… the Revolutionary Cells and Rote Zora carried out numerous actions from the mid-70s to the mid-90s, actions which engendered a heck of a lot of debate, (constructive) criticism and critiques … movement magazines like Interim, Agitare Bene, Radikal, Revolutionarer Zorn and others published this info and Arm The Spirit tried to keep up with it all as best as possible … here’s a few RZ communiques and pieces that critique and analyze the actions and politics of the RZs and others … translated by Arm The Spirit and most, but not all of it, made it into the pages of the zine … some of the material was alluded to / made mention of in the communiques in the previously published Rote Zora / Revolutionary Cells Dossier …
… if you’re interested, a lot of this material was collected and published in a 600+ page book called “Die Fruchte des Zorn” … you can find it (and a lot of other RZ material) here …
… the graphics are all German left-radical posters from the 1960s – 1990s … found on-line at the Nadir Archive …
1. Social Revolution Against Imperialist Refugee Policies / 1989
2. Revolutionary Cells Communique / June 11, 1991
3. Statement Concerning The Attack On Hanno Klein / June 15, 1991
4. Statement Concerning The Attack On The Refugee Administration
Centre In Boblingen / August 22, 1991
5. This Is Not A Love Song! / 1991
6. Letter Bombs As An Action Form For Leftists? / 1991
7. Out Into Real Life / 1991
8. Bad News On A Piece Of Paper / December 1991
9. Revolutionary Cell Communique – Tendency For The International Social Revolution / 1992
10. Notes On Bad News: A reaction To A Discussion paper Of The Revolutionary Cells / 1992
Social Revolution Against Imperialist Refugee Policies
They don’t dirty their own hands. They don’t themselves take part in the tortures, the rapes, or the executions of, for example, Kurdish or Tamil men and wimmin. But their business is foul nonetheless. They are a small but effective segment in the international class war against the poor of the three continents. Their weapon is the right to grant asylum. Their protection is the anonymity of the apparatus of justice: the judges of the council chambers for refugees and asylum—seekers of the West German Verwaltungsgerichte. If ever something becomes known about the racist practices of the courts, then it is only in spectacular circumstances – such as the death of a black man from Sierra Leone, who, after he was deported by the 18th court of the Dusseldorf Verwaltzmgsgerichte, was tracked down and murdered in his homeland — the man responsible: Judge Fix.
The speed and exactness with which this judge of the “horror-court” deals out his negative verdicts to asylum-seekers knows a long tradition in Germany. The cynical comment of his superiors: the death of the black African was, in essence, a “fateful incident”.
The daily horror, the regularity of the deportation of refugees from the three continents (that is, South America, Africa, and Asia) – the denial of their right to existence.
By far the largest group of those people throughout the world who are forced by circumstances to become refugees are wimmin. Most of those who, despite closed borders, manage to reach the cities are men. Considering the 5-year ban on their working, the ban on moving, the standard of life in the camps, and the perpetual sense of uncertainty, this is a dubious privilege. But it is one which is, nevertheless, better than the life of the wimmin and children, who must ﬁght for their lives each day in the refugee camps of the world’s poorest nations – for example the Kurdish refugees in Turkey, who ﬂed from Iraq to escape German-made gas grenades.
The female refugees who don’t end up here in a bordello or as a purchased spouse, but who rather state their demand for life in the form of an asylum request, have but few chances: sexist violence, according to the German courts, is not a reason to ﬂee – never mind the torture and rape of wimmin from the resistance or from social minorities.
The torture of political prisoners, in Turkey for example, is seen by the courts here as a natural measure in the interest of national security, and the Oberverwaltungsgericht in Munster, in one major decision, characterized sexist violence against wimmin as general occurrence, not one which is directed against women as a sex. In this concrete example the court ruled against a womyn from Sri Lanka, stating that a rape in a situation of civil war is an entirely normal phenomenon and is, therefore, no reason for an individual to be granted asylum.
Wimmin are, however, granted the right to asylum if they are the spouse of a recognized male refugee.
It is this contempt for wimmin with which they are confronted in the form of sexism both here and at home. The attack on female identity is, in reality, also the fear of the powers-that—be of the globally increasing resistance of wimmin – the resistance of the dispossessed which threatens to cause all power—relationships to collapse.
Today we detonated explosives in the Obverwaltungsgericht in Munster and at the
administrative court in Dusseldorf, because all those who take part in the control and deportation of refugees must know that even they can meet with the solidarity of the oppressed.
In the mean time, we have learned that imperialist refugee policies are not neutral as far as sex is concerned. If men in the cities take up the resistance against institutionalized forms of male domination, then it must not be done merely under the show of seeming equality. That would be no different from a new form of deception, because as men in the cities ourselves, we are ourselves part of the problem, men who proﬁt from sexist and racist power structures. That is why our struggle for the elimination of all dominance—relationships is, in the first place, a contradictory process. Our relationship to the global resistance of wimmin and people of color must be a practical one, and we must attack the institutionalized forms of racism and sexism – solidarity is a principle of struggle.
We are today advancing the campaign against imperialist refugee policies which we began in the summer of 1986 when the racist mobilization of refugees arose in the form of a furious campaign against ‘economic refugees‘ and ‘excess foreigners‘.
The result of this well-coordinated campaign by the State was the worsening of living conditions for refugees and the closing of borders. Racist policies on foreigners are part of a global population- and social— plan against the poor masses of the three continents. It is directed against their right to life and an existence here within the centers of imperialism But this plan is also part of domestic social politics here, which is aimed at a new alignment of classes. The division of classes, which is carried out in a racist manner, as well as sexism are the only ideological weapons whereby the ruling elite can divert attention away from the social consequences of capitalist restructuring, the attack on the minimum—wage, the worsening of labor provisions, the dirty, low-paid labor in poor working conditions, the compulsion on the unemployed to ﬁnd work, and the isolation of the sick and aged.
The propaganda for families, the campaign by the Right against abortion law 218, and the introduction of new reproductive techniques are all part of an attack of the identity of wimmin, who also here are staring, in increasing numbers, to refuse to accept patriarchal structures and are forming a resistance.
These population— and social-politics exhibit a character of social Darwinism. These
practices of selection and eradication are becoming more obvious through the way in which asylum-policies and gene— and reproductive—technology are propagandized. In one European research project, “Predicative Medicine”, openly eugenic practices were proposed. In the initial design of new immigration policies, nationalistic and folkish criteria were once more adopted in the legal texts. This design makes the essence of this immigration policy clear: the protection of the ubermenschen from excessive consumers of food, while at the same time utilizing the colored peoples of the three continents as a supply of labor.
According to the plans of the new immigration laws, there will be but minimal improvements for the immigrants who worked here prior to the ban on enrollments in 1973; it is forbidden for all others to remain here.
The speciﬁc conditions of this plan are very vaguely deﬁned, such that immigration administrators can issue limited work permits to the extent that the labor market and political opportunism dictate. The remaining refugees must, therefore, be deported. The increase of thousands of refugees from Eastern Europe is not in contradiction with the restrictive admissions policies which apply to other refugees.
The migrants from predominantly Germanic regions in Eastern Europe are perfect for insuring the continuance of low—wage politics, which is analagous to the Adenauer policies of just after the war. But they themselves become the object of racism in the society.
The fact that today a membership card to the NSDAP is worth more at the German border than traces of torture on the body of a colored person illustrates full well the continuity of the grosraumpolitiek begun under national-socialism.
Thus, the calibration of refugee policies throughout the United States of Europe, the Europe of the cops and the bosses, is in the interest of the multi-nationals. The calibration of security forces and a decrease in the numbers of admitted refugees were the topics of many conferences and agreements in preparation for Europe‘s internal market, such as the TREVI and the “Schengen Agreement”.
Thus, this is about nothing less than the development of a modernized internal social policy. Combined with this are the calibrated mechanisms of the forced mobilization of labor forces from the neighboring regions of poverty and upheaval in the Middle East (including Turkey) and North Africa. ”
In the autumn of 1986, we presented our plan for a campaign against imperialist immigration policies in the form of a proposal to all autonome and social-revolutionary leftist groups in West Germany. We still contend that anti-imperialism in urban centers can only be concrete if it aims at the social conﬂicts here and if it simultaneously places itself in a class-alliance between the cities here and with the struggling masses of the three continents. In this context, we also see our actions against trans-national corporations as a show of support for the liberation struggle in Southern Africa.
Even if our proposal is not taken up on a large scale, the discussions which developed around the visit of the international murder cartel (IMF) to Berlin were nonetheless an important step in the development of an anti-imperialist consciousness among leftists.
That the enemy is not asleep was made clear when the shots rang out on the Starrbahn West. But the shots were but the introduction of a whole wave of repression, whereby the State is trying to dam up all of the militant forms of political resistance which have developed over the last few years since the beginning of the ’80’s. By means of the continual reduction of welfare, the expansion of anti-terrorist laws, and the widened use of the secret service, the radical—Left has been thrust back upon itself. The repression won’t be broken by means of protesting the repression, but rather through the continuance of social—revolutionary politics.
The political developments in this country, in particular the election successes of the neo-fascist groups, have strengthened our opinion that the anti-imperialist politics in the cities can have but one perspective if it has, at the same time, but one answer for the social questions.
The heart of the State is the consciousness of the oppressed — revolution is unthinkable without the struggle for the minds of the people. We have never had the illusion that segments of the proletarian youth, the wimmin, the unemployed or other groups in the society would quickly develop a sense of a common interest with refugees and immigrants; sexism and racism are too ingrained for that. But that is exactly why anti-imperialism must be developed so as to break through this barrier.
TAKE UP THE STRUGGLE FOR THE LIBERATION OF WIMMIN AND PEOPLE OF COLOR — WAGE THE ANTI-IMPERIALIST STRUGGLE IN “THE HEART OF THE BEAST”!
Revolutionary Cells Communique
On June 11, 1991 we placed two incendiary devices inside the Berliner Reichstag [ the building which housed the German parliament through World War II and which is to house the parliament of the new, unified Germany – ed.], to thereby voice our opinion, just a few days before the parliamentary debate concerning where to locate Germany’s future seat of government. Contrary to what the press, the parties and the Senate would have us believe, moving the capital to Berlin would not mean an increase in the standard of living for a majority of Berliners. Quite the contrary, we, those with low income, the unemployed, immigrants, shit-workers, pensioners and welfare recipients, will all be forced out of the city. Berlin is to become a Yuppie-City, where housing units costing 25 DM per square metre will be situated among administrative buildings, corporate headquarters and the luxury apartments of government functionaries. We, the poor, must sit in our concrete boxes in Helldorf and Marzahn and watch as well-dressed yuppies cruise the streets in their expensive cars.
We don’t stand to profit at all during any phase of the building-up period. It has been repeatedly discussed in government circles in Bonn how, for security reasons, West German construction firms will have to be employed, since East German firms are undoubtedly riddled with Stasi-people. And what do we stand to gain from housing the seat of government, other than the dubious ‘honour’ of once again being the ‘rightful’ capital of Great Germany? Nothing And many people realize that it’s foolish, at a time when the mood on the streets is more aggressive that it has been for quite some time, to attempt to construct a consensus among all Berliners, or to effect some sort of Berliner-Unity (“Choosing Bonn – A Slap In The Face Of All Berliners” [newspaper headline in Berlin shortly before parliamentary debate – ed.])
Without a doubt, many comparisons will be made in the coming days between our action and the lone-deed of Marinus van der Lubbe in 1933, an act which gave the Nazis an excuse to declare a “State of Emergency” and to persecute thousands of dissidents. We consider this a foolish comparison. Just as ‘real-existing’ socialism is cited as evidence for the impossibility of constructing a different and better society, some cite the Reichstag Fire of ’33 as evidence that militant actions always bring fatal consequences.
But the contexts are very different. Neither are we on the verge of a fascist dictatorship (that is why one cannot attack a symbol of civil society, namely the parliament, without also creating as active a unity as possible against the Right), nor was our attack an act of individual desperation. On the contrary, from the discussions which resulted after the collapse of existing socialism, we saw a chance to develop a new, radical and all-encompassing understanding of liberation, one which has nothing whatsoever to do with the bureaucratic regimes of Eastern Europe. Our actions are not expressions of blind rage or empty ideology as the press always likes to say. If we did not think that a free and collective society were possible, then we would have abandoned our struggle long ago.
