Manual Die Ideologie der ersten Generation der Roten Armee Fraktion (German Edition)

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Performing Terrorism

Terrorism, by using violence against one victim, seeks to coerce and persuade others. The immediate victim is merely instrumental, the skin on a drum beaten to achieve a calculated impact on a wider audience. Along with the reverberation of terrorist violence within the media sphere, however, the space for the polarization accompanying and partially threatening terrorism grows equally wider. Kraushaar admits to an ambivalent and paradoxical relationship between terrorism and media, as both helpful and harmful for the former a: 41 , whereas in the specific case of RAF he stresses a further complexification of this relationship, due to the intensive campaign that RAF promoted against Axel Springer Verlag, one of the biggest and most influential publishing houses in Germany—and Europe—until nowadays ibid.

There is an extensive corpus of scholarly literature on the relationship of RAF to the media and vice versa, inquiring into the ways in which the RAF was covered by its contemporary media, manipulated their communicative power, as well as the ways in which the mass media helped crucially in shaping discourses on RAF see, for example, Weinhauer, Requate, Haupt ; Elter The communicative turn of approaches to RAF terrorism is part of a general cultural turn, which involves the examination of linguistic, discursive, performative, and symbolic parameters constitutive of the phenomenon of terrorism see, for example, Bronner, Schott ; Matusitz Particularly important in the more specific context of RAF terrorism have been studies of the public usage of relevant terminology see Musolff , as well as the significance and implications of the conceptual demarcation of terrorism against guerilla war.

This aspect will be further examined in sections 4. The implications of such filtering for the literature on RAF had received for years the form of a latent taboo. According to Colvin: Until recently Germany found the history of home-grown terrorism almost too hot to handle. Before proceeding to the elaboration of this framework, a prior step is prerequisite. In the following chapter, I will provide a critique to the prevalent political framing of terrorism—complementary to the critique undertaken above—with the purpose of illuminating the significance and the task of the reformulation of the phenomenon in cultural terms.

Another indicative example from the sphere of more popular literature is the publication—on the occasion of 30 years since the German Autumn—by Sven F. For this purpose, some insights from the meta-political philosophy of Alain Badiou will be used. It is forbidden, as it were, not to be a democrat. More precisely, it stands to reason that humanity aspires to democracy, and any subjectivity suspected of not being democratic is regarded as pathological. Nevertheless, such criteria are accessory, relative to the inquiry into the constitutive nature of terrorism, itself pertinent to the definition of the phenomenon.

Here we take a politics to mean the regulation of a subjective relation to the State. In the particular case of politically-motivated terrorism, whose peculiarity lies in the very challenging of the legitimacy of the state, such a normative inflection implies a positioning which a priori excludes the object it wishes to study.


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Nevertheless, it has been argued that a similar, albeit differently formulated, normative logic of exclusion accompanies political scientific conceptualizations of the phenomenon as well. A comprehensive understanding of terrorism, one that does not seek to find further ways of excluding or condemning it, but neither to enter an opposite, apologetic logic, has to move beyond the positioning that both intentions explicitly or implicitly prescribe, and which manifests itself in such inflections and analytical-normative conflations, as the one described previously.

The next step in the present inquiry towards a comprehensive and non-normative conceptualization of terrorism leads therefore to its approach as a counter-culture. There will follow now its historical contextualization, in the broader light of s New Left. Colvin 9. Particularly significant in this regard has been the theorization and materialization of the model of rural and urban guerilla in Latin American struggles,57 which was transferred to the disproportionate conditions of the Federal Republic and was mis appropriated by German terrorist groups see Trnka Decisive event for this disenchantment was the military invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact forces on 20thst August, , in order to suppress the Prague Spring liberalization movement.

Until the student riots of the last two years, the European Left was Soviet-friendly. However, the central political axis that gave rise to fierce opposition on behalf of the New Left, not least amidst its more radical factions, was that of the U. The internationalism of New Left, which was inherited by the s terrorism,59 manifested itself as a counter-positioning against what was perceived as a system of political- economic domination with international reach, namely the U.

Regarding the first distinguishing feature, the New Left agenda was informed by recent social movements and achievements, reverberating experiences of social struggles that took place elsewhere such as the African-American civil rights movement, relative to the space of European New Left , as well as harboring ideologies of dissent on multiple localized aspects of social life and global politics such as anti-war, anti-nuclear, environmentalist, and feminist ideologies.

