Debate and discussion: Our policy against terror?

Submitted by Anon on 16 April, 2004 - 8:16

In Solidarity 3/48 ("War on Terror: war on rights") it was argued that all of David Blunkett's anti-terrorism measures should be opposed because (a) socialists don't trust the state, which might, after all, use these measures against the left; (b) there is no real emergency anyway; and (c) only socialism can stop terrorism and fundamentalism. This position is anarchoid, wrong about the facts, and a piece of abstract propaganda, all in one.

Socialists should handle this at two levels, the short-term and the long term. In the short-term, there is an emergency. Networks of Islamic terrorists are trying to kill thousands of people, maybe tens of thousands. These people "love death" in the short-term.

In the short term, these terrorists have no demands and cannot be negotiated with ("well, we can't go with the entire Caliphate idea, but how about..."). In the short term they want to kill more or less anyone they can, including, apparently, my son, the young Gunner watching Arsenal and singing about Denis Bergkamp. In the short term they have to be detected, caught, jailed, or killed. And in the short term only forces of the state can carry out this task.

We are not anarchists. We don't say "we don't trust the state so we don't agree with social services taking abused children into care".

In the long term, yes, only a political solution, democratic socialism, can defeat terrorism and fundamentalism and it is that we work for. But the existing position brackets the short-term and pretends that answers to the long term can stand in. They can't.

The real questions in the short-term are "what anti-terror measures do socialists support and why, what measures do we oppose and why, what measures do we propose and why?"

In the old Trotskyist jargon we need a proletarian war policy for the war on terror not abstract propaganda about socialism.

Alan Johnson, Kendal

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