antifa notes (march 2, 2015) : Reclaim Australia (etc.)

To celebrate my return to Facebook I thought I may as well post some further notes on the Reclaim Australia rally along with a handful of other bits + pieces.

Reclaim Australia

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1)

Thus far, there are counter-rallies and actions being organised to oppose ‘Reclaim Australia’ (RA) in Adelaide, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth and Sydney. Some heart may be taken from the action in Newcastle, England on the weekend, which witnessed a large number of Novocastrians unite to express condemnation of the first PEGIDA rally to be held on English soil. (See : Britain’s first PEGIDA anti-Islamisation demonstration dwarfed by 2,000 counter-protesters in Newcastle, ABC, March 1, 2015.) Among those joining PEGIDA were the National Front, Golden Dawn and assorted other radical right-wing elements. Similar groups will be joining the RA rallies in Australia.

2)

In Perth, the RA rally is scheduled to take place at Solidarity Park, a traditional rallying point for unions. Unions WA have been contacted to ascertain their views on the subject of anti-Muslim prejudice, racism and xenophobia. More news on this as it comes to hand.

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3)

As noted previously, RA propagandist Shermon Burgess has some interesting friends, among them a neo-Nazi groupuscule called ‘Nationalist Republican Guard’ (NRG — several members in photo above). Burgess gives NRG props for their assistance in the production of a number of YouTube vids promoting the RA; for their part, NRG acknowledges the inspiration and political leadership of one Adolf Hitler. Hurr hurr.

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Australia First Party

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4) As well as participating in RA, AFP held an anti-Muslim meeting in Penrith on February 28. Originally booked at a CWA building, the booking was cancelled after the nature of the event became clear to the Association: Australia First Party 0 /// Country Women’s Association NSW 1. The party attracts a range of oddball supporters, ranging from frothing-at-the-mouth anti-Semites to old skool labourists. The Stormfront poster and AFP supporter above extols the virtues of US neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer’s online campaign of harassment ‘Operation: Filthy Jew Bitch’ (directed at UK MP Luciana Berger) and ‘Operation: Filthy Chink Rat’ (directed at Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane). The site’s campaign against Australian Muslim Mariam Veiszadeh brought it a good deal moar attention (as intended) but also very many expressions of support for Veiszadeh via the Twitter hashtag #IStandWithMariam (see : I will not be silenced: Australian Muslim fights Twitter ‘troll army’, Hilary Whiteman, CNN, February 28, 2015).

5) AFP is fielding a handful of candidates in the NSW state election (March 28): Alex Norwick in Wyong, Tania Rollinson in Hawkesbury and Victor Waterson (below, far right) in Penrith. Perhaps the main point of interest will be in Penrith, where the party is attempting to ride the recent wave of local anti-Muslim agitation.

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Squadron 88

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6) Sydney-based neo-Nazis Squadron 88 (S88) have been stuffing letterboxes with poorly-composed racist tracts again, this time under the guise of side-project ‘Cultural Awareness’. Ho hum. The group has had a tempestuous relationship with their comrades in the AFP as this dummy spit by one member on Stormfront would suggest, accusing AFP of accusing the leader of S88 of being a police informant. Which way veteran neo-Nazi Ross ‘The Skull’ May (the group’s mascot) will jump is an interesting question.

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Right Wing Resistance New Zealand

RWRNZ is Kyle ‘The Mormon’ Chapman’s latest vanity project. Since its establishment in 2009 the neo-Nazi group has been doing all the things you’d expect of such a group but its latest venture is bizarre, even for Chapman. Apparently, RWRNZ is intending to send some of its members to South Africa to receive (para-)military training(!):

For the serious of heart [...] [w[]e are now recruiting those willing to train in South Africa. This is a country hostile toward whites. But it is also w[h]ere our movement has the most trained war veterans and the potential to train you to military standards. It is not very safe, so internet warriors need not apply. For those still in the dream that everything is ok, just look on and ignore this post. For those who are serious about this movement, and see that we are destined to fight one day. Then we offer you the chance to learn for [sic] great soldiers. You would have to pay your own way, [w]e can set up links and secured [sic]communications for those who are willing. Don[']t waste my time though, and don’t waste these guy[']s time. The fact we are doing this on FB is risky, but it is also a sign that in times of need, higher risk is taken.

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Fortunately for them, RWRNZ is a neo-Nazi, Whites-only project, so unlikely to be accorded ‘terrorist’ status.

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Good Propaganda, Bad Propaganda

facebookswastika

I got kicked off Facebook for sharing the image above, originally published on the Islamophobia Register Facebook page, of vandalism at a mosque in Perth. See : White supremacist graffiti sprayed on Perth mosque in third attack in eight months, Nicolas Perpitch, ABC, February 16, 2015 | “In recent weeks vandals have attempted to petrol bomb Perth’s Southern River mosque, dumped a pig’s head at the front of the building and scrawled graffiti on its walls. Muslim leaders say the attacks highlight the need for an honest discussion about Islam.” (ABC, February 17, 2015) | Extremists target mosque, Grant Taylor, The West Australian, February 17, 2015.

I spied this poster in Northcote, liked it, and thought I may as well share it with the world.

deathtocapitalism

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Melbourne Croatia/Knights ultras still being d*ckheads

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A segment of Melbourne Knights (Croatia) fans are still giving props to Nazism (photos located next to Melbourne Knights stadium in Somers Street, Sunshine North). Note that in 2007 the Melbourne Croatia Social Club hosted the annual Ian Stuart Donaldson memorial gig, organised by local neo-Nazi groups Blood & Honour (Australia) and the (Southern Cross) Hammerskins. The subject of fascist Croatian dictator Ante Pavelić and his veneration by segments of the local Croatian community remains a bone of contention in Melbourne (and elsewhere).

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Reclaim Australia : What do they want, anyway?

A few days ago, an anonymous party published a website titled ‘Reclaim Australia’. The site has published what is at this stage the most complete statement of demands the rally organisers have managed to compile. Below is my response.

2015-02-19 12_34_55-Reclaim Australia - Home

This peaceful rally is part of the national Reclaim Australia [r]ally and is being used to show the people of Australia we have had enough of minorities not fitting in and trying to change our Australian cultural identity.

