Preface to the French Edition of

“On Terrorism and the State”

If many books on terrorism are published in Italy, few of them are as little read as this one and none are as ignored by the press. Published at the end of April 1979, distributed slowly in a limited number of bookstores, Del Terrorismo e dello Stato[1] was out of print by the beginning of the summer and has not been reprinted in Italy because of several difficulties created for me by a stupid and crude judicial-police persecution to which I will return. It is more interesting to ask oneself here, at the beginning, about the reasons for the quasi-complete silence that has surrounded a book that deals with a subject that is spoken about every day, but always in the same mendacious way, on the front pages of all the Italian newspapers as well as on the State-sponsored radio and television stations. Apparently my book was discussed in an ad hoc program that preceded a regularly scheduled installment of a television news-magazine, but, as several people have reported to me, this was only done so that a motley collection of experts on terrorism, brought together for the occasion, could say that the theses of my book “are not convincing.” The most curious fact is that neither the television news-magazine nor the newspaper that wrote about it have ever dared to evoke these famous “theses” on Italian terrorism, which they nevertheless hastened to describe as “unconvincing.” On the contrary, do they fear that they are convincing and is this why they keep silent about them with so much zeal? Do they fear that my arguments are in fact considered by [some] people to be more persuasive than their maladroit fantasies about terrorism, since all these reporters have made it their duty to make no allusions to them? If so, why so many precautions? What the devil is written in a book that is so scandalous that its existence is kept secret by the very people who are believed to have the obligation to speak about terrorism? Does On Terrorism and the State contain State secrets?

Well, yes: this book contains State secrets. Is not the principal secret of the Italian State the fact that its own secret services [intelligence agencies] have organized and pulled the strings of terrorism? And this is precisely the very thing that is amply demonstrated in On Terrorism and the State.

* * *

That which is not convincing is not my argumentation, but the self-contradictory behavior of the State and its loyal servants with respect to my book. On the one hand, they speak of it to say nothing about it, that is, when they aren’t trying to have the Italians think that what I say isn’t “convincing.” On the other hand, several days after the televised “review,” the political police and a judge who is known for the unfortunate zeal that he employs in trying to render probable all of the official lies on the subject of terrorism began a complex and solemn judicial-police persecution of me. Thus, should I think that I committed the crime of not having been “convincing”? If our [Criminal] Code makes provisions for such an offense, all the prisons of Europe would not be enough to hold our politicians, journalists, judges, police officers, union leaders, industrialists and priests. No, this was not why I was persecuted. I was in fact persecuted because I was too convincing when I accused the State of the crimes that this same State then sought revenge for, but, as we will see, with the embarrassed clumsiness proper to guilty parties who want to pass themselves off as innocent. The men who govern this State are, as one knows, the same ones who governed during the massacre at the Piazza Fontana[2] and, so as to not be accused of perpetrating it, they have been continuously obligated to accuse other men of their own crimes and all other crimes, as if they want to give a supplementary and practical confirmation of the theory of Madame de Stael,[3] according to whom “the life of any [political] party that commits a political crime is always linked to that crime, either to justify it or, by virtue of its power, to make that crime forgotten.”

A series of disparate accusations – so crudely false and arbitrary that, one after the other, they collapsed without my attorneys having to intervene – were made against me during these past six months and, according to the whims of those who imagined them, they ran from smuggling to terrorism, and, naturally, included the possession of weapons and subversive association.

Of all these accusations, which could have brought me 20 to 30 years in prison if one kept to the letter of the law or, on the contrary, [if they were pursued] would have covered in ridicule those who made them against me, there were two of them that could have found a basis in reality (if one were to take them seriously and in a certain manner), while the others were completely false and bizarre.

