To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
The terrorists who exploded a bomb in the CFIA this week were correct in identifying that institution as an organ of U. S. imperialism. But we have serious reservations about the act, and doubt that it will be a major blow to the CFIA, or that it will help to build a revolutionary movement.
The issue is not violence. Two points have to be made over and over again in this regard: 1) The violence of the Left in this country, in total, is altogether insignificant compared to the violence perpetrated by the U. S. government in, for example, Vietnam, every hour or so: 2) It will be necessary to use violence, of various sorts, to prevent the conduct of present foreign policies and to create a society in which such policies do not prevail. It isn't a question of retribution. The problem is to determine and apply the minimum amount of force required to bring about radical changes in present policies.
Also, it is incorrect to make a rigid dichotomy between mass and clandestine violence, approving of the former and looking with horror upon terrorism. Such a dichotomy corresponds neither to the real development of any previous successful revolutionary movement nor to the strategic needs of this one. We believe that some forms of terrorism may be progressive at the present time (though decreasingly so). In saying this, we are by no means lending approval to all of the forms of terrorism which have taken place. Random assassination of rank-and-file police in white communities does not help build a movement; nor does terrorism against work-places or public events attended by masses of people. It is important to note, however, that most terrorism has thus far been directed against draft boards, ROTC buildings, and corporate offices.
Terrorism may assist or impede the growth of a revolutionary movement, depending upon the target chosen and the consciousness with respect to it that exists in various sections of society. There are times when terrorism is a substitute-and a necessarily inadequate one-for mass action, and times when it encourages mass action. There are times when terrorism is a politically valuable adjunct to a mass radical movement, though it can never be the substance of such a movement.
The bomb in the CFIA did not materially inhibit the operation of that institution. We believe its purpose was to strike a symbolic blow against imperialism, and in so doing catalyze further actions. The blow has been struck; we doubt that the bombing, at this time, in this place, will help in the development of mass radical consciousness and actions. But our intention is to help to bring about those mass actions against the CFIA.
Police agents have advocated, or even committed, terrorist acts. That in itself says little about the value of terrorism; police agents have participated at some point in almost all of the activities of the movement. One does not have to be crazy to blow up buildings, nor does one have to be infatuated with violence. The real insanity and infatuation with violence in this country are located deep within basic political and economic structures, and manifest themselves constantly, from the sanctimony of a president announcing invasions to the arrogance of professors defending their assistance in the formulation of U. S. foreign policy.
One of the most important tasks facing revolutionaries is the creation of serious discussion of the role of terrorism in this society at the present time. Those who have chosen terrorism will not announce a hiatus for us to carry out such discussion: that makes the task all the more urgent. We must disapprove of the indiscriminate character of some of the terrorism that has taken place, and strongly oppose tendencies to constitute terrorism as the core of the movement. Nevertheless, whatever our political disagreements with terrorists-and those disagreements are profound-we mest stress the legitimacy and necessity of violence against imperialism in all of its institutional forms.