Whether or not the Reclaim Australia rallies are peaceful affairs remains to be seen. It’s certainly curious that the author fails to specify which ‘minorities’ s/he believes are failing to ‘fit in’, what ‘fitting in’ means for these groups or what characterises the ‘Australian cultural identity’ – and how and why it should be eternally preserved. Of course, the condemnation of the failure of unspecified minorities to conform to some unspecified standard rests upon an implicit assumption: that maintaining an Australian cultural identity means being intolerant of and seeking to police the behaviour of minority populations. In other words, the Reclaim Australia rallies are intended to be a policing action directed at cultural and religious minorities – and one religious minority in particular.

This will be a peaceful rally, [n]eo-Nazi/White [s]upremacist [b]anners/[p]lacards will not be tolerated. This is not a supremacist rally, it will simply be true[-]blue patriotic Aussies standing together to stop the minorities changing our country to suit their needs!

The fact that the author needs to reiterate the claim of peaceful intent – while at the same time acknowledging the likely presence of neo-Nazis and White supremacists at the rallies – is telling. The fact of the matter is that neo-Nazis and White supremacists have flocked to the Reclaim Australia banner, and with very good reason. Along with the organisers, they too regard themselves as battling minorities intent on destroying Australian culture and society, and imagine themselves cast in the heroic role of seeking to impose their own, very special brand of cultural, political and social conformity upon these recalcitrant populations. Beyond a shared belief in the need to ‘save’ Australia from wicked minorities, neo-Nazis and White supremacists are also closely linked to Reclaim Australia via its chief propagandist.

As noted previously, the chief promoter of Reclaim Australia is Shermon Burgess. Burgess (aka ‘The Great Aussie Patriot’) has previously promoted a protest against Islam organised by the neo-Nazi groupuscule ‘Squadron 88′. As ‘Eureka Brigade’, he has covered the song ‘I hate commie scum’ by defunct Melbourne neo-Nazi band Fortress and indicated his enjoyment of neo-Nazi music (ISD Records). His songs have expressed his love for Ralph Cerminara (sometime leader of the Islamophobic Australian Defence League, currently in jail awaiting trial for affray and behaving in an offensive manner) and for killing Muslims and asylum seekers. The Reclaim Australia rallies are also being promoted, with approval from Burgess, by another neo-Nazi groupuscule called ‘Nationalist Republican Guard’. (It’s also worth noting, if only for the lulz, that one of the neo-Nazis promoting Reclaim Australia is Creatard and Combat 18 propagandist ‘Reverend’ Patrick O’Sullivan. Last weekend he attempted to promote the rally at a gig at the Bendigo Hotel in Collingwood. For his troubles, O’Sullivan was told to shoo and is now apparently banned from the venue.)

What we’re about:

1. To stop any enforcing of Sharia law throughout the whole of Australia. To make Sharia [l]aw illegal in every [s]tate and [t]erritory.

The laws which govern Australian society are derived from the British common law. As for Sharia law, while no definition is given by organisers, it generally refers to Islamic jurisprudence. The degree to which religious law can be reconciled with secular law is a matter of some debate. See, for example: Advocates of sharia law should leave, or lose voting and welfare rights: Jacqui Lambie, Jared Owens, The Australian, September 15, 2014; Sharia poses problems, says judge, Geesche Jacobsen, The Sydney Morning Herald, August 24, 2012; Sharia a good fit in some areas, says academic, Leesha McKenny, The Sydney Morning Herald, December 15, 2011. For a more extensive discussion, see : Archana Parashar, Australian Muslims and Family Law: Diversity and Gender Justice, Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol.33, No.5 (2012).

Note that there are already “religious courts in operation in Australia, outside the formal legal process. These courts use ancient religious texts in adjudicating on matters as diverse as divorce, property and business dealings – even the terms relating to a financial loan. They are the beth din, the religious courts of Australia’s Jewish community. The Sydney Beth Din has been operating since 1905, and its decisions are widely respected throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia.” Thus, while their neo-Nazi allies might look forward to the eradication of Australian Jewry, the selective outrage of Reclaim Australia organisers suggests both ignorance and hypocrisy.

2. Keep our traditional values ie. Christmas, Easter, Australia Day, Anzac Day and other beliefs a large number of Australians have grown up with.

Christmas and Easter are religious festivals; Australia Day (aka Invasion/Survival Day) commemorates the formal beginnings of the British conquest of what became known as Australia; ANZAC Day the unsuccessful invasion of Gallipoli by British imperial forces. These dates are not values, obviously, but the author presumably intends for them to substitute for such values: Christianity, colonialism and imperialist war. Leaving aside the question of whether or not such ‘values’ ought to be celebrated (and how and why they should be clumped together in this manner), from what I understand *cough* these annual events are public holidays and likely to remain such for the foreseeable future. In other words, the maintenance of these ‘values’ hardly requires people to assemble on April 4. Finally, it should be noted that Burgess regards Indigenous peoples with contempt.

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3. Keep our rights and freedom of speech.

Uh-huh. Who and what threatens these rights and freedoms? The current government (which Burgess urged others to vote for in order to avoid a Muslim invasion)? One armed with a legislative program designed to strip away rights to privacy, to organise unions and to fight for workers’ rights? Nah: the only peril these folks see is the right of Australians to practise their religion.

4. Halal certification should be banned and made illegal. ([I]f not banned, then control should be handed over to the government so it isn’t a moneymaking scheme for [I]slam).

No reason is given for the desire to render unlawful halal certification; one wonders if protest organisers feel the same about kosher certification: presumably not. In any case, control over food labelling is the responsibility of government. Obviously, if protest organisers have any information they believe to be relevant to these practices, they’re free to forward it to the relevant authorities.

See also : ‘Halal money’ funds terrorism: Jacqui Lambie, Rashida Yosufzai, The Sydney Morning Herald, February 10, 2015; Claims Halal certification fees fund terrorism ‘absolutely wrong’, ABC, November 11, 2014.

5. Introduce pride in the Australian flag and [a]nthem at all levels of schooling.

Leaving aside the question of how and why Australian schoolchildren should be made to feel pride in the Australian flag and anthem, students are already instilled with patriotic virtues: complete with flags, anthems and rallies. The idea that these practices need to be ‘introduced’ merely demonstrates the protest organisers’ distance from reality.

6. Ban the teaching of Islam in government schools.

This demand begs an obvious question: why do protest organisers want Australian schoolchildren to remain ignorant of one of the world’s major religions? If an understanding of Islam and other world religions is an important educational goal – and I for one think it is – then this demand is unfortunate at best and foolish at worst. Insofar as it expresses a desire to remain ignorant, however, the demand is entirely in keeping with the general political perspective of the Reclaim Australia rallies.

