World Politics

EDUCATING MONSIEUR MACRON: COLONIALISM AND CARTOONS

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This is not by Radical Socialist or by a member of Radical Socialist. However, we find this an interesting article, and hope more discussion may be stimulated from this.

 

EDUCATING MONSIEUR MACRON: COLONIALISM AND CARTOONS

 

Working for a wage, a cartoonist often obliges his masters.

 

Unmati Syama Sundar

 

The French cartoons against the prophet of Islam while claiming to be sketched in the ink of good faith and while claiming to have the motto of free speech written on its enlightened forehead has in actuality quite something else—not freedom of speech, most certainly nothing to do with secularism and the rights of ‘man’ and the citizen.  Secularism is indeed an extremely important idea. The fact that by and large, it is the right-wing extremists that have disdain for secularism must be remembered. But also the fact that secularism has not merely one meaning namely the separation of religion from matters of the state and behind the idea of secularism is absolute humanism must also be remembered. Secularism is thus not about banning veils, just as religion is not about terrorizing people. Nations that are governed by the rule of law and Constitutional Democracy do need to create a code of conduct where the banner of free humanity can be held high.  

Consequently when Monsieur Emmanuel Macron as the Honorable President of France on October 2020 in the midst of the Covid carnage outlined a new law to check what he imagined was “Islamic separatism” where “foreign influences” were to be freed from French discourse, the question as to what these “foreign influences” are which are enslaving poor France needs an explanation. The Honorable President of France, the most good and civilized Monsieur Emmanuel Macron, is most certainly an honorable man. Like the average French citizen he was once upon a time student of philosophy working on Machiavelli and wonders of wonders also studying Hegel. And like an average French citizen he worked under the philosopher Paul Ricoeur and typically ‘French’ became member of the Socialist Party. But then just as Goethe’s Faust was possessed by the two souls that raided his unfortunate breast, he joined the French Civil Services to become an investment banker at Rothschild & Co to boost his philosophical credentials. Without doubts one cannot doubt the credentials of this Honorable President of France not to forget citizen of the free world. So when citizen Macron speaks, not only must we hear, but also obey.

            And what is so important in this fantastic Monsieur that we must not only hear most attentively but also obey?  One must note how in 2015 he, the good citizen of the free world, in his post-socialist mood as Minister of economy, industry and digital data went to deregulate the economy and rammed what is known as the “Macron law”.  While this first “Macron law” dealt with the free and unbridled movement of finance capital, another law was to come in—to stop the not so free and unbridled movement of Muslims and Islam.

            Thus when Macron condemned the brutal and ghastly beheading of the French school teacher—in ISIS style—by a youth from Chechnya for depicting the Prophet of Islam and when the free world applauded Macron for crying out against “Islamic radicalism, “separatism” and the “crisis of Islam” one wondered what to make out from this one time assistant of Ricoeur, one time socialist and one time investment banker. Was he laying out the rules of what freedom of speech means against the murderous assassins or was he laying out new rules of engagement?  

            And since we are talking of Hegel one must mention his idea of essence (Wesen) that lies behind appearances. One must look not only into the essence of Macron’s idea of “Islamic violence and separatism” that is against “tolerance” and “freedom of speech”, but also in the idea of the “secular” itself. After all, one may ask: “Why the fury of the Muslim world against the cartoons that first emerged in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo?” While it would be important to look into the essence of the cartoons and the alleged free speech argument, it is also important that not only is there a narrative behind these cartoons but in fact a political narrative of colonial hegemony behind cartoons per se (and not merely the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo). One here needs to recall the infamous “Ambedkar cartoons”. Take the National Herald of 7 November 1948 lampooning of Ambedkar with the Constitution which shows Ambedkar propagating what the cartoon calls “New Untouchability” because Ambedkar warned the rural subalterns to be wary of the caste oligarchs. Yes this is what the cartoon says, just as the series of cartoons against Ambedkar said. Because Ambedkar was critical of the Indian village system with its essential caste system governed by the caste oligarch, he is said to have produced “Untouchability”. For the cartoons, Ambedkar did not evoke a critique of the caste oligarchs and rural landlordism, but propagated ‘Untouchability” against the landlords. According to the cartoon, Ambedkar is not the one who destroys the entire caste system, but the one who heralds a new caste system with its “New Untouchability”.

            While supporters of Charlie Hebdo and the right not only to free speech but the right to offend would claim that this magazine periodically lampoons all religions and not merely Islam, it must be stated that to lampoon people who have been bombarded from their homes, whose countries have been destroyed on the basis of lies (the argument of “weapons of mass destruction”) has nothing to do with “freedom” of whatever sort. For behind the idea of freedom lies the idea of humanity, humanity as humanity, and not enslaved, humiliated and tortured humanity. Thus what we need to see behind the idea of “freedom” including “freedom of expression” is the idea of “free humanity”.

            But France with its history of colonialism and as the champion of the bourgeois world does not only produce cartoons in its factories, but also produces deadly jet planes which it exports to Third World nations to bomb other Third World nations. So what do we get from this deadly production of cartoons and jets? We come to know that France is the epitome of the “free world” whose civilizing mission is to teach civilization to the barbarians of Asia and Africa, especially to the Muslims.

            But what do we get in return? We get violence—jihad! But we learn something more. Just as Lenin taught us the difference between just and unjust wars and that just wars are necessary to free humanity from the chains of capitalism and imperialism, so too now the Muslims take this Leninist theme and wage jihad on the free and civilized world.

            But we learn something more. We learn that just as violence lies in the very soul of communism, so too violence lies in the satanic soul of not only Muslims, but in the very soul of Islam itself. This ideological caricature of Marxism was manufactured by the world bourgeoisie for over a century. After the fall of the Soviet Union a new enemy had to be created. One Prophet had to go (Marx), another had to be lampooned.  Both we are told created utopias. One promised heaven on earth, the other paradise in the netherworld.

            And if to the defenders of the imperialist caricature we say that it is occupation and humiliation that are behind your cartoons, to the assassins we say that behind the Ayatollahs lie the muscled arms of American imperialism. After all, one needs to see who brought the Ayatollahs to Iran in 1979 and who ruined Iran turning a free nation into a Stalinist version of Islam. The godfather and mentor of this caricatured and false image of Islam was the then CIA chief William Casey who facilitated the Regan administration trade arms to the Islamic Republic of Iran and diverting the profits from these to the anti-Sandinista contras in Nicaragua.

            What we learn from this is that just as imperialism needs the comprador agents and the patron needs the clients, the manufacturer of cartoons needs assassins. It is here that we see that behind the façade of liberty, equality and fraternity lie infantry, cavalry and artillery.  For France, as for capitalism in general, both freedom and infantry are commodities to be sold in the world market. And that is why when the capitalist and imperialist worlds talk of freedom, kindly see on whose back does this alleged freedom ride on. You will clearly see that it is on the backs of infantry, cavalry and artillery.