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Comrades, your LAW OF TALION* will never be mine !

mercredi 21 janvier 2015

A national psychodrama is organized today, January 19, 2015, as part of a "special day" devoted on "France Culture" radio to the French "Republic’s lost children." This is an unfortunate title for a radio program, because it refers to a questionable book ("The Republic’s Lost Territories") published in 2002, which collected several testimonies of teachers working in popular suburbs and propagated a discreet xenophobia in the name (or course) of “secularism”, “republican values” and the “fight against racism, sexism and anti-Semitism.”

It’s an unfortunate title for a radio program because it suggests "children" have recently taken dangerous positions (and among them, coincidentally, we know that “Muslim” children are specially targeted). Obviously, some children (200 incidents have been reported in schools and 40 pupils have been interrogated by the police over 12 millions students of all ages) have had scandalous attitudes after Charlie Hebdo and the koscher supermarket murders but we should not forgot their age (all are minors) !

Finally, it’s an unfortunate title for a radio programm because it forgets the responsibilities of extreme right adults, starting with the National Front leaders, who, themselves, are not prosecuted for "inciting to terrorism" even if they distil hatred, anti-Semitism, racism, anti-Muslim paranoia and conspiracy theories .

The following article will therefore target adults, but not "Muslim" adults.... It will only evoke some "super radical" arguments and express puzzlement and dismay at some of the ideas which circulate in our ranks.

Following the execution of 17 people [including 3 policemen, from Italian, Martinique and Algerian background (1)] on 7, 8 and 9 January 2015, criticism of the concept of "respect for human life," and criticism of bourgeois democracy, both mingled in the greatest confusion, have flourished on radical discussion lists, Facebook and Internet websites...

As if criticism of bourgeois democracy should automatically bring us, militant supporters of social revolution and abolition of capitalism, to be indifferent towards the death of cops or soldiers who are paid to defend the social, political and legal system oppressing us.

Confronted with the Far Right anti-Muslim hysteria and crude manipulation of popular emotions by French Government since 11 January 2015, it’s important we remember the basic principle of respect for human life, including cops and soldiers (2).

Of course, this respect is not unconditional and places us in contradictory postures which we must openly assume.

We can be both opposed to death penalty and in favor of armed self-defense in certain circumstances. We can oppose state violence and defend (or advocate) revolutionary violence under certain conditions.

We can be hostile to current military and police forces. We can wish, in a future socialist world, to see all forces of repression disappear and simultaneously denounce all acts of violence committed by police and army members, and not stupidly rejoice whenever a French policeman or soldier is killed.

We don’t trust in the possibility of creating a democratic army or police, but we fight at the same time to oblige their members to comply with the laws of the “democratic” state and be punished if they do not comply.

This is also the approach of those who, for example, want to bring Israeli leaders before the International Criminal Court, or all local committees which require the judgment of cops who have committed racist murders in working class neighborhoods.

The reason why the death of a French policeman (or an American, Chinese or Russian soldier) is not indifferent to us and certainly does not please us, is linked to the respect for human life. The life of a policeman or a soldier can not be reduced to his/her political and social function.

This respect for human life led the comrades of the Communist Workers Party of Iraq, tortured by the henchmen of Saddam Hussein, to oppose his death sentence in 2006. The same principle prompted these comrades, when they led the guerrillas in Iraqi Kurdistan, not to kill their prisoners and even to release them....

Some comrades will object these are "Christian values". They are mistaken and this kind of reasoning is all the more surprising in libertarian circles. Indeed, in the past at least, anarchists have often quoted the Native American tribes, which, instead of condemning a murderer to death, exiled him from the community to which he belonged.

Respect for human life is not only a Christian principle. It existed long before the advent of Christianity, in many pre-Christian philosophies, and this is a valuable asset which we must preserve, even though today, this principle is hypocritically invoked by churches, parties or states which practice double standards every day. Clearly, these institutions consider certain lives are worth much less than others ... They even support some killings, genocides or wars waged in the name of "civilization", or of a particular god.

Practiced for thousands of years, before the appearance of Jewish religion, the implicit or explicit law of talion (supported by some anarchists, libertarians and radicals) is a reactionary biblical principle and certainly not a revolutionary principle.

When I read on the Internet :

- "A good cop is a dead cop" ;

- Or "When I see how the cops are chasing youth down in popular neighborhoods, I struggle to see their share of humanity" ;

- Or, when I read more sophisticated reasonings rightly quoting many examples of State violence (like when French special police forces killed 19 New Caledonian independentists at Ouvea, in 1988, because the local nationalists had taken 20 “gendarmes” as hostages) but denouncing at the same time “Christian moralists,” who defend “the so-called "sacred" character of human life” ;
- When I read these sentences, I can only express my total disagreement.

"Respect for human life" is not just a moral or ethical principle. It’s also a positive achievement of social struggles, of the struggles of the workers movement which never promoted an “exterminationist class racism” contrary to what reactionary, anticommunist academics pretend.