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It was the accommodation of this multiplicity of—not always compatible or equally pursued—ideologies,60 as well as the increasing factionalism which accompanied ideological discrepancies pertinent to organizational issues and to strategies that should be followed, that 60 Ditfurth registers a relevant example of confrontation within the German APO movement, in September , between the Action Council for the Liberation of Women and its parent organization, the Socialist German Student Union Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund, abbrev.

Varon has acutely outlined the connection between the anti-imperialist ideology of the New Left and its quest for radical social change: Anti-imperialism also provided a way for the New Left to account for the absence of the conditions considered from a traditional Marxist viewpoint to be prerequisites for revolutionary change.

Within an anti- imperialist framework, the working classes in wealthy societies could be seen as benefiting from the exploitation of foreign labor and resources. By extension, the initial or even primary impetus for radical change would have to come from new groups, among them students and intellectuals, who were not fully integrated into the benefits of capitalist economy and absorbed by its ideology. The neo-Marxist critique undertaken by the Frankfurt School theorists proved particularly important, especially in the domestic context of West Germany, for shaping a critical understanding among New Leftists.

Adorno and his colleagues in the U. He further saw the traditional resisting consciousness being largely integrated in these structures, therefore seeking the revolutionary or subversive potential in social forces that had largely remained in the shadow of orthodox Marxism: The totalitarian tendencies of the one-dimensional society render the traditional ways and means of protest ineffective—perhaps even dangerous because they preserve the illusion of popular sovereignty.

They exist outside the democratic process […] Thus their opposition is revolutionary even if their consciousness is not. Characteristic example, in this regard, is the progressively increasing interest of Meinhof—as a left-wing intellectual and journalist who tried to break ties with her middle-class 61 Cf. Colvin 10, 62; Hobsbawm , A basic theoretical influence for re-thinking the meaning and value of violence within a system of social control and ramified mechanisms of repression came again from Marcuse.

This formulation provided a basis for moving beyond liberal adherence to pacifism towards the conditional legitimation of subversive violence, as means of effective opposition. Further to the Marcusean framework, another influence for the students—subsequently invoked by the RAF members as well see, for example, Bakker Schut 14 —relative to the issue of legitimate use of violence, came from the existentialist philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, who hailed the endorsement of anti-colonialist violence by author Frantz Fanon.

Fanon] shows clearly that this irrepressible violence is neither sound and fury, nor the resurrection of savage instincts, nor even the effect of resentment: it is man recreating himself. Although both Frankfurt School theorists and Sartre took explicit distance from the RAF, condemning terrorist violence as endangering for the Left see Musolff , their writings had translated among radicals into an urge towards violent subversion, an urge that would materialize itself in the disproportionate conditions of the Federal Republic. The theoretical modelling of a culture of dissent against a dominant culture, albeit embracing the corrective claims of the former, as well as the claims towards normality of the latter, abstains from privileging one over the other by means of assuming a position exterior to both; that is, the position of the researcher of their counter-relationship.

The CCCS was established in , under the directorship of Richard Hoggart, while it gained prominence under the directorship of Stuart Hall from for the contribution of Birmingham School to theorization of subcultures, see Gelder Before arriving there, however, some preliminary and contextualizing remarks are necessary. Gramsci, in an attempt to account for the integration of the traditional Marxist revolutionary subject the working class within pre-war Western industrialized societies, deemed this integration as maintained by means of consent, that the ruling classes manage to elicit from the subordinate ones as they assume their intellectual and moral leadership, rather than by means of coercive domination.

Subcultures were therefore a problem for British Cultural Studies, but also a kind of symptom, an effect. The focus on class both caused that problem, and seemed to help explain it. Von Dirke shifts the attention from the class-rooting of sub- and counter-cultures towards their distinct positioning relative to—and, coextensively, their distinct mode and extent of challenging—the dominant, hegemonic culture.

The framework she offers is very useful for conceptualizing the formal structure of opposition, in which counter-cultures manifest themselves, and on the basis of which they lend themselves to a qualitatively different analysis from that, which is usually conducted with regard to subcultures: Countercultures position themselves explicitly and fundamentally against their dominant counterpart and try to develop an alternative way of life.

They challenge the hegemonic culture with a holistic approach, negating all of its values and traditions and struggling for radical and comprehensive change. Dirke 4 Following this distinction, von Dirke understands the student movement of the s and other subsequent oppositional movements as counter-cultures, rather than subcultures ibid: 5 , a measure of radicalness being aptly reflected in the employment of the former category Giles One has to take proper account of the significance of the framework of comprehensive and radical opposition, which conditions her understanding of counter-cultures.

