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On the Paris massacre and the government’s campaigns (Raoul Victor)


The demonstrations in reply to the deadly massacre against the editors of Charlie Hebdo and a kosher hypermarket have gathered almost four million people on January 11, one and a half million of which showed up in Paris. Together they constitute one of the largest gatherings in French history. Four days earlier, on the evening of the Charlie Hebdo killings, the mobilization had started spon­taneously. It has expanded, particularly through social networks via Internet, outside of any State control.

First and foremost this dash has translated the will to come together, to not remain in one’s own corner, powerless in face of this horror. The stakes consisted in expressing a real solidarity with the victims, politically impertinent cartoonists, who embodied what is left of the liberty of expression. It claimed to a stand for the drawing pencil against the Kalashnikov, for humor and free criticism against religious obscurantism, for civilization against barbarism.

The empathy expressed by the slogan “I am Charlie” was often extended to “I am Jewish, cop, Muslim”, as if one wanted to give credit, for a brief moment, to a human community in which all fraternize, united by the rejection of barbarity. Even the ‘forces of order’, who less than three months earlier had been taunted for having provoked the death of a young ecologist protesting against the construction of a barrage, [1] appeared as heroes who risk their lives in order to save the community from ‘terrorism’.

In reply, the government has rapidly taken the initiative for a gigantic national mobilization that would canalize every propensity to act within the limits of a ‘sacred union’ behind the representat­ives of the established ‘democratic’ order. The French president Hollande himself announced that he would take part in a large demonstration, affirming the unity of the nation in defense of the “val­ues of the Republic”, of “democracy against terrorism and barbarity”. About forty representatives of other governments were invited and took part.

On January 11, one witnessed the absurd and sad spectacle of a demonstration of revolt against barbaric acts, but one that had been organized and directed by the political managers themselves re­sponsible for the social system that engenders this barbarity on a daily basis.

The savagery that has manifested itself in the murderous attacks against Charlie Hebdo in the name of a radical Islamism is part of the savagery sewn by the great powers and the local ones that confront each other in Syria, in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, in Africa, in Ukraine... It is the great powers, among which France, that produce, sell and provide the weapons serving to saw ter­ror within the civil populations and by which soldiers kill each other mutually on all sides of the fronts. They are the same who foment and utilize local antagonisms in order to enlarge or preserve their respective zones of influence. Radical Islamism was encouraged and utilized by the USA since the end of the 1970s in the war in Afghanistan, to counter the country’s invasion by the USSR. Ever since, it has been an instrument of recruitment utilized, in an incalculable number of ways, by the local governments and by the great powers. In Syria, for instance, where a horrible war of self-de­struction has already provoked 200,000 deaths and the displacement of whole populations in terrible conditions, France has supported radical Jihadist groups against the regime of Bashir El Assad.

With a likewise cynicism they pretend to be the guarantors of ‘democratic liberties’ and ‘human rights’. It was a very democratic French government that, in 1970, banned the ancestor of the afore­mentioned Charlie Hebdo, Hara-Kiri Hebdo, for having ridiculed the death of Charles De Gaulle. Charlie Hebdo had, in the first place, been a reply to this denial of liberty. The very democratic Spanish government, whose leader Mariano Rajoy paraded together with François Hollande at the Paris rally, has just adopted an ensemble of laws that criminalize and punish virtually every concrete attempt to manifest one’s opposition to the established order, to a degree unprecedented since general Franco. The dominant classes only support ‘democratic liberties’ as long as they permit them to rule by encapsulating social life with more or less flexibility in the straightjacket of their system. But as soon as they feel threatened themselves, or simply have fear, as has surely been the case for certain sectors in Spain since the uncontrollable mobilizations of the Indignados, they do not hesitate to suppress or go around them, and take recourse to violence and brutal repression.

The French government has skilfully succeeded in transforming what should have been a mobil­ization against the social system that engenders the wars and misery – of which the Paris massacre has only been one product, just like the massacres against the population in Nigeria that occurred at the same time – in a demonstration of a ‘Sacred Union’ behind the State that manages and protects this system.

By doing so, the government primarily pursues two objectives. The first is the preparation of ‘public opinion’ for an intensification of the military interventions of France. Three days after the demonstrations of January 11, François Hollande had himself filmed on the aircraft carrier ‘Charles De Gaulle’, on its way to the Middle East to take part in the combat against the ‘Islamic State’, as­sisting at the taking off of a series of military aircraft, chanting the Marseillaise with the navy sol­diers and announcing the suspension of the reduction of military expenses previously envisaged. In French parliament the deputies have also broken into the national anthem as an expression of their ‘Sacred Union’, a term first used by the very same assembly at the outset of the First world butchery in August 1914.

