Charlie Hebdo and other attacks in Paris

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jef costello
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Jan 8 2015 18:48
Charlie Hebdo and other attacks in Paris

I'm a bit surprised that no one has posted about this.

Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical paper, was attacked by two men with AK 47s yesterday with 12 people killed and 11 wounded (4 seriously) 8 journalists and 2 cops killed.

Another machine gun attack this morning killed a policewoman, injured a policeman and a street sweeper was shot in the face and seriously injured. This was probably by someone else.

It's tense here but the police response has been relatively calm. The National Front has played it's hand very well unfortunately.

There were reports of another attack, but only in UK papers, the French media are holding some things back to keep them from the suspects, so this might be part of a blackout or it could be a misunderstanding or could be plain made up.

There's been a general outburst against this as an atack on the republic and the value of free speech. Charlie Hebdo wasn't actually that popular and had been criticised for using controversy as a selling point. I personally didn't read it, I thought the cartoons were a bit juvenile and there were too many in-jokes.

As I said to a friend, it's a bit like Private Eye, I don't read it, but I like to know it's there and anyone who sues it is a wrong'un.

One thing taht has gone unnoticed is that they were not just satirists mocking Islam, although they were pretty provocative, they targeted christianity, especially catholicism just as much.

And the worst part is endless speculation by people with no real understanding of basic logic or any technical knowledge. IT's all over the news and it's much worse on social media.

There have been quite a few demonstrations, many of them have had people carrying pens as a symbol of power. I prefer that to the rhetoric saying this is a 'declaration of war' by whom? against whom? There have been a two minor attacks on mosques and some idiot blew up a kebab shop, but on the whole things are pretty calm.

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Tyrion
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Jan 8 2015 19:16

I've been pretty put off by the general response I've seen to this from (American) leftists, which has been to attack Charlie Hebdo as racist, Islamhobic, white supremacist, etc. with the implication that there's some mitigating factors to the awfulness of massacring a bunch of journalists.

no1
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Jan 8 2015 20:15
Quote:
One thing taht has gone unnoticed is that they were not just satirists mocking Islam, although they were pretty provocative, they targeted christianity, especially catholicism just as much.

One thing that has gone unnoticed is that Der Stürmer were not just mocking the Jews, although they were pretty provocative, they also targeted catholicism and stalinism! Isn't that great? Got to defend the West and our funny traditions.


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Juan Conatz
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Jan 8 2015 20:43

The 'making fun of all religions' thing seems like the trite 'it is illegal for both the rich man and poor man to sleep under bridges' thing, am I wrong? Obviously, Catholics are not a dispossessed, marginalized, de facto segregated and demonized minority subject to crazy disproportionate incarceration rates.

I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about this paper,the French tradition of satire, the condition of Muslims in France or the rising anti-immigrant sentiment there, but it's sort of bullshit that the choice presented here seems to be between politicized religious extremism that engages in indiscriminate attacks and Hitchens-esque neoconservative 'New Atheism' that upholds a stratified and discriminatory society. Or between an oppressive monotheistic force and an abstract 'freedom of speech'.

Leo
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Jan 9 2015 00:41

From what I've understood, Charlie Hebdo was a publication which was atheistic and politically moderate to left liberal. From what I understand, they'd ran a cover against islamophobia and were about to organize an anti-racism conference. The murder of these cartoonists is obviously horrible, the fact that the staff didn't bow down to constant threats is admirable on a basic human level and these cartoonists were after all working there.

I live in the Middle East and everyone I've talked to about it were shocked and sad. I think that's quite a healthy proletarian reaction to something like this. Not that there aren't people who want to highlight the alleged racism of the paper where I live but they tend to be Islamist supporters of the government.

What I'm concerned about is the people singing the Marseilles on the squares. That's never a good sign. Nor is the talk that this is a "declaration of war", people attacking mosques or blowing up kebab shops.

On I side note, I've observed that the journalists here are rather unable to discuss this situation in the telly. Whenever they try to do so, they seem to get stuck in talking about the massacres of sectarian minorities, brutal murders of missionaries and the assasinations of journalists.

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Jan 8 2015 22:20
Juan Conatz wrote:
The 'making fun of all religions' thing seems like the trite 'it is illegal for both the rich man and poor man to sleep under bridges' thing, am I wrong? Obviously, Catholics are not a dispossessed, marginalized, de facto segregated and demonized minority subject to crazy disproportionate incarceration rates.

