Sunday, November 2, 2014

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People Only Take So Much

Mick Hall with a piece that featured on Organized Rage.
 
 
People only take so much subjugation and brutality, the more so when it's being inflicted upon them by foreign soldiers.

    

“We were numbered among Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, as such immune from culpability, wholly indifferent to the observation of Napoleon that among the oppressed are many who like to oppress."

Belfast on Bloody Friday
In his review of the new film '71, which tells the story of a young English soldier’s experiences in 1971 as Belfast erupted into street violence. Henry McDonald spoke to three people who had lived through those traumatic times and asked them how they had impacted on their lives.

One of the three was Irish republican Anthony McIntyre, what I found so striking about what he had to say was it could have equally been said today by those, including the young British muslims, who fight for Isil in Iraq and Syria, or come to that almost anyone who takes up the gun as they believe all other avenues of struggle have been closed off to them by the ruling power. McIntyre points out: 
In 1971 British state violence in Belfast was rampant, civilians died driving from work or walking home. Their killers were men in green uniforms who barked harsh commands with English accents.

1971 was a defining moment in the fortunes of the north. Long remembered for the introduction of internment as a means to quell political violence, the British government through its own violence was putting in place another necessary condition for the morphing of the IRA from a small secret society to a major insurrectionary force that would ultimately collapse the unionist government of the north.With those few words he not only precisely highlights why only a negotiated settlement could have ended the PIRA military campaign; but also why Blair and Bush's war and occupation of Iraq was doomed from day one and was always going to end in disaster...
Indeed in the following passage with a slight variation he could have been talking about the Sunni areas of Iraq from 2003 right up to this day, or come to that the ghettos of Gaza:
Armoured cars raced through streets, smashing down doors and garden fences. The aggressive English voices, a foreign body assailing the peace and in need of eradication. Stories of torture were coming out from the internment centres, feeding into the community rage. The stench of communal repression was concealed, but endured beneath the thick clouds of CS gas which literally choked many nationalist areas. A population gasping for air lashed out. through the IRA Bad was something that was done to us; what was done to others with our approval was good, the harm it wrought a secondary matter.
 
People only take so much subjugation and brutalisation, the more so when it's coming from foreign soldiers marauding on their streets and in their homes. There comes a time when it becomes so intolerable people reach out and hit back in the hope of gaining some respite from their tormentors. When they do so they do not go down the local jobcentre or checkout the newspaper ads, and pick the resistance group which is most to their liking. They reach out to the nearest to hand. For working class nationalist youth in the Belfast of 1971 that was the Provisional IRA, who at the time had a clear and simplistic solution. They would inflict death, destruction and mayhem until the British were driven back across the Irish sea, and a thirty two county republic of Ireland would then somehow miraculously emerge...
 
In the Sunni areas of Iraq it was Isil which offered a clear and simplistic solution, they're leader had bombastically proclaimed he had created an Islamic state which gained traction with the overtly religious youth.
 
Unlike the Provo's in their day, due to the internet, Isil propagandists have been able to spread tales of their so called prowess in war beyond 'their Islamic state' and out into the wider world.
Baghdad after bombing.
 
After decades of watching their fellow Muslims being degraded and demonised by the armed forces of some western nations and Israel, its hardly surprising a tiny minority of young Muslims who were born in the west have gone to Iraq and Syria to fight for Isil. Whether they live to regret it like many former PIRA volunteers have, time alone will tell.
 
But one thing is certain, the Tory led British State with its talk of reintroducing a capital crime of treason, hasn't learnt a damn thing since young nationalists like McIntyre first joined the PIRA. To hector, threaten, imprison or demonise young people who have committed to a cause is like water off a duck's back. The only way to deal successfully with this problem is to remove the injustices which first made these young people contemplate joining Isil. Not easy for sure but a start in the right direction would be a help, but sadly there is no sign of that.
 
The problem with the English is they have been fortunate not to have been invaded successfully since 1066 and thus they have little comprehension of how occupation seeps into a nation and its peoples consciousness.
 
Most European countries, having suffered occupation during WW2, and Germany after the defeat of the Nazi regime, understood perfectly why young Irish men and women might choose to resist British army boots on their streets. The same was true of many within the USA, a nation which had its own experience of resisting and then defeating crown rule.
 
The problem with war, whether it be an armed insurrection or an unjust war and occupation, the first thing to go is the nobility of the struggle, there is few if any morals in war, the outcome overcomes the means. Thus you end up with a US president dropping an A-bomb on a city of hundreds of thousands of people, and another US president condemning Isil for its brutality seemingly oblivious to the crimes and misdemeanors his own armed forces committed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Vietnam: need I continue?
 
Closer to home you get an IRA chief of Staff ordering an atrocity like Belfast's Bloody Friday, and sending a mother of ten to an unmarked grave leaving her seven youngest children, including six-year-old twins, in their flat, to be cared for by their 15-year-old sister. None of these men were especially wicked, they were just blinded to the horrors of war and by their certainty and personal ambition.
 
War really is futile and only a fool or a charlatan would enter it voluntarily if there is a smidgin of an alternative avenue. Sure some may lose less and some may lose more, but the one certainty about war is there are no real winners.
 
  

2 comments :

Cue Bono said...

"The only way to deal successfully with this problem is to remove the injustices which first made these young people contemplate joining Isil. Not easy for sure but a start in the right direction would be a help, but sadly there is no sign of that."

What does the author have in mind? ISIS want to create a Sunni Muslim Caliphate with Sharia law.

Raped women stoned to death for 'adultery', toddlers holding severed heads,little girls murdered for going to school or sold into sexual slavery for being 'infidels'.

How what injustices would the author like to address that might bring a halt to the actions of people who are programmed to think like that?

Organized Rage said...

Cue Bono

I doubt the first political thought in these young peoples heads was the establishment of a mockney caliphate like Isil's, or any kind of Caliphate come to that. More likely it was a slow process of anger erupting over the way the Palestinians are being treated, plus Bush and Blair's war on the Iraqi people, along with their equally infantile and murderous assault on the afghani people and their way of life.

When many young working class nationalist in the north first joined the PIRA it had little to do with a 32 county republic and everything to do with a wish to hit back at their tormentors.

Isil was and still is funded by the Western governments middle east satrap regimes and still is. Something we should be clear in our minds about.

Never forget the overwhelming majority of the peoples within that region are opposed to a new Caliphate, they have been there tried that.

My point is we need to deal with the problems which so enraged and motivated many of the young Muslims from Europe and elsewhere in the first place.

Not to help those who have sadly chosen the dead end road to the past and fanaticism, but so that future generations will not also choose the road of death over life.