Protest. French scholars appeal for a more logical, effective response to terror.

Not in our name

There is no monolithic interpretation, no mechanistic explanation that may shed light on the attacks. But can we remain silent? Many people — and we understand why — believe that faced with the horror of these facts, the only decent response is reflection. Yet we cannot remain silent when others speak and act in our name, when others draw us into their war. Should we let them do it, in the name of national unity and because of the command to think in harmony with the government?

They say that we are now at war. And not before? And why at war? In the name of human rights and civilization? The spiral in which this arsonist firefighter state is dragging us is hellish.

France is constantly at war. It just came out of a war in Afghanistan, heavy in civilian casualties. There, women’s rights continue to be denied, and the Taliban is regaining ground every day. Out of a war in Libya that left the looted country in ruins, with thousands of deaths, and mountains of weapons on the black market to supply all sorts of jihadists.

Out of a war in Mali, where al Qaeda jihadist groups continue to advance and perpetrate massacres. In Bamako, France protects a regime corrupt to the core, like in Niger and Gabon.

And do some people think that the oil pipelines in the Middle East, the uranium exploited in monstrous conditions by Areva, the interests of Total and Bolloré have nothing to do with these very selective interventions that leave behind destroyed countries? In Libya, in Central Africa and Mali, France has not launched any plans to help people get out of the chaos.

Still, it is not enough to offer lessons in (Western) morality. What hope for the future can entire populations have when they are condemned to vegetate in refugee camps or survive among the ruins?

Does France want to destroy Daesh? By bombing, the jihadists multiply. The “Rafale” kill civilians as innocent as those of the Bataclan. And, as happened in Iraq, some civilians will eventually show solidarity with jihadists: These bombings are time bombs.

Daesh is one of our worst enemies: It massacres, it beheads, it rapes, it oppresses women and indoctrinates children, it destroys the heritage of humanity. At the same time, France is selling to the Saudi regime, a known supporter of jihadist networks, combat helicopters, patrol ships and nuclear power plants; Saudi Arabia has just ordered from France $3 billion in arms; it has paid off the invoice of two Mistral ships, sold to Egypt, led by Marshal Sisi, which represses the democratic Arab Spring. In Saudi Arabia, aren’t there beheadings? Don’t they cut hands? Don’t women live in semi-slavery? The Saudi air force, engaged in Yemen in order to support the regime, is bombing civilians, and also destroying architectural treasures. Will we bomb Saudi Arabia? Or does indignation vary, depending on the economic alliances?

The war on jihad, it is said in militant tones, is also fought in France. But how can we prevent the killing of young people, especially those from underprivileged classes, in face of the never-ending discrimination against them at school, access to housing, to their religion, at work? Why do they constantly end up in prison, even more stigmatized? And why can’t they access better living conditions? Why are they continually denied the dignity they seek?

That’s the only effective way to fight our enemies here, in this country that has become the second arms dealer in the world: reject a system that, in the name of short-sighted profit, produces injustice everywhere. Because the violence of a world that Bush Jr. promised us, 14 years ago, as reconciled, pacified and ordered, is not born of the brain of bin Laden or Daesh. It is born and thrives on poverty and the inequalities that grow from year to year, among the countries of the North and the South, and within the rich countries themselves, as indicated by the U.N. reports. The opulence of some has as its counterpart the exploitation and oppression of others. It is not possible to tackle violence without attacking its roots. There are no magical shortcuts: The bombs are not.

When the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were unleashed, the protests were impressive. We argued that these military interventions would blindly sow chaos and death. Were we wrong? The Hollande war will have the same consequences. We must urgently unite against the French bombings that increase the threats, against the liberticidal deviations that do not solve anything, but rather avoid and deny the causes of the disaster. This war is not in our name.

First signatories:

Etienne Balibar, Ludivine Bantigny (historian), Emmanuel Barot (philosopher), Jacques Bidet (philosopher), Deborah Cohen (historian), François Cusset (historian of ideas), Laurence De Cock (historian), Christine Delphy (sociologist), Cédric Durand (economist), Fanny Gallot (historian), Eric Hazan (publisher), Sabina Issehnane (economist), Razmig Keucheyan (sociologist), Marius Loris (historian and poet), Marwan Mohammed (sociologist), Olivier Neveux (historian) Willy Pelletier (sociologist), Irene Pereira (sociologist), Julien Thery-Astruc (historian), Rémy Toulouse (publisher), Enzo Traverso (historian)