cwi comment and analysis: No to terrorism – No to war

For mass united working class action against imperialism and capitalism

Four bombs, three at tube stations or on trains and one on a bus, shook London during the morning ‘rush hour’ of Thursday 7 July. The Socialist Party in England and Wales and the CWI condemn these bombings and those who carried them out.

At the time of writing there are more than 50 fatalities and over 700 injured. However, tragically this figure is likely to rise. 10 were killed on the bus which was bombed. The bus was a number 30 which runs from the working class district of Hackney Wick up to central London and was full of working class people. It appears that three tube trains were bombed and there are reports that the bus bombing was carried out by a suicide bomber. Like the 100,000 killed since the occupation of Iraq by US and British imperialism or those killed in the New York and Madrid attacks, those who died were overwhelmingly ordinary working people.

Although these bombings targeted central London, most of those affected were clerical workers, transport workers, students and other public sector employees. The majority of the British population opposed the war in Iraq. Many of the victims probably joined the massive anti-war demonstrations which took place in London and other cities in England and Wales, including the massive 2 million strong anti war protest on 15 February 2003.

In the main it is an attack on the working class of London. One of the bombed tube trains exploded between Liverpool Street and Aldgate East station. Aldgate East is a run down poor area with a large Muslim population. It was not an attack on the rich or capitalism.

The London Mayor, Ken Livingstone rightly declared: "This is a terrorist attack against working class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old…This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at presidents or prime ministers".

Unfortunately, Ken Livingstone has not drawn the right conclusions from his own remarks. He rejoined the party which supported the war on Iraq and has implemented vicious anti-working class neo-liberal in Britain and internationally rather then begin to build a new party that would represent working class Londoners.

Like in other attacks many workers and ordinary people intervened to try and help the injured. Bus drivers took the injured to hospital. Clothing store workers took clothes from the shops to put on those whose clothing was torn from them by the blast. Fire crews, tube workers, ambulance workers and rank and file policemen lent assistance to passengers and passers.

This was in contrast to the big London hotels whose owners in some cases tripled prices for rooms for the night to try and make a quick financial profit from those who could not get home.

Following the attacks the entire London, tube net-work was shut down and all bus services in central London were cancelled. Train and bus travel to the rest of the country was seriously disrupted and services suspended from many main line stations.

After the initial reports of the first explosion London Transport management issued a statement which blamed it on a ‘power surge’. It was the Rail Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT) which announced that it was a terrorist attack.

The reactionary nature of al-Qa’eda

Although most Londoners have been shaken by these bombings some form of terrorist attack has been long expected. It seems that this outrage was carried out by an al-Qa’eda linked organisation which justified it because of the imperialist wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. A previously unknown organisation, the ‘Secret Organisation of al-Qa’eda of Jihad in Europe’ has claimed responsibility and threatened that further attacks will be organised in Italy and Denmark. This claim still needs to be verified.

Al-Qa’eda is not an organisation of national liberation which struggles for the interests of the oppressed peoples in Muslim countries. As the CWI commented at the time of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York it is a reactionary organisation backed by rich Saudi Arabians. The policies and methods it defends do not champion the rights of the oppressed or the mass of the Muslim peoples. It attacks the rights and interests of the working class and poor Muslims and fosters ethnic conflict and sectarianism amongst them. In countries like Britain these actions make the lives of Muslims and others from ethnic minorities even harder and increases discrimination against them. Socialists cannot lend any support or sympathy to such an organisation.

The indiscriminate nature of the attacks carried out by al-Que’ada organisations – targeting innocent working people of all races and religions shows the contempt they have for the mass of people. They do not direct their attacks at the ruling class in the imperialist countries or their political representatives. They attack "soft targets" without warning meaning most of their victims are working class people. As one analyst put it: "Their philosophy is: why attack a tiger when there are so many sheep?…" indicating their contempt for working class people.

Socialists have always opposed the methods of individual terrorism which subjugates the mass mobilisation of working people for the actions of a small group. These methods only serve to strengthen the ruling class and capitalism. However, in the past, 19th century terrorist groups in Russia and other countries at least targeted individual rulers or leaders rather than innocent victims. The effect of such indiscriminate killings, such as those carried out by al-Qa’eda, is reactionary and must be condemned by socialists.

The attack was clearly well coordinated and prepared in advance. It appears to have been aimed to coincide with the G8 Summit in Scotland and then the celebrations following London winning the nomination for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Blair and Bush’s hypocrisy

Blair and Bush had tried to use both these events as a means of ‘rehabilitating’ themselves. However, these terrible attacks are a consequence of the policies and actions of these and other capitalist rulers and their system in Iraq, the brutal oppression of the Palestinian people by the imperialist backed Israeli state and the massive exploitation of the peoples of the neo-colonial countries.

Blair was attempting to use the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign, the winning of the Olympic Games 2012 bid and the anniversary of the ending of World War II to ‘restore’ his position. The consequences of these events can eventually shipwreck his plans.

However, in the short term the Blair government will undoubtedly try to use these attacks to launch a campaign to win support, playing on the fears of people and try to introduce even more repressive legislation. This may have some effect temporarily in ‘rallying support’. However, this will eventually give way to even greater opposition to him and his policies.

