Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

El Comite/MINP

On Terrorism

First Published: Obreros En Marcha, Vol. 1, No. 5, April 15, 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Recently a series of bombs exploded in Midtown Manhattan. Previously, on January 24th of this year a bomb exploded in the Wall St. area of New York City which killed 4 persons and injured more than forty.

An organization calling itself the F.A.L.N. (Armed Forces for National Liberation) has assumed responsibility for this act. We of El Comite, as an organization committed to and participant in the struggle for National Liberation and Socialism in Puerto Rico emphatically condemn this act.

Earlier, as a result of the events which took place on October 26, 1974, when this same group placed bombs in different banks throughout the city, we expressed our disagreement with these actions. Our position was made public at a forum held at Hunter College on November 22. We see the necessity at this time to once again put forth and elaborate upon the position taken that evening on the character of social revolution and terrorist acts. As an organization, we understand as principle that the emancipation of the working class is impossible without a violent revolution and the destruction of the state apparatus which has been created by the dominant class in order to maintain and perpetuate the system of exploitation and violence in which we live. Although armed struggle is a fundamental prerequisite for the seizure of state power by the working class and oppressed masses, this does not mean that it can be applied at all times and within all conditions. As Marxists, we understand that the form of struggle utilized must correspond rigorously and necessarily to the concrete historical situation which we find ourselves in.

We can say that one particular form or forms of struggle are correct when they correspond, as much to the given conditions, the level of development of the class struggle, as their incorporation within a correct strategical conception of the revolution; when they take into consideration the organizational forms necessary to carry them out; when we make an analysis of the correlation of class forces at that time; when they move forward and accelerate the struggle of the revolutionary and progressive elements, at the same time that, they exploit the weaknesses of the enemy. The form or forms of struggle that are implemented cannot be decided on based on our dreams, illusions or impetuosities.

Let us clarify this point. A revolution is not a military coup (a swift military take-over of the government) nor is it the result of the conspiracies or actions of a small group. This is a petty-bourgeois conception of the revolution which is the result of the inability to understand the revolution as the necessary historical result of social evolution. Nunez-Tenorio, a Marxist theorist from Venezuela, points out the following in relation to the nature of social revolution: “(1) the fundamental factor within social revolutions is to be found in the existing contradiction between the economic structure of every society within the level of development of the productive forces and the nature and character of the relations of production. This is the objective element conditional for all revolution. (2) the former manifests itself at the social level through the class struggle which plays the principal role in the revolution of the social class or classes that through revolutionary action destroys the old power (and with it the old relations of production). This is the principal cause and motor force of all revolution, it is the dialectical unity of the objective and subjective factors. It is the determinant aspect of all revolution. (3) the importance of the subjective factor (conscious) of the political vanguard (political parties, revolutionary leadership, people, etc.) of the revolutionary class or classes that bring about the revolution, particularly of the proletariat revolutions.”

What are the roots of individual terrorism? Firstly, it is a clear manifestation of the politics and actions of the petty-bourgeoisie within the revolutionary movement. Lenin in his article on “left-wing communism” describes this social type as “(that) who under capitalism always suffers oppression and, very often, an incredibly acute and rapid deterioration in his conditions, and ruin, easily goes to revolutionary extremes, but is incapable of perseverance, organization, discipline and steadfastness. The petty bourgeois ’driven to frenzy’ by the horrors of capitalism is a social phenomenon which, like anarchism is characteristic of all capitalistic countries.’

It has been precisely this social group, the petty-bourgeoisie, who has historically maintained hegemony over the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico. In this sense, the petty-bourgeoisie has imposed upon the political struggle the forms of struggle and the political inconsistency proper to itself. Recently, with the total bankruptcy of the strictly “independentista” movement in Puerto Rico characterized by the Puerto Rican Independence Party, with the sharpening of the colonial crisis in Puerto Rico and the intensification of the National liberation movements throughout the world, sectors of the petty-bourgeoisie in Puerto Rico have radicalized, adopting socialism as their objective, transforming the political and organizational apparatus to coincide with the structures of the major sectors of the revolutionary movements throughout the world, and have begun to “wet their feet” in the science of Marxism. In this way, up until the present, they have been able to play a leading role in the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico. Within this sector, there have been manifested incorrect tendencies in terms of the character and nature of social revolution which have resulted in the same errors which have plagued all revolutionary movements of the proletariat for the last two centuries. Historically, the petty-bourgeoisie has been characterized by its tendency toward extreme individualism, its “exaltation”, dispersion, lack of consistency, lack of unity of action and organization; threatening to produce the ruin of all revolutionary movements. Its critical economic situation and lack of formation causes them to make “valiant and heroic decisions for the “people” but unfortunately more often than not without the knowledge of the masses. They do not understand the level of the development of the masses, or the principle that it is precisely these that make the revolution. It follows that then they are unable to correctly understand the tasks which must be undertaken in light of a correct strategical conception or how these play a role in the mobilization and articulation of the revolutionary strength of the masses. It is the masses that make history.

