Terror, Terrorism and Class Violence
International Review 14, 1978
Terror, Terrorism and Class Violence
The formidable ideological campaigns of the European bourgeoisie on the subject of terrorism (the Schleyer affair in Germany, the Moro affair in Italy), fig leaves covering a massive strengthening of the terror of the bourgeois state, have made the problem of violence, terror and terrorism a major preoccupation for revolutionaries. These questions are not new for communists: for decades they have denounced the barbaric methods used by the bourgeoisie to maintain its power in society, the savagery which even the most democratic regimes unleash at the slightest threat to the existing order. They have been able to point out that the present campaigns are not really aimed at the gnat bites of a handful of desperate elements from the decomposing petty bourgeoisie, but at the working class, whose necessarily violent revolt is the only serious threat to capitalism.
The role of revolutionaries has thus been to denounce these campaigns for what they are, as well as showing the stupid servility of the leftist groups, for example certain Trotskyists, who spend their time denouncing the Red Brigades because they condemned Moro ‘without sufficient proof’ and ‘without the agreement of the working class’. But at the same time as they denounce bourgeois terror and affirm the necessity for the working class to use violence to destroy capitalism, revolutionaries have to be particularly clear:
· about the real meaning of terrorism;
· on the form of violence the working class uses in its struggle against the bourgeoisie.
And here it must be said that, even within organizations that defend class positions, there can be a number of erroneous conceptions, which see violence, terror and terrorism as synonymous, and which consider:
· that there can be a ‘workers’ terrorism’;
· that against the white terror of the bourgeoisie, the working class has to put forward its own ‘revolutionary terror’, which is in some ways symmetrical to bourgeois terror.
The Bordigist International Communist Party (Programme Communiste) has probably made the most explicit interpretation of this kind of confusion. For example: “The Marchais and Pelikans only reject the revolutionary aspects of Stalinism — the single party, dictatorship, terror which it inherited from the proletarian revolution . ..“ (Programme Communiste, no.76, p.87)
Thus, for this organization, terror, even when it’s used by Stalinism, is essentially revolutionary, and there can be an identity between the methods of the proletarian revolution and those of the worst counter—revolution which has ever descended upon the working class.
Moreover, at the time of the Baader affair, the ICP tended to present the terrorist acts of Baader and his companions as harbingers of the future violence of the working class, despite reservations about the impasse these acts represent. Thus in Le Proletaire, no.254 we read: “It is with this spirit that we have anxiously followed the tragic epic of Andreas Baader and his comrades who have participated in this movement, the movement of the slow accumulation of the premises for the proletarian awakening”, and further on: “The proletarian struggle will know other martyrs ...”
Finally, the idea of a ‘workers’ terrorism’ appears clearly in passages such as: “In sum, to be revolutionary, it’s not enough to denounce the violence and terror of the bourgeois state — you have to call for violence and terrorism as indispensable weapons in the emancipation of the proletariat.” (Le Proletaire, no. 253)
Against confusions of this sort, the following text attempts to go beyond mere dictionary definitions and the abuses of language accidentally committed by certain revolutionaries in the past, and to establish the difference in class content between terror, terrorism and violence, above all the violence the working class will have to use to emancipate itself.
CLASS VIOLENCE AND PACIFISM
To recognise the class struggle is straight away to accept that violence is one of the inherent, fundamental aspects of the class struggle. The existence of classes means that society is torn by antagonistic interests, irreconcilable conflicts. Classes are constituted on the basis of these antagonisms. The social relations between classes are necessarily relations of opposition and antagonism, i.e. of struggle.
To claim the opposite, to claim you can overcome this state of fact by good will, by collaboration and harmony between classes, is to leave reality. It’s completely utopian.
It’s not surprising that exploiting classes should spread such illusions. They are ‘naturally’ convinced that no other society, no better society, can exist than the one they rule over. This absolute, blind conviction is dictated by their interests and privileges. Their class interests and privileges are identified with the kind of society they rule over; they have an interest in preaching to the exploited, oppressed classes that they should renounce struggle, accept the existing order, submit to ‘historical laws’ which are supposed to be immutable. Ruling classes are both objectively limited and unable to understand the dynamism of the class struggle (of oppressed classes) and subjectively interested in making the oppressed classes give up their struggle, in annihilating the will of the oppressed through all sorts of mystifications.
