This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.
In case you missed them, here are the words of wisdom Tony Blair uttered yesterday:
"Until we get rid of this complete nonsense of trying to build some equivalence between what we are doing helping Iraqis and Afghans build their democracy and these people going and deliberately killing people for the sake of it, we are not going to confront this ideology in the way that it needs to be confronted."
Tony Blair is an advanced political thinker. Following his articulate analysis, terrorists are killing people for the ‘sake of it’. The soldiers that he made certain the Great Britain sent to far off lands, on the other hand, kill only because Blair and Britain want to help Arabs and Afghanis to ‘build their democracy’. Come on Tony, do we look that stupid?
Determining what the political message of Blair is all about leaves us with two options. He either is an intellectually limited being or alternatively, he deliberately produces the most idiotic simplistic messages under the assumption that the British public is stupid enough to accept everything he says. He probably thinks to himself: if it works for Bush in America it very well may work for me in Britain.
Blair repeatedly speaks about the evil ideology behind terrorist acts, but he fails to share with us what that ideology is. In fact, he tells us that those evil beings ‘deliberately kill people for the sake of it’. But then, if this is the case, it isn’t ideology but rather sheer bloodthirstiness. Let me assure you, Blair isn’t very innovative here. Anglo-Americans traditionally have presented their enemy as being savage, barbarian, and bloodthirsty primitives. They did it with the Native American Indians, they did it with Germans already since WWI and now they are doing it with Arab nationalists. This is very much a general common tactic used by colonialists and supremacist polemicists. But then one would expect that at the dawn of the 21st century, a prominent ‘liberal democrat’ leader would leave this old rhetorical formula behind. Let’s face it; Blair is neither a democrat nor a liberal. In fact he is a devoted servant of hard capitalism and brutal colonialism.
Blair is determined to be victorious over terror. His philosophy is simple: if terror is bad all we have to do is to kill the terrorists Apparently, it is the Israelis who invented this kindergarten philosophy. At the time it had a catchy name; they called it ‘War Against Terror’. For the Israelis it was a local war with a conflicting nationalist movement. Thanks to the fully Zionised Blair and Bush, this local conflict is now expanding rapidly into a global crisis or even a world war.
But then, we may want to review the tactics Blair is there to offer. How can we really fight a faceless, anonymous enemy? It is very simple, we merely attach a face to the faceless.
In terms of CCTV (closed circuit TV), Britain is a leading European nation. No country in the continent has more CCTV cameras per capita. If the data are to be believed, apparently every British inhabitant just in the course of going about his business, is captured around 300 times a day by the many cameras around. Unsurprisingly, the Metropolitan Police was very quick to release the photos of the alleged ‘suicide terrorists’. Three days after the 7/7 attack we saw them entering Luton station carrying massive rucksacks. Less than 24 hours after the second London attack the Metropolitan Police released the photos of the four suspected bombers.
No doubt, modernity and technology are a great advantage. But we should not stop there; we must capitalise on our technological superiority and put it to the use of society at large. We must place many more cameras. They should be in every home, in every bedroom, in every restaurant, in every public toilet. We can then, just minutes after the next attack, be able to see the suspected terrorists eating, shitting, fucking, picking their noses or even picking other people’s noses. It will look great on TV and it will even look better on a tabloid newspaper. This must be Blair’s prophecy for the Western world: more cameras, more identity cards, in short, more control.
Apparently, we love photographic images. Living in the scientific and technological society we call our own, we are obsessed with ‘evidence’. We love terror to be pornographic. We can sit for days watching Boeing airplanes getting chewed by the Twin Towers. We love explicit images and we want more of them. We want to see the body, the face, and the eyes of evil. But surely we do miss something. We can’t read the minds. Those alleged suicidal demons remain a mystery. We have more and more evidence but we have less and less comprehension. In fact, Blair’s empty rhetoric proves how little some of us do understand. Twenty days after 7/7 London attack we still don’t have a clue what really happened there. Who was behind it and why did it happen? All we get from Blair is empty rhetoric coupled with pictures of olive skinned faces.
We’d better accept it once and for all; photos or any other positive evidence won’t get us anywhere. Surely, it is not going to prevent the next attack from happening. Religiously motivated terror is ideological, a term completely foreign to Blair and his followers. Millions of sporadic bits of fragmented evidence won’t bring us any closer to an ideological understanding. Ideology and evidence are two different and distinct categories.
To quote Mark Jurgesmeyer: "one person’s ‘suicide terrorist’ is another person’s ‘freedom fighter’. For those who fail to realise, suicidal war is the ultimate form of freedom fighting. The martyr is never alone. He is always supported by a community." Jacques Lacan, the legendary French psychoanalyst, taught us that ‘unconsciousness is the discourse of the other’. He is probably right. Suicidal attack is better grasped in terms of a fatal exchange between a protagonist and more than a few discourses. In other words, the suicide bomber leaves behind an image of sacrifice. This image is planted forever within the discourse of his supportive community as well as within the community of the victims. In a word, suicidal terror is a form of communication. Clearly, Blair fails miserably in understanding this form of communication, but as it seems, the majority of British people are more than willing to listen, and hopefully to comprehend.
According to several UK polls, most Britons do realise that the recent London attacks are the outcome of Blair’s grave policies in the Middle East. Seemingly, they understand better than their Prime Minister what the message of terror is all about.
Martyrdom is the outcome of a community which has been humiliated and oppressed. Unfortunately, and it is hard to admit, we are the oppressors in this story. In fact, martyrdom is a message addressed to each of us. It is about time we try to confront this message. If we want to confront suicidal terror, we are obligated to attempt to understand it. We must learn what really motivates young people to sacrifice their lives. If we want to challenge it, first we must recognise and respect it. As long as we have locked ourselves within a scientific technological discourse we will never be able to get to the bottom of this emerging problem. Millions of CCTV cameras won’t let us into other people’s minds. Three million cameras won’t help us to grasp the extent of the humiliation that leads human beings to take other people’s lives as well as their own. If we want to tackle those who are determined to kill us, we must look in the mirror first. Blair’s rhetoric is all about stopping us from doing just that.
GILAD ATZMON was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He is the author of two novels: A Guide to the Perplexed and the recently released My One and Only Love. Atzmon is also one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. His recent CD, Exile, was named the year’s best jazz CD by the BBC. He now lives in London and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org