All Commentary
Monday, January 1, 1979

War Without End

Mr. Chatuen has been awarded a scholarship by the Centro de Estudlos sobre la Llbertad In Argentina for special study in economics under Dr. Hans Sennholz at Grove City College, Pennsylvania.

Every day of the year acts of terrorism are striking fear into the hearts of innocent people. Commercial airliners are hijacked with hundreds of people aboard, hostages are taken, private property is destroyed, and political foes are murdered. In the U.S. alone in 1975, a total of 1313 bombings were recorded, killing 69 people and injuring 326.1

Terrorism is threatening the social, political and economic order of Western societies. Terrorists attack the very system of peace that promotes social cooperation and division of labor, the system that offers the highest levels of comfort and well-being man has ever enjoyed. They strike in small groups like the Charles Manson family, or in regimental strength, like the guerrilla troops in the Middle East, Africa and South America.

Some terrorists might be classed simply as common criminals who indulge in unlawful activity, commit violations for which punishment is imposed. The guerrilla movement welcomes such recruits who faithfully execute orders of destruction. But there is a risk that they may cause problems of discipline and may embarrass the movement through senseless acts of violence that are devoid of any ideological justification.

The world leaders of terrorism do not seek destruction for its own sake. They aim to destroy the private property order and build on its ruin a political command order. But they freely make use of the ever-willing criminal element of society which they seek to indoctrinate and organize in the service of “the cause.” The writings of the great leaders of world communism reveal their deep concern about unprincipled guerrilla action. V. I. Lenin, the Russian revolutionary and first premier of the U.S.S.R., repeatedly warned against it:

We would not for one moment assert that individual strokes of heroism are of no importance at all. But it is our duty to utter a strong warning against devoting all attention to terror, against regarding it as the principal method of struggle, as so many at the present time are inclined to do. Terror can never become the regular means of warfare; at best, it can only be of use as one of the methods of a final onslaught.2

It is asserted that partisan actions lower the class-conscious proletariat to the level of drunkards and bums. This is correct. But from this follows only that the party of the proletariat never should consider partisan warfare to be its only or even its chief means of struggle. This particular technique must be integrated with other tactics and be in harmony with the most important methods of combat. Partisan warfare should be ennobled by the enlightening and organizing influence of socialism.3

Mao Tse-tung, the chief theorist of the Chinese Revolution and party chairman, frequently reminded his guerrillas of the importance of party discipline and central leadership. In the words of the Chairman: “Unorganized guerrilla warfare cannot contribute to victory and those who attack the movement as a combination of banditry and anarchism do not understand the nature of guerrilla action.”

Leon Trotsky, the Russian revolutionist and theorist of worldwide revolution, openly called for terrorism:

The revolution “logically” does not demand terrorism, just as “logically” it does not demand an armed insurrection. What a profound commonplace! But the revolution does require of the revolutionary class that it should attain its ends by all methods at its disposal—if necessary, by an armed rising; if required, by terrorism.5

. . . the first condition of salvation is to tear the weapons of domination out of the hands of the bourgeoisie. It is hopeless to think of a peaceful arrival to power while the bourgeoisie retains in its hands all the apparatus of power. . . . There is only one way: to seize power, taking away from the bourgeoisie the material apparatus of government.°

The Ideological Foundation

Why should Marxian terrorists want to seize all political and economic power? They are convinced that capitalism is unjust, that it exploits the working people for the benefit of property owners. It is unjust that some people own great wealth while others linger in poverty and despair.

The terrorists hold to a vague objective theory of value according to which all economic exchange ought to be made objectively so that everyone gets his “fair share.”

They are confident that the future belongs to them and that socialism is coming with the inevitability of natural law.

They see themselves as the vanguard of the coming age.

And finally, they are deeply convinced that socialism will not only eliminate all social injustice, but also will bring greater material well-being to all.

We need not search here for the roots of these ideas. They were planted by the revolutionaries and social reformers of the 19th century. But how do they grow to bear such violent fruit as terrorism?

In the U.S., the notion of injustice in the capitalistic system has gained millions of devotees. The majority of Americans are clamoring for social welfare and economic transfer in order to alleviate the plight of the poor. They are guided not only by economic notions, but also by religious doctrines and concepts. Many clergymen piously support the notion that everyone has an inalienable right to a “decent” life and a “decent” home. The state is responsible for a decent minimum wage, minimum health care, education, and so on. Let anyone with doubts about the ideological trend ask himself this simple question: What are the chances in the coming election for any candidate promising cuts in social spending? Many people are demanding reduction of taxes. But who is asking for reduction in social programs?

Equalizing Incomes

The revolutionaries make use of the religious belief that every worker is useful to society and that everyone has the same opportunity for attaining heaven. They conclude that the garbage collector is as useful to society as the engineer or the doctor, and thus entitled to the same income. Admittedly, they all are equal in the sense that all are useful. But they do not render equal services. It is one thing to believe that the Creator has given everyone an equal right for attaining heaven. It is quite different to assert that everyone contributes equally to the material well-being of society.

Marxian terrorists are convinced that economic value is imparted solely by physical labor, that to the laborer belong the fruits of all economic activity—wages, interest, profits, or whatever. Otherwise, someone is taking what rightly belongs to the worker. Most people sympathize with this notion because they are convinced that they are getting less than they deserve. Therefore, they are willing and ready to embrace the exploitation theory.

Although the terrorists have not yet become popular “heroes” in the U.S., they certainly are no ordinary criminals. Youths of America still admire their athletes, the baseball and football heroes. But the press carefully reports the achievements of the international “liberation movements,” thereby introducing terrorist heroes to the American public.

