The media are extremely effective tools for moulding world public opinion, and are basic instruments of cretinisation used at all levels of society in the interests of world capitalism. What they call "terrorism" are acts of violence against persons or things, the responsibility for which are not claimed by states they consider legitimate.
They do not describe as terrorism:
- state terrorism, the terrorism of their "own" government, or the terrorism of allied governments, or even that of states of the opposite bloc that they consider legitimate.
- and most of all, the permanent, generalised terrorism of the police, justice, prisons, the factories, the trade unions, the armed forces, the systematic "disappearance" of militants, psychiatric hospitals, etc.
All these kinds of terrorism, directed against the population of the whole planet, who are deprived of and separated from the essentials of life and the means of production by private property and wage labour, are not considered to be terrorism. These are examples of "natural", "legitimate" violence; the monopoly of violence "against chaos". Under the reign of the ruling ideology, the bourgeoisie and its ideologists, for example journalists and sociologists, do not even have to say that state terrorism is not terrorism. This "truth" is a religious one, institiutionalised and reinforced by the "religion" characteristic of the whole of world capitalist society. It is "natural" in this society, as natural as the fact that in a slave society, a slave is not a human being but a mere object.
Nothing is more "natural" for this system than millions of people terrorised into starvation by forces of repression, deprived of the power to get their hands on the means of subsistence. Nothing is more "natural" for this terrorist society than the fact that the cannibalistic application of human rights to combative proletarians is so effective that the number of "disappeared ones" in Latin America alone approaches one hundred thousand and the number of tortured and imprisoned people in the world can be counted in their millions. Nothing is more "natural" for capital than the fact that the main industry of the planet is the production of the means of collective terrorism, death and destruction, while the majority of its population have nothing to live on. Nothing is more "natural" for official democratic terrorism which exists everywhere than that defending its laws implies years in prison, torture or death for those who make attempts against its sacred private property or its national economy by grabbing what they need, by paralysing production or organising against the right to work, for example by organising pickets and attacking scabs.
The citizen, receptacle and producer of this social "naturalness", defender of the laws and democracy of the national economy, is therefore prepared to take one more step along the inevitable path followed by modern society. To be a citizen leads to participating in national mobilisation for the defence of state terrorism, collaboration and informing, and capitalist war.
During the capitalist epoch, numerous ideological forms have been used to strengthen the State's main advances towards generalised terrorism: the defence of civilisation, the fight for socialism or democracy, against fascism or communism, against chaos and disorder... But the best, the most appropriate form, for the principle of the democratic state's monopoly of violence, is direct attack on any questioning of this monopoly, any violent opposition to state terrorism. The pinnacle and purest form of democracy is its total political monopoly, the state free of all its enemies. This is the key to the whole social democratic program (1).
That's why anti-terrorism is the ideology par excellence of the terrorist state, though nonetheless it has to be served up mixed with other values appropriate to all states (democracy), or particular to each, such as the defence of the Islamic revolution, of the free world, of socialism or of national liberation. Every anti-terrorist campaign, no matter who originates it, serves to maintain and reinforce state terrorism and transforms its instigators, regardless of their intention, into objective agents of state terrorism.
The international crisis is forcing capital to violently impose austerity and prepare for war. In this situation, the universal reinforcement of state terrorism expresses itself around three main tendencies united by an indivisible coherence;
1. A general tendency, especially among the major powers, to terrorise their populations with a vague, monstrous enemy; "International Terrorism". Behind this terroristic tendency hides an attempt to dragoon and mobilise the population into local wars in which "their" state is involved. This is concretely expressed in:
- supporting, leading or manipulating, directly or otherwise, spectacular terrorist attacks on the population which "prove" that the war in Middle East exists in Paris, for example.
- creating, at the same time, a category in itself: cruel, blind, fanatical terrorism.
- magnifying repression; police presence in the streets, random checks, controls and interrogations.
