... In April 1992, the Red Army Faction (RAF) took the step of unilaterally calling off its campaign of assassinations of key members of the political and economic apparatus as a first step towards a negotiated settlement with the state, a settlement which they insisted must include the release of prisoners, particularly those, such as Bernd Roessner and Ali Jansen, who were in poor health and those who were amongst the longest held such as Irmgard Moeller, who after 21 years had spent close to half of her life in prison, as well as an agreement which would allow those who were underground to surface. The reactions both amongst the prisoners and within the broader anti-imperialist and autonomist movement was predictable. All hell broke loose. To some, if not most, the decision was treason. The decision was portrayed as a betrayal of 23 years of history. And in the spirit of the German left, a hot and heavy debate, much of which was immortalized on paper, has followed … ( from A Brief History Of The RAF ) …
… we did publish a fair amount of this debate in the last couple of issues of Arm The Spirit …
… what follows below is one critique of the RAF ceasefire, written by the comrades of the Italian political prisoners collective Wotta Sitta … “The Collectivo Communisti Prigionieri Wotta Sitta (Wotta Sitta Imprisoned Communists Collective) consists of comrades imprisoned in various special prisons and coming from the different Italian guerrilla experiences ( Red Brigades, NAP – Armed Proletarian Units, Red Brigades -Guerrilla Party, COLP – Communists Organized for Proletarian Liberation, Resistance) …
… translated by Arm The Spirit, but, to the best of my knowledge, not published …
A Communist Critique
Of The RAF
by the Italian political prisoners collective “Wotta Sitta”
The following remarks represent the position of our collective regarding the behavior of the RAF since April 1992, as well as our position on certain questions which are of relevance to the revolutionary initiative of communists in Europe.
These remarks are drawn up from notes whose fundamental ideas we have been reflecting on for some time now. We will now briefly explain the simple reasons why we are only now sharing our ideas with these comrades and calling on them to begin a discussion.
First, we would like to make it clear that the change which the RAF made was, from the beginning, an indication of a political crisis, behind which were lurking dangerous and destructive disintegrating processes. By making public their reasons for making a “pause”, the prisoners did not offer those members still living in illegality, namely those that still make up the RAF, any useful proposals for a new perspective, but rather they got stuck in a heavy, populist, Great German morass, and they displayed their willingness to play along with Kinkel’s game, imperialism pure and simple.
For us, it wasn’t really that important to either distance ourselves from this or to swear high and low because of holy principles being violated.
The RAF drove a wedge right through the middle of Europe’s militant resistance movement and worsened the already bad problem regarding a lack of perspective. The problem was and still is the need to strategically restore revolutionary politics, and this is achieved by advancing the struggle and by having discussions which deal with important matters. The RAF destroyed this opportunity, which had only been kept alive with great difficulty after the silence which followed the experiences with the Front up until 1988, in so far as they caused considerable portions of the movement (particularly in Germany) to focus their attention and energies on false and secondary questions and away from others, namely those people (particularly in Italy) most affected by the European dimension of the struggle.
The crisis first had to reach its peak. Many things had to first develop into a greater clarity.
In fact, the attack on Weiterstadt showed just how nebulous the decision “to take back the escalation, to begin a pause in order to think” really was, because all the thinking really resulted in was making public how terribly atrocious a high-technology prison is, a show of force to convince some of those in power in the new “Reich” to open up a new round in the game which Kinkel began. But the bourgeoisie always plays with a loaded deck, and the game is never really what it appears to be.
And so Wolfgang was murdered. Thanks to a dirty spy who came to life in the morass of false militant politics, which, as it presents itself, is without an offensive perspective. And when Kohl fired von Stahl, he did this because he wanted all of the RAF to be captured, so that they would beg for forgiveness and make a spectacle of the physical and political death of the resistance, thus enhancing Germany’s glory.
And after Bad Kleinen made all of this perfectly clear to all comrades in Germany and across Europe, then the last veil was dropped, which had concealed the last dead end where the illegal RAF-members could hide. Their silence – which amounted to approval, or at least an attempt to make it possible that the prisoners in Celle, who were prepared to negotiate, become. the spokesmen for the left during Kohl’s politics of pacification – violated the boundary which separates revolution from imperialism. It was a real stab in the back for those prisoners who had always made it clear that their lives could not be dealt with at a table with Kinkel or Schnarrenberger, but rather their fate would be decided by the advance of the revolution. But it’s not merely the RAF’s lack of political direction which has lead to communists becoming disoriented. When you think about the conditions under which many other comrades, at quite another level, have to try and overcome the objective difficulties of this phase of history, then you are left with a divided impression of experiences and discussions, and three different forms of conduct regarding the guerrilla and revolutionary strategy become visible.
There are those that stress the necessity of coming out of the social struggles – the movement -and who feel it is impossible to agitate at a complex political level if this does not come about as a natural development from the movement. But this only leads to one’s own horizons becoming specifically limited as well as characterized by a merely idealized reference to general political struggle.
There are those that place a priority on the consideration of the strategic decisions from which the guerrilla developed; a step backwards which only consists of demoralizing and disarming ideological revisionism, thereby moving away from an offensive attitude towards the struggle.
