The image of the events of 11th of January in Paris have provoked two opposing reactions: on the one hand I am greatly moved by the number of ordinary people who want to make a statement, with their presence, about their rejection of hate and violence, and on the other hand I am outraged by the sight of “important” marchers in the front row who are no different to the terrorists armed with Kalashnikovs.
If we understand by “terrorist” someone who nurtures an absolute disregard for the life and dignity of others, someone who for their own ends and interests is always ready to set ruthless actions in motion with dangerous consequences for hundreds of thousands of others, justifying their actions through superior needs and rules that must be respected, then with utmost certainty we can also put into that category other leaders who took part in the event in Paris such as: Cameron from the UK, Rajoy from Spain and Samaras from Greece, to name but three.
Or are the government measures taken by Cameron not terrorism? Laws and measures putting 3.5 million children into poverty, 1 million unable to feed themselves without access to food-banks, hundreds of thousands in precarious employment and 3.6 million who are affected by cuts to their disability allowance? Isn’t it terrorism to evict 300,000 families because they don’t have the luxury of being able to pay their mortgage, like in Spain under Rajoy? Isn’t it terrorism to cut the health budget for cancer care so much that patients are forced to beg for contributions to their costs, or for young people to have to emigrate because one in every four people has no job, as happens in Greece under the Samaras government?
As violence is not just physical but also economic, psychological, racial, etc., terrorism doesn’t only come in the form of a fanatical Muslim with a Kalashnikov, it also comes in the form of a greedy businessman who prospers from the arms trade, and in the form of the government leader who dumps large sections of the population into poverty while breeding racism, insecurity and fear of difference, and while thanks to their policies, a privileged few are able to fill their boots with cash.
And the responsibility of the “important” marchers doesn’t stop there: you can’t close your eyes to the fact that the despicable actions that brought an end to so many lives in Paris are also a monstrous response to the wars unleashed by the West to ensure profits and access to raw materials, or to the arrogance of those who invade and destroy other countries without bearing in mind the enormous human costs of their actions, feeding an infinite spiral of hate and violence in the process.
Paraphrasing Noam Chomsky, “There is a very easy way to stop terrorism: stop participating in it.”