All over the world college students display posters of “Che” Guevara and Salvador Allende next to the Christian cross. There is little awareness that “Che” never found popular support for his attempt at conquering Bolivia; the peasants rejected him and few, if any, ever joined his liberation army.

The terrorist activity in the United States is still in its first stage, the ideological stage. The people are unaware that an ideological battle is raging over the hearts and minds of their youth. The battle is fought in the schools, churches, and homes.

In Germany, a recent poll of students at Heidelberg University showed that most extreme left-wing students come from educated middle-class backgrounds. They grew up at home, enjoyed all modern conveniences and high standards of living, and were accustomed to a paternalistic society. They received according to middle-class necessity and contributed according to ability, which was very little. They were taught in school and on television that their fathers are exploiters who are feasting on the sweat and blood of the working man. Can it be surprising that children of wealthy bankers and industrialists are eager to rebel against their parents?

In Argentina, the sons of a wealthy businessman recently organized their father’s kidnapping. Other children placed bombs in their parents’ bedroom. Such acts seem inconceivable until one discovers that the director of the state university nursery school was a guerrilla leader.

Seeds of Conflict

In order to launch the revolution, terrorists are- planting the seeds of conflict in society. Social conflict is their road to victory. They are spreading false doctrines of conflict and clamoring for a gradual realization of socialism as Karl Marx had envisioned it in the Communist Manifesto. This is how Leonard Read describes the procedure:

Were I a loyal Russian devoted to the U.S.S.R.—Union of Soviet Socialist Republics—and determined to overcome, subvert, and absorb the U.S.A., what would my tactic be? Drop hydrogen bombs? Probably not! That tactic would be resisted as would an invading army. What then? Would I not try to outmaneuver resistance by attractively phrasing and propagandizing the ideas of socialism? I’d play upon such themes as “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” How would I measure my success? By the extent to which the people of the U.S. adopted my creed, the ten points of the Communist Manifesto?

The revolutionaries hold to their type of justice: “to receive according to what we need, according to our necessities.” Their concept is diametrically opposed to that of the private property order: “to receive according to what we are entitled; and we are entitled only to what others want to give us freely in exchange for what we give in return.”

Only one of these definitions can be correct. What are our necessities? If we could have an objective scale of necessities, then we could possibly find an answer. If economic goods were available in abundance, we could satisfy all our wants. But nature did not provide us with an infinite supply of material goods and services. The private property order cannot be blamed for this natural scarcity. As long as nature is meager and miserly, which forces man to value his provisions, voluntary exchange is the only fair and equitable distribution. When we recognize that economic goods are valuable and that we must give something in exchange, the exploitation theory and the labor theory of value lose any rational justification. In the market order a businessman must pay a wage equal to the worker’s contribution in order to attract labor. Economists call this the worker’s marginal productivity. If a given employer refuses to bid that much, other employers would be willing to hire the worker in order to increase their profits.

It is difficult to argue with terrorists who sincerely believe that they are an enlightened minority. They cannot blame God for the world of scarcity, so they blame “evil” individuals and their economic order for man’s limitations. Man lingers in poverty because man does not behave as he should. But the revolutionaries aim to change evil men; they aim to save mankind.

Is socialism inevitable?

Its followers are convinced that they will achieve the utopian maxim “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” They are clinging to their beliefs, although more than sixty years have passed since the Russian Revolution and the Russian people were supposed to create the Proletarian paradise. And yet, the Russian people continue to linger in poverty and despair.

It is ideas that cause man to act. And action makes history. The coming of socialism depends on ideas. Whose ideas? Our ideas. We need to study the numerous fallacies that support socialism. But above all, we must learn to appreciate man’s work and achievement when he is allowed to be free.

The Battle Is Ideological

When terrorism is disrupting economic life and jeopardizing law and order, the state, which is social authority with power to enforce its laws, seeks to reassert itself. It mobilizes its police power and may call on its armed forces to crush the terror. But the application of brute force rests on the ideological assumption that the policemen and soldiers approve of the system they are supposed to defend. Without this approval, which grows from an understanding of the private property order, they cannot be expected to function. Why should they risk their lives obeying orders to defend a system they despise? Why should they confront the terrorists if they themselves are tempted to commit acts of terrorism? The apparatus of state disintegrates and all resistance ceases when police and military join the revolutionaries.

When the state enjoys the popular support to prevail over the terrorists, the latter usually seek and receive international reinforcement. But this international support constitutes much less a threat to society than does the ideological attack at home. National considerations predispose people against foreign ideologues and their objectives. Surely, ideas have no nationality, but people tend to relate alien ideas to foreigners. Mao Tse-tung made use of this psychological principle to wage war on the Japanese and find supporters for his movement. The Cubans and the Russians are facing the same problem today in Africa—they are foreigners.

The war against terrorism is a war without end. This ideological struggle occurs in the classrooms, in the churches, in the press, on radio and television, and on the floors of Congress. Every day the forces of individual freedom and the private property order are engaging the forces of pragmatism and the political command order. They are battling for the minds of men.



‘Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year, 1977, p. 218.

2V. I. Lenin, Selected Works (New York: International Publishers, 1943), vol. II, p. 17. ‘Lenin, “The Guerrilla Warfare,” Sept., 1906, in Marx, Engels, and Marxism, 7th rev. ed. (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1965).

*Mao Tse-tung, On Guerrilla Warfare (New York: F. Praeger, 1961), p. 45.

5Leon Trotsky, Terrorism and Communism, paperback ed. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1961), p. 58.

‘Ibid., p. 36.

‘Leonard E. Read, Vision (Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc., 1978), p. 82.