One precondition for this is that we maintain some political ground and that we name and pursue concrete goals in actual discussions.
WE WON’T BE DRIVEN OUT – NEVER AGAIN BERLIN AS SEAT OF GOVERNMENT!
HISTORY HAS NOT ENDED – WE WILL MAKE IT OURSELVES
Statement Concerning The Attack On Hanno Klein
The following is a communique which originally appeared in the Berlin autonomist paper Interim. It concerns the fatal letter-bomb attack on Hanno Klein which took place in June of this year. Hanno Klein was a notoriously reactionary high-ranking official in the Berlin Senate’s planning commission who was in charge of drafting plans to gentrify and sanitize Berlin in time to make it an attractive site for the Olympic Games in the year 2000.
The fatal attack on Klein was both significant and controversial. For one thing, it was the work of an as-yet unidentified group, and, with the exception of the RAF executions, fatalaties are rare in attacks from the German left. Also, it was the first time (to our knowledge) that a letter-bomb device has been used in Germany. We expect that the attack aroused some controversy in Germany’s radical-left scene, and we at ATS hope to follow the debate in future issues.
Thankfully, Klein’s central role in the restructuring process underway in Berlin’s inner-city has been documented in the press. Klein – a brutal, arrogant bureaucrat – organized the driving out of residents of Kiez from their neighbourhoods.
Although Klein’s death was not the original intention of the action, since we only meant to inflict non-fatal physical harm, his death stands in realistic proportion to the violent scale of the present restructuring process, the ruling power’s comprehensive grasp of the proletarian population, especially women and immigrants. Alongside the systematic liquidation of economic structures in the former-DDR, this process represents his attempt to transform the inner-city according to guidelines set by national and international Capital and also the gentrification associated with the city’s new status as the nation’s capital. The goal: the city centre is to be for the rich, while marginalized people are shuffled off to cement ghettos on the city’s edge. Those responsible for all of this are unmoved by the sufferings of those being displaced. Resistance to these plans, as was evidenced in the Mainerstrasse evictions, is beaten nearly to death with tactics resembling civil war. Considering the pleasure the ruling powers take in the sorrow of displaced persons, how much does the death of the restructuring official Klein really matter?
We had to respond to the war being waged by the city planners, speculators and the politicians against us, the inhabitants of Kiez, a war which has to be seen in the context of the restructuring of Berlin to be the command centre for the imperialist powers’ plan to economically exploit the peoples of Eastern Europe. Those pigs have lost their right to remain undisturbed physically, although formerly the resistance had as its aim to avoid, as much as possible, inflicting harm upon them. Those pushing the restructuring forward will have to reckon with this incalculable risk factor – we have to adopt a variety of action methods in building up a proletarian resistance movement which is rooted in the neighbourhoods. Considering the context, the parliament’s imminent approval of the location of the nation’s capital and the sheer brutality of class pressure being applied from those above, we maintain that the attack on Klein, despite what was for us an unexpectedly hefty result, and despite the present weakness of revolutionaries, was appropriate.
To counter the negative press campaign: a premature detonation of the device was ruled out 100% – only the person who opened the letter was in any danger, as there was to be no shrapnel and no chance of fire. Through our own inaccuracy, however, we did not realize how immense the blast would be in the small enclosed room that was Klein’s office.
AGAINST THE RESTRUCTURING, THE CAPITAL CITY AND THE OLYMPICS PLANS!
ORGANIZE PROLETARIAN RESISTANCE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOODS!
SOLIDARITY WITH THE IMPRISONED REVOLUTIONARIES!
Statement Concerning The Attack On The Refugee Administration
Centre In Boblingen
Tomorrow morning you listen to the news: “Interior Minister Schaeuble says that Western and Eastern European countries should get together to draft a harmonized, all encompassing defensive strategy to stop the influx of refugees.”
You walk by the bakery. Inside, you hear as the shopkeeper tells her customer: “You have to watch out for them, they always steal.” She means a man with dark skin who is standing in front of one of the shelves.
In the afternoon, you open the newspaper and read the headline: “Fire-bomb Attack on Refugee Centre.” Some of those inside were admitted to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.
Then you travel into the city-centre. There you meet a Kurdish woman friend. She tells you how her friend, who was deported a week ago, was taken into custody back in Turkey and tortured for several days.
In the evening you go to your favourite bar. A poster there reads: “International Awareness festival with Foreign Food and African Drum Music.”
This is just an out-take of what we hear, see, and read just about every day. Examples of day-to-day racism and genocide, things which refugees and immigrants in this country face on a daily basis.
These are situations which have also angered us and caused us to hate those in power who are responsible. Nonetheless, through our political work we know that consternation alone is not sufficient reason for continuing political action. Rather, first you have to analyze the way hierarchy is put together, to see, for example, that racism is an integral part of imperialist exploitation, and that through this racist socialization everyone lives in their own little safe- guarded society. But all of this makes it possible for us to find a starting-point for revolutionary resistance. Being motivated by anger alone can lead you to only see the refugees as victims, instead of seeing any significance in their own forms of day-to-day resistance against repression and the established powers.
It’s necessary that we lay aside our own racist outlook and broaden our perspective. Whether it’s in crowded asylum-centres or villages in the ex-DDR, whether it’s in the administration buildings or on the streets – everywhere the refugees are struggling against discrimination and for the chance to lead decent human lives. They are organizing demonstrations, occupations hunger strikes, and other protests.
Safe-Guarding Power At The Lowest Level
Immigration officials play a central role for immigrants and refugees. They are forever confronted with the institutionalized racism which these officials represent. Requests for entrance into the country are sorted into three categories: those that may stay, those that may work here for a while, and those that are to be deported. Alongside this administrative racism, the refugees and immigrants also have to cope with the racism of the typewriter- bastards, who subject them to despotism, harassment, and humiliation. These bureaucrats often like to play with their own sense of power by denying refugees the necessary right to have family members abroad pay them a visit.
Immigrants and refugees continually feel as if they are not wanted here. The prevalent norms in the metropoles do not speak to them, because they can’t fulfil certain criteria: they don’t have the right skin-colour, or they’re not the right gender, they don’t live the right way or conform to the right political convictions, maybe it’s their false culture and religion, or maybe it’s the useless labour they perform, or the fact that their background is in the Three Continents.
The mechanisms that strengthen imperialist, racist, and patriarchical hierarchy reach to the lowest levels:
The bureaucrats admit refugees according to how useful they can be made to be.
The bureaucrats control the day-to-day political activities.
The bureaucrats deliver the deportation notices when the refugees and immigrants are no longer serviceable.
Even the occasional, socially-minded bureaucrat can’t change the fact that he/she is enforcing an imperialist migration policy.
Thought is not anonymous. It has a name and an address. – Brecht
On 22.8.91, we detonated an explosive device at the Refugee Administration Centre in the Steinbeisstrasse in Boblingen.
The Attack On De Facto Refugees
With the implementation of the new so-called foreigner regulations on 1.1.91, the ruling powers in Germany took another step against peoples not from EC-nations. This was the foundation for the decision on 3.5.91 at the conference of interior ministers to begin excluding de facto refugees.
More than 50,000 people, who had been admitted to Germany “on account of specific conditions in their nation of origin”, are to be deported, only to be hunted down and killed. Christian and humanitarian groups protested the planned mass- deportations, so much so, that a new interior ministers conference was held on 15.7.91.
The ruling powers changed the modality of the deportation and concentrated on another strategy. The virtual prohibition against deportations to certain countries was done away with.
The fact that this policy only applies to those de facto refugees who came here after 1.1.89 does not in any way alter Germany’s cynical conduct of deporting refugees back to war zones and nations in crisis.
Those regulations are full of bureaucratic and organizational possibilities for those who handle the deportation. We see this as an attempt to pacify the reformist and Christian spectrum and to split up and isolate any resistance to these policies.
The only hope left for those living under the threat of deportation is their individual case study. Many realize that this is virtually hopeless, and so they leave “willingly”, usually to live illegally in another country.
War Against The Selection And Division Of Immigrants And Refugees
As the Schengen Agreement creeps ever closer, life for refugees and immigrants in EC-nations grows ever more difficult. France, for example, wants to initiate raids to round up and deport more than 70,000 legal and illegal immigrants. One spokesperson for the French government termed this policy against illegals “an inevitable war.”
There’s a war going on in Italy at present as Albanian refugees fall victim to brutal repression. The Italian officials didn’t think twice about herding thousands of Albanians into a football stadium in Bari. The deaths and injuries which resulted from poor living conditions, a lack of medical attention, and the police’s use of weapons didn’t upset them much.
Refugees often find themselves in a war-like situation when they are forced to flee life-threatening conditions in Mahgreb and cross the sea to Spain.
Pretty soon, the border between North and South will be a war- zone, much the way it has been in the U.S., where for years shots have been fired at immigrants trying to cross the Rio Grande. In the meantime, it’s plainly visible what this special war looks like and how it’s developing in the metropole-states.
The mainstream media are propagating the frightening view of the ruling powers that we are facing a “flood of refugees”, as if it wasn’t known that the majority of migrants (80% of whom are women and children) are in flight within the Three Continents themselves. Only a handful of people who are on the run make it to Europe. Just the same, it’s well known that the imperialist, patriarchal, and racist policies of exploitation of the metropole- states leads to massive disruptions of the subsistence economies of
the countries on the Three Continents.
That is one of the major causes of world-wide migration.
The consequences of this exploitation affect both men and women. Women, however, have less hope than men of finding paid work in another country, or on another continent. They are less mobile, because usually they are required to care for families. When they do flee, it’s usually to a neighbouring region or to a bordering nation, where they vegetate in a refugee camp, or they try to survive in the slums of the big cities. “At best” the youngest and healthiest of these are given work in some corporation’s factory. Many women have no other option but to become prostitutes. Often they have to cater to white sex-tourists.
In the last few years, more women have reached the rich metropoles from the Three Continents and Eastern Europe. Here they find a patriarchal society which treats them as a mere appendage to a man with no individual rights, and a sexist climate which forces them to prostitute their bodies and minds to the sexist interests of white men.
Even in the metropoles, the women have the duty to “reproduce” their men.
Women-specific grounds for flight are not recognized in present asylum-regulations. As wives, they are not entitled to their own guaranteed, individual right to asylum.
Very few men and women have the good luck to make it to the rich nations of the North.
They are concrete results of imperialist plundering, ecological devastation, and the resulting wars and national liberation struggles.
Of this, immigrants write:
“Today, as more than 20 million immigrants are presently residing in European countries, no one can any longer ignore the reality that poverty leads to migration; a migration towards wealth. The causes of this migration are 500 years of colonial history, neo- colonialism, and the present-day export and war-oriented economies. This centuries-long history of colonialist and imperialist exploitation has led to hunger and poverty throughout much of the world. It has also allowed people in the metropoles to live in privileged welfare-societies. Therefore, those people that live in poverty have every right to migrate to places where there is wealth and to live there. Period. It doesn’t matter why they’re there. This migration can be seen as a type of war. It’s a sort of manoeuvre against those things which caused the poverty, and it helps ensure that centuries of injustice become to some degree redressed.” (from Radikal No. 142)
This old ‘new’ world order, which is allowing the veneer of the ruling power’s treatment of refugees and immigrants to be stripped away, points out, to anyone willing to look, just exactly how the imperialist plan functions on a global scale. The status quo in the rich and relatively pacified metropoles can only be maintained if 3/4 of the world is made dependent.
Systematic destitution and extermination are a given. The fact that, meanwhile, several nations and halves of continents just get written off hardly bothers any citizens in the metropoles.
In Europe, Germany’s politics sets the standards for the deportation-war which the other European states have to try and match.
The ruling powers are preparing for this war: judicially, politically, ideologically, and militarily.
They want to pick out those people from the Three Continents, and soon from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, whose ideas, language, and appearance make them possibly acceptable, and then exclude all the rest, so far as they can’t be made use of temporarily.
Reuter of Daimler-Benz [German multi-national], and Geibler, of the CDU [Christian Democrats – ed.] agree on the German and European restrictions: “letting in immigrants in the correct proportions” is the way of the future. As to what proportions they think are correct, we can only guess.
Immigrants and refugees wouldn’t be any problem if they just resign themselves to a “profit-making life-style”.
