The events in Strasbourg are a dramatic reminder that there is no let up from the terrorist threat. Yet again we are mourning victims and their families, we are urging the authorities to ensure the rule of law and protect their citizens. This is matter of common sense and the complete opposite of what all those who hate open societies want to see. Their public opposition to these protections is despicable and benefits no-one. We repeat: there is no excuse for terrorist attacks and the killing of innocent civilians! However the root causes of these attacks must be tackled, including the rising inequality that leaves groups of people feeling increasingly left out. Violence within societies can be contained in a civilised and inclusive society where nobody feels excluded. If we do not act, the risk is real and everywhere, in all our neighbourhoods and public places. There is a need to address the root causes and promote democracy through education and social investment. This goes to the heart of our political action.
When it takes 20 years to have the next social summit, when it takes 10 years from the start of the crisis to understand and to act in favour of the social consolidation we need instead of blind austerity, the social glue of our societies is undermined and put at risk. We see this not only in France, but also in other countries. We see the people’s fears and unease expressed in our elections. All this is not new although some still consider that we can be “protected” with more policemen and the army, with fewer rights and a shrinking democracy, by building external and internal fences. In the US in particular there’s a widespread belief that problems can be resolved by force. Jeffrey Sachs said it clearly in the PES congress in Lisbon: it is the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere that have produced human distress and violence, undermined the moral order that the West is often so proud of by wrongly confusing those wars with the promotion of democracy and by misunderstanding what “fighting for democracy” means. It is the wars that produce migration and refugees and destabilise more than just a few regions of our globe.
What about trying to develop another remedy than a new arms race, to invest more in peaceful conflict resolution and not to give up on multilateral diplomatic approaches and institutions. The right of the strongest is not the strongest right! Would the current Secretary General of the NATO still say what he said when he was Norwegian PM after the Breivik killings in Norway? “Our reply to terror must be more democracy”.
There is no justification for the murders in Strasbourg and elsewhere. Again it was someone who felt left out of our society, who became a violent criminal, drawing attention to the horror under the guise of religious purpose. Social and development policies will help prevent the exclusion and inequalities within our societies that create these individuals and push them to violence and murder. Social inclusion and cohesion, development and genuinely fair trade policies can help to rebuild communities and our social fabric. Not naïve, but more than an advocacy agenda.