After the Paris Attack: Socialists must Join Hands with Muslim People Against Imperialism and Racism!

Reformist and Centrist Forces try to derail the Workers Movement by Failing to Stand up for Solidarity with the Muslims and Against Imperialist War-Mongering!

By Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 17.1.2015, www.thecommunists.net

 

The ruling class in France and the whole EU are attempting to utilize the terrorist attack against the Charlie Hebdo office as a kind of European 9/11. [1] This attack serves as a justification for a hysterical media campaign (“Islamists terrorists are planning attacks everywhere”) and for the mobilization of the army to increase domestic repression. It also serves as justification for the extension of France’s and the EU’s war in the Middle East and Africa. [2] It serves also as a justification to increase surveillance and intimidation of Muslim migrants in France and the EU. [3]

 

A new polarization inside the workers movement in the imperialist countries

 

The Paris attack and the imperialist offensive following it opened up a new phase in French and European politics. It provoked a counter-revolutionary offensive in France and initiated, or let us better say deepened, a massive polarization amongst the popular masses in the imperialist countries. This polarization revolves around the attitude towards the migrants from Muslim countries. In Germany a right-wing racist movement called PEGIDA has successfully been mobilizing thousands of people for several months.

On the other hand, this reactionary offensive also leads to an important politicization amongst Muslim migrants and also amongst progressive sectors of non-Muslim working class and youth. Many Muslim people refuse to be intimidated and want to resist the intensifying oppression. But a significant minority amongst the non-Muslim working class and youth also shares this democratic position and want to be in solidarity with their Muslim brothers and sisters.

The Paris attack has deepened an already ongoing polarization inside the workers movement and draws a demarcation line between those who consistently fight against the racist Islamophobia and the imperialist wars, those who support this reactionary offensive and those who waver between these two positions.

In the current situation this polarization revolves around the following issues:

1) Should socialists stand in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, defend it in the name of “freedom of expression” or even support the “Je Suis Charlie” campaign? [4]

2) Should socialists fight against the current US/EU war in Iraq and other countries or not? [5]

3) Should socialists rally for the defense of Muslims? Should such solidarity be mainly solidarity FOR or also jointly WITH Muslim migrants? [6]

 

Social-Imperialists

 

Those who support the “Je Suis Charlie” campaign, those who directly or indirectly support the imperialist war in the Middle East and those who don’t rally for the defense of the Muslim migrants – these forces Marxists refer to as social-imperialists. While the social-imperialists proclaim to stand for socialism, democracy and justice, they in fact opportunistically adapt to the imperialist EU and their national governments.

We have already shown in other documents that the French “Communist” Party (PCF) and the whole Party of the European Left (which includes the Linkspartei in Germany and SYRIZA in Greece) completely identify with the reactionary “Je Suis Charlie” campaign. The PCF supported the demonstrations on 11 January for “l'unité nationale“ (“national unity”) which the social democratic Hollande government initiated. It even failed to vote in parliament on 13 January against the extension of France’s war in Iraq. The PCF also supports the ban of hijab and burka for Muslim women. Clearly these forces are enemies of the working class and of the oppressed to achieve liberation.

 

Centrists

 

Those who do not openly endorse the “Je Suis Charlie” campaign but who fail to oppose it, those who whitewash the reactionary Charlie Hebdo journal and deny its racist character, those who oppose the imperialist war in words but fail to call for the defense of the resistance which is fighting against the imperialist attackers, those who call for solidarity with the Muslim people in words but don’t work to build connections with them and to organize joint resistance against Islamophobia – those forces are centrists. As we have already drawn attention to, the two biggest centrist organizations in France – the NPA and the LO – clearly fall into this category.

Also smaller, allegedly more orthodox groups like the CoReP tendency dare to characterize the racist Charlie Hebdo journal as “the incarnation of anti-racism, anti-clericalism and anti-militarism.” They even boast that the French CoReP journal incorporated several cartoons from Charlie Hebdo a short while ago. [7]

While the L’Etincelle (The Spark) faction in the NPA does not go that far, it also fails to distance itself from this chauvinist magazine. [8]

Another example is the CWI led by Peter Taffee. Its French section, Gauche Revolutionnaire, characterizes Charlie Hebdo as a progressive magazine and even suggests absurdly that it was attacked not because of its reactionary islamophobic cartoons but because of its progressive character!

