In a statement today, the strikers at Shanganagh Waste Water Treatment Plant, announced that 2 wo
Special report: Breivik and racism
The Norwegian court found Anders Behring Breivik legally sane and guilty, and sentenced him to 21 years in prison, the maximum possible penalty in Norway.
The outcome of this trial should be welcomed. Echoing Unite Against Fascism's statement, “The verdict that Breivik was “not insane” means that the far-right cannot dodge its responsibility by claiming that its virulent anti-Muslim racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric played no part in Breivik actions”, we should also see this as a “legal certification” that “political insanity” of fascism and racism cannot be reduced to (and therefore excused as) “mental insanity” of the person.
Fascist groups are not an intellectual gathering of individually insane people. And one could say without hesitation that high ranking fascists like Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Pinochet etc. were not sick people. Nor are the members of BNP, EDL and various Neo-Nazi groups across Europe. They are intelligent enough, capable of planning and networking and motivated to get organized and agitate wherever/whenever they can. None of these are signs of a medically ill brain.
Therefore, do we really need to care about Breivik's sanity? It was important that this was not the outcome of the trial but this question has pulled attention away from the need to fight fascism and the dangerous influence of racism and islamophobia.
The trial process was somewhat easy - in terms of legally establishing the proof of guilt and the medical conclusion on his sanity.
The case may be legally and technically closed but there are far more important aspects of the Breivik tragedy and also still, many wide open questions that did not receive the attention of mainstream political establishments, and the much needed debate outside of progressive-left circles and anti-racist groups.
No doubt, a proper, fair and democratic justice system is of highest importance but what was the political meaning of this trial? What did it achieve in terms of the future of democracy; fight against racism and islamophobia and for the effective elimination of fascism in Europe.
While academics, social analysts and various “experts” draw a lot of moral/legal conclusions and lessons from this racist killing and the trial that followed, the real and very relevant political and social (and in fact economic) issues surrounding this event were not explored enough.
After all, can we defeat fascism and racism in court rooms, however harsh the sentences are? Is it sufficient to deal with racist attacks on a case by case basis?
Considering the history and the current times, such as the situation in Greece, the UK, Germany and even post-massacre Norway, the answer to this must be NO. We need to understand fascism, racism, islamophobia for what they are, how they come to exist and deal with them accordingly.
As far as millions of people around the world are concerned (including Muslims and migrants) the case of Breivik - as part of the bigger wider threat of fascism - is not closed yet. And until fascism and racism is defeated with active campaigns, the fight should continue.
True crime will never be televised.
A very short time after the news of the massacre broke, the mainstream media and various “official” sources from Europe and the US had already decided that this was the 9/11 of Norway. The fingers were already pointing at Islamist terrorism. At a time when the Norwegian police wasn’t even sure of what was going on and the real scale of the killing, millions watching TV reports were told all about terror and Islam. Images of non-related other terror attacks were flashing behind the guest speakers on TV screens. As the news came out that it was a “very” Norwegian man who did it, one analyst from Washington warned the audiences that the “Islamist terrorists had changed their tactics” and that “they are now recruiting white, blond northern Europeans to their terror campaigns so that they can blend in and not be noticed”.
Before we even knew that this was a fascist/racist crime, we were - on live TV - being exposed to islamophobia. This was racism on TV in action. Still to this day, purposefully, statements like “the danger of Islam” are thrown into the conversations about Breivik. The mainstream media would always easily drill into Islam and terror, but would show no interest in talking about organized racism and islamophobia.
The next phase in the mainstream media reporting and “expert” analysis was about who this lone guy was. Was he a lunatic, did he have a troubled childhood, was he affected by some bad thing done to him, maybe by some Muslim? How could something like this happen in Norway? Was he insane?
“Insanity” was ultimately the agreed star keyword for the reporters and analysts. And till this day, almost every debate in the mainstream media has been focusing on this: “Was he insane?”
This was, of course, a great way to constrain the debate into some moral and medical framework.
