by Ralph Keller
The pictures of the Manchester attack are shocking, and the suffering of the bereaved is unimaginable. My thoughts and my solidarity are with them.
Manchester’s is the latest incident in a long series of terror attacks: New York, Paris, Berlin, to name but a few. These are Western cities, but bombings have also taken place in Africa, Asia, the Middle East. It is a worldwide phenomenon. It leaves a lot of innocent people dead, regardless of who does it. (An extensive list of terror attacks is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents. The source includes the number of victims the world-wide terror has claimed.) The Manchester attack points towards the IS (ISIS) network once again.
A media race is now on in the U.K. Politicians try to calm the public by explaining which security measures had been taken, and which additional measures will be taken in the future. The police and the secret services are coming out with reports on how the investigation is proceeding and what arrests have been made. However, given that the attacker had been known to law enforcement previously, the fact that the bomb did go off is nothing short of a total security failure.
I don’t have a problem with the media itself. But the nature of the reporting in response to the Manchester attack (and the others before) couldn’t be more of a reflection of a mode of production that ignores the essences of society’s phenomena, i.e. the phenomena’s underlying mechanisms and causes. To the capitalist mind, phenomena like terrorism seem very much like the virgin birth of Jesus. The media does not change a thing in regards to the underlying mechanism and connections. The media race is therefore a mere confession of helplessness. This is because everyone now talks about preventing a future effect, i.e. how the phenomenon of terrorism manifests itself in the future; or how the effect—another bomb going off—can be prevented. What we need instead is to tackle the cause, the motivation for terrorists to set off their bombs.
Here are some underlying mechanisms and causes, and the source of the motivations, that need to be tackled. The war on terror, started by George W. Bush and Tony Blair, did exactly the opposite of what it set out to do: it made matters worse than ever. If, as Trump did last week and if, as the British and the German governments (and others) routinely do, all we get is yet another arms deal with some country; if that country then uses those arms to force its will; if, on top of arms deals, advanced capitalist nations keep pursuing their imperialist wars (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, now Syria); if civilians keep dying; then you get what? New terrorists with new motivations.
No human being is born a terrorist, much less is she or he of virgin birth. Every terrorist is bred. As long as capitalist nations keep leading their imperialist wars, as long as capitalist nations keep escalating rather than start de-escalating, terrorism will not stop and its networks will not falter. I fear though that global capitalism is both unwilling and unable to de-escalate. So I fear that the ghosts of the innocent victims will keep haunting us.