Either as under-paid non-troublesome hamburger-producers at McDonalds or as Czechoslovakian or Polish seasonal workers on farms or in the construction or food industry or as forced-labourers working for $2.50 an hour in the forests near Bayer, or as erotic-exotic prostitutes and/or house-wives, or as service workers catering to the needs of tedious Germans – in these capacities they are more than welcome.
The selection criteria are nothing more than invisible parts of a politics of selection and exclusion.
All across Europe, refugees and immigrants are being sorted out, assigned to certain tasks, utilized in sex-specific ways, exchanged, and controlled.
It’s important that their potential uses be discovered as quickly as possible – the European selection-experts are standing by, ready.
Those that are sorted out, like the Roma, will hardly ever be able to enter a rich European metropole-state again.
Roma are always the last to be brought here, they are the least wanted and they are always the first to be deported.
That’s how, along side sexism, a multi-cultural, but nonetheless hard-hitting racism functions as an instrument of power.
The Helplessness Of The Left
The immigrants and refugees that come here have to worry about their chances for survival, their health, and their dignity. The ruling powers, unlike the metropolitan left, have known this for some time now.
Of this, immigrants write:
“Unfortunately, most of the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist left in this country can’t come to terms with this anti-imperialist approach. This process of migration, which is the result of the banishment and uprooting of millions of people, and which must also be understood as an inherited rage and declaration of war against capital, has left the German left in a state of helplessness and paralysis”. (from: Radikal No. 142)
When the left “only” concerns itself with the off-shoots of this migration-politics and merely makes selective adoptions into its post-modern life-style, then it’s actually helping to reinforce global exploitative relationships.
“Profit’, which is always lacking, corrupts and throws a smokescreen over our view of patriarchal, racist, and imperialist interests.
It allows protests against deportations to be reduced to crocodile tears, and it hinders the development of an authentic, radical approach.
What To Do? What To Do!
The seeds of division which the ruling imperialists are sowing in the refugee-policy resistance movement are the practical result of our own anti-imperialist understanding.
Solidarity does not end with supporting national liberation struggles, but rather it also manifests itself in our practical solidarity with refugees and immigrants in this country. It finds its natural expression in attacks against those responsible for deportations, attacks on the typewriter-bastards, attacks on the white-collar bastards who seek to exclude people.
Anti-imperialism has only with difficulty come to play a fundamental role in leftist theory and praxis, but the patriarchal and racist foundations of global, exploitative relationships have, in the last few years, become part of the left-radical spectrum of
We are struggling for a non-hierarchical society.
To achieve this we must point out the different forms of oppression and social contradictions which we seek to abolish. We connect freedom to the abolition of the global exploitation of people and the ending of violent patriarchal and racist conditions.
We are struggling as a white organization for an anti-racist society, and we seek to develop this through our own discussions and praxis. So we’re more concerned with asking questions than providing ready answers.
Therefore, our point of departure, our political goal, and our daily political praxis must be continually discussed and reviewed.
Our credibility can’t merely manifest itself in writings, but must also be shown in our praxis.
We are in solidarity with the refugees and immigrants, and we see our position accordingly. Mistakes and contradictions will always be present, of course.
We aren’t struggling on behalf of the refugees and immigrants.
Nonetheless, we hope that we can develop a political force along with them, as well as with other social groups.
We see our autonomous organizing and praxis as the basis for this perspective. Those that can work together and work in coalitions and mixed groups will be victorious. The question for us is, how can we add to this, and what initiatives should we take
from our side?
As white leftists and white feminists, we profit from racist oppression and we realize that it’s simplistic to think that by pushing back against the system we can automatically be on the other side. As white men and women we have to be conscious that we are part of a long history of colonialist and imperialist plunder and that we are part of a diverse resistance of people against this.
We see the difficult, but unavoidable task ahead of us, in our situation as a metropolitan left, of rooting out this history and approaching it critically.
This is both a theoretical and a practical process, one which is not individualized and easy, but one which will have to be developed along with people from the anti-imperialist resistance and with the refugees and immigrants themselves. In this way,
international solidarity can be given real life, and if it’s practical, we can direct this against those responsible for imperialist destruction, without denying our own metropolitan history.
To bring about this internationalist understanding, we see the need for, and we work toward, the abolition of racist control mechanisms aimed at splitting up and exploiting people. This is part of both our own liberation, and the liberation from all the power structures. Sure, the road will be long and full of contradictions, but we have no alternative.
That’s why we have to break through our daily acceptance of racist and sexist attacks, and be sensitive to and active on all levels of political development. That means bringing those in charge of refugee politics out of anonymity, to bring to light and attack the daily forms of racism that refugees and immigrants are continually confronted with. The work of the pigs seeking to deport asylum-seekers must be practically hindered, wherever possible.
We must realize that few people in the metropoles, at present, feel themselves to be in solidarity with the refugees and immigrants. Nonetheless, our struggle has as its goal the
development of such solidarity, and to therewith confront the divisive and exploitative devices of the ruling powers.
This Is Not A Love Song!
(Almost like in real life)
In the early summer, in a former FDJ retirement home, three no longer very young people met each other: HerMann (with a capital M), Arthur, and Zorro. After they had all broken the ice, and HerMann and Zorro had partook of the Crimean champagne which had been brought along, then Arthur, according to his daily ritual, sat himself in front of his black and white television set. It was only just after ten thirty when Arthur thought the unofficial servants of the Bonn government were playing a joke on him. And even hours later, when both his friends had sobered up again and the first brawl since their meeting had ended up in HerMann’s favour, Arthur swore that he had not dreamed it all. Fredrichs had reported, with a particularly cunning grin, that, concerning the question of where to locate Great Germany’s capital city, that the Revolutionary Cells had also just cast their vote in favour of Bonn. The Reichstag – the nation will be glad to know – was not badly burned, and no one had been hurt, but rather part of the area housing the exhibit of German history had been burnt through to the aluminum girders. For a few moments, the power in the FDJ home went out, and incredible laughing broke out in all the housing units, and the three friends began discussing the just-mentioned incident. Arthur, out of fear lest someone should have been injured, became so enraged that he threw an ash tray at the government official. HerMann and Zorro smashed in the TV, because this jeopardized the security of their town. Meanwhile, Arthur had screamed, and then somewhat more explained what had happened in Berlin, and then a terrible argument ensued, in which Arthur explained the problem of such an action given the history of the Reichstage fire of 1933. Zorro thought that the target was inappropriate, since the real struggle is against urban restructuring, so they ought to have attacked Daimler, and not done just an isolated action, but rather one out of a mass campaign, like against the project in the Potsdamer Platz. When HerMann added, Bonn or Berlin, Daimler or whoever, the action must be anti-patriarchical, and they should have first asked the Rote Zoras to define the problem according to male domination, then something suddenly struck Zorro…
(In real life…)
…these people, of course would not laugh about us. The situation for us is also bitterly serious. We think that what militant groups have done over the last few months represents the unfortunate side of what several generations of militants since the beginning of the 70’s have struggled for. We are referring to the shooting of the US-embassy in Bonn by a RAF commando at the beginning of February, and the blowing up of the Victory Pillar in Berlin and the fire-bombing of the Reichstag by the RZ’s in recent weeks. And especially we refer to the fatal letter-bomb attack on the Berlin city-planner Klein. Since the anonymous statement of responsibility made clear that the authors come from out of the Left, we felt it was critically necessary to draft a piece on the connection between politics and morals. Given the current political situation, in which the Left has become almost meaningless, this discussion is almost existential. Given the social marginalization of leftist politics, and militant politics especially, violent revolutionary tactics need to be exceedingly responsible and precise. It’s our mission in this situation to display an essentially exemplary character. The above-mentioned actions did not display such responsibility. They all claim to give correct answers to some of the pressing questions of our time, nonetheless they can simply be reduced to revolutionary violence.
The shooting of the US embassy in Bonn by a RAF commando was described in the decidedly bankrupt communique as an action of a united fraction of Germany’s armed Left. Not only were uninvolved people endangered by this meaningless shooting, but, to make matters worse, these people were part of the anti-war movement, people who must be seen as potential allies. It would be better if an armed group with such “terrorist scare-tactics” weren’t in the scene at all. The reference in the communique to having ruled out any danger to those not involved by using tracer ammunition is nothing more than unsurpassable cynicism. With their attack on the politically insignificant memorial to German militarism of 1871, the Victory Pillar in Berlin, a group from the Revolutionary Cells showed how insignificant and misplaced in time and space they are. The attempt to remove the golden monument from its base was, considering the outbreak of the Gulf War, inappropriate and ridiculous. Apart from that, since the action was mistimed, our comrades proved that they have no answers to the objective questions which their attack raised, namely the connection between nationalism, racism, and sexism and their own political praxis. There is no political orientation in their communique which reveals our comrade’s false label. They mistakenly see clarity where it does not exist – for example the connection between militancy and anti-patriarchal resistance by men. As for the fire-bombing of the German history exhibit in the Reichstag at the beginning of June, the old militant wisdom is here appropriate, namely that an action against a false object is a false action, even if the communique explains it otherwise. In the piece with our name entitled “A vote for Bonn”, it states that a precondition to any struggle should be that we “maintain some political ground and that we name and pursue concrete goals”. At least that’s what they said, but neither this action nor the content of their communique really point to this. As for a concrete political goal or a crystallization point – something which those struggling against restructuring could orient themselves towards – neither were named. What remained after the action was the reference to the ruling-power’s debate about the “capital city question”. And considering the Reichstag fire of 1933, this action was nothing but a farce. This place, considering its historical significance, is not at all a good target for militant political attacks. The Reichstag is a symbol of German nationalism, this is true, but it is also a symbol of the defeat of the Left in Germany. As for their allusion in the communique to the “lone deed of Marinus van der Lubbe, nevertheless the detailed relevant circumstances of the fire bomb attack to today were not clarified. It is “foolish” to do an action against such an object whose symbolism is not unambiguous and which itself does not convey a clear message.
The death of the Berlin construction official Klein by an explosion from a letter-bomb provoked discussions as to the goals and motives of the attackers. In the communique from an anonymous group on June 15, it was stated that Klein’s death was not intentional, but was the result of an “inacurracy”, but nonetheless, the risk to anyone not involved while the letter was in the all was “ruled out 100%”. They can hardly have known that the construction official himself, and not some secretary, was to have opened the letter. For punishment actions, as for any other action, the same rule of political critique applies, namely that it must be ruled out entirely that the person attacked could be accidently killed, or that uninvolved person stand any chance of being endangered, even if such risks mean increasing the risks to ourselves. In the eyes of the State, people are just chess figure; but our struggle does not play with the lives of people! The coldness with which the authors of the statement dismiss the fatal results of their action reveals their incompetence, as neither the intended political effect of the action, nor any ideas as to how the action might contribute to the further development of resistance to the restructuring in Berlin were mentioned by the authors.
This incompetence characterizes itself in a disastrous tendency towards militarism. So its not surprising that “war” is the central theme in the communique.
This fatal tendency towards militarism has always resulted in actions with negative political consequences: the Karry action, the shootings on the Startbahn, and the murder of the US soldier Pimental. This list should not be lengthened.
This tendency is the expression of the desperation of one faction of the Left which refuses to learn from history; a faction which only grounds itself in a subjective connection to the State and Capital, and whose praxis is not oriented towards the political goal of the anchoring and broadening of revolutionary politics in the social processes of the society.
We reject political assassinations as a revolutionary political method, because we feel that the position of social struggle in this country is far from that point, and because liquidating political opponents reduces everything to a power/survival question. We are struggling for people’s consciousness, as well as for our own – not for power.
Political assassinations are not legitimized by merely looking at the functions of our opponents, as the RAF has been preaching for some time. This political approach must be wholly disregarded, because the only basis for this is that a previously anonymous typewriter-culprit can be called a murderer. Their death doesn’t give anyone time to breathe, and the act has nothing liberating or mobilizing about it. Quite the contrary – the inflationary effect of this method causes the revolutionary appeal to liberation to collapse upon itself. This method in revolutionary struggle is nothing but spectacle.
A militant left which lightly brushes off the absolutely compulsory considerations of politics and morals and which loses its scruples – this symptom of conscience which, which distinguishes revolutionary women form men – loses its credibility and its ability to call for a revolutionary struggle for an unhierarchical society.
Many people will probably ask what the subjectivism, the militarism, and the damaged revolutionary moral which displayed themselves in the Klein action have to do with our criticizing of the above-mentioned actions of the Revolutionary Cells. What they have in common is their character of irresponsible activism, which turns militant action into a fetish.
