Although there is no open warfare within the industrialised world, there’s still a war going on. And it is not a war between equal parts of society, as the classical definition of civil war would require. It is rather an economic war between different levels of post-fordist capitalism. This war has manifested itself as violence in the global south for a long time now, but it is beginning to exert violence in Europe as well. However, the annual Christmas messages keep telling us:
Keep calm and carry on, while we endure yet another year of class war.
The Left must understand that whenever a head of state, or the pope, or any other authority implores us to go back home and to contemplate our shared humanity, that it is in fact our struggles that have the potential to draw us closer together. Be it people rioting in North African cities or French workers hitting the street, we all are fighting a world in which a handful of people own half the world’s wealth. In times like these our common humanity expresses itself in violence.
There’s a well known German joke that goes like this:
A BILD reader [the German equivalent of The Sun or the Daily Mail] sits at a bar with ten cookies in front of him. Then the capitalist to his right takes nine cookies and tells the BILD reader »look, the refugee to your left is going to take your cookie!«
Messages like this tell us that those dying in the streets of Tunis and Tripoli, in Montevideo and Kabul rob us of our sense of security and comfort. The Queen and other celebrities sit inside their golden homes and tell us that it is not themwe should despise, but the violent rioters outside. They tell us to keep calm and endure another year of class war without acknowledging that a journalist burning himself to death in Kasserine is fighting exactly the same war as we are.
Precisely in times like these, we should remind ourselves of the old saying:
Peace to the dwellings! War to the palaces!