There's some truth to this description of muslims, (although class and nationality play a very big role), but isn't the point of your argument that a religion cannot be mocked if it is one of a poor minority? Surely that's more of the liberal bullshit that leads to people tiptoeing around certain religions (or other aspects of minority cultures) out of patronising concern but actually doing nothing to improve their conditions. Isn't the whole point of this site to fight against the massive structural discrimination that people face on a daily basis as a class rather than defending some cultural aspect that is directly opposed to our beliefs?
And surely conflating criticism of Islam with an attack on Muslims is precisely what extremists and liberals do because they are the ones who need these ideologies?

no1 wrote:
One thing that has gone unnoticed is that Der Stürmer were not just mocking the Jews, although they were pretty provocative, they also targeted catholicism and stalinism! Isn't that great? Got to defend the West and our funny traditions.

One thing that has gone unnoticed by some people on the internet is that facile comparisons to the Nazis make you look stupid and ridiculous ones make me question your grip on reality.

Just to clarify Charlie Hebdo were not responsible for concentration camps and were not implicated in any other instances of mass murder.


"The untouchables"
"Don't make fun"

Now you can criticise them for using stereotypical images, but as far as I'm aware their work was clearly satirical and mocking of religion. I wasn't a fan, but they're not part of any conspiracy to demonise muslims and comparing them to publications that incited pogroms is being a caricature of a leftist (unless this is some deeply layered joke).

Leo wrote:
What I'm concerned about is the people singing the Marseilles on the squares. That's never a good sign. Nor is the talk that this is a "declaration of war", people attacking mosques or blowing up kebab shops.

The Marseillaise was actually at the London demo, although it was quite likely French people in the majority. The backlash is the real danger, the French politicians and press have been relatively restrained so far.

What Tyrion describes is exactly the attitude that angers me, this idea that they're responsible for it. I've never faced violence handing stuff out, but most comrades have, so the idea that people who risk danger handing out publications can believe that others can have 'brought it on themselves' is appalling.

Edit: forgot to mention that Charlie Hebdo's last cover was mocking Michel Houellebeck's (a former militant atheist and controversialist who has fallen victim to the idea that it is religion or nothing and decided in the end that religion is better) latest novel where a muslim becomes president, partly to keep out the FN, and then France ruled by muslims. So they were also mocking anti-muslim hysteria as well.

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Jan 8 2015 22:28
Juan Conatz wrote:
The 'making fun of all religions' thing seems like the trite 'it is illegal for both the rich man and poor man to sleep under bridges' thing, am I wrong? Obviously, Catholics are not a dispossessed, marginalized, de facto segregated and demonized minority subject to crazy disproportionate incarceration rates.

Yeah, this ^^^

I find it worrying that so few people have picked up on this and think racist cartoons are satire.. as if the only thing that matters is the content regardless of context, who's satirising, who's being satirised etc..

radicalgraffiti
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Jan 8 2015 22:40

Charlie Hebdo was blatantly racist as fuck
http://avantblargh.tumblr.com/post/107422672105

bastarx
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Jan 8 2015 22:41

This is one of their fine satirical cartoons.

400x

"The sex slaves of Boko Haram are angry. Don't touch our benefits."

Good satire aims up the social hierarchy. Aiming down is at best snobbery and often racist.

S. Artesian
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Jan 8 2015 23:00

Several thoughts:

1. Obviously, this is murder. We (meaning Marxists, communists whatever) don't condone it; don't support it; don't defend it; "it" being this act, committed in this manner, by these individuals.

2. Politically, Hebdo's "satire" is no more "left-wing," than ISIS or the Taliban or Al Qaeda is "left wing."

3. There's no point to us (see above we) responding as if this "is an attack on us all." No, it is not an attack on us all. No we don't express our "unity" our "solidarity" with Hebdo, or the "French people." Prior to this, after 9/11, we were NOT all "world trade centerers;" we opposed the national-ism, the "national mourning" that was designed to and for greasing the war machine.

Our "job," our class job remains what it is and was-- opposition to the bourgeoisie and its state in their local and global iterations.

4. Maybe it's just me, living in NYC, 1 mile from the WTC, and luckily, believe it or not, having forgotten to attend a meeting that day in the South Tower on the 94th floor, but I think the story about this attack stinks. I mean it just doesn't smell right. The attackers go to the wrong building, using force of weapons to enter that building; force two people to the floor and demand directions to the right building; get into the right building but are misdirected to the wrong floor, get to the right floor, and then several minutes later and several blocks away, (according to France24 news) encounter a single police car with a lone officer where they engage in a gunfight? And in all that time-- the area isn't sealed off? Other police units don't show up?