This praxis aims at spectacle, it replaces political intervention with publicity-getting. It does not convey any hope of liberation, but rather diffusely displays in public some explanations of the uses of fire, explosives, or weapons. It has given up criticizing revolutionary methods, or rather has forgotten to, since it has long since lost that orientation. It becomes a tragic figure, because it becomes the victim of its own mythology.
Militant actions have as their goal the sharpening of social contradiction, the advancing of social structures, and the protecting or widening of struggled-after free spaces. They should expose the violence of the System, giving name to injustice sabotage projects of the ruling powers, and disrupt the repressive social control of the System. They should confront the ruling powers politically, making them either insecure or making them appear ridiculous.
Militant actions – as we understand our actions against Germany’s racist and sexist Asylum politics – are a means to political intervention which we won’t renounce.
We don’t advocate that all the Left arm itself – quite the contrary, the militant and armed resistance movement is but an important, clenched-fist pledge for future struggles.
-a group from the traditional line of the Revolutionary Cells.
Letter Bombs As An Action Form For Leftists?
This piece is being written under the assumption that the statement released concerning the death of Hanno Klein was written by the same people who in fact sent the letter bomb, and that the statement released reflected their political position. I’m also assuming that the action was carried out by comrades from our movement.
Just when I thought I could say of the attack, “it seems the construction mafia have killed off their talented chief themselves”, what should happen but on the following Monday a communique appeared which greatly shocked me. The authors stated that their intention had not been to kill Klein. That things turned out other than they had hoped didn’t seem to bother the authors that much. Nevertheless, they didn’t simply hospitalize someone for a few weeks, rather they killed him. There is quite a substantial difference as far as I’m concerned. With plenty of rhetoric (“He had lost…his right to physical security.”) they try to explain everything away. They felt no need to discuss the positive effects on people’s current situation which the death of Klein has brought about. Not a word about whether the action was a correct one given their political outlook. It seems it never occurred to them that such actions don’t always go as one plans. They write that a premature detonation was impossible, but this contention seems utterly foolish to me. That’s simply untrue. Even when you’ve gone over everything again and again, there are still situations which you can’t anticipate, but which you nevertheless must allow for. (Ever heard of the dangers of surviving fragments from such bombs, something even AKW-agents concede?)
They write, only the person who actually opened the letter was in any danger. They’re lucky that the person for whom the letter was intended in fact opened it. What if, being concerned that “his life might be in danger”, he had questioned what was in the package? What if the thing hadn’t fit through his mail slot, been returned to sender, and then been detonated by someone there? And so on… I don’t think they considered any of these possibilities, otherwise they wouldn’t have chosen this method for their action.
I just can’t understand what made them go and use such a method. What sort of discussion are they trying to initiate? To my knowledge, until now there have not been any leftist letter bomb attacks which have wounded individuals in West Germany, West Berlin or East Germany. And for good reasons. There have been discussions on whether such actions are appropriate or not. Bomb-scares (and not actually placing a device) are a tactic commonly employed by right-wing groups, and these have the effect of striking fear into those not directly intended. We must not start thinking: it can happen to anyone. No, just the opposite: only the bastards (and, yes, it’s difficult to establish “borders between people and bastards”) should have to fear for their safety and property. The only previous leftist attack which in any way resembles this letter bomb action was the fire bombing of two banks where the bombs were deposited as if they were letters. These never got into the hands of bank employees because they had been fitted with acid fuses, but those are actually very imprecise. And after the
action, this fact was openly discussed. The recent letter bombers must have known of this discussion, unless they only moved to Berlin yesterday.
As for their last sentence (“Through our inexactness, we didn’t anticipate the full force of the blast…”): the blast could not have been that big. Anyone who saw the photos in the daily papers could see the window panes were still intact and the furniture was hardly damaged, much less destroyed.
I can understand that one wouldn’t necessarily go into all these matters in a statement designed to be read by the mainstream media. But for internal discussions, which obviously can’t be conducted in person, one has to be a lot more thorough. I hope that such a discussion is possible in this paper.
(from Interim #153)
Out Into Real Life
A Response To “This Is Not A Love Song” from an RZ – Group Of The Traditional Line
The following is reprinted from the Berlin autonomist weekly Interim, and is a continuation of the debate and discussion that has appeared in previous issues of Arm The Spirit.
A response to “This Is Not A Love Song” from an RZ – group of the traditional line.
We also think that a discussion about politics and morals, not just about the praxis, aim and direction of militant armed actions is unavoidable.
Nevertheless, we regard the discussion and also the often well-timed critique of actions rather differently; for us it is impossible to lump together and negatively criticize actions which are, for very basic reasons, quite distinct. In our opinion, the RAF attack on the U.S. embassy in Bonn, the RZ attacks on the Victory Pillar and the Reichstag and the murder of Hanno Klein, have very little in common.
So we would like to briefly sketch out what these various actions meant to us and, we’d like to examine the criticisms which you raised.
Concerning the shots fired by the RAF at the U.S. embassy in Bonn, 2/91:
We were very pleased when we heard about this, because we saw that our comrades from the RAF were adding their part to the anti-war mobilization, and since they were probably as taken by surprise by events as we were, and that they sought to do something fast and with the means that were most easily available to them.
Of course, the shots were “only” of a symbolic nature, but shots fired on an American embassy are in line with other sorts of actions, both inside and outside the metropoles, against embassies and other U.S concerns. The fact that the shots were fired on an American embassy in the Federal Republic of Germany was certainly something which must have become known outside our borders. And in this way, people on the Three Continents, and especially in the Arab territories, could be shown that, even in the metropoles, there are people in solidarity with them. Such was this action, and though perhaps just a minor one, it must nonetheless be seen as a way of expressing international solidarity. To do anything more at the time was impossible. If pig’s blood had been spilt, of if the attack had been a lot more serious, the we wouldn’t have found it quite so appropriate. But their action was appropriate, and we approve of how they did it, and as for their assessment of the anti-war movement, we think they wrote a damn good and understandable communique.
Most people, it’s true, probably had a negative association in mind when they heard the name of the group responsible. (Why do we get hung up on mistakes?)
And why do you all get so hung up on the allegedly endangered people at the vigil? With your remark that “by means of a pointless shooting people from the anti-war movement were endangered” you make it seem as if the vigil was right in the line of fire. The fact was, however, that the tracer bullets would not have resulted in “fatal shots,” rather they were mixed in so that no one would run in the wrong direction, that is, into the line of fire. And whether someone finds the communique correct or not results from looking closely and interpreting it after-the-fact. (Something we did ourselves.) In any case, an “unsurpassable cynicism” it certainly wasn’t!
Beside, we don’t in any way see how the shooting was supposed to be the “invalid and bankrupt expression of a united faction of the armed Left.” What standards were applied to this faction? What expectations of the guerrilla lie behind this? Aren’t they allowed to cause less that 100,000 DM of damage, or to make a rather light action? Or does that fact that a vigil was nearby make the whole communique invalid and bankrupt? Or should these over-zealous formulations only serve to provoke (shoot and we all fall in together)?
However this may be, for us, the guerrilla is not a myth of that which we should like to see, a level at which most of us are not involved, but, rather, the guerrilla is struggling people, people who sometimes make mistakes and who can change their methods of action. And that’s something we would love to see, if they would adjust these changes and differences, as broadly as possible a little more.
We don’t want to write any more about this now, but rather we’d like to leave this discussion be.
Concerning the attempted attack of an RZ on the Victory Pillar in Berlin, 01/91:
Of course, this action will hardly make the Top Ten List of Actions for 1991, and the statement released was also not exactly what we expect in an explanation which is supposed to have a mobilizing, clarifying and adjusting effect. But does this justify such harsh words like “misplaced in time and space” and “inappropriate and ridiculous?” Is your cynical, authoritative condemnation justified? We don’t think so, and we don’t think you described the situation correctly. The Victory Pillar is not just any old crumbling statue which you might find standing in someone’s garden, but rather a definite symbol of militarism, which, you’re right, did not disappear after 1871, but also represents a pure glorification of war and especially of German imperialist dominations, pure and simple. And the Revolutionary Cell responsible pointed to this continuity, which showed itself in the military build-up of 1936 and in the crowning glory [ the Gulf War – ed] of this past year. You all, however, neglect this point and refer to them as “ridiculous.” If the attack had been successful, then certainly it would have roused people’s attention outside of Berlin and eventually people could have taken note of this continuity and social disorder [because of the war – ed] could have spread.
The fire-bombing of the Reichstag by an RZ, 6/91
The question which comes to our mind here is not one of a false object, rather we see the problem primarily in a false grounding. The goal we found correct, because the Reichstag, situated as it is under the Brandenburg Gate, is a symbol of the Reunification and all of the developments associated with that. An attack against this, we feel, speaks for itself.
But nonetheless, how do we intervene against placing the seat of government in Berlin? And how do we come to grips with the fact that there has to be some city somewhere for them to sit their fat asses down in? The entire campaign was one of self-interest to begin with. Our Kiez, our city, we must demonstrate against every pig that comes our way … but for those people here, in Eastern Europe, and on the Three Continents who are being exploited and oppressed, it really makes no difference to them whether the decisions are made in Bonn or Berlin. And the wealthy and the speculators, flanked by their Olympia horror, hurl themselves into this city regardless. In other words, our struggle against restructuring, rents and the Olympics must be oriented toward other points and societal dis …
As for questions such as “Where should we locate the capital?”, we not waste our energy.
About the letter-bomb attack on Hanno Klein, 6/91:
The murder of Hanno Klein is so full of particular circumstances that it’s absolutely impossible to discuss it in the same breath as the other actions. In our minds, it has by no means been proven that the attack came out of our spectrum. On the contrary, we hardly think it could have been; and to honest, we would have very little desire to work along with such folks and to be considered in the same bunch as them. Not because they killed the bastard, but rather because of the matter-of-fact way with which they dealt with a human life. In this instance, we fully agree with you and with the other criticisms concerning this attack.
But, like we said, we don’t think this attack came from the Left. Our main reason for thinking this is the communique itself. It is written is such a cold and hard to, and if you examine it closer, certain absurdities become clear. The beginning bit about the press, words which we are not used to seeing used in such statements, and there is no unity in style either. It reads as if they had pasted together little bits from various posters and statements. We sat back and considered whether papers from the left-radical resistance are usually so rhetorical, and so we went back and read a bunch of past statements. We found nothing that resembled the Klein communique. So we think that whatever happened was, there was a murder for whatever reason, and those responsible sought to cover their own trail by seeming to make communists and the whole Left scene in general responsible.
Other reasons for our thinking this are the metal fragments, which could not have proven harmful (according to the statement), but which lacerated Klein’s face nonetheless. So that would make it seem as though the authors of the statement were not the same ones who built the bomb; to our knowledge the press made no mention previously about metal fragments. Moreover, there was no signature, and the statement was not released until three days later. No, we don’t want to do the pig’s work for them, but we like to make a call that such things be examined more closely in future.
In short, then, we oppose how you lump all of the above actions together until the title of “totally irresponsible activism, militarism and a loss of political morals.” This does apply to the Klein action, as we said, but the other actions, because of their context, and because of how they turned out, cannot be lumped together in this way. In principle, they were, especially the shots fired at the U.S. embassy, good and well-directed actions.
In a phase of relative stagnation, such as we presently find ourselves in, it is not only advisable to develop a thorough critique, but this should a central activity. And we should also defend and critically analyze attacks and armed actions and groups. (Fuck off worn-out rhetoric, which barely expresses more that what was meant.)
We detect little of either in what you all wrote. You all write about the utter necessity of militant actions which are well-aimed and understood. And yet reading your text gives the impression that you have wholly sworn off militant activism. That’s because you take these actions and criticize them so harshly that nothing redeeming remains. You don’t mention a single action that you approve of. Instead, you just paint a picture of “cynical, ridiculous, militarist, foolish” militancy.
You don’t name anything which, in you eyes, could serve as a good example. But what about the RZ attack on the NATO pipeline? Or Thomas Muntzer’s Wild Hordes? Or who about the attack by the Flamende Herzen?
Whey do you only find fault in others, complain, and then remain in your own moral corner?
When it comes to militant actions, we think the most important things to do is to find a minimum consensus on forms of action; for example, uninvolved persons must NEVER be harmed. And at the same time, we must represent and propagate the need for and the legitimacy of these forms of action.
