The tragic events of Paris and the security backlash in their wake are acute reminders that Europe’s urban spirit has come under attack. To save it, writes Antonis Vradis, we urgently need to defend the closeness and diversity which define everyday urbanity.
Richard Sennett put forward one of the most succinct definitions for those retreating from urban life in his book The Uses of Disorder: “suburbanites”, he argued, "are people who are afraid to live in a world they cannot control." In the wake of the recent Paris attacks, the vast majority of French―and possibly European―urbanites now fit this description.
The attacks on Paris last Friday, 13th November, have prompted a predictable response: bombs abroad and a further restriction of civil liberties at home, not to mention a ratcheting up of Islamophobia. Sebastian Budgen analyses the wisdom of this approach.
This is perhaps the moment to take a step back to review the brilliance of West's counterrorist strategy, which we can then admire in all its strategic and tactical coherence:
On Friday 13th November, 129 people lost their lives in a series of attacks in Paris reportedly carried out by Islamic State. They join the dead of Beirut, Suruç, Syria, Iraq and countless other war-torn regions as innocent victims of a conflict that knows no civilians.
The urgency with which we have to pull ourselves back from the brink is signalled not only by the brutality of the reactions, but by the fact that they are by now entirely predictable: airstrikes abroad, destructive of life but strategically pointless; attacks on muslim populations in the west, dubbed 'revenge' by a racist media.
All is fuel on the fire. More than ever, we need to understand the situation in all its complexities.