2. Cleverly alternating between open terror against working class resistance, and the legitimation on the international stage, of states who use or will use this open terror. For example in Latin America, while some national expressions of the state systematically murder and abduct their opponents as a day-to-day activity (Mexico, Peru, Colombia for example, not to mention the well known cases of Guatemala or El Salvador) with the complicity of their governments, others take advantage of a change In political system to clear their names (Argentina, Uruguay,...) and assure immunity for torturers and murderers. In order to achieve this, they use the whole parliamentary and judicial apparatus, including the famous rights of man, and thereby create a precedent for the others.
3. Two things work alongside each other: the conditioning of public opinion, and political repression: to create an amalgam of guerilla actions against the population that they provoke themselves, and acts of proletarian resistance, with the aim not only of isolating combative proletarians but of gaining the active support of the population against any beginnings or the reemergence of the proletariat as a class.
This is to say that along with the state's anti-terrorist campaign, they try:
- to terrorise the population
- to get the population involved in defending "its" state
- to create a Devil and get people ready to fight it
- to openly crush the proletariat with its passive acceptance and even its collaboration (2).
"It is the cannibalism of the counter revolution itself that will develop among the masses the conviction that there is only one way to concentrate, shorten and simplify the death agonies of the old society and the birth pangs of the new; revolutionary terrorism." (Marx).
As we've often said, against this terrorist society, against generalised state terrorism, the liberating violence of the proletariat is not one option among others but a necessity. And not only in the sense that without it, the barbarism of this society would have no limits, nor in the sense that it is the only way of ending this endless barbarism, but also in that it is inevitable, that the violence of the oppressor predetermines and pushes the development of revolutionary violence (3).
It is this last point that totally contrasts our viewpoint to that of reformism.
In fact the "terrorists" of Lenin's or Plekhanov's terminology (4), expressions of the left wing of social democracy, also recognised the necessity of a violent struggle against the state. But for these two, violent proletarian struggle against the state was not an inevitable product of society and the day-to-day working class struggle against capital, but something that had to be introduced from outside. For social democracy the key problem is consciousness, for terrorist ideology, the question of examplary action. In both cases it is a matter of introducing from outside by means of an act of willpower, the need for a violent political fight against the state. For us, this is idealism, voluntarism.
As far as we're concerned, proletarian terrorism, the terrorism of the oppressed, is not the result of any external will, consciousness introduced into the class from outside, or of any kind of conspiracy, outside agent, instigator or manipulator. In other words, of any ideal (in the sense of made of ideas) mediation. On the contrary, it is the inevitable material reaction against exploitation and oppression; the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Between these two analyses of social reality there is a class line. The social democratic/terrorist explanation is unavoidably idealist and voluntarist; ours is based on the dialectical materialist evolution of society.
More than this: revolution contains neither violence nor terrorism but their abolition; not the elimination of this or that agent of violence, but the foundations of a society based on violence and terrorism. If the proletariat is driven to take up the use of violence against this society and all its agents, it is not because it is a positive expression of violence, but rather, because it is the negative pole of this society, against which, in the last instance, all violence is directed. As the destructive pole of the whole of society, the active negation, it cannot help but oppose generalised, institutional violence. Its centralisation into a violent force toward the end of establishing its class dictatorship is nothing but the development of this active negation, in which all the conditions for and forms of violence are negatively determined, and as negations, by the violence of this society (5). Therefore, nothing is more absurd than to pretend that class violence comes from revolutionaries or that their function is to create or import it. Revolutionaries don't "make" violence just as they don't "build" the revolutionary party. They don't "make" revolutions.
On the contrary, their function is to act as the most determined elements in this inevitable process which this society spontaneously engenders, in other words to take over in practice the leadership of the Party and the revolution.
To say it again, clearly and explicitly; the communists' acts of will do not aim to bring violence to the class, but to lead class violence towards the movement's correct objectives. This is the only way of shortening the interminable death agonies of this society and the birth pangs of the next. They act precisely so that the tremendous revolutionary energy that this society generates in the proletariat will not be squandered in thousands of more or less separate acts of individual terrorism, without a concerted strategy, some of which even weaken the movement. They act in this way to organise red terrorism in a single direction towards the insurrection and the class dictatorship, in order to prevent the continuous massacre which results from a war without leadership.
