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Marxism Opposes Terrorism


We are publishing here two articles by Trotsky putting the socialist case against terrorism which are of great relevance today, with an introduction, The False Methods of Terrorism, written after the September 11 suicide attacks on the USA, by Peter Taaffe, General Secretary of the Socialist Party, (The Socialist, 5 October, under the title "What Socialists Say about Terrorism").

Why Marxists Oppose Individual Terrorism, by Leon Trotsky, first appeared in Der Kampf (Struggle), the theoretical monthly of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, which at that time claimed to base itself on Marxism.

The second article, The Bankruptcy of Terrorism, also by Leon Trotsky, first appeared in the Polish social democratic paper, "Przeglad Socyaldemokratylczny", in May 1909.

In addition we publish an excerpt from "Marxism Opposes Individual Terrorism" by Peter Taaffe, which relates the fundamental ideas dealt with in Trotsky's articles to the rise of terrorism in the 1970’s, and was first printed in the British "Militant," paper of the Militant tendency, the forerunner of the Socialist Party, in November 1975.

For an introduction to Trotsky's life, go to the Socialist Party's magazine Socialism Today, issue 49.  Socialist Party members are always available to discuss any questions you may have about these pamphlets. Why not contact us , or email us for an informal discussion, or ring the Socialist Party on 020 8988 8777


 

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Why Marxists Oppose Individual Terrorism

By Leon Trotsky

(Picture, Trotsky, circa 1940)

Our class enemies are in the habit of complaining about our terrorism. 

What they mean by this is rather unclear. They would like to label all the activities of the proletariat directed against the class enemy's interests as terrorism. 

The strike, in their eyes, is the principal method of terrorism. The threat of a strike, the organisation of strike pickets, an economic boycott of a slave-driving boss, a moral boycott of a traitor from our own ranks – all this and much more they call terrorism. 

If terrorism is understood in this way as any action inspiring fear in, or doing harm to, the enemy, then of course the entire class struggle is nothing but terrorism. And the only question remaining is whether the bourgeois politicians have the right to pour out their flood of moral indignation about proletarian terrorism when their entire state apparatus with its laws, police and army is nothing but an apparatus for capitalist terror!

However, it must be said that when they reproach us with terrorism, they are trying - although not always consciously - to give the word a narrower, less indirect meaning. The damaging of machines by workers, for example, is terrorism in this strict sense of the word. The killing of an employer, a threat to set fire to a factory or a death threat to its owner, an assassination attempt, with revolver in hand, against a government minister - all these are terrorist acts in the full and authentic sense. However, anyone who has an idea of the true nature of international Social Democracy, ought to know that it has always opposed this kind of terrorism and does so in the most irreconcilable way.

Why?

'Terrorising' with the threat of a strike, or actually conducting a strike is something only industrial workers can do. The social significance of a strike depends directly upon first, the size of the enterprise or the branch of industry that it affects, and second, the degree to which the workers taking part in it are organised, disciplined, and ready for action. This is just as true of a political strike as it is for an economic one. It continues to be the method of struggle that flows directly from the productive role of the proletariat in modern society.

Belittles the role of the masses

In order to develop, the capitalist system needs a parliamentary superstructure. But because it cannot confine the modern proletariat to a political ghetto, it must sooner or later allow the workers to participate in parliament. In elections, the mass character of the proletariat and its level of political development – quantities which, again, are determined by its social role, i.e. above all, its productive role – find their expression.

As in a strike, so in elections the method, aim, and result of the struggle always depend on the social role and strength of the proletariat as a class. Only the workers can conduct a strike. Artisans ruined by the factory, peasants whose water the factory is poisoning, or lumpen proletarians in search of plunder can smash machines, set fire to a factory, or murder its owner.

Only the conscious and organised working class can send a strong representation into the halls of parliament to look out for proletarian interests. However, in order to murder a prominent official you need not have the organised masses behind you. The recipe for explosives is accessible to all, and a Browning can be obtained anywhere.

In the first case, there is a social struggle, whose methods and means flow necessarily from the nature of the prevailing social order; and in the second, a purely mechanical reaction identical anywhere – in China as in France – very striking in its outward form (murder, explosions and so forth) but absolutely harmless as far as the social system goes.