There are those who have followed the guerrilla over the past ten years, and who consider the continuity of this project to be the most important concern, and who feel it cannot be changed, and who think that both the defeats and the lack of initiative are simply organizational problems which can be immediately solved by once again carrying out attacks.
But the defeats always come about (although not exclusively) due to unqualified political assumptions, and when no clarification is found, then the mistakes get repeated and they have a negative effect on the general political situation, because the gap between the desire for revolutionary consciousness and the development of objective political confrontations simply increases.
But it would be short-sighted, given the actual situation of revolutionary experiences, to see only these boundaries to strategic initiatives, which underestimate communist subjectivity against the development of the confrontation, without taking other factors into account.
In any case, the necessity of a comprehensive political concept is made quite clear by this situation, as is the possibility of its formulation.
And not only this: Those things that become clear are also useful hints at what fundamental steps are necessary to reach the goal. In the eyes of everyone, the widening of the social struggles are an undisputed fact. Just as undisputed is that these make it necessary to establish the political terrain on which the development of the power relations are to be decided.
It is quite clear that the main obstacle which causes the mass struggles of workers and proletarians to be pushed back or to be forced into negotiations is the impossibility of these struggles immediately reaching an international, particularly a European, dimension, beyond the established borders and political terrains of individual states. Many comrades, who have worked for progress and politicization in the struggles, have concerned themselves, even if only to a limited degree, with the necessity of having these struggles break outside of their national surroundings.
The other fundamental fact is that those who are part of the most advanced sectors of the guerrilla and revolutionary movement, albeit with differing evaluations, make it clear that no strategic advances can be achieved these days without the class struggle reaching an international dimension. This consciousness is the basis for a united and constructive discussion.
From both of these facts, it is possible to overcome the difficulty of having a broad view while keeping an eye on the actual state of the struggle, which refers to one form of weakness which is closely connected to the identity and tasks of communists.
That which always characterizes the communists in the various phases of the confrontations between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is the ability “to bring forward the goals of the movement in their entirety” (Marx).
Therefore, communists, in their praxis, namely organization and struggle, deem it necessary to possess a consciousness and a comprehensive vision, a strategy which represents the interests of the proletariat and which weakens the bourgeoisie.
The task of communists is not to remind the workers of how destructive life in bourgeois society is, or how many massacres stem from the wealth of “big business”. They already know all that. The primary task is to take on the responsibility of saying how it’s possible to make changes, both big and small, given the current situation.
With respect to this point, it could seem useless to assess the RAF’s analysis on which their shift was based.
But that’s not true. This analysis involves the core of their experiences and concepts, and these are certainly not private matters for the RAF alone. While rejecting the RAF’s contradictory relationship to the state’s politics, many comrades today feel that the RAF’s analysis is a correct answer to the questions of initiative and perspective which affect the entire structure of European communism. In any case, this analysis represents the point at which they have arrived after 20 years of revolutionary experience. And all comrades need to concern themselves with this, if they wish to carry on with the RAF or something similar. And it is to those persons that we are directing this paper.
We will now begin with a critique of statements of general importance which have come out of the RAF’s discussion papers. This will allow us to focus on certain fundamental political points which affect the progress of the revolutionary process and also to correctly set forth some things which affect the foundations of the political consciousness propagated by the European guerrilla, things which must not be lost.
1. The RAF says: “Due to changes in the international balance of power, the idea of revolutionary development by means of a joint international struggle has failed.”
This analysis is as clear as it is superficial, because it lacks any analysis of the actual world-wide status of the confrontation.
According to the RAF’s position, there are at present no revolutionary struggles taking place in the world, nor are there any violent social conflicts taking place from Europe to Asia, nor in the USA, nor in the East, nor are there any internal contradictions within the bourgeoisie which get expressed in various forms of war, and finally, the USA is not waging a global war to defend its increasingly threatened global political and economic dominance.
The RAF only orients itself towards the past.
The most important conclusion to be drawn from this is that the RAF has never freed itself from a strategic evaluation of the struggle based on the contradiction between “socialist and imperialist camps”.
Each successive change in their project due to experiences in the international struggle – first with the Palestinian guerrilla, then with the European – came, in substance, from the same point of view regarding the contradiction between the subject and the possibilities for developing a global struggle.
And it is exactly this point of view which “is over”. But it didn’t just end today!
In other words, the possibility of opening free spaces for revolutionary perspectives which based themselves on the East-West conflict did not first come to end with the collapse of the USSR in 1989! After the Second World War, the “defence of the USSR” was the central theme by which the progress of the communist perspective was measured.
The concept which this assumption was the foundation of was that the development of a communist perspective was to be achieved by the (more or less mechanical) expansion of Soviet experiences throughout the entire world. In this sense, the struggle for socialism in one’s own country was tied to and strengthened by the anti-imperialist struggle on the side of the USSR.
This concept – even though it is based on a revisionist mistake, namely reducing the global movement and communist change to the mere expansion of Soviet experiences – nevertheless possessed a strategic importance during a particular phase of the international confrontation, because it drew the most important lines for the revolutionary development:
– The emancipation of the working class, for which the experiences of socialism and national liberation were of genuine material significance;
– The resistance to the counter-revolutionary anti-communism of the counter insurgency, which internally affected the revolutionary initiatives in the Western countries and in the Three Continents;
– The expansion of the political and ideological struggle against the bourgeoisie everywhere with the same global lines of development, which characterized themselves as the international communist movement and in advances of the communist perspective.