This debate is now formally redundant, as confirmed by the court in Norway. The debate must now move beyond that. Far beyond...
The aim was NOT to discuss Racism and islamophobia in terms of their origins and NOT to bring up the ways to fight against these. Any such widespread debate would enable people to see islamophobia as the main, or one of the main forms of racism in contemporary Europe. And of course, how it was intensified post 9/11 and throughout the brutal and failed “war on terror” and why we oppose these wars.
In Greece the fascist Golden Dawn party gained ground in an environment caused by failed right-wing economic policies and the current economic crisis. They are attacking students, workers on strike, migrant workers and Muslims. Building on the fear and desperation, they use the crisis and the austerity measures suffocating people as a ground to build on while the pro-austerity, right-wing government is considering (in agreement with Frontex – EU border defence agency) to build an electrified fence, that is estimated to cost millions, along the Turkish-Greek border to keep the immigrants out. The government is planning a fence but the far-right takes the opportunity arisen from this government agenda to start a debate on mining the border.
A proper, political analysis on Breivik murder would in fact bring about the discussion on crisis and the rising fascism in Europe. It will expose the lies of far-right and populism of right-wing political establishments.
The true defeat of fascism and racism
Having survived the media circus on Breivik case, now that the fascist is jailed for his crimes we need to continue our active fight against racism.
The No-Platform stand - Again and again, from both sides, some on the left and the right, we hear the arguments on “freedom of speech” when it comes to the no-platform campaigns against fascists . Wherever the fascist movements gained ground, racist attacks have increased. Unlike other political movements, fascism isn't just a disgusting racist ideology, but also a dedicated campaign to wipe out democracy at every level. They will not be shy of using any means of attack others to achieve their goals. While a well dressed fascist will pretend to use his democratic right to discuss “politics” against his opponents, his message to the wider audiences is the message of fear and anger. That in turn is translated into direct attacks against their opponents, ordinary people, workers, migrants, Muslims, and gay and lesbians...
In 1920's Mussolini had a two-way strategy. One was in the foreground, the love of homeland, democracy, rights etc. The other was, behind this “political” curtain, attacks on people and murders on the streets. A decade later, rising fascism in Germany caused the biggest bloodshed in Europe.
We need to understand the origins and the ideology of fascism but this does not mean to give platforms to fascists for them to advance their terror campaigns. Fascism isn't a philosophical idea that can be defeated in academic and intellectual platforms with debates and discussions.
When the BNP leader was invited to take part in a Trinity College debate, it was damn right for the anti-fascist and anti-racist groups to make sure that he did not have the platform.
We saw what happened in Greece, on a live TV show. After the “purposeful” physical attack by the Golden Down MP on the Syrizia MP, the Golden Down militants increased their physical attacks on migrants and workers on strike. It was a strategic mistake of Syrizia to debate these fascists on national TV, while their own party members and party buildings were being attacked by Golden Dawn members.
Fascists can't have it both ways...
Exposing the right-wing politics - The right-wing politics and policies should not escape our attention and democratic actions.
In 2010, Merkel gave a speech at her party's youth conference. In her speech she declared that the multi-culturalism in Germany had failed and that it was proven that people from various backgrounds could not live together. She also referred to the “vast efforts by Germany to integrate these people and how these people refused to integrate”. And of course, she went on about giving priorities to Germans when it comes to education and jobs. This was all happening while there was a long manhunt going on to capture the Neo-Nazi killers of 9 migrant workers (8 Turkish, 1 Greek), over a long period of time. The populism of Merkel of course did not ask the CDU youth to go out and turn into fascists but as the PM of the country she was now saying that the country was at a dead end. It was therefore, by implication, OK to talk openly and loudly against the migrants, Muslims and suggests all sorts of things to get rid of them. This, one can easily argue, was giving the far-right the perfect breeding ground to recruit disillusioned people into their camp. What Merkel of course did not say, was that the existence of a “multi-culuralism” project at a national level was a total lie. There was none. And of course, she would not even think about mentioning the failed right-wing economic policies in Europe that caused the suffering of millions (migrants and non-migrants alike) and that the reason that there are less school places and jobs has nothing to do with the migrants but with the austerity forced upon people to protect the wealth of the wealthy.