A strike, even of modest size, has social consequences: strengthening of the workers' self-confidence, growth of the trade union, and not infrequently even an improvement in productive technology. The murder of a factory owner produces effects of a police nature only, or a change of proprietors devoid of any social significance. Whether a terrorist attempt, even a 'successful' one, throws the ruling class into confusion depends on the concrete political circumstances. In any case, the confusion can only be short-lived; the capitalist state does not base itself on government ministers and cannot be eliminated with them. The classes it serves will always find new people; the mechanism remains intact and continues to function.

But the disarray introduced into the ranks of the working masses themselves by a terrorist attempt is much deeper. If it is enough to arm oneself with a pistol in order to achieve one's goal, why the efforts of the class struggle? If a thimbleful of gunpowder and a little chunk of lead is enough to shoot the enemy through the neck, what need is there for a class organisation? If it makes sense to terrify highly placed personages with the roar of explosions, where is the need for the party? Why meetings, mass agitation and elections if one can so easily take aim at the ministerial bench from the gallery of parliament?

In our eyes, individual terror is inadmissible precisely because it belittles the role of the masses in their own consciousness, reconciles them to their powerlessness, and turns their eyes and hopes towards a great avenger and liberator who some day will come and accomplish his mission. The anarchist prophets of the 'propaganda of the deed' can argue all they want about the elevating and stimulating influence of terrorist acts on the masses.

Theoretical considerations and political experience prove otherwise. The more 'effective' the terrorist acts, the greater their impact, the more they reduce the interest of the masses in self-organisation and self-education. But the smoke from the confusion clears away, the panic disappears, the successor of the murdered minister makes his appearance, life again settles into the old rut, the wheel of capitalist exploitation turns as before; only the police repression grows more savage and brazen. And as a result, in place of the kindled hopes and artificially aroused excitement comes disillusionment and apathy.

The efforts of reaction to put an end to strikes and to the mass workers' movement in general have always, everywhere, ended in failure. Capitalist society needs an active, mobile and intelligent proletariat; it cannot, therefore, bind the proletariat hand and foot for very long. On the other hand, the anarchist 'propaganda of the deed' has shown every time that the state is much richer in the means of physical destruction and mechanical repression than are the terrorist groups.

If that is so, where does it leave the revolution? Is it rendered impossible by this state of affairs? Not at all. For the revolution is not a simple aggregate of mechanical means. The revolution can arise only out of the sharpening of the class struggle, and it can find a guarantee of victory only in the social functions of the proletariat. The mass political strike, the armed insurrection, the conquest of state power - all this is determined by the degree to which production has been developed, the alignment of class forces, the proletariat's social weight, and finally, by the social composition of the army, since the armed forces are the factor that in time of revolution determines the fate of state power.

Social Democracy is realistic enough not to try to avoid the revolution that is developing out of the existing historical conditions; on the contrary, it is moving to meet the revolution with eyes wide open. But – contrary to the anarchists and in direct struggle against them – Social Democracy rejects all methods and means that have as their goal to artificially force the development of society and to substitute chemical preparations for the insufficient revolutionary strength of the proletariat.

Before it is elevated to the level of a method of political struggle, terrorism makes its appearance in the form of individual acts of revenge. So it was in Russia, the classic land of terrorism. The flogging of political prisoners impelled Vera Zasulich to give expression to the general feeling of indignation by an assassination attempt on General Trepov. Her example was imitated in the circles of the revolutionary intelligentsia, who lacked any mass support. What began as an act of unthinking revenge was developed into an entire system in 1879 - 81. The outbreaks of anarchist assassination in Western Europe and North America always come after some atrocity committed by the government –

the shooting of strikers or executions of political opponents. The most important psychological source of terrorism is always the feeling of revenge in search of an outlet.

There is no need to belabour the point that Social Democracy has nothing in common with those bought-and-paid-for moralists who, in response to any terrorist act, make solemn declarations about the absolute value' of human life. These are the same people who, on other occasions, in the name of other absolute values – for example, the nation's honour or the monarch's prestige – are ready to shove millions of people into the hell of war. Today their national hero is the minister who gives the sacred right of private property; and tomorrow, when the desperate hand of the unemployed workers is clenched into a fist or picks upon a weapon, they will start in with all sorts of nonsense about the inadmissibility of violence in any form.

Whatever the eunuchs and Pharisees of morality may say, the feeling of revenge has its rights. It does the working class the greatest moral credit that it does not look with vacant indifference upon what is going on in this best of all possible worlds. Not to extinguish the proletariat's unfulfilled feeling of revenge, but on the contrary to stir it up again and again, to deepen it, and to direct it against the real causes of all injustice and human baseness - that is the task of the Social Democracy.

