Monday, 16 November 2015

Schengen and The Paris Murders

As suggested on Saturday, the actions of the reactionary butchers of ISIS has not just been an immediate attack on workers in Paris.  Conservatives, and other reactionaries have been quick to take advantage of the attacks to push their own attacks on the working-class, by attempts to restrict all of those rights and freedoms that workers in the EU have enjoyed.

Cameron's attempts to close open borders has been given a big boost.  France's closure of its borders in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, was a sensible, and quite normal policing response, no different to setting up road blocks to prevent perpetrators from escaping from any crime scene.  But, the suggestion that these attacks justify the scrapping of the Schengen Agreement, within the EU, is nonsense.

Britain is not part of the Schengen Agreement, and yet has been the scene of more than the average number of terrorist attacks over the years, for example.  The underlying idea that such proposals seek to convey is that terrorism is the work of some other, some external enemy.  And of, course, it is not.

The terrorist attacks of animal rights activists, in the past, for example, were carried out by home grown terrorists.  In the 1970's, Welsh activists carried out terrorist acts against English holiday homes in Wales; the terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland, were carried out almost exclusively by people living in Northern Ireland, and so on.

What is common in all these instances, and in all terrorist attacks, is that they are carried out by people who represent a small minority, and that is necessarily the case, because they are acts resorted to by people who have been unable to "win the battle of democracy" as Marx put it, who have been unable to win more than a small number of supporters to their cause.  As Lenin put it, attacking the terrorist acts of the anarchists in Russia, "they go in for violence retail, whereas we Bolsheviks go in for it wholesale."  In other words, the working-class uses violence, not in individual, pointless, usually counter-productive acts, but only on a large-scale, as part of the revolutionary overthrow of the existing ruling-class, and only because such large-scale violence is required in response to the massive force, which the existing ruling class possesses, and will use to keep itself in power.

Closing borders, therefore, has never been an effective way of stopping the individual, especially random acts of violence of the terrorist, but it does restrict the rights of the mass of society, of the working-class, and its ability to go about its daily life, to move to where the best prices can be obtained for its labour-power, to organise, as a class across those borders, and so on.  A suspension of Schengen is not an attack on the terrorists, but on the European working class, by conservatives.

The idea that some of these conservatives put across at the weekend that Schengen needs to be scrapped, because the weapons came across those borders is equally absurd.  The Provisional IRA had no problem acquiring all of the automatic weapons, explosives and so on it required.  In fact, the criminal gangs operating in Manchester, Birmingham and London, who regularly engage in gun battles appear to have no problem acquiring weapons either, despite the UK's gun laws, and its border controls.

Once again, the idea that criminals or terrorists only obtain weapons from outside a country's borders is a nonsense designed to convey that the threat is external, that it comes from some "other".  Yet, does France not have a weapons producing industry?  Indeed, do not most countries have their own weapons producing industry?  The idea that terrorists or criminals can only obtain the weapons they require from outside the country's borders, and so the borders must be closed, is absurd!  Not only, can those weapons be obtained from within the country's own weapons industry, by paying people within those industries to provide them, but they can also simply be stolen.

In fact, Marx made the point a long time ago in Capital, that one of the differences that occurred with the rise of industrial capital, which undermined the power of merchant capital, was that all those things that were demanded, and which previously merchants shipped from one point of the globe to another, making profits from, could now simply be produced closer to the market for those commodities.

The same is true of all forms of Prohibition.  It simply provides an incentive for additional producers, usually criminal gangs, to enter production, both to get around the restrictions imposed on movement, and also to benefit from the higher prices, and profits to be obtained on such black market production. In other words, all that border controls, to prevent the movement of weapons, would achieve is to foster in each country, a large home grown criminal industry, in the production and stealing of those weapons.

But, as stated on Saturday, these kinds of bureaucratic responses are typical of the way both conservatives and social-democrats view the problem itself.  Both are unable to advocate the rational solution to such problems, which is the establishment of a permanently mobilised, and armed citizen's militia (as indeed even the US Constitution proposes in theory), which would be able to know at first hand, as a consequence of its own daily life, who the potential terrorists, and actual terrorists were, and to stop any such acts short, as well as providing a real deterrent, therefore to them.  That was seen in Britain in 2011, when it was ordinary working-class communities that organised themselves into Defence Squads, and not the police, which prevented rioters from destroying their communities.

But, conservatives and social-democrats cannot propose such a solution, because that would be to undermine the real purpose of the capitalist state, which is to defend the interests of capital against the interests of workers.  If the bodies or armed men of the state took the form of a permanently armed, permanently mobilised working-class (which today makes up almost the whole of the population in developed economies) in a Citizen's Militia, then not only would it form the most effective means of deterrent and answer to acts of terror, but as Engels puts it,

“The more workers who are trained in the use of weapons the better. Universal conscription is the necessary and natural corollary of universal suffrage; it puts the voters in the position of being able to enforce their decisions gun in hand against any attempt at a coup d'état.”

( The Prussian Military Question and the German Workers' Party)

And, it is that latter point that conservatives and social-democrats could not allow, because ultimately, they know, as one senior British General put it, recently that were elected politicians to actually challenge the interests of capital, then that state, armed to the teeth would step in to overthrow the elected Parliament.

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