We all remember Sarkozy's pre-election campaign where he escalated the debate on the wearing of the headscarf, Islam and migrants in general.
But the danger of populism and national pride is also at places where you least expect them, such as in trade unions (or among the leadership of trade unions). When the leader of one of the biggest trade unions in the UK joins the campaign “British Jobs for British Workers” by Daily Star, we have to argue against this in our trade union branches and expose the problems with this mentality. A trade union's fight is not about the competition for jobs and placing “their” workers into remaining vacancies, and fight for their “own” workers' rights. The Trade unions' job is to fight for all workers, migrant and non-migrants alike. The basic fight is against the exploitation of workers. Migrant workers do not cause wage drops or unemployment. This harmless looking campaign initiates the debate in work places on “us and them”, “locals vs. foreigners” etc... And that is dangerous.
Taxi drivers in Ireland are not suffering because of the migrant, black drivers but, yet again due to failed public transport policies, a cowboy style deregulation and competition of the transport industry in general. A taxi with a green light on, to show that the driver is Irish, is not car we can get in to and feel better about because we are supporting the local guy.
Broad and active campaigns against racism - Anti-racism is not just a 'nice to have' attitude. We need to be extremely vigilant and ready to act. We need to be part of broad campaigns and not only deal with the individual cases of racism but also spread the politics of anti-racism. Such effort may be needed anywhere, such as in places like our family homes, work places, our neighbourhoods, schools and political parties.
We need to understand the origins of fascism, racism and the current and present version of it; islamophobia. We should have a well defined and a firm stand against these and stand in solidarity with the victims of racists. In the process we need to build a strong network of anti-racist campaigns and a political movement that can act in defence of anti-fascism.
In the current environment of right-wing economic systems and the free-market democracy with increasing levels of racism, it is clear that the right-wing social policies do not make the problem go away. Socialists on the other hand have a proven track record in fight against racism. There are many examples from Greece, Turkey, the UK, Ireland and wider Europe of socialists fighting and successfully defending democracy and the true freedom of people against racist attacks. This all leads to the struggle of ultimately defeating fascism. Building a genuine and well organised socialist movement is one of the essential tasks in the fight against the horrors of fascism. And there is one near to you.
This is not easy but well worth it.
We cannot wait for another Breivik to happen, and we cannot keep saying “never again” only to forget all about it soon after.
The case of Breivik, therefore, goes on...
thanks to minor detail news for the article
- Public Service
- Civil Liberties
- Animal Welfare
- About Us
June 6, 2013 - 20:00
May 28, 2013 - 20:00
May 25, 2013 - 14:00
SIPTU members at Shanganagh Waste Water Treatment Plant, Co.
Barbara Muldoon, an anti-racism campaigner from Belfast, is facing criminal charges for taking pa
Bus Eireann management are about to ram in a draconian cost cutting plan, cutting drivers pay and
Socialist Worker Newspaper Issue 361 available to read in online reader here:
- May 2013 (16)
- April 2013 (19)
- March 2013 (22)
- February 2013 (27)
- January 2013 (32)
- December 2012 (29)
- November 2012 (44)
- October 2012 (56)
- September 2012 (50)
- August 2012 (28)
- July 2012 (34)
- June 2012 (35)
- May 2012 (34)
- April 2012 (29)
- March 2012 (54)
- February 2012 (32)
- October 2011 (30)
- September 2011 (47)
- August 2011 (45)
- July 2011 (38)
- June 2011 (61)
- May 2011 (57)
- April 2011 (46)
- March 2011 (60)
- February 2011 (60)
- January 2011 (63)
- December 2010 (40)
- November 2010 (29)
- October 2010 (66)
- September 2010 (56)
- August 2010 (24)
- July 2010 (34)
- June 2010 (71)
- May 2010 (850)
- April 2010 (2)