You can't blow up a social relationship.
A reply is in order to the letter from David Beam in your latest issue. In it he classifies the Red Brigades, the Bader-Meinhoff urban guerillas and the SLA with anarchism. This is an inexusable and apparently conscious distortion of the truth. Both the Red Brigades and the Bader-Meinhoff group are Marxist Leninist. They make no pretentions to being anarchist. Nor did the SLA when it emerged so dramatically in 1974. The adoption of situationist and anarchist beliefs by Bill and Emily Harris took place only after their imprisonment.
His parroting of the bourgeois media in referring to the Bader-Meinhoff guerillas as a "gang" places him squarely on the other side of the class struggle. While the Marxist-Leninist ideology, the urban guerilla strategy and the ruthless use of violence by the members of the Bader-Meinhoff group must be condemned, one is objectively placing oneself on the side of the West German state by not simultaneously attacking its own terrorist practices. If any group deserves the term "gang" in this respect it should be the people responsible for the "suicides" in Stanheim.
With regard to the general question of terrorism and anarchism, I suggest that people read a new pamphlet from Australia entitled "You Can't Blow Up a Social Relationship: The Anarchist Case Against Terrorism". It gives an excellent analysis of why terrorism should be rejected while maintaining a revolutionary perspective. It also is indicative of the views of a very large segment of the anarchist movement which unfortunately does not get the attention it deserves in respect to this critical question. In North America, this pamphlet is available from the newspaper Fifth Estate, 4403 Second Ave., Detroit, Michigan 48201 for one dollar.
On another matter, it should be stated that Ulli's admission that his critiques of Bakunin and Anarchism were one-sided was badly needed. It's unfortunate that he felt a one-side critique was necessary in response to what he perceives as the one-sided way anarchists view Marx and Marxism. A balanced critique would have been much more convincing. It would also have helped make the presentations of the different views on this question more constructive.
By Bruce Allen