First Published: The Worker, Vol 10, No 21, September 28, 1978
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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In recent months the PLP leadership has undertaken a highly adventurous campaign to physically eliminate the Nazis and KKK. They are acting under a sort of left version of the JDL’s “Never again” slogan. While it is laudable to fight fascism and some of the actions have been effective, it is apparent that most of the actions reflect isolation and ineptitude.
By their own account they have set out with pipes and wearing stocking masks to do in the Nazis. Faithful CAR is always at their side. The actions are carried out with no consultation – certainly no CPL or Canadian CAR leader – though these are dangerous and precipitous capers both politically and legally. We are able to look after ourselves, but we do not appreciate a group of adventurers implicating us in an action which might place us in danger without so much as a warning.
There is a revisionist trend called terrorism and this is a strain of it, but falls short becasue of professional failings. For example PLP/CAR members dash into a Kasnsas City radio station and attack a white power advocate and a few others, including the man who was interviewing him. Then they rush off into the night and phone the press to say they did it and they’re proud of it.
Meanwhile the white power man dusts himself off and goes on with the show. The whole thing is played up in the press, complete with pictures. The Kansas City District Attorney announces that he’s not sure anyone will be prosecuted because, he says, it appeared to be a “publicity stunt” to get attention for the racists. His evidence included the point that nobody was seriously hurt. Why did PLP and CAR carry out the action: Because the racists are getting so much “publicity”.
Another example of PL’s would-be terrorism with dubious results occured in Chicago. Again, in fighting togs and partially armed they burst in on a Nazi Party meeting and according to the usual crackle, snap, pop prose of Challenge, laid into the craven fascists. They spray painted their Party initials on a wall and disappeared. Challenge said it was a towering victory and the leader of CAR saw in the action some resemblance to the battle of Stalingrad.
He must have been looking from a great distance. There were a few things lacking, expecially when the object was to intimidate the Nazis. The Nazi leader escaped unhurt and a small female comrade was left behind to be beaten by the Nazis and turned over to the police (rather unlike the battle of Stalingrad, you might say). Winning armies do have casualties of course. They also fire ignorant generals.
As for what was taught to the Nazis: the Nazi paper came out with a front page photo of their unhappy and blood spattered captive. Their story matched Challenge with details of mayhem and gore. They topped it off by bragging of how well they had done and explaining that this is the only way to deal with the Communists.
In toto these actions, peddled as great accomplishments, were fiascos. Of course those who question them are called cowards and reactionaries, soft on Nazis. On the politically inexperienced such intimidating arguments work like a charm.
Why does PL go out alone at night in stocking masks to leave their initials on walls? Are they following Karl Marx, or Zorro? After all fighting the fascists is reformist, however slap-dash and exciting it may be for the participants. It is fighting, but not necessarily for socialism. Without the masses and a political program PLP terrorists are only liberals with baseball bats.
The self-important claim of PLP is that it’s going to keep the fascists from getting started. Hogwash. The mayor of Philadelphia is an out and out white power advocate, and he seems started. Why not fix him? No, PL is sporting in its anti-fascism. They’ll stick with someone their own size.
Behind this is a serious error. Lenin pointed out long ago that terrorism (particularly inept terrorism) arms the class enemy and weakens and confuses the ranks of the masses. It can only be the weapon of a broad based and popular movement. Lenin traces the error to isolation from the masses and frustration. The hysterical and apocalyptic jargon of Challenge reflect the revisionist trend described by Lenin.