In increasing degrees, the splintering of the socialist camp as a united and homogenous formation (this began in the 1960s with the Maoist critique of the USSR), the impossibility of revolutionary changes in the Western economic formations according to the socialist model, and the changing nature of the contradictions between East and West as a confrontation – in a global sense – between two imperialist systems (although very different from one another), all of these factors completely eroded the socialist camp’s importance to the revolutionary development.
In this sense, the development of a communist perspective required a form of international expansion, one which reflected the interests of the workers for abolishing the capitalist exploitation of both labor and life in general, and this could be nothing else than the contradiction between the international proletariat and the imperialist bourgeoisie. The first experiences of a communist consciousness were the new movements and guerrilla experiences of the 1970s.
Of particular strategic importance is the contradiction international proletariat/imperialist bourgeoisie as a projection on the general political scene, in other words, the confrontation with the power apparatus of the imperialist bourgeoisie at all levels, as well as the similarity which all proletarian struggles in the world experience. That is where a historical alternative to capitalism can be found, where we can find its potential construction and development, now, at that point where the crisis is more acute than before.
The new dynamic of imperialist contradictions at the global level which was unleashed by the crisis in the 1970s has opened (in the 1980s) an – albeit limited – material basis for the political East-West model as the key to approaching an international confrontation.
The immense pressure to newly define the political and economic positions of power increasingly took place during phases of naked imperialist warfare, with the USA and the USSR as the most significant, but not the only, players (from the Falklands to the Gulf War), and it began to increasingly overlap with the international revolutionary struggle. What remained was one of the active factors in the development/outbreak of wars.
It follows from all of this that it was correct for the revolutionary forces to involve themselves with the USA/USSR confrontation in their political initiatives, in order to influence the international power relationships. But to be involved with a matter, today no less than back then, does not mean to get stuck in a dead end without any way out. Sticking to the old model of the social/imperialist camps as a strategic foundation meant using this model to analyze and reduce to the point of the eternal philo-Soviet position any new line of development which began to orient itself around the international proletariat/imperialist bourgeoisie. This lead to the guerrilla in the metropoles, along with other revisionist trains of thought, losing all of its political-strategic significance within the revolutionary consciousness of the metropolitan proletariat.
If we concern ourselves for such a long time with East/West problematics then it’s because it is equally false to formally declare its end without first examining the consequences which result from this. It’s like being weighed down by an anchor when the necessities of the struggle are taking a different direction.
The new global situation has pushed forward two important questions which concern the advance of communism: The first regarding the end of the socialist world system, and the second regarding imperialist war.
From out of the crisis of the USSR and the experiences of socialist control, one can either go forward with a greater consciousness and attempt to advance the communist perspective, or one can react with a disastrous retreat, one which will damage us for who knows how long. That depends on how we envision the consciousness for a new advance of the communist perspective. A perspective, not in the sense of a “program”, but rather a political core, around which will develop the consciousness for a global confrontation between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in this historical phase.
The more the crisis develops, as the capitalist society changes even more in its entirety and the living conditions become more polarized and the interests of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie become qualitatively strengthened – that is, sharpened – the more also the struggle will be supported by the ability to display a possibility for emancipation, liberation, and the defeat of capitalism. In other words, a visible general interest to make the revolutionary process possible and to unite the struggles and the special interests.
In the meantime, metropolitan capitalism has developed increasingly innovative and complex global forces; its crisis, however, is also characterized by major global contradictions.
The strong interlocking between economic and social conditions prevents further significant developments and changes, in so far as these are not carried out with an international basis.
These are processes which lead to the pressure to form international associations as well as which lead to the splintering among individual states.
This is happening, because we have reached a point where the power struggle between the general interests of the proletariat and the general interests of the bourgeoisie are beginning to show themselves and become undone directly at the international level. This also partially happened at other times, but it was at those times linked to a different economic and social development; that’s why the goal of the power struggle could not be the universal interest of the proletariat becoming like that of the bourgeoisie. In reality, at those times a consciousness arose and material as well as political progress and change came about at the national level.
Today, progress is primarily measured according to its international dimension. Not because this international dimension means the weakening/disappearing of the “national agreements”, but rather because it displays itself as a “general necessity” and thereby as an element which determines each progression. For the bourgeoisie just as for the proletariat. Because this fact has worked itself into the power structures of the proletariat (both states and organizations) in a frightening balance of strength at a purely national level, unlike the global power struggle between the classes, building up and maintaining such power structures at the national level has run into serious difficulties. The economic foundation and the balance of strength are directly linked to one another.
The Gulf War, under pressure from the crisis and strong dependency at the global level, introduced a new phase of the destructive conflict between the various bourgeois groups. A problem that is closely tied to the future.
In this phase, the proletariat needs to clarify its general claim to historical equality, because only in this way can it intervene (independently and actively) in the struggles between states and between various bourgeois groups and more or less prevent getting stuck in hidden forms of nationalism or the passive toleration of destructive social consequences.
