Critical assessments

Red Army Faction

‘The Urban Guerrilla Concept’. 1 April 1971.

[…] We are not saying that the organization of armed resistance groups can replace the legal proletarian organizations, that isolated actions can replace the class struggle, or that armed struggle can replace political work in the factories or neighborhoods. We are arguing that armed struggle is a necessary precondition for the latter to succeed and progress, that armed struggle is “the highest form of Marxism-Leninism” (Mao), and that it can and must begin now, as without it there can be no anti-imperialist struggle in the metropole. We are not Blanquists nor are we anarchists, though we think Blanqui was a great revolutionary and the personal heroism of many anarchists is certainly above reproach. […]

Under the existing conditions in the Federal Republic and West Berlin, we doubt it will be possible to create a strategy to unify the working class or to create an organization that could simultaneously express and initiate the necessary unifying process. We doubt that the unity of the socialist intelligentsia and the proletariat can be “molded out of” the political programs or the declarations coming from the proletarian organizations. The drops and streamlets based on the horrors have long been collected by the Springer Corporation, to which they then add new horrors.

We believe that without a revolutionary initiative, without the practical revolutionary intervention of the vanguard, the socialist workers and intellectuals, and without concrete anti-imperialist struggle, there will be no unifying process. Unity can only be created through the common struggle of the conscious section of the working class and the intellectuals, one which they do not stage-manage, but which they model, or else it will not happen at all.

The paper output of these organizations shows their practice to be mainly a contest between intellectuals for the best Marx review before of an imaginary jury, which couldn’t possibly be the working class, as the language used excludes their participation. They are more embarrassed when they are caught misquoting Marx than when they are caught lying in their practice. Talking is their practice. The page numbers in their footnotes are almost always correct, the membership numbers they give for their organizations seldom are. They fear the accusation of revolutionary impatience more than corruption by bourgeois careers. It’s more important to them to spend years pursuing a degree with Lukacs than to allow themselves to be spontaneously inspired by Blanqui. They express internationalism in the form of censorship by favoring one Palestinian guerrilla organization over another. White masters who claim to be the true guardians of Marxism, they express themselves through patronage, begging their rich friends for alms in the name of the Black Panther Party—not with a view to “victory in the people’s war,” but to soothe their consciences. That’s not a revolutionary method of intervention. […]

Long-term, meticulous work is crucial for the urban guerrilla, insofar as we want to go beyond discussion to action. If the option of retreating to a bourgeois profession is not kept open, if the option of leaving behind the revolution for a townhouse is not maintained, if none of this is even desirable, then, with the full pathos of Blanqui’s statement, “The duty of the revolutionary is to always struggle, in spite of everything to struggle, to struggle until death.” There is no revolutionary struggle, and there has been no revolutionary struggle, in which this hasn’t shown itself to be true: Russia, China, Cuba, Algeria, Palestine, Vietnam. […]