Saturday, October 08, 2016
The politics of atrocity and tragedy
Having attended none of the Conferences or demonstrations taking place in London today, I missed Jeremy Corbyn being heckled by activists who believe he should call for regime change in Syria (in part no doubt because of the horrendous bombing of Aleppo by Government forces and their Russian and other allies).
The Syrian civil war, like all wars, has witnessed atrocities on all sides – and these are all to be deplored. There are other wars being waged at the same time about which we hear less (with their own atrocities – such as those perpetrated by Saudi Arabia in Yemen). The attention given to such wars in the West reflects the priorities of the Western ruling class rather more than any objective assessment of harm to humanity.
At the same time, hundreds are dead and thousands in peril in Haiti as a result of a natural disaster whilst – according to the United Nations – so far this year over 3,000 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe. As Brexit Britain prepares to raise the drawbridge at Dover and to descend into a miserable reactionary isolationism, the wider world is a panorama of horror and tragedy.
I don’t know the answers to all the problems of the world, but I do know that Western military intervention – and support for the objectives of United States imperialism – is never the answer.
The regimes we most need to change are our own regimes here at the centre of global capitalism.
Trade union activists need not “take sides” in foreign wars (unless we intend ourselves to take up arms) – but we can try to do something to show practical solidarity.