From State Of Emergency To State Of Fraternity

France has been through two horrible and extremely violent terrorist attacks this past summer. Nice’s attack and the Normandy church attack where a priest was assassinated.

After hearing the political and media sensationalist reactions, it almost seems time to reconsider our position as a democracy.

The political reactions, war speeches, security laws and the simplification of a complex reality, create a fear atmosphere and lead us denying our collective ideal.

Should we continue down this path of war and arming society? What is the best answer a simple citizen can give in the face of these terror attacks?

Reactions after the Nice attack

Henri Guaino, running for the French presidency: “A soldier with a bazooka would have stopped the truck”.

Alain Juppé, running for the French presidency as well: “If all the resources had been taken, the attack would have been avoided.”

Nicolas Sarkozy, former President and running for the presidency: “We need to do much more than we are now.”

The Front National, extreme right and nationalist parties claim that the government is not able to take the necessary measures to prevent such attacks.

But what kind of measures can prevent an individual from using a truck to kill people? Should we give bazookas to all the soldiers in the streets of France? To all the policemen?

France has been in a state of emergency for 9 months now, with increasing power being given to policemen and an increasing number of soldiers in the streets (Sentinelle Operation).

Speeches given by government officials are using the same terms that were used by Bush’s Administration: “War against terrorism”.

According to the Russian political scientist Fiodor Loukianov, “The Israelization of French lifestyle, in other words, coercing the French society into maintaining the goals of national security is inevitable”.

The Israelization of our way of life, meaning every citizen becoming a fighter for public security, has already started. François Hollande, the current French President, announced that the operational reserves had been called up to help the defense of the country. Essentially, civilians have started to be armed in the streets.

President Hollande declared that he will increase the impact of the French army in Syria and Iraq.

The solution to combat terror is bombs.

The right-wing, in the middle of the primary election, wants to suspend individuals’ right to be presumed innocent in order to obtain the power to put supposed terrorists in detention without trial before they act.

The last political decision was to ban burkini in beach as “ostentatious clothing which refers to an allegiance to terrorist movements which are at war with us”.

Fighting against the Israelization of life style!

Answering terror by increasing fear, restraining freedom and handing out weapons is not only inefficient but also highly dangerous.

Security policies don’t prevent terrorist attacks

The increasing number of terrorist attacks proves the inefficiency of current security policies. The huge majority of terrorists, like the truck driver in Nice, were unknown by the French security service.

Nice was considered to be the most secure city in France. Estrosi, Nice’s mayor, said after the Charlie Hebdo attack, “if Paris was equipped like Nice, the terrorists would not have crossed 3 streets without being arrested.”

A Permanent State of Emergency is a danger to democracy

One of the first acts after the Bataclan attacks and the subsequent establishment of the state of emergency was against political militants. Climate activists were put under house arrest, using the emergency laws.

The state of emergency sets up strong executive and administrative powers without the control of the judicial third branch. This may be necessary for short periods of time, when quick executive action is necessary to protect the national security. But these powers can easily be taken advantage of. The separation of powers was created for a reason, to reduce the risk of such power abuse.

Currently, we think that thanks to the state of the modern world and democracy’s foothold in it, there is no way for democracy to disappear. But it may be slipping away without us noticing. Under the Hollande Administration, for example, authorities have forbidden political activists to participate at an event like the COP 21.

Giving more power to the state without any control by other parties is not giving power to a single man who we can trust or not but it is giving power to all of an institution which has its own logic.

Current measures and government speech exacerbate the situation.

State of Emergency, high security control, war language by the government: these are exceptional measures that can be established if the security of the state is in danger.

None of the different attacks around the world are threatening the centralized State. Their military capacities have not been impacted and neither have the infrastructure or other vital sectors. These attacks are not threatening national security.

A Nice truck driver does not remotely threaten the security of the French state, any more than such acts do the security of America or Britain. The identification of the nation state with random killings of innocent people has become a political aberration.
The implication that leaders can somehow prevent such attacks by armed response is a total distraction from the intelligence and police work that might at least diminish their prevalence. It nationalises and institutionalises public alarm. It leads governments into madcap adventurism abroad and “securitises” the private lives of citizens at home.” Simon Jenckins, the Guardian

So why have all these so-called exceptional measures been established?

Because the population is apparently afraid.

With the combination of media generating fear, people being afraid and politicians in the mindset of short terms elections, the state and powerful elites have to show that they are in control of the situation and they can act.

Consequently, France increases its bombing. The state is in war. The population has to be protected by war measures. Nationalism is exacerbated. People are freaking out.

Responding to violence with violence leads only to war.

The fear and hateful atmosphere palpable in France since the Nice attack could just lead us to a civil war. The factors are present: over-reaction, hate in the streets, exceptional measures taken by the government, tension not only after terrorist attacks but also politically, with the recent labor law.

Civil war is one end of the spectrum of what could happen in France in few months. Dictatorship based on the security of people is the other end of this spectrum. But it’s most likely that we will be somewhere in the middle, in a dark zone between these 2 points. A mix between an authoritarian regime and a democracy where tensions are their maximum.

This is the worst possible outcome.

We are killing our political ideal. We are killing what we are for inappropriate security measures which are only aggravating the situation.

“If it were proved to me that in making war, my ideal had a chance of being realized, I would still say “No” to war. For one does not create human society on mounds of corpses.” Louis Lecoin, French pacifist.

Stand up for the State of Fraternity

The only reaction is compassion

After a terror attack, the reaction we should have is compassion. Compassion for the victims and their fellows. We need to accept that this is the only thing that we can do after such a horrible event.

It is the only reaction that Politicians should have.

That does not mean we have to be resigned.

That does not mean it is normal.

That does not mean there is nothing to do in long-term.

That just means finding something responsible (a religion, a community, a political idea) when a 19 years old kills a priest has no purpose.

Strengthening our collective ideal

It means refusing the simple, emotional thoughts that want to make the situation simple.

It means thinking about what our responsibilities could be in this so called war.

It means denying this idea, the clash of civilization, that certain cultures cannot live together.

It means fighting against short term understanding and preferring speech that promotes long term reflection.

It means promoting secularity, the French “laïcité”, has a principle of tolerance.

It means Hollande might have done more good by calling up 10,000 psychologists or teachers than by calling up the 10,000 soldiers in the reserve army.

It means not accepting being treated like cattle that has to be protected

It means believing that a fraternity political process and peace words can be more effective and less damaging than violence and wars.

It means being revolted by the lack of dignity of media and some politicians.

It means not listening to the sirens of nationalism and war.

It means building bridges between communities and creating social links.

It is time for state of fraternity

There is always an alternative to war. The dictate of war and how it affects our consciences has to be be fought with the same strength with which we fight against terrorism. We as citizens have to be involved in this peace process, which means fighting against dark thoughts and promoting a full understanding of the situation. We have to promote fraternity not because it would make the terrorists’ strategy fail but because it is what makes us what we are: a human society with an ideal.

Promoting peace and fraternity is fighting against the historical determinism which wants to pit us each against other.