Je ne suis pas Charlie

The global media is the most powerful weapon in the system of domination. Inculcating commodity worship, sexism, racism and war, it grips most of us as passive spectators. With the Charlie Hebdo murders as a pretext, the media tapped into the xenophobia to serve the system’s ends, mobilizing a movement to support the so-called war on terror. They even made it appear to be “against hatred and for free speech. ”

Like the beheadings carried out by ISIS, the Charlie Hebdo killings have been used to divert attention from the far greater atrocities of the US wars. Presidential summary assassinations, aerial bombings, drone attacks, kidnappings, night raids on peoples’ homes, renditions, tortures, lawless imprisonment for decades, global surveillance, etc., etc., were all forgotten in an orgy of false unity, where over 3 million people marched in Paris. A chorus line of Western leaders, including Benjamin Netanyahu, the odious Prime Minister of Israel, whose crimes seemed for the moment also forgotten, led the march.

All mention of the US Senate’s report on CIA torture disappeared from view as the media hammered home the evil of the terrorists. The obvious fact that war is terrorism, was submerged. Critics of the Global War on Terror were sucked into the vortex of denunciations of the Charlie Hebdo killers. The alleged murderers, the brothers Kouachi, were killed by police; this eliminated any possibility of an inconvenient trial.

The Charlie Hebdo murders took place on French soil, violating the holiest of holies, national sovereignty. This gave the media a pretext for even louder and more passionate cries of righteous indignation.

The media’s inflated outrage was used to strengthen their control over their political subjects, an exercise in domination. While earlier media crusades were largely orchestrated to divert peoples’ attention, this was the first time the media has been used to launch an international movement – to support the “global war on terror.”

This is probably the largest, and loudest single display of the rulers’ power since the birth of the modern propaganda system. From 1917 to 1919, President Woodrow Wilson’s Creel Commission, officially known as the Committee on Public Information, reversed overwhelming public opposition to World War I and brought the US into the war. Both Nazis and Bolsheviks learned from this seminal experiment in modern statecraft.

The hostage “crisis” in Iran (1979 – 1980) helped lay the basis of 24/7 breathless journalism and the “national obsession” manufactured by the media in the OJ Simpson trial (1994-1995) were two milestones in the development of the system’s ability to divert peoples’ attention away from the grim realities of daily life under its domination. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Islam became the official enemy of the West; Sept. 11 launched this crusade.

The Charlie Hebdo case marks an innovation. For the first time an international mass movement was initiated to endorse their current effort: uniting Western societies (sometimes called “civilization”) to crush opposition and dissent. Launching a mass movement is fraught with danger. Much can go wrong. A mobilization like this suggests the ruling elite has great confidence in its control. Can we prove them wrong?

This sobering development needs study. It is a level of psychological operations, “psyops” to covert operatives, we have not seen since the US entered into WWI. It requires study and discussion.

Three points are worth considering:

1. Charlie Hebdo as a “satirical” magazine:
Like all people, all humor has a point of view. It has to do with whom we laugh at and why. Charlie Chaplin said a prosperous businessman falling on the ice is not the same as a young mother with small children falling. Chaplin took the side of the little guy against pompous authority. His films are still loved.

Charlie Hebdo was a little journal (circulation about 45,000, or 60,000) devoted to attacking Islam. The media obscured their role by asserting that the magazine attacks all religions (“an equal opportunity provocateur”), or even “attacks everything.” But making fun of the religion of the dominant and making fun of that of the oppressed are not the same.

Denigrating Islam, in the context of the “war on terror,” Charlie operated as a small cog in the gears of the prevailing order’s machinery of manufactured public opinion, an in-house journal of “satire” for the rulers, more valuable to their masters dead than alive. Quotation marks around the word satirical are justified because they made fun of victims of the system’s racism, but not those who propagate and benefit from that racism. Unlike Chaplin, they typically take the side of authority. That’s not satire it’s flunkeyism.

Like critics of “political correctness” seeking acceptance of prejudiced and hateful comments, Charlie Hebdo promotes racism, despite their claims of irreverence and joviality. They widen divisions among oppressed and exploited people. They are friends of the owners not of the poor. Charlie Hebdo’s designation as a “satirical” magazine should be judged from this perspective.

2. Muslims in France:
Concentrated in banlieues (suburbs) around the largest cities, Muslims in France are the country’s second largest religious group, after Catholics (http://www.brookings.edu/press/books/chapter_1/integratingislam.pdf ). Suffering disproportionately high rates of unemployment, police harassment and racial profiling, in large underserved neighborhoods called ghettos, they are treated by French authorities much like African-Americans are treated in the US. No wonder French Muslims express hostility to and mistrust of officialdom.