The government’s second objective is to reinforce the State’s police control over the population. Already for quite a long time the French State exercises a surveillance of and a control over the Ji­hadist networks that is reputedly efficient. Many observers remain intrigued by the fact that Ji­hadists so well known to the French secret services could have committed this deadly assault. But, bey­ond this aspect and under the pretext thereof, the government puts in place an important reinforce­ment of means of surveillance and control of the whole population. Certain deputies even speak about the necessity of a ‘Patriot Act’ in French style, referring to the “anti-terrorist” law signed by George W. Bush in the wake of the attacks against the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in 2001. Among others this law permits the American State to detain every person suspected of a terrorist project without limitation and without indictment, in the name of defending “democracy”, or to have access to all digital data of the citizens without prior authorization and without informing them.

When it comes to governing a country in which unemployment has become massive and keeps growing, particularly amongst the youth, in which the employment and working conditions are de­grading for decades, without any real perspective of amelioration, in which a new train of economic measures is shortly to be put in place [2] in order to enhance the profitability and the exploitation of labor – in short, in a country in which the reasons for revolt do not cease to multiply, it is quite nat­ural that those responsible for the State equip themselves with the juridical, technical [3] and poli­cing means to discourage and repress every real attempt of putting the dominant social order into question.

For thousands of years the dominant classes have always known to utilize the feeling of insecur­ity of the populations, if not to stimulate it, in order to justify and strengthen the State power that defends and guarantees the ruling order to their advantage. Insecurity and fear often have the tend­ency to throw the population into the arms of what may secure it, the ‘forces of peace’; the ‘forces of order’; the State that is supposed to represent the community. Today “terrorism”, by a magisterial and omnipresent operation of propaganda, offers an appropriate (and habitual) terrain for this kind of manipulations and totalitarian control of a supposedly democratic society. The extension of the concept of ‘terrorism’ to every form of opposition against that system that surpasses the framework of strict “republican legality” will soon serve as an instrument for the justification of repression.

Moreover the French State benefits from a reality that it has sown and cultivated for a very long time: the division between migrant workers, or workers ‘originating from immigration’, on the one side and French workers on the other. This is not a new policy. In all countries importing work force, the capitalist class has meticulously practiced the old principle of ‘divide and rule’ since the beginning of capitalism. Like in the England of the XIX. Century, in which the Irish workers were over-exploited and detested by the English workers who saw them as disloyal competitors.

Today this “communitarian” division is exacerbated by the economic crisis and unemployment that sharpen competition between the workers for ever rarer jobs. For reasons related to its co­lonial past, a part of the immigrant workers, or of the workers originating from immigration in France, is of Islamic religion. Religion, this “lament of the beset creature”, this “temper of a heartless world”, and this “spirit of spiritless conditions”, as Marx had said, has served and is still serving as a refuge for many workers who are regularly being treated as “dirty Arab”, and who know how diffi­cult it is to obtain a housing or a job when you are called Mustapha or Mohammed. Against this background of misery, that French capitalist society reproduces on a daily basis, semi-suicidal tend­encies towards ‘Jihadism’ can develop, in particular amongst the youth.

The recent killings committed at the outcry of “Allah Akbar” have revived anti-Muslim senti­ments with a part of the population. The number of attacks against Muslim persons and mosques has largely increased since. The ‘communitarian’ divisions are a deadly poison for the workers and pen­nies from heaven for the governments, who find a powerful means to bar the unification of the sole force capable of putting their power into question: the union of all exploited, of the immense major­ity of the population beyond ethnic and national divisions.

It is not by chanting the national anthem, as was done during the demonstrations of January 11, with the managers responsible for this mortifying and freedom killing society, that one puts an end to ‘terrorism’ neither to the barbarity it is part and parcel of. Contrary to the numerous illusions that traversed these demonstrations, it will be necessary to unite in order to achieve the unification of a veritable human community – not with the dominant classes and their politicians, but against them and against their inhuman logic. This is more difficult. But it is the only way.


Raoul Victor, January 29, 2015.

Translated by: Jac. Johanson, February 6, 2015.


[1In the course of a demonstration at the project site at Sivens, in the south-west of France, the 21 years old Rémi Fraisse was killed by a grenade, during a confrontation between anti-riot police and a group of demonstrators.

[2The Macron law.

[3In particular by a stricter surveillance of the Internet.