Concerning the Attacks in the USA and the War

Concerning the Attacks in the USA and the War

1. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are an expression of the worldwide economic, social and military policies of the past decades.

They can be understood as an expression of global barbarism as well as a reaction to the brutality and inhumanity the global capitalist order is connected with. And in this sense they have been understood all over the world. Thus, in the end it's not important anymore who actually committed these attacks and with what kind of motivation (if we ever will find out). By means of this understanding and of the following reactions, the attacks have objectively and by all sides been made an expression of the North-South polarisation in the world. A polarisation that in the last twenty years also on a material level has sharpened enormously.

The attacks didn't add a new dimension to the brutality human beings are able to, not even a new place: from the beginning the United States of America, the implementation of capitalism in this part of the world, have meant war: the slaughtering of the native populations, slavery, civil war, the war around Texas etc.

Astonishing not the fact that super power #1 has been surprised by carpet cutter armed resolution, but that something like this hadn't happened earlier - after all the terror by means of which oppression and exploitation of the world have been put through by the US and their troops: My Lai, Panama City, Basra, the organisation of the mass murdering in Indonesia, the support for the Shah regimes in Persia, of Pinochet, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban in Afghanistan etc, the ongoing bombing of Iraq... It is mainly about the cold cynicism, the claiming of absolute power, the mockery towards the victims. This cynicism found its expression in Madeleine Albright's answer to the question concerning the death of tens of thousands of children as a consequence of economic sanctions against Iraq: "This is the price we have to pay." Now, a first bill has been delivered and collected.

2. The attacks have not hit the heart of capitalism. On the contrary, their one and only purpose is to preserve and solidify the worldwide system of exploitation and power. Both sides, attackers and the targeted state, respectively global capitalism, are trying to use the attacks to broaden and secure their power.

The attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon have secretly been enjoyed by some people. The skyline of New York in smoke, the WTC in flames and finally uprooted, the Pentagon burning, the symbols of - economic as well as military - capitalist power destroyed, those were pictures making many a face smile. But this is a wrong estimation of the attacks as if they were an attack on capitalism.

The breakdown of the WTC hasn't changed the world principally. After all, it is still a global system of exploitation and oppression. And even worse: The attacks serve both sides, the attackers as well as the targeted state or capitalism to try and extend and solidify their crumbling power.

3. Wars are never just a conflict between the two parties. On the contrary, mainly they are their common struggle to secure their power. It is in this sense that both the suicide pilots and the Bush government are into war.

The attackers have consciously put themselves on one level with warmongers like Madeleine Albright and followed the logics of war which precisely in the Gulf Wars had obviously been directed against the proletariat. On their surface, wars seem to consist of a contradiction between two parties, but in reality for both sides they are the common means to counteract the proletarian uprising, the struggle for a better life, the revolution as the movement of human emancipation.

In the worldwide distribution struggle, the attackers have mass sympathy and support of those excluded. They promise the recreation of their dignity and a bigger piece of the cake inside the framework of an authoritarian social order: a deeply fascist view of the world, having its roots not only in the growing separation of the world into "rich and poor". It is also and mainly a reaction to the real decay of outdated feudal structures, which partly had only been installed by colonialism but mainly adjusted to capitalism and modernised, supported and used by imperialism.

4. The attacks (or the way they are being used which comes out the same) by radical islamic forces are no expression of their strength but a reaction to their own crisis. They need the attacks to get back into the power play.

By the end of the 1960s, also in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other islamic countries strikes, women's liberation movements and strong leftwing class organisations had driven back the influence of religious groups. This relationship of forces was corrected by the systematic support for islamic groups by the CIA and "imperialist forces". With the revolution in Iran, the armed struggles in Algeria etc, social conflict in the three continents and militant islam seemed to merge.

In the last decade, millions of people have moved into the cities and just left the semi-feudal, religious structures on the countryside. In the cities, religious (and by no means only islamic) disguised fascism finds its mass basis amongst those to whom proletarisation/urbanisation means sheer misery because they haven't become working class (yet). In their claim to be the leaders, local elites and the middle class feel set back by the West. It is from these layers of society that the cadres and leaders of these movements are recruited. And it is precisely the fact that these movements can claim to be suppressed on the one hand and on the other present themselves as international, even global representatives of the betrayed, which makes them a dangerous opponent of any emancipation.