Can we see a timeline please?

Now I have no great regard for the competence of the police, or the military, or North American Air Defense Command or special forces, but come on..... given that the French police were supposed to be on heightened alert anyway... WTF? Blowback? No doubt. But something more? Does that make me a conspiracy theorist? I don't know. It just doesn't smell right to me.

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Jan 8 2015 23:00

EDIT TO ADD: I'm leaving the post below coz I spent time writing it but essentially bastarx did it better when he wrote

Quote:
Good satire aims up the social hierarchy. Aiming down is at best snobbery and often racist.

Feel free to read my post as well but it basically says the same but with lots more words..

jef costello wrote:
There's some truth to this description of muslims, (although class and nationality play a very big role), but isn't the point of your argument that a religion cannot be mocked if it is one of a poor minority? Surely that's more of the liberal bullshit that leads to people tiptoeing around certain religions (or other aspects of minority cultures) out of patronising concern but actually doing nothing to improve their conditions. Isn't the whole point of this site to fight against the massive structural discrimination that people face on a daily basis as a class rather than defending some cultural aspect that is directly opposed to our beliefs?

Firstly, I think it's wrong to characterise this as being just about the level of Muslim poverty, it's also about persecution which often involves having the piss taken out of you based on common stereotypes.. the danger of mocking a persecuted group, then, is how easy it is to slip into those common tropes.. the image you put up is arguably a better attempt (though just having a Muslim and Jew, when you're a Christian country who's seen a recent spike in Quennelle-ing little shits is a little dodgy imo).. but others are fucking terrible..


I don't really get what's so different from the above picture and the Class War bonfire.. it's based on lazy stereotypes readily available in right-wing/mainstream press.. or this poem (just an extract) from the CH editor:

Quote:
Peins un Mahomet glorieux, tu meurs.
Dessine un Mahomet rigolo, tu meurs.
Gribouille un Mahomet ignoble, tu meurs.
Réalise un film de merde sur Mahomet, tu meurs.
Tu résistes à la terreur religieuse, tu meurs.
Tu lèches le cul aux intégristes, tu meurs.
Pends un obscurantiste pour un abruti, tu meurs.
Essaie de débattre avec un obscurantiste, tu meurs.
Il n’y a rien à négocier avec les fascistes.

The jist being what? Muslims are fascists who will kill you if you try to talk about their religion? I don't get how that's anywhere near approaching satire as opposed to outright racism. So you can talk about the need to challenge structural problems rather than tip-toe around reactionary beliefs but is that what Charlie Hebdo did? No, it just perpetuated the same shit as the rest of the media..

I do think there is a way to satirise Islam that would've been more successful as satire rather than just racism.. but CH failed on that front imo..

Leo
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Jan 9 2015 00:52
Jef wrote:
The Marseillaise was actually at the London demo, although it was quite likely French people in the majority. The backlash is the real danger, the French politicians and press have been relatively restrained so far.

What Tyrion describes is exactly the attitude that angers me, this idea that they're responsible for it. I've never faced violence handing stuff out, but most comrades have, so the idea that people who risk danger handing out publications can believe that others can have 'brought it on themselves' is appalling.

Exactly. Here, government journalists and ideologues are trying to condemn the attack with a but implying they have brought it on themselves.

Hope you're alright man

S. Artesian wrote:
Politically, Hebdo's "satire" is no more "left-wing," than ISIS or the Taliban or Al Qaeda is "left wing."

That makes about as much sense as saying social democrats are no more left wing than the Nazis. I don't tend to see left wing as a compliment, and I think Hebdo's politics are as bourgeois as any bourgeois paper, however I think this sort of comparisons aren't really positive.

This being said;

Quote:
There's no point to us (see above we) responding as if this "is an attack on us all." No, it is not an attack on us all. No we don't express our "unity" our "solidarity" with Hebdo, or the "French people."

I completely agree with all of this.

Communists tend not to express solidarity with a company when its employees are murdered anyway.

teh
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Jan 9 2015 00:58
jef costello wrote:
There's some truth to this description of muslims, (although class and nationality play a very big role), but isn't the point of your argument that a religion cannot be mocked if it is one of a poor minority? Surely that's more of the liberal bullshit that leads to people tiptoeing around certain religions (or other aspects of minority cultures) out of patronising concern but actually doing nothing to improve their conditions. Isn't the whole point of this site to fight against the massive structural discrimination that people face on a daily basis as a class rather than defending some cultural aspect that is directly opposed to our beliefs?