7. Ban the [b]urqa or any variant thereof.

The burqa is a form of Islamic dress – ‘any variant thereof’ implies a desire to render Islamic attire for Muslim women unlawful. As well as likely being contrary to Australian and international law (see : Jacqui Lambie’s attempt to ban the burqa could be unconstitutional, say legal experts, Latika Bourke, The Sydney Morning Herald, September 29, 2014), such a demand demonstrates little more than religious prejudice.

8.Ban [female genital mutilation] and introduce mandatory 10 year jail terms for perpetrators and organisers. This includes those who send girls overseas to have [female genital mutilation] carried out outside Australia. Once their jail term has been completed, their citizenship should be cancelled and they [should] be immediately deported back to the country they originated from.

Female genital mutilation is already an illegal practice in Australia, punishment for which is dealt with by the courts, not a flag-waving mob. A genuine desire to eliminate the practice would require supporting existing efforts to eradicate it – something which waving a flag in public and expressing hatred and contempt for Muslims does exactly nothing to assist. See : Female genital mutilation: Australian law, policy and practical challenges for doctors, Ben Mathews, Medical Journal of Australia, Vol.194, No.3 (February 2011).

Two further observations:

1) While the basis of the objection to female genital mutilation (FGM) is unmentioned, it presumably rests on the assumption that the practice is mandated by Islam. This is a highly questionable assumption. Two recent essays by Muslim scholars argue that FGM cannot be reconciled with Islamic teachings.

Muhammad Munir, Dissecting the claims of legitimization for the ritual of female circumcision or female genital mutilation (FGM), International Review of Law, Vol.3, No.2 (2014):

This work analyses the various arguments put forward by the supporters of female genital mutilation (FGM) under Islamic law to determine whether this practice has its roots in Islam, whether it is a customary or cultural tradition, or whether it is a matter of personal preference in different parts of the Muslim world where the practice exists. The findings of this work are that the arguments given in support of FGM are either not reliable, are weak or, do not order Muslims to carry out this practice. Instead, this horrific practice is rooted in customary-cum-cultural tradition or, is a matter of personal preference for some Muslims but cannot be legitimized under Islamic law.

Abdulrahim A. Rouzi, Facts and controversies on female genital mutilation and Islam, The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, Vol.18, No.1 (2013):

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a very ancient traditional and cultural ritual. Strategies and policies have been implemented to abandon this practice. However, despite commendable work, it is still prevalent, mainly in Muslim countries. FGM predates Islam. It is not mentioned in the Qur’an (the verbatim word of God in Islam). Muslim religious authorities agree that all types of mutilation, including FGM, are condemned. ‘Sensitivity’ to cultural traditions that erroneously associate FGM with Islam is misplaced. The principle of ‘do no harm’ , endorsed by Islam, supersedes cultural practices, logically eliminating FGM from receiving any Islamic religious endorsement.

2) The demand is in keeping with the protest organisers’ general ignorance and hatred of Islam. It is not inspired by a desire to eradicate FGM but rather to eliminate Muslims.

9. Stop Centrelink recognising polygamy and only recognise the first marriage for benefits.

Polygamy — the marriage of one individual to multiple partners of the opposite sex — and the obtainment of Centrelink payments on that basis is apparently a matter of critical importance to Australians. How many individuals claim payments on this basis is not specified. Certainly, if a person has information suggesting that another person is fraudulently claiming payments they’re at liberty to alert Centrelink: why a nationwide rally is required in order to achieve this goal remains unexplained, though the reasons xenophobic bigots believe it necessary to parade their hatred and ignorance in public should by now be fairly clear …

In Melbourne, a ‘Rally Against Racism’ — ‘Stand Up To Racist Scapegoating and Islamopbhoic Finger Pointing’ — has been organised to counter the planned ‘Reclaim Australia’ rally:

RALLY AGAINST RACISM – 12 noon Saturday April 4 @ Federation Square (Melbourne)

Polls show 90% of people in Australia think racial prejudice is a problem. The fear of growing Islamophobia and hostility towards refugees and immigrants was shown recently by the popularity of the hash tag #illridewithyou.

In an attempt to ride the wave of prejudice, right-wing groups are attempting to organise a racist rally in Melbourne on April 4. The organizers openly denigrate Muslims and Aboriginal people, with supporters going so far as to say they want to “eradicate Muslims” from Australia.

We want to stop them from spreading their racist ideas on the streets of Melbourne.

Join us at 12 noon (one hour earlier than the racist rally starts) on Saturday April 4 to occupy the space with a peaceful counter-demonstration. The more people who rally against racism, the harder it will be for the racists to propagate their hate!

For txt message updates text “No racism” to 0432 447 036

[Rally Against Racism on Facebook]

See also : Reclaim Australia AKA “Muslims Out!” (February 10, 2015) | Reclaim Australia & The Great Aussie Patriot : Shermon Burgess (February 2, 2015).

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Continuity and Change in Australian Racism (Ghassan Hage)

Journal of Intercultural Studies
Volume 35, Number 3 (2014)

In Australia, while there is no doubt that we have seen newly ethnicised and/or racialised groups arriving and new communities forming, what is new and what is old about the racisms that mar the Australian social landscape is not clear. And it is definitely worth thinking about.

Let me begin by saying that this not one of those ‘Is Australia Racist?’ questions. I have never found this question useful to ask let alone answer. I am often left wondering: how is one supposed to deal with a question like this? And what does it mean to answer it by a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. Is one supposed to approach it empirically? If so, and even if we optimistically assume that we can have decent statistics about the number of people who are racists, what percentage of Australians need to be racist for ‘Australia’ to be racist or not racist? I take it for granted that racism circulates in Australia, like it does in most other countries of the world, in different forms and with different intensities and the important task is to try and think about how it does so: how it circulates and how it ‘captures’, hurts and sometimes even destroys people. It is in that sense that one looks at continuity and change in Australian racism, not in the mode of the ‘more or less’.

