Attacks in Barcelona
Jihadist terrorism and democracy, two flags of the bourgeoisie
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 14; Autumn - Winter 2017)
On Monday, August 17, a pickup truck entered the Ramblas, the historic quarter of Barcelona, and mowed over all the pedestrians it encountered. The toll as of Aug 18 was 13 dead and more than 80 injured. Shortly after the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack by means of a communication on the Internet. A few hours later in Cambrils, a seaside resort in the province of Tarragona that is a popular summer tourist destination, a sports car after having knocked down several pedestrians struck a police car while trying to access the promenade. According to police sources, this was an attempted attack similar to that of Barcelona.
Barcelona and Cambrils are added to the long list of cities where terrorism on a jihadist matrix has struck in recent months: Nice, London, Paris, Brussels ... and added to this series where it has acted with extremely rudimentary means, unlike those in New York in 2001 or in Madrid in 2004. The media revealed that some of the initiators of the recent attacks were themselves killed by an explosion that destroyed the building where they were handling butane cylinders that should have been used in the attack van.
From the very first minutes of the attack, absolutely all means of communication, all political representatives, all members of the «world of culture» or sport, etc., began to proclaim to the four winds that the reply of the population should be «firmness and resistance to terror», «support for the security forces» and the «defense of democracy and freedom» of the West that «terrorist barbarism» wants to destroy. As in London, Paris, Manchester, etc., the answer which is immediately demanded of the population is the national union behind the flags of law and democracy, the defense of the country, its institutions, its organs of repression, political and economic interests inside and outside its borders, its army sent to Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Ethiopia to defend the commercial interests of the Spanish bourgeoisie. The demand that is launched is therefore class collaboration, solidarity between proletarians and bourgeois to defend the interests of the latter identified without hesitation as those of the whole nation that has just been attacked by terrorism.
What kind of overview of these events should the proletarians take up?
On the one hand, attacks by ISIS or other organizations of petty-bourgeois origin or orientation strike the so-called «western population» indiscriminately, causing anguish and disorientation at the supposed irrationality of these acts. On the other hand, the propaganda which the bourgeois state launches after every attack, with all its means, contributes to exasperate this feeling of terror and disarray, in order to impose more easily the abandonment of any perspective which is not absolute obedience to the «struggle against terrorism», a euphemism behind the widening of the police force against the civilian population, particularly against African immigrants, the restriction of elementary freedoms, and so on. Attacks and anti-terrorist discourse appear to complement each other perfectly: they push the proletariat, the social class which constitutes the majority of the population of the cities hit by the attacks, and which directly suffers their effects, in a way that seems to leave only one perspective: to support «their» State, the actions of reprisals it foresees and more generally to join the national union and the interclassist solidarity which means accepting all that they are asked in the name of democracy and freedom.
But jihadist terrorism does not aim to attack democracy, to suppress freedom or to destroy the «western way of life». This terrorism, undeniably reactionary in nature, does not originate from the hatred of democratic and constitutional societies in Europe or America, or from blind anger against everything that is «western». First, because it appears in a context of inter-bourgeois clashes throughout the Near and Middle East where armed groups claiming action in Europe play a role as an instrument of the great powers (USA, Russia, Europe but also regional states that have a growing role in the imperialist order of the zone) who use or attack them as a result of changes in their tactical orientations. To understand this tactical function in the context of a more general confrontation, it is sufficient to note that the attacks of various types of ISIS have redoubled at the same time that it was losing a great part of its conquered territories; as the alliance of the Russian, Iranian and Syrian troops gained ground in Syria and as the coalition forces (USA, France, Great Britain, the Iraqi protectorate and so on) was recapturing the land lost to ISIS, the attacks in large European cities increased. It means that the terrorist attacks have a military purpose.
But to say that jihadist terrorism is an act of war in a wider conflict is not enough. The imperialist nature of this conflict must be affirmed; the wars carried out by the principal capitalist powers are only predatory wars; the watchwords of the defense of the democracy of peace and freedom are only arguments cynically used to justify them and prepare the proletarians for the sacrifices that are and will be demanded.