But ruling exploiting classes are not the only ones to have such an attitude to the struggle. Certain currents have believed that it is possible to avoid class struggle by appealing to the intelligence and understanding of men of good will, in order to create a harmonious, fraternal, egalitarian society. This was the case, for example, with the Utopians at the beginning of capitalism. Contrary to the bourgeoisie and its ideologies, the Utopians had no interest in glossing over the class struggle in order to maintain the privileges of the ruling class. If they bypassed the class struggle it was because they didn’t understand the historic reasons for the existence of classes. They thus expressed an immaturity in understanding reality, a reality which already included the class struggle, the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. While expressing the inevitable lag of consciousness behind existence, they were a product of the theoretical groping of the class, of the effort of the class to become conscious. This is why they were justly seen as the precursors of the socialist movement, a considerable step forward in the movement which was to find a scientific and historical foundation in marxism.
It’s not at all the same case for the humanist and pacifist movements which have flourished since the second half of the last century and who claim to ignore the class struggle. These bring no contribution to the emancipation of humanity. They are simply the expression of petty bourgeois strata which are historically anachronistic and impotent, and which subsist in modern society, caught between the struggle of the proletariat and bourgeoisie. Their a-classist, inter-classist anti-class struggle ideology is the lamentation of a doomed class which has no future in capitalism nor in the society which the proletariat will establish: socialism. Lamentable and ridiculous, prey to absurd illusions, they can only obstruct the progress and will of the proletariat; and for the same reason they are eminently usable, and very often used, by capitalism, which will use anything it can get hold of as a weapon of mystification.
The existence of classes, of the class struggle, necessarily implies class violence. Only snivelling wretches or rank charlatans (like Social Democrats) can reject this. In general, violence is a characteristic of life and has accompanied its whole evolution. Any action involves a certain degree of violence. Movement itself is a product of violence because it is the result of a continuous break in equilibrium, deriving from the clash of contradictory forces. It was present in the first human groupings, and it doesn’t necessarily express itself in the form of open physical violence. Violence means anything involving imposition, coercion, a balance of force, threats. Violence means resorting to physical or psychological aggression; aggression against other beings, but
it also exists when a given situation or decision is imposed by the mere fact of disposing of the means to such aggression, even if these means aren’t actually used. But while violence in one form or another existed as soon as movement or life existed, the division of society into classes made violence a principal foundation of social relations, reaching its most infernal depths with capitalism.
Any system of class exploitation bases its power on violence, an ever-growing violence which tends to become the main pillar holding up the whole social edifice. Without it society would immediately fall apart. A necessary product of the exploitation of one class by another, violence, organized, concentrated and institutionalized in its most fully worked-out form in the state, becomes dialectically a fundamental precondition for the existence of an exploitative society. Against this increasingly bloody and murderous violence of the exploiting classes, the exploited and oppressed classes can only put forward their own violence if they want to liberate themselves. To appeal to the ‘humane’ feelings of the exploiters, like religious thinkers a la Tolstoy or Gandhi, or the rabbit-skinned socialist, is to believe in miracles; it’s asking wolves to stop being wolves and change into lambs; it’s asking the capitalist class to stop being a capitalist class and transform itself into the working class.
The violence of an exploiting class is an inherent part of its nature and can only be stopped by the revolutionary violence of the oppressed classes. To understand this, foresee it, prepare for it, organize it, is not only a decisive precondition for the victory of the oppressed classes, but will also ensure this victory with the least amount of suffering. Anyone who has the least doubt or hesitation about this is not a revolutionary.
THE VIOLENCE OF EXPLOITING AND RULING CLASSES: TERROR
We have seen that exploitation is inconceivable without violence; that the two are organically inseparable. Although one can conceive of violence outside of exploitative relations, exploitation can only be carried on through violence. They are to each other like lungs and air - the lungs can’t function without oxygen.
Like the movement of capitalism into its imperialist phase, violence combined with exploitation takes on a particular and new quality. It’s no longer an accidental or secondary fact: its presence has become a constant at every level of social life. It impregnates all relationships, penetrates the pores of the social organism, both on the general level and the so-called personal level. Beginning from exploitation and the need to dominate the producer class, violence imposes itself on all the relationships between different classes and strata in society: between the industrialized countries; between the different factions of the ruling class; between men and women; between parents and children; between teachers and pupils; between individuals; between the governors and the governed. It becomes specialized, structured, Organized, concentrated in a distinct body; the state, with its permanent armies, its police, its laws, its functionaries and torturers; and this body tends to elevate itself above society and to dominate it.
