II. Terrorism by the State

Terrorism by the State

Terrorism, of course, does not belong solely to small bands in Italy and Germany. The most brutal and ruthless agent of terror, now, as throughout human history, is the ruling class. Read history. Alternatively recall that throughout the world our humane rulers have the nuclear weaponry to kill everyone on earth 24 times over (Ruth Legar Sivard in Bulletin of Atomic Scientists - April 1975). Or think of the implications of the property-preserving, life-destroying neutron bomb. The point must be made that state terrorism is stronger, more prevalent and much more destructive than vanguardist terrorism.

It is a question of the degree to which the state feels challenged that determines its use of terror, not constitutions or democratic principles. When they are threatened by a serious organised revolutionary movement, the Western democracies will display the full range of horrific methods. The massive use of torture by France in Algeria, its use by Britain in Aden and Northern Ireland, police and army murders and conspiracies in Italy are a few examples of their readiness to apply ruthless methods in varying situations. This readiness for brutality flows from the very nature of the state as expressed by the French Anarchist, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in 1851,

To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied upon, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the tight, nor the knowledge, nor the virtue. To be governed means to be, at each operation, at each transaction, at each movement, noted, registered, controlled, taxed, stamped, measured, valued, assessed, patented, licensed, authorised, endorsed, admonished, hampered, reformed, rebuked, arrested. It is to be, on the pretext of the general interest, taxed, drilled, held to ransom, exploited, monopolised, extorted, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed,- then at the least resistance, at the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, abused, annoyed, followed, bullied, beaten, disarmed, garrotted, imprisoned, machine-gunned, judged, condemned, deported, flayed, sold, betrayed, and finally mocked, ridiculed, insulted, dishonoured. Such is government, such is justice, such is morality.

In South America state sponsored undercover police death squads and the systematic use of torture have been recurrent. In the "white terror" in Guatemala literally thousands died each year (2,000 - 6,000 was the estimate for 1967--68). The military dictatorships that have ruled Brazil since the coup in 1964 are notorious for their police based death squads. The U.S. brought members of these squads into Uruguay to train police in torture of urban guerrillas. The U.S. is deeply involved in the development of torture in this region. The police-based Triple-A in Argentina killed 1,000 people in 1975. The full mobilisation of the Chilean regime into terror and killing is probably the worst anywhere since the war.

Of course state terrorism is not practised by corporate capitalist countries alone. It is also an integral part of the practice of such state capitalist countries as the Soviet Union.