YOUR WARS, OUR DEAD
The following “fragments” were written by NPA activist Julien Salingue, expanding on his slogan above. This is a translation for English speaking activists who are interested. The translator hopes Julien won’t mind. / J’espere que ca ne genera pas Julien que je l’ai traduit por si des militants anglophones s’y interessent.
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They were our people who died last night.
On the terrace of a restaurant, in a bar, in the street, in a concert hall.
Dead because the killers decided to hit the middle of Paris and shoot into the crowd, with the aim of creating as many victims as possible.
11:30am. Sarkozy has just declared: “We are at war”.
For once I agree with him. They are at war.
You are at war, you the Sarkozys, Hollandes, Valls, Camerons, Netanyahus and Obamas. You are at war, you and your politician allies, you and your friends the bosses of multinational corporations.
And you dragged us into it without ever asking our opinion.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Syria… There weren’t always many of us on the protests. We didn’t succeed enough in convincing people that these military expeditions only brought more instability, more violence, more tragedy.
Over there, and over here.
Because the war didn’t start last night. And it didn’t start in January with the massacres at Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher. It started long before.
In January I wrote the following:
“One cause of the shock that large sections of the population are now in, including within activist circles, is the (re-)discovery of this truth: yes, France is at war. A war which doesn’t always speak its name, a war little discussed in the assemblies, in the media or generally in public, a war against enemies that aren’t always clearly identified, an asymmetrical war, but a war all the same. The recent massacres were a brutal reminder of this to anyone who didn’t know, who refused to see, or who had forgotten: France is at war, war brings deaths, and the deaths aren’t only of the other side.
Against whom is France at war? Depending on who says and when, it’s against “international terrorism”, against “jihadism”, against “fundamentalist barbarism”, etc. This article’s job isn’t to discuss these imprecise denominations, the abusive generalisations they imply or the paradoxes they underlie – shifting alliances, support for regimes whose policies reinforce the development of “jihadist” tendencies, participation in wars that reinforce these tendencies, etc. It is rather to underline that France has, in reality, followed in the footsteps of George W Bush’s United States from September 2001 onwards (war in Afghanistan, “anti-terrorist” legislation), taken and made its own without ever saying so the rhetoric and policies of the “clash of civilisations”.
For almost 14 years France has been at war without ever accepting the fact.
There’s no reason to change a single line of that extract. And to say so is not to disrespect the victims or those close to them.
The emotion, the indignation and the pain are of course legitimate. And the killers who have wrecked hundreds, thousands of lives last night are inexcusable.
12 noon. Isis has just claimed responsibility. Of course. They too are at war.
According to AFP, quoting a witness at the Bataclan concert hall, one of the attackers shouted, “It’s Hollande’s fault, it’s your president’s fault, he shouldn’t have intervened in Syria.”
We can close our eyes, block our eyes and breath in the fumes of the depoliticising rhetoric of “blind terrorism” – inexplicable, of course.
But the Paris killers aren’t some irresponsible idiots, “maniacs” or the dupes of whichever secret service. We’ll find out more in the hours and days ahead, but no doubt they will have a profile and a discourse similar to the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly, of whom I wrote in January:
The killers have a discourse (look at their interviews and videos, in which they talk of Syria, of Iraq, of offenses committed against Muslims in France and in the world, etc), a body of theory (as described notably in an article published by Mediapart), organisational references (Isis, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula).
They think, rationally, that they are at war with a certain France, and they consider themselves, rationally, in a situation of legitimate defense. It is shown in the posthumous video by Coulibaly, when he says: “You attack the Caliphate, you attack the Islamic State, and we attack you. You can’t just attack and get nothing in return.”
Yes, Isis does politics. They are killers, but they do politics.
And last night they struck hard, very hard.
Blindly? Yes, and no.
Yes, because they went for people who are not directly implicated in this war, people whose only crime was to be in the wrong place, people who could have been somewhere else and would still be among us today.