Shit! We still haven’t come out into real life!
Actually we hadn’t only wanted to criticize your thoughts on these things, but we ourselves wanted to closely examine when and where we think militant actions can be most effective. But it would probably be better just to say in general what mistakes we have observed. As for the function of political assassinations, we’d like to say something else, but, alas, it’s late and we’d like to be done with this by morning. So, we aren’t going to put any more of our thoughts on paper right now.
But we hope to write some more in the future, and hopefully draw more people into this discussion.
In closing … don’t get mad at us if we seemed snotty at times. We think it’s great that you initiated this discussion, raised the questions you did and pushed for a more careful approach to things, ok?
SOUND THE MARCH FOR THE LEFT!
maja and kowski
Bad News On A Piece Of Paper
Today, that my friends are dying only their names are dying.
How can one hope
to understand more than the letters out of this violent hope
glimmer of tender blackness
arrows into known memories?
who live outside the prisons
can honour the dead bodies,
cleanse themselves from
the pain about their dead with hugs, can scratch the tombstones
with nail and tears.
But not the prisoners: we can only whistle, so that the echo
calms the news.
Gerd Albartus Is Dead
1. He was shot back in December 1987, after he had been put before a tribunal and sentenced to death by a group which considers itself to be part of the Palestinian resistance and which he had worked for.
We received the news only a long time afterwards. Until then we had assumed that Gerd had not returned from a journey to the group, because he knew about the house raids, prosecutions, and arrests in Germany in 1987 and feared that he too would be arrested if he were to return.
Attempts to gather information about his whereabouts were fruitless and left us with this assumption. We, like most of his friends who were concerned about him, figured this as an opportunity to escape from police surveillance and harassment, which had intensified since his time in prison. We were convinced that he had “gone underground” – but not within our framework, but in some other safe place and with a political association he had ties with.
The fact that more time passed before we decided to make our knowledge of his death public was our decision. Our attempts to come up with some sort of adequate answer, given the monstrosity of this act, one which would fulfill the need for revenge without hitting false targets, were unsuccessful. We failed in our attempt to find some way to express our horror and sorrow beyond a mere bit of news on paper. In a sense, going public with this means a capitulation instead of advancing claims.
Naturally, there were and are controversies involved in going public. The charge was made that we would only be paying tribute to the spirit of the times by clearing off a clean slate exactly at a point in time when getting even with leftist history is already a question of good taste. The text, it was said, would just fall back at our own feet, after adding more fuel to the well-known cliches about the spiral of violence within armed fighting groups. Beyond this, we were warned about weakening Palestinian solidarity. Making such a report public would automatically fall back on the entire Palestinian resistance, because no one would be able to see through the network of Palestinian organizations and fractions, and since we obviously couldn’t add detailed facts and concrete information. This – in the wake of the Gulf War and the ridiculous pro/anti-Israel debate which arose – would be send a bad signal, and that making such a statement public would unleash a flood of reactions which we would neither be able to overlook nor taken responsibility for.
We ultimately got past all of these objections, even though they made us hesitate for quite some time. The legitimate fear of playing into the hands of the other side should not, however, be an excuse for sweeping dirt under the carpet. This fear has all-too-often been used as a pretext for silence. Maybe we have to rethink some things, to learn that lies and self-deception only add more to our defeat than does an open discussion of our internal contradictions – even considering the danger that the enemy may benefit from this. Those who dream of liberation but don’t want to know of the dark sides of liberation cling to naive notions of revolution which can never lead to its reality. We do not want to cling to legends and images, which are due more to naive projections or a process of repression than to our own experiences. Are we of any use to anyone if we proclaim a false sense of unity behind the banner of internationalism while behind the facade the contradictions clash with one another? Only if we have a discussion without illusions about real political and ideological contradictions will we know how to deal with them when confronted with them.
This isn’t about making revelations or accusations – even if we can’t prevent the text from being used in a way which we disapprove of. We do not share the fear that we are giving ammunition to the other side. This side was not badly armed in recent times, and if they were lacking ammunition, they could freely take it from the Stasi-archives. Those who want to strike out at us don’t need to wait for anything from our side, but they can decide for themselves when the time is right – it doesn’t matter if it’s true. And if we are giving new information to the cops, then the only result will be the disbanding of a target prosecution team.
The meaning of this publication is very simple: we want to prevent a comrade of ours from disappearing without a trace. We want to counter-act the notion that one of us can be executed without any opposition, even if we lack the concrete means to get revenge. We want to remove any doubts about the justification for this decision, which is in line with our standards. And finally we want to put an end to the horrific-grotesque state which his relatives and friends are in: the false certainty that he, albeit far away and untraceable, is OK.
For us, Gerd’s personal integrity is above reproach. We only have vague information about the accusations made against him by the group, but even more details could not shake our certainty that there could not possibly have been a reason to execute him. Whatever the motives were of those who killed him, they lie beyond his person.
On the contrary – they belong to the macabre paradoxes of this story, that Gerd, in whose political biography support for the Palestinian resistance stood central, has fallen victim to one of those groups which counts itself as part of this resistance.
2. Our knowledge about this group and about Gerd’s relationship to it is limited. The connections go back to a time some years ago when we underwent a major change of political focus. How these associations have changed in the meantime, we don’t know.
The time we are talking about is the time after the failed liberation of prisoners at the end of June 1976. A four-person commando, consisting of two Palestinians and two RZ members, Brigitte Kuhlmann and Wilfried “Bonni” Boese, had hijacked an Air France airbus and demanded the release of 50 imprisoned comrades, held for the most part in German and Israeli jails. On board the plane, which took off in Tel Aviv and stopped in Athens before attempting to fly to Paris until it was redirected to Entebbe [Uganda -ed.), were more than 250 passengers, among them 100 Israeli citizens or Jews of other nationalities. After the non-Jewish passengers had been released a few days later, the commando extended its ultimatum to give more time for negotiations. The Israeli government, however, used this time to plan a military solution. During the night of July 4/76, a special military unit raided the Entebbe airport and made a bloody ending to the kidnapping. All of the members of the commando were killed and none of the prisoners whose release had been demanded were set free.
It took years before we could come to grips with this setback. Because we were so struck at the loss of our friends, we weren’t at first able to comprehend the political dimension of the catastrophe. Instead of realizing what we were accused of, namely that we had participated as an organization in an operation during which Israeli citizens and Jews of other nationalities were singled out and taken as hostages, we instead focussed on the military aspect of the operation and its violent ending. The calculations of the regime should not be proven correct. In order to at least keep the option of the liberation of the imprisoned comrades open, we needed to act and not be hindered by the alarming news about the course of the kidnapping and the role of our comrades in it. We considered the news reports, which made mention of the special selection of hostages and the specific role which Germans played in the commando, to be a form of psychological warfare. We knew that Brigitte and Bonni were anti-fascists, and we understood their motives for participating in the action. Our understanding of solidarity prohibited criticisms of our comrades; we avoided discussing the mistakes, acting as if solidarity does not also principally include that individual members can make mistakes.
Similarly, the search for answers as to why the action failed remained superficial. We were not able to do anything more than logistical criticism. We deplored the fact that the original plans and agreements had not been carried out, and that the actual course was the opposite of what had been originally intended. We criticized the fact that the action, which was to have a purely pragmatic purpose – namely the immediate release of political prisoners – became more and more a propaganda stunt as time wore on, one which Idi Amin [then president of Uganda – ed] used to his advantage. We charged that the decision-making power had been taken away from the commando during the operation, and that after the landing the comrades were solely following orders that were given out somewhere far away from the site of the action. We finally resigned ourselves, with reference to the special dynamic of military operations, even though our confidence in direct international cooperation as a special quality of practical anti-imperialism had reached its limits.
We failed to see that the limits of this cooperation were not technical but rather political in nature, even though the direction and course of the action were clear. The commando had taken hostages whose sole commonality was the fact that they were Jewish. Social characteristics, such as background or function, status or personal responsibility, criteria which usually figure into the foundations of our practice, did not matter in this case. And even though it was not the commando’s fault that the one hostage who did not survive the action happened to be, of all people, a former concentration camp survivor, this fact underscores the logic of the operation nonetheless. After Mogadishu nearly a year later [FOOTNOTE: capital city of Somalia; during the kidnapping of Schleyer by the RAF, a Palestinian commando had hijacked a Lufthansa plane in order to put pressure on the German government to give in to the demands of the RAF; an GSG-9 anti-terrorist unit stormed the plane; that night, October 18/7, the imprisoned RAF comrades Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, and Jan-Carl Raspe were killed by the German State in the Stammheim maximum-security prison.], there was a wave of criticism, even from radical-leftists, that an unspecified group of German tourists had become a tool for negotiations. We didn’t take this into account with Entebbe, even though the action had totally violated some of the most fundamental rules and morals of revolutionary politics. The horrible threat, that anyone who enters Israeli territory must know what kind of risk he/she is taking, had become a bloody reality.
Entebbe was not an isolated incident, but rather the culmination of a process in which we had become more and more distant from what we were fighting for. The sentences which Ulrike Meinhof had written nearly ten years before during the Six-Day War had been forgotten: “There is no reason why the European left should give up its solidarity with those who are persecuted; this solidarity continues into the present, and includes the state of Israel.” The Black September of the Palestinians, the Israeli air raids on the refugee camps, the mass despair in the occupied territories, the regime of horror that the occupation forces had installed there, and the reports from Israeli prisons were enough reason for us to push our knowledge of Auschwitz into the background. We adopted the slogans of the Palestinian liberation struggle and failed to realize that our own history should have excluded us from taking one side. We analyzed the conflict within the context of the anti-imperialism formed around Vietnam, even though this context was not relevant here. We no longer saw Israel in terms of the Nazi Holocaust, but only from the point of view of its history of settlement. For us, Israel was a front-line agent of Western imperialism in the Middle East and the Arab World, not a place of refuge for those who had survived and gotten away; a necessary place, so long as the possibility of a new mass-murder could not be ruled out, and as long as anti-Semitism continues to be a real existing historical fact. The dramatic fact that the need for security for Jews can only seemingly be realized against the Palestinians did not present us with an unsolvable dilemma. Instead, we took the opportunity to place ourselves alongside the ones who were weaker in our point of view.
Where we, under different conditions, insisted on the differences between those on top and those on bottom, we mainly saw good and bad peoples in the Middle East. At most we criticized the pathos of Palestinian patriotism, despite the fact that Israel’s own history should have shown us that the realization of the Palestinians’ dreams would not necessarily mean an end to exploitation and oppression, but rather their perpetuation under different guises. Suffering and lived-through persecution are no guarantees that people won’t turn into monsters as soon as they mass together in a nation-state. There can be no revolutionary solutions when two ethnic communities put claims on the same piece of land. As understandable as the conclusions were which the Palestinians drew from their experience of persecution and expulsion, we could not share them without getting into an unsolvable contradiction between our own history and political identity. The legitimate and necessary criticism of Israel’s occupation policies and the natural solidarity with the Palestinian resistance had mutated into a willingness to make Jewish passengers, whatever their nationality, liable for the terror and cruelties of the Israeli regime, and to thereby exchange social-revolutionary standards for mere tribal standards. The extent of this historical amnesia and moral disintegration, which expressed itself in this willingness, is the heaviest burden which our history carries with it.
There are a number of factors which explain this fatal development. Factors like suspicion and doubts about ourselves, who live in the rich North, or opportunism in the
face of the possibilities which the cooperation with the Palestinian organization offered; these surely played a role, as did the pressure to act, given the isolation conditions in the West German prisons. Or the fact that we were only part of the historical tendency with our understanding of anti-Zionism, which all fractions of the left had adopted at that time. But as plausible as all these reason might be, they are no excuse for the enormous mistakes we made at that time – mistakes which should never have happened.
We cannot say that we saw all of these things in this way back then, in the first months after Entebbe. Instead of making a thorough analysis of the logic, course, and result of the action and drawing conclusions from this to relate to our further practice, we satisfied ourselves with half-hearted criticism. Only a few people recognized the immediate consequence, which was to again connect ourselves to those people for whom our politics in Germany were intended, namely orienting to domestic social and political movements.
