally people around their banner, to reinforce and influence people’s thinking in line with the notion that, with whatever flaws it might contain, theirs is the best of all possible systems, in particular in the way it allows for dissent and provides for the free expression of ideas, even unpopular ideas, in contrast with various Islamic fundamentalists and other “totalitarian” forces and regimes. But what is the reality of what their system is, and what it actually is grounded in?

In the eyes of capitalism, the capacity of human beings to build, to create, to think, to innovate... is simply a commodity to exploit, or to cast aside if those human beings can’t be integrated into the gears of exploitation. How much freedom of expression is there for a child picking her way through a garbage dump in a Third World megacity looking for food? For a young girl forced into prostitution? For sweatshop workers burned up in Bangladesh or whose youth is robbed from them in a Mexican maquiladora? (For more on the actual nature of what the rulers of countries like the United States and France bring to the world and enforce in their home countries, see “The Shameful Hypocrisy of ‘World Leaders’ Parading Around as Champions of Free Expression.”)

In short, the rulers of countries like France and the U.S. represent a global system of capitalism-imperialism that is the biggest source of misery, dehumanization, oppression, white supremacy, oppression of women, and oppression in general on earth. They enforce that system with massive militaries, invasions, prisons, killer cops, and torture chambers. They have no problem supporting, and carrying out repression and terror when it suits their interests, which is indeed almost all the time!!

And they are not a positive alternative to anything.

Islamic Fundamentalism and Western Imperialism—Contending and Mutually Re-enforcing

There is a deeper and more sinister dynamic at work between the “democracies of the West” as they proclaim themselves, and the forces of Islamic fundamentalist Jihad. The two reinforce each other, even as they are in conflict.

As capitalism-imperialism churns through vast swaths of Africa, the Middle East, and other regions, it uproots people from the land, from traditional communities and ways of life that at least seemed to be coherent and viable. Driven into megacities and slums, forced into sweatshops or prostitution, bombarded with the Internet but deprived of food, water, and shelter, and in the absence of a REAL alternative to the forces churning up their lives, people in what is called the “Islamic world” are driven to traditional values that seem to be in opposition to the forces of madness and oppression.

And in a world where the choices seem to be confined to McWorld/McCrusade vs. Jihad, every move to enforce structures and values that facilitate the operation of global capitalism-imperialism, every drone strike, every child murdered by an Israeli soldier, every “night raid” where U.S. soldiers murder, rape, and spread terror in an Afghan village feeds and serves to recruit new fighters for what seems to be the “opposite” force.

Conversely, every attack on iconoclastic journalists, “heretics,” or innocent people like the attacks in Paris, provides fuel for the rulers in “The West” to pose as champions of freedom of expression, opponents of theocracy. They invoke such incidents to supposedly justify intensified racial profiling, police-state raids, censorship, clampdowns, deportations, invasions, and to unleash virulent fascist forces.

Yes, every move by either side in this deadly equation strengthens the whole equation, and every time people on either side of the equation are suckered into identifying with or aligning with either side of this conflict, it strengthens both sides in this toxic clash.

Between these two utterly outmoded forces, it is Western capitalism-imperialism that is the primary instigator of the current situation—both through the “unconscious” workings of their system as it brings devastation, destruction, and, yes, literal slavery to the world; and through conscious policies in service of exploitation—particularly wars for empire—McCrusade to enforce a global system of imperialism.

This whole dynamic—with the clash of these “choices”—is insane. Really, the best anyone can aspire to is a world envisioned by, and enforced by either of these forces? It is long overdue that humanity burst out of the chains of both of these modes of organizing society, and thinking, and into a whole different kind of world!

For that to happen, starting right now, we must resist moves to manipulate entirely justified outrage into complicity or silent acquiescence to crimes being carried out by the very powers most responsible for the whole hellish situation the planet finds itself in. NO wars for empire! NO roundups and repression! NO racial profiling and unleashing of fascist dogs to attack immigrants or people from the Middle East.

And we must speak clearly: NO, your way of life is NOT the “best of all possible worlds.” It is a way of life that sucks the life and spirit from billions, is devastating the environment, and is enforced by drones and nukes, torture chambers and killer police. It is insanely and murderously ridiculous that THESE are the supposed choices, when humanity could actually be organized to end all exploitation, uproot all forms of oppression, and move to live in harmony with the environment?

There IS a REAL alternative: communist revolution. This communist revolution, as envisioned by BA, not only will “tolerate” dissent and “other voices,” it will encourage and value dissent, as it is only through dissent, struggle over what is true and right, that people can get to the truth and consciously change the world in the interests of humanity. You want a world where dissent and critical thinking are really valued? Then that’s one more reason to get with the communist revolution—to check out the work BA has done on this, to engage with it, and to work to bring it into being. You’ll find that work, and you can connect with it, at revcom.us.

A genuinely emancipating revolution—a communist revolution—involves millions and millions of people who are determined to bring about a radical change in society and the world. This communist revolution aims to overturn the grotesque and horrific systems and relations in the world that cause such untold and unnecessary suffering for literally billions throughout the globe, and which themselves also give rise to and are ultimately responsible for grotesque forms of opposition to this. The nature and aim of this revolutionary struggle is nothing less than the conscious and determined struggle of millions and ultimately billions, throughout the globe, to bring into being a whole new world without exploitation, oppression, and social inequalities.

A WHOLE VICIOUS CYCLE needs to be broken through—politically, morally, and on the ground. The events in Paris can in no way be seen as justifying yet more acts of aggression or repression—yet more drone bomber strikes against civilians, or other forms of aggression that take the lives of more innocent people, more repression against immigrants, more spying and surveillance—all or some of which is already being implemented “in response” to the Paris killings. People courageously taking a stand against all this can throw a wrench into attempts to channel people’s outrage in ways that will only make things worse. And people taking these stands will send out a message to people on the “other side” of the McWorld vs. Jihad divide that not everyone is going along with the program, and that something new and different must and can come forward in the midst of this madness.

As we wrote in the immediate aftermath of the killings and the French response: “What is urgently needed right now—in opposition to these kinds of harmful acts—is, in countries like the U.S. (and France) and all over the world, the building of massive political resistance and opposition to what the imperialists, led by the U.S. imperialists, are doing—the many crimes they have committed and are continuing to commit—and to the way in which they will seize on this incident to seek to justify and carry further these crimes. This should include resistance against repressive measures directed at immigrant communities and opposition to demonization of immigrants—measures and demonization which had been gaining momentum well before this incident.”

Such resistance can begin to create and contribute to a new situation, where people of the whole world see an alternative to the deadly “alternatives” of Islamic fundamentalism and Western imperialism, and conditions that make it possible for another way for humanity to become a powerful force, a real alternative to the world as it is. A world without exploitation, oppression, and social inequalities of any kind. A world where there are no borders between “have” and “have not” countries, no more degrading people because of what part of the world they live in or come from, no more oppression of women—either in violent degrading pornography or wrapping them in burqas—and where humans never again need to, want to, or do resort to bloodshed to enforce “might makes right,” but a global community of humankind—diverse and unique individuals doing their best to contribute their ideas and actions to a better world, without fear of reprisal or repression—working together to address the great challenges humanity faces.

Let’s start from that in how we understand, how we feel, and how we act in relation to the terrible events in France. And challenge others to do the same.

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