At this point you’ll know what happened in Manchester. Another retelling of the events won’t make any sense of them. Sending solidarity can feel like an empty gesture in the face of the horror that unfolded. What compounds this tragedy is not it’s unique evil, but how routine it felt. Those of us who turn on the news could see it coming and could see that it’s yet another chapter in a seemingly intractable cycle of violence. The reality is that this will be repeated and that children are now targets in war.
While there is nothing to say that will reduce the shock and horror that will dominate the minds of those who lost loved ones. There are things that need to be said, as with other attacks, what happened on Monday will be turned from human tragedy to political capital. The events of September 11 2001 were used to justify the chaos and plunder of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations. The repeated attacks in France over the last 2 years saw the Far-Right Front National gain its largest ever share of the vote in national elections.
There will be a clamour to blame whole groups of people for the actions of a minority. There will be calls to increase the “war on terror” in Africa and the Middle East, and there will be a systematic attempt to reduce our civil liberties, which has begun with troops being deployed on the streets. We must say loudly that these tactics have been tried and failed. They have led to damaged and alienated young people turning to reactionary cults like ISIS. They have created from the ashes and ruins of Iraq, Syria, Libya and Somalia, countless organisations whose currency is death and sectarianism. ISIS do not seek to liberate or defend Muslims but seek to engulf them in war and slaughter. The military campaigns against them are not there to protect us and our families rather the balance sheets of capitalism.
Amongst all the despair there were cracks of light amongst the darkness on monday. Whether it was taxi drivers of every religion and race turning off their meters to ferry people away from danger. Or the hundreds of people who ran towards the carnage to provide first aid and morale support the injured and dying. Those who have tried to sow division, like a small EDL demonstration have been shouted down.
Monday didn’t prove that society is broken and unfixable. It proved the opposite, that people want to end suffering, and that one day we will have a world free of division and war. A world where what seems common place today will be seen as incomprehensible to those who read about it in history books.