After the terrorist attack in Conflans: workers must refuse to be divided

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
October 19, 2020

Last week, in a small town near Paris, a school teacher who had shown Charlie Hebdo caricatures to his students was beheaded. People were horror-stricken and disgusted by this despicable act. And what makes our revulsion even deeper is knowing that similar ignoble crimes have always been used in the past by racists, reactionaries and anti-migrants to divide the working class.

The act is in itself terrifying. But equally terrifying is the process that led an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin to become a murderer. He was pushed into action by a campaign of agitation and manipulation organized by various groups who are in agreement with Muslim fundamentalism. They claimed that a simple lesson on freedom of expression was in fact racism and islamophobia. Then they condemned the teacher to death.

These fundamentalist agitators claim to represent the many Muslims who feel, quite rightly, that they are stigmatized and rejected. But their real aim is different. They want to impose their moral order on everyone, starting with Muslim believers themselves.

They don’t just criticize what is taught in schools. They also want to control the lives of all Muslims. They will unhesitatingly threaten those who don’t accept their interpretation of the rules to follow during Ramadan or who dare drink alcohol. They will put pressure on Muslim women who don’t obey their rules. And if they are allowed to become bolder, they’ll forbid Muslims to listen to music or play football. They have already done this in the countries they run or in areas ruled by ISIS.

They’re preparing a dictatorship that will come down hard on working people. The Western world has its far-right fascists, the Muslim world has its own. Where the far-right uses fear of foreigners, Muslim fundamentalists use religion to dominate what they think of as their community.

Both play off one another, both are the mortal enemies of workers. And both are quite ready to spill blood and impose their rule by terror. We saw this in Europe with Hitler in the 1930s, in Algeria in the dark decade of the 1990s and, more recently, in Syria and Iraq under ISIS.

Whether a group comes from the ranks of the far right or of the fundamentalists, they look to limit our freedom and turn us into docile sheep, ruled by them but also by the big bosses. It’s not just a question of freedom of expression. It’s our rights and interests as workers that are threatened: the freedom to challenge, to organize, to assert and to go on strike.

Workers need to fight as one, as proletarians, to beat these two enemies, relying on our common interests as exploited people and on the struggles that we need to engage in together, day after day.

Like all other political leaders, Macron has called for national unity and for respect for the Republic. But behind these “republican values”, there's a social order that is built on the very negation of liberty, equality and fraternity.

The reactionary militants who attack society are not the only cause of its disintegration. They are using the disorientation and sense of abandonment felt by millions of women and men due to the crisis, mass unemployment and poverty for their own political agenda. The consequent frustration and hatred continually renew the breeding ground of intolerance, individualism and violence.

The capitalist social order provides the elements of a deadly downward spiral, even more so in times of crisis. And the government’s policies, which are systematically favorable to the richest and detrimental to workers, only accelerate the mechanism.

What will happen tomorrow? Because there are thugs turned fanatics or brainwashed by terrorist networks, how often will there be racial profiling of youngsters from the suburbs who are subjected to racism and widespread suspicion? Because there are terrorists who have refugee status, how many migrants fleeing war and persecution will be rejected? Only the workers, united beyond differences in origin, nationality and religion can put a stop to this deadly cycle.

The conscience that workers together have the power and the duty to change society must guide us because religious fanaticism, fundamentalism and fascist terror are crawling like foul creatures from the belly of our society. To stop savage acts like the murder in Conflans, we need to change society itself.