But still, the Entebbe experience left some scars. The slogan about the caravan which continues on its path while the dogs are barking was more a slogan than a description of our reality. Knowledge of the catastrophe kept on smoldering, continually demanding self-critical discussions from us when we couldn’t get around the truth. The consequences of this discussion, which was more underlying than open, were not only splits in personal friendships, but the discussion also affected the basis of our political concept. Even if we can’t distinguish in every case at which points this experience played a crucial role or where it was just in the background – that it played a central role in determining the positions which marked our politics in the coming years is beyond question. As justified as it may be to accuse us of a lack of consciousness, it would be wrong to say that Entebbe -albeit only in the form of the creeping poison of a life-lie – has been pushed aside in our political self-understanding.
That we have not done any actions since then directed at Israeli installations is something we only realized much later. If the issue was on the agenda, we looked to the West, like to German installations which profited from Israeli politics. We pursued the treatment of Palestinian refugees by the West German asylum departments closer than the drama of counter-insurgency in the occupied territories. Instead of doing actions that might be misunderstood, we did no actions if we had any doubts about their being interpreted as being anti-Jewish. We had many reasons for being reserved when we were dealing with the motive and political content of anti-Zionism. The knowledge that we as leftists are not immune to anti-Semitic sentiments, merely badly disguised in national-revolutionary terms, practically blocked us. The dilemma of political abstinence which resulted seemed possible to some of us to be solved by taking up the theme of NS-continuity [the idea that Germany today still exhibits a definite evolution from the national-socialist days of the Nazis – ed.] and by looking for examples of Jewish resistance to the Nazis and relating to this, rather than making politically fatal analogies to legitimize and satisfy our need for action, as often happens in leftist anti-Zionist documents.
Another consequence has been the slow with-drawl from international contacts. Slow, because they were old, and also emotional, because we had to break with those terms and ideological constructs which had made actions like Entebbe possible. A political understanding was articulated and formed in this process, one which was very different from that of the group with which we had been cooperating until then. Differences which we had ignored for a long time, or which we had classified as differences stemming from our different conditions or of our status from being from the metro-poles – these now proved to be heavy contradictions, where a solid common denominator could no longer be found. The claim of acting in solidarity out of different positions had reached its limits.
Our cooperation with this group was based on an understanding of anti-imperialism which directly linked social liberation with the achievement of national sovereignty. The end of foreign rule, we thought, would be equivalent to the beginning of a social revolution. Because the liberation organizations represented the people who were fighting for their independence, they were a natural focal-point for international solidarity. The fact that a take-over of power almost always results in the destruction rather than the development of the social content of the revolution didn’t fit into our picture of a homogenous liberation process, so we blocked it out. The leaders of liberation movements – as soon as they occupy the command posts of the young nation-states – act as the protagonists for the development of brutal dictatorships; mostly the old cadre benefit from the newly gained independence, while the continuing mass misery requires a new explanation. In short, the whole dialectic of national and social liberation is mostly to the advantage of the new ruling forces, and this is not so much due to the betrayal or corruption of morals, but rather corresponds to the nature of founding a new State. Only after the founding of new states developed and the multiple forms of social counter-power articulated themselves, whose enemy was the force and utilization embodied by the State, were we able to make some sense of the myth of national independence and peoples’ will.
We came to realize that the full spectrum of social needs and interests did not find a place in the liberation organizations and that the dimensions of gender- and class-struggle could not for one moment lose their importance, even in the process of anti-imperialism. We could not be satisfied with the nationalistic-ethnic slogans on which the togetherness of the fighters and commanders was based, because they were the ones – as the cadre operating under conditions of war- who were developing the forms of future exploitation.
We could no longer ignore the fact that it was men who occupied the central posts in the liberated nation states, men who at the same time had control over women and reproduction. We had to question the myth of people’s war and its revolutionary qualities, and we had to newly understand its double-identity as a moment of liberation and as a form of destructive rationalization – a rationalization whose first victims were the refugees, as well as the women and children in the border camps near the fighting areas. In short, we had to break with all facets of Leninist-Stalinist notions of national liberation which had determined the politics of the COMINTERN from the beginning, and which we had taken on in the course of the reception of Marxism-Leninism in the beginning of the 70’s.
This is not meant to reproach or renounce those with whom we had fought together back then, but rather the very general conclusion of an experience. This is a criticism of incorrect notions of harmony which we held for a long time, and which many anti-imperialist groups continue to adhere to. There is a contradiction between the international solidarity of revolutionary groups and movements on banners and their difficulties of fulfilling this solidarity. The existence and violence of the enemy are not enough to limit the contradictions and conflicts within one’s own ranks. Again and again, antagonisms come to light here whose origins lie in conflicting interests, aims, or self-erected ideological barriers. Again and again, what one group deems absolutely correct and necessary is seen by another group as both wrong and damaging. From this, despite claims of unity in action in the face of the enemy, sharp controversies develop which can eventually tear things apart. But the outcome of such controversies within revolutionary camps is not being decided by good will or better intentions, but rather, like everywhere else, by the contradictions of power.
3. Gerd was in jail during the period of time following Entebbe. In January 1977, during an attempt to set fire to a cinema which was screening a movie about the hijacking, he was observed by an observation team and arrested the next day. [The RZs had made a series of coordinated attacks on cinemas all over Germany. There were also actions in other countries; in Italy, for example, the film was not shown due to attacks. No persons were injured in these attacks. -ed.] The Dusseldorf state court sentenced Gerd to 5 years for attempted arson and membership in the Revolutionary Cells. When he was released at the end of 1981, he met us and found us in a completely different situation. He himself never accepted that split which we had made with our history. He shared the criticism of other comrades with whom there were intense discussions about our decision to abandon our international connections; some people separated themselves because of these discussions. Gerd felt these reductions and the emphasis on political differences weakened and split the group. The price we would pay for emphasizing our own autonomy would be a disappearance into insignificance. The voluntary renunciation of a concrete anti-imperialist practice would not only make a farce of our revolutionary claim, it would also amount to a capitulation in the face of practical duties, such as the liberation of prisoners, the securing of retreat possibilities, or the maintaining of a certain action standard. It would be fiction to believe that the RZs could fulfill the tasks which we had set for ourselves relying on our own force alone. Furthermore, he felt the split would result in a loss of subjective radicalism; this was already due more to our fears than to real necessity. For the deceptive advantage of a “clean slate”, we had brought the RZs to the level of small-leftist militancy and had abandoned the guerrilla claim. Our “self-critcism” of Entebbe and what followed was a document of double moral standards which could only be kept up if we shielded other realities from our perception. It would be a wrong, wishful picture, and at the same time ignorant of real suffering, if we wished to be both revolutionary and keep our hands clean at the same time. Politics doesn’t work according to inter-personal morals; he predicted that the split would mean a quick end to the RZs.
In contrast to our decision, Gerd held fast to the idea of direct relations with the Palestinian resistance, not the least because he felt attracted to the solidarity and subjective radicalism he had experienced there. He was aware that this decisiveness was deeply influenced by macho behaviourism and of the contradictions this entailed and which stopped him from making a definite decision for a life in these structures. He tried in his own person to reconcile the differences between his aims and demands. Despite the differences which this caused between him and us, we also recognized it as a strength that he could think in opposites and withstand tensions which also stem from the ambivalence and brokenness of metropolitan subjectivity. He searched for more comprehensive solutions whereas we had retreated onto a seemingly safer terrain of political practice which we thought we could oversee better. Where we were held back by doubts, questions, or insecurities, he fought his way through with the motto: “It doesn’t matter, it has to happen.” He maintained the old contacts, both because he wanted to and because he felt a responsibility to the comrades there – but maybe also because he thought that one day we’d change our minds and then he could take up the old contacts again. When we tried to nail him down to a definite decision, he withdrew from the group. He insisted on his own way: against totalitarian group claims, against all attempts at ownership, from whatever side. He refused his services when the fine line between obligation and regimentation was crossed. We had our difficulties with this, but we loved him for this especially. His sense of conviction has always fascinated us, especially because it was strange to us in this form.
Gerd never let himself be forced onto one issue, no matter how important it seemed to him. Those who knew him knew he was involved in thousands of things without ever getting reduced to one. He deeply distrusted the puritanism and rigorism of some leftist people who begin at some point to regret having sacrificed parts of their lives for the revolution. What might have appeared to be unsteadiness at first glance was, in reality, a sense of pleasure from living out contradictions. This pleasure was born from the knowledge that the shortest path mathematically between any two points might be a line, but that politically it might not be the quickest or the best way to success. What falls down as right or left now might prove later to be irreplaceable. The comparability of seemingly contradictory things and standing up to every-thing that excludes others was his answer to the question of how a life is possible in opposition to the ruling circumstances under metropolitan conditions.
One can imagine the irritation he felt everywhere when one recalls the whole spectrum activities which comprised his life once he got out of prison. He worked as an employee for the Green Party in the European Parliament and made features for the WDR [German tv and radio station -ed.], which required that he treat the question of imprisonment with the same importance as gambling prohibition or a triathalon. Gerd was active in a prisoner support group, he wrote to and visited imprisoned comrades, he helped found the prison journal “Pieces”, and he also nourished his contacts with his former co-prisoners who had since been released. He lived openly as a gay person, helped to organize events on AIDS, and enjoyed the gay-scene in Ibiza. He published texts on Israeli politics and took on tasks which his international contacts required. He was active in the Dusseldorf political scene and then stepped out of it when its framework became too narrow for him. Although he criticized the half-heartedness of the RZs, he helped us without hesitation where it was in his ability to do so. He had a lot of expectations, but could naturally only fulfill some of them. Those who wanted his full devotion were always to be disappointed.
4. When Gerd went to a meeting with the group in November 1987, he did so of his own accord. The fact that he was put on trial immediately after his arrival must have been a big shock to him. He could not possibly have been aware of any mistake or negligence, otherwise he would have started his trip with more doubts, because he had no illusions about the group’s code and rules and he accepted these.
We do not wish to speculate about the motives of those who are responsible for his death. What is obvious is that the standards of two completely different words collided. Under conditions dictated by the logic of war, strict obedience and willing submission are what count; there, ideas and ways of behaviour which are not in accordance with usual patterns are met with distrust and rejection. Where daily life is determined by military attacks, a permanent state of siege, curfew, arrests, and torture, the fronts are clear. There is little room for the ambivalence which results from a metropolitan back¬ground. There, questions about one’s own person must sound ridiculous. That which is here a search, an attempt, and a struggle for new impulses and justifications is there quickly confronted with suspicions of indecisiveness, hesitation, and betrayal. And it’s only a small step from doubts of loyalty to accusations of betrayal, including the murderous consequences linked with that.
But despite that, we think such an explanation is wrong; it is superficial and short-sighted. It legitimizes a conscious decision with the pressure of the situation and makes victims of former helpers. Experience of the violence of the enemy doesn’t free anyone from the obligation to justify at any time about the methods and measures one is employing. It is cynical to blame the de-evaluation of life on the conditions of war. And in this concrete case, what falls in the responsibility of a single group is true for the entire Palestinian resistance. However, we have no reason to make generalizations; it is wrong to make conclusions about an entire movement based on the actions and methods of a single group.
No: the willingness to murder a comrade cannot be excused by the harshness of the conditions; it is the expression of a political program whose only language is the take-over of power, the language of future dictators. History is full of examples of revolutionary organizations and movements who had to struggle under equally brutal situations, but which did not take on the methods and brutality of the enemy. These may be a minority, but that fact that the majority of Bolshevik parties operated with the motto that the ends justify the means and that everything against the enemy is OK is not a valid counter-argument.
This is a historic debate which has its roots in the Paris Commune, the October Revolution, and the Spanish Civil War. When victory becomes the measure of everything, not only the best, but also the worst forces are unleashed. Those who obtain power by any means and defend it by any means undermine themselves at the same time. Rosa Luxemburg said of the Bolsheviks, that the perversion of the revolution is worse than its defeat.
The argument for success, which orthodox communists have for years used against the “romantic losers” of the liberation groups, has proved its insufficiency these days. We cannot and do not want to ignore any longer that a man’s world is running wild, that the world is about power bastions defending themselves from one another and from those below, that in such a world gay identity is met with suspicion. Because we have learned these things, and because we prefer to see ourselves in the tradition of the Spanish anarchists rather than the COMINTERN. We do not agree with talk of the rules of war. Certain rules may be understandable in other places, but they usually come into practice because there has not been a conscious political decision beforehand. We cannot accept such rules our own, because they stand in diametrical opposition to our own ambitions and utopias. The death of Gerd makes it clear one more time that there are worlds of difference between this kind of thinking and our thinking – and there is no possible connection be-tween these worlds.
