(5) Fifth document
The difference between the red line of Mao Zedong and the black line of Deng Xiaoping (or Lin Biao) was not understood in countries like France and West Germany. Therefore, in those countries, the Chinese position was taken as a whole as an “anti-imperialist” line seeing the “Third World” as the new protagonist of the world history.
The imperialist “metropole” would, according this line, not possess a revolutionary contradiction anymore; the genuine revolutionaries would have to follow the “Third World”. This was a position very strong in the student movement in France and West Germany; in this last case even appeared an armed organization basing its line on it.
Here is the conception of the Red Army Faction, in a statement made on November 1, 1972, following the kidnapping and execution of eleven Israeli athletes and officials by the Palestinian organization “Black September”, during the Summer Olympics in Munich.
“Black September’s strategy is the revolutionary strategy for anti-imperialist struggle, both in the Third World and in the metropole, given the imperialist conditions created by multinational corporations (…).
The bomb attack on the Strüver Corporation in Hamburg was an attack on one of Israel’s military suppliers.
With their action at the Olympic Village, they brought the conflict between the imperialist metropole of Israel and the Palestinians from the periphery of the system into its centre—they tore off the FRG’s “constitutional” mask and revealed the true objective nature of imperialism’s facade: that they are waging war against the liberation movements of the Third World and that their final objective is strategic extermination and fascism (…).
The problem with opportunism is that by making use of it Negt reveals things about himself, but nothing about the world. Having analyzed the system, the revolutionary subject bases his identity on the knowledge that the people of the Third World are the vanguard, and on an acceptance that Lenin’s concept of the “labor aristocracy” regarding the masses in the metropole cannot be discounted or dismissed.
On the contrary: everything starts from that point.
The exploitation of the masses in the metropole has nothing to do with Marx’s concept of wage labourers from whom surplus value is extracted.
It is a fact that with the increasing division of labor, there has been a tremendous intensification and spread of exploitation in the area of production, and work has become a greater burden, both physically and psychologically.
It is also a fact that with the introduction of the 8-hour workday—the precondition for increasing the intensity of work—the system usurped all of the free time people had. To physical exploitation in the factory was added the exploitation of their feelings and thoughts, wishes, and utopian dreams—to capitalist despotism in the factory was added capitalist despotism in all areas of life, through mass consumption and the mass media.
With the introduction of the 8-hour workday, the system’s 24-hour-a-day domination of the working class began its triumphal march—with the establishment of mass purchasing power and “peak income” the system began its triumphal march over the plans, desires, alternatives, fantasies, and spontaneity of the people; in short, over the people themselves!
The system in the metropole has managed to drag the masses so far down into their own dirt that they seem to have largely lost any sense of the oppressive and exploitative nature of their situation, of their situation as objects of the imperialist system. So that for a car, a pair of jeans, life insurance, and a loan, they will easily accept any outrage on the part of the system. In fact, they can no longer imagine or wish for anything beyond a car, a vacation, and a tiled bathroom.
It follows, however, that the revolutionary subject is anyone that breaks free from these compulsions and refuses to take part in this system’s crimes. All those who find their identity in the liberation struggles of the people of the Third World, all those who refuse, all those who no longer participate; these are all revolutionary subjects—comrades (…).
If the people of the Third World are the vanguard of the anti-imperialist revolution, then that means that they objectively represent the greatest hope for people in the metropole to achieve their own freedom. If this is the case, then it is our duty to establish a connection between the liberation struggle of the peoples of the Third World and the longing for freedom in the metropole wherever it emerges.
This means in grade schools, in high schools, in factories, in families, in prisons, in office cubicles, in hospitals, in head offices, in political parties, in unions—wherever. Against everything that openly negates, suppresses, and destroys this connection: consumerism, the media, co-management, opportunism, dogmatism, authority, paternalism, brutality, and alienation.
“This means us!” We are revolutionary subjects.
Whoever begins to struggle and to resist is one of us.”