Open letter to the libertarian site “Beneath the Ashes”
Translated from here
24th November 2015:
Sent at the beginning of last week [ie about 16th November] to Sous la Cendre [“Beneath the ashes”], the letter received no reply [in fact, they published it a bit later- here, and a response is pending]. Knowing that it tries to address issues which disturb them, that of Islam, on which a lot of libertarians and similar people prefer silence for fear of being accused of “Islamophobia”, I am therefore led to distribute it widely. Some clarifications.
Firstly, in the letter, I emphasise that the reductionism displayed in “Neither their war nor their peace” reminded me of the person who presided over the publication of “Our kingdom is a prison” at the time of the attack against the synagogue in the rue Copernic in 1980. Of course, I’m not opening myself up to any easy analogy which would lead me to say that the author of “Neither their war nor their peace” is a priori a holocaust denier, which was the case with the editors of “Our kingdom.” On the other hand, seeing as it’s evidence of the failings peculiar to French rationalist ideology, it encourages the avoidance of “accursed” questions which many self-proclaimed “libertarians” do not want to be confronted with because of the pure opportunism towards the prejudices they attribute en bloc to the layers of society that they would like to solicit, without even listening to these people whom they are supposed to be addressing. They forget sometimes that North Africans can be atheists! Without realizing it, they in some way take up the ideology of the State as an inverted expression of reality, when in fact this reality is far more complex and more contradictory than it appears to be in the discourse of the managers of domination.
Finally, to show that I’m not obsessively fixated on Islam, I recall that the same “libertarians”, constantly in search of improbable causes to support and victims of “our” States to defend, often have identical attitudes towards other religions, starting with Catholicism, even within Europe itself. Without even going back to the time of the appearance of “Solidarnosc” in Poland, I am thinking here of Ireland, where ‘Sinn Féin’ Republicans, not content with being nationalists are, in addition, supporters of the clergy. This is not without consequences, starting with their legendary hostility to abortion. Just six months ago, at their last conference, their leadership (without it being a unanimous decision) finally ended up reluctantly admitting that it would be possible to think about it “in certain cases”: those where the foetus is suffering from illness, disability or deformity that allows the medical community to “doubt its chances of survival.” [in fact, the laws in Northern Ireland also permits abortion if there is a reasonable suspicion that the birth of the child would lead to the death of the mother; see also this]. Asserting that “Sinn Fein” and the Irish population that supports it, particularly in Ulster, share horrendous positions on this issue, would this demonstrate “Catholicophobia”? Even as the British state, to better manage the situation over in Belfast, prohibited there what they accept elsewhere in Great Britain! To ask the question is to answer it.
I was surprised to find the text “Neither their war nor their peace” on your site, without any critical commentary. A text that seems to come along at particularly the wrong moment and which I did not distribute for several reasons, the first being the absence of empathy towards those most concerned by the massacre, for example at the Bataclan, the dead, the wounded, those close to them, most of them “teenagers”, including those from the banlieux, like those I know, some of them for a long time, or those I bump into where I live in department 93 [Seine-St-Denis, just on the outskirts of Paris, at the end of the Paris metro line]. These “teenagers”, some originating from the Maghreb, were horrified by the massacres, spent their night on the phone and, for some, running to hospitals, fearing for the lives of their loved ones, their friends and their relations, out rushing off to the center of the cyclone. Yet despite their intense emotion, they did not make some amalgamation of the “crazy God-lovers” with Arabs, North Africans or even Muslims in general. And all of them condemned the next day the establishment of the state of emergency and appeals to sing “The Marseillaise” on Facebook. Anyway, the text reminds me, in its spirit, of those allegedly “objective” “analyses” during the years 1970-1980, where “subjective attitudes” [ie anything that didn’t conforms to what was considered “objectively ” correct, such as an emotional response] were repressed concerning the massacres of Jews during the Nazi epoch. It is impossible to respond to the use of emotion by the French state, which I am the first to recognise, with the coldness of “geopolitical” pseudo-critical analyses on the level of the first “revolutionary” politicologist, interviewed by “Le Monde Diplomatique”.
