Draft Reflections on the September Arrests: BR-PCC Internal Document 1989

Processo Ruffilli

Footnotes and notes in square brackets have been added by the translator. Translation is provisional. 

In order to understand the key transitions which constitute the the readjustment process  of the O [organization] within the SR1 two aspects should be taken into consideration: 1) the current context of the confrontation. 2) the dynamics which animate the O in this confrontation. These aspects are dialectically connected but we will separate them in the analysis to better identify them, within the discontinuous process that from 1982 has marked a non linear course of advances and retreats, of non linear development in the awareness acquired by the O.

Analyzing these key transitions is necessary to grapple with the question of the contradictions and laws of motion within an RF [Revolutionary Force] which operates within an advanced capitalist country in a way which does not isolate the specific facts from the general context which produces them. Within this there must be a total evaluation of the internal summation produced by the Executive then in charge.

The general relations of force resulting from the counter-revolution of the Eighties brought about harsh conditions for revolutionary work, it was and is a question of reconstructing the complex politico-military terms of the class war on the level given by the confrontation within the recognition that the activity of the counter-revolution has not only redrawn the terms of the political relation between the classes, but has materially broken up (in the sense of spaces known and touched by the counter-revolution) the sphere of reproduction of the vanguard (obviously in relative not absolute terms) above all in the industrial centers and historic reserves of orientation and reproduction of the BR. The necessity of reconstruction appeared as an urgent objective need before it appeared in the consciousness of the O, both on account of the deepening of the confrontation which occurred on the general political and revolutionary level and especially because the historical and political scope reached by the class confrontation in Italy is such that there were still wide margins for the recovery and renewal of revolutionary activity in the face of the counter-revolution.

The process of Theory/Practice/Theory which develops within the Strategic Retreat, although non-linear, enables the O, facing the confrontation, to become aware of the type of contradictions which the State counter-offensive and the effects of the counter-revolution within the proletarian camp have introduced within it.

It is superfluous to enter into an analysis of the internal conditions which produced the defencist logic, because this is extensively discussed in the internal Summation and is reflected in the oscillations of Theory/Practice in the activity carried out between 1982 and the political struggle with the “second position”2. What interests us here is to highlight an aspect of that period which produced its negative effects only in the medium term.

We refer to the modifications of the Politico-Organizational form justified by the exceptional situation and which had to be adapted temporarily. The incapacity to move beyond this exceptional situation due to the political contradictions noted above entailed an impoverishment of the militant body because it was deprived of means and ways (by its structural form) to appropriately develop and orientate itself to political work within a clandestine and compartmentalized regime. This impoverishment has encouraged the verticalism of the leading offices and the unchecked emergence of a centrifugal and group dynamic, ultimately the loss of a historical and political sense of the function of the O. a weakening which had negative repercussions for the readjustment process in general terms and specifically for the process of reconstruction and replacement of leading cadres. We have emphasized this contradiction because it is important for the acquisition by the O of the total functionality of a revolutionary force which because of its Politico-Military schema develops and acts within the criteria of a Revolutionary Army.

The difficult process of readjustment experiences a turning point when along with the recentering of the analysis of the framework of the confrontation, there is an analysis of those essential points for which the O must provide a solution. There begins a receivership3 aimed at restructuring and redeploying the militant body not only within the basic politico-organizational components (Cells) but adaption to the total consciousness which the tasks on the agenda demand.

This internal process of strict political guidance and reorganization could necessarily develop only within the implementation of the initiative of the O., with its necessary result in the practice of a firm leadership and disposition/organization of the forces which are attached to the political line of the O.

On this point, we must take account of the fact that along with the deepening of the old contradictions inherited from the tactical defeat of 1982, there is a maturation of contradictions and problems of development produced by the dual aspects of reconstruction (internal to the O/external in the leadership of the proletarian camp) because the externally directed aspect entailed and entails the capacity to implement a leadership adequate to the current stage of the revolutionary confrontation.

It is obvious that such a transition becomes extremely important for the objective of stabilizing a balance necessary to guide the accumulation process of contradictions and problems towards its resolution. Actually the receivership played this guiding role primarily in the initial stage of the process which occurred within a political control of the evolution of old and new contradictions. All the movement up until then produced by the activity of the O itself, is not located on the terrain of expectations and tight deadlines. A dynamic of development which flowing dialectically within the O in that delicate moment of stabilization, put it in a difficult position. And its balance considering the dual aspects of reconstruction in the work of the O.

But this is not the critical factor which enabled the error, the critical point which led to the arrests of September4; because this movement was also managed albeit within a greater complexity, then was foreseen and analyzed by the EC5 then in charge. To this aspect there must be added another factor of analysis involving the need to come to grips with the measures that the State would deploy both to counteract the political effects of the activity of the O and the kind of military pressure aimed at breaking up the O. Both of these aspects were analyzed, but the practical response, the decisions taken at that time were not up to the task of absorbing this kind of shock (as the facts have shown). What is important to emphasize is why the response was not adequate; then in a context overwritten by the complexification of tasks and which resulted in a certain instability of the balance point, this element of balance must be more precisely located in the well known factor of unity between the political and military insofar as it relates to the internal aspect of the O.

Although the order of contradictions was mainly one of growth, these had to be governed taking into account that they involved the development of a very complex politico-military conception to be articulated internally (much less externally insofar as it is inherent to the definition of the mode of development of class war). Of course there cannot exist a purely political response, or one that is purely military and organizational, these two levels must exist in a strict interrelation, otherwise a dangerous imbalance and one that is difficult to repair is created. In plain terms, even though it produced many political expectations, the way in which the O had to evaluate itself, should have referred not only to the capacity for grasping problems politically, but also been conditioned by the periods of military adjustment in the broadest terms including also the absorptive capacity of the organizational structure. In this sense the EC in charge, despite having grasped the weight of the problem in general terms, neglected this principle, and was unable to manage the response and direction of movement above all on the counter-guerrilla level and in the face of the material damages caused by negotiations (the Political Solution).

