Khalid Masood was, like me, born into Britain’s post war social democratic settlement and came of age under thatcher. He would have had every reason to despise the establishment and long for its downfall, as we all did. The political left offered no serviceable antidote to neoliberalism, so many of us drifted into individualist pursuits: hooliganism, petty crime, using and selling drugs, some went to prison as did Masood. I swerved it myself, more by luck than judgement. Still pissed off, I became an anarchist.
That Masood was pissed off is beyond doubt, he may also have been mentally ill. His history betrays violent mood swings; too much coke will do that as well, mind. What then, is the appeal of an ultra-conservative, authoritarian death cult to a feckless hedonist? Perhaps it’s just a badge, like the hammer-sickle or swastika conferring an outlaw identity. Mediaevalist Islam is hardly liberation theology, yet with the collapse of Marxism-Leninism it has managed to position itself as the default anti-imperialist movement. Jihad is one of those concepts, like dictatorship of the Proletariat, or war on terror, that sounds good when you say it but on reflection is incredibly stupid.
Being of African heritage and growing up in Dartford probably didn’t help. In living memory thousands of Africans were murdered, abused or displaced from their land by the British state, and the Franco-Algerian conflict still rumbles on in the French suburbs. Only by internalising white supremacy are their descendants allowed to play the liberal game. I can barely imagine the weight of such resentment piled on top of my own class anger.
We’ll most likely never know whether Masood actually supported the aims of the self-styled Islamic State – to precipitate the apocalypse – which coincidentally is what our elders and betters were planning throughout our formative years. His desperate act took the lives of strangers who for all he knew, might have shared his alienation, and be jarred by the same dissonance; there was nothing ideological about it. The symbolism that marked this indiscriminate violence as ‘political’ was its location adjacent to the palace of Westminster, the seat of our oppression. Even the killing of a cop, which could be construed as an attack on the state, might equally be an angry child stabbing at authority. Nevertheless, whereas the sadistic proclivity and petty spite of individual colonists terrorised their subjects into compliance for hundreds of years, now the despair and low self-esteem liberal-bourgeois states foster in their citizens is being used against them by their latest enemy. Given the epidemic of suicide and self-harm among our Class, there must be thousands of such people in existential crisis, with nothing to gain and nothing to lose.
While the state’s security agencies tripped over their bootlaces, arresting and releasing people apparently at random, the perpetually bewildered Theresa May reassured her followers, at some length, that events would have no effect on the British way of life, or its democracy. To sum up: you will still be ordered about by people considerably richer than you and judged solely on your ability to increase their wealth. The executive will still be selected by Rupert Murdoch – and big up the filth, who are keeping you safe, except when they shoot you. The next morning we were told that ‘London had gone back to work’, and that it was ‘open for business’. The extraction of surplus-value is uninterrupted.
As its colonial chickens come home to roost the desperate ruling class struggles to cover the catastrophe of neoliberal globalisation by cobbling up a pretence of national identity from the ragged mess of state-supported oligarchy mashed up with state-manufactured destitution. As Kevin Carson put it:
“The ideological framework of “national unity” is taken to the point that “this country,” “society,” or “our system of government” is set up as an object of gratitude for “the freedoms we enjoy.” Only the most unpatriotic notice that our liberties, far from being granted to us by a generous and benevolent government, were won by past resistance against the state. Charters and bills of rights were not grants from the state, but were forced on the state from below. […]
[…] This ideological construct of a unified “national interest” includes the fiction of a “neutral” set of laws, which conceals the exploitative nature of the system of power we live under. Under corporate capitalism the relationships of exploitation are mediated by the political system to an extent unknown under previous class systems.”
‘The Iron Fist behind the Invisible Hand – Corporate Capitalism as a State-Guaranteed System of Privilege’.
The liberal media self-consciously pats the head of any union jack-waving Muslim who accepts the legacy of primitive accumulation as given. Kids who grew up as targets for abuse by the police are being exhorted to confide in them their suspicions of friends and neighbours who appear to take their culture a little too seriously – fat chance, I’d say. To adopt ‘British values’ is to concur that the Empire civilised the rest of the world at gunpoint, rather than simply robbing it blind. Such ideas are as bogus to me as they may have been to Masood, but I also struggle with the idea that anyone actually believes in god in the 21st century – you’ve got an I-phone and a youtube account for crying out loud! A boss in heaven is just an excuse for a boss on earth as Bakunin had it, and indeed Western civilisation has little more than divine authority for its excesses. The murderous Blair and Bush went in for a lot of god-bothering in between condemning multitudes to death. Mythology only serves to fill a gap in reality, and that gap is maintained by capitalism.
In the society of the spectacle capitalism perpetuates itself by denying its existence. The very mention of the word usually places its author on the political margins. The bourgeoisie are never acknowledged as such by their apologists; the Great Expropriation is long forgotten. Class is trivialised, the alienation of labour denied, its fetishes and reifications presented as (capitalist) reality, the only game in town. The simple mechanism that guarantees the power and status of the ruling class under liberal democracy is hidden behind homely concepts such as market, work ethic, enterprise, membership of society, serving the community; conjuring a mirage of pre-capitalist village life – which is of course what humans are most comfortable with.
Whilst the warmongers were smashing the infrastructure of the Middle East, the Jihadis were all living quietly in Birmingham. If the R.A.F. were Hitler’s children, the present crop of home-grown Jihadis are thatcher’s. They grew up in Western societies that had nothing they wanted, and made no pretence of accommodating them. Small wonder the misfits turn to mythology, when society itself is founded on myths.
Here’s a reminder of the occasion Osborne mistook Ketamine for Cocaine, I wouldn’t trust him to sharpen me pencil:
With or without drugs, he’s as thick as pig shit.