A brief note on 'terrorism'

Lou Paulsen wwchi at enteract.com
Thu Sep 13 07:16:36 MDT 2001

This is going to be a brief note because I'm heading for work and can't
write from there.

Various groups, in response to the attacks on NY and the Pentagon, have
repeated in one form or another the idea that Marxists have always been
opposed to "terrorism".  I would like to point out that all those citations
from Marx and Lenin were written against people who would use "terror"
tactics like assassinations etc. against their OWN rulers, "substituting
themselves for the masses", INSTEAD of pursuing the socialist strategy of
organizing proletarian revolution.

However, this doesn't apply directly, or even at all, to the case of
oppressed people (IF that is what we have here, which we don't know) who may
use violent methods against the imperialist power that is oppressing them
and making war on them!!  Of course the ruling class doesn't make any such
distinctions, and uses the term 'terrorism' any time a small number of
people do a large amount of damage.  They used the term 'terrorism' for
attacks on US army and marine barracks in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia for
instance, or the attack on the Cole, which I HOPE we would realize that
socialists can NOT treat as the kind of 'terrorism' that Marx and Lenin were
writing about.  It's a different phenomenon completely.

As a matter of fact, when socialists have led liberation movements, as in
Southeast Asia, they have generally been very concerned for the feelings of
the workers in the imperialist countries, and have tried to persuade them,
and have displayed a rather high level of revolutionary optimism, I may say,
in having some hopes that we socialists in the imperialist countries may be
organizing for revolution, and in not doing things that will screw up our
chances unnecessarily.  But if some group of people is not composed of
socialists, and does not have any such hopes, and rather believes that the
U.S. workers are part and parcel of their oppression, or at any rate will be
indifferent to their oppression for the foreseeable future, and views things
in entirely military terms, how are they going to act?  Can we call this
'murder' (there's no class content to this term) and 'terrorism' as some
people have already done?  Anyway, to use Lenin's writings against Narodniks
as justification for blanket "condemnations", which blur indistinguishably
into the imperialists' "condemnations", is just bad argumentation.

Just my personal opinion,

Lou Paulsen

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