We take the opportunity here to make clear that there is no question of making concessions to the social democratic movementist ideology which leads towards classifying violence into, on the one hand, minority or individual violence, and on the other hand, and opposed to it, collective class violence. Individual violence is also class violence, and there is not one act in this society that is not stained with class. The murder of a boss, a wildcat strike, a picket that fights scabs, - all terrorist acts par excellence - (6) can be distinguished from and opposed to all acts of state or para-state terrorism (reformist groups with a "terrorist" ideology).
Many of these acts may not correspond to the general interests of the movement, may be tactically inappropriate or lead to a dead end. This is unavoidable because of the circumstances in which the proletariat is forced to develop its violence. In most cases, the exploited is pushed around, cornered, and oppressed beyond endurance... and the anger of liberation generally expresses itself without tactical considerations. For this reason revolutionaries do not carry out, support or promote any individual act, even if they recognise them as belonging to their class. Revolutionaries may be for or totally against the advisibility and the meaning of an action. But though they neither condemn an action nor applaud repression, it is not that they are indifferent. They offer active solidarity against state repression, and in parallel they defend the general objectives of the movement by attempting to concentrate all these forces exploding through the holes in the system, sometimes foolishly and irrationally, to lead them towards their real objectives: the struggle against capital and the capitalist state.
If violence depended on the consciousness it produces, as the social democrats pretend, it would be very simple. Only violence produced consciously by the "revolutionary party" would be proletarian, all actions of individuals or isolated groups would be bourgeois or "petty bourgeois", and the correct position would be to condemn them. This position was always the one taken by social democracy, and it continues to lead many so-called revolutionary groups (including the "communist left") to actively applaud the work of state agents. This was the position of the whole of social democracy, Stalinism and Trotskyism when van der Lubbe burnt down the Reichstag in Germany (7).
This position is from start to finish coherent with the voluntarist vision, and in the last analysis, police vision, common to the whole bourgeoisie and all states, who are unable to understand the inevitable upsurges of uncontrollable expressions of proletarian violence and therefore are always trying to find the "agitators" behind them.
The reality is much more complex, precisely because proletarian violence in its elementary forms, prior to being organised and structured, "expresses itself" in all manner of forms, and explodes in multiple locations. Marx and Engels (who were never supporters of or apologists for revenge, individual murders, planting bombs in public places, etc.) recognised in these kinds of things class war. For example Engels, after listing a series of acts of this kind, said:
"Six attacks have been made in four months, and all have as their common cause workers' rage against the exploiters. What is the nature of the social relations that produce these events? I hardly need say it. These acts of violence show that class war is declared and that the fight is taking place openly and in public."
In today's world, there are thousands of examples of this kind of desperate elementary struggle against capital with no coordinating strategy (like a strike which does not attempt to generalise and whose participants are not conscious that it is a confrontation with the whole state). And although these actions in both content and form are proletarian and clearly opposed to those of the state or its agents, the proletariat doesn't recognise them as such and fails to make the distinction between them and individual terrorist actions carried out by different groups or agents of the bourgeoisie.
This objective and inevitable aspect of the current period, when the proletariat is atomised and unable to see itself as an international class and consequently unable to constitute itself as such, greatly facilitates the state's politics of "amalgam" and the consolidation of its terrorist anti-terrorist campaign.
However, we make clear that we do not say that terrorist actions of individual proletarians or groups permit the strengthening of the state like all the pseudo-working class pacifist groups do. On the contrary, WE SAY that the generalised decay of society and the explosive development of all its contradictions, which inevitably leads to the terrorist reinforcement of the state, continues to progress because the proletariat does not act as a revolutionary force (the only real limit to this tendency), and the expression of this general confusion in the proletariat prevents it from seeing the difference between its violence and its enemy's, and allows the state to utilise its amalgam technique and reinforce its anti-terrorist campaign with the applause and collaboration of crowds of atomised proletarians (8).
