When after the terrorist suicide attacks in Ankara and Istanbul, the same sort of attacks occured in Brussels, by the Netherlands blog arbeidersstemmen.wordpress.com , with the feeble voice I have, I called workers to make their voices heard and to discuss with each other some reflections on the nationalist and 'security' campaigns following the bombs.
In the morning of Tuesday March 22nd two suicide bomb attacks took place at Brussels Airport and an Underground Station, leaving dozens of dead, hundreds of wounded and a population terrified. Both attacks were claimed by the Islamist State with the following message urging the public to demand from Belgian leaders that they withdraw their troops from the Middle East: “Withdraw and you will live in peace."
Campaign no. 1 national unity behind King and Flag
Immediately the media took advantage to call for national unity behind the Belgian flag and the king, calling for a “March against Fear” next Easter Sunday. Obviously they hoped for a same response as after the two terrorist attacks in Paris 2015 where hundreds of thousands hit the streets to let themselves be caught by … French nationalism. But Belgium is a state consisting of three nations divided by language, French, Flemish and a small German region, Brussels in fact the French speaking capital. This division is specially used to divert working class struggles, as it will be used in the near future. Because this appeal to the feeble national symbols of King and Flag didn’t work out as it did in Paris, even not after the Antwerp central railway station in the Flemish part of Belgium was closed ‘for security reasons’, the bourgeois media started another campaign. Finally the March against Fear was transformed into just a meeting on a square, surrounded by armed forces for ‘protection, and even this was finally abandoned ‘for security reasons’. Probably the workers, being confronted for months already by heavily armed cops and soldiers all over Brussels, had already come to the conclusion that the state had not been able to protect them against terrorist attacks. That’s why this element of a deep distrust in the Belgian state that popped up in workers’ consciousness is being used till today, also f.e. in the Netherlands, in a second campaign against the proletariat.
Campaign no. 2 the supposed weakness of the state is used to enforce repression
During this campaigns the public is bombarded with 'revelations' about the 'failure' of the security and intelligence services, f.e. that the terrorist Abdeslam was heard only one hour between his arrest and the attacks in Brussels; ‘after all, he was too weak after his injury during the arrest’. The so-called ’failure' of the security services - for the umpteenth time - is used to continuously expand these services and their powers. In the campaign on their failure workers are invited to think as an agent of the secret police, where later the workers will be the first victims of the "extended" interrogation techniques. By contrast, it is clear that expansion of the (digital) eavesdropping powers, that Guantanamo Bay, that the CIA outsourcing "interrogations" to Mubaraks (Egypt) and Assads (Syria) unscrupulous torturers, the "fight against terrorism" has only produced more terrorists attacks and more .... strengthening of repression.
This strengthening of repression now aims at eliminating all the autonomous workers' struggles in France under the state of emergency of the "socialist" Hollande. The latter shows the real aims of the bourgeoisie in its campaigns on terrorism. The economic crisis that announced itself on the financial markets and the slowing growth - if not collapse - of the BRIC-countries, urges Capital to frontally attack the working class, while at the same time all States fly forward into war.
Hidden background of the terrorist attacks: imperialist war
Remarkably little media report on the relationship between the war in Syria, Iraq and (mostly secretly) in Libya, and the attacks by IS all over the world, which the attacks in Turkey and Brussels make part of. Several European countries - including the Netherlands and Belgium - take the side of the Coalition in these wars. The ‘partners’ in this Coalition act all more or less against Islamist State and each of them for their own imperialist purposes. There is no enthusiastic support of the population, let alone the workers for this war. This applies to all Western countries. Therefore, the US would not send ground troops which would lead heavy losses and could evoke the same reaction from demonstrations and strike movements and the Vietnam war in the seventies.
The bombing of civilian targets is one of the most abhorrent features of the imperialist wars. Massive bombing of the civilian population by air forces had been developed to a true art form, from Guernica to Dresden and from Rotterdam to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By comparison, the self-made bombs of IS are child play. Mind you, I do not compare here - as often happens - as to then take sides, f.e. for the weaker side in imperialist war as Trotskyists, Maoists and some Anarchists do. Instead of several false choices for one of the imperialist sides, proletarian internationalism since 1914 is the choice of the world proletariat against imperialism as a whole, i.e. against all imperialisms, including those of all very national ‘liberation’ movements.