Why just religion why not joking about "minority" races and gender also? After all most racist ideology (or ideology of race) these days is founded on "cultural" rather then biological foundations. Your assumption here is that Islam has an essence that one out of pc concern can tiptoe around or choose to confront. Its especially pertinent to Muslims because "western" discourse demands that all societies where Islam plays any notable role must be framed chiefly around this "religion." From domestic violence right up to some governments policy. During the 2003 Iraq invasion US/UK forces organized the new security apparatus- well in fact the entire apparatus- of the colonial state on sectarian rather then national lines. Clearly in the minds of these commissioners this is the chief organizing principle needed for these societies. One always hears from NATO establishment commentators criticism of Sykes/Pikot, not out of anti-imperialism but because ME states are seen as illegitimate and so free to be molded for correction(and as nation is illegitimate and 'arab" is (usually) too general and evocative of pro-Soviet bloc movements, this molding centers on "religion").

Quote:
no1 wrote:
One thing that has gone unnoticed is that Der Stürmer were not just mocking the Jews, although they were pretty provocative, they also targeted catholicism and stalinism! Isn't that great? Got to defend the West and our funny traditions.

One thing that has gone unnoticed by some people on the internet is that facile comparisons to the Nazis make you look stupid and ridiculous ones make me question your grip on reality.

Just to clarify Charlie Hebdo were not responsible for concentration camps and were not implicated in any other instances of mass murder.

Julius Streicher was not responsible for concentration camps and was not implicated in any other instances of mass murder.

teh
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Jan 9 2015 02:03
Leo wrote:
S. Artesian wrote:
Politically, Hebdo's "satire" is no more "left-wing," than ISIS or the Taliban or Al Qaeda is "left wing."

That makes about as much sense as saying social democrats are no more left wing than the Nazis. I don't tend to see left wing as a compliment, and I think Hebdo's politics are as bourgeois as any bourgeois paper, however I think this sort of comparisons aren't really positive.

In 2006 Charlie Hebdo published the manifesto "Together facing the new totalitarianism" written by the usual types as well as its then editor, stating: "After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism. We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all." They viewed their task in this war as that of propaganda (in the positive sense of this term) on the home front while, as the signatories past and future public statements show, the armies of their states would fight the war of arms.

Clearly they viewed themselves as partisans in a war. This is their significance as a target by Islamists as well as why their deaths shouldn't be mourned any more than journalists on the other side of the war like Anwar al-Awlaki were.

------

There's non stop coverage on US news networks about this now and the the nonsense is framed around freedom of speech as well as warmongering about how the Enemy fights immorally and lacks ethics while the homefront and its martyrs are righteous. There is no "freedom of speech" either in France- with its hate crime laws and lack of job protection re speech- or elsewhere. For example a few years ago when two UK Nazi's sought asylum in the US over a string of charges that essentially boiled down to them drawing an anti-Semetic cartoon called Tales of the HoloHoax it was denied and they were each jailed for 5 and 2 years. Similarly "freedom of speech" becomes "material support for terrorism" when the Enemy does it. There's countless people jailed in the US for voicing vocal support for Al-Shabbab, an Islamist militia that never attacked the US and which is fighting a foreign invasion by its neighbors, for good measure (and the US has nothing against backing Islamists militias abroad either way). And this isn't because they're Islamists, i.e. their particular politics. Israel killing Ghassan Kanafani and other intelligentsia of Palestinian nationalism didn't and doesn't conjure up denunciation.

Neither is the Iconoclasm of ISIS/AQ or the bashing of muslims by Charlie Hebdo central here (to note on the latter the Telegraph noted that Michel Houellebecq's (mentioned in the thread) latest variation on 'when-the-n----rs-take-over' story was effectively praised by Socialist President Hollande, who said he would read it but said the white genocide is not going to happen so "French [should] not to give into "fear" of "submersion, invasion, submission"" So Charlie Hebdo is by no means unique or out of step with its views on "Muslims"). Same day the massacre in Paris happened 40 cops working for the West in Yemen were blown up. They didn't get round the clock coverage and sermons. I turned on the BBC today for a second and they were actually playing a eulogy for Charlie Hebdo, with somber music and pictures of their work, as if some prince had just passed away. And_thats_why these editors were targeted and killed. They were dogs of the ruling elite in France (praised and honored by both the Sarkozy administration and the Socialists throughout the past decade). And not only were they dogs but they were, unlike the Yemeni cops, Western and by killing them their adversaries showed that they too can bleed. If from a distance one could feel sympathy, being bombarded with this self-righteousness- which characterized Charlie Hebdo's publishers when they were alive also- in the context of global war is too much for me personally.

