“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living” - K. Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852).
The death of the islamo-fascist Osama bin Laden should be welcomed as good news by all who value human rights, democracy and common decency. The scenes of celebration that have broken out in New York and Washington may strike us Brits as rather unseemly, but can we really blame them? The death of individual tyrants, mass-murderers and fascists is always something to be celebrated even when you’re pretty sure (as in this case) that it isn’t going to make any fundamental difference to the world. It just makes the world seem a slightly better place and the air seem cleaner now that they’re no longer breathing it.
Actually, Obamas’s announcement was anything but triumphalist and showed this bourgeois politician at his most impressive – articulate, measured and dignified.
And, of course, the execution of bin Laden took place just 48 hours after Obama had chided the racist ”birther” movement and the US media who had forced him to release his birth certificate, with these memorable words: “We do not have time for this kind of sillness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve. And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them – not on this.” I notice that “birther”-in-chief, the loathsome and preposterous Donald Trump, has been uncharcteristically silent today.
The left aught to be at the forefront of welcoming the execution, but sadly, it isn’t. Those who recall the reaction of sections of the “left” to 9/11 (Socialist Worker’s headline “The Bitter Fruit of US Policy“ for instance) will not be too surprised by this sort of mealy-mouthed hypocritical drivel from some of the usual suspects:
“US citizens took to the streets in a frenzy of patriotic fervour following Mr Obama’s announcement.
“In scenes reminiscent of those in Iraq and Afghanistan following the death of an occupation soldier they chanted: ‘USA!’ and ‘Four more years’ for the Obama administration.
“Communist Party of Britain international secretary John Foster labelled the scenes of triumphalism ‘dangerously misplaced.’
“He said: ‘The US and British leaders who celebrate his death are themselves guilty of sanctioning the illegal use of force in the Middle East and elsewhere.
“‘Al-Qaida’s political agenda is totally reactionary and its use of terror is indefensible – but so also is its use by Western powers for no less reactionary purposes of economic and political control.’
“Ex-prime minister Tony Blair heaped praise on US forces for killing bin Laden and said it showed that ‘those who commit acts of terror against the innocent will be brought to justice, however long it takes.’
“But Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German said said the warmongering former prime minister should remember his own words and said that peace campaigners would not rest until he is in the dock for war crimes.
“She added that bin Laden’s death removed the West’s original justification for war in Afghanistan.
“‘The whole point of invading that country was that George Bush wanted bin Laden ‘dead or alive.’
“‘His death takes away the occupiers last justification – not that they ever had a legitimate one to begin with,’ she said.
“And Ms German warned that the factors which gave rise to bin Laden were still present.
“‘Bin Laden was exploiting a whole number of legitimate grievances, including sanctions on Iraq, the ongoing plight of Palestinians and foreign troops on Saudi soil,’ she said.
“‘The situation is much worse now than it was 10 years ago, with Gaza under siege, a new war in Libya, Iraq under full occupation and foreign troops scattered all over the Middle East.
“‘If Western governments are serious about fighting terrorism, they must change policies that create them – get out of Afghanistan and Iraq, stop bombing Libya and stop threatening Syria.’”
Still, what can you expect from the newpaper and political party that backed Hitler between August 1932 and June 1941? Or from Ms German’s so-called “Stop The War” movement, that under her leadership made it a point of principle not to condemn the 9/11 attacks?
NB: I see that the Morning Star has now come up with a crude misrepresentation of the Marxist view of the role of the individual in history in order to justify their lack of enthusiasm for the execution (Marx’s real view is at the top of this post):
“Put simply, individuals do not make history, nor are they crucial to the directions that it takes.
“While they can be a part of history they are in all circumstances a product of their historical epoch rather than popping out of nowhere to change the world on their own.
“And of no-one is that more clear than in the case of Osama bin Laden.”