It was necessary to implement a “congealment” of the dynamic of linear growth, a timely cool down of the process of internal reorganization, compatible with the time for Politico-Organizational absorption needed by the structure, even if that would have entailed a slower response to the political deadlines which the O itself had contributed to developing. To have disregarded this reality, is in fact to to have separated the political level from the military and organizational aspect, favoring a divergence from the balance point between these two factors. Retracing the transitions of the most recent period, it is clear that the management of the different factors which make up the O itself, in practical terms experiences discontinuity through successive advancing fractures. The political signal that it was necessary to restrain the movement also came from the results of the delegate assemblies. In that context the adjustment of the structure in relation to its real capacity for absorption had to be prioritized, postponing to a second period the political timelines for the formation and renewal of the leading structures. The lesson which can be gleaned from this is that if the fundamental reason for the error which favored the arrests is be to found in the collapse of this balance point (in terms of decisions taken which dispensed with it) in the context of the period of adjustment and the more general resetting of the O, the detonator which exacerbated this imbalance is the pressure produced by the political deadlines looming in the background. The political deadlines are dictated by two interacting factors: the political context of the class confrontation and the revolutionary intervention of the O within it, in the moment within which it intervenes, in this way promoting the advancement and deepening of the revolutionary level, taking account of the fact that around the attack, the O works on the dual aspects of construction/formation, the movement which is produced shifts the terrain which defines the political timelines on the terrain class/state further forward.

The second timeline in the background is dictated by the alliance policy on the terrain of anti-imperialism and demands the maximum of political/military preparation on the part of the O, the maximum adjustment in the training of forces for the dimensions of the anti-imperialist confrontation. These timelines demand to be handled in advance of everything which follows in terms of transformations in the level of confrontation and are developed within the complex activity of the O generating an objective push for solutions understood in linear terms.

One of the errors of the EC in formulating the directives for work is that of referring to the political timelines without concretely evaluating the coming critical level in the adjustment process within the O. And it is helpful to specify the exact sense which must be given to the term “organizational absorption” so as to clarify its full political significance, without which there is a risk of reducing it to something of simply technical importance. “Organizational absorption” is the litmus test of the capacity of the O to activate around its own work all the proletarian energy at its disposal gradually translating it into increasingly stable terrains of class Organization on the terrain of A.S6 (networks, structures, organizations), all within the general directives of the O. An activity tasked with laying the foundations, the basic building blocks of the stage of reconstruction.

In this sense, the logistical and organizational adjustment in technical terms does not exist for itself, but is the product of the political work of the O within the proletarian camp and therefore of successive levels of empowerment of the vanguards towards revolutionary confrontation. It is evident then as already in the work of the structure there had emerged the problem of leadership quality as a question which vertically and horizontally traverses the O, and that the structural level could not help but express all the contradictions of the formation process.

In this context one can better understand the question of the balance point within the politico-military adjustment of the structure and how the complexity of the tasks, the different temporalities in the movement of the evolution of contradictions and problems created a “critical mass” with the corollary chain of resultant errors.

To analyze the political logic and the levels of contradiction, does not mean to negate the responsibility for errors which manifested at different levels within the dynamic of the movement. To the contrary, because time after time, this framework was emphasized by the EC, albeit in a fragmentary way, and pointed out (in terms of political guidelines as well), the attitudes of individuals who neglected tasks and directives, enacting their own personal work styles up to the point of real indiscipline are even more deplorable.

After a year of receivership, contradictions and problems had manifested in almost the structures, which although they could be differentiated in relation to some questions, had their origins in the same mechanism. The EC thought that this was perhaps due to the excessive “baby sitting” exercised by the receivership over the structures reaching a point which made the structures and comrades less responsible for work. This was because many of the contradictions also manifested on the political level. For this reason, a mistaken decision was made to partially reduce the receivership. This was a mistake because the EC referred to the manifestation of the problem without understanding that it originated from the pressure which was objectively created by the complex activity of the O and which was located in structures which were not yet fully developed (the problem of political immaturity). Therefore the formation process still had to be rigidly managed but assessed in relation to new points of reference (certainly different from those at the launch of the structures).

In this way it would be very easy to relate to the level of “organizational absorption” given that political control would be implemented immediately and wherever the structure had political difficulties in its work and create the appropriate remedy.

At this stage of the revolutionary process it is necessary to develop a real code of conduct for the class war on the general political level, no matter how specific it might be, indeed it is exactly because of its complexity that it requires this expertise, developed of course with reference to the tactical positions to be taken in the successive moments of the revolutionary process.

1 Strategic Retreat: shift to a defensive position made by the leadership of the BR-PCC in the aftermath of the catastrophic reversal following the failure of the Dozier operation in 1982.

2 A debate occurring in 1984 within the BR-PCC between the partisans of the “First” and “Second” positions. The “First Position” defended the established line of “protracted warfare”, the “Second Position” asserted the validity of a theory of insurrection within which armed propaganda would play a crucial role in the accumulation of forces.

3 Commissariamento.

4 On September 7th 1988 the Carabinieri raid six BR-PCC safe houses in Rome. Twenty one suspected militants are arrested (sixteen men and five women). Sixteen handguns, detonators, explosives and two hundred million in cash is seized. The arrested militants include Fabio Ravalli, Flavio Lori and Anna Maria Capello.

5 Executive Committee. National leadership body of the BR-PCC.

6 Armed Struggle.