Merah is a murderer and he killed children. Before he was caught, a terrible feeling was growing in the masses: let's look at it.
We must look at it to understand this social phenomena and to understand what Merah's death meant for the masses. For this, let's look at an important cultural production.
“M”, a German movie directed by Fritz Lang, is what is called a « classical. » It is very famous and very respected, even if the background is clearly ideological.
Premiered in 1931, it has indeed a famous plot : a serial killer creates a terrible atmosphere in the plebe of a big German city by killing children. The nerves are suffering.
We have here an important cultural production, because it is typical German from this period, as it mixes :
- French ideological aspects: naturalism, impressionism, fascination for psychology and the crowd (as “plebe” that can be more or less easily manipulated);
- English and German ideological aspects: romanticism, symbolism, modern art fascination for the “nerves”.
“M” is so a fascist movie, like Metropolis; it shows how bourgeois realism became decadent, turning into naturalism, cult of psychology and through this merging with aristocratic – mystical romanticism and symbolism.
How does this help us understanding Mohamed Merah and his impact?
In “M”, the city is composed of a plebe which loose nerves, whereas the police represents the moral State. Nevertheless, in a baroque plot, the lumpen are in the middle of the movement to catch the killer, with the beggars organized by criminals to find him.
Society is shown as having a double face: the open one with the plebe, controlled by the police, which is particularly rigid and efficient, and an underground which is shown as very well organized too, but without moral apparently. A typical Nazi conception: “M” was written not only by Fritz Lang, but also by his wife Thea von Harbou (who after supported the Nazi Party).
But it is also the conception of society by the mass media. The open society openly recognizes that exists an underground world full of “strange” people practicing crime, different illegal activities, etc.
Mohamed Merah, as son of immigrants and living in a suburbs, practicing different criminal activities like stealing, was a part of this “underground”.
That helps the “republic” - the surface society – to reject him as a “sub” element, and to explain that antisemitism does not come from society, but was an expression of a criminal mind, a “sick” mind.
Sick as the murderer of “M”, which is even judged by the criminals at the end of the movie, and that appears merely as “sick”, as being moved by a kind of “strange force” that possess him (the concept has been used also in Fritz Lang's movies on “Doctor Mabuse” - Mabuse being a reference to the French “m'abuse” - “is abusing me”).
The murderer is so someone coming from the exterior of the society and the force moving him is even coming from “outside” him. It is a movement putting to the “exterior” any responsibility, preserving the capitalist society from any criticism.
But Merah is not “M”; no “M” exists. Madness does not exist according to dialectical materialism: a “strange” thought is always the result of a material process, a product of society and nature.
Like Hegel formulated it, what is rational is real and what is real is rational. Killers, Nazis, racists, genocides, etc. are the product of reality. Mad people are not born mad; they have been shocked by society, the mind's trouble is always a reflection of a social-natural process.
This social aspect can NOT be understood by the bourgeoisie. Because this class is decadent and can not think any more (which is the reason why no “conspiracy” is possible).
So, in “M”, the murderer is judged by the criminals, who considers him in a Nazi way. The murderer is considered as not human, as an “animal”, that must be eliminated.
In doing this, the criminals reject the fact that he's a product of society, like them. And the movie promotes this way the genocidal call to wipe out the “anti-social” elements coming from the outside of society.
It is for this reason that the French state wanted that the dead body goes to Algeria to be buried, and why Algeria refused. Nobody wants to have an anti-social element coming from “outside”. This is clearly a anti-humanist genocidal conception of both states.
Of course, a socialist state would have applied the death penalty. But Merah would be considered as a social product, a reflection of something going wrong in society. Executing Merah would be only a first step for the socialist state, in the ideological and cultural struggle.
Because they are no “M”, they are no monsters. Everything is a product of matter in movement, and socialist revolution is needed so that matter moves in the correct direction. And the birth of Merah as reactionary protagonist is a clear expression of the decadent nature of French capitalist society.