The fact that we have made such a taboo of violence within our own ranks and that we are only now horrified about it when affected by it ourselves is a criticism we will have to accept. We have no excuse. It was the death of Gerd that made us recognize the dimensions of the tragedy of the fact that even within revolutionary organizations political questions get answered with military means. This has been an occasion for us to remember the thousands of known and nameless comrades who have lost their lives or suffered because they were accused of betrayal or because they found themselves in the middle of an inter-organizational power struggle.
But his death is not an argument against revolutionary practice per se. This knowledge about violence within the ranks of the movement is a reason for us to pause, for sorrow, for despair but not to give up and make peace with the conditions around us. Those who understand us and yet still think that we would now lash out at those for whom terror is normal business, simply because one of us has been hit, are on the wrong path. The self-righteousness and hypocrisy of those who now lustfully inspect the wounds of the revolutionary movement, while ignoring the millions of corpses on which the Western wealth and democracy they so appreciate is based, are utterly repulsive to us.
The discussion which began with Gerd’s death is taking place on both sides of the barricades. It has to do with the connection between politics and morals, the contradictions between national liberation and social liberation, and the difference between revolutionary violence and terror. What is at question is the Leninist heritage which has infused itself into our minds and which affects us more than we are conscious of. An analysis of history cannot solve the difficulties we are facing here, nor can the emphatic reference to world-wide struggles. Especially since revolutionary politics in a place like Germany is so isolated, it always has to insure itself of a social setting if it wants to be more than a mere expression of the subjective situation of its actors or the weak reflection of a ideological construct. How quickly all the nice words and best intentions become just hollow phrases as soon as we fail to relate to concrete reality but rather take our orientation from demands which have their origin in different conditions, as can be witnessed in this chapter of our history.
In 1973, some RZ comrades said in an interview that “there also exists a part of our politics which many comrades do not understand and do not accept and which the masses do not understand either and aren’t interested in now. Despite that, we think it is correct that internationalism, in the form of solidarity with comrades in foreign guerrilla groups and solidarity with the fighting peoples of other countries, be a part of the struggle.” What was then an attempt to rectify the world-wide imbalance in revolutionary development ended up splitting from the social processes here. It became a free ticket for action requiring no political meditation. The logic of this argument partially explains our years of silence on Entebbe. At the same time, this silence showed we were moving on a one-way street: what we were doing on an international level was not in line with the anti-imperialism we were fighting for in West Germany, but was in fact in stark contrast to it. We had to make a decision. And those who have followed our practice in the 80’s know the result of this decision.
Revolutionary Cells December 1991
Revolutionary Cell Communique – Tendency For The International Social
We are a group belonging to the association known as the Revolutionary Cells. The publication of a piece on the death of Gerd Albartus by another RZ groups forces us to say something in public ourselves, although we don’t approve of taking the route of giving insufficient information.
We also want to comment on the communique from another RZ group who intend to abandon the armed struggle. In the meantime, it will become clear that there are different tendencies within the RZs. In this and all subsequent public statements, we shall identify ourselves accordingly.
The paper on Gerd’s death was, against our will, signed in the name of all RZs in common. In the preceding discussions, we had made it clear that this paper did not express our outlook and praxis regarding international liberation struggles. Gerd’s obituary was misused as an opportunity to take a self-satisfied look around, at the cost of the fighting peoples in the Three Continents. With the same type of carelessness, the circumstances of Gerd’s death were only hinted at. The responsible organization was not specifically named; this only leads to speculation, which can only be to the detriment of the Palestinian resistance as a whole. The organization is in fact very small and only struggles on the military level, but it counts itself as part of the international anti-imperialist liberation struggle.
We also refuse to work together with this organization because their actions are often untargeted or falsely grounded and because they fail to also struggle on the political level. We only have a vague idea why the organization in question doubted Gerd’s
trustworthiness, but Gerd knew what he was getting into. He knew the requirements of intense military struggle. He understood his cooperation with this group as being part of the struggle by an oppressed people against their misery and political oppression. For him, it was an alternative to the self-satisfaction of many people – leftists included – in the metropoles.
In this sense, we share the political position of the authors of Gerd’s obituary. International solidarity means actively criticising those whom we struggle together with – not acting arrogant, as if the liberation movement and the oppressed classes don’t know about the concrete and historical evolution of the conditions of the struggle.
In the public discussions around the obituary, some significant points of criticism were addressed which we agree with: in ‘Arbeiterkampf’ 13.1.92, the piece entitled “Questions and Comments on the RZ-paper”, and the piece called “I’m going away, I’m going away…to look for something new”, signed “3.February 92”.
The revolutionary liberation struggles on the Three Continents – which are always struggles for social liberation, which we especially support – take place under different, specific conditions. Our analysis of these struggles and our solidarity with them is based both on an examination of the objective conditions and also a reflection on centuries of imperialist exploitation and oppression. The shrunken orientation exclusively on the “local social processes” in the metropoles, without seeing these in their international context, is the expression of a neo-colonialist mindset.
Anyone who is in solidarity with the struggles in the Three Continents must be on the same side of the barricade as those forces which are resisting the destructive imperialist violence and its open and hidden forms of economic, military, and psychological war which is being waged against the peoples of the Three Continents. Solidarity always implies critical solidarity. Only so can a common revolutionary development process make possible an international strength.
The hijacking of the Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris to Entebbe (1976) was designed to win freedom for 53 comrades imprisoned in Israel, West Germany, Kenya, Switzerland, and France by means of holding hostages. Out of these five countries, there
were only citizens from two on board the plane. All the passengers from Israel and France, including the French crew, were held, while all other nationalities were released. There was no selection of Jews. The fact that the authors of Gerd’s obituary so critically
followed the line of the mainstream media (“Selection of Jews”…), shows not only their political immaturity, but also their mistrust of the comrades involved.
In making a political assessment of the action – we also feel that hijacking planes is problematical – its important to keep in mind the existing conditions of the Palestinian people. In short: life under Israeli occupation or as refugees, the experience of massacres (in Palestine and Lebanon), and even genocide (Jordan 1970). Shortly before the hijacking, 6000 Palestinians in the refugee camp Tel-Al-Zaatar in Beirut were murdered by a fascist Christian militia with help from the Syrian army; Israel added to this with air and rocket attacks on the camp. The “world public opinion” was silent. The Palestinian resistance found itself in a state of war with Israel. The hijacking of the plane departing from Israel and the taking of hostages was designed to put pressure on the Israeli government.
Renouncing solidarity with the Palestinian resistance on account of this action, without even seeing it in the context of the conditions of that time, is wrong, especially since there was self-criticism within the Palestinian resistance about hijacking as an action form. Militaristic actions of this sort are generally no longer practiced by political organizations, since capturing random inhabitants of imperialist states is not seen as an effective means of advancing the liberation struggle against the ruling classes and the military apparatuses of the imperialist nations.
The existence of the racist Israeli state by definition means denying the Palestinians’ right to existence. Maintaining such a system, which collaborates with reactionary dictators across the globe, is not a solution. The only solution is a revolutionary struggle which affirms everyone’s equal right to existence. The Palestinian resistance formulated this goal decades ago.
In response to the other RZ group, who are giving up the armed struggle:
We see different reasons than you do for the causes of the crisis within the RZs and with armed politics in general:
1. The question of power and revolutionary counter-power.
Armed propaganda, as a means of showing the disapproval of the opposition, has always been central to RZ politics. As for the question of how revolutionary counter-power can be developed, this is being constantly revised. This position is apparently untouchable: clear-cut positions on certain problems are left to the so-called “public arena”, to be addressed or not. This can solidify into a ritual, resulting in nothing moving, either
personally or socially. No responsibility is taken for further- developing a political process of turning the reduced power of the oppressed into struggles involving lots of people, making possible a class-less, anti-patriarchical society.
Whoever has this as a goal, but doesn’t deal with the central question of how power can be achieved, remains a mere dreamer, oblivious to the existing conditions. It’s important to discuss how a counter-power can be positively developed and how abuses of power can be challenged. But we’ll never get that far if the power- question forever remains a taboo. How can we ever, as you all write, “develop more self-determination”, if not through the development of a counter-power? We will never be handed the means of play and the niches which would corrupt us. The experience of Chile 1973 and Spain 1936-39 should be proof enough for us of what the international bourgeoisie thinks of our dream of “self- determination”, because the ruling powers know no boundaries: either politically or militarily.
2. The changing relationship between the guerrilla and the movement
You describe the coordination system which the RZs have used as a straight line: armed opposition – mediation – anchoring – uniformity. But this is quite a claim, because social processes don’t run in such a regular manner. And then you go and cite the failings of armed politics. In other words, establishing correctness was a primary concern of the political stimulus of the RZs. That is quite a generalization.
In contrast to your stated wishes, you display a clearly avant garde pedagogical approach. You relax your trigger-finger and wait for the theme of the public-sphere to be taken up. We think that people can make up their own minds, and at the same time, the
guerrilla can judge the reactions to see if their expectations were realistic or not. Being dependent on public opinion turns armed politics into a reformism which no longer seeks to strategically intervene in political matters. At the same time, however, it’s important to avoid lapsing into a “private war” between the guerrilla and the state.
There are also social situations where the guerrilla cannot insert itself deeper into the oppressed classes, because the political process is stagnant. There are several factors
responsible for this. But this doesn’t, to us, mean that armed politics become unnecessary, but rather it takes on a greater responsibility which does not aim at immediate attention, but rather develops fixed-points for future struggles. Abandoning the revolutionary armed forces means writing off the revolutionary struggle, because this struggle – more or less – is oriented around these forces. The guerrilla secures and widens the political terrain.
Instead of destroying the guerrilla because of the lack of a following behind the refugee campaign, it would be better to take a closer look at the campiagn’s orientation points. The demand for “open borders” does not address the roots of the problem, but rather its result, that is, the migration movement towards the metropoles. You have to have an anti-imperialist politics that attacks those responsible for the misery of the people in the Three Continents at the same time as you make this demand. Otherwise, the demand is not taken up by society, or it goes in the wrong direction. The prospect of millions of refugees coming into the country worries many people and often just gives rise to increased hatred of foreigners. This demand needs to be coupled with realistic proposals as to how imperialism can be fought and how the living conditions of the people in the Three Continents can be improved. Simple appeals to humanitarianism and suffering do not constitute a revolutionary politics and won’t provide any solutions to social problems.
As for linking this theme to social problems here: this theme is closely tied to the social problems here in the heart of the beast! We cannot sit idly by and watch the hunger- and exploitation-politics of imperialism, and we have the necessary moral and revolutionary legitimation. The refugee campaign has been a single-issue campaign with very little room for revolutionary political content, in spite of peoples’ intentions. The reason is, things were not orientated towards an active movement, but rather we were all waiting for one to come into being.
Another mistake we have made in our movement politics has been exclusively focusing on the left-radical scene. This scene has hardly been socially relevant over the last 10 years, but instead has languished – largely of its own accord – in a ghetto, without any social ties. It would be quite a task to try and work on changing it.
3. The fall of real-existing socialism and its impact on the German left.
The fall of socialism does not explain why the left has fallen. The left had long since reached its boundaries, was in decline, and needed to address its mistakes and short-comings. Of course it’s bitter, that all of this has come at the same time as imperialism is claiming its victories over Eastern Europe and the Three Continents; but there’s no use in complaining. The “New World Order” is cracked and the future offers new opportunities. The order of the day should be re-developing the strategy and tactics of armed politics, not abandoning them.
We accept as self-explanatory the personal reasons various individuals and groups have for giving up on armed struggle so as to operate in more public spaces. But we think it’s false to try and base this decision on strategic concerns.
Revolutionary Cells – Tendency for the International Social Revolution
Notes On Bad News
a reaction to a discussion paper of the Revolutionary Cells
by Alan Berkman
1. The paper provoked many thoughts and I apologize in advance for not taking adequate time to respond fully. I am using an English translation prepared by t.t. (? the typ.),and I have numbered the pages 1-14 for every reference.