As after the terrorist suicide attacks in Ankara and Istanbul, by the Netherlands blog arbeidersstemmen.wordpress.com , with the feeble voice I have, I called workers to make their voices heard and to discuss with each other on the arguments above:
▪ Start discussions on the attacks with your colleagues, family members, friends, neighbours, fellow students or students.
▪ If the discussion become important, leave work or study leave for a time.
▪ Stop participating in minutes of silence for the victims led by those who brought us the war!
▪ Let's exchange an hour or so for our thoughts about these horrible events.
▪ Workers, we have a world to win!
The internationalist milieu and Brussels
Two smaller and less known groups of the former Communist Left immediately published a leaflet in English language. Such haste in taking position is meritorious when it is not at the expense of clarity. However, apart from some minor weaknesses (1), these two groups have defended working class struggles against efforts to divide the class:
▪ the International Group of the Communist Left (IGCL) has denounced efforts “to regroup and to unite behind the governments and the democratic state, all united, exploiters and exploited, and thus to give up any resistance to capitalism and any opposition to the economic attacks against our living and working conditions”: http://igcl.org/plugins-dist/medias/prive/vignettes/pdf.png
▪ Mouvement Communiste has furthermore pointed out that the misery and discrimination of the muslim population in Brussels forms a breeding ground for terrorism, while at the same time denouncing terrorism as a means of struggle of the bourgeoisie: http://mouvement-communiste.com/documents/MC/Leaflets/TR_Bruxelles%20160322_VFEN.pdf. So the latter group has even been capable to highlighted an important reference in the actual situation in Belgium.
This attitude is contrasted by the silence till now of three other groupings with a presence in Belgium:
• the International Communist Current (ICC) http://en.internationalism.org
• its long time split Internationalist Perspectives (IP) http://internationalist-perspective.org
• a Forum of individuals that more recently split form the ICC, Controversies http://www.leftcommunism.org/?lang=en
May be these three groupings believe it is better not to spend attention to the terrorist attacks because they already have taken position after the terrorist attacks in Paris January 11th at Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket, followed in November 13th 2015 by attacks at Bataclan/Stade de France. These positions can be found on their web sites. At the site of the Internationalist Communist Tendency (ICT) http://www.leftcom.org/en , a group without presence in Belgium, we could neither find a position on the most recent terrorist attack in Belgium.
The Italian (and main) section of Programma Communista ( http://www.partitocomunistainternazionale.org ) has the merit to declare openly they have nothing to add "to what we have already supported, said, written and spread over the deca des", meaning that we have to "work to strengthen the international communist party ". "There is no other way."
The point I would like to make that if revolutionaries consider themselves as elements in the process of consciousness in the proletariat, they should not only hold on to internationalist positions when confronted with new ideological campaigns, but they also should be able to discern what is new in these campaigns and the way the population and specially the working class responds to these campaigns. Of course the feeble internationalist forces may need some time to reflect recent events, campaigns and their impact, a reflection I hope to have contributed with this short blog entry.
(1) See critical footnotes to a blog in Dutch in which I tried to comment events and campaigns for four days: https://arbeidersstemmen.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/terroristische-aanslagen-in-brussel/
To be honest, I don't think
To be honest, I don't think that tiny left communist groups making statements about this or that bombing makes the slightest bit of difference. I doubt that these statements are distributed to the masses of workers, and I'd imagine that it's just the same few people reading them as usually do, who know what they are going to say anyway.
Certainly some groups didn't make a statement on the Brussels bombings. I don't think any of them made a statement on the Ankara bombings either, over the last six months Ankara has had the highest death toll from terrorism of any city in the world. Why then should they issue a statement on this one?
Thank you for showing up at
Thank you for showing up at Libcom and sharing your thoughts.