So with this in mind, let us begin by reflecting on one area where one can detect some change in the type of racism that is being deployed. Australian racism, and I am speaking specifically of anti-immigrant racism here, has historically taken two forms. The first, the one I have examined most in White Nation (1998), is what we can call ‘numerological racism’. This is a racism of numbers in the sense that it always comes with the category ‘too many’: ‘there’s too many Vietnamese’; ‘there’s too many Asians’; ‘there’s too many Muslims’. It often starts with a story told by a white person relating how well they got on with the ‘one’ Vietnamese family that moved down the road from them. Then, the story moves to tell us how the good relation goes sour when the Vietnamese brother and then the uncle buy houses in the street such that now there are ‘too many’. The second form of racism, which we can call ‘existential racism’, has been powerfully described by Jean-Paul Sartre: it involves a sentiment of disgust from the very proximity of someone experienced to be ‘from another race’. Clearly, most post-Second World War racism towards immigrants takes the form of the former, and we are less familiar with the disgust of ‘existential racism’. This racism of disgust was a far more prominent sentiment towards Indigenous people during the invasion of Australia and towards Chinese people during the Gold Rush in the nineteenth century: you can see it in the very portrayal of Indigenous and Chinese people in the racist cartoons of the time. It became much less prominent from the middle to the end of the twentieth century. Even the more outwardly vile forms of racism exhibited by people such as the members of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party were more grounded in numerological racism. I think that this is where, today, we can detect some change. While numerological racism remains the dominant form of racism, existential racism seems nonetheless to be on the rise. Its main victims have been the relatively new immigrants from Africa and India. This most probably has to do with the complex ways in which the racist English colonial imaginary of Africa and India has seeped into White Australian culture as part of its cultural inheritance.

Another important space where one can look for continuity and change is in the form Australian racism is delivered; the way it is performed in practice as a mode of interaction. Pauline Hanson’s racism is often treated as a kind of ideal type of Australian racism because it has come to dominate our living memory. This is not entirely true. Of course, Hansonite racism is the inheritor of the long history of Australian anti-Asian racism and, as such, has inherited many of its features. It shares for instance a kind of ‘egalitarian’ ethos that is a common feature of Australian working-class racism and that stands in opposition to the condescending type of racism of the middle classes. Hansonism does not look down, vertically at the people it racialises, rather, it look at them horizontally, eye-to-eye, and says: ‘it’s either you, or me pal. I hate your guts. You’re taking over my place and I want this place for me’. This ‘egalitarianism’, I would say, is very typically Australian. But there are also ways in which Hansonite racism can be said to be very un-Australian. This is particularly true of its open, ‘in your face’ and organised nature. Australian racism generally is far less overt and direct, and far less easy to delineate. In that sense, it is also less capable of operating as a platform for a political party.

I think that Hanson [in The Celebrity Apprentice] as a third rate TV star represents Australian racism more than when she was actually the leader of a racist party. Poh-Leen [Pauline] Hanson versus Poh-Ling Yeow is where the struggle against racism is really happening! While White people can watch Pauline Hanson on TV and normalise her with a kind of ‘isn’t it cute, we had a racist political leader before and now we have a harmless TV figure’, some people I know sit uncomfortably and think ‘hey – this is not enjoyable, this woman has seriously hurt me in the past’. But when everyone around you thinks they are having fun, to come and say in their midst: ‘this is not funny, this woman is a hurtful hating racist’, what you will get is a condescending ‘get a life mate, don’t be so bloody serious, we’re enjoying some light entertainment here, and you wanna talk about racism?’ That’s more like classical Australian racism; it hits you and disallows you to say ‘hey that’s racism’. More often than not, it works in a ‘relaxed and comfortable’ way.

I think if one looks cyclically at Australian racism, whether it is directed towards Indigenous people, towards Asians or towards Muslims, one finds an interesting pattern. You always have an aggressive moment, such as colonisation, or the violence during the Gold Rush, or the symbolic violence of the One Nation party, or the Cronulla riots, then it is followed by the more prevailing and long-term ‘relaxed and comfortable’ moment, where the violence recedes and what is left is a more gentle mode of normalisation and routinisation of racialised forms of interaction. In an important sense we can say that John Howard’s rule was precisely this process of ‘relaxing’, ‘routinising’ and ‘normalising’ the violence of Hansonism. Implicitly, Howard was always saying: ‘we in Australia are not racist this way. We don’t go in parliament and say “I’m not going to serve my Indigenous constituents”. No. We do it in a less obvious and a more relaxed and comfortable way’. So, with John Howard, Australian racism was completing the cycle returning to its more enduring form: serious, deadly, making you experience claustrophobia and misery, and yet, you can’t really put the finger on what is happening to you, or you can, but find yourself unable to point to it publicly for fear of ridicule. It’s a bit like your ‘best mates’ calling you a wog. If someone tries to point out that this is racist, your best mates will laugh at them, and most likely, you will laugh at them too, despite the unease you might feel about being called a wog. To do otherwise would be to betray ‘years of mateship’. It would also show that you don’t really know what real mateship is about and that you are a ‘real wog’ after all. So you join your mates at telling the person who thinks that using the term wog is wrong to get a life, and that ‘if friends can’t playfully call each other wog, life is not worth living’. But when something happens that make one of your ‘best mates’ resent you such that he wants to get at you, like you getting a job he was after, or you and he disagreeing about something important, suddenly the tone with which you are being called a wog radically changes and it starts having a different effect on you. Then you know why you have always been feeling uneasy about being called a wog despite the light-heartedness of it all. And yet, unless you are willing to break ‘the bonds of mateship’, you feel caught out, and unable to bring the source of your unease out in the open.

I want to now move to another form of racism that I would argue is on the rise in Australia. I will call this ‘the removal of the space of commonality’. To think about this space, I just want to take you to Lebanon and explore with you a routine social interaction that one still encounters in some Lebanese villages.

In these villages class division is delineated by family belonging. That is, the rich and the poor are so according to their family belonging. There are rich families and poor families and the families that are rich and those that are poor have been the same since Ottoman time. And the members of the poor families work, and usually would have worked, for the members of the rich families as servants, as agricultural labourers, as cattle minders, drivers, etc. also since Ottoman time. You might visit the village on any day and you will see a member of a rich family sitting having a coffee with a member of a poor family who works as his chauffeur or his aid or both. Let’s say you’ve met the man from the rich family before so you say hello to him. He will say hello and will want to introduce the man from the poor family sitting next him, let’s say his name is Jeryes. There, he will say something that might sound either odd, or artificial, or even hypocritical to you if you know that the man is in fact largely his servant and that his grandfather was probably the servant of the rich man’s grandfather as well. He will say: ‘Please let me introduce you to Jeryes, our families have been like one since anyone can remember and Jeryes and I are really like brothers’.

This is a very interesting situation that requires a specifically anthropological disposition to fully understand. I mean here a disposition to think from outside your cultural norms. This is because, from a Western, even from a critical Western point of view, what is happening here might appear as quite obvious: this person is using kinship categories to hide relations of domination. The critical Western analyst might say:

sure ‘like brothers’ indeed, ha ha, who does he think he is kidding? I can see through this language of brotherhood and recognise that underneath it is a relation of domination. Nobody is going to fool me with any mumbo jumbo about brothers.