If we oppose terrorist acts, it is only because individual revenge does not satisfy us. The account we have to settle with the capitalist system is too great to be presented to some functionary called a minister. To learn to see all the crimes against humanity, all the indignities to which the human body and spirit are subjected, as the twisted outgrowths and expressions of the existing social system, in order to direct all our energies into a collective struggle against this system – that is the direction in which the burning desire for revenge can find its highest moral satisfaction.

 

 

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The Bankruptcy of Individual Terrorism

By Leon Trotsky

 

Note: This article was written following sensational exposures about Yevno Azef, a prominent leader of the terrorist Combat Organisation of the Russian Social Revolutionary Party. In 1909 Azef was exposed as an agent of the Tsarist secret police. In the course of his work as an agent-provocateur, Azef had even been responsible for the assassination of the Minister of the Department of State which employed him. Trotsky's article analyses this episode from the point of view of the Social Democracy, which at that time based itself on Marxism, and raises some of the fundamental theoretical questions involved.

 

For a whole month, the attention of everyone who was able to read and reflect at all, both in Russia and throughout the world, has been focused on Azef. His 'case' is known to one and all from the legal newspapers and from accounts of the Duma debates over the demand raised by Duma deputies for an interpellation about Azef.

Now Azef has had time to recede into the background. His name appears less and less frequently in the newspapers. However, before once and for all leaving Azef to the garbage heap of history, we think it necessary to sum up the main political lessons - not as regards the machinations of the Azef types per se, but with regard to terrorism as a whole, and to the attitude held toward it by the main political parties in the country.

Individual terror as a method for political revolution is our Russian 'national' contribution.

Of course, the killing of 'tyrants' is almost as old as the institution of 'tyranny' itself, and poets of all centuries have composed more than a few hymns in honour of the liberating dagger.

But systematic terror, taking as its task the elimination of satrap after satrap, minister after minister, monarch after monarch 'Sashka after Sashka' [a diminutive referring to the two tsars Alexander 11 and 111], as an 1880s Narodnaya Volya (People's Will) member familiarly formulated the programme for terror – this kind of terror, adjusting itself to absolutism's bureaucratic hierarchy and creating its own revolutionary bureaucracy, is the product of the unique creative powers of the Russian intelligentsia.

Of course, there must be deep-seated reasons for this – and we should seek them, first, in the nature of the Russian autocracy and, second, in the nature of the Russian intelligentsia.

Before the very idea of destroying absolutism by mechanical means could acquire popularity, the state apparatus had to be seen as a purely external organ of coercion, having no roots in the social organisation itself. And this is precisely how the Russian autocracy appeared to the revolutionary intelligentsia.

Historical basis of Russian terrorism

This illusion had its own historical basis. Tsarism took shape under the pressure of the more culturally advanced states of the West. In order to hold its own in competition, it had to bleed the popular masses dry, and in doing so it cut the economic ground from under the feet of even the most privileged classes. And these classes were not able to raise themselves to the high political level attained by the privileged classes in the West.

To this, in the nineteenth century, was added the powerful pressure of the European stock exchange. The greater the sums it loaned to the tsarist regime, the less Tsarism depended directly upon the economic relations within the country.

By means of European capital, it armed itself with European military technology, and it thus grew into a "self-sufficient" (in a relative sense, of course) organisation, elevating itself above all classes of society.

Such a situation could naturally give rise to the idea of blasting this extraneous superstructure into the air with dynamite.

The intelligentsia had developed under the direct and immediate pressure of the West; like their enemy, the state, they rushed ahead of the country's level of economic development - the state, technologically; the intelligentsia, ideologically.

Whereas in the older bourgeois societies of Europe revolutionary ideas developed more or less parallel with the development of the broad revolutionary forces, in Russia the intelligentsia gained access to the ready-made cultural and political ideas of the West and had their thinking revolutionised before the economic development of the country had given birth to serious revolutionary classes from which they could get support.

Outdated by history

Under these conditions, nothing remained for the intelligentsia but to multiply their revolutionary enthusiasm by the explosive force of nitro-glycerine. So arose the classical terrorism of Narodnaya Volya.

The terror of the Social Revolutionaries was by and large a product of those same historical factors: the "self-sufficient" despotism of the Russian state, on the one hand, and the "self-sufficient" Russian revolutionary intelligentsia on the other.

