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The Communal Rift: The State Must be Defended

Despite press images suggesting a crowd behind them, the international heads of state who joined the January 11 Charlie Hebdo march in Paris were isolated from the crowd for security purposes

The February issue of e-flux journal includes a provocative piece by Jon Rich on the Charlie Hebdo shootings:

The Charlie Hebdo attack is a harbinger of things to come. And not for the amount of blood spilled. On the same day that the Kouachi brothers killed thirteen people in Paris, an explosion in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa ravaged more than one hundred lives between the dead and the injured. The Yemenis die as if they never lived. This is true mainly because the French blood flowed in a place full of light, in the City of Light, while the Yemeni blood flowed in darkness.

Rich goes on to detail the outrageous civil right violations committed by many Western governments against both immigrants and their own citizens in recent years. But despite this, Rich writes that “the state must be defended.” He suggests that the state, if it can be reformed in a more tolerant direction, is our only defense against the barbarism represented by ISIS:

Despite all of the aforementioned signs, the state must be defended and protected because its weakness and eventual fragility, or its domination by a deadly mob, will only lead to more hot and cold civil wars in states that have miscalculated the means of transcending utter brutality under the terms of their admittance into the modern era and into the force of history.

Read the full essay here.