A Western Marxist might say: ‘here we have a situation where kinship terminology operates as an ideology that mystifies the relations of exploitation that exist between the master and his servant’.

A good anthropologist, however, while perhaps agreeing with the Western critic at one level, will want to also understand the significance of this designation ‘we are like brothers’ from the point of view of those living it. Here something else emerges. The anthropologist might note that Jeryes is not at all mystified by the language of brotherhood. He knows all too well that he is the servant of the rich man and that his family is and has always been dominated by the rich family. Nonetheless, and here we come to what is important, Jeryes will also be genuinely grateful that his rich master chose to call him his brother rather than his servant. In calling him his brother his master is recognising that there is more to him than just being his servant. There is something that his master is leaving him with that remains outside the relation of domination. This something, in the language of the Lebanese village, is called honour. You can enslave people and dishonour them and you can enslave people leaving their honour intact. There is such a thing as healthy relations of dominations and they are so in so far as they maintain people’s honour intact, or to put it differently, as far as one leaves out a symbolic space where the humiliation of relations of dependency and exploitation does not apply: this is what I will call the space of commonality.

When we talk about honour here in Australia, we only mention it in its negative patriarchal manifestation. This dimension is certainly present but it is not the only one. ‘To maintain one’s honour’ also means to continue existing with others in a space where some of the most basic elements of one’s humanity are preserved. My point though is not Lebanon-specific. I want to argue that maintaining this space of commonality might take different forms in different cultures but it is an instinctive guiding principle in the conduct of any desirable intersubjective relation. We do it all the time with people we care about despite being differently positioned in hierarchical structures. It is precisely when we do not care about having a qualitatively human relation with someone that we work actively to ensure that we do not share such a space of commonality with them. This is why racism can often take this form. As I said, I believe that this form of racism is on the rise far more than ever before. It is so because it particularly and strongly marks the relation that the Australian Government and many Australians want to have to asylum seekers. Indeed, far from being limited by a concern with maintaining this minimum necessary space for the psychological and existential well-being of asylum seekers, government policy seems to pursue the opposite policy of laying bare people’s wretched conditions in such a way as to completely and utterly dispirit them.

I will now move to the final area where I think there is change in the way racism is expressed. This form of racism has existed for a long time but the mention of it is often disconcerting to some. It is the area of what I call racist anti-racism. This is where in opposing White Australian racism some sections within a racialised ethnic group do so by promoting a different racism internal to their own community rather than promoting a non-racist society. There are people who are subjected to racism and who react by saying ‘it is unfair that human beings should be treated this way’. But there are also people who, when subjected to racism, react by saying ‘are you being racist to me? ME!?… I mean, I don’t mind you being racist against somebody else, but me? Come on, give me a break – can’t you see how superior I am?’ This is the discourse of people who reject racism directed against them not because they think racism is bad, but because they think that it does not apply to them. They say things like ‘haven’t you heard of my ancestors and my culture’ and use a kind of defence against racism in which they are really trying to say to the racists: ‘My culture is a superior culture, how dare you be racist to me, I’ll be racist to you, you idiot!’

It is very important today to realise the difference between being anti-racist in order to create a non-racist society and being anti-racist in order to highlight the wonderfulness of your group’s degree of civilisation. It is people who have this sense of civilisational entitlement, people who think they, as a group, are entitled to better treatment than other groups, who are often the promoters of this racist anti-racism.

Racist anti-racism, in fact, comes from the same tradition that has brought us fascist politics. Its ethos is perhaps the single most important cultural difference between the workers who joined the communist parties of Europe and those who joined the fascist parties. The workers that joined the communists and the fascists felt that life ought to offer them more than the misery and the injustice that they were being offered. The difference between them was that the communists saw in their suffering an unjust world and aspired for a world where such injustices did not exist; the fascists on the other hand, saw only themselves being treated unjustly and aspired for a world where they as ‘members of a great nation’ received a better deal. Knowing the difference between anti-racism and this form of racist anti-racism is crucial for us who analyse racism not simply for the sake of being critical but because we think that the struggle against racism is only one instance in the wider struggle for an alternative mode of social existence.

Works Cited
1. Hage, G., 1998. White nation: fantasies of white supremacy in a multicultural society. Sydney: Pluto Press.

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An open letter to the Black Rose collective [from Ray Jackson]

[Update (February 22, 2015) : On Saturday evening, February 21, Ray issued a retraction of his open letter. Consequently, I’ve edited this post to reflect this fact.]

Ray Jackson of the Indigenous Social Justice Assocation (ISJA) has written an open letter tto the Black Rose anarchist collective re their participation in the TJ Hickey march that took place in Sydney on the weekend. I thought I may as well republish it here.

See also : Thomas ‘TJ’ Hickey rally in Redfern marks 11th anniversary of death, ABC, February 14, 2015 | Mother of Thomas ‘TJ’ Hickey calls for peaceful march after protesters clash with police, SBS, February 14, 2015 | Heavy handed police presence at TJ Hickey march in Sydney, Green Left Weekly, February 14, 2015.

An open letter to the Black Rose collective [from Ray Jackson]

a personal perspective, without apology.

your actions last saturday, 14 february, 2015, have once again given power to the redfern police to shut down the tj hickey marches entirely … [snip]

[Below is the relevant section of Ray’s subsequent letter retracting his previous open letter. The full letter may be read here.]

of cops & banners [&] other things

before i get into this post it is most important that you know that mick mundine has had papers served on aunt jenny at the redfern aboriginal tent embassy at the block and that she and those others in attendance there are to vacate ‘his’ land on monday 23/2. it is most important that if you can go there now or go between now and sunday night and stay for the monday eviction actions then i strongly urge you to do so. the block does not belong to the venal charlatan, mick mundine, but to the aboriginal community for the building of low cost accommodation for our elders and families. we must save the block for that purpose and not to enrich mick and his crew of thugs.

attached are the ‘reasons for judgement’ that justice monika schmidt handed down on friday 13/2 when she prohibited the route we wanted to do whilst not banning the march. i have written on the event previously but, to my shame, it had errors in it. substantial errors of fact and judgement.

the first mea culpa goes to les malezer of the congress for the wonderful and totally unexpected letter of support from him that he sent me with full permission to use it in court which i most certainly did. whether it impressed hh as much as it did me is unknown. i thank you, les, for your generosity of spirit in this matter. the support letter can be found below.