proletarian.
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Jan 9 2015 03:54

This warrants a news thread but the Belgium General Strike of last month, fuck all.

bastarx
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Jan 9 2015 05:00

Anyone can start a thread. Did you start one about the Belgian General Strike?

bastarx
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Jan 9 2015 06:14

From the WSWS

Yet again the perpetrator(s) of one of these atrocities was under police surveillance. Did they double cross the cops? Or did the cops help them carry out their attack?

Quote:
Gunmen were “probably followed” by French police before Paris massacre

By Patrick Martin
9 January 2015

There is mounting evidence that the intelligence services of France and several other countries were actively tracking the two brothers named as the gunmen who carried out the massacre at the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo Wednesday.

These facts raise more and more questions about how such high-profile suspects could obtain weapons and prepare what appears to have a been a highly organized and professional military assault.

According to a report in Le Figaro, French Interior Minister Cazeneuve said Thursday that the suspects were “probably followed” prior to the shooting and that there had been no signs of an impending attack. The two brothers have been known to French authorities for at least a decade.

Cherif Kouachi was arrested in 2005 on charges of conspiracy to travel to Iraq to join the Islamic fundamentalist group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He was eventually tried and convicted in 2008, but was sentenced to only three years, essentially time served, and released.

The legal outcome raises questions, to say the least, about the reason for such leniency after a lengthy proceeding, which suggests an effort to recruit the prisoner as an informant or agent.

In 2010, according to the BBC, both Cherif and Said Kouachi were named in connection with a jailbreak plot for an imprisoned Islamist and called in for interrogation, but no prosecution was brought.

Both CNN and NBC, citing unnamed US officials, have reported that Said Kouachi had travelled to Yemen in 2011 “on behalf of the al Qaeda affiliate there” and received weapons training from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Several US media outlets reported that both Cherif and Said Kouachi had been placed on the American no-fly list many years ago and so were banned from boarding aircraft bound for or leaving the United States.

akai
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Jan 9 2015 08:15

Looks like a lot of good points here, although I only had time to read through it quickly. I am rather annoyed by the facile politics of just putting up memes of Facebook saying "I am Charlie" with no further thought. If anybody reads other languages, it is worth looking over some responses and discussions like on Anarkismo to see that there are a few problems with articulating responses. It was interesting also to see the different responses in France - I read the FA, CNTF Vignoles and CNT-AIT Toulouse responses. The FA, is basically sympathy with victims, the CNTF Vignoles is afraid this will be used for racism and violence against Muslims and CNT-AIT Toulouse criticizing the fact that there needs to be a struggle against capitalism and the state and people are focusing on religion.

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Jan 9 2015 11:25
Leo wrote:
What I'm concerned about is the people singing the Marseilles on the squares. That's never a good sign. Nor is the talk that this is a "declaration of war", people attacking mosques or blowing up kebab shops.

Particularly the emphasis being put on the line "Qu'un sang impur, arrose nos sillons..." in the singing I heard ("let[until] an impure blood waters our furrows"). Can't help having an uneasy feeling about whose blood was being put into the "impure" category, by those who were singing with gusto, being not just narrowly focussed on salafist-jihadist killers.

The horrific nature of the attack doesn't make the backlash any less ugly.

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Jan 9 2015 12:15

Before my own 2c, I'm posting the following from FB by someone who doesn't post on here very often any more. He indicated that he'd put in on "Public" for sharing purposes, in case you wondered re re-posting.

