Educational violence

Tom Condit tomcondit at
Fri Jun 9 02:48:39 MDT 1995

Lenin once (I forget where) characterized terrorists as "liberals
with bombs", by which he meant that the underlying assumption of
terrorist campaigns was either that they would convince the state to
reform itself rather than put up with the terrorists or that they
would serve as a means of propaganda.  Unless the campaigns were
generically directed at society as a whole (like the planned bombing
of Greenwich Obeservatory in Conrad's novel _The Secret Agent_ or the
fascist bombing campaigns in Italy), they would inevitably focus on
individual points of grievance about the system or the role of
specific individuals in it, rather than illuminating the system as a

On the other hand, Lenin specifically endorsed, in an article on the
class struggle in the Latvian countryside circa 1908 or so, the
assasination of local police chiefs who were overzealous in their
enforcement efforts, "pour encourager les autres", as the French
military put used to put it about random executions of soldiers
suspected of cowardice in battle.  This was, however, only in the
context of a mass movement which could take advantage of chinks in
the armor of the state.

The Social Revolutionary Party in Russia, which strongly believed in
terrorism, had a policy that anyone carrying out an assasination had
to allow herself or himself to be captured, and to defend their
actions in court.  They took this as a precaution against filling
their ranks with people whose goal in life was to be
ideologically-justified serial killers, but it cost them a lot of

Tom Condit
<tomcondit at>
1801-A Cedar Street
Berkeley, California 94703

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