Because military force is inexplicably legal, and governments pay lip-service to representing the people, there is a sense running through western society that war is somehow legal and just. Individual wars may be unjust and unacceptable (in fact, every war thusfar), but the institution of military conflict is somehow a legitimate function of government. This is utterly wrong. The attacks by Daesh[i] on Paris and Tunisia, on Russian tourists on an airliner over Sharm el Sheikh and the constant (and forgotten) assault on the young and (relatively) liberal Syria and new Iraq are an attack on humanity and on all of us, but more than that they are attacks on leisure. They do not target our means of production, nor even our financial or government institutions, but the thing that most distinguishes our world from the one they wish to create with their weak and pathetic caliphate; a world of music, leisure and fun. Holidays, drinking, a concert at Paris’ legendary Bataclan. In both their propaganda and their recruitment, as well as their ineffective and cowardly attacks, Daesh are at war with the youth and the decadence of the west. It’s a war they’re certain to lose as certain as the sun is to rise.
As weak-willed heavily-armed individuals try to persuade us to wake up more scared, to put locks on our doors, to avoid joining with each other for joy and for fun, we can fight them. The pathetic and cowardly attacks in Paris weren’t meant simply to kill and maim and to shut the city down for several days, they were supposed to reverberate forward in time, for months or years making thousands of residents and visitors to Paris and to every city a little more afraid to go out, a little more afraid to congregate, more afraid of outsiders and more likely to elect right-wing bumbling violent and fundamentally Old governments to perpetuate this war rather than end it; and sadly the attacks seem to have achieved their aims so far, but they needn’t from this moment forward.
As I write this I’m watching the rush to war, as MPs with fat expense accounts and fatter stomachs debate the relative merits of using the billions of pounds we’re repeatedly told we don’t have to give to firemen and hospitals to turn a few more hectares of desert into glass, and destroy scores of lives, lives of children and women, and doctors and friendly soldiers, and blow up bridges and oil refineries and schools. We’ll also be putting million-pound planes and the lives of our hardworking airmen at risk. There’s no clear plan, the airspace is crowded, there is definitely no endgame even if our mission was clear and our goals and methods defined. Daesh is an utterly horrible organisation, without a doubt, and like the Taliban and Boko Haram and every other group I can say each member wiped off the earth genuinely makes this planet a better place; but if Daesh is attempting to destroy our youth and vigour and openness there’s a far easier, cheaper and more effective way to defeat them.
Firstly, anyone who is exclusionary and xenophobic on social media or particularly on the street must be confronted; they are the allies of Daesh in this country, their little-minded poorly-researched knee-jerk idiocy is the seed from which Daesh recruits spring. It is the lack of opportunities in this country, an unwelcoming and exclusionary attitude that drives fragile and frightened young men into the arms of these predatory organisations. Second read the Quran, it is a beautiful book full of astonishing poetry and genuine beauty. If you’ve read the book and understood it you’re well above the actual people who proclaim to be an ‘Islamic State’. Thirdly, enjoy your life. Every book you read, every rock and roll song you listen to, every laugh, every moment of warmth and joy in your life is a defeat of the radicalism, the non-moving idiocy and ignorant backwards-looking scum fighting under the caliphate. If we could have constructed an intelligent, liberal and deep democracy which imagines individuals complexly we would have destroyed the narrative of this death-cult. They say we hate Muslims, that our warlike and corrupt ways are incompatible with true Islam, and if we could emphatically with every word and deed prove them wrong, we could defeat their rhetoric; bombing proves it right. I urge, as I always have done from this platform, a love of each other, music and light and warmth. “The inevitable defeat of the forces of old and evil, not in any mean or military sense, we didn’t need that, our energy would simply prevail.”
I don’t have a military solution, I’ve never claimed to be an expert in middle-eastern politics, that of Syria or ‘Islamic’ terrorism. I know that for anyone who isn’t the situation, both macropolitical and fluid on the ground is so frighteningly complicated that the idea of dropping ordinance into the middle of it is terrifying to me on its face and unlikely to achieve anything except the slow decay of our moral relativity.
Written under duress by Steven.
[i] Daesh refers to what some news organisations refer to as ISIS, although I do not subscribe to this as there are neither Islamic, nor a state, nor are they in control of Iraq or Syria or the Levant or any other area.