By Benet Salellas
The worst thing that could happen to us as a society is thinking that the painful attacks of the 17th of August are a kind of natural catastrophe, an inexplicable calamity out of the blue. Obviously, the attacks are an unjustifiable act of barbarism, but they reflect vectors and contexts that end up causing the danger that can appear, and unless we make profound changes in them we unfortunately run the risk that they could happen again here and elsewhere.
Yesterday, thousands of people took to the streets of Barcelona in the different marches and blockades to protest against this. The leading political authorities took refuge behind a spontaneous, innocent slogan, I’m not afraid, including the King and the government of Spain, in an attempt to construct an utterly neutral us that is acritical of terrorism, the authors of the slaughter, and totalitarian ideology. An exclusively emotional us. We simply cannot share this view. ISIS has struck us and we want to combat it wholeheartedly and steadfastly, without any qualms. However, beyond emotion, we will only be able to secure the guarantee that it won’t happen again if we start a debate on the context, geopolitics and deepest causes.
It is really hard to be next to Mariano Rajoy in a demonstration against ISIS when he himself was the Vice President of a government that played a prime role in the Azores Quartet and the illegal attack against Iraq in 2003. This attack was justified by the fallacious weapons of mass destruction (as explained in detail by the report issued by the Chilcot independent commission in 2016), and it was followed by an occupation which annihilated the Iraqi state and sowed the chaos which spawned ISIS. The purpose of this attack by the Aznar-Rajoy government was to pilfer that country’s natural resources through war and pain for Iraq and the entire region. This same government is the one that, in cahoots with the monarch, engages in arms dealing all over the world, including with Saudi Arabia and Turkey, today the political allies and financiers of ISIS… This is the geopolitics which serves as the breeding ground for events like the ones in Barcelona and Cambrils. This is why we say your wars, our dead. These days it has been curious to read how the demonstrations against the war in 2002 and 2003 were invoked in the calls for the mobilisation against these attacks, silencing the fact that back then they were huge citizen mobilisations against the PP government comprised of the same leaders who paraded about yesterday on behalf of peace.
But for ISIS to reach Catalonia, it is clear that other personal factors also came into play, like extremism, the strategy of sects, vulnerability at certain ages (four of the six shot dead were 19 or younger), and the thorny identity crisis experienced by all of our youth, which is only exacerbated among Maghrebi youth because of the racist context in which we live… Here the authors of the attacks were not part of us. Despite the efforts of good people, teachers, educators and football teams, racism still exists in this country, invisibly, perhaps just like sexism, which is often hard for us to detect but which we are hurt to see with each woman murdered. Because here different communities live together, we live alongside one another, but we don’t mix. For this reason, depending on each person’s background, name, skin colour… we don’t have the same opportunities to steer our life courses. And this can spark frustration and, in the long term, hatred. This is called capitalism and it affects everyone, but it always hounds those on the margins with greater fury.
The only antidote to totalitarianism is to rebuild us with a greater sense of community, a single country, as we have said time and time again. And an empowered society with more equality and more justice, here and anywhere in the world, in international policy and in social policy. We want to build us upon this idea, an us among everyone determined to live without racism and to stand against any form of totalitarianism, an us that includes everyone, an us which understands that international policy has to be based on the brotherhood and sisterhood of peoples, not on the removal of their natural resources or the economic interests of the local or regional oligarchs. This is the best us to fight against terrorism.