Of course, we are not naive and we don’t believe the state will protect us in all circumstances, and that it’s its only social function. Nevertheless, the same militants who denounce the terrorist side of the state will certainly call the cops if their girlfriend is raped, or if one their friends, or parents, is assassinated. Maybe they won’t file a complaint if they are burglarized or robbed in the street. And again, I’m not so sure - insurance contracts are rather demanding. But it’s obvious we can’t both call the cops in case of a killing, theft or rape, and rejoice in their death or pretend to be indifferent to their murder, especially in the circumstances of 7 , 8 and 9 January 2015.

These "indifferentist" considerations about the death of law enforcement agents or representatives of the bourgeoisie remind me of the "work accident" theory that I stupidly backed in the 70s.

At that time, confronted with the murderous repression unleashed against far left groups supporting armed struggle, we denounced the media hysteria of and their advocacy of democracy (what Claude Guillon calls "democratic terrorization" ). For us, Aldo’s Moro assassination by the Red Brigades or the abduction and murder of Hans-Martin Schleyer by the RAF were only "work accidents" (in a few words, they had it coming and deserved to die, since they managed capitalist order). We were wrong to hold this position and today the radical left militants who advocate indifference in front of the death of the three policemen killed in Paris reproduce the same mistakes. They have not assimilated the analysis of all the comrades (for example those of Prima Linea) who, without denouncing anyone, have separated themselves from the armed struggle they led in the 70s.

Those interested in these subjects can watch an excellent French/Italian documentary ("Do you remember Revolution" of Lorendana Bianconi made in 1997 about four women who participated to the armed struggle in Italy in the mid 70s and have spent long years in prison. All of them, like Anna-Laura Braghetti who was one of Aldo Moro guardians (see her book "The Prisoner"), remember when they suddenly realized that the "pigs", "bourgeois leaders", “pig-foremen" that they killed or shot in the legs were ALSO human beings.

We should not repeat the mistakes of the past and we should not encourage the younger generation revolted by injustice to do the same dangerous errors we did. In Italy, a whole generation (and its successors) paid a very high price for defending a wrong policy on these matters.

Yves Coleman Ni patrie ni frontières, 01/19/2015

* The law of talion is already qooted in the Code of Hammurabi, 18 centuries BC. Its principle is repeated in the Leviticus and the Koran (with notable exceptions). Our super-radicals haven’t invented anything, they are just continuing two old religious reactionary traditions ... A sad performance !

(1) Parallel to these “anti-cops” positions in ultradical milieux, many anti-imperialists, anti-Zionists, anarchists and leftists, after a few hypocrite precautions ("we are horrified" etc.) put in the same bag the islamist murderers and the victims of "Charlie Hebdo". The ultimate dishonor was probably hit by Mr Norman Finkelstein, whose posts are illustrated by a real cover of "Charlie Hebdo" ("The Koran is crap, it does not stop bullets”) and a fake cover representing Charb, one of the cartoonists killed, declaring "Charlie is crap, it does not stop bullets. " For those for are interested in NF "farts" (that’s his words) they can watch his stupid and criminal posts on his blog :

At a more confidential but equally harmful level, the multilingual a-info list published the text of an anarchist (José Antonio Gutiérrez D.) who defends exactly the same ignoble reasoning. As for the Coordination of anarchist groups (a coalition of anarchist French groups), it issued a statement proclaiming : "We do not forget the role that Charlie Hebdo held in the dissemination of racist, sexist and Islamophobic propaganda during the last fifteen years. But nothing justifies such crimes and we stand with the families and relatives of the victims. " After having explained they condemn all " fascisms ", be they religious or nationalist, condemn all supporters of the clash of civilizations theory, these libertarians put Charlie Hebdo’s journalists and cartoonits in the same bag as the fascists who murdered them, joining the camp of those who explain “It’s very sad but they asked for it. »

As a comrade, Nadia, rightly points out :

"Let’s suppose for a moment that the police does not deserve the slightest bit of compassion, because they actually enforce state oppression against the exploited. In this case, if this is the decisive argument, we must be logical. For example, many precarious workers commit suicide because a job center has denied their rights to social benefits : we should therefor consider the action of the job center employees who have executed an unjust order. Let’s go further : some disciplinary councils of certain schools exclude pupils. These measures are often the first step of the descent into hell, which then leads youth to jail and to be exposed to police violence more than others. We could even go further if we followed the same crazy logic : does not a landowner create homelessness and why should he not be killed for that ? It would be an insult to those radical anti-capitalist comrades who write "A good cop is a dead cop," to imagine they stick to appearances, and think that one can only kill with bullets and not with a decision written on a piece of paper. In this case it’s not "A good cop is a dead cop" they should write but "Millions of people deserve to die." This argument, in other times, has been used by many dictators who claimed to lead a pseudo socialist revolution. »

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