The Mail AN OPPRESSIVE TERRORISM . . .
To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
There is an old Indian saying that the quickest cure for a headache is to cut off one's head. Mr. Hyland. if he were to be a doctor and practicing amongst the oppressed peoples of India, would, by this criterion, be a really effective doctor.
I did try to read Mr. Hyland's "In Defense of Terrorism" (Oct. 22) objectively. After a certain point I decided it wasn't worth it. Mr. Hyland is just as oppressive and bigoted as the people he repeatedly castigates. And I don't see any reason why he deserves any sympathy. I don't think he wants any either.
He talks of capitalism oppressing people. True. But nowhere in his grand design of liberation does he include these "oppressed peoples." Removing the oppressor is a very good idea but removing the oppressor does not necessarily liberate the oppressed. You talked of Algeria in some context, so let's look at it. Once the poorer people were ruled by the French. Now they are ruled by an Algerian elite. True, the colonialists were removed by terrorism and the threat of civil war in France. But it didn't change matters for the oppressed people. Instead of the instrument of oppression being a foreign one, it became a home-made one. But what of the people?
I guess we don't bother about them. They are just . . . people.
There have been very few successful wars of liberation in this century (by success, I mean, establishment of a legitimate form of socialism) but in none of them has Mr. Hyland's terrorism played even a minor role. And not because they couldn't be effective but because they didn't serve the purpose of liberation movements. And the purpose of liberation movements is not just removing the oppressor, as Dick naively believes. Oh no, Mr. Hyland. It's a little more complicated than that. The purpose of liberation movements is to awaken and enlist the help of those people you think about but never mention, then to remove the oppressor, and to form and organize some form of socialism in which there is equality (if it can exist).
Terrorism, as you visualize it, Mr. Hyland, is a very vain and futile thing. It is an exercise of one's frustrations and helps very little. Even Uncle Mao used it very sparingly against the Japanese and not because it couldn't blow up a few Japanese but because the repercussions would be on the peasants, whom he was trying to mobilize and help. And also he wasn't a frustrated man. Mao did use it on several occasions but only when he was sure of two things: (i) it affected the oppressor strategically and (ii) it helped in setting an example for the oppressed. Is that what you are trying to do, Mr. Hyland? You must remember that we are in the midst of a class struggle and no side is going to make any concessions, least of all the establishment (or whatever term you radicals call it by) and they are not going to fail to suppress any threats that affect them vitally. Suppose than that your kind of terrorism had certain results which did affect the ruling class. What would happen? They would retaliate and upon the group that is most vulnerable and yet most crucial to the struggle-the people Mr. Hyland has in mind but never mentions. And once you have effectively threatened the poor peasant and working class and reduced them to passive defense, you can never again mobilize them for a class struggle. And once you have eliminated the oppressed classes from your class struggle, all we have is two groups fighting for power at the top. It's a struggle for power and control of that power mechanism-nothing more. It's as bourgeois as the system itself. What happened to the class struggle and the liberation movement?
The point should be getting clearer by now. Mr. Hyland's form of terrorism is certainly not a means to any liberation movement or a key to a class struggle but an exercise in frustration and what is more frightening, a means to that power which Mr. Hyland strongly resents the ruling class has. Which, of course, means that all that liberation bit is bullshit and Mr. Hyland is trying to justify terrorism as a means of gaining control of the same system that he castigates and into which he thinks he cannot be assimilated by established means.
Go back to English, Renaissance literature and since you pretend not to know about Marx or Mao, stop talking about them. Revolution is more than an intellectual exercise. It's a necessity for most of the people in this world. And you don't have any idea where it's at. Revolution is not merely killing a giant animal so that it starts dying from its limbs, but killing it so that the other animals can build a sort of egalitarian world for themselves. You are like Kodak paper, seeing and receiving only the black and white. It's not that simple.
Udayan Gupta '71
You might want to think about the differences between the United States and an underdeveloped country. A person in a highly industrialized country is alienated from his own existence and from other people. All of the objects he produces stare back at him throughout his life. He is not at home here, but is forced into an increasing reverence for those products as he seeks meaning in his life. Radicals are just beginning to realize how fully capitalism has permeated our lives and how much it is responsible for most of the problems we face.
Though people in underdeveloped countries are suffering more than we could ever imagine, they are oppressed by only a very small part of the capitalist system. They do not, for example, have a hundred years of capitalism's atomization process to fight. Once the U.S. is defeated, people in those countries are close enough to each other to organize a society around common goals.
In the U.S., however, we will have to shock ourselves into an awareness of the horrors we have accepted. The NLF doesn't have to blow up buildings for two reasons. First, there are very few buildings. Second, the people are behind them. I would like to see a revolution here too. Unless we think hard about what that revolution will have to change, we may be the very last get one.