They comprise a large and growing percentage of blue collar and white collar laborers. If they can shed the pernicious influence of radical Islam, with its politically and morally bankrupt reliance on terrorism, they could become a major force for social transformation in France as well as in other European countries.

The media does not want Muslims to repudiate terrorism. It constantly presents radical Islam as the only route for young, dissatisfied Muslims to take. This misrepresentation serves radical Islamists and the owners. Young Muslims are diverted from a revolutionary path.

France’s decaying Left, exemplified by President Francois Hollande, has no interest in social transformation. It competes with the right to attack Muslims to curry favor with Western interests and France’s dominant classes by assuring a split among French workers. Other European countries, also experiencing a large influx of Muslim laborers, though not as large as that in France, pursue a similar course.

3. Racism will continue as long as the dominant elites need racism to divide workers and to prevent movements to eliminate class society.

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5 thoughts on “Je ne suis pas Charlie”

  1. We know the path that has been embraced by the reactive majority leads. Seems like total destruction the only solution ain’t no use nobody can stop then now. Two sides of the same coin. Anger and hopelessness . We have been conditioned this way . If we address any side of this coin we give it power. Fighting for freedom screwing for virginity. Let’s look at nature. How do the prey outwit the predator? What can we learn from the Rabbit , it stays absolutely still. Doesn’t protest the fox. When cornered the rabbit is some times victorious. So let’s look for a non reactive solution. I have a blue print it needs some fine tuning. The noisy Robin always looses it’s eggs until it learns to be quiet but until then nature doesn’t let pass on it’s noisy genes. So collectively let’s see what we can come up with. I feel your passion.
    Love
    Paul

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  2. Thank you for sharing this piece. It gave me a lot of information on the situation I had not previously been aware of. Dissapointing to see how the power structure uses these methods of coercion yet the general public still appear to be either blind or not willing to understand what is occuring.

    Upon first read (I do plan on reading it again) I couldn’t help but continually think of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s work dealing with propaganda, what they called the “culture industry”. An excerpt From The Culture Industry titled Enlightenment as Mass Deception might be of interest to you. It deals almost directly with what you have highlighted in this piece.

    Mr. Tobin, I feel what you’re saying but we must be sure not to remain quiet for too long. Silence can be as destructive as agression. We need to formulate a balanced approach, actuating ourselves through education. If the rabbit were to learn the ways of the Fox than it would be able to corner the fox rather than be cornered. I believe it is Tai Chi where the individual is taught the great strength of deflecting an opponents attack back at them with more force than had been directed at the defendant. Martin Luther King used this method in his non-violence. His actions were not passive, in fact when looking at the enviornment in which they occured, some may argue they were rather agressive. We must be wise in how we confront the struggles we’re faced with, and do so with hopes of achieving a universal understanding that can bring change.

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  3. My original comment was deleted but I’ll try my best to recapture what I had said.

    Thank you for sharing this post. I learned a lot about the situation that I had previously not known. It is a dissapointing to see how the power structure dupes the general public through their red herrings and exaggerated information. It seems like the public sometimes doesn’t know the truth or would rather not see it as so. Posts like this operate as alternative sources of information that can contribute to an enlightenment of thought rather than a subordination and coercion of it.

    While reading this piece I kept thinking about the work of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. They had discussed issues very similar to what you discuss here in their writings. Horkheimer and Adorno examine what they call the “Culture Industry” and how this industry produces propaganda that controls and debilitates the intellect of the masses. A reading I remember in particular was an excerpt from their book Dialectic of Enlightenment titled “The Culture Industry : Enlightenment as Mass Deception”. Something that might be worth a read.

    Mr Tobin I see why you would propose inaction as a solution but many times silence is as destructive as agression. The rabbit that chooses not to move, more often than not, will be eaten by the fox. Education is what will allow us to liberate ourselves from the menace of any predator.

    Another solution would be for the rabbit to understand the fox. If the rabbit were to understand the fox then it would know what to do to disallow the fox from cornerning it. This is similar to what is taught in the practice of Tai Chi, an energy of agression towards an individual is transferred into an energy that attacks the agressor. Martin Luther King and those who followed his example were able to achieve this through their actions of non-violence. They did not silently wait, they placed themselves in positions that would force the power structure to reveal its true form at both a national and international level. During the time, as seen in Kings letter from Birmingham jail, these actions were seen as being agressive.

    We will continue building, as we have. Continue organzing. As we saw with Occupy and Ferguson the fire is swelling, the time for action is coming. Lets continue to prepare and remain active as we are. Let’s work to understand both ourselves and the state, or for anaologies sake, the fox, that we must overthrow with our newly found consciousness.

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