But two decades did not go by without having some effect, and by the time the terrorists of the second wave appear, they do so as epigones, marked with the stamp "outdated by history."

The epoch of capitalist "Sturm und Drang" (storm and stress) of the 1880s and 1890s produced and consolidated a large industrial proletariat, making serious inroads into the economic isolation of the countryside and linking it more closely with the factory and the city.

Behind the Narodnaya Volya, there really was no revolutionary class. The Social Revolutionaries simply did not want to see the revolutionary proletariat; at least they were not able to appreciate its full historical significance.

Of course, one can easily collect a dozen odd quotations from Social Revolutionary literature stating that they pose terror not instead of the mass struggle but together with it. But these quotations bear witness only to the struggle the ideologists of terror have had to conduct against the Marxists - the theoreticians of mass struggle.

But this does not change matters. By its very essence terrorist work demands such concentrated energy for "the great moment," such an overestimation of the significance of individual heroism, and finally, such a "hermetic" conspiracy, that – if not logically, then psychologically – it totally excludes agitational and organisational work among the masses.

For terrorists, in the entire field of politics there exist only two central focuses: the government and the Combat Organisation. "The government is ready to temporarily reconcile itself to the existence of all other currents," Gershuni (a founder of the Combat Organisation of the SRs) wrote to his comrades at a time when he was facing the death sentence, "but it has decided to direct all its blows towards crushing the Social Revolutionary Party."

"I sincerely trust," said Kalayev (another SR terrorist) writing at a similar moment, "that our generation, headed by the Combat Organisation, will do away with the autocracy."

Everything that is outside the framework of terror is only the setting for the struggle; at best, an auxiliary means. In the blinding flash of exploding bombs, the contours of political parties and the dividing lines of the class struggle disappear without a trace.

And we hear the voice of that greatest of romantics and the best practitioner of the new terrorism, Gershuni, urging his comrades to "avoid a break with not only the ranks of the revolutionaries, but even a break with the opposition parties in general."

The logic of terrorism

"Not instead of the masses, but together with them." However, terrorism is too "absolute" a form of struggle to be content with a limited and subordinate role in the party.

Engendered by the absence of a revolutionary class, regenerated later by a lack of confidence in the revolutionary masses, terrorism can maintain itself only by exploiting the weakness and disorganisation of the masses, minimising their conquests, and exaggerating their defeats.

"They see that it is impossible, given the nature of modern armaments, for the popular masses to use pitchforks and cudgels - those age-old weapons of the people - to destroy the Bastilles of modern times," defence attorney Zhdanov said of the terrorists during the trial of Kalyaev.

"After January 9 (the 'Bloody Sunday' massacre, which marked the start of the 1905 revolution), they saw very well what was involved; and they answered the machine gun and rapid-firing rifle with the revolver and the bomb; such are the barricades of the twentieth century. "

The revolvers of individual heroes instead of the people's cudgels and pitchforks; bombs instead of barricades – that is the real formula of terrorism.

And no matter what sort of subordinate role terror is relegated to by the "synthetic" theoreticians of the party, it always occupies a special place of honour in fact. And the Combat Organisation, which the official party hierarchy places under the Central Committee, inevitably turns out to be above it, above the party and all its work – until cruel fate places it under the police department.

And that is precisely why the collapse of the Combat Organisation as a result of a police conspiracy inevitably means the political collapse of the party as well.

 

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Marxism Opposes Individual Terrorism

By Peter Taaffe, 1975

 

Hardly a day now passes without a political assassination, attempted assassination, kidnapping or bombing taking place somewhere in the world. The Herrema kidnapping in Ireland is only the most recent example of what has become almost a world epidemic. The exploits of the seemingly endless array of guerrilla groups - the Basque nationalists, ETA: the Argentinian ERP and Montoncros; the American SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army); and the Provisional IRA, to mention some of the best known - seem to be continually in the news.

Denunciation combined with the bolstering of their "counter-terrorist" apparatus has been the predictable reaction of the ruling class to this threat. But condemnation sits uneasily on their lips. Their whole system is built on violence and terrorism against the peoples of the world. Witness the recent barbarism of American Imperialism in South-East Asia – 10% of the population of Cambodia, for instance was wiped out. Then there is the "international balance of terror". 