Quote:
Charlie Hebdo...
.
[Sorry, this is a bit long!]
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Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent etc. This is equally true when we just don't know the facts we need to digest. I know a little about Charlie Hebdo. After Ireland and the UK, I know the media and intellectual and political climate in France better than anywhere else. But, still, I know very little.
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Although to be honest, I think what Charlie Hebdo did or didn't do isn't really that important. Regardless of what they said, yesterday was indefensible. Even if Charlie Hebdo were racist islamophobe fascists, it would be indefensible.
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But, I think something can be said more broadly about liberal republicanism that might be pertinent here.
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The fact that this happened in France seems somehow relevant. We hear repeated in commentary how France is the home of "Liberté, égalité, fraternité", indeed it is the official motto of the French Republic. In a widely circulated blog on the events yesterday, Juan Cole states the French "invented" the rights of man and the values associated with it. And we hear both within and outside France continuous discourse on the centrality of laïcité (i.e. state secularism) for French politics.
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But it is important to remind ourselves that the French revolution was not accomplished. And its promise remains unfulfilled. Indeed socialism emerged in the 19th century from the two coterminous developments: the increasing predominance of waged workers within the population and the intellectual realisation that ideals of "liberté, égalité, fraternité" were not achievable under existing property relations.
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As Michael Ellman said, a major tragedy of the twentieth century is that socialism came to be
seen as the rival to the "bourgeois revolution" rather than its ultimate heir.
For socialists it should be important to not only defend, but to pursue more vigorously, liberal republican ideals.
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But we should not imagine that these ideals can simply be defended.
So Channel 4's John Snow is extremely wrong when he writes "Paris: brutal clash of civilisations: Europe's belief in freedom of expression vs those for whom death is a weapon in defending their beliefs."https://twitter.com/jonsnowC4/status/552804891920711680
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"Europe" does not "believe" in freedom of expression.
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It has been noted that a number of the journalists killed yesterday started working together around the satirical libertarian socialist paper "L'Enragé" which was published in 1968. (The first issue and a lovely English translation is here: https://libcom.org/files/lenrage_journal_scans.pdf )
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It is worth considering what happened to the other radicals then and in the subsequent years when the prevalent order in "Europe" was last threatened.
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Perhaps the largest group coming out of 1968 in France was the ‘Jeunesse Communiste Revolutionaire’ who were organised around their newspaper ‘Rouge’. They were banned. Then their former members formed the ‘Ligue Communiste’. So, they were banned.
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Or in Germany, not only was the Communist Party completely banned, but from 1972 all applicants for public sector employment (teachers, train drivers, gardeners etc.) were screened because "political extremists" were banned from public employment. Hundreds upon hundreds were denied or lost their employment. And later support for "crimes against the constitution" was banned. (This included advocating revolution). More recently, in 1991, one of the largest far left groups in Germany (the Marxistische Gruppe) dissolved itself as a response to a fear of reprisals against its members.
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Or in Ireland, we had "Section 31" introduced in 1971, which banned broadcast of "any matter that could be calculated to promote the aims or activities of any organisation which engages in, promotes, encourages or advocates the attaining of any particular objectives by violent means".
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Beyond that, more recently and more trivially, in the Netherlands, in 2011 two men were arrested and fined for wearing 1312 on their t-shirt, which stands for ACAB, which stands for All Cops Are Bastards. And two years prior to that a man was arrested and fined for wearing a t-shirt with "Corrupt" superimposed over the Dutch police logo.
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And more tragically, the "Allies" in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq bombed Al Jazeera bureaus. And in 1999 NATO bombed the Serbian TV headquarters killing 16 on the basis that is was the "ministry of lies".
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This list is already too long. It is only a glimpse of "Europe's belief in freedom of expression". There are simply too many major infringements on freedom of expression in Europe by "Europe" to mention more than a few.
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It might be objected: "So what? These infringements on liberty might be real, but this was still an attack on freedom of speech and we should stand against that."
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Perhaps.
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The attack was certainly an attack on Charlie Hebdo because of what they said. But surely an attack on freedom of speech must either be (a) a call for a legal restriction on freedom of speech or (b) a form of intimidation that encourages self-censorship for fear of reprisal. This attack is clearly not the former. But it clearly is the latter. However, this is somewhat more nebulous. Indeed it is hard to imagine that the level of "self-censorship for fear of reprisal" in response to this attack will be larger than "self-censorship for fear of reprisal" caused by “Pantigate”. (This was where the Irish state broadcaster apologised and paid compensation to a Catholic advocacy group that opposes gay marriage on the basis that they had been ‘falsely’ accused of being homophobes.)
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The atrociousness of the Charlie Hebdo atrocity lies in the violence involved and the motivation behind it, not because it poses any major threat to freedom of speech.
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So if there is no major threat to freedom of speech, what is the point of defending it? When we are called to stand against the attacks and defend freedom of speech, who are we who would stand and what is it we would defend?
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Here the answer is clearer. We would be the West defending the West.
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But the West is not republicanism, it is not the legacy of the French revolution and it is not freedom. It only contains this legacy and this potential. But neither this legacy nor the hope of freedom are French or even Western. They are global and universal.
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Those of us who do claim this legacy should reject these false ideas of 'the west versus its opponents'. Republicanism, democracy and freedom are the opponents of 'the West' as it is today. Instead of defending what we do not have, we should continue to hold fast to our ideals and aspirations and should continue to work for their realisation and for a society in which they are realisable.