In order to ensure the exploitation of man by man, violence becomes the most important activity of society, which devotes a bigger and bigger portion of its economic and cultural resources to it. Violence is elevated to the status of a cult, an art, a science. A science applied not only to military art, to the technique of armaments, but to every domain and on all levels, to the organization of concentration camps and the installation of gas chambers, to the art of rapid and massive extermination of entire populations, to the creation of veritable universities of psychological and scientific torture, where a plethora of qualified torturers can win diplomas and practice their skills. This is a society which not only “sweats mud and blood from every pore”, as Marx said, but can neither live nor breathe outside of an atmosphere poisoned with cadavers, death, destruction, massacres, suffering and torture. In such a society, violence has reached its apogee and changed in quality - it has become terror.
To talk about violence in general terms, without referring to concrete conditions, historic periods, and the classes who are exercising the violence, is to understand nothing of its real content, of what gives it a distinct and specific quality in exploitative societies, and why there is this fundamental modification of violence into terror, which can’t be reduced to a simple question of quantity (just as, when talking about commodities, only a quantitative difference is recognized between antiquity and capitalism and not the fundamental qualitative difference between the two modes of production).
As a society divided into antagonistic classes develops, violence in the hands of the ruling class more and more takes on a new character: terror. Terror is not an attribute of revolutionary classes at the moment they accomplish the revolution. This is a superficial, purely formal view which glorifies terror as the revolutionary action par excellence. In this way you end up with the following axiom: the stronger the terror, the deeper and more radical the revolution. But this is completely negated by history. The bourgeoisie has used and perfected terror all through its existence, not just at the moment of its revolution (c.f. 1848 and the Paris Commune), but bourgeois terror reaches its highest points precisely when capitalism has entered into decadence. Terror is not the expression of the revolutionary nature and activity of the bourgeoisie at the moment of its revolution, even if it had some spectacular expressions in the bourgeois revolution. It is much more an expression of its nature as an exploiting class which, like any other exploiting class, can only base its rule on terror. The revolutions which ensured the passage from one exploitative society to another were in no way the progenitors of terror; they simply transferred it from one exploiting class to another. It was not so much to get rid of the old ruling class that the bourgeoisie perfected and strengthened its terror, but mainly to ensure its domination over society in general and the working class in particular. Terror in the bourgeois revolution was therefore not an end but a continuity, because the new society was a continuity in societies of exploitation of man by man. Violence in bourgeois revolutions was not the end of oppression but a continuity in oppression. That is why it could only take the form of terror.
To sum up, we can define terror as violence specific to exploiting classes, which will only disappear when they do. Its specific characteristics are:
1. Being organically linked to exploitation and used to impose it.
2. Being the action of a privileged class.
3. Being the action of a minority class in society.
4. Being the action of a specialized body, tightly selected, closed in on itself, and tending to elude any control by society over it.
5. Reproducing and perfecting itself endlessly, extending to all levels, to all social relationships.
6. Having no other raison d’etre than subordinating and crushing the human community.
7. Developing feelings of hostility and violence between social groups: nationalism, chauvinism, racism and other monstrosities.
8. Developing feelings and behaviour patterns of egoism, sadistic aggressiveness, vindictiveness; the daily unending war of each against all which plunges the whole of society into a state of terror.
THE TERRORISM OF PETTY BOURGEOIS CLASSES AND STRATA
The petty bourgeois classes (peasants, artisans, small shopkeepers, liberal professions, intellectuals) do not constitute fundamental classes in society. They have no particular mode of production or social project to put forward. They are not historic classes in the marxist sense. They are the least homogeneous of social classes. Even though their higher echelons draw their revenue from the exploitation of others’ labour and are thus part of the privileged, they are, as a whole, subjected to the domination of the capitalist class, which imposes its laws on them and oppresses them. They have no future as classes. In their higher echelons, the maximum they can aspire to is to integrate themselves individually into the capitalist class. In their lower ranks, they are implacably doomed to lose any ‘independent’ ownership of the means of production and to be proletarianised. The immense middle-of-the-road majority are doomed to vegetate, economically and politically crushed by the domination of the capitalist class. Their political behaviour is determined by the balance of forces between the two fundamental classes in society: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Their hopeless resistance to the pitiless laws of capital leads them to adopt a fatalistic, passive behaviour. Their ideology is the individualistic ‘get what you can’; collectively they indulge in all kinds of pathetic lamentations in the search for miserable consolation, in ridiculous and impotent humanist and pacifist sermons.
