Between March 23 and April 8, J. Smith, co-editor of the Red Army Faction Documentary Histories volumes 1 and 2 (Projectiles for the People and Dancing with Imperialism), will be speaking throughout the North East about Europe’s most famous and controversial urban guerilla organization from the 1970s and 80s, West Germany’s Red Army Faction.
Smith will be talking about the RAF from its prehistory in the firebombing of two department stores in Frankfurt in 1968, its inception breaking member Andreas Baader out of prison in 1970, the May 1972 Offensive, subsequent attempts to free prisoners, its reorientation in the 1980s with the rise and fall of the Front concept, and more.
Topics addressed will include:
* the similarities and differences between the West German armed experience and similar phenomenon in Europe and North America
* the rise and fall of a certain kind of “anti-imperialism”, and its ramifications in terms of the RAF’s practice
* the ways in which the RAF’s line evolved over time, from solidarity with the struggle in Vietnam to an orientation around freeing political prisoners, to opposition to NATO’s war plans under Reagan and Thatcher, and beyond
* the group’s relationship to the prison struggle and the movement against solitary confinement
* the primarily political character of urban guerilla organizations
* the consequences of these facts in terms of strategy and survival, and why all of this matters today.
Attention will be paid to the political nature of the guerilla struggle, its evolving context, and what challenges and opportunities this presented to those determined to fight imperialism with pen and paper, and guns and bombs too.
Two versions of this talk will be given on this tour, a “shorter” one hour version dealing exclusively with the RAF, and a slightly longer version also addressing the histories of the 2nd of June Movement and Revolutionary Cells. While each version will be “in depth”, they will not assume nor require any prior knowledge on the subject – in other words, we’ll be covering it all, from scratch. And from a revolutionary anti-imperialist perspective, too.
Talks will be followed by question and answer/discussion.
Cities and venues confirmed:
Boston, Sunday March 23, 3pm at the Lucy Parsons Center, A, 358 Centre St, Jamaica Plain (tel.: 617-522-6098) (facebook event page)
Amherst (MA), Tuesday March 25, 6pm at Food for Thought bookstore, 108 North Pleasant Street (tel: 413-253-5432) (website event page)
New York City, Thursday March 27, 7pm at Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen Street (firstname.lastname@example.org, tel.: 212-777-6028) (facebook event)
Philadelphia, Friday March 28, 7:30pm at A Space, 4722 Baltimore Avenue (tel: 215-821-6877 voicemail only) (facebook event page)
Baltimore, Saturday March 29, 7:30pm at Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Avenue (tel.: 410-230-0450) (facebook event page)
Richmond (VA), Sunday March 30, 6pm at the William Byrd Community Center, 224 S Cherry
St (facebook event page)
Pittsburgh (PA), Wednesday April 2, 7pm at Big Idea Bookstore, 4812 Liberty Ave.; tel: 412-687-4323 (412-OUR-HEAD) (facebook event page)
Buffalo (NY), Thursday April 3, 7pm at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St (facebook event page)
Ithaca (NY), Saturday April 5, 3pm at Buffalo Street Books in the DeWitt Mall, Between Cayuga & Tioga Streets (tel.: 607-273-8246)
Rochester (NY), Monday April 7, 7pm at the Flying Squirrel Community Space, 285 Clarissa St. (tel.: 585-678-6870) (facebook event page)
Hamilton (Ontario), Tuesday April 8, 6:30pm at The Winking Judge, 25 Augusta St (facebook event page)
The Red Army Faction was an urban guerilla organization, active in West Germany from the 1970s til the 1990s. It was a communist and anti-imperialist organization that emerged from the global 60s revolt and the New Left, and yet its extensive practice and the serious attention it paid to theorizing its own experience make it a potentially rich source of lessons learned for revolutionaries today.
Projectiles for the People and Dancing with Imperialism are the first two volumes in a three-volume series of documentary histories, reproducing all of the RAF’s writings in English for the first time, accompanied by extensive background information about West Germany, the RAF’s actions, and the broader radical left.