The radical islamic movements had already been on a kind of retreat: The "Islamic Revolution" in Iran is in a deep crisis and looking for stragtegies to survive against modernisation and workers' struggles. In Algeria, uprisings this year have shown that FIS can offer no alternative to the people. In Indonesia, islamic fundamentalists were able to attack trade unionists, leftwing people and sometimes strikes and make society feel insecure by killing people - but they were not able to gain mass influence. Thus, the attacks, as often, are a sign of decay of these movements. Now, by means of the (calculated) response of the US and the "West" to the attacks, they gain the revaluation they desired - just like Bin Laden became the hero of the Arabic region mainly through the cruise missiles the US reacted with against the attacks on the embassies in Africa; or like Saddam Hussein would never have politically survived the Iraq crisis without the Gulf War in 1991.

5. The dismantling of the super-power USA as a paper tiger is not about showing the global masses a way out of their powerlessness. It is about using this powerlessness for one's own interests and to solidify one's own power.

The "Holy Warriors" are not into doing away with oppression and exploitation. They want to have the role of the oppressor for themselves and if they can't achieve this, at least they want to participate in power. For the pauperised, neglected, ridiculed, starving and, because of emancipatory perspectives missing, desperate of this world, the attacks on symbols of capitalism may present themselves as an expression of their own cry for justice. In this sense, politically the attacks were aimed very precisely. The masses in the world, and fascists are always into gaining mass support - not only on the three continents - have noticed the vulnerability of the world's policeman with more or less secret joy. How strong the influence of the jihad fighters in Africa and Asia and maybe in other parts of the world will become depends on the way the US and world capitalism respond to this offer to a global war.

6. The whole variety of global proletariat has been hit by the attacks.

Not just well-earning bankers but also the international service proletariat working in the WTC: secretaries, cleaners, folks from Bangladesh, illegal immigrants from Colombia... Nevertheless the attacks succeeded in building a confrontation inside the global proletariat between mass poverty and those who gain through the development of capital. Respective professional groups like media workers, brokers, state employees, pilots (information workers in the broadest sense of the word) have immediately taken this declaration of war seriously and are feeling that "their civilisation" is being threatened by the "fanatism of the excluded".

Hereby, two extreme poles of the global proletariat are being put into confrontation as hostile subjects. Behind this scenario, the global system of capitalist exploitation, mediated by world market, which ever since the very beginning of capitalism existed on a global level, remains hidden.

In recent years, the mobilisations "against globalisation" had expressed this global relationship and the general dislike of capitalist order increasingly strong - but in a wrong way. Instead of taking the worldwide similarity of this rather diffuse dislike as a starting point and have it come to bear in all social struggles, they had put the tricontinental mass poverty against international financial capital (and its personal representatives) and looked for the enemy where he shows himself in the form of the "neo-liberal" monster. The "antiglob movement" hasn't yet recovered from the shock about consequently being put into a mental connection to the attacks. But it seems clear it will have to change its terrain if it wants to stick to its - up to now rather limited - moments of criticising capital.

7. The islamists are trying to re-solidify their positions of power by means of this war. But, in times of a collapsing world economy, war and terror are also being needed by the capitalism of the "free West", nowadays having become the "civilised North", to be able to deal with the threats of revolution.

When the planes flew into the WTC towers and the Pentagon the world economy was in the beginning of one of its probably deepest crises in the history of capitalism. After the financial crises in Aisa, Russia and Brasil, it was the escape to the stock markets, the fake boom of a "New Economy" fed hereby and the debt financed consuming boom in the US that were able to save the world economy from collapsing. But even before September 11 it had become clear that this was to lead to an ever more drastic collapse. Dramatically, this time all three centers of world economy - the US, Japan and Europe - went into crisis, with all steering devices of financial policy long being exhausted. A constellation like we had last seen in the mid 1960s - the phase when the US started to escalate the Vietnam war.

Facing the attacks, amongst economists and bosses you could nearly sense relief. Now they had a culprit to present - a culprit for the capitalist crisis and a cause for all the unpopular measures going along with it, like layoffs, intensification of work or tax raises.

From the many cases of ethnic or religious disguised selfdestruction of the losers to the riots of urban masses in Africa and peasants in Latin America to the countless strikes in Indonesia, the workers' struggles in Iran, proletarian riots against austerity in Argentine and not least the growing unrest in the new WTO member state China: even Bush knows that the US have too few thumbs to fill the thousand holes in the dam still protecting the New World Order against the growing pressure of the unbearable state the global exploitation pyramid is in.

Now, with the attacks he is able to take the Europeans into the boat and use NATO for the global containment. Especially important Germany with one of the largest armies in the world and now, finally, joining the global war. But still they act out of a position of global weakness of their social system that they will have to defend painstakingly everywhere - on the three continents as well as in their own hinterland.