The second reason, in conjunction with the first is that the text, given its timeless character, could have been written forty years ago, on the occasion of terrorist attacks sponsored by Carlos and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine at the time of pan-Arabism, which repressed the issue of religion in the name of the hypothetical construction of some secular nation-state, sometimes dressed up with the label “socialist” in Palestine. However, the issue of religion in general and Islam in particular returns to the surface more than ever, to the point where what we thought had been superseded had more prosaically been repressed, especially in the speeches of the leaders of pan-Arabism, of Nasserism and its avatars, already well decomposed at the end of the Cold War. For example, the question of the peculiarities of “radical Islam” as an ideology that combines politics and religion in the context of current global relations, the rotten fruit of the liquidation of the Blocs, is totally ignored in the text and reduced, in a Marxoid manner, to the dimension of conflicts between nation states in the modern sense, to the struggle for markets, etc. However, the issue raised by “radical Islam”, in Syria and elsewhere, under the faded banner of the Holy War, is no more reducible to “the relentless logic ” of capitalism and the state, in general, than that of Nazism towards the Jews, Gypsies, etc. We’ll have to get to grips with the history of “radical Islam” and to fight it for what it is, obviously without making any concessions to democracy, to the republican state, to its “emergency” situations, to its laws in the same vein, etc. If not, we risk making it banal in the way the revisionists did with anti-Semitism.
For I say plainly, on the question of the latest massacres in Paris, this text is as false, in its approach, as the texts that emerged at the time of revisionism and the bombing of the Rue Copernic synagogue, by neo-Bordigists, such as “Our kingdom is a prison “ in 1980. In general, I think we will agree on this: the religious question is not reducible to that of the “logic” of capitalism and the state. Any more than modern alienation has done away with millenarist alienations, even though it modifies them, uses them, etc. Which is also the case with “radical Islam”, given that it carries religious fanaticism along with it, first of all in terms of destruction then, secondly, accompanied by violent self-destruction. These have a goal, not of realizing a nation state, but that imaginary, universal theocracy advocated in the Quran, with, as a reward for those blessed, sacrificed on the altar of the Prophet, access to a paradise populated with virgins. I think Europeans, steeped in Christian, then secular, culture do not understand how the speeches and communiques of the imams, even fundamentalist ones, echo in the minds of Muslims here, although many of them are embarrassed or horrified by the acts committed by some “brothers” in the name of Islam.
In short, in terms of critique, Islamism disappears from the minds of quite a few libertarians and those who are considered so, for reasons well summarized in the text “To believe or to think – you must choose! ” available on the website of Floréal. Legitimate hatred against “our” state should not also lead to writing texts as reductionist as “Neither their war nor their peace.” It’s one thing to criticize the Republican state, as I do without concession with the “young”, amongst others, that I know in “my” banlieu, including conversations over the last five days. It’s quite another thing to defend reductionist positions, which stear clear of the critique of Islamism and its specific horrors like our citizenists at the far left of the left, especially in department 93 [reference to Montreuil in particular, an area on the outskrts of Paris where a large amount of “libertarians” are concentrated]. To the point that, under the pretext of not stigmatizing “Muslims” en bloc, they accept remarks and vulgar anti-Semitic conspiracy theories without reacting to them, remarks which I sometimes hear in Maghreb cafes in “my” banlieu – “The attacks are horrible, but those who did it are not true Muslims, but crazy people manipulated by Israel.” As for me, I do not tolerate this kind of remark aimed to clear Islam of any responsibillty, any more than those Christians who affirm: “The Inquisition had nothing to do with Christianity and the Roman Church, it was probably manipulated by rabbis from Amsterdam.” Unlike those alleged libertarians and similar who treat me as “Islamophobic”, I do not dodge a critique of religion. Without, obviously, making an a priori amalgam of individuals, in this case Muslims, with the “fanatics of God”. On the contrary, these shoddy so-called libertarians believe it’s possible, through their attempts at opportunistic contact, to solicit “youths” who’ve been Islamised to varying degrees. The poverty of activism!
Neither God nor master
Paris, 18th November 2015