The violent murder of a serviceman in Woolwich has left the local community in shock. This action will no doubt heighten tensions on the streets of the United Kingdom. No amount of increased state security apparatus can protect against such violent horrors, which ultimately reflect the wider horror that is capitalism – a system of seemingly permanent chaos and crisis.
The violent murder of a serviceman in Woolwich has left the local community in shock. Horrified passers-by were confronted by two men, one bloodstained and wielding a machete, who had killed their victim in broad daylight on the high-street. Passers-by bravely confronted the attackers and tried to help victim. As in Boston, people showed tremendous resolve in the face of such an atrocity. The men were later shot and injured by police.
The media described this brutal murder as an ‘Islamic terrorist attack’, and indeed, one of the killers was recorded condemning the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. As Marxists, we are fundamentally opposed to acts of individual terrorism. Such tactics achieve nothing in terms of empowering ordinary people, and only serve as an excuse for the ruling class to strengthen the state and repressive laws, which can then be used in the future against the labour movement.
In the 12 years since 9/11, acts of terrorism by Islamic fundamentalists have achieved nothing. Afghanistan and Iraq lie devastated due to the so-called “war on terror” and dozens of Muslim men are still held captive in Guantanamo Bay. In contrast, the tremendous movements of the masses in the Arab revolutions have toppled dictatorships and have brought millions of workers and youth of all faiths onto the streets in a common struggle.
Capitalism and Islamic fundamentalism enjoy a perverse symbiotic relationship. The imperialist slaughter in the Middle East, the continued state-sponsored terrorism of drone bombings in Pakistan, and the scorched-Earth economic policies of austerity at home, have created a generation of alienated and dislocated young men. Islamic fundamentalism takes some of these young men – in Britain, Pakistan and elsewhere – and twists them for its own murderous purposes. It’s no accident that many of these fundamentalist groups have enjoyed cozy relationships with the CIA.
The capitalist media and politicians have tried to create the impression of an emergency situation whereby the entire nation faces an imminent risk of further terrorist attacks, with David Cameron convening a meeting of Cobra, the government’s emergency response committee, in the immediate aftermath of the Woolwich attack. Whilst MI5 have admitted that they had been tracking the two attackers for a number of years, it is not clear at this stage whether these men were part of any wider organised group or were simply individuals acting in isolation, like the Boston bombers. No amount of increased state security apparatus can protect against such violent horrors, which ultimately reflect the wider horror that is capitalism – a system of seemingly permanent chaos and crisis.
Whenever a Muslim commits a violent crime, the Muslim community braces itself for ‘reprisals’, and indeed two mosques were attacked later that day. A representative from the Muslim Council of Britain stated: “This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly. This action will no doubt heighten tensions on the streets of the United Kingdom. We call on all our communities, Muslim and non-Muslim, to come together in solidarity to ensure the forces of hatred do not prevail.”
This correspondent is a Woolwich resident, unlike the scores of EDL thugs who turned up later that evening to harass the locals. En route to the shops, I was confronted by angry young men, clutching cans of Special Brew and ranting incoherent slogans about ‘Ing-Er-Land’. Groups of black and asian youths gathered nervously, obviously concerned for their safety.
Woolwich is a small suburb, and horrific events like this affect the whole community. Yet it is not an isolated incident. From the horrific bombing of the Boston Marathon, to the soldiers and civilians being slaughtered in Iraq and Afghanistan every day, workers and youth die as capitalism descends further into crisis.
The Islamic fundamentalists and the EDL thugs must not be allowed to divide working-class communities. In a period of vicious Tory attacks on the working class up and down the country, we need to stand together now more than ever.