In relation to this, it is not enough to talk about unavoidable material conditions, or of factual coincidences which make anti-terrorist politics possible and credible. It is necessary to discuss those deliberate, conscious, state police actions which have the aim of materialising this amalgam. Although we do not have a police vision of history, we know that the police participate in history. We would be blind if we didn't recognise the conscious, deliberate acts of manipulation, the direct interventions made by the state to give credibility to its general strategy of repression, confusion and amalgam. More than this, it is obvious that where the general interests of the bourgeoisie are involved, and taking into account all the historical lessons it has drawn from its experience, it acts in a more centralised, conscious, police fashion than one might have thought. For example the "death squads", wherever they work or have worked, are a general requirement of the state and would have been created in any case by some faction of capital. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that this general need has been consciously and overtly satisfied by the central apparatus of the state. Though we must avoid the danger of falling into a police vision of history, we should also not succumb to the idea that the "death squads" were organised by uncontrolled, autonomous bodies or by the fantous "extreme right". In fact, in every case, they were organised by the whole of the state and in particular by the government, ministers, generals and top brass.
Knowing the general weakness of the proletariat in acting as a class, an independent force, the first thing that helps the state's amalgam technique is the formal coincidence between what the proletariat more or less confusedly sees as its enemies, and sometimes attacks, individually or in small groups, and the targets of nationalist groups, Stalinists, foquists, pseudo-revolutionaries and pseudo-communists (9); some parts of the state, factories or other establishments, some particularly unpopular bosses. If we leave aside the fact that in most cases these actions, far from contributing to the movement, disorganise it (the aim of this article is not to demonstrate the disorganisation and passivity that is produced by spectacular exemplary activism), it is quite clear that it is these kind of actions, which try to get prolelarians to become cannon fodder for imperialist wars, permit the central organs of the state (10) (and we repeat, seeing the general inability of the proletariat to put forward in the view of the whole population a clearly autonomous political line) to amalgamate any acts of proletarian resistance with the actions of bourgeois groups. The repression which follows, based on this amalgam, not only allows the state to present its viewpoint in general and equally in almost every case, but also liquidates the little bits of proletarian autonomy that were emerging: physical elimination, imprisonment,... and those who escape are isolated, and have great difficulty avoiding the swamp of opposition nationalism (11).
When we take into account the total absence of any difference between the programmes of nationalists and their governments, we can see how easy it is to infiltrate and manipulate them towards the most central aims of the state, and towards the idea of overt collaboration with it (12). In some cases, the central repressive forces can even permit them to work in the general interests of the state against tendencies towards proletarian autonomy (13). But sometimes all this does not satisfy the central apparatus of the state, the bourgeois fraction that controls the government. Their particular factional interests and their general class interests drive them not only to finance, support and give logistic aid to this or that terrorist group, but even to organise "terrorist" actions (14) against another bourgeois fraction or, more likely, against the proletariat to terrorise it into supporting its general policy of repression. It is known, but not widely enough in our opinion, that the secret services of the major powers - like the CIA and the KGB - systematically participate not only in the creation of pseudopara-police organisations, but also in direct outrages and armed actions against the imperialist class enemy. We don't lose any sleep over the successive attempts of the CIA to get rid of Fidel Castro or the systematic series of accidents which dispose of people like Torrijos or Samora Machel. That's their problem. In the same way, we don't believe the story they tell that the first world war began because of the Sarajevo assassination.
What's important for us are the direct attacks which are launched against our class, and what our enemies succeed in doing: mobilising our class for interests that are not its own on the basis of an endless succession of outrages centrally organised by the various national expressions of the international state.