War is always precipitated by capitalist crisis. That’s true, but today, at this point in history, it’s important to see what exactly this process of expansion is, this progression of the crisis (the spiral of global technological restructuring and destructive recessions), given the global effects of war in a world of dependencies. We have before us a development through which an increasing number of contradictions culminate in war; a development, whose center is the martial advance of the USA. After the end of the “Cold War”, which was, so to speak, a “crisis of war” followed by “detente”, today again, war rules everywhere, the “war of crisis”.
New wars start up here and there without the previous wars ever really having ended; the crisis of the form of the nation state (as the key point for capitalist development in a given region), which is getting torn apart by claims of internal autonomy – regional struggles – and increasing international struggles, is also displayed by this endemic repetition of local wars. No regional authority has the power to definitively end a war, but rather they can only initiate conflicts and renew them through general destabilization by means of the destruction of the material and social forces of production.
The advancing crisis of the economic and political domination of the USA is connected to various forms of contradiction:
– Those which arise from the continuing development of three continental blocs (USA, Europe, Japan);
– Those which arise from the necessity of building up regional centers of power, for example in the Near East;
– Those which come about through the massive pressure of the imposition of new accumulation on peoples and classes.
The USA always did and still does represent the general interests of the imperialist bourgeoisie (in its purest form as an international class); its crisis is leading to a crisis of the entire global system: One break can mean the collapse of the entire complex construction of contradictions.
The predominance of the USA will, in future, base itself less and less on economic power and more and more on military superiority. The former will in fact become dependent on the latter. This was already proven during the Gulf War.
This necessity is enough for the USA’s politics of “total security”. A concept of a model of war which can be easily adapted to all parts of the world. In this model, the “swift deployment of troops” has replaced “preventive defence”, and the war is no longer limited to the battlefield decided on by the enemy, because it follows the logic of the mass destruction of the entire region without distinctions between “military” and “civilian” populations. That’s why the number of casualties among the civilian population always exceeds the number among the military.
The spreading out of war will increasingly be on the political terrain where the proletariat at the end of this century will have to struggle in order to form itself as a class under the new economic and political conditions.
War only strengthens the revolution when a clear political perspective is at hand at the level of the visible contradictions. In so far as we propose a communist alternative to metropolitan capitalism, and in so far as we struggle against the USA’s war to maintain its predominance, we go well beyond the national boundaries of communist struggle. This demands a qualitative leap to the international level of the conflict. Progress will come through a new idea of revolutionary development and through a joint international struggle.
For those of us here in Europe, that means, first of all, a project and a concept, establishing a European line in the conflict, because today it’s impossible to talk of global unity if we haven’t first been able to overcome the economic and political contradictions here in Europe
2. The RAF is not taking a step forwards towards a new orientation, but rather a step backwards in order to come to terms with its own history, because since 1989 they have missed the perception and analysis of the changes in the imperialist realm, as well as regarding the changes in class relations in Germany.
A new politics can only arise from a discussion of these new problems, only from progress at a comprehensive level.
That what the RAF has failed to understand is that “Great Germany” can only exist within a “Great Europe”. Outside of Europe, there is war and the radicalization of the contradictions between bourgeois fractions, strengthened by nationalisms and reactionary movements and their inevitably violent discharge against the proletariat and the communists.
In some cases, there develops a struggle for the perception of the main interests of the proletariat separate from the vision of a joint class struggle in Europe. Because the problem isn’t the prevention of a certain “imperialist unification project”, but rather in reality just the opposite. The difficulty lies in obtaining a consciousness and the practical strength so as to reach the level which the economic, social, and political conditions have already reached, through which the bourgeoisie, in every part of Europe, from north to south, forces its interests upon the proletariat, and to measure the general interests of the proletariat, as they have arisen in their entirety from the struggles, according to this level.
In the 1980s, the necessity of establishing an international strategy of the European dimension in order to resist the central projects of imperialism – not a necessity which could be delayed, but one based on objective conditions under which the revolutionary project must develop – gave rise to the joint dialectic between the revolutionary forces under the slogan “struggle together”, as well as the idea of the necessity and possibility of organizing the European metropolitan proletariat.
A process of building which was planned and begun by the close cooperation and dialectic between the forces of the vanguard and the progressive sectors of the proletariat at the European level.
At the present time, the revolutionary communist identity finds itself in a dialectical relationship between the revolutionary communist organization and the proletarian mass movements in Europe, one with enormous possibilities for concrete development.
In this respect, the discussion and process which arose from the formation of the anti-imperialist front in the mid-80s were certainly great advances, for one thing because they spread the heritage of national experiences to the European level, and also because they took an important qualitative step at the level of internationalist and anti-imperialist projects. Despite its limitations, the front displayed itself historically as being at the point of no return. It made it clear that international struggle has much broader implications than mere solidarity or simple “alliance politics”. It created a link to the global liberation movements of the proletariat.
