So I wake up on the day of France’s huge ‘Republican March’ in time to hear ‘Les Racines Du Ciel’ (The Roots Of Heaven), a weekly France Culture radio program that takes an all-comers-welcome approach to spiritual development. Very predictably, the usually-excellent content has been replaced by someone labeled a Muslim, keen to condemn the recent events by distancing the Islamic faith from recent events of mass murder. Hesitatingly, he touches on NATO involvement in the Middle East as somehow related to the issue, but I am confident that angle will otherwise be blanked amidst today’s ‘celebrations’. Not all terrorism is of the same media interest.
As the weekly magic of Les Racines Du Ciel is somehow missing in all this, my mind turns to the fact that at very short notice the French establishment seems to have orchestrated one whopping opportunity for yet another terrorist attack. Why? Less than a week ago if anyone had said that several heads of state would parade through Paris amidst about a million other individuals, it would have been branded insanity on security grounds. But later, amidst saturation levels of radio commentators shouting down one another in a clamor to champion their own particular flavor of ‘moral good’, it becomes obvious that I live in a reactionary world – a world in which not even the many who support this march can communicate intelligently. So how will Sunday January 11th 2015 in Paris go down in history? And what are the take-away messages?
Firstly, let’s ask how this can be a march against war, given the warmongering heads of state that are visiting as VIPs. Some names certainly stretch any concept of ‘tolerance’. And how could such a march promote tolerance anyway, when some elected French officials have notably been excluded from the list of invites? As for ideals of freedom, the NSA has already used the events to argue yet again that more ‘intelligence must be shared’ – that is, more government spying on the public is required. That argument was furthered on Thursday when the French government rushed through new restrictive legislation on media content; How can the march even be against ‘terrorism’ when its security measures constitute a massive argument that only through growing state military might can we be protected? Has no one grasped the concept of ‘state terrorism’ or has mainstream media managed to gloss over that idea too – all whilst alleged war criminals shake hands in Paris? Even the public courage and the French sense of ‘fraternity’ is unwittingly mocked by a media that flits from stories of mutually-frightened Jews and Muslims, to the repetitious mantra that the whole world must defeat this ‘monstrous’ threat of terror, if our ‘freedoms’ are to be protected.
Be clear. However well-intentioned the public on the streets may be, this is actually a march FOR war – the media-managed war of our divisive leaders who persuade the world’s population there is no option but to line up behind them – all whilst global inequality mushrooms amidst militarily-backed ‘economic colonialism’. Distraction is a potent propaganda tool.
Without a serious appraisal of all these issues, how can this march do anything other than sow more of the sort of confusion that is only too easily manipulated for nefarious political ends? Listening to all the polemical commentary on French radio, it is only too obvious that as a species we fail to agree even when we want to unite against a shared problem. Meanwhile, despite all the global shows of sympathy and many visiting foreign dignitaries, the French media myopically talks of ‘national solidarity’. No doubt the same basic concept is promoted within the so-called Islamic State. Plus ça change…
It takes strength not to be saddened by the fact that the hierarchical structure of the human world results in millions of people expressing their horror at the effects of a divided world, whilst the so-called ‘leaders’ who promote and sustain such divisions march as if they are wholly innocent of the crimes they protest. Perhaps the most tragic angle of Sunday’s events is that – with or without further incident – what the march represents in part, is the elite’s success in promoting their fabricated War On Terror. All the while a complicit global media does nothing other than fawn over the established world order ‘values’ that keep all this grief and division in place. I suddenly realize why I am submitting this to Common Dreams.
Different people will take different things from this march. But to make a generalization, it is obvious that the public are mostly saying a simple ‘no’ to hatred, racism, fascism and intolerance. Meanwhile the ‘leaders’ show face amidst a spectacle that will be exploited to further convince the world that the issue is indeed their conveniently-distracting war on terror. But terror will never be defeated by the military muscle of their states any more than it will be by their pretensions that its causes lie entirely outside their actions. Moreover, the core problem is not ‘terrorism’ in any case. It is something between stupidity and hypocrisy… and it comes from the top down.
Ordinary people can only mind their own business, or march the streets in an effort to express their anguish and humanitarian ideals. Let’s stop kidding ourselves that our heads of states share the same impotence or innocence. And let’s stop pretending they have nothing better to do than walk the streets of Paris wearing mock frowns. Hypocrisy!
It is just about 3pm French time as I stop writing. Will there be another attack today? In the grand scheme of things it probably does not matter. But if I hope not, I know it is not only because we don’t need lives to be ended needlessly. It is also because all such incidents feed the propaganda coming through a mainstream media that pretends to defend freedom of expression… its freedom to express whatever its masters expect it to.
John Hopkins is a Scottish-born freelance writer currently living in France. Email him at johnhopkins [at] orange.fr