2. The paper attempts to deal with many – too many- political points on varying levels of abstraction; the death of Gerd Albertus, the self-criticism of Entebbe, the nature (ideological and strategic) of international solidarity in the metropoles, the German Left’s relationship to anti-semitism and to Israel. These literally life and death issues cannot be covered in this way. It’s not only that so much is left unanswered: the technique of linking issues together borders, even though done unintentionally, on the unprincipled. To be specific : (p.i.) “Gerd Albertus is dead”. That stark sentence is obviously written to create a deep emotional reaction, a reaction that the reader ( at least this reader) has to overcome in order to deal more objectively, and politically with much that follows. It’s not fair.
3. I agree with the RZ that the current triumphalism of the capitalist countries is not an excuse to block criticism and self-criticism, it is more important that we strengthen ourselves in this period than worry that we will be weakened in the face of the opposition. I believe all movements, including the Palestinian movement, can and should be criticized in a constructive fashion if necessary. I personally published a letter in a U.S. Left journal criticizing those responsible for the Achille Lauro attack for anti-semitism in the killing of Klinghoffer and criticizing specific airline and airport attacks as terroristic in their disregard for civilian lives.
4. I am critical of the RZ for how they discuss the killing of Gerd Albertus. He sounds like a wonderful comrade, and I mourn his loss. But I still don’t know who executed him. The RZ says, they cannot discuss concrete associations. I find this very problematic. Whose security are they protecting by refusing to simply specify the group in the absence of that one concrete ( no other detailed information is necessary). I agree with the criticism that this emotionally charged public paper reflects badly on the entire Palestinian resistance. I disagreed with somewhat resented the RZ statement (p2) almost no one is able to see through the network of the Palestinian organizations and fractions… I also thought that there was an implication that Gerd was killed because he was gay. On page 11 at the bot-tom there is a nominal refusal to speculate on motives followed by speculations, there ideas and ways of behaviour which are not in accordance with the usual patterns are being met with mistrust and rejection “and that in such a world a gay identity per se is met with suspicion” If the RZ believes Gerd was killed because he was gay, they should state it and make it clear that they are not sure. If homophobia is that extreme in that group, we need to know it. Implications, though, lead to suspicion, but give us no information or way to struggle. politically and personally debilitating.
5. I agree with the statements on p.11 & 12, that it would be superficial and short-sighted to excuse conscious decisions with the pressure of the situation in which they are taken. We need to understand those pressures in order to understand why a terrible wrong was committed, but we’ll never correct our errors if we only look at the conditions. I also agree that there are many organizations who have fought under brutal conditions and not succumbed to brutality. But I believe, the RZ makes the distinction between the two types of organization too rigid, whether lying the blame on male domination or the Leninist model. I believe, that organizations, like individuals, have the capacity to both commit great wrongs and to rectify them. To quote a great German thinker (Goethe) have never heard of a crime which I could not imagine committing myself.”
It serves the RZ’s larger political argument to make rigid distinctions, but I am not sure it matches the lessons of recent history: the “Bad News” paper starts with a quote from Roque Dalton. I am sure it was not a coincidence that the RZ used a quote from a revolutionary poet killed by his own organization. Is the ERP doomed to speak the language of the future dictators? Shouldn’t we take note that Commandante Villalobos used the occasion of his first public address to the people of El Salvador to do an organizational self-criticism about the killing of Roque Dalton? Internal killing certainly wrecked the FLP of El Salvador, yet they seem to have been able to change and play a positive role in the struggle of the people. I can’t foresee the future in El Salvador, but I am hopeful that the ERP and FLP will be neither perverters of the revolution nor romantic losers.
I guess my point is simplistic – organizations and movements are complex, and their actions and politics can change over time and as a result of political struggle both internally and with others. I get very little sense from the RZ of the nature of the inter- organizational struggle that went on.
6. I have had some experiences in building relationships between anti-imperialist groups and organizations from national liberation movements, although my experience is probably very limited compared to the comrades from the RZ. I found it important, politically and personally rewarding, sometimes frustrating and almost always difficult. As revolutionaries from the metropoles, we neither represent much of a social movement nor have extensive experience in many levels of struggle. So, on both a strategic and tactical level, there is often a wide discrepancy between our organization and that of our national liberation comrades. We can easily feel we have little to offer besides certain kinds of material aid. Aware of our own inexperience and perhaps of our own racism or national chauvinism, we tend to agree uncritically with proposals that are made. In my experience, there are at least two major errors in this kind of relationship. The first is that on a political level, we and comrades from national groups are all functioning as revolutionaries in our respective countries. That doesn’t equalize our struggles, but it makes us comrades and creates a basis for principled relationships based on mutual respect and criticism/ self-criticism. The second is that we are “uncritical “; rather, we reserve our criticisms and do not openly struggle them out with the other organization. Instead, resentment grows and comes out abruptly and exaggeratedly, often at a critical point. Rather than being uncritical, we were in fact being unprincipled by not struggling the issues out.
Organizations in the metropoles have to be responsible for our own politics and principles and for our own security. Differences may well arise in inter- organizational relationships, and they may or may not be capable of being resolved at a certain point in history. If necessary, relationships at an organizational level can be terminated, but I would not see that as an end of our anti-imperialist responsibilities nor incapable of change over time. Organizations, ours or theirs, can change. In my own experience, I have seen groups self-criticize and change in practice deeply held positions and social issues such as women-liberation and gay rights.
Joint projects or putting cadre from one group directly under the leadership of another is often very difficult. Guidelines need to be hammered out in as much detail as possible. It’s my observation, though, that often the handful of cadre involved in such a venture could contribute qualitatively more to international solidarity by staying and working in the metropole. That may not be true for occasional individuals with special skills and those are the cases when clear agreements are needed.
7. I understand that some people question the fact around the Entebbe action as they are presented by the RZ. I don’t know what to make of the self-criticism if the facts are wrong, so for my purposes, I will accept them as they are presented. First, Entebbe.
If there was a “selection” of Jewish passengers, it was anti-semitic and needs to be rejected by principled people. But I’m uncomfortable with the RZ’s self-criticism of anti-semitism. Somehow, the “specialness” of the German people’s relationship to the Jews and to the holocaust becomes the moral basis for political support for the theocratic state of Israel. That “special relationship” has been used by the German state for its massive support for Israel; Now a revolutionary group uses the same reasoning to arrive at almost (not exactly) the same conclusion. That doesn’t seem right. It seems to me that progressive political people of all nationalities need to reject anti-semitism because it’s a philosophy and a practice that promotes hatred of a specific religious group based solely on religion, and to some extent, on genetics. We struggle for equality and an end to all forms of discrimination and oppression; we believe individuals should be judged on their actions, not their race, sex, religion, gender choice etc. So, if anti-semitism must be rejected by Germans, it must equally be rejected by Americans, by the Poles, by the Palestinians. It s because it ‘s morally wrong and reprehensible, not because of the Holocaust. At +a same time, I can understand that anti-semitism may be a more acute problem in Germany, while racism towards Black people may be a more acute problem in the U.S. Yet, certain political and cultural principles underlie both racism and anti-semitism, and it does not surprise me to see the growing racist violence in Europe nor the resurgence of anti-semitism in the U.S.
“Bad News” takes the premise one step further to justify political support for the currently constituted Israeli state. Again, I think the ” specialness” is misleading. If it’s right for there to be a theocratic Jewish state, then it’s as right for me in the U.S. to support it as it is for the RZ in Germany.
For many years, it seemed to me that the Israeli actions as an aggressive and repressive state flowed from its nature as a settler colony. Therefore, the Palestinian demand for a secular, democratic state was dearly the correct and progressive solution to the problem. If it was correct for me though, I think it was also correct for the RZ. And when the PNC called for a two state solution, I would say it’s correct for all of us to support that and to recognize the reality that the Israeli state does physically exist and the Palestinian state does not. Unless the RZ wants to privilege the Israelis over the Palestinians, I think they need to recognize that the issue is still support for the Palestinians. Just as they can recognize that we on the Left should not worry too much about” delivering ammunition” to those who are not badly armored, so, too can they recognize that the Israelis are quite well an !lured these days, and really do not need the RZ s support.
I don’t understand the RZ’s reasoning: so long as Euro-Americans cannot eradicate anti-semitism, Israel as a theocratic state has the right to expel and repress Palestinians. I know that makes it all very simple, but it seems to me their underlying position. Even, if for a moment I accept their terms, is it true that Israel as a theocratic and expansionist state has secured the ability of Jews to survive? If Germany and the U.S. did not give massive military and economic aid to Israel, it would collapse in a relatively brief period.
Like the RZ, I have been staggered by the strength of nationalism; events in Central and Eastern Europe have certainly been striking. Yet, under the guise of “realism” it seems to me that the RZ has fallen prey to pro-found cynicism. While proclaiming that they are not generalizing their criticism to the entire Palestinian liberation struggle, they seem quite sure that the Palestinians would turn into “monsters” once massed together as a nation state (p.6). I assume then, that the RZ also cannot support the Republican struggle in the North of Ireland because victorious Republicans would only treat Loyalists in the same fashion that they have been treated. But is that true? Even in the conduct of the armed struggle the Republicans tend to keep their targets political and not sectarian. Mistakes have been made, but they are admitted and criticized. Is that what the British and the Loyalists do? Have the Africans in Zimbabwe, Angola or Mozambique treated the Europeans the way they were treated during the colonial period?
I feel that the RZ and I have lived in somewhat different historical periods. I know that deep social problems continue to exist in recently liberated countries, but isn’t it clear that they could be resolved while under foreign domination? The RZ is entitled to their own political live, no matter how insular and particular to the ” specialness” of Germany, but it seems to me they verge on wholesale rejection of an entire historical reality.
One last word on the issue of anti-semitism: I am not at all sure the RZ yet gets it. On p.6, in trying to explain how their cadre could “select” Jewish passengers, they invoke “historical amnesia and moral disintegration”. Maybe…but maybe the reason was anti-semitism, no matter how ” anti-fascist” the comrades were. If you want to combat it, you need to recognize it and call it for what it is Second the kidnapping of Schleyer.
The RZ is critical of the hijacking of the Lufthansa plane. I agree with their criticism. As I mentioned earlier, I have publicly criticized similar actions before. Although the Left’s ultimate motivations and goals are humanistic, I believe there is some truth to the observation that violence can dull sensibilities. Self-righteousness, a sense of terrible wrongs being inflicted by the imperialist system, and a deeply held conviction that we need to fight for the future can sometimes lead to the ” end justifies the means” philosophy discussed by the RZ. I have come to believe that it is more likely that “the means will shape the end”.
I would also point out, though, that several of the most important Palestinians organizations have also rejected hijacking as a tactic. I think it is important and principled to point that out. For a number of years, it has been the official policy of the Executive Committee of the PLO that extra-territorial actions against Israel not be carried by groups affiliated with the PLO. So, it seems that the RZ’s sense of revolutionary morality is shored by most Palestinian groups.
8. I want to make just one more comment: on p.8, the RZ seems to say that the basis for their anti-imperialism was an under-standing that national liberation and social liberation were one unitary process. Clearly, that has not always been true, although I find their statement that “the takeover of power rather destroyed than developed the social content of the revolution” in almost all cases is exaggerated and misleading. Did this observation come from discussions with the women of Nicaragua, Cuba or Vietnam? I disagree with the R.Z’s analysis of the basis of anti-imperialism. Self-determination is universally recognized as a human right and it should be supported on that basis alone. I also think that the achievement of self-determination by oppressed nations in the post-WW 2 period at least temporarily weakened the U.S.-led imperialist coalition and the whole model of capitalist accumulation. There may or may not be a successful effort to reform that model by the bourgeoisies, but that’s more our responsibility in the metropoles than a reflection on the recently liberated countries. Finally, unlike the RZ, I don’t believe that national liberation ” in almost all cases” has set back the process of social liberation.
The paper raises other issues, that deserve comment, and it could stimulate discussion about the complex issues unsolved in combining international solidarity with liberation politics in the metropoles. I have neither the energy or political clarity to delve into those topics, but I will say that I have been struck by the continuity of “self” determination that underlies so many social struggles in the metropoles and the “self-determination” of oppressed nations. What any of those struggles have to do with “revolution” is something we all need to figure out both in theory and in practice. I am not sure we can arrive at an answer at this particular junction, and I do not think we should paralyze ourselves figuring out “revolutionary” strategies. Hopefully, our sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice is intact, and it can guide us in a murky period when old theory and strategies have proven seriously flawed.