Nothing whatsoever in the analysis of the contradictions inherent in the development crisis of the capitalist and imperialist world tells us that we should reject this consciousness. On the contrary, it’s quite clear that the international revolutionary strategy must press forward the conflict at the European level under the new prevailing conditions. The possibilities of the guerrilla as a power strategy for the European metropolitan proletariat exist primarily in clearly defining where today the power relations between the classes are and by clarifying these through close connections between the national sphere and the international system. In this sense, we are dealing with maintaining and further developing the dialectical relationships between the attack on the strategic projects of the imperialist bourgeoisie and their instruments of control and the most advanced struggles of the metropolitan proletariat, those which exist in the confines of political consciousness and the autonomous organization of the classes and which come about through offensive struggle and the defence of free spaces and living conditions.
Ever since the increasing unification of the global market has continued to make more and more national economic forms irrelevant, the economic, political, and social control of nation states has sunk deeper into crisis, and this gives rise to possibilities for intervention, either to “occupy” these states or “help yourself’ to them. Each political or social force which seeks to revolutionize the prevailing conditions of domination and exploitation must, by necessity, clearly recognize the enemy power with which they are in conflict. Increasingly more revolutionary movements and communist organizations must realize that they are struggling for power with international subjects; the same economic, social, and political contradictions from which the conflict arises are developing more and more under pressure from international factors.
It is this material basis which, during the orientation of the revolutionary strategy towards the seizure of power, makes it necessary to place the international seizure of power before the national, because the national area and its political structures may seem independent, but in an international sense they are but an integrated part and expression of the actual situation of the unified world market.
The fundamental question isn’t really to figure out how much “power” an individual nation state still possesses; rather it’s more essential to figure out whether or not sticking to such fundamental assumptions will change/destroy capitalism.
Whether in this realm, despite the big and increasingly complicated and quickly advancing capitalist contradictions and given the destruction caused by the crisis and the increasingly sharpened situation, whether the general and direct political and economic interests of the proletariat can be protected.
This requires each communist subject to orient their perspective and the process of the vanguard towards the fundamentals of the contradiction international proletariat/imperialist bourgeoisie and to create an offensive line of struggle which possesses the strength and potential to weaken the imperialist system.
The crisis of the nation state is one component of the capitalist crisis; as such, its general validity can be seen in virtually all national contexts and therefore cannot be understood nor struggled against at a purely local level.
It is directed by the needs of the great bourgeoisie according to the political instruments to maintain and regulate the processes which are connected to accumulation, competition, and control, and which have already gone beyond the national level, and which have been multiplied and strengthened over the past fifteen years by international institutions and their power.
The form which the nation states of Europe will increasingly take on will be dependent on the advance of the dialectic between themselves and the new state structures being erected in Europe, a process of joint state building which is not the merely mechanical adaptation of the nation state model in a larger size, but rather a systematic unification of states and international institutions which will take over state functions at the European level.
To differing degrees and at different levels, each European state must deal with the crisis of its own political system, systems which are confronted with previously unknown wear and tear on the “political democracy” in the capitalist system and a substantial change in the power relations in the class struggle which fully involves the state apparatus.
In Italy – and the situation isn’t much different in Germany, France, and elsewhere – in the middle of a war between the apparatus and various bourgeois factions, which has already lasted for a year, an authoritarian restructuring of the “democracy” is taking place, in which the re-adaptation and “modernization” of the political state system is based on the fact that all of the “historical” political forces are being forced to accept a series of general political goals which are supposed to represent the “national interest”, and to thereby remain firmly on the path of European unification and to avoid the collapse of the state’s ruling political system.
The imposition of these “objective necessities” (“either European Union or war!”) is the model by which the bourgeoisie hopes to escape from its political crisis. The idea is to coopt into the confines of state control all those political forces (from the conservatives to the reformists to the trade unions) that manage to rule over the many tensions and social and class contradictions during this comprehensive process of re-founding the state.
A fatal embrace, one by which the imperialist bourgeoisie hopes to neutralize the class struggle which arises from the new social polarization which is presently taking place in all advanced capitalist nations. The revolutionary vanguards must unmask this and fight to create spaces for the struggle of the metropolitan proletariat.
The advancing European integration of the capitalist economy necessarily leads to a political structure of dominance which secures its existence and development according to two fundamental lines. Internally, this is achieved through new investment structures, new forms of competition, unequal development, control over and pressure against the proletariat (as a labor supply and a labor reserve); externally, through the functioning of the balance of power and confrontations with other regional economic blocs (North America and South East Asia), pressure against the weaker capitalist economies on the world market (the Three Continents and Eastern Europe), and finally, at the political level, to defend the general interests of the global system in the face of the USA’s crisis.
A political restructuring which takes on the form of a state, since it does not react to the conjunctural dynamics, but rather it follows the general interest of an imperialist bourgeois Europe in the organization and reproduction of the socio-economic relationships which get developed during a very contradictory long-term process.
On the other hand, this process has already left behind deep scars in the economy in Europe, as well as in the relationship between capital and labor and in the direct social relationships: To a large degree, the great bourgeoisie have already established all the fundamental processes of the development, accumulation, and concentration of wealth, a dynamic which necessarily requires a redefinition of the instruments of power which affect the entire national sphere.
This process, which is being driven by the big multi-national corporations and the strongest bourgeois factions, is aimed at creating a real European imperialist bourgeoisie, which is already in different ways the representative of global class interests against individual states. What began in the European power centers, from the exponents of the board of directors of the international finance trusts up to the new European system of power, is now a trans-national political personnel which largely represents the interests of the elite.
