an area of the map for world news.
February 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 2)
The Good Fight Against
Touraine, Le Monde (liberal), Paris, France, Nov. 27,
In a war situation,
it is necessary to be on either one side or the other. Today,
however, for a large number of Europeans, such a choice is impossible.
This is because we feel involved not in one fight but two, each
very different from the other. The first is the anti-terrorist
struggle. It calls for a response as violent as the terrorist
attack itself. The Sept. 11 attack cannot be condemned without
supporting the U.S. action in Afghanistan. Those who condemn
this intervention while rejecting terrorism are hypocrites,
because the present adversary is the enemy of all our convictions.
The second problem is of a very different kind. After the collapse
of the Soviet system, an extreme form of capitalism, entailing
the complete destruction of every form of political or social
control of the economy, has prevailed throughout the world.
This has resulted in a victory for a financial economy, largely
independent of the economy of production and consumption, and
in the destruction of the main political institutionsparliaments,
trade unions, social laws, and even intellectual debates.
On the world scale, there is a growing gulf between unfettered
globalization and the inaction or incomprehension of governments
and nations. It is as necessary to adopt a clear position on
this situation as it is to adopt a clear stance on the terrorist
attacks, to condemn this process known as globalization, which
subordinates most of the world to the financialrather
than economicrationale of global networks. And since the
power [of these networks] is largely mingled with U.S. hegemonic
might, it is necessary to take sides against this destruction
of social demands and political forces, to rebuild political
control of the economy. There is nothing utopian about this.
It is consistent with what we are taught by economists, who
have always stressed, as [Nobel Prize-winning economist] Robert
Solow does, that the more advanced an economy is, the more important
the noneconomic factors of economic growth are.
Education is the most important factor in growth, and the proper
functioning of the states is a crucial factor in economic success.
It is this re-politicization that the movements opposed to globalization
are demanding. There must be a radical critique of the orderor
the disorderthat has reigned from the collapse of the
Berlin Wall through the destruction of the twin towers, and
its aim must be to end the triumph of financial power, just
as an end was put to Soviet power.
So there is a complete contrast between the response to be issued
to terrorism and the action that must be waged against the extreme
capitalism of the past decade. This assertion will prompt the
following objection: Are the two issues not, on the contrary,
closely interconnected? Is it not growing inequality and poverty
that spark revolts and ultimately attacks? This objection, however,
is easily refuted: Combating terrorism is synonymous not with
destroying Afghanistan but with eliminating the Taliban and
Al-Qaeda, which are motivated not by poverty but by extreme
religious fundamentalism, and Bin Laden belongs, more than you
or me, to the capitalist networks that he seeks to destroy for
religious and political, but not economic, reasons. Economic
injustice is one thing, but religious fanaticism is another.
But if we accept the separation of the two issues, are we not
confining ourselves to a paralyzing contrast between the two
objectives to be achieved? No, because the destruction of terrorism
must be rapid, whereas the overthrow of the world economic system
can be achieved only by large-scale and long-term social and
political movements. The real difficulty is to recognize the
separation of the two problems and the contrast between the
solutions to be applied to them.
If we are unable to distinguish between them, we can only exhaust
ourselves in opposition to the U.S. intervention, even though
the latter is attacking a religious and political force that
conflicts with all our beliefs. If Europe were to allow itself
to lapse into duplicity and confusion, it would lose what little
decision-making capability it still has. In the future, we must
pursue the main objective of a struggle against unfettered capitalism.
But for now, we must destroy the reference point of the authors
of the attacks.
What brings the two struggles together is the fact that they
must be waged on a global scale, because this is where the most
serious problems arise. Our political life must rise to this
level. Nevertheless, it must be noted that, despite a few vague
statements, this struggle against global capitalism is very
far from being accepted as a necessity.
For at least the past 10 years, we have seen inequalities increase
and social gains recede. Now all countries are seeking a blueprint
for the Left, but hitherto the only proposition has been a third
way virtually without substance. Obviously the necessary
blueprint will be one that can bring the economy back under
the control of the stateswhose death has been prematurely
announced by the champions of global capitalism, themselves
driven by movements demanding greater justice and fewer inequalities.
Let us not confuse the two problems that we need to resolve,
and let us not allow ourselves to be diverted away from the
main task that must occupy us, both now and in the future, by
hypocritical opposition to the necessary destruction of the
authors of attacks, starting now.