Materially crushed, with no future, vegetating in a completely restricted day-to-day existence, wallowing in mediocrity, they are in their despair prey to all kinds of mystifications, from the most pacifist (religious, nudist, anti—violence, anti—atomic bomb, anti—nuclear sects, hippies, ecologists) to the most bloodthirsty (Black Hundreds, pogromists, racists, Ku—Klux Klan, fascist gangs, gangsters and mercenaries of all kinds). It is mainly in the latter, the bloody ones, that they find the compensation of an illusory dignity. It is the heroism of the coward, the courage of the clown, the glory of sordid mediocrity. After reducing them to a most miserable condition, capitalism finds in these strata an inexhaustible source of recruitment for the heroes of its terror.
Although during the course of history there have been explosions of violence and anger from these classes, these explosions remain sporadic and never go beyond jacqueries and revolts, because they don’t have any perspective except to be crushed. In capitalism these classes completely lose their independence and serve only as cannon—fodder in the confrontations between factions of the ruling class, both inside and outside national frontiers. In moments of revolutionary crises and in certain favourable circumstances, the profound discontent of a part of these classes can serve as a force supporting the struggle of the proletariat.
The inevitable process of pauperization and proletarianisation of the lower strata of these classes is an extremely difficult and painful road to follow and gives rise to a particularly exacerbated current of revolt. The combativity of these elements, especially those coming from the artisans and declassed intellectuals is based more on their desperate conditions of life than on the proletarian class struggle, which they find difficulty in joining. What basically characterizes the members of these strata is their individualism, impatience, scepticism and demoralization. Their actions are more aimed at spectacular suicide than at any particular goal. Having lost their past position in society, having no future, they live in a present of misery and exasperated revolt against this misery; in an immediacy which is felt as an immediacy. Even if through contact with the working class and its historical future they can get inspired by its ideas in a distorted way, this rarely goes beyond the level of fantasy and dreams. Their real view of reality is a purely contingent one.
The political expressions of this current take on extremely varied forms, from individual action to different kinds of sects; closed conspiratorial groups plotting coups d’etat, ‘exemplary actions’ and terrorism.
What constitutes the unity in all this diversity is their lack of awareness of the objective, historical determinism behind the movement of the class struggle and of the historic subject of modern society, the only force capable of social transformations the proletariat.
The persistence of the expressions of this current is due to the permanent process of proletarianisation which takes place throughout the history of capitalism. Their variety and diversity is the product of local and contingent situations. This social phenomenon has always accompanied the historical formation of the proletariat and is mixed to a varying degree with the movement of the proletariat, into which this social current imports ideas and behaviour alien to the class. This is particularly true in the case of terrorism.
We must insist on this essential point and leave no room for ambiguity. It is true that at the dawn of the formation of the class, the proletariat’s tendency to organise itself had not yet discovered its most appropriate forms, and the class made use of a conspiratorial form of organisation - the secret societies which were a heritage of the bourgeois revolution. But this doesn’t change the class nature of these forms of organisation and their inadequacy for the new content - the class struggle of the proletariat. Very quickly the proletariat was led to break from these forms of organisation and methods of action, and to definitively reject them.
Just as the process of theoretical elaboration inevitably went through a utopian phase, so the formation of political organisations of the class had to go through the phase of conspiratorial sects. But we must not make a virtue out of necessity here and confuse the different phases of the movement. We have to know how to distinguish the different phases of the movement and the forms they give to rise to.
Just as utopian socialism at a given moment in the movement of the class was transformed from being a great, positive contribution into an obstacle getting in the way of the further development of the movement, so conspiratorial sects also became a negative sign, sterilising the progress of the movement.
The current which represented strata on the painful road to proletarianisation could no longer make the slightest contribution to an already developed class movement. Not only did this current advocate the sect form of organisation and conspiratorial methods, thus falling further and further behind the real movement, like a woman at the menopause; they were led to push these ideas and methods to an extreme - a caricatured level - the end point of which was the advocacy of terrorism.
Terrorism is not simply the action of terror. To say that is to leave the discussion at a purely terminological level. What we want to show is the social meaning and differences underlying these terms. Terror is a system of domination, structured, permanent, emanating from exploiting classes. Terrorism on the other hand is a reaction of oppressed classes who have no future, against the terror of the ruling class. They are momentary reactions, without continuity, acts of vengeance with no tomorrow.