With most of the security chiefs and security measures currently focused on the G8 summit in Gleneagles, those who carried out this attack ‘took the opportunity’ to cause maximum damage in London. Thousands of police officers from London were deployed to Edinburgh to protect the G8 leaders.

The leaders of the G8 were safely ensconced in the luxury hotel at Gleneagles when these attacks took place. Following the bombings both Bush and Blair issued hypocritical statements condemning the attacks. Bush, in his usual display of arrogance in a radio interview contrasted "what is happening in London to those who are meeting in Gleneagles to resolve the problems of poverty and Aids".

Blair, who was visibly shaken by the bombings and the possible consequences it will have, in a statement declared that: "It is particularly barbaric that this happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa and the long term problem of climate change and the environment".

Yet all of the statements made by these leaders condemning the bombers can equally be applied to what they themselves have done in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.

The policies these leaders have imposed on the peoples of the world have been responsible for increasing poverty wars and terrorism. They are responsible, together with the pharmaceutical companies for denying those suffering from HIV/AIDS drugs that will lengthen life expectancy.

The war in Iraq which they have waged has resulted in over 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths. It is capitalism and the drive for profits that is responsible for the destruction of the environment.

However, as in New York, Bali and Madrid it is the ordinary working people who have paid the price for the imperialist wars they have waged in Iraq and Afghanistan and the back-breaking exploitation of the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Blair and other capitalist leaders will use these bombings to try and justify the introduction of further repressive legislation and attacks on democratic rights. Blair will use these bombings to try and force through the introduction of national identity cards (ID cards) and a national register which currently do not exist in Britain. This proposal was facing serious opposition and the prospect of defeat prior to the London bombings. Following these events it is now more likely to be agreed to in parliament. Whether it will be accepted by a majority of people, especially young people, is another question.

These bombings again illustrate that repression cannot remove the threat of terrorism. All of the repression by the British state against the IRA in Ireland could not defeat that organisation. In Madrid the existence of ID cards did not prevent the bombings there. The current threat of terrorist attacks by al-Qa’eda organisations arises from the consequences of the policies of the main imperialist powers in Iraq and other countries and the social catastrophe that imperialism and capitalism has caused in the neo-colonial world.

Iraq and the bombings

Blair is attempting to imply that these bombings have nothing to do with Iraq. This is not the view of the capitalist intelligence agencies. The CIA has concluded that since Iraq has been occupied it has been attracting terrorist cells like "fly paper".

In 2003 the British Parliamentary ‘Intelligence and Security Committee disclosed that five weeks before the war Blair was warned by the Joint Intelligence Committee that: "al-Qe’ada and associated groups continue to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests, and that the threat would be heightened by military action [in Iraq]"

Just before the US Presidential elections Bin Laden asked "Why do we not attack Sweden?"

The London bombings, like those in Madrid, Bali and New York are, in military parlance, ‘blow back’ for the imperialist interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The initial sentiment of people in Britain at the moment is one of shock. Many feel stunned by what has taken place. The first reaction of many people will be a tendency to ‘rally together’. This may temporarily strengthen Blair’s position.

However, this can later turn to anger and even greater opposition to Blair who will eventually be held responsible for putting the London population ‘in the line of fire’. In Spain the government’s initial attempt to blame the Basque nationalist group ETA enraged people. Blair has not repeated this mistake of Aznar. However, he will be held responsible by many people because of his support for the war in Iraq.

There is a danger of a racist backlash in Britain aimed against the Muslim population and other ethnic minorities. The day following the bombings the Muslim Council of Britain reported that 30,000 threatening e/mails have been received by Muslim organisations. This threat must be fought against It is essential to fight for the unity of all working people to oppose any attempt to scapegoat the Muslim population or other ethnic minorities. At the same time other incidents have been reported of acts of solidarity to try and prevent racist attacks. On the day of the bombings in London’s Leather Lane street market white market stall traders visited Asia snack bars to check they had suffered no abuse and offered their assistance in the event of any racist recriminations.

Socialist alternative

The Socialist Party is campaigning for the unity of all working people in London. Demonstrations need to be organised demanding unity of all working people. Such protests should be called to oppose terrorism, imperialist wars and those who perpetrate them and the introduction of repressive legislation.

These bombings show the need to struggle to build a socialist alternative of all working people to Blair and Bush and the system they defend. They and their system are ultimately responsible for such horrific attacks.

It is urgent to fight to build a mass socialist alternative of all working people that will oppose terrorism, imperialist wars and fight Blair, Bush and their capitalist system and struggle for a socialist world. The only way to make war, terrorism and poverty history is to build a socialist world.

  • No to terrorism and imperialist wars
  • Withdrawal of British US and all imperialist troops from Iraq and the Middle East
  • For the unity in struggle of the Iraqi peoples and a workers’ and peasants socialist government
  • No to racism for unity of working people
  • Defend democratic rights and civil liberties
  • Down with the G8 and cancel the debt
  • Build a socialist alternative to capitalism and imperialism

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July 2005