Science and technique are used to perfect fiendish weapons of destruction - enough to kill every human being on the planet a number of times over - while millions face starvation. A 'fireball bomb' capable of setting whole cities alight is the most recent 'triumph' of science in this field! But perhaps the most nauseating example of the hypocrisy of the capitalists was the condemnation of 'terrorism' by the butcher Franco and his supporters. He rode to power over the bones of a million workers and peasants and enslaved the Spanish people for 40 years.

The mushrooming of individual terrorist groups is on the one side a symptom of the growing revolt against capitalism on a world scale. But, on the other side, it reflects the lack of authority of the leaders of the 'Communist' Party and the Labour leaders in the eyes of a section of youth - particularly middle class youth - who are looking for a way to overthrow landlordism and capitalism. 

They are repelled by the opportunism of those leaders and seek a short cut in single combat with the capitalist state. Yet their actions have the opposite effect of that intended. The capitalist state is enabled to strengthen itself by introducing repressive measures under the guise of fighting 'terrorism'. Repelled by the actions of the individual terrorists, the workers are also driven behind the leaders of the mass organisations, thus strengthening these leaders. And, not infrequently, individual terrorist campaigns end up in the installation of military dictatorship - as was the case with the Tupamaros in Uruguay.

Many of these groups claim to be 'Marxist'; and there are even some alleged to be 'Trotskyists' – as in Spain today and Argentina only yesterday - who justify these methods - usually from the sidelines. But from its inception Marxism has combatted the ideas of individual terrorism. It has done so not for pacifist reasons but because it believes that the methods of individual terrorists are harmful forms of struggle against capitalism. Marxism starts with the fundamental idea that the liberation of the working class from the yoke of capital is the task of the working class itself. Only those methods which facilitate this task, which assist the working class to raise its level of understanding and make it conscious of its power to change society can be justified.

But in common with liberals the individual terrorist believes that the capitalist system rests on individuals. They over-estimate the role of the individual minister, policeman or capitalist. The liberal strives for a position of influence - as a minister etc. - in order to effect change. The individual terrorist stalks the representatives of the capitalist state with bomb and bullet believing that his actions can overthrow or prepare the downfall of capitalism. But the capitalist system does not rest on individuals and cannot be destroyed with them. Tory luminary, Lord Hailsham, recently indicated this: 'when 1 was in Cabinet we did say to one another that if anything was done to any of us he was expendable and expended. I think that was right.' (The Times 7.10.75)).

The capitalists will always find new men to replace those who are assassinated. At the same time they invariably use the actions of the individual terrorist to bridle the working class with further repressive legislation. Individual terrorists – or urban guerrillas – substitute themselves for the masses. They believe that it is their actions and not the conscious organisation of the masses which will effect the necessary change. They actually 'lower the masses in their own consciousness, reconcile them to impotence and direct their glances to the great avenger and emancipator who will some day come to and accomplish his mission' (Trotsky).

The experience of the Russian Revolution is the best answer to the ideas of individual terrorism. Russian Marxism had fought against the proponents of individual terror for decades before the revolution. The terrorists, who only assassinated known torturers, hated policemen and executioners, were in the most cases self-sacrificing heroes, although mistaken in their methods. Can the same thing be said today about those who leave bombs to indiscriminately maim and injure the innocent under the guise of fighting imperialism?

Tsarism was overthrown by the mass mobilisation and arming of the Russian workers and peasants under the guidance of the Bolsheviks. Once in power 'Mass terror' - an armed people - was used to hold down and defeat the counter-revolution organised by the dispossessed landlords and their international supporters - the ruling classes of Britain, France, USA etc. Even the defeated 1905 revolution had so illuminated the effectiveness of mass action as compared to the puny efforts of the individual terrorist that the influence of terrorism waned. Thus Trotsky could write in 1905: 'Terrorism in Russia is dead ... Terror has migrated to the East ... but in Russia it is already part of the heritage of history.' It was the Bolsheviks and leaders like Lenin and Trotsky who ensured that the advanced workers understood the correct lessons from the Russian Revolution. There has been no shortage of examples of the colossal power of the working class in those countries where the ideas of individual terrorism hold sway over a section of the youth. But what has been lacking is a mass organisation and leadership capable of drawing all the necessary conclusions.

Argentina and Spain

Argentina today provides a classic example of this. The urban guerrilla organisations, principally the ERP and Montoneros, undoubtedly are composed of self-sacrificing opponents of Argentine landlordism and capitalism. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions! Albeit unwillingly, they have exercised a baleful effect on the course of the Argentinian Revolution. The guerrillas conducted a violent campaign against the junta which was replaced by the Peronist candidate in March 1973. 