Caiman del Barrio
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Jan 9 2015 13:29
teh wrote:
In 2006 Charlie Hebdo published the manifesto "Together facing the new totalitarianism" written by the usual types as well as its then editor, stating: "After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism. We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all." They viewed their task in this war as that of propaganda (in the positive sense of this term) on the home front while, as the signatories past and future public statements show, the armies of their states would fight the war of arms.

Surely this says all anyone needs to know? The notion that Islamism is the greatest threat to mankind is the territory of the far right and the war on terror. I'm really not sure why anyone would have any time for them, unless they agree with PEGIDA, EDL, Britain First, Tony Blair, etc.

Sister Ray
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Jan 9 2015 13:51
Juan Conatz wrote:
The 'making fun of all religions' thing seems like the trite 'it is illegal for both the rich man and poor man to sleep under bridges' thing, am I wrong? Obviously, Catholics are not a dispossessed, marginalized, de facto segregated and demonized minority subject to crazy disproportionate incarceration rates.

I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about this paper,the French tradition of satire, the condition of Muslims in France or the rising anti-immigrant sentiment there, but it's sort of bullshit that the choice presented here seems to be between politicized religious extremism that engages in indiscriminate attacks and Hitchens-esque neoconservative 'New Atheism' that upholds a stratified and discriminatory society. Or between an oppressive monotheistic force and an abstract 'freedom of speech'.

I think you're conflating two different things a little bit. One can criticise Islam, whether 'moderate' or 'Islamist' because it's a shite reactionary ideology. That's different from demonising Muslims as a minority, like the far right are depressingly but predictably doing after this incident.

Ultimately my opinion on this is that it's kind of irrelevant whether or not Charlie Hebdo was Islamophobic or whatever, it's still a horrific attack.

Caiman del Barrio
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Jan 9 2015 16:11

Well apparently 2 Libcom posters (and counting) believe that Islamism is the greatest threat to mankind. That's fine, there's a hashtag for your white supremacist crocodile tears: #jesuisungrossconnard

Or maybe the admin could get rid of the fucking bullshit down votes.

sihhi
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Jan 9 2015 16:12

I think there are misconceptions about Die Sturmer.
It was much, much closer to NSDAP than Charlie Hebdo is to the PS or the French elite.

(Its eventual millionaire owner) Streicher was an NSDAP member from the very start took part in a militarist coup attempt, was covered in blood before the paper even was launched, As a middle-class officer he helped financed the NSDAP when it was in trouble in the 1920s.

When the Nazis took over in 1933, there were repeated accusations of his having sexually tortured political prisoners within his power when he was a high up official in Bavaria a Nazi heartland.

Especially in the critical years the printed articles in Die Sturmer feature outright lies and malicious misrepresentation connected to the Reichstag bombing, the Jewish boycott of Germany, Jewish shops selling poor quality produce to Germans.

The satirical smutty anti-Jewish cartoons did not induce the triumph of Nazism. Anti-semitism was barely mentioned in essay competitions amongst university students about 'why I became a Nazi' in the 1930s. There's reasons beyond the cartoons to attack Die Sturmer.

Jef will know this better than me but Charlie Hebdo is not like what Die Sturmer was. It's an imperfect liberal (but still liberal) paper. It does do smut against plenty of religions. It's target is basically the 'cons' of France - people who vote for De Gaulle for security, people who didn't care about French trade with militarist Chile, people who idolise the Pope and catholic schools, people who say French corruption isn't that bad because we're not a third world country, people who thought the Jyllands Posten caricatures from 2005 shouldn't be republished, people who vote FN, people who are opposed to immigrants solely on the grounds they will populate France just for (that's the target of that ugly cover above about the allocation de famille dispute), people who saw the demonstrations in the Arab world as an inconvenience to their holidays in the Magreb

- a liberal view of the world, but not a racist or fascist one.

On international affairs it's particularly weak because it is so France-focused, it has nothing much to offer on say Egypt apart from Islamists who demonstrate against the military will die just the same when they get shot. It doesn't have a clue about any step forward - so it's satire is sort of stating the obvious with puns - Egyptian bearded Islamist or Egyptian paramilitary (barbe or barbeuse ha ha)

But it doesn't channel money to any political party has journalists of different persuasions who write/draw for it - including the psychologist and economist who were shot dead. It doesn't support the PS or UMP and is very anti-FN accusing the main parties of selling out to them.