the next ommission from my previous post re the tj events was to exclude from the list of speakers cheryl and keith kalfauss who each year travel from melbourne to add their solid support and voice and that of our melbourne comrades. well done.

but the main mea culpa is to unreservedly apologise to all the members of the black rose collective. i acted without reason and merely jumped to conclusions on the day. the banner that was fought over on the day belonged to the members of the trotskyist platform (tp) and whose members have joined our tj marches for years. there was one anarchist flag that was shown to me and when i ok’ed it it was tied to the fence.

i also made other errors of fact relative to the participation of the anarchists and other left groups in all our rallies and marches but i am not into grovelling. i have publically agreed with my errors and, i believe, it would be far more constructive to move on from here. like the foul abbott, i have listened and i have learned!

there are several matters that i wish to raise for further discussion and they include police thuggery, banner protocols and my continuation in these events …

[end: remainder here.]

fkj

ray jackson
president
indigenous social justice association

prix des droits de l’homme de la republique francaise 2013
(french human rights medal 2013)

1303/200 pitt street, waterloo. 2017
[email protected]
61 2 9318 0947
0450 651 063

we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people

Posted in Anarchism, Broken Windows, Death, History, Media, State / Politics, War on Terror | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

RALLY AGAINST RACISM – Melbourne Sat April 4 @ Fed Square

rarapr4

On Saturday April 4 the far right have organised a series of public rallies under the title of ‘Reclaim Australia’.

Because Muslims.

In Melbourne, organisers have elected to rally at the Shrine of Remembrance Federation Square.

A counter-rally has been organised under the title of ‘Rally Against Racism’.

The last time the far right attempted to rally in Melbourne was in May 2011. A strong counter-mobilisation ensured that the event was effectively disrupted. (A prior rally in April 2010 was also unsuccessful, being reduced to a handful of drunken boneheads shouting racist abuse.)

Please help promote the counter-rally among your networks. Muslim-hating may — with the assistance of segments of government and media — have become a national/ist sport, but there’s no need to allow mass public expressions of such hatred and contempt to go unchallenged.

rememberwhen

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Reclaim Australia AKA “Muslims Out!”

The ‘Reclaim Australia’ rallies organised for April 4 will bring together a wide range of Islamophobic individuals and organisations. Below is a brief account of some of these.

The ‘Patriots Defence League’ (PDL) is an incorporated association registered in Queensland, though with branches/Facebook pages across the country (including Canberra). The PDL (Inc) actually began life as the ‘Australian Defence League’ (Inc) in January 2014, but changed its name in April to the PDL (for reasons presumably associated with the initial split between the ADL and the PDL). The PDL cheekily describes its principal activity as being ‘to raise awareness of women’s and children’s rights’. In reality, the PDL, like the ADL, is an Islamophobic organisation.

PDLA Treasurer Mark Lenthall, for example, chooses to promote women’s and children’s rights by, inter alia, praising the Internet band ‘Eureka Brigade’ and suggesting that ‘Muslim Massacre’ is a neat song title.

lenthallbrigade

*rolls eyes*

Note that Martin Fletcher, the Vice Chairman of the Sydney-based Party For Freedom (PFF), once made the video game ‘Muslim Massacre’ available on his website (the aim of the game is to kill all Muslims that appear on the screen). The PFF developed as a split from the Australian Protectionist Party — itself created as a split from the Australia First Party — in mid-2012, following the APP leadership’s rejection of the Sydney branch’s organisation of a public rally demanding that the Australian government ‘Torpedo the Boats’ carrying asylum seekers to Australia.

The PFF can reasonably expected to be a presence at the Reclaim rally in Sydney.

Reclaim Australia, as previously noted, is a campaign promoting anti-Muslim protests to take place on April 4. Its spearhead is Shermon Burgess (aka ‘The Great Aussie Patriot’ aka ‘Eureka Brigade’). Burgess has previously claimed to be a member of the ADL (and has the t-shirt to prove it) and while rejecting the notion that he is a racist or fascist, has also celebrated the deaths of asylum seekers at sea and encouraged a member of the Australian Navy, Jamie Patton, to murder asylum seekers arriving by boat — on the basis that they are ‘Muslim rapists and terrorists’.

skullpenrith

Burgess has further expressed support for the neo-Nazi group ‘Squadron 88′, encouraging his followers to attend their (rather dismal) anti-Muslim protest in Penrith a few weeks ago. Bizarrely, S88 has adopted as its mascot and spokesperson Ross ‘The Skull’ May (pictured above at S88′s protest in Penrith on January 23), an aging neo-Nazi activist. Burgess is also a fan of neo-Nazi muzak to boot:

eurekaISD

More recently, Burgess has teamed up with neo-Nazis belonging to another neo-Nazi groupusucle called ‘National Republican Guard’ (NRG), a tiny Internet association comprised of ex-members of yet another tiny neo-Nazi groupuscule called ‘Nationalist Alternative’ (NAlt). NAlt underwent an acrimonious split last year with rejected members publishing lurid claims regarding the group’s leader and otherwise acting like idiots online. Otherwise, NAlt views the anti-Muslim crowd as potential recruits to their group.

In summary, anti-Muslim sentiment unites a variety of actors on the far right, and many look to it as fertile ground for recruitment and political consolidation.

In other news:

1) The nice, middle-class Islamophobes of The Q Society are being sued:

Mohamed El-Mouelhy vs. Q Society, Kirralie Smith et al.

Dear Friends;

Mohamed El-Mouelhy as sole director of the private company ‘Halal Certification Authority Pty Ltd’, has commenced legal proceedings against Q Society, Q member Kirralie Smith, myself and two other board members. We face defamation action in the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Kirralie Smith known for her Halal Choices website, toured Australia as a guest presenter for Q Society in 2012. The successful tour and subsequent interest in halal certification resulted in a video production, which was uploaded to our YouTube channel in 2013, likewise one of Kirralie’s presentations at a 2014 Q Society event.

I am under legal advice not to divulge information about the case at this time. However, as informed citizens, I know you understand the significance of the court action and the implications for freedom of speech in Australia. Specialized legal counsel in New South Wales has instruction to jointly represent all defendants, including Kirralie.

I am calling for your help to contribute to the legal costs to defend the claims brought against us by Mohammed El-Mouehly. Please consider sending a donation, no matter how small to Q Society and spread the word among your connections.