I believe sharing our thoughts from a proletarian perspective actually makes a difference, even if individuals do so.
That’s what I have appealed for, with the modest means of a blog and small scale distribution of a leaflet, aiming at ‘Dutch’ and immigrant workers in the Netherlands after the bombings in Turkey, at places I was well aware that could be the target of a next terrorist attack. Attacks that took place one day later in Brussels. Attacks that undoubtedly will take place in the Netherlands in a near future.
I have no idea if the two groups that published leaflets after the bombings in Brussels you seems to address to, have been able to distribute their leaflets on a large scale. You seem to believe this is necessary. But nobody can do more than what is in his or her capacities. An important part of these capacities, for each as an individual and as a group, is motivation, that can only develop in a process of critical interaction between deep feelings of class solidarity and conscious analyses of the relationships of forces between the classes. No ‘democratic-centralist discipline’ can substitute for this motivation.
This is period of growing crisis, repression, ideological campaigns, unfolding wars, with direct and severe consequences for the working class. We are all ravaged between feelings of unity as a class or dispersion between the capitalist divisions of nation, language, religion, culture, profession, industry, employment, kind of labour contract or passport. Class action clearly lags behind. This makes us think in a sphere of doubt if which we should find the freedom to express ourselves and to speak out loud our thoughts.
I don’t think the number of victims of terrorist attacks in ‘our’ respective countries should be a hindrance to this discussion. In this sense: welcome back Devrim!
I think that as bourgeois
I think that as bourgeois economists would put it, everything we do as political organizations has an opportunity cost. If we do one thing, it means that we don't do something else. Of course this means that we have to prioritise. I personally don't think that this form of propaganda is the most effective use of our resources.
Basically, I don't like 'the statement'. I think it's a form that doesn't get beyond our own circles and doesn't generally have anything interesting to say. If I read an article, I want to feel like I got something from it. If I'm going to read a piece on something like this I want to gain insight, and understanding, not just read slogans. 'The statement' is part of the 'French far left' tradition. I just don't think it's a very useful one.
Finally on criticizing groups that don't even have a section in Belgium for not making a statement, why should they. Of course, if it's in your country, or a neighbouring small country in your case, people are talking about it, and we have to address it, though I'd prefer to avoid 'the statement'. Bombs are going off somewhere everyday these days. You can't cover them all.
Devrim wrote: To be honest, I
you are wrong here, at least in the case of mc/kpk. neither leaflet concerning attacks in paris nor concerning attacks in brussels were mentioned "just to say something and publish it on internet". you know us. both were distributed - at manifestations after the attacks and many times on streets and markets in suburbs in ordinary days.
cau from prague!
Hi Guardia, If you tried to
If you tried to give them out in public, it's different then. What was the response like?
Hi Devrim, It isn't clear to
It isn't clear to me what you mean by "statement" and what individuals or groups make 'statements' or what texts contain 'statements'.
I understand neither who criticized groups 'that don't even have a section in Belgium' for not making a statement. I have just noted that the ICT has given no statement, which doesn't mean they should have. The ICT does excellent work and I have translated two text of the ICT into Dutch.
About groups that have a presence I said "may need some time to reflect recent events, campaigns and their impact".
Finally, if you have had enough time, without asking a 'statement', what do you think about the issues raised in several leaflets and texts?
Devrim wrote: Hi Guardia, If
quite good - if i may use this word in such context. more in e-mail.
guadia wrote: Devrim
by all means feel free to reply by e-mail, but I think lots more of us would be interested to know how they were received as well.
While I would agree with Devrim that I don't think it is fair to criticise groups for not making a statement on these events (or any other individual events), I don't think this article was particularly criticising them as such.
And more generally I'm very glad that Fredo wrote this article and publish it here, because I think it's important that we as libertarian/internationalist communists as a collective should try to have at least one article produced between us related to the most pressing current affairs of the day, which of course this was.
In terms of the cost/benefit analysis Devrim talks about, posting an article online "costs" very little in terms of time and money, and can have significant "benefits in terms of attracting potentially large readerships online through search engines and social media.