ISIS members who attack the civilian population in Europe do not have in their DNA the «fanatic hatred» of the West; it is not their ideologies or religious beliefs that push them to commit the attacks: these ideologies or faith in Islam are used to motivate the terrorists, but they are nothing but the ideological cover that serves to justify the various real economic and political interests that are at the work and for which the attacks are organized. In the same way that American and European soldiers in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan will fight in the name of a pseudo-humanitarian, pacifist and democratic ideology, in the same way as the military actions of the United States, France, Britain or Spain are carried out under the banner of the «struggle for freedom», members of ISIS recruited from Baghdad, Ceuta or European cities justify their armed actions on the «territory of the infidels» in the name of a religious doctrine which offers the same illusions of peace, freedom and fraternity. Added to this is the fact that these young members of the various Islamic-type armed organizations see their compatriots, their families, their friends daily fall victim to the bombs or misery the capitalist powers which dispute their territories are responsible for; this is a decisive encouragement to enlist in the ranks of local armies who promise to reverse the situation and bring victory.
For their part, the European proletarians find that the cities where they live are part of the objectives of the terrorist attacks – a situation that the proletarians of Baghdad, Damascus or Kabul have known and still know. And immediately afterwards they see a flood of patriotic and warlike propaganda fall on them to justify the military efforts of their respective bourgeoisies, evidently in the name of «democracy.» No doubt this propaganda does not today have the openly militaristic color of the past; it is full of formulas on tolerance, integration, solidarity ... But in the end it arrives at the same point. The population of Barcelona or that of Manchester is irremediably called upon to «choose» between the Ramblas van or the bombs in a concert, and support for all the measures taken by the bourgeoisie and its state.
The result is the same everywhere in the world. Behind the flag of Islam and Justice for its peoples or behind the flag of democracy and freedom, brutally on one side and much more slowly on the other, the proletarians get conditioned to assume definitively the defense of the nation, the interests of the bourgeoisie presented as those of the entire population. And all the political forces, from the government to the opposition of the left through the monarchy, contribute to this framework. Because to the extent that the inter-imperialist contrasts deepen, insofar as the Middle East is always more a zone of open confrontation between the great powers, insofar as the rest of the world is drawn into the firing line of various imperialist powers, the control of the proletariat of each country will become more and more indispensable. The national ideology, the defense of the motherland, of the national economy, of «freedom», or of the values of social justice of Islam, will be adopted as a pretext to mobilize the proletarian masses for war. Once again, the proletariat will be required to become cannon fodder. As it has already happened in the two world wars for the proletarians of Europe and North America and for the proletarians of the rest of the world in the series of local wars that have taken place since then, it’s the workers of all the countries which will have to pour their blood so that «their» bourgeoisie reaches its political, economic and military objectives.
The attacks in Barcelona, Brussels, London, Manchester and elsewhere teach proletarians the horror and barbarism that is commonly experienced on the streets of Middle Eastern countries where the exactions of groups such as ISIS or Al Qaida are added to those of local governments local and imperialist powers. But they are also taught by the very strong pressure exerted on them to direct the hatred and anger provoked by the attacks towards objectives linked to the war between the different bourgeoisies.
In order to put an end to this situation, the proletariat cannot hope for class collaboration with the bourgeoisie; it cannot accept a war in the name of «democracy» and «freedom». To eliminate the horror and barbarism that are increasingly approaching European cities, the proletariat must break with slogans of national unity, rejecting the policy of class collaboration to which it has been subjected for decades.
Only the class struggle, first and foremost conducted against its own bourgeoisie, can break the vicious circle in which all the proletarians of the world are forced to live, only the class struggle can finish with the logic of confrontation between nations, races and religions. Only the struggle led resolutely toward the destruction of capitalist society can make disappear any exploitation of ethnic or religious hatred of the misery of the proletariat and the oppressed masses of the world.
As long as the proletarian class does not regain the strength to become an actor of its own future, bourgeois society will not cease producing misery and barbarism.
August, 18th 2017
International Communist Party