It is vital that those who speak the truth about Islamic halal certification and other Islamic impositions are not silenced by time-consuming and expensive court action.

It’s important we work together on this critical issue and please remember: “There are no great men. Just great challenges which ordinary men, out of necessity, are forced by circumstances to meet.” – Admiral William Frederick Halsey, Jr. USN.

Thank you in anticipation,

Debbie Robinson
National President

See also : Boycott Halal movement in Australia set to escalate, Chris Johnston, The Age, December 27, 2014.

2) On February 23, VTAC will be considering objections to the construction of a mosque in Bendigo. The principal group conducting the campaign is known as Rights for Bendigo Residents (Inc) and is seeking donations to pay lawyer Robert Balzola to represent it in court.

See also : Attempted arson of Toowoomba mosque could have been catastrophic, police say, ABC, January 25, 2014.

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#HESTAdivest campaign : HESTA divest from #Transfield + #ManusIsland concentration camp

hestadivest

HESTA — the industry super fund for health and community service workers — is a major shareholder in Transfield.

You may remember Transfield from such campaigns as Boycott the Biennale of Sydney.

Then and now, Transfield makes money from running Manus Island, the prison camp for asylum seekers.

For further details, please see : #HESTA, divest from Transfield & the detention industry | #Manus #Nauru, Operational Matters, January 23, 2015.

Many healthcare workers are unaware that their super funds are being invested in the illness factory that is Manus Island prison camp. Consequently, there is a campaign to raise awareness of this fact and to demand HESTA divests from Transfield.

Australian unions with representation on the HESTA board include the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Australian Services Union (ASU), Health Services Union (HSU) and United Voice.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is also on the HESTA board.

The ASU made some noise about the issue back in March 2014 — it appears to have had little effect, with HESTA increasing its shares in Transfield late last year; HESTA is at present listed as owning 26,375,345 shares in Transfield Services.

The campaign has a Facebook page here.

Enough sick jokes.

manusisland

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After the Paris killings (Le Monde Diplomatique) #CharlieHebdo

After the Paris killings
Le Monde Diplomatique
February 2015

1)

The guys from the ghetto
Laurent Bonelli

Once people are over the shock of the killings, once the feelings of indignation and powerlessness have dissipated and the only people still hurting are the victims’ immediate circle, the question remains — how, in a time of peace, can young Frenchmen have carried out such violent acts, choosing targets for their opinions, presumed religion or uniform? From the murders by Mohamed Merah in 2012 and the attack by Mehdi Nemmouche on the Jewish museum in Brussels last May, to the killings this January by Said and Cherif Kouachi, and Amedy Coulibaly, 28 people have been shot dead.

The sketchy information the press has gleaned about the killers gives some idea of lives in which social services and the juvenile justice system intervened early on, when family environments were judged inappropriate or inadequate; most spent time in hostels and foster families. Their education was of a pattern common among the least skilled of the working class: they gravitated towards technical courses (CAP, BEP, vocational baccalaureate) — which they did not always complete — though the general baccalaureate is now recognised as a minimum qualification.

To compensate for this educational relegation, some joined street gangs and got involved in their petty disorder. Stealing cars or scooters, driving without a licence, physical assault, verbal abuse, burglary and robbery with violence drew the attention of the police and courts, and Merah, Coulibaly and Nemmouche all went to prison for the first time when they were 19. Fresh offences after release led to the revocation of suspended sentences and longer prison terms; they spent a good part of their twenties in jail. The Kouachi brothers, who grew up in a village in the department of Corrèze, seem to have come only later to delinquency (receiving stolen goods or selling drugs, combined with precarious or black-market employment), when they moved to the Paris area in the early 2000s. Cherif went to prison in 2005-06 at the age of 23 for his involvement in an organisation sending volunteers to fight in Iraq.

All five espoused a vision of an Islam of heroic warriors (mujahideen), grand exploits and distant theatres of war. Some travelled to Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan or Yemen. Propaganda, preaching and initiation camps gave them a relatively simple worldview that made a coherent whole of their own experience of subjugation and that of other peoples (in Mali, Chechnya, Palestine), and a civilisational narrative blaming Jews and unbelievers for these ills. This idea of religion was attractive because it both made them aware of their situation and offered liberation from it, giving their lives a “higher” purpose.

Not unusual

The similarity of the killers’ lives has already prompted experts to try to classify their actions as “lumpen-terrorism” and “gangster-terrorism”. But the characteristics of those lives do not seem unusual, corresponding to those of the “suburban ghetto generation” to which the killers belong (they were all born in the 1980s), marked by exclusion, harder access to unskilled jobs, spatial segregation and police checks, social relations limited to their own ethnic group and diminishing interest in the political commitments of their elders.

What surprises is not so much the decision to commit such acts of violence as its rarity. “If radicalisation is a process,” write political sociologist Annie Collovald and political scientist Brigitte Gaïti, “we must trace it before we can explain it. That means moving away from why and asking how” (1). The exhortations of jihadist leaders to strike at France, the West or the Jewish community may have inspired those aspiring to rebellion, but did not trigger their actions. Sociologist Howard S Becker points out that the final decision to act is the last in a long series of decisions, none of which, in isolation, seem strange (2). Like historian Christopher Browning, who shows by what mechanisms (group conformity, depersonalisation of victims) the “ordinary men” of Germany’s 101st reserve police battalion were transformed into cold-blooded killers between July 1942 and November 1943 (3), we need to reconstruct the experiences particular to the lives of those who carried out the attacks and to the world they live in.

The attacks used skills these individuals had already learned: how to steal a car or procure, handle and use firearms is transferable knowledge. The method also reflected habits formed when they were mere delinquents: the reconnoitring was rough, the getaway plans only covered getting home, and when that was not possible, they wandered aimlessly. The only real requirements seemed to be the composure necessary to attack and the ability to drive fast. Even seeking a martyr’s death by firing at police was like the fate of Scarface in the Brian de Palma film, an idol of young ghetto-dwellers; or that of armed robber Jacques Mesrine, whose biography Merah was reading a few weeks before his death. Understanding the familiarity of these modes of action and their legitimacy in the eyes of those who use them is a major step towards understanding how they can be transferred to other targets, though it is not enough. Coulibaly’s desire to “get the police”, while the Kouachi brothers were attacking Charlie Hebdo, relates to his hatred for the organisation that killed his best friend, Ali Rezgui, in front of him in 2000, when the two men were loading a van with stolen motorbikes.

