Aylan Kurdi and Others

Mainstream media were quick to cash in on the dead body of a three-year-old Aylan that was found ashore a few days ago in Turkey’s posh resort town. Seeing the dead body of an innocent child lying on the beach touched many sore spots in the conscience of many well-meaning people while many others (read powers that be) wept crocodile tears. The hullabaloo that ensued in public is typical in liberal society where an open and lively debate about a problem or issue can take place usually without any restriction, but stripped of its real dynamics, especially if the issue lends itself to speculation. Thus, the “shocking, cruel reality of Europe’s refugee crisis”  ( http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/07/guardian-decision-to-publish-shocking-photos-of-aylan-kurdi) instigated an intense debate most of which revolved around whether or not the EU should accept refugees or how many such and such a country should allow in. Hardly anyone focused on the real issue that the so-called refugee crisis is the result of foreign intervention and covert operations to destabilize a country and change its régime, resulting in a barbarous civil war.

Nevertheless, the stark fact surrounding this case is that children are killed right and left, and actually, it is the “normal” state of affairs. Oftentimes we watch such news as alienated individuals, desensitized by the corporate media, and in a state of mind almost attuned to violence. A constant bombardment of the spectator by such news, many times embellished with tear-jerking images or sound bites, banalizes the savagery that is committed. There is, therefore, nothing new or unique about this last incidence, and it has been happening all over the world for many years (think about Afghanistan, Palestine or the Vietnam War period). The fact that the little boy’s family was seeking refuge in another country and that he became drowned in mare nostrum along the way does not make it qualitatively different from others. For instance, children are summarily executed by ISIS, some are victimized by political conflict (sometimes being a direct target and sometimes becoming “collateral damage”) of sorts in Burundi or elsewhere, such as in Iraq, Yemen or Turkey, or by the murderous state of Israel, and such events make the headlines only to be forgotten until another such heart-piercing incident occurs.

In a way, and with due respect to Aylan’s family, his death is an everyday occurrence with almost nothing distinctive about it. However, we have to remind ourselves that it is symptomatic of relentless and perilous power struggles on a global scale, an unbridled rivalry for access to resources, a grave and increasingly aggressive and violent effort at a spatio-temporal fix (à la Harvey) for the bottlenecks of world capitalism, and consequently, complicitous policy choices that surround and affect the lives of millions, usually by inflicting irreparable damage to their lives and property, while arms manufacturers and traders  or the CEOs of transnational corporations continue to pile up their dollars to be spent on multi-million dollar mansions or yachts or other wasteful items of consumption. Unless the root of the evil is directly brought to agenda, these deaths will never cease, there will not even be a possibility for it. The death of Aylan as we know it and the picture that documented it in the media simply symbolize a phenomenon at a particular conjuncture, nothing more or nothing less. We can rest assured that those that are eventually responsible for such tragedies can easily absolve their consciences of their guilt by expressing their “sincere condolences” or providing some kind of support to the bereaved, and continue their business as usual.