The attack on Charlie Hebdo and individuals such as Wolinski and Cabu is no random act. For many people these were journalists known for their long-standing commitment. In many different ways they fought intolerance, racism and censorship.[9]

Even more, the CWI – not only in France but also in many other countries – did join the governments-organized pro-imperialist rallies in solidarity with the racist Charlie Hebdo magazine. For example the Austrian CWI section joined the rally in Vienna – which was called by the government, the churches, and the federation of the capitalists as well as the trade union leadership – with their banners in order to express their “solidarity with Charlie Hebdo“! [10]

 

Revolutionary Internationalists

 

As Bolshevik-Communists, the RCIT belongs to the third camp, the camp which stands for revolutionary internationalism, for consistent struggle against imperialist aggression and for the defense of and with the Muslim migrants against oppression. (This has to include self-defense units of Muslim and non-Muslim workers and youth to defend migrant living areas as well as mosques against racist attacks.) In this struggle it is urgent to view the Muslim migrants not only as objects of racist hatemongering but also as subjects of the resistance against it. Such disregard by the left is particularly absurd given the fact that migrants from Muslim countries have played a key role in mass mobilizations in Europe since the early 2000s (anti-war mobilizations, uprisings against police terror, etc.).

As we have stated in our latest theses on the world situation, the RCIT views the new upsurge of chauvinist hatred in Europe, the US, Canada, and Australia against Muslim migrants not as a religious conflict. Or to be precise, it is a religious conflict only in form. In essence it is part of the national oppression of all migrants which again is a function of the imperialist oppression and the super-exploitation of the semi-colonial world. [11] The present US-led war drive in the Middle East and the hatemongering against Muslim migrants in the imperialist heartlands is a practical example of this.

We therefore strive to combine the struggle against Islamophobia with a clear anti-imperialist stand for the defeat of Obama’s crusade, as well as a positive program for equality for migrants (full citizenship rights, right to use their native language, equal wages, open borders, etc.).

Since the Paris attack the Austrian section of the RCIT is undertaking an active campaign on the streets, in schools and at mosques against islamophobic hatemongering and in solidarity with Muslim migrants. Contrary to the image which the bourgeois media spread and according to the whole population which is supposed to be in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, our Austrian comrades make a different experience. Their agitation for the defense of the Muslim migrants and against the pro-imperialist “Je Suis Charlie” campaign meets an enthusiastic response not only amongst most Muslim workers and youth but also among a number of non-Muslim people. It is clear that despite the counter-revolutionary climate which the European governments try to whip up, many Muslims are not intimidated and a significant democratic minority amongst the non-Muslim workers and youth refuses to join the official pro-imperialist campaign.

Armed with such programmatic fundamentals as well as practical experience we look forward to deepen our collaboration with migrants and democratic-minded militant workers and youth. We will combine this with spreading our revolutionary communist perspective. We call on all socialists in France and internationally with a similar approach to engage with us in closer discussions and collaboration.

 

Key Slogans

 

The RCIT considers the following slogans to be crucial for building united fronts in France during the current period:

* No to "l'unité nationale" with the Hollande Government and the Capitalists! Defend the Muslims against racist attacks! For self-defense units of Muslim and non-Muslim workers and youth to defend migrant living areas, schools, and mosques!

* Stop the demonization of Muslims! Down with the Police State! No to the deployment of soldiers on the streets of France!

* Stop the imperialist war of France, the US, and the EU! No attack on Yemen! French troops – Out of the Middle East and Africa!

 

In addition, the RCIT proposes that socialists in France fight for:

* Removing the ban on wearing the hijab or burka! Full Equal Rights for Migrants (equal wages, use of native language in public administration and schools, full voting rights regardless of their passports, etc.)

* "Je ne suis pas Charlie" – We are NOT Charlie! Oppose individual terrorism like the attack on the Charlie Hebdo Office! But no solidarity with the racism of Charlie Hebdo against Muslim People and their Religion! The Workers’ movement should boycott the distribution of Charlie Hebdo – don't transport, don't sell, and don't buy this magazine!

* Defeat the imperialist war offensive! Solidarity with the resistance while giving no political support to their petty-bourgeois Islamist Leaderships!