I have indeed been a smuggler, but an honorable one. Since 1967, have I not smuggled in from France the driving ideas of modern revolution, that is to say, the ideas of the Situationist International? And I also admit that, judging from the conditions in which the Italian State has found itself since then, this smuggling of the French disease has not benefited it: the contagion has been more rapid and deeper here than elsewhere, and the illness has not been eradicable. Unfortunately for my accusers, under the terms of our [Criminal] Code, as well as the Helsinki Accord, the smuggling of ideas is not condemnable, and we know quite well that, when the Italian State is concerned with ideas, it is surely not to get them cleared through customs. The accusation of smuggling thus collapsed miserably, even if it desperately sought, but unsuccessfully, to camouflage itself behind other common law pretexts.

As for the accusation of subversive association, although I do not exactly know what “subversive association” means in the context of the old fascist Code that is still on the books, I recognize that it, too, could have a basis in reality, since I belonged – in broad daylight and not clandestinely – to the Situationist International until its dissolution, which took place in the faraway year of 1972. I find this inquisitio post mortem of the SI laughable. A judge concerned with fairness, in addition to investigating the SI, would also have to open investigations into Marx’s Communist League and the International Association of Workers, and issue a warrant for the arrest of the descendants of all those who housed Bakunin during his stay in Italy.

The accusation of weapons possession was based on absolutely nothing, and it certainly wasn’t better founded for having been brought against me several times, but always without success.[4] Contrary to the nattering of President Pertini, it seems to me that the civil war still hasn’t begun – the proof of this is that he is still President of this thing that resembles a republic – and thus it is useless to possess weapons. And, in any case, those who accuse me of possessing weapons must at least find them, or at least plant them on me, and neither has happened yet.

Adding the arbitrary to the most obtuse arrogance, the Republic’s chief prosecutor claims that, “according to the contents of the documents of the Red Brigades, there exist close connections between the ideology of this group and that of the Situationist International, of which the aforementioned Sanguinetti is a representative.” Beyond the fact that the Italian section of the SI has not existed since 1970 and that, as a result, I cannot be [one of] its “representative[s],” and beyond the fact that the SI never had an ideology, because it fought against all of them (including the ideology of armed struggle), one must note at least two things. First, it would be less unfruitful if the judges [in question] educated themselves before making accusations. Second, it would be much easier to show “close connections” between the police-like ideology of the aforesaid prosecutor and that of the Red Brigades than between the ideology of the Red Brigades and situationist theory. And nothing in the world is more radically opposed to what I wrote about the Red Brigades than what this group says about itself, with the support of both the bourgeois and the bureaucratic press. Finally, I note – so as to not rely on arguments that are too easy – that is easy to buy the publications of the SI in Italy and that there are many people who know them, despite what the voice of this or that imprisoned Autonome[5] says. Furthermore, anyone who reads these publications can ascertain that in no case does there exist “close connections” between these writings and the documents of the ghostly Red Brigade, despite what that impertinent prosecutor claims.

* * *

In the same way, and at the same time that the authorities were conducting this maladroit persecution – which was filled with low blows but at least had the merit of being public and official, as were the incriminations, searches, surveillance and wiretaps connected to it – obscure and vile people who were by their behavior easily identifiable as cops, acting with fewer scruples but with no more success, operated in the shadows with the aim of provoking or intimidating me. Not being an intellectual, and not having the necessity of making a living from what I write, I have never claimed to receive better public recognition than this for what I myself publish, at my own risk and peril, at a time and in a country where no one dares to run the risk of saying to people that which one doesn’t want people to hear, that is to say, the simple truth about terrorism and the rest.

For the benefit of readers who don’t live in Italy, and to give Italy the publicity that it merits, I will add that several travelers have been stopped at the border by the Italian police, taken by force to a large city and interrogated at length for the sole reason that they possessed a copy of this book; that the magistracy has opened an investigation into those who have distributed it; and that the DIGOS,[6] without even having obtained a proper seizure order, has arbitrarily seized whatever copies it has been able to find.