Whether one subsumes terrorism under the same category as other radical counter- cultures, or places it separately, becomes then an issue pertinent to the implications of the specific mode of radicalness in which terrorism manifests itself, compared to other counter- cultures and relative to the dominant one. This insight of the ambivalent position and catalytic function of terrorism with regard to other counter-cultures and to the dominant sociopolitical paradigm lays the foundation for the conceptualization of terrorism as a distinct counter-culture: one, whose peculiarity—predicated on its radicalness—accelerates the dynamics of tension between culture and counter-culture, yet towards a regressive rigidification.

It provides a space for counter-identifications, into the vacuum of which alternative cultural models are drawn, and processed against which they retain little more than the very form of opposition. Further to that, the questioning of the particular counter-cultural character of terrorism can be plausibly reformulated as a questioning of its particular radicalness and the particular state of tension it incites in the broader cultural space which surrounds it.

In light of this significant distinction, the implications of which will be examined in the subsequent section 3.


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Counter- culture is thus the active critique or transformation of the existing social, scientific or aesthetic paradigm. Seen from a present-to-future orientation, one might argue that terrorism is preparatory for a state-yet-to-come, and therein lies the self-perception of the terrorist organization as the vanguard of revolution and its thereafter. The need, therefore, remains for a synchronic framework, which allows for the examination of the structural bond between culture and counter-culture.

Lotman et al. In order to understand, then, the particularity of terrorism as a cultural phenomenon of conflict, among other such phenomena, one has to figure the formal particularity of the structure of opposition, on which both sides anchor their self-perception as cultures and perception of the other as the opposite , and to the materialization of which they proceed, in the form of physical conflict.

Lepik Departing from such a premise of rigid—in effect precarious—alignment between these orders, the counter- cultures in question are inclined to suspect or pursue the potential alteration of an established designation, as interfering with the equilibrium of an established network of signifiers, hence reflecting an unacceptable or desirable restructuration of its corresponding network of meanings.

The whole gesture is thus deemed to be derivative of an irreconcilably incompatible culture, whereas from the point of view of the latter culture, the same gesture might be serving a corrective purpose of equal magnitude—as the parallel, parenthetical counter-formulations show. In the latter case, culture is opposed not to chaos entropy but to a system preceded by a negative sign. This can happen as complementary operation relative to the previous one, with the purpose of strict demarcation of opposite identities, so that the sole usage of an expression suffices to identify the position of its user.

Placing the mirror experience as intermediary between utopias and heterotopias, Foucault joins together the mirror structure and its function with regard to identity re constitution: The mirror is a utopia after all, since it is a placeless place. The mirror functions as a heterotopia in the sense that it makes this place I occupy at the moment I look at myself in the glass both utterly real, connected with the entire space surrounding it, and utterly unreal —since, to be perceived, it is obliged to go by way of that virtual point which is over there.

Therefore, antithesis is not merely a rhetorical trick, the emotional reaction of an individual, a logical operation or a manifestation of subconscious aggression. The principle of unification serves a totalizing function both ways: it totalizes both the excluded from and the included in culture, homogenizing the otherwise necessary cultural and semiotic heterogeneity see Lotman ff. Lotman has described the mechanics of such self- description as follows: The stage of self-description is a necessary response to the threat of too much diversity within the semiosphere: the system might lose its unity and definition, and disintegrate.

Whether we have in mind language, politics or culture, the mechanism is the same: one part of the semiosphere as a rule one which is part of its nuclear structure in the process of self-description creates its own grammar […] Then it strives to extend these norms over the whole semiosphere.

On the other hand, this is a proper frame for describing a phenomenon of such radical opposition, without recourse to explicit or implicit unidirectional condemnation or apology, while this model itself accounts for the grounds on which both attitudes are cultivated. Never attack the system in terms of relations of force. That is the revolutionary imagination the system itself forces upon you—the system which survives only by constantly drawing those attacking it into fighting on the ground of reality, which is always its own. But shift the struggle into the symbolic sphere, where the rule is that of challenge, reversion and outbidding.

Due to the complexity of the case, and the abundance of relevant materials, there will be a short selection of textual documentation from the period preceding the manifestation of RAF-terrorism but directly pertinent to it and extending until the end of its first circle until , as well as a restriction of the scope of investigation on a level of crucial significance: the level of terminology and vocabulary directly pertinent to the basis on which Lotman and Uspensky formulated the model in question. Sections 4. Proceeding from there, sections 4.

