We were all shocked by Samuel Paty’s assassination on Friday 18 October. Now, on top of the horror, many of us feel disgust and fear in the face of the racist and xenophobic campaign which has begun.
Since this barbaric act, Le Pen has declared that “there is a problem with Islam”; she has called for an end to immigration and the expulsion of foreigners. In their attempt to “outLePen” Le Pen, right-wing politicians are advocating the revision of the constitution to imprison and deport people more easily. As for two former socialist prime ministers, Valls and Cazeneuve, they are waging war on the so-called “Islamo-leftists” - the name they give to anyone who rejects discrimination and protests when Muslims are attacked!
As for the government, it’s orchestrating the whole circus, with its security-obsessed speeches. Macron has asked ministers and prefects1 to produce “one announcement per day”, which is exactly what they are doing. Closing mosques, dissolving associations, curbing free expression on social networks ... Police operations are launched in all directions, at the risk of over-generalizing and stigmatizing. Home Secretary Gérald Darmanin has set the example by tracking fundamentalism even in the halal shelves of supermarkets!
None of those measures can stop obscurantism or murderous fanaticism, but they do strengthen racism and xenophobia.
Who will foot the bill? All of us, the workers! Those seen as Muslims, whether they are believers or not, are already paying for it through the rise of suspicion and gross over-generalization. Foreign workers, whose life depends on the granting of a residence permit or of full citizenship, will pay for it through more refusals. And all workers will pay for it through the divisions thus created. Let’s not let anyone build a wall of hatred between us!
The working class brings together women and men of all origins and skin colors, believers and non-believers. We rub shoulders in the neighborhoods where we live. We mix in the same crowded transport. And we know each other because we work side by side in companies, because we share the same exploitation, the same reality made of increasingly tight budgets, the same fear of unemployment.
Our condition as workers unites us, for better and for worse, in one big social class which must defend its interests against the big bosses. And in this period of crisis and never-ending waves of layoffs, defending our jobs, wages and pensions is a common necessity. We must defend ourselves by staying united against those who want to divide us or create a diversion.
Our interest is to denounce the government’s policy and to assert our visceral opposition to the twin brothers of racism and fundamentalism. The nationalist current politically embodied by the RN and the current of Islamist fundamentalism are two embodiments of the same extreme right danger. These are two currents which carry dictatorial projects and which are ready to impose them by blood and terror.
Nazism in the 1930s showed us what the far right is capable of. As for Islamist fundamentalism, we saw it at work in Algeria during the black decade of the 1990s and, more recently, in Syria and Iraq with ISIS. The recruitment of young people to wage jihad testifies to its deadly hold.
These two political forces are part of the capitalist social order. They propose nothing against the employers’ diktat, nothing against exploitation. They have nothing to say to the exploited about how to address their vital problems. They are only good at creating a diversion by picking scapegoats (Muslims and foreigners in the case of the RN and its satellites, disbelievers in the case of Islamists), by fueling intolerance and hatred.
These two currents, though opposed to one another, feed each other through a spiral of hatred and vengeance. You cannot fight one without fighting the other.
Workers, let’s oppose all hate-mongers! Let’s focus on our vital interests as workers! Let’s refuse to pay for this crisis! Let’s assert our class interests against our only enemies, the capitalists. The only worthwhile prospect is to overthrow capitalism and the oppressions that go with it. Then we can build a society without exploitation which will allow entirely different social relations to flourish. This ideal could inspire and attract many of those young people who today are lost in this grim world. But for that to happen, these youngsters need to meet women and men who defend this emancipation project with all their heart – a possibility that depends on every one of us!
1 In France, the “Préfets” are the senior civil servants who represent the state in each “département”. They are under the authority of the Home Office and are head of police forces in their “département”.