8. In the shadow of external war the real thing is being developed: the global war against the internal enemy. This includes to overcome the former separation between the outer inter-state and the inner social and class policy areas, as foreign minister Fischer put it.

More special forces in the military, more "inner security", state spending to help the economy recover, tax raises, restructuring of the welfare state and pressure on the unemployed, stronger control of migration - all this had been announced anyway, now they intend to implement it with less problems. With the new "bad guy" defined and following old methods, these measures can be supplemented with the external war covering and justifying the internal measures. This will also be true for Europe. But the external war will look different from the last decade: the enemy is diffuse, unknown, everywhere, using all kinds of masks. And playing on poverty. So, the several years of war against international terrorism will develop as a direct war against the worldwide working class(es) - by all means necessary, on all levels, inside and outside. The Western values sharing community has already signed carte blanche. At the moment, the EU commission is pushing thorugh a new, extended and on a European level standardised concept of terrorism. This concept contains more or less everything connected with struggles outside the recognised mediations like trade unions, parties etc: from "urban violence" to "squats and occupations" to disruptions of the infrastructure and the internet.

But their partner in the game, too, will not be scrupulous. The differences between state terror and non-state or half-state terror will vanish even more than before - mainly where religious fundamentalists have a certain strength, like in the Middle East, Pakistan or in Indonesia. And soon we might find as a reality what Fischer and others announced in September 1999, shortly after the NATO war in former Yugoslavia: "General Secretary Kofi Annan has correctly called for the development of a 'culture of prevention' so that we're able to prevent the outbreak of wars and natural catastrophes in future times more efficiently. The attitude of not interfering with 'internal affairs' may no longer be misused as a protection shield for dictators and murderers. (...) Everyone knows how difficult the transition from the 'culture of reacting' to a 'culture of preventing' will be. A huge amount of convincing power will be needed to establish the political and economic consent for measures to prevent something we hope never will happen."

9. What to do?

The war propaganda machinery is running full speed. But its success is not as big as they prefer to claim: even in the US themselves there is no storming of recruitment offices for enlistment by the youth. The attacks might have made people think, the extent of destruction and the numbers of dead called "collateral damages" in the past wars in the Gulf region or in Kosova may have promoted folks' ability to criticise military missions...

There will be different kinds of reactions: one part will decide to be pro war to defend what they have got here (during the Gulf war the protests in the West faded when it became clear that the bombings would be restricted to the Middle East only). On the other hand a debate on capitalism and the possibility of global human emancipation could start anew. This debate will have to refer to the worldwide struggles by first of all taking notice of them and understanding them as the real motor of history. In the end this can be the basis from which to mobilise struggles against the partners of the global war game. Quite new perspectives might develop, given the "movement against globalisation" pushes forth discussions in this direction and does the job.

Today, there are three levels on which to develop our ability to intervene:

a) In a mobilisation against war - not only this war - all over the world.

In Germany, peace movements willing to protect their own wealth biotopes have a bad tradition. Any worldwide mobilisation against global war will have to mark its breaking away from all those who defend global exploitation and who call general class war "peace". One part of this breaking away is supporting the mass practice of refusal to take part in the war through migration.

b) In a general social discussion worldwide about the common perspectives.

On the one hand, the attacks in the US and the threat of a long war are leading to authoritarian reactions and a general turn to the right. But they have also created a climate where it is possible to raise some questions much more principally: what kind of world do we live in and how do we six billion people want to live together in the future? In this situation, today's left is being split into calling for the US as the last military saviour of "civilisation", a fatal revival of traditional anti-imperialism and a new debate about possibility, necessity and actuality of world revolution. It is not only necessary to have such a debate, it has to be organised.

c) In the support of worldwide struggles already taking place.

Pushing people back into their powerlessness facing the "big events" in world history and to rob them of every perspective to create history by themselves, has always been the function of war as a means to secure power. There is a debate degrading itself to appealing to those in power and thus trying to take part on the level of states. Against this debate we have to concentrate on the self-activity of the exploited in their struggles - even if they might appear so small in the face of big world policy. We can only counteract this general tendency to give away power which is intended by war and fear of war by taking those struggles seriously, supporting them and picking up the emancipatory potential they contain. Part of this is revolutionary defeatism trying to bring about the defeat of all parties taking part in warfare.

Wildcat, September 26, 2001

Posted By

Jul 23 2005 21:21


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