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AUSTRALIAN
MARXIST
REVIEW

Journal of the Communist Party of Australia

ISSUE 58June 2015

Charlie Hebdo and Crisis in Capitalism

Sepehr Samiei

The year 2015 began with news of a violent and deadly strike carried out by terrorists on a French magazine headquarters in response to its publication of offensive material against believers of the Islamic faith. The shock-waves of this incident, now publicly known as the Charlie Hebdo massacre, provoked global reactions, spreading like shrapnel from a bomb. Mainstream media reported relentlessly on the incident, offering heedless radical statements of condemnation with possible racist and undemocratic interpretations.

Not that such mass killings, particularly by extremist terrorists are unheard of, yet in the sea of silence surrounding the everyday murder of innocents by these self same terrorists throughout the Middle East and North Africa, the assassination of French journalists in Paris received unprecedented attention.

It did not even lose the media’s attention amid massacres taking place in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. The unarmed American black teenager who was shot dead by a racist police officer did not set the media ablaze like this; nor did the other African American who was asphyxiated on camera or the American police killing of a minor who was playing with his toy gun.

Immediately after the Charlie Hebdo “massacre”, a number of heads of states and governments rushed to Paris in order to participate in the anti-extremism rally. Among them was the prime minister of the state of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. The Butcher of Gaza could not afford to lose this valuable opportunity to tell the world that his army has been cracking down on the same mischievous terrorists.

The incident has also provided fresh fuel for the fire of racism and fascism. Foul minds utter foetid words while the pervasive fear of terrorism acts as a shroud, covering up damning evidence of the ties between the west and the very same forces that carried out this attack.

It is no secret that Al-Qaida was mobilized, armed and trained by the United States in Afghanistan, back in 80s, in order to confront the adoption of socialism and to thwart the efforts of the Soviet Union. Religious extremism was supported and enabled by Western governments. Today, footage is publicly available of George Bush Snr. giving a speech in front of Afghan Jihadists assuring them of US, as well as God’s, support for their cause.

The Cold War era and the 80s might already sound like ancient history, but the West’s open support of “anti-Assad rebels” is not even as old as the last World Cup! It was not so long ago that the same extremists who are now purportedly the number one enemies of Western civilisation, i.e. ISIS/ISIL/IS, were so friendly with US politicians that they posed on camera and happily took photos together.

One might still argue that even Western support of these terrorists at that time, was a mistake which belongs to the past and we, instead of confining ourselves within the corrals of old news, should rather move forward and deal with the present situation. But even today, it is no secret that the United States and its Western allies, including France, are openly arming and supporting “moderate rebels” in Syria against “a brutal dictator in Syria who oppresses its own people”. The US and its allies are funnelling funds, arms and supplies to terrorists fighting against the Syrian government. These so called moderate rebels are again known to be allies with the other non-moderate terrorists with whom the US and its allies are ostensibly fighting. Evidently most of the arms, funds and supplies end up in the hands of the “evil terrorists”!

What is going on here? Western powers are funding and supporting the same terrorists who are their number one enemy? In other words, are we funding our own enemies?! How could this make any sense?

In his essay “Exiting the Crisis of Capitalism or Capitalism in Crisis?”, Samir Amin, a prominent contemporary figure in the science of Political Economy, boded a new era of wars and revolutions:

… Just as the first financialised globalisation had led to 1929, so the second produced 2008. Today we have reached this crucial moment which announces the probability of a new wave of ‘wars and revolutions’. This is even more so since the ruling powers do not envisage anything other than the restoration of the system as it was before the financial meltdown. [1]

Therein, as well as in some of his other important works, Amin provides a detailed explanation of the roots and nature of current crisis in capitalism and how it leaves only one choice to its patrons – war.

In their common publication The World We Wish to See; Revolutionary Objectives in the Twenty-First Century, Samir Amin and James Membrez provide a thorough analysis of “political Islam” and its role in strengthening capitalism. This is of the utmost importance today as we can already see an explanation for the above mentioned conundrum of why the US and its allies are funding their own enemies, i.e. Islamic extremists.

The following is taken from Wikipedia [2]:

According to Samir Amin, Islam leads its struggle on the terrain of culture, wherein “culture” is intended as “belongingness to one religion”. Islamist militants are not actually interested in the discussion of dogmas which form religion but on the contrary they’re concerned about the ritual assertion of membership in the community. Such a world view is therefore not only distressing as it conceals an immense poverty of thought, but it also justifies Imperialism’s strategy of substituting a “conflict of cultures” for a conflict between the liberal, imperialist centres and the backward, dominated peripheries. This importance attributed to culture allows political Islam to obscure from every sphere of life the realistic social dichotomy between the working classes and the global capitalist system which oppresses and exploits them.[3]

The militants of political Islam are only present in areas of conflict in order to furnish people with education and health care, through schools and health clinics. However, these are nothing more than works of charity and means of indoctrination, insofar as they are not means of support for the working class struggle against the system which is responsible for its misery.

Besides, beyond being reactionary on definite matters (see the status of women in Islam) and responsible for fanatical excesses against non-Muslim citizens (such as the Copts in Egypt), political Islam even defends the sacred character of property and legitimises inequality and all the prerequisites of capitalist reproduction. One example is the Muslim Brotherhood’s support in the Egyptian parliament for conservative and reactionary laws which empowers the rights of property owners, to the detriment of the small peasantry. Political Islam has also always found consent in the bourgeoisie of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as the latter abandoned an anti-imperialist perspective and substituted it for an anti-western stance, which only creates an acceptable impasse of cultures and therefore doesn’t represent any obstacle to the developing imperialist control over the world system.

Hence, political Islam aligns itself in general with capitalism and imperialism, without providing the working classes with an effective and non-reactionary method of struggle against their exploitation. [4]

According to this evidence, the Charlie Hebdo incident, along with the Sydney Siege, the war in Syria, the war in Libya, the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan (all Muslim countries),were not only not surprising but also anticipated well ahead of their occurrences.

Amin sees the present crisis as a moment in the second long crisis of the capitalist system, dating from the early 1970s. The first long crisis, he maintains, lasted from 1873 until 1945. He sees no exit from repeated crises under capitalism except the descent into barbarism; that the challenge is not to escape from the crisis of capitalism – a hopeless project – but to escape from capitalism in crisis. Amin reasserts his historical optimism as to the socialist project, expecting a “second wave” of socialist attempts that will stem from the self-liberating efforts of the nations and peoples of the South that will lead to an awakening of the Northern popular classes to join the awakened global South. [5]

It is up to us to choose: “...either transition to Socialism or regression into Barbarism.” [6]

  1. http://www.forumdesalternatives.org/docs/bruselas/Bruselas%20-%20Samir%20Amin%201.pdf
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samir_Amin#Samir_Amin.27s_views_on_political_Islam
  3. The World We Wish to See; Revolutionary Objectives in the Twenty-First Century, Samir Amin and James Membrez, p83.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Samir Amin, The Law of Worldwide Value, 2010, ISBN-13: 978-1-58367-233-4.
  6. Rosa Luxemburg, The Junius Pamphlet, www.marxists.org. Retrieved 2013-09-30

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