Thus, there is no longer any doubt, if there ever was one: I have told the truth. And, thanks to the harm one wants to do to me, I know that my work is good, and I certainly would not have provoked such hatred if no one had heard me. In fact, among the people who have read what I have written, and who are of various ages, conditions and opinions, many have approved, few have doubted, and none have refuted me.

* * *

Since the first edition of this book, many events have taken place, none of which have necessitated the least modification (in either the entirety or the details) of its arguments or conclusions. Indeed, these events have only confirmed them. We have witnessed the elimination of Alessandrini, a judge who was becoming troublesome, first for taking apart the rigged trial [of those accused of the bombing] of the Piazza Fontana, and then – several hours before being killed, officially by [Leftist] subversives – having questioned an ex-chief of the S.I.D.[7] about his false testimony and the false testimony given by his superior officers, Andreotti and Rumor,[8] at that rigged trial. Then we saw a disciple of Moro, the Honorable Mattarella, President of the Sicily, meet the same end as his master, and for the same reason,[9] on the eve of his formation of the first regional government of “compromise” between the Christian Democratic Party and the Italian Communist Party [ICP]. On diverse occasions, we have also seen several police officers suddenly get iced so as to heat up support for and nullify all opposition to the villainous laws [French in original Italian version] that surpass and invalidate the old fascist laws (thought to be too tolerant), as well as the republican Constitution. But the most important of all the novelties that appeared during this past year was certainly the fact that the ICP – seeing its prospects for active and immediate participation in the government evaporate with the death of Moro – adopted a fallback position, which was to make a warhorse of its active participation in the spectacle of terrorism and its repression. This is clearly the principal novelty to appear after the publication of the first edition of this book, and it merits a few remarks because it once again demonstrates that, not only do the Stalinists know that it is power that perpetrates [dirige] terrorism, but also that those who wish to be in power in Italy today must demonstrate that they know how to perpetrate [diriger] terrorism. And this is so true that even a former government minister (a Socialist) recently declared in an interview that, “in Italy, one makes policy with terrorism.”

Until 7 April 1979,[10] the ICP contented itself with issuing stupid, ritualized appeals against terrorism, which it defined by feigning to believe all the official versions of the attacks, thus proving its good will to the Christian Democrats and its bad conscience to everyone else. But from that day on, the Stalinists, through the intermediary of the magistracy, began to put to good use their vast and rich fifty-year-long experience with the discovery of fake suspects, the staging of rigged trials, the production of false testimony and prefabricated proofs.

Since their double goal was to show their merits to the Christian Democrats and to get rid of a limited but embarrassing force (because it was situated to their left and insulted them), the Stalinists found among the Autonomes the guilty parties for 10 years’ of assassinations, massacres and [other acts of] terrorism. There wasn’t a crime committed in the 1970s that wasn’t committed by this or that Autonome. From unsolved murders to the Moro affair, from mysterious kidnappings to the thefts of works of art and racehorses, every crime was solved, suddenly and as if by magic; every offense found its guilty party and every guilty party found his or her compensation in a prison sentence. To obtain such a harmonious settlement of the trials of the past decade, the genius for harmony and invention[11] of a simple Stalinist magistrate was certainly not enough. The entire organization (both its hidden and public parts) of the ICP was mobilized with the goal of proving that Autonomia was the armed struggle. As if by chance, the only Autonome leader to remain at liberty, the naïve Pifano, was very quickly caught with his hand in a sack that contained two non-functioning Lance missiles, furnished to the aforementioned Pifano by the FPLP,[12] a Stalinist Palestinian organization that was, according to General Miceli himself,[13] notoriously linked by reciprocal recognition to the Italian secret services. Thus, if until that moment the links between Autonomia and terrorism could not be demonstrated, the zealous Pecchioli[14] was, several hours later, able to declare to Parliament that, faced with such an eloquent fact, no one had any right to doubt that the Autonomes constituted the strategic leadership of terrorism, which was what the Stalinist magistrate Calogero[15] had already maintained, but without any proof. The poor Autonomes, who for their part have never understood terrorism or revolution, have thus ended up – such coveted prey – in the carnivorous jaws of the Stalinists and the magistracy, without even understanding why or how. One must hope that, where their self-instruction is concerned, they make better use of their time in prison than they did when they were free.