We find a moving description of this kind of movement in Panait Istrati and his Haidoucs in the historical context of Rumania at the end of the last century. We find it in the terrorism of the Narodniks and, though it appears in a different way, with the anarchists and the Bonnot gang. They still have the same basic nature - the revenge of the impotent. They never announce anything new, but are the desperate expression of an end - their own end.
Terrorism, the impotent reaction of the impotent, can never overcome the terror of the ruling class. It is a gnat biting the elephant. On the other hand, terrorism has often been exploited by the state to justify and strengthen its own terror.
We must absolutely denounce the myth that terrorism serves, or could serve, as a detonator of the proletarian struggle. It would be rather peculiar to find that a class with a historic future needs to look to a class without a historic future to detonate its struggle.
It is absolutely absurd to claim that the terrorism of the most radicalised strata of the petty bourgeoisie has the merit of destroying the democratic mystification in the working class. That it can destroy the mystification of bourgeois legality. That it can teach the working class about the inevitability of violence. The proletariat has no lesson to draw from radical terrorism except to distance itself from it and reject it, since the violence contained in terrorism is fundamentally situated on a bourgeois terrain. An understanding that violence is necessary and indispensable will be drawn by the proletariat from its own existence; its own struggle; its own experience; its own confrontations with the ruling class. This is class violence, which is different in nature and content, in form and method, from the terrorism of the petty bourgeoisie and the terror of the ruling class.
It is quite certain that, in general, the working class will have an attitude of solidarity and sympathy - not towards terrorism which it condemns as an ideology, a method, and a mode of organisation - but towards the elements who are drawn into terrorism. This is so for obvious reasons:
1. because elements drawn into terrorism are in revolt against the existing order of terror that the proletariat aims to destroy from top to bottom.
2. because, like the working class, elements drawn into terrorism are victims of the cruel exploitation and oppression of the capitalist class and its state, the mortal enemy of the proletariat. The only way the proletariat can show its solidarity with these victims is by trying to save them from the executioners of the state terror, and by attempting to draw them away from the deadly impasse of terrorism.
THE CLASS VIOLENCE OF THE PROLETARIAT
We do not have to emphasise here the necessity for violence in the class struggle of the proletariat. This would be kicking open doors because, ever since the Equals of Babeuf, this has been demonstrated in theory and in practise. It is also a waste of time repeating, as though it were a new discovery, that all classes have to use violence, including the proletariat. By limiting yourself to these truisms - almost banalities - you end up with the empty equation: “Violence equals violence”. You establish a simplistic and absurd identification between the violence of capital and the violence of the proletariat, and gloss over the essential difference: that one is oppressive and the other libratory.
To go on repeating the tautology that “violence equals violence”; to go on demonstrating that all classes use violence; to go on showing that this violence is essentially the same, is as intelligent as seeing an identity between the act of a surgeon performing a caesarean section to bring new life into the world and the act of a murderer killing his victim by plunging a knife into his stomach, simply because both use similar instruments – knives - on the same object - the stomach - and because both use an apparently similar technique in opening up the stomach.
The most important thing is not to go on shouting, “Violence, violence”, but to underline the differences. To show as clearly as possible why and how the violence of the proletariat is different from the terror and terrorism of other classes.
We are not establishing a distinction between terror and class violence for terminological reasons, or out of a sense of revulsion for the word ‘terror’, or because of squeamishness. We do so in order to draw out more clearly the differences in class nature, form and content which lie behind these words. Vocabulary always lags behind fact and a lack of distinction in words is often the sign of an insufficiently elaborated thought which can lead to further ambiguities. For example, there is the word ‘social democrat’ which in no way corresponded to the revolutionary essence - the communist goals - of the political organisation of the proletariat. It is the same thing with the word ‘terror’. You sometimes find it in socialist literature, even in the classics, tacked on to the words ‘revolutionary’ and ‘proletariat’. We must guard against the abuses that can be committed by literal citations of phrases without putting them in their context or without looking at the circumstances in which they were written and against whom they were written. This can end up distorting the real ideas of their authors. It has to be stressed that in most cases these authors, while using the word terror, took great precautions to establish the basic difference between that of the proletariat and that of the bourgeoisie, between the Paris Commune and Versailles, between revolution and counter-revolution in the Civil War in Russia. If we think it is time to distinguish these two terms it is in order to get rid of the ambiguities involved in identifying them - an ambiguity which sees only a difference in quantity and intensity, not a class difference. And if it was strictly a question of a change in quantity, for marxists who use a dialectical method, this still leads to a change in quality.