European union will neither eliminate the economic crisis nor the imbalanced development nor the competition within giant capital. In a phase of capitalism in which the multi-national is dominant on the global market, competition is no longer between individual firms, limited to individual products, but rather it encompasses the entire market. Unions which have since become economic in nature are now exploitable and they must be played off against one another. The dialectic between the formation of a common state and the nation states reflects itself in this new dimension in a progressing integration while at the same time not disappearing. This comes about as the result of the continuing dynamic connection between the various economies and states and continually functions independent of these. It limits these and forms them into a system of contradictions which are becoming increasingly pressing when given the current necessities.
A dialectic which is pushed through by the confrontations with the proletariat at all levels, and which is produced by the necessity of constantly redefining and broadening the exploitation of labor and knowledge as well as by the general dominance of capital over society.
This European construction, in its various phases of development, has an increasingly stronger effect on class relations. First of all in the factories, because the heart of capitalist restructuring is, now more than ever, the achievement of surplus.
The global dimension of the internationalization of capital relations, which is especially far advanced in Europe, and the specific and general strategies linked to this, which have led to the process of restructuring production and the social reordering in the situation of a capitalist development crisis, has led to the formation of a European metropolitan proletariat with generally similar living conditions.
The creation of European trust monopolies at the international level and the processes of concentration and centralization of various sectors of production have characterized the processes of restructuring, which have made possible a level of exploitation and an increasingly uniform manner of organizing labor, both of the working class and the white-collar workers and other sectors as well, including education models, the labor market, and the unlimited growth of an industrial reserve army, which stands available even outside the national borders for use as a massive labor force in the politics of the restructuring of production. This is happening all over Europe. In this way, capital is attempting to rid the labor market of its expensive restrictions and inflexibility.
It is a proven fact that in the last ten years, particularly in the last few, that the most significant struggles in each country had to do with restructuring measures dealing with “European projects” decided at the EC level, including changes in politics and the introduction of new norms in the service, administrative, and other sectors.
Another important dynamic is that created by migration towards Western Europe, particularly from Eastern Europe and the Three Continents.
The importance of migration, which has affected social conflicts in nearly all countries in Western Europe, can no longer be underestimated.
To name one example: To optimize the relationship between capital and labor, it is sufficient to enact restrictive measures to prevent “foreigners” from coming into Italy, or into Germany or into all European countries, according to the guidelines of the Schengen Agreement, thus creating a form of politics which has as its goal the regulation of the labor market according to strict EC guidelines, backed up by a huge supply of labor reserves. In reality, the masses of immigrants from the south and east who are pressing at Europe’s borders are actually the undeniable foundation of the development of the European economy, and the entire politics of the EC is designed to secure a plan for their exploitation and control.
In this sense, it is misleading to speak of a “two-thirds” society, because no one is “superfluous” under the social formulation of capitalism, albeit in the nations of the “center” or the “periphery”. The new international division of labor creates a new configuration of the working class, one in which the deaths from starvation in the Three Continents as well as the 10% “structural” unemployed persons in the wealthy nations of Europe are the result of the rationality of surplus and not the evil of the bourgeoisie. The sociological analyses of the “two-thirds society” describe the poverty of broad sectors of the proletariat, but they are not in a position to grasp the substance of capitalist dynamics from which they are created and increasingly expanded.
The phenomenon of the “new racism” which is presently breaking out in Europe, from Germany to England, from France to Spain, in Italy…, after a proletariat has come into being from several races and ethnic groups which continually distresses the European governments, is also especially an opportunity to introduce an ever more refined and repressive system of laws and police powers for social control all across Europe.
Today, the power struggle in Europe can only be defined with the following two subjects: the European imperialist bourgeoisie and the European metropolitan proletariat.
This struggle is already developing itself at the European level, as the simultaneous nature of the struggles of the metropolitan proletariat in all of Europe shows. The vast majority of the struggles are directed against an increasingly recognizable enemy: the imperialist bourgeoisie in Europe, its refined system of power, and the totality of the European strategies of the new capitalist order.
The simultaneous outbreak of social and labor struggles in Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Greece, this should cause us to reflect on the homogeneity of the processes from which they came about, as well as to recognize the lack of a corresponding revolutionary political orientation point.
The process of European unification is the dynamic by which the revolutionary movement in Europe must measure the possibilities for concrete changes in the living conditions of the proletariat and the advancing of a communist perspective.
This is namely the field where the increasingly heavy present and future power struggles will most likely be concentrated. For the first time, the living conditions of the working masses are directly connected to the form and time schedule of European unification.
That means that considering the European dimension of the confrontation between class and state in each country on the one hand, and between the state power and the social formulation of the present changes on the other, must be re-evaluated in terms of what most general elements which can be observed in the most significant European states and what they indicate about the international dimension, as well as what is taking place in each individual country.
The confrontation with the state at the national level will nonetheless remain an element in the politicization and the reorganization of the local struggles. The state will retain and strengthen its function as the internal force of counter-revolution, the control over significant portions of the economic processes, and in the area of culture and ideology. It follows from that that the destruction/weakening of the state will always play an important role in the project and in the communist perspective of revolutionaries in Europe.