Mausbach The acknowledged continuity between her journalistic and essayistic project, and her subsequent engagement in RAF-terrorism see Teraoka ; Colvin 6 , makes these writings all the more worthy of examination. A series of incidents triggered the development of a polemic language, which progressively condensed and congealed around specific expressions. In this book, Norden disclosed the Nazi past of ca. These and other hotly-debated incidents of the domestic political life of post-war West Germany, drawn into the maelstrom of international Cold War polarization, and vigilant against oppositional movements and dissident voices, engendered an impression of the state—among the more radical left factions—not merely different from or critical towards, but rather completely reverse relative to its self-representation.

In view of the incompetence to provide answers for the just inadequately uncovered Nazi-past and the present of the Vietnam War, which was being experienced as shocking, a crisis of credibility had arisen in the Federal Republic.

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Kraushaar a: 25, transl. Meinhof, cited and transl. The linguistic warfare was aggravated by the press coverage of the Springer Verlag ibid , while an accusation originating from the very academic sphere came to underscore the developing polarization. Prinz Habermas, cited and transl.

Already at that point, one encounters a pattern of unification and identification through counter-identification, which acquires high relevance for the subsequent course of things in West Germany. It is an accepted truism, that language and designations serve a principal role in the construction and maintenance of collective identities.

In the post-Nazi context, Terror was reversely gekehrt used against the exterminated regime, condemning the practices of its mammoth institutions of surveillance and persecution, finding application on the level of theory for any equivalent practices espoused by totalitarian regimes, fascist and communist alike ibid.

Already burdened with a weighty history of negative connotations, the terrorism- terminology underwent extensive cultivation in the contemporary context of the confrontation between the APO movement and the West German authorities. Fight against the terror of the rent [Mietterror]! Among the members of the BR was Hans-Magnus Enzensberger, known theorist of the German New Left, while Meinhof was not mentioned among the contributors of this article, although bestirring herself at that time in West Berlin see Colvin 36, The significance of this article, the content of which has been acknowledged as continuous with the subsequent ideology of the RAF see ibid , lies in its explicit challenging of the established prohibition of violent opposition, toward the revolutionary legitimation of violence.

While the former had been embraced by the APO, and materialized in instances such as the attacks against the Springer premises, the majority of the APO rejected the latter ibid: At the same time, however, the rigidness of the boundary between these kinds of violence, and the difficulty of maintaining it in actual circumstances of violent escalation had in effect been put to the test. On the one hand, acts such as throwing Molotov cocktails during protests that ended in street battles with the police, had favored among opponents of the APO and non-participants the idea of readiness for violence against persons Musolff The contributors of the article under examination proceeded thus to the reformulation of the question 81 Original title: Gewalt.

Musolff In other words, the question of whether violence should extend beyond objects, was reformulated as a question of what this violence stood for and whose interests it served. The pattern of alterity that was encountered above in the Terror accusation , is found again here.


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The same logic reflected on the opposite side of the APO, where the use of excessive police violence was predicated as defense against the violence of a minority. The materialization of an ideal of anti-imperialist militancy, and the self-positioning of RAF in what was perceived as one of the multiple fronts of global imperialist advance and capitalist domination, resonated an understanding of an expanded space—as well as a novel type—of war.

The arsonists explained in court that their action intended to symbolically challenge West German consumerism and draw public attention to the Vietnam War Colvin Behind the parents stand the teachers, the youth authorities, and the police. Behind the supervisor stands the boss, the personnel office, the workers compensation board, the welfare office, and the police. Behind the custodian stands the manager, the landlord, the bailiff, the eviction notice, and the police.

Obviously, they reach for their service revolvers, their teargas, their grenades, and their semi-automatic weapons; obviously, they escalate, if nothing else does the trick. Obviously, the GIs in Vietnam are trained in counterguerilla tactics and the Green Berets receive courses on torture. RAF 25, transl.

The physical force exercised by the state apparatuses becomes then just the overt manifestation and culmination of latent, structural violence, and society is contextualized in a state of emergency: the state of war. Alex P. It seems that, from the perspective of RAF, the same claim could apply to practices 89 Translations borrowed from Colvin Holger Meins, for instance, in his last letter through the so- called info-system91 dated 1. See, for example, RAF 42, Full text in ibid: They result from its historical and organic connection to the fascist Nazi-state and the prescriptions of the US-imperialism after , for which the fascist tradition was functional: this means that, with the military victory and the occupation of the West German state, the US-imperialism seized power over the German 93 See above, p.

