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Resolution on terror, terrorism and class violence
(extracts, ICC, 1978)

We reproduce here after an extract of a programmatic document of the ICC which presents the communists' position in regards with the question of terrorism and which we carry on still today to defend as ours.


4. Capitalism is the last society in history to be divided into classes. The capitalist class bases its rule on the economic exploitation of the working class. In order to ensure this exploitation and intensify it as far as it can, the capitalist class, like all exploiting classes in history, resorts to all the means of coercion, oppression and repression at its disposal. It does not hesitate to use the most inhuman, savage and bloody methods to guarantee and perpetuate exploitation. The more it is confronted with internal difficulties, the more the workers resist exploitation, the more bloodily the bourgeoisie exerts its repression. It has developed a whole arsenal of repressive methods: prisons, deportations, murder, concentration camps, genocidal wars, and the most refined forms of torture. It has also, of necessity, created various bodies specialized in carrying all this out: police; gendarmes, armies, juridical bodies, qualified torturers, commandos and paramilitary gangs. The capitalist class devotes an ever-growing part of the surplus value extracted from the exploitation of the working class in order to maintain this repressive apparatus; this has reached the point where this sector has become the most important and flourishing field of social activity. In order to defend its class rule, the capitalist class is in the process of leading society to ruin and threatening the whole of humanity with suffering and death.

We are not trying to paint an emotional picture of capitalist barbarism; it is a prosaic description of its actual practice.

This practice, which impregnates the whole of social life and all relations between human beings, which penetrates into the pores of society, this practice, this system of domination, we call -- terror. Terror is not this or that episodic, circumstantial act of violence. Terror is a particular mode of violence, inherent to exploiting classes. It is concentrated, organized, specialized violence, planned, developed and perfected with the aim of perpetuating exploitation.

Its principal characteristics are:

a. being the violence of a minority class against the great majority of society;

b. perpetuating and perfecting itself to the point of becoming its own raison d’être;

c. requiring a specialized body which always becomes more specialized, more detached from society, closed in upon itself, escaping all control, brutally imposing its iron grip on the whole population and stifling any hint of criticism with the silence of death.

5. The proletariat is not the only class to feel the rigors of state terror. Terror is also imposed upon all the petty bourgeois classes and strata: peasants, artisans, small producers and shopkeepers, intellectuals and the liberal professions, scientists and students; it even extends itself into the ranks of the bourgeois class itself. These strata and classes do not put forward any historical alternative to capitalism; worn out and exasperated by the barbarism of the system and its terror, they can only oppose it with acts of despair: terrorism.

Although it can also be used by certain sectors of the bourgeoisie, terrorism is essentially the mode of action, the practice of desperate classes and strata who have no future. This is why this practice, which tries to be ‘heroic and exemplary’, is in fact nothing but an act of suicide. It offers no way forward and only has the result of supplying victims to the terror of the state. It has no positive effect on the class struggle of the proletariat and often acts as an obstacle to it, inasmuch as it gives rise to illusions among the workers that there can be some other way forward than the class struggle. This is why terrorism, the practice of the petty bourgeoisie, can be and often is exploited judiciously by the state as a way of derailing the workers from the terrain of the class struggle and as a pretext for strengthening the terror of the state.

What characterizes terrorism as a practice of the petty bourgeoisie is the fact that it is the action of small, isolated minorities which never raises itself to the level of mass action. It is conducted in the shadows of little conspiracies, thus providing a favorite hunting ground for the underhand activities of agents of the police and the state and for all sorts of manipulations and intrigues. (...)

In this sense we have to reject the idea of a ‘workers’ terrorism’ which is presented as the work of detachments of the proletariat, ‘specialists’ in armed action, or which is supposed to prepare the ground for future battles by giving an example of violent struggle to the rest of the class, or by ‘weakening’ the capitalist state by ‘preliminary attacks’. The proletariat can delegate certain detachments for this or that immediate action (pickets, patrols, etc) but these are under the control of the movement as a whole; within the framework of this movement the resolute actions of the most advanced elements can serve to catalyze the struggle of the broad masses, but this can never be done through the conspiratorial and individualistic methods that characterize terrorism. Terrorism even when practiced by workers or groups of workers, cannot take on a proletarian character, just as the fact that the unions are made up of workers does not make them organs of the working class. (...)

6) (...)

The struggle of the proletariat, like any social struggle, is necessarily violent, but the practice of its violence is as distinct from that of other classes as are its projects and its goals. Its practice, including the use of violence, is the action of huge masses, not of a minority; it is liberating, the midwife of a new harmonious society, not the perpetuation of a permanent state of war of one against all and all against one. Its practice does not aim to perfect and perpetuate violence, but to banish the crimes of the capitalist class and immobilize it. (...)

Its invincible force resides (...) in its capacity to mobilize the whole mass of the class and to integrate the majority of the non-proletarian laboring classes and strata into the struggle against capitalist barbarism. It resides in the development of its consciousness and its capacity to organize itself in a unified autonomous way, in the firmness of its convictions and the vigor of its decisions.

These are the fundamental weapons of the practice, the class violence of the proletariat.

ICC, International Review 15, 1978.

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