No, because striking in this way sends a message: “Your country is at war with us, and as long as that war lasts none of you will be safe”.
They are doing politics. It’s despicable, but it is politics.
We live in a world at war. Russia, France and the US are bombing Syria. Saudi Arabia is bombing Yemen. French “operations” continue in Mali. Obama has announced that his troops won’t leave Afghanistan.
According to UNHCR there have never been as many refugees and displaced people in the world as there are today, and there is no reason for things to get better.
The count so far is 128 deaths. 128 deaths too many.
The 13 November 2015, 128 deaths.
128 is a lot. It’s horrifying.
It’s almost as much as the average day in Syria since March 2011.
Yes, almost as much as the average day: there have been 250,000 deaths since March 2011, which works out at almost 4,500 a month, which is nearly 150 a day.
A word to the next person who tells us they don’t understand why Syrians are fleeing to Europe: for more than four and a half years, it’s been 13 November every day in Syria. And it’s your new ally Assad who is most responsible, having savagely repressed a then-peaceful uprising.
We live in a world at war. And for some, that’s good business.
2015 has been a record year for French arms sales.
France is happy selling its war machines to Egypt. France is happy selling its war machines to Saudi Arabia. France is happy selling its war machines to UAE.
But France is stunned, indignant, outraged to be targeted itself.
Hypocrisy. Cowardice. Lies.
The dogs are off the leash, foaming at the mouth.
Secretary general of the Tory “Republicans” party Laurent Wauquiez tweeted: “I demand an internment camp for the 4,000 people monitored for terrorism”
Republicans MP Lionel Luca tweeted: “Tonight Paris is Beirut. Make sense in a country that’s turning into Lebanon. We will pay dearly for our cowardice towards communitarianism.”
Philippe de Villiers, leader of the far right party Movement for France, tweeted: “Look where excessive tolerance [laxisme] and the mosque-isation of France has brought us.”
We must hold out.
Back to January :
Any response of war, clampdown, stigmatisation, any response that is blind to the economic, political and social realities of France in 2015, is not only doomed to fail but takes us another step closer to the massacres of tomorrow.
And here we are. Tomorrow came last night.
1pm. Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, general secretary of Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party, announces that “France at war has just gone through a test of war.”
They say and they repeat that France is at war. But when they say that, it’s to say “we are at war”. It’s a “we” in which they want to implicate us all.
No. 14 years of your war have brought to all the four corners of the world nothing but more and more violence, tragedies, and new wars.
If Iraq had not been razed, Isis would not exist.
The poet Paul Valery said that, “War is a massacre of people who don’t know each other, for the benefit of people who do know each other but don’t massacre each other.”
He was right. It’s still the same people who are raising a glass.
And if we want all that to stop, as soon as the shock has passed we will have to do everything to stop this race towards generalised barbarism.
It is not too late. There is still time to go for something different. Radically different.
By refusing the injunction “you’re either with us or with the terrorists”.
By refusing the calls for unity with the executioners and warmongers who each day are building a more and more barbarous world.
By refusing their world built on exploitation, theft, violence, injustice, inequality, and creating competition between those who ought to unite.
Fighting for another world is not only possible, but more necessary than ever.
Hold the line and don’t concede any ground under the pression of emotion and shock.
You could accuse me of fantasising [angelisme]. But my fantasies never killed anyone. Unlike your “pragmatism”.
It is more than ever time to “resist the irresistible”.
So no, Cambadelis. No, Sarkozy. No, Hollande. “We” are not at war.
This is not my war, it is not our war. It is your war.
And once again they are our dead. Like in Madrid in 2004, like in London in 2005, like in Egypt two weeks ago and like in Beirut this week.
And everywhere that you sow terror.
Your wars, our dead.
Vos guerres, nos morts.
Vos guerres, no more.
YOUR WARS, OUR DEAD