Ken MacLeod's comments.
The title comes from two quotes:
“Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation.”—Alasdair Gray.
“If these are the early days of a better nation, there must be hope, and a hope of peace is as good as any, and far better than a hollow hoarding greed or the dry lies of an aweless god.”—Graydon Saunders
As you no doubt know by now there has been an attack (train bombing) on
Madrid with 190 known fatalities so far. At the moment the Spanish government is saying 'ETA' and everyone else is asking 'Al-Qaeda?' It makes a practical difference, yes, but ETA has become so nihilistic and pointless it might as well be part of Al-Qaeda already.
Update 12 March
Some sombre comments from Alan Woods, a British Marxist:
If ETA is in fact responsible, it shows weakness not strength. ETA is isolated and desperate. Last year 300 ETA suspects were arrested. The organization is finding it difficult to get new recruits. The ones arrested in the van incident were novices. There are serious differences within ETA and Batasuna. Many people are questioning the methods of individual terror that have been carried on for decades without bringing the desired results.
The questioning is justified. Members of Batasuna should ask themselves who gains from this? The answer is clear: only the extreme right wing, the police and the state. Spain is on the eve of a general election in which Batasuna for the first time will be barred. Maybe the authors of the bombing imagined they were striking a blow against the PP. In fact, the opposite is the case.
The secretary general of the separatist Catalan ERC, Josep Lluis Carod-Rovira, calls for dialogue with ETA to finish with "this barbarism". This is just stupid. The only dialogue the actions of ETA will bring about is the dialogue of bullets, fists and truncheons. After the atrocity, the Spanish minister of the interior, Angel Acebes, warned that those responsible would "pay dearly for it". We have no reason to disbelieve him.
France has already backed the campaign against ETA, and this has caused the organization a lot of trouble. France immediately declared a further tightening of border controls after the Madrid atrocity. The French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy has sent a telegram to his Spanish counterpart offering police help. The noose will be tightened.
And what will the consequences be for the Basque Country? By their actions the terrorists have united the people of Spain against them. Hearts will be hardened. The most reactionary wing of the Spanish bourgeoisie will be strengthened. There can be no talk of negotiations. The Basque prisoners will continue to languish in prison.
The right wing Popular Party immediately suspended the election campaign. The PP is now certain to win a sweeping victory at the polls. The PP has adopted a tough line with ETA and the Basque nationalists. They will now be encouraged to increase repression even more. Only this week the UN produced a report denouncing cases of torture and beatings of Basque suspects in Spanish prisons. The Spanish state will now be able to continue these methods and clamp down on democratic rights with complete impunity. This will create a climate in which violence, madness and murder can flourish. In what way this could help the cause of the Basque people nobody can say.
Marxism is opposed to individual terrorism. But the reason for our opposition has nothing to do with the hypocrisy of the bourgeois politicians who are not averse to violence and bloodshed when it suits them. We oppose individual terrorism because it is counterproductive and always produces results that are diametrically opposed to those intended.
Russian Marxism was born in struggle against individual terrorism. But compared to the modern breed of terrorist the old Russian terrorists were like saints. They only killed known torturers, police chiefs and tsars. Quite often they would hand themselves over to the police after a terrorist act. The modern form of terrorism that kills ordinary people indiscriminately is an abomination that contains not a single atom of progressive content.