Revolutionary terror

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Revolutionary terror (also referred to as Revolutionary terrorism, or a reign of terror)[1]) refers to the institutionalized application of force to counterrevolutionaries, particularly during the French Revolution from the years 1793 to 1794.[2][3] The term Communist terrorism has also been used to describe the revolutionary terror, from the Red Terror in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) to the reign of the Khmer Rouge,[4] and others.

In contrast the reactionary terror, such as White Terror, has been used to subdue revolutions.[citation needed]

Revolutionary terror and Marxism[edit]

In his article, The Victory of the Counter-Revolution in Vienna, Neue Rheinische Zeitung, No. 136, 7 November 1848, Karl Marx wrote: “… there is only one means to shorten, simplify and concentrate the murderous death throes of the old society and the bloody birth pangs of the new, only one meansrevolutionary terrorism[5] (the term terrorism, here, not to be confused with the modern meaning of the term, but rather having the same meaning as the word terror in the sense in which it is used in this article).

Edvard Radzinsky, a Russian author of popular history books, in his biography of Joseph Stalin noted that Stalin wrote a nota bene — "Terror is the quickest way to new society" — beside the above passage in a book by Karl Kautsky.[6][7]

Lenin, Leon Trotsky and other leading Bolshevik ideologists recognized mass terror as a necessary weapon during the dictatorship of proletariat and the resulting class struggle. Thus, in his The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade K. Kautsky (1918), Lenin wrote: “One cannot hide the fact that dictatorship presupposes and implies a “condition”, one so disagreeable to renegades [such as Kautsky], of revolutionary violence of one class against another … the “fundamental feature” of the concept of dictatorship of the proletariat is revolutionary violence.”

Similarly, in his book "Defence of Terrorism" (Terrorism and Communism, 1920) Trotsky emphasized that "...the historical tenacity of the bourgeoisie is colossal... We are forced to tear off this class and chop it away. The Red Terror is a weapon used against a class that, despite being doomed to destruction, does not want to perish.".[8]

On the other hand, they opposed individual terror, which has been used earlier by the People's Will organization. According to Trotsky, "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."[9]

Many later Marxists, in particular Karl Kautsky, criticized Bolshevik leaders for terrorism tactics. He stated that "among the phenomena for which Bolshevism has been responsible, Terrorism, which begins with the abolition of every form of freedom of the Press, and ends in a system of wholesale execution, is certainly the most striking and the most repellent of all".[10]

Origins, evolution and history[edit]

German Social Democrat Karl Kautsky traces the origins of revolutionary terror to the "Reign of Terror" of the French Revolution.[11][12] Lenin considered the Jacobin use of terror as a needed virtue and accepted the label Jacobin for his Bolsheviks.[13] This, however, distinguished him from Marx.[14]

The deterministic view of history was used by Marxist regimes to justify the use of terror.[15] Terrorism came to be used by Marxists, both the state and dissident groups, in both revolution and in consolidation of power.[16] The doctrines of Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, Maoism and anarchism have all spurred dissidents who have taken to terrorism.[17] Marx, except for a brief period in 1848 and within the Tsarist milieu, did not advocate revolutionary terror,[18] feeling it would be counterproductive.[17] Communist leaders used the idea that terror could serve as the force which Marx said was the "midwife of revolution",[19] and after World War I communist groups continued to use it in attempts to overthrow governments.[17] For Mao, terrorism was an acceptable tool.[20]

After World War II, Marxist-Leninist groups seeking independence, like nationalists, concentrated on guerrilla warfare along with terrorism.[21] By the late 1950s and early 1960s there was a change from wars of national liberation to contemporary terrorism.[22] For decades, terrorist groups tended to be closely linked to communist ideology, being the predominant category of terrorists in the 1970s and 1980s, but today they are in the minority,[23] their decline attributed to the end of the cold war and the fall of the Soviet Union.[24][25]

Soviet Union[edit]

Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and other leading Bolshevik ideologists promulgated mass terror as a necessary weapon during the dictatorship of proletariat and the resulting class struggle. In his book "Defence of Terrorism" Trotsky emphasized that "...the historical tenacity of the bougeoisie is colossal... We are forced to tear off this class and chop it away. The Red Terror is a weapon used against a class that, despite being doomed to destruction, does not want to perish.".[8] On the other hand, they opposed to individual terror, which has been used earlied by Russian "People's Will organization. According to Trotsky, "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."[9]