In repudiating terror in favour of the class violence of the proletariat we aim not only to express our class hostility to the real content of exploitation and oppression which lies in terror, but also to get rid of casuistic and hypocritical niceties about how ‘the end justifies the means’.
Those unconditional apologists of terror, those Calvinists of the revolution - the Bordigists, have disdain for the question of forms of organisation, of means. For them only the ‘goal’ exists and all forms and means can be used indifferently to attain this goal. “The revolution is a question of content, not of forms of organisation”, they repeat endlessly. Except, of course, for terror. Here they are quite categorical: “No revolution without terror. You’re not a revolutionary if you won’t kill children.” Here terror, considered as a means, becomes an absolute precondition, a categorical imperative of the revolution and its content. Why this exception? We could also ask other questions from the other way round. If questions of means and forms of organisation are of no importance to the proletarian revolution, why shouldn’t the revolution be carried out through the monarchical or parliamentary form?
The truth is that to try to separate form and content, means and ends, is absurd. In reality, form and content are intrinsically connected. An end cannot be achieved by any means. It requires specific means. A given means is only applicable to a given end. Any other approach leads to sophistic speculations.
When we reject terror as a mode of existence of the violence of the proletariat, it is not for some moral reason, but because terror, as a content and method, is by nature opposed to the aims of the proletariat. Can the Calvinists of the revolution really believe, can they really convince us, that the proletariat can make use of concentration camps, the systematic extermination of whole populations, the installation of a huge network of gas chambers, even more scientifically perfect than those of Hitler? Is genocide part of the ‘Programme’ of the ‘Calvinist Road to Socialism’?
We have only to recall the points we made about the main characteristics of the content and methods of terror to see at one glance the enormous gulf between terror and the proletariat:
1. “Being organically linked to exploitation and used to impose it”. The proletariat is an exploited class and struggles for the elimination of exploitation of man by man.
2. “Being the action of a privileged class”. The proletariat has no privileges and fights for the abolition of all privileges.
3. “Being the action of a minority class in society”. The proletariat represents the immense majority of society. Some may see this as an expression of our ‘incorrigible penchant for the democratic principle’, the principle of majority and minority, but it is they who are obsessed by this problem - and what is more, for them minority acts held in horror by the majority are the criterion for revolutionary truth. Socialism cannot be realised if it is not based on historical possibility and does not correspond to the fundamental interests and will of the immense majority of society. This is one of the key arguments of Lenin in State and Revolution, and also of Marx when he said that the proletariat cannot emancipate itself without emancipating the whole of humanity.
4. “Being the action of a specialized body”. The proletariat has inscribed on its banner the destruction of the permanent army and the police, and the general arming of the people; above all of the proletariat. “...tending to elude any control by society over it”. As an objective, the proletariat rejects all specialization, and because it is impossible to realise this immediately the class will insist that specialists are under the complete control of society.
5. “Reproducing and perfecting itself endlessly...”. The proletariat aims to put a stop to all this and begins to do so as soon as it takes power.
6. “Having no other raison d’etre than subordinating and crushing the human community”. The aim of the proletariat is diametrically opposed to this. Its raison d’etre is the liberation of human society.
7. “Developing feelings of hostility and violence between social groups; nationalism, chauvinism, racism, and other monstrosities”. The proletariat will suppress all these historical anachronisms which have become monstrosities and barriers to the harmonious unification of humanity.
8. “Developing feelings and behaviour patterns of egoism, sadistic aggressiveness, vindictiveness; the daily unending war of each against all...”. The proletariat will develop quite new feelings - of solidarity, collective life, fraternity, ‘all for one and one for all’, the free association of producers, socialised production and consumption. And while terror “...plunges the whole of society into a state of terror”, the proletariat will call upon the initiative and creativity of everyone, so that in a general state of enthusiasm they can take their life in their own hands.
The class violence of the proletariat cannot be terror because its raison d’etre is to do away with terror. To consider them the same is to play with words. The hand of a murderer drawing his knife isn’t the same thing as someone who stops the murder being committed. The proletariat cannot resort to the organisation of pogroms, lynchings, schools of torture, Moscow Trials, as methods for realising socialism. It leaves these methods to capitalism, because they are part of capitalism, they are suitable to its ends and they have the generic name of TERROR.
Neither terrorism before the revolution nor terror after the revolution can be weapons of the proletariat in its struggle for the emancipation of humanity.