But it was the fear of the masses not the actions of the guerrillas which compelled the Argentine landlords and capitalists to switch from the military junta to Peronism. The temper of the Argentine workers had been demonstrated in the virtual insurrectionary general strike which proceeded the overthrow of the junta. The guerrilla campaign temporarily subsided following Peron's accession to power. But with his death it was started up again with renewed ferocity, first by the ERP and then by some of the young Peronists in the Montoneros.

Spectacular kidnappings were undertaken by the ERP and Montoneros. For instance, the Born Brothers – chairman and managing director of Bunge y Born, one of the world's largest grain dealers –were kidnapped by the Montoneros and only released on payment by the firm of a $60 million ransom. The Montoneros also stipulated that one million dollars' worth of food and clothing were to be distributed to the poor – "as punishment for the supply shortages which the company inflicted on the people". Actions like this reveal the gulf separating Marxism from the guerrilla groups. 

Marxism, scientific socialism, sees the task of the working class as the struggle to remove the causes of exploitation, misery and poverty by eliminating - through the socialist revolution - private ownership of the means of production. The guerrillas merely seek 'compensation' for the masses for the crimes of capitalism. At best their philosophy is that of Robin Hood - 'robbing the rich to help the poor' - rather than that of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.

At the same time, in the last year, the ERP – together with the Montoneros – have re-stated the assassination campaign against army generals, policemen, torturers etc. This was just the excuse which the counter-revolution sought to launch a vicious 'counter-terrorist campaign' against the organisations of the working class. Since Isabel Peron succeeded to the Presidency – following the death of Peron himself – more than one thousand people have been slain. Those who died were mostly victims of the notorious AAA - policemen directed by Isabel Peron's guru, the hated Lopez Rega. 

Reaction seized the opportunity to behead the Argentine labour movement. Those who perished at the hands of the AAA were trade union leaders, shop-stewards, labour leaders, and liberals - mostly unconnected with any of the guerrilla movements. Moreover, the government – under the guise of fighting 'terrorism' – outlawed illegal strikes, sent in government 'intervenors' to occupy the offices of unions and forced left union leaders to go into hiding. 

This situation demanded of a Marxist tendency worthy of the name the raising of the need for mass workers' defence – through a Trade Union Defence Force – to defend their organisations against fascist attack, not ultra-left adventures. This would have found an enormous echo amongst the Argentinian working class particularly if combined with serious work within the Peronist movement itself as has been consistently advocated by the Militant. [The British Militant, forerunner of the Socialist Party]

The resumption of the guerrilla campaign in turn allowed the counter-revolution to escalate its campaign. The government, emboldened by its success, also undertook to carry out drastic reductions in the living standards of the working class by holding down wages below the more than 100% inflation rate. 

But the answer of the Argentine working class to these attacks came in the magnificent General Strike in July of this year. In 36 hours they achieved what the guerrillas had been incapable of accomplishing in more than a year of guerrilla action! The strike was the first called by the Peronist-dominated CGT – the equivalent of the TUC in Britain – against a Peronist government. Three and a half million workers responded magnificently to the strike call. Industry ground to a complete halt with only gas, electricity and telephones functioning - and then only by permission of the unions. 

But so successful was the strike, and so frightened by its effect were the right wing Peronist leaders, that they hastily called off the action ten hours before its scheduled 48 hour duration. Yet this was sufficient to bring the Cabinet crashing down. Lopez Rega was forced to flee into exile and the AAA were cowed into a 'truce'. The wage cutting measures which were the immediate cause of the strike were cancelled and Isabel Peron herself was forced to take 'sick leave' as the demands grew from within the Peronist movement for her removal.

In the struggle against landlordism and capitalism individual terrorism can be compared to a pea-shooter while mass action can be likened to an atomic bomb! The Argentine General Strike has underlined the invincible power of the working class once it is on the move. The Argentine ruling class has been shaken by these events, as have the summits of the Peronist movement - including the tops of the unions. Thus the New York Times' service recently reported the comments of one union leader: 'I would rather have my throat cut by the guerrillas than by members of the Textile Workers Union'.

 

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This material was selected from "Marxism Opposes Individual Terrorism" - A Militant Publication, with a new Introduction from The Socialist, 5 October 2001