If you really want to put a tag on it, it's as racist as maybe less

It does a lot of gallows humour always has done. This was the cover of an early issue when five anarchists in Spain were executed.

It's laughing at the dead anarchist aswell as laughing at his executioners.

So it's not my cup of tea but it's not in any meaningful sense like Die Sturmer. It doesn't print purposeful falsehoods about people, it doesn't channel money into fascists.

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Jan 9 2015 16:19

I think it's a natural reaction for people confronted with the media blaring that CH were not only fearless martyrs to free speech but cultural heroes representing the brightest and best of Western liberal civilization to respond with - "Well, actually...".

A natural reaction, but under the circumstances a political trap. Rightly or wrongly people have a natural aversion to people speaking ill of the dead, particularly when they've just been brutally murdered. And as much as you say "I'm not justifying it, but..." people hear that as "Actually I am kinda justifying it a bit...". Regardless of how legitimate your objection is.

So I think the important bit is to focus on the relevant principle - that creating a de-individualised, amalgamated Muslim "them", and assigning the presumption of collective guilt for salafist-jihadist atrocities to anyone who doesn't "prove" their innocence by loudly denouncing extremism to a level that satisfies the right wing media (an impossible task) - is destructive of the basic social solidarity needed for a shared society.

As for this sorta thing

The Daily Hate Mail wringing its hands about a "War on Freedom" in a non-ironic way, is beyond all parody.

But the theme of defending the liberal value of "Liberty" against Islamist terror, demands a political response. Irritatingly, this morning's "Thought for the Day" brought some Reverend's reflections that were uncomfortably close to my own, albeit from liberal, Christian pov (1:48 on the iplayer). That is, that Liberty is only one of the full Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité triad. Fraternity is a bit of an archaic (and needlessly masculine) form for what is nowadays better termed solidarity. The common ground between the jihadists and the islamophobic Right's response is that they are both engaged in a "War on Solidarity". Both want to see society polarised and their own target constituencies rallied behind their parallel contentions that Muslims and non-Muslims cannot live side by side in peace.

So essentially I propose as rebuttal to the "defence of liberty" theme, that defence of liberty needs to be combined with a defence of equality and fraternity/solidarity. And that, amongst other things, does mean that claiming that "anyone offended by this picture I drew of Muhammed as a dog fucking a pig - look I drew your Ma's face on the pig, whaddya think of that? eh? eh? - is an enemy of Western civilisation and probably a terrorist sympathiser" is out of order.

Caiman del Barrio
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Jan 9 2015 16:22

Not being an expert or anything, but the fact that they're hostile to the FN really says very little in the broader context. In the UK, the conventional right wing press (eg The Telegraph) have launched open house on Ukip, since they're a major threat to the Tories, who they're historically alligned with. However, in the grand scheme of things, the Telegraph/Tory axis probably does even more damage to immigrants' material conditions than Farage, precisely cos they're able to exculpate themselves of extremism/racism by negative association.

The discourse moves most significantly when the 'respectable' centrists change, not when new characters enter. This is why I think 99.999% of anti-fascism is totally flawed. Charlie Hebdo - the "left of centre liberals" - even declared 'war' (so to speak) on Islamism. As far as I can see, they represent the institutional racism of French political discourse (if we accept that French republicanism is de facto Islamophobic).

sihhi
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Jan 9 2015 16:25
ocelot wrote:
claiming that "anyone offended by this picture I drew of Muhammed as a dog fucking a pig - look I drew your Ma's face on the pig, whaddya think of that? eh? eh? - is an enemy of Western civilisation and probably a terrorist sympathiser" is out of order.

Not a single leftist has claimed this, but some elsewhere have suggested or hinted liberals shot dead are "racists" with an optional add on of "fascists".

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ocelot
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Jan 9 2015 17:14

OK. So long as we don't fall into the trap of assuming that liberalism and racism are mutually exclusive categories.

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ocelot
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Jan 9 2015 17:51

No doubt we will be told what those values are ad nauseam.

wojtek
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Jan 9 2015 18:34

https://www.academia.edu/5049516/Book_Review_of_Secret_Affairs_Britains_...

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jura
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Jan 9 2015 18:35

I thought as communists we were supposed to attack and ridicule religion? I.e., like we've done for the past 200+ years?