The creation of a European line of struggle is of fundamental importance, because only this can make it possible for the struggles to “break out of their confines”, by means of which the proletariat in all countries can react to the pressures of difficult living conditions which are at the heart of the European restructuring of capitalist production and the capitalist market.
Only in so far as we clearly define and push forward this line can we bring about a direction for the general struggle, in which the most significant forces of the revolutionary movement, which already – albeit to a limited degree – are active at the European level, will once again find themselves in relation to one another.
Today, the situation is ripe for working on the creation of a new European revolutionary project, especially since this is the historically most important arena for the reformulation of the communist perspective. From this, a process of the unification of the revolutionary forces at the global level can come about, one which is adapted to the realities of metropolitan capitalism.
A European revolutionary project, at the center of which is the conflict between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie at the European level, must not become dependent on or speculate about the process of European unification and its creation of an imperialist bloc.
Even when the European bloc in held back by the contradictions which it cannot solve and even when the march of nationalism in the EC countries continues to gain momentum, none of this will change the main focal points of proletarian politics at the strategic level.
The process of proletarian emancipation must not be limited by the conditions which happen to be predominant under the capitalist system, but rather it must be based on a universal internationalist vision of the communist perspective. That’s why the perception of the European conflict as part of the global struggle between imperialism and revolution must be the foundation of a European revolutionary project.
That is the basis for creating a new European form of revolution, one which is in a position to intervene in the war of the “new world order” by which the USA seeks to defend its dominance, and this can be a starting point for anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggles throughout the entire world.
3. The RAF says: The guerrilla cannot be the “center” of this new process, because it is so alienated from the class opposition that it loses its “social point of reference”.
It’s clear that, according to the RAF’s opinion, the guerrilla is only at the center because it can strike “at a higher level” than any other subject of the resistance. In so far as it places itself at the top, at an unreachable level, then it only becomes one isolated step in the confrontation for the movement. By doing so, one can win broad sympathy, but it’s not possible in this way to create new forms of organization or to arouse a new revolutionary consciousness among the proletariat.
If the guerrilla is viewed as a “military” act, whose “political” content is characterized by the chosen goal which is then supposed to automatically spell out the line for the revolutionary consciousness of the proletariat, then sooner or later the struggle will be abandoned.
The guerrilla is praxis lead by strategy. Its beating heart is the strategic content which it gives rise to.
The quality of the politics which get expressed by the European guerrilla cannot be reduced to a military level, which nonetheless has not been lacking. The metropolitan guerrilla is the embodiment of the revolutionary break which was made in Europe in the early-70s by those organizations which took up armed struggle in order to renew the class consciousness of the proletariat and to reopen the power struggle in the belly of the imperialist beast. The introduction of revolutionary struggle, even if it has since become partially contradictory, has not lost its essential form.
A struggle which has been set forth and whose qualitative development in the 70s and 80s the bourgeoisie was not been able to prevent, although today they are seeking to get rid of its strategic importance by removing it from the minds of the European proletariat.
Today, there can be no real development of a process of organization and revolutionary consciousness among the proletariat without a guerrilla strategy. Without a guerrilla strategy, there can be no qualitative advance at the level of perspective, nor can there be any concrete changes.
In the long-range war between the classes – at present, the content and historical form of the revolutionary process – it’s not so much the form in which the proletarian struggle and its qualitative expansion are expressed that matters, but rather much more the qualitative advance of the process of class organization. In fact, the guerrilla, even if it first characterizes itself as controlling a certain territory for the vanguard, can at the same time be politically generalized, on all levels, as increasing the autonomy and resistance of the entire proletarian movement. A strategy which can be used in every situation during the confrontation and which also can function as a means of revolutionary communication and for the reformation of the classes.
That’s why the guerrilla’s task in the metropoles is not solely to “strike blows against the enemy”, it never was, but rather at the same time it must also, in different phases, (re)establish the consciousness of the proletariat, beginning with the concrete struggles which it is waging, and following the lines of attack of the masses.
The strategy of the guerrilla as the existential form of the revolutionary vanguard in the metropoles then opens the way for the entire proletarian struggle and it once again gives the class its perspective for liberation from capitalist social relations. This strategy is then strengthened by formulations within the proletariat.
This is a fact revealed by revolutionary experiences in the metropoles, guided by the guerrilla, whose advances and organizational process, anchored in the increasingly intense proletarian struggles which have developed in the metropolitan centers. In this sense, this represents an advance from the model proposed by the Third International of the party which was supposed to function as the “external” bearer of the class consciousness of the proletariat.
In this sense, the organization of the vanguard cannot be seen as the only starting point for the development of the consciousness and organizational processes or the formation of the classes of the metropolitan proletariat.
Although the vanguard plays a special role in the context of the class struggle, it develops in relationship to the proletariat according to the notions of unity and diversity. Unity in terms of the general class interest; diversity in the sense that the vanguard of the revolutionary process, in comparison to other sectors of the revolutionary movement, plays a different role, beginning with the various levels of consciousness which are expressed by this orientation. In this sense, the vanguard is a party.