Fundamentally, terrorism is based on the conception (bourgeois) that “historical development is the product of the individual acts of heroes, personalities, etc...” Terrorism increases and takes root during periods in the revolutionary struggle where the active struggle of the masses is at a low ebb.

These periods must be utilized primarily for organizational work, but because of our own lack of organization, propaganda and agitation we have failed to see this need. As a result, the adventurist, in their despair, want to carry out action as “sparks” which will substitute for the action of the masses. These adventurist want “action” when the conditions call for an emphasis on organizational, propaganda and agitational work.

In recent years, the revolutionary movement both in the United States and in Puerto Rico has experienced a period where the mass struggle is at a low point. For those who experienced the mass struggles of the late 60’s which reached unprecedented levels, this period of “relative calm” may seem to signal an end to the struggle. Others, incapable of analyzing objectively the development of the political struggle, have incorrectly placed the “blame” on the “apathy” and “indifference” of the masses, thus negating the necessary rigorous analysis of our weakness and lack of political development. If we add to this picture the lack of experience of the revolutionary movement in general, the absence of a scientific revolutionary formation both at a theoretical level and in its organizational consequences, then we can understand more clearly why some individuals in their myopia decide to carry on the struggle themselves separated from the concrete situation of the class struggle.

As agreed by our Founding Assembly earlier this year, we understand that in this historical juncture the central tasks of the working class and it’s conscious elements in the United States is the creation of a truly Marxist-Leninist Party that will serve as the revolutionary instrument of struggle of the class. This conclusion stems from, as we point out in the editorial on our assembly in this issue, an analysis of the character of the present imperialist crisis at the international level, as well as, an understanding of the ever increasing trend in this country toward the establishment of a fascist state. In the United States a truly communist party, capable of leading the working class toward the seizure of state power, does not exist.

It is precisely in opposition to these efforts that the erroneous actions of the F.A.L.N. move toward.

Within this context, we condemn the acts of the F.A.L.N. because they divert the energies of the revolutionary movement from meeting its tasks which are so crucial in light of the present level of development of the struggle. Secondly/ these acts impede the revolutionary education of the masses in that they become alienated from the most conscious elements due to the negative effects of these terrorists acts. Instead of contributing to the task of establishing and developing the organization of the masses, they contribute to the dissipation of its efforts and the disorganization of the people. In addition, it creates a public opinion disfavorable toward revolutionary activity. It discredits revolutionary violence by making it synonymous with terror. Moreover, and paraphrasing Lenin, these actions lead to a premature and unequal confrontation between the revolutionaries and the repressive forces of the state in a direct way. As a consequence, the more fundamental tasks of organization and propaganda are limited or have to be abandoned upon being forced to utilize a major part of the resources in the defense from repression.

This lack of necessary forces for the struggle results in the victims being the revolutionaries instead of the repressive forces. On this question, Lenin provides clarity in the following: “In principle we have never rejected, and cannot reject, terror. Terror is one of the forms of military action that may be perfectly suitable and even essential at a definite juncture in the battle, given a definite state of the troops and the existence of definite conditions. But the important point is that terror, at the present time, is by no means suggested as an operation for the army in the field, an operation closely connected with and integrated into the entire system of struggle, but as an independent form of occasional attack unrelated to any army. Without a central body and with the weakness of local revolutionary organizations, this, in fact, is all that terror can be. We, therefore, declare emphatically that under the present conditions such a means of struggle is inopportune and unsuitable; that it diverts the most active fighters from their real task, the task which is most important from the standpoint of the interests of the movement as a whole; and that it disorganises the forces, not of the government, but of the revolution.”

These acts of individual terrorism underestimate the revolutionary role of the masses, substituting this for individual acts, motivated by incorrect conceptions of the struggle which negate the necessity of organizing the working class, divert the energies of the struggle and results in fostering confusion in those sectors that are integrating themselves into the revolutionary struggle.

We do not condemn violence in the abstract. If we struggle it is precisely to eliminate from the face of the earth the regimes and systems of exploitation, and the systematized violence to which humanity has been subjected to since the emergence of classes and which will end with the destruction of capitalism. We maintain that armed struggle is one of the principal forms of struggle against capitalism, what we condemn is the use of indiscriminate violence; those acts perpetuated isolated from and contrary to the political struggle being waged by the working class.