In this process, language and designations became of utmost significance as means for counter-identifications and rigid demarcation of opposite sides, deploying opposite—yet mutually projective—vocabulary, and reductively polarizing their intermediate space. Musolff , and non-anarchist organization see above, p. This surplus was thus channeled in the deployment of non-legal and not legally specified terminology for the 98 The phrase is cited by Musolff from an issue of the German newspaper Rheinische Post, dated For an account of the incident see Aust In the post- war era, antecedent to the Radikalenerlass had suggested the Adenauer-Erlass see above, p.

In a letter from Ensslin, dated 4. It is a projection. Projected on urban guerilla it is false. In Hamburg and Cologne train stations the bombs exploded in the first case four people were injured , whereas in Nuremberg the bomb was discovered and defused see Smith, Moncourt They laugh at such words. They are proud that they murder, rob, and blackmail […] They have trashed the value of two thousand years of culture […] What kind of grimace of freedom stares at us?

It is the freedom of malice, the freedom of destruction […] They are not only the enemies of democracy—they are the enemies of every human order. This enemy is naked barbarism. These lost young people not only threaten democratic freedom. They are the enemies of every civilization. First cf. In the background of this mis-understading are misleading ideologies of a Marxist-revolutionary, in short: leftist kind. The aptness of the selected model is shown in the analysis in section 4 of language, and particularly designations, used during the terrorism-debate.

The crystallization of the model is shown further to have been effected through the specular activation of this principle, under the prioritization of counter-terrorist policies by the state. Unterrichtsbausteine zu den Themen Gewalt und Terrorismus; transl. A comprehensive, historical understanding of RAF-terrorism needs to be accompanied by a semiotic methodology, and specifically a cultural semiotic framework that departs from normativity on the meta-level, while accounting for it on the object-level. Nevitt The Authoritarian Personality. Aust, Stefan Der Baader-Meinhof-Komplex.

Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe. The Baader-Meinhof Complex. Bell, Anthea, transl. London: The Bodley Head. Badiou, Alain Barker, Jason, transl. London, New York: Verso. Analysen zum Terrorismus, Band 3: Gruppenprozesse. Bundesministerium des Innern, Hg. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.

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Bakker Schut, Pieter H. Kiel: Neuer Malik Verlag. Barthes, Roland Adopting urban guerrilla tactics, the RAF was responsible for a series of killings in hit-and-run actions; kidnappings of leading figures from the realms of banking, police, military, politics and business; and bank raids and robberies. Then a high school student, I distinctly remember the police and ambulance sirens wailing eerily through the night. Their operations yielded a vast number of journalistic treatments and considerable mostly negative publicity, and have subsequently been treated widely in academic writings.

Heim started a trend leading to a veritable RAF craze since the s, as numerous playwrights have put pen to paper on the subject. This paper will analyse the tertium comparationis between terrorism and the performative act, using the campaign of the RAF and associated groups characterised in Germany as the 'New Left' as a historical paradigm. I shall investigate whether the oft-cited analogy between terrorism and theatre, whereby terrorism is seen as somehow appropriating theatrical means, is at least partly justified.

The paper then shifts to analyse Ulrike Meinhof 'by the Austrian choreographer Johann Kresnik, offering an investigation into the choreographic process of depicting West Germany's political violence during the s, and addressing the question of how theatre might in turn exploit the subject of terrorism. I will lastly consider the generational configurations and shifts in audience perception from the original s production of this piece to its restaging.

Future research on the historical and political meaning of the RAF will have to take this contextualisation into account in order to achieve plausible arguments. Hanns Martin Schleyer and Siegried Buback are the most prominent examples of unexplained killings. See Buback Buback, M.

One of the first and maybe most interesting interviews was given by Urike Meinhof just five months before the foundation of the RAF. It was meant to be an interview about her involvement in the making of a film about young girls living in a children's home. In the end, it bore witness to her growing dissatisfaction with her bourgeois life and hinted at the forthcoming events.

Freiheit oder Tod ist keine alternative. Die Tageszeitung , April : 10 — Since the beginning of the s, Horst Mahler has regularly appeared in the German public as an adherent of extreme right-wing Nazis. He has provoked several public outrages and in March was finally sentenced to more than five years in prison because of his repeated Holocaust denial.

Michael Buback does not belong to a political party, but he was part of an important election campaign for the liberal-conservative CDU Christian Democratic Union in Skip to Main Content. Search in: This Journal Anywhere. Advanced search. Submit an article Journal homepage. Review Article. Pages Published online: 25 Nov Additional information Acknowledgements The author would like to thank Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet for his great and very encouraging commitment and support.