This principle has always been a part of the organizational processes of the proletariat; but that cannot mean, as history has often shown us, that it can possess only a purely ideological mandate over the class interests. During the progress of the confrontation, such a position leads to increasing alienation from the concrete process of class struggle and simply to the creation of one’s own role.
The existence, struggle, and development of the vanguard is legitimized by the political resonance which comes from the consideration of its general and proletarian-specific interests, which come out decisively during various phases of the class struggle.
The fact that the organization of the vanguard in its praxis must always keep its eyes on the general interests of the class, while staying active at the highest levels in the power struggle and by revealing the main contradictions, does not mean that it alone can represent the complexity and progress of the general interests of the proletariat. This can only be achieved by all the organs together which, phase by phase, in each situation, represent the system of proletarian power in its various forms, and which comprise part of the vanguard when it is at its most advanced point.
In so far as it is a projection on the influence of the entire class resistance, the guerrilla praxis always plays a central role in the vanguard and has over the years proven that the influence of the proletariat is at once a process, a relationship, and a system.
Only in so far as we continually bring to mind the general interests of the proletariat in the class/state struggle can the entire revolutionary process be pushed forward and advances be made in the building up of proletarian power and changes in the living conditions and self-organization of the metropolitan proletariat be made
4. Finally, we, as revolutionary prisoners and as communists, drawing on our experiences in the Italian guerrilla, would like to clarify some things regarding the problems of “political prisoners”.
Guerrilla prisoners are most certainly part of the revolutionary movement and they are involved in the actual confrontation; that’s why their contribution to discussion and to the creation of a revolutionary perspective requires a certain significance in the various phases of the struggle, especially in the difficult times we are experiencing today. That’s the very reason why the Italian state, as with the other states in Europe and the USA, wants to be rid of the prisoners as a political reality in order to prevent any form of continuity between the revolutionary experiences which the prisoners represent and the actual conditions of the confrontation.
The common interest of the revolutionary movement in general and the political prisoners, who jointly resist in their present situation, is not decided by the increased intensity of the counter-revolution at the European level – which is nonetheless an important factor – but rather by the fundamental necessity of a new perspective, one in which the “memory of past confrontations” is always an significant element.
The role of the guerrilla prisoners, who have maintained their revolutionary identity for all these years and who have contributed to the general advance of the revolutionary perspective, is an undeniable historical fact, as has been proven in Italy, Germany, Spain, France, England, the USA, and in many countries of the Three Continents (Peru, El Salvador, occupied Palestine, Turkey, the Philipines…). And from this, it’s no coincidence that the counter-revolution targets them for reprisals and seeks with any means of repression to break down and destroy their identity and their consciousness as political subjects.
In the last few years, in those countries where the experience of the guerrilla has qualitatively advanced the class struggle, we can see clearly that the counter-revolutionary strategy has reached a new level of aggression and is seeking via military means to compensate for its identity and planning crisis in order to break holes in the organizations of metropolitan guerrillas. The “political solution” which was introduced in Italy a few years ago, which was supported by many political prisoners who have since renounced their political identities, although it was actually an initiative of the imperialist bourgeoisie to press forward the war “from the inside”, has shown the way for the counter-revolution for all of Western Europe and has spelled out an effective model to deploy.
It’s clear that this model cannot be mechanically transplanted to all other countries, but despite differences in historical context and the specific conditions in each individual country, the content of this imperialist strategy is well-known, namely the destruction and the adaptation of the forces and subjects of subversion and social change, two different sides of the same politics whose goal is to win.
In this sense, the “Kinkel Initiative” of “social reconciliation” in Germany is not very different from the initiative of Italy’s governing parties. Above all, they have the same goal, namely to prevent any continuity from existing between the revolutionary experiences of the last 20 years of struggle and the actual conditions today. These initiatives, like the one proposed by Kinkel, which are supposedly aimed at finding “political solutions” to the question of political prisoners, in reality have a very different goal in mind: They seek to utilize the political prisoners as a “weak point” in the revolutionary movement and to use them as a means of pressuring the contemporary guerrilla in order to influence and control the development of the revolutionary confrontation in Western Europe.
That’s why from the beginning we felt it was dangerous and unrealistic to construct a flat and mechanical connection between the question of the political prisoners and the possibility of restoring some orientation for a new form of politics. That would mean giving the German state the possibility of pushing forward its hostage politics to its conclusion, using the prisoners as a means of forcing the development of the organizational processes of the proletariat to take place under new conditions. Above all, that means that the revolutionary perspective has been led into a dead end, one where there is no possibility for a political solution.
This displays a great lack of understanding for the international dimension which the revolutionary process as well as the question of political prisoners possesses.
The preventive counter-revolution in Europe – it seems appropriate to repeat this – has reached a historical threshold, one which is decided by the relationship between revolution and imperialism in all of Europe, and it is now the rule that the international level of the counter-revolution continues to rise and to manifest itself in each individual situation.
In this sense, Kinkel’s initiative of “social reconciliation” is nothing new, and it’s suicide to believe that the question of political prisoners is only decided at the national level and that the difficulties and contradictions of the German state can therefore be dealt with. All communists and revolutionary prisoners who wish to concretely work on the reestablishment of the perspective in Western Europe can learn a great deal from the example of what happened in Italy!
Wotta Sitta, communist prisoners collective