This political violence can be traced back to the Algerian civil war. The conflict triggered in 1991 by the cancellation of a general election in which the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) had won the first round was extremely violent. By the early 2000s, clashes between the army and the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) had killed tens of thousands and led to mass displacement. The war also affected Algerian families living in France, to which Merah, Nemmouche and the Kouachi brothers belonged. Abdelghani Merah, Mohammed’s elder brother, has written a book in which he describes holidays at Oued Bezzaz where their father’s family, who supported the GIA, showed off firearms and sometimes “a gendarme or a civilian with his head cut off”. He also describes pressure from an uncle in Toulouse for his sisters to “leave school, put on the Islamic veil and stay at home” (4). In France, religious injunctions can be at once a way of bringing children who are too liberated (in where they go, their choice of friends or the way they dress) back into line, and an expression of political support for armed groups, such as that of Djamel Beghal, whom Cherif Kouachi and Coulibaly met at the Fleury-Mérogis remand centre in 2005; he is said to have been their mentor. Born in 1965, Beghal was a member of the GIA’s support network in France, and was arrested for this in 1994. With Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi, he was one of 14 suspected of having planned the failed prison escape in 2010 of Smain Ait Ali Belkacem, a munitions expert behind the 1995 Paris metro bombing. While in prison, Kouachi also met Farid Melouk, serving a sentence for providing logistical support to that attack.

To the lands of jihad

These meetings link the different generations of Islamic political militants, and make their choices part of a longer history of feats of arms, defeats and changes of direction (5). In 1995 the GIA hoped for military and political victory in Algeria. The bombing of public transport in Paris was intended to force the French government to reduce its support for the military regime. A few years later, the situation had changed. The GIA was defeated and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, founded in 1998, was weakening under the onslaught of the Algerian army — a political and territorial decline that explains its decision to merge with Al-Qaida in 2007, under the name Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, and to change its strategy. It now focuses on operations in the Sahara, and Mali or Niger, such as the abduction of westerners. For militants living in France or other European countries, the cause has survived but takes a different route, with a shift to (or sometimes departure for) the “lands of jihad” or a switch to the “propaganda of the deed”.

The anarchists at the London conference of 1881 took this approach. The principle was simple: insurrectional acts (bombings, assassinations, sabotage, robbery) “are the most effective form of propaganda, and the only one capable of … penetrating the deepest layers of society” (6). It was used in Europe, the US and Russia to target government figures, police, judges, religious, political opponents and anonymous “bourgeois”. It aimed to punish those responsible (for judgments, torture) and to avenge fallen comrades or destroy symbols so as to awaken the masses. Some 130 years before Inspire, the magazine published by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, called for the death of Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, La Révolution sociale, La Lutte and Le Drapeau Noir published columns dedicated to bomb-making. In 1884 Le Droit Social launched an appeal for funds “for the purchase of a revolver to avenge the death of comrade Louis Chaves”, killed by French gendarmes.

Propaganda of the deed did not rouse the masses. Some acts were perceived favourably but failed to mobilise, and even distanced the working class from anarchist movements at a time when these were mercilessly repressed. The approach was abandoned in the early 20th century in favour of more collective action. It was later used with a similar lack of success by far-left movements (Action Directe in France, Red Army Faction in Germany, Red Brigades in Italy), and by supporters of the far right (Organisation Armée Secrète in France, Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber in the US in 1995, and Anders Behring Breivik, responsible for the Utøya massacre in Norway in 2011).

The attacks in France confirm the pattern. Despite Coulibaly’s exhortations in a posthumous video (“What do you do when they continue to insult the Prophet? What do you do when you see your brothers and your sisters starving?”), his “Muslim brothers” have overwhelmingly rejected his acts; subsequent attacks on mosques and physical assaults have made them collateral victims.

Not a war

Politicians forget the lessons of history when they adopt a warlike stance, as did France’s prime minister Manuel Valls, who told the National Assembly on 13 January: “France is at war with terrorism, jihadism and radical Islam.” Though tragic, the situation is not a war. It remains under the control of the police and judiciary. The perpetrators and accomplices were quickly neutralised or arrested, and it is reasonable to suppose that the same will happen if other acts of terrorism follow. There has never been a time when the risk was zero — even in the harshest police states, such as Pinochet’s Chile or Franco’s Spain.

Warlike talk assumes polarisation, since it rests on popular mobilisation against a common enemy. Though it can resonate when foreign armies attack national borders, it does not do so in times of peace. The difficulty some teachers in France had in making their pupils observe a minute’s silence on 8 January, and the social makeup of the huge demonstrations the following Sunday, show that the population was not unanimous. This is not surprising: the experience of the working class, particularly the young, is far closer to that of the killers than that of the politicians, or of the educated middle class who demonstrate. Discrimination (social, religious, racial or chauvinistic), social and spatial relegation, and police checks make it unlikely that a single movement will unite those who experience them, those who organise them and those who deplore them without worrying about it too much. Disruptive schoolchildren in Germany have claimed to be Nazis to shock their teachers; verbal support for the January attacks has given their French counterparts an excuse to protest against an educational and social order that excludes them.

Polarisation is counterproductive. There are two opposing discourses: that of the authorities (you’re either with us or with the “terrorists”) and that of the perpetrators of political violence (you’re either with us or you’re a bad Muslim/nationalist/revolutionary). But the “terrorist relationship” implies three participants: the clash between the first two takes place in front of the (often indifferent) majority, who become spectators thanks to the media. This distancing prevents the violence from spreading, especially when radical groups do not have a strong social or territorial base. Yet pressure to express unanimous condemnation can, by reaction, encourage a minority of spectators to sympathise with the objectives of the organisations targeted, or even join them. The risk increases if the exhortation is backed by legal or administrative measures to punish those who refuse.

Footnote
(1) Annie Collovald and Brigitte Gaïti (eds), La Démocratie aux extremes: Sur la radicalisation politique, La Dispute, Paris, 2006.
(2) See Howard S Becker, Tricks of the Trade, University of Chicago Press, 1998.
(3) See Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, HarperCollins, New York, 1992.
(4) Abdelghani Merah with Mohamed Sifaoui, Mon frère, ce terroriste (My Brother the Terrorist), Calmann-Lévy, Paris, 2012.
(5) Similar mechanisms can be seen at work in other clandestine movements. See Laurent Bonelli, “The secret lives of terrorists”, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, October 2011.
(6) Letter from Carlo Cafiero to Errico Malatesta, quoted in Bulletin de la Fédération jurassienne, no 49, Sonvillier, Switzerland, 3 December 1876.

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