In both their ingenuity and their crudeness, the Stalinists’ admirable methods of accusation are not at all original, but closely match the ones used in the famous Moscow “show trials” of the 1930s. The only difference is that the arrested Autonomes have still not been declared guilty of all the crimes that have been committed. The incongruity of these most-recent juridical procedures must not be held against the Stalinists. No doubt they would quickly disappear if the Stalinists had control of the police forces and could make use of their tested and infallible system during the interrogation phase.[16]

For the secret services and the ringleaders of the Christian Democrats, who have suffered so many judicial humiliations these past few years – certainly not due to the honesty of the judges, but their own lack of ability – the great trials of the Autonomes, which have been so skillfully mounted, have opened up unexpected perspectives and new fields of action. Indeed, ever since 7 April 1979, the spectacle of terrorism has made immense progress and, if, until then, the secret services had been compelled to go too far, now that the Stalinists have shown themselves to be such skillful and unconditional allies, there is reason to believe that, like Ulysses, they will make themselves “wings for the foolish flight, always gaining a little on the port side.”[17]

Acting in this way, the bureaucrats of the ICP have done nothing other than what they are capable of doing and incapable of not doing when they find themselves within reach of power. They know perfectly well that, this time more than ever, they have every reason to be dishonest, because it is in the current period that their historic enterprise is being played out, and it is natural that they seek to put into play all of their forces, since their entire fortunes are at stake.[18] They have a supplementary reason to immediately show all of their historical dishonesty. They are certainly not ignorant of the fact that it is uniquely because of their dishonesty, and not for their very well-hidden virtue, that the bourgeoisie can now employ them in their service. And, more precisely, the Stalinists know that they must continuously invent and discover conspiracies against bourgeois democracy, either to feign to love it better or to show to the world all the dangers that it runs without their help.

If the ICP behaves this way in public, it surely acts with the same contemptible baseness in its “private life” at the factories, that is, by indicating to the bosses the identities of the “terrorist” workers (those who do not want to submit and practice absenteeism, that is to say, those workers who struggle), so that they can be fired and denounced in the name of the justice of work.

Contrary to the hopes of subtle Berlinguer,[19] the bosses and the best-advised men in the Christian Democratic Party have concluded that the more the ICP shows itself to be useful without being a part of the government, the more useless it would be to bring them into it, with the result that all that the Stalinists do (and by all possible means) to attain power is in fact what keeps them out of it, which further alienates them from the electoral sympathies and illusions that they had once attracted. But this is the drama of the Stalinists and it doesn’t concern us, at least insofar as they have not become malicious enough to return to the practice of their preferred art, which is political crime. Until then, we must note about what immediately concerns us that bourgeois terrorism and Stalinist terrorism, both of which seek the same goal, reveal themselves to be what they have always been, and give the working classes an excellent occasion to recognize and combat all of their enemies, both bureaucrats and bourgeois.

* * *

The active servility with which the entire Leftist intelligentsia at first tolerated, then adopted, the official accusatory theses about terrorism and the Autonomes’ connections to it could seem properly stupefying to someone who doesn’t know that this intelligentsia has always acted in this fashion every time that it has had the opportunity to act otherwise. The governmental-Stalinist version of the facts was accepted point by point and thus publicized without the least respect for historical truth or so-called “intellectual dignity.” Furthermore, it is notorious that, for the last half-century, the role of Italian intellectuals, who are Stalinist for the most part, has been irreplaceable in the diffusion of all the lies on the subjects of socialism and revolution. Today, since they can no longer lie about Soviet, Chinese and Cuban “socialism,” they have been reