Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla


English translation of a book originally written in Portuguese by Brazilian guerrilla fighter Carlos Marighella in 1969 with advice on how to overthrow military dictatorships. Written under the Brazilian dictatorship, it contains lessons from the Cuban and Chinese Revolutions, and became influential in the late 1960s and early 70s.

libcom note: we reproduce this text for historical reference only.

Attached is the text in book format, published by Radical Reprints, 2021.

MarighellaManual.pdf480.32 KB

Posted By

Apr 8 2021 18:49


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Black Badger
Apr 9 2021 20:34

it's a fascinating peek into the pathology of substitutionism and the kinds of mental gymnastics required to descend into clandestine armed struggle. however, it's far more interesting to read stuff by folks who were in that self-referential self-justified world and then left it, either after getting caught by the state or walking away disillusioned with virtually nothing to show (in terms of slowing or even inconveniencing "imperialism" or "class struggle") for all their efforts.

Red Marriott
Apr 9 2021 22:19
BB wrote:
it's far more interesting to read stuff by folks who were in that self-referential self-justified world and then left it,

Apr 9 2021 23:04

Yes, we mostly printed it with the goal of historical reference, since most editions are either unobtainable or very low quality and the purpose of our project is to make texts in general accessible. Would appreciate some reading recs for that latter part of your comment, though.

Apr 12 2021 09:35
Red Marriott wrote:
BB wrote:
it's far more interesting to read stuff by folks who were in that self-referential self-justified world and then left it,

according to former comrades of Bommi Baumann, his memory isn't too reliable

Apr 13 2021 02:01

I haven't read this book but I have heard of it in passing and I kind of remember reading that the author was to some extent influenced by some of the ideas of Abraham Guillén. If I can find were I read that I'll post something about it here later.

Apr 14 2021 04:28

It was in Donald C. Hodges introduction to Abraham Guillén's, Philosophy of the Urban Guerrilla where I had remembered reading of Guillén's influence on the various leftist urban guerrilla groups that sprung up in South America in the late 1960s and '70s. Hodges writes:

"The first edition of his (Guillen's) Strategy of the Urban Guerrilla appeared in 1966. The Uruguayan police, as well as the Uruguay Movement of National Liberation (The Tupamaros), credit this work with providing the model for urban guerrilla struggles not only in Montevideo but also in neighboring Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario, Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro. It is the immediate predecessor to the Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla (1969) by the revolutionary leader of Brazil's Action for National Liberation, Carlos Marighella, who was ambushed and killed by the Brazilian police on November 4, 1969. In the literature covering the Tupamaros, Guillén's book is consistently cited as an alternative to Che and Debray's rural insurrectionary strategy."

However, despite Hodges conjecture that Marighella was influenced by Guillen's theories what I got instead from the minimanual after reading it today is that if anything Marighella's book seems as though it is an urban re-articulation of Guevara's failed Rural based foco theory of revolution and in fact there is no mention at all of Abraham Guillén in Marighella's book.

Really, I think that Black Badgers sentiments about the contents of this book are spot on.

Red Marriott
Apr 14 2021 10:53
Entdinglichung wrote:
according to former comrades of Bommi Baumann, his memory isn't too reliable

The book was written while he was still quite young and not so long after the events so this seems more like claims of distortion than failure of memory, claims of which I know nothing. But I referenced it as an example of the distancing and detachment from popular & class struggles that inevitably occurs with clandestine armed struggles. I doubt that aspect of his account is refuted by memory failures.

Red Marriott
Apr 14 2021 22:39

From the intro to Baumann's book;

For him, the outcome of the struggle was predetermined by the forms of organization and action which it had adopted. What began with illegality and clandestinity among a group of friends ended in the continual narrowing of the community of comrades and the professionalization of all their activities. What began with the joyful rebellion against oppression ended with isolation from society, internally imposed pressure to produce and achieve, and led inexorably to imprisonment, nervous collapse, betrayals and death. Most significantly, it also led to the destruction of the vision of a new life which had inspired the revolution in the beginning.

Black Badger
Apr 15 2021 00:20

Similar and/or identical points were made by folks who'd been part of the George Jackson Brigade in the US, and by Ann Hansen of Direct Action in Canada

Apr 15 2021 08:56

guess that the stuff which is his former comrade Klaus Viehmann wrote in an obituary is pretty accurate, according to this, Baumann was a bigmouth, a grass and did most likely steal part of the groups money to finance his drug addiction:

Red Marriott
Apr 15 2021 10:23

That Viehmann article is, if accurate, quite damning. Though not that surprising to see former radicals seduced by celebrity and money turn into their opposites - Cohn-Bendit etc. I assume it's mainly based on released state documents: though, considering the seriousness of its claims, it's unfortunate it doesn't cite its sources as evidence. But still, the critique of armed struggle, not unique to Baumann, remains relevant.

Apr 15 2021 13:26

btw.: an interesting interview with Viehmann, (in German, 1993 or 94), he himself became quite critical of armed politics but like many 2nd June members, he never saw himself as a part of "the vanguard", since the 80ies, he is close to autonomous approaches

R Totale
Apr 15 2021 15:35

Fwiw, I remember Baumann's book as being weirdly uncritical of the Tupamaros West Berlin attempt to bomb a synagogue on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, which I think stands out as being probably one of the worst actions ever taken by a "left" urban guerilla group. Around pages 59-61 in the PDF hosted on libcom, if people want to read it over and see for themselves.
Some discussion of that scene in this trot article, although annoyingly it doesn't give links to the sources of the quotes.

Are there any good critical accounts of the BLA from insiders? Or does the fact that the BLA only came into being as a result of the decline of the BPP sort of speak for itself?

Apr 16 2021 09:29

guess that the quotes come from one of the German books on the topic, to my perception accurate, probably a bit one-sided