Today's news is full of revelations about the direct complicity of the state's central apparatus in terrorist actions throughout the world. It is impossible to fully enumerate these. On top of this, we don't have, and don't need, all the details about the complicity of the legalised criminal conspiracies that all governments are made of. But we can give some examples. The anti-terrorist Mitterand, and the whole socialist government, planned the attack on Greenpeace down to the last detail. There is no doubt about it. The anti-terrorist Reagan was not content to give logistic and financial support to Nicaraguan guerillas, he also sponsored the perfect little saboteur's handbook produced by his enemies. The fact that this man organised the bombing of Libya's two major towns is quite coherent with his defence of anti-terrorism. Israel preceded Reagan on this terrain. The bombing of a town is not considered a fact or war by that son of a bitch, Western public opinion, but merely an anti-terrorist action. The bombing of some PLO positions in Tunis (and who can say they only bombed the PLO?) was carried out with everyone's blessing. A bomb that killed a handful of soldiers guarding the military presence and the power of the US imperialist bloc is terrorism - the bombing of a town in response isn't, it's anti-terrorism. All the international channels of disinformation bombard us with this nonsense. And of course, in the other bloc, it's the same message but the other way round! It's so crass and absurd it seems impossible that anyone could believe it, but they do! The media is incredibly good at its job: they say what they're told to. In the West they say the occult figures behind terrorism are the Libyan, Iranian and Syrian governments. But today, no one can deny that the Iranian terrorist leaders are unofficially armed by the USA, the leaders of Western Christian anti-terrorism, on the express orders of Ronald Reagan. But at the same time, although the heads of Syrian terrorism are armed by the French state (there are enough economic interests involved), the latter cannot accept the British state's view. And it doesn't stop there. The French government leader, who was in charge during the second leg of the anti-terrorism campaign (the first being initiated by Mitterand at the beginning of his term in office), wasted no effort, and used every trick in the book of political amalgam, with the support of specific laws.
For example, he began his mandate with a general policy of challenges, detention and interrogation of proletarian militants - specifically directed against our group - justified by a so-called "Outrage" that never even happened, but that the media treated as an established fact. He tenaciously defended military and commercial relations with Syria and the other Middle Eastern states, and then, after a lot of speculation about the latest wave of exceptional criminal outrages, he announced that it had been organised by the Israeli secret service. We do not doubt that this is possible, and we do not doubt that behind these outrages are the French secret service and/or their successive alliances and bust-ups with the other secret services of the Middle Eastern states.
In reality, we're not interested in who is behind each outrage. The interwoven economic interests that determine them in the last instance are too complex. This brief and by no means exhaustive survey only serves to put forward the point that behind all the anti-terrorist campaigns, the state openly pulls the strings, by stirring up or organising "terrorist" actions to achieve the objectives we've already mentioned and to reinforce general state terrorism, to make it quite clear that there is complete and total coherence between this terrorism and state anti-terrorism, and that all this is against proletarian violence, which is the only real and final brake on the generalised terrorism of today's society.
Faced with the omnipresent terrorism of the state, with the terrorism of all existing states, the dominant reality amongst the proletariat continues to be atomisation, passive contemplation of our enemies' inter-terrorist spectacle, in all its morbid and macabre detail, organised by the international channels of communication and cretinisation. Of course there are heroic proletarian acts that give rise to here a battle, there a strike which goes beyond all expectations and terrorises capital, there are various violent demonstrations which attack the centres of the state (as these lines were being written, there was a major new upsurge of proletarian struggle in many Algerian towns) etc. But these actions have no continuity, no common perspective, no coordinating plan. More than this, the different sectors of the international proletariat which engage in battle one after the other, don't yet feel that they develop one war for the same interests and against the same enemies (15) (we are not even talking of a class consciousness of its universal project), and after a struggle, they return to the usual state of atomisation and powerlessness against capitalist barabarism. We have no doubt that these explosions will get bigger and become more important in the near future. But the problem is, how this intermittent community of actions and struggles which occasionally coincide, will transform itself quantitatively and qualitatively into a community of action and leadership with international perspectives, how it will coordinate and centralise itself, how one can ensure its continuity, how it will give birth to the indispensible leadership, without which we will be on course for another defeat for the movement. The task of revolutionary militants is to answer adequately and practically to this gigantic historical challenge (16).
1. Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme.
2. The so-called sanctions imposed on states which are accused of supporting terrorism, the ludicrous measures taken in the name of human rights "against" the South African state, the juridicial spectacle of the trial of those guilty of "excesses" in Argentina, are of course completely coherent with this state policy.