Many later marxists, in particular Karl Kautsky, criticized Bolshevik leaders for terrorism tactics. He stated that "among the phenomena for which Bolshevism has been responsible, Terrorism, which begins with the abolition of every form of freedom of the Press, and ends in a system of wholesale execution, is certainly the most striking and the most repellent of all".[10] Kautsky recognized that Red Terror represented a variety of terrorism because it was indiscriminate, intended to frighten the civilian population, and included taking and executing hostages. People were executed simply for who they were, not for their deeds. This and similar types of pronouncements by Communist leaders have led many historians to conclude that despotism, violent persecution, repression and intolerance were intrinsic drives in Communist regimes.[26]

Internal Soviet terror[edit]

The Soviet collectivization of agriculture was accomplished by terror against those peasants that resisted.[citation needed]

The Great Purge refers collectively to several related campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin during the 1930s, which removed all of his remaining opposition from power.[27] It involved the purge of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the persecution of unaffiliated persons, both occurring within a period characterized by omnipresent police surveillance, widespread suspicion of "saboteurs", imprisonment, and killings. In the Western World, this was referred to as "the Great Terror".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica (2011). "revolutionary terrorism". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy", by Barrington Moore, Edward Friedman, James C. Scott (1993) ISBN 0-8070-5073-3, p.101: "Social Consequences of Revolutionary Terror"
  3. ^ French revolutionary terror was a gross exaggeration, say Lafayette experts. By Chandni Navalkha. April 28, 2008. accessed 5-20-2009
  4. ^ BOOK REVIEW Exposition of revolutionary terror. The Gate, by Francois Bizot. Jul 4, 2003. accessed 5-20-2009
  5. ^ Karl Marx – Friedrich Engels – Werke, Berlin: Dietz Verlag, Vol. V, 1959, pp. 455-7. [1]; for English translation see [2]
  6. ^ Edvard Radzinsky Stalin: The First In-depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives, Anchor, (1997) ISBN 0-385-47954-9
  7. ^ Karl Kautsky, Terrorism and Communism (1919), Ch. V. The book is item F558 O3 D90, one of two books on terror from Stalin’s private library, seen by Edvard Radzinsky (Stalin, 1996, pp. 150, 569).
  8. ^ a b "Black book of Communism", page 749
  9. ^ a b Leon Trotsky (November 1911). "Why Marxists Oppose Individual Terrorism". Marxists.org. 
  10. ^ a b Karl Kautsky, Terrorism and Communism Chapter VIII, The Communists at Work, The Terror
  11. ^ Karl Kautsky (1919). "Revolution and Terror". Terrorism and Communism. Kautsky said: "It is, in fact, a widely spread idea that Terrorism belongs to the very essence of revolution, and that whoever wants a revolution must somehow come to some sort of terms with terrorism. As proof of this assertion, over and over again the great French Revolution has been cited." (Translated by W.H. Kerridge) 
  12. ^ The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  13. ^ Schwab, Gail M., and John R. Jeanneney, The French Revolution of 1789 and its impact, p. 277-278, Greenwood Publishing Group 1995
  14. ^ Schwab, Gail M., and John R. Jeanneney, The French Revolution of 1789 and its impact, p. 278, Greenwood Publishing Group 1995
  15. ^ Chaliand, Gérard and Arnaud Blin, The history of terrorism: from antiquity to al Qaeda By, p. 105, University of California Press, 2007
  16. ^ Martin, Gus, Essentials of Terrorism: Concepts and Controversies, p. 32, Sage 2007
  17. ^ a b c Lutz, James M. and Brenda J. Lutz Global terrorism, p. 134, Taylor & Francis 2008
  18. ^ McLellan, David, The thought of Karl Marx: an introduction, p. 229, MacMillan
  19. ^ Valentino, Benjamin A. (8 January 2004). Final solutions: mass killing and genocide in the twentieth century. Cornell University Press. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-8014-3965-0. 
  20. ^ Martin, Gus, Essentials of Terrorism: Concepts and Controversies, p. 52, Sage 2007
  21. ^ Chaliand,Gérard and Arnaud Blin, The history of terrorism: from antiquity to al Qaeda By, p. 97, University of California Press, 2007
  22. ^ Chaliand,Gérard and Arnaud Blin, The history of terrorism: from antiquity to al Qaeda By, p. 98, University of California Press, 2007
  23. ^ Chaliand, Gérard and Arnaud Blin, The history of terrorism: from antiquity to al Qaeda By , p. 6, University of California Press, 2007
  24. ^ Wills, David C., The first war on terrorism: counter-terrorism policy during the Reagan administration, p. 219, Rowman & Littlefield, 2003
  25. ^ Crozier, Brian, Political victory: the elusive prize of military wars, p. 203, Transaction Publishers, 2005
  26. ^ Richard Pipes Communism: A History (2001) ISBN 0-8129-6864-6, pages 39.
  27. ^ Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe. By Robert Gellately. 2007. Knopf. 720 pages ISBN 1-4000-4005-1