The London Attacks
Tomasz Kitlinski and Joe Lockard
Ours is a world of injustices, one where a post-modern feudalism reigns supreme. A gentlemen’s club rules, and not gently.
At Gleneagles they fete each other and deign to be begged by Sir Bob Geldof and millions of Live 8 signers to lift a sovereign finger. But governmental inertia and red tape seem to be winning, and protesters have every reason to voice their impatience. Riot police at Gleneagles were deployed to protect the powers that be, the mega-haves, the masters of the world.
With tight security in Scotland, terror hit London. Terror derives from the Indo-European root standing for violent movement. Terror was a self-evident word of Gothic novels filled with political sadomasochism. Today’s attacks tragically embody contemporary sadomasochism.
Our world is divided into masters and slaves, rich economies and poor economies, those with opportunity and those with nothing but despair. But it is not the masters who suffer from terror blasts: it is the “common” people, those in the street, simple folk who die and are maimed. It was the same on March 11, 2004, when bombers sent death to people from the working-class Madrid suburb of Alcala de Henares, and for years before in the open-air market bombings of Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda that tore through people searching for cheap tomatoes.
Today’s blasts took place in the London underground, where people took refuge during the Nazi air-raids. Henry Moore depicted the deep and dark underbelly of the city where Londoners found shelter; it was a uterine enclave of peace. This burst open today.
At the Liverpool Street station, the hub of capitalism, the archetype of a financial center, the City was attacked. At Russell Square, the intellectual hotbed Bloomsbury was attacked: it is the neighborhood of the British Museum, British Library, Karl Marx and Virginia Woolf. Blair’s reaction notwithstanding, this was an attack on “our values” and “our way of life.”
Our values, our way of life should change. The singers and signers of Live 8 were begging and – less often – cursing in order to change our attitude towards Africa. Our attitudes towards the “usual suspects,” radical “others,” and the Third World should change. Justice is not a question of the G-8’s gifts and forgiveness. This does not represent capitulation to the bombers, who claim to embody justice but who represent a horrific nightmare of violent intolerance. Rather, real justice constitutes a positive challenge to those who trade in claims of false justice.
The prevailing official course is clear. Predictably, Putin says that London attacks show insufficient unity versus terrorism. Does he mean his terror in Chechnya is not gruesome enough? Or should Bush have a bloodier war in Iraq?
The G-8 is a private bus for global elites, one whose roof has not blown off. Media talk of the summit focused on Chirac’s distaste for English food (“insulting British food” as The Daily Telegraph has it). The culinary tastes of the G8 are more important than famine, ever-growing poverty, environmental disasters, and corruption. After ritual – or even heartfelt – condemnations, what capitalists will care about are today’s losses on the FTSE and Dow Jones due to the blasts. Markets have lost confidence in London and “simple” people will suffer further wounds. Financial pundits on CNBC advise all not to panic, however, not to overreact. London’s financial services are being restored to normalcy. The market is working to restore the normality of economic injustice, of the devaluation of human labor and life itself.
Those who love London, in all of its cosmopolitan humanity, share the mourning and anger of its citizens today.