3. One should not look at this statement in a linear fashion. We are not supporters of the ideology that applauds state terrorism in order to "sharpen the contradictions" (this is vulgar materialism) because it is clear to us that counter revolutionary terrorism can wipe out the proletariat as a class, by means of the accumulation of class defeats, though inevitably it will reemerge after a long period.
4. We reject the terminology which defends the existence of terrorism or terrorists in general. For us terrorism always has and always will belong to a class: there is revolutionary and counter revolutionary terrorism.
Nevertheless, there is an ideology posing as "revolutionary theory" which apologises for certain terrorist activity. This ideology is always linked to populism and reformism, and is still the basis of numerous pseudo-revolutionary groups around the world (most of which are clearly bourgeois and linked to a national state project). It was skilfully identified and criticised by Lenin in "Revolutionary Adventurism" (Works, vol. 6). The invariant characteristics of this voluntarist, idealist and mechanical argument are: the ideology of the "transfer of forces" according to which each terrorist act "sucks" energy from the state into the militants, the ideology which justifies the "invisible", "invincible", "elusive" individual as against the vulnerability of the "mass", the ideology of incitement and exemplary action... in the end a vision of history which substitutes the struggle between individuals, some of whom personify the state (the theory about which "contraption" will be the "heart of the state"), others personifying heroes, "revolutionaries", that is to say the struggle of organisation against organisation, where the proletariat is reduced to a mere mass of spectators, for the contradictions of capitalist society and the inexorable accentuation of class struggle. (See our text in Le Communiste No17 and 19: "Critique du reformisme arme"). In Latin America, rural and urban foquism are obvious examples of this reformist, bourgeois ideology.
5. All determinations of proletarian struggle and, in the same way, its programme, are the practical negation of the system.
6. We take this opportunity to combat the ideology that associates terrorism with bombs and assassinations; the bourgeoisie is terrorised by all class actions that really show the emergence of the proletariat as a force.
7. The position of the real communist left was of course totally different. See Bilan, "A propos de l'affaire van der Lubbe", in Le Communiste No22.
8. Atomised "proletarians" who collaborate with the state. The attentive reader will notice an incoherence with our usual terminology. We wanted to describe a particular section of society (who have nothing to lose, and who do have an objective interest in social revolution) and this is why we didn't say citizen, people and population, like we usually do. We could also use the term "anti-proletarian", the most complete expression of which is proletarians killing each other in imperialist wars. It is the proletariat's capitalist negation, as against its revolutionary negation: the destruction of all social classes, and the communist self-abolition of the proletariat.
9. Like for example: the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Front or M19, the Sandinistas in the past in Nicaragua, the Montoneros and Tupamaros in the past in Argentina and Uruguay, ETA in Spain, the Red Brigades in Italy, the PLO everywhere, etc.
10. For us all these groups are an integrated part of the world capitalist state. We call the heart of the state in particular the government and the current heads of the repressive forces (which often change hands, e.g. the Sandinistas).
11. See "Exil, revolution et contre-revolution" in Le Communiste No25.
12. For example, the endless nuances put forward by the Red Brigades: from the open collaborators to the "real" fighters, including the repentant, the disassociated, etc. See also the result of the arrangement between the military, the Montoneros and the Tupamaros who came to an agreement to light in common cause against "those who rob the nation" etc., "against economic inequality", or for a program of national "well-being", or again, the work of mobilisation for war carried out by the Montoneros during the Falklands war.
13. A good contribution on this theme and in particular about the Italian example can be found in pamphlet Proletaires, si vous saviez - Le laboratoire de la contre-revolution - Italic 79/80.
14. As we explained at the beginning, for us every state action is terrorist: this is why we put sporadic and irregular terrorist action in inverted commas. Not doing this would be a concession to what we denounce at the beginning.
15. A sentiment that existed clearly and universally in the beginning of the century, in 1917?21, and to a lesser extent between 1967 and 73.
16. See the "Propuesta Internationale" in Le Communiste No25. which
is a contribution toward this aim.