[1] We attempt to draw attention to the fact that in the hypocritical imperialist media the death of the journalists of Charlie Hebdo receive much more attention and declarations of solidarity than the four Jewish people who were killed by one of the jihadist terrorists. This is all the more disgusting since these people, who were killed in a Jewish supermarket, were completely innocent and not involved in any racist propaganda in contrast to the journalists of Charlie Hebdo. Clearly socialists sharply condemn the murder of these Jewish people which will also give ammunition to the Zionist propaganda which is encouraging Jews around the world to settle in Israel in order to colonize and expel the Palestinean people.

[2] There is a realistic possibility that the French and other imperialist governments will exploit the statement of Nasr al-Ansi, a top commander of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in which he claimed responsibility for the Paris attack, as a pretext for launching war against Yemen. In such a situation, socialists have to rally to the defense of this semi-colonial country and call for the military defeat of the imperialist aggressors.

[3] On our position on the terrorist attack see RCIT: France after the Attacks in Paris: Defend the Muslim People against Imperialist Wars, Chauvinist Hatemongering, and State Repression! 9.1.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/statement-paris-attacks/

[4] We have analyzed the reactionary character of the Charlie Hebdomagazine in our article Michael Pröbsting: The Racist Character of Charlie Hebdo and the pro-imperialist campaign “Je Suis Charlie”. Solidarity with Muslim People instead of Solidarity with Charlie Hebdo! 17.1.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/racist-charlie-hebdo/

[5] See on this Michael Pröbsting: France: “Communist” Party fails to Vote in Parliament against Imperialist War in Iraq! 15.1.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/french-pcf-iraq-war/

On the RCIT’s position of Obama’s crusade in the Middle East see:

RCIT: Defeat Obama’s New Crusade in the Middle East! For an International Mass Movement to Defeat the Offensive of the Great Western Powers! Support the Kurdish Struggle for an Independent State! No to the Harassment of Muslims in Western Countries! 18.9.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/obama-s-new-crusade/

RCIT: Defend Iraq against another Aggression of US Imperialism! Support the Kurdish Right of Self-Determination against IS! Unite the Struggle against the US Attack with the Palestinian Resistance against Israel! 9.8.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/defend-iraq-against-us/

RCIT: Iraq: Defend the Sunni Rebellion against the Maliki Regime and US Imperialism! Down with all Reactionary Religious Sectarianism! For a Workers’ and Peasants’ Republic! 22.6.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/iraq-sunni-rebellion/

Yossi Schwartz: Down With the New Imperialist Attack on Iraq and Syria! The Renewal of the Imperialist War and the Tasks of the Workers Movement, 2.10.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/us-war-in-iraq-and-syria/

[6] See on this RCIT: Perspectives for the Class Struggle in Light of the Deepening Crisis in the Imperialist World Economy and Politics. Theses on Recent Major Developments in the World Situation and Perspectives Ahead (January 2015), 11 January 2015, theses 51-62, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-situation-january-2015/

[7] Groupe marxiste internationaliste: Le Pen, Sarkozy, Hollande, Valls… vos gueules ! Un attentat fondamentaliste contre un journal humoristique et anticlérical, 7.1.2015, http://groupemarxiste.info/?p=1367. The GMI is the French section of the CoReP tendency. (our translation into English)

[8] See L’Etincelle: France: Now, “We all are Charlie” to defend our rights and our workers’ lives against their so-called “national unity”! 17.1.2015, http://www.marxistrevival.com/?p=625

[9] Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France): France: Millions march for solidarity (Statement distributed by Gauche Revolutionnaire on weekend demonstrations throughout France), 12.1.2015, http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/7036

[10] SLP: Solidarität statt nationaler Schulterschluss, 15.1.2015, http://www.slp.at/artikel/solidarit%C3%A4t-statt-nationaler-schulterschluss-6298. In this article the Austrian CWI group also published a photo showing their banner at this rally.

[11] See Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South, pp. 179-188; Michael Pröbsting: Marxismus, Migration und revolutionäre Integration (2010); in: Revolutionären Kommunismus, Nr. 7, http://www.thecommunists.net/publications/werk-7. A summary of this study in English-language: Michael Pröbsting: Marxism, Migration and revolutionary Integration, in: Revolutionary Communism, No. 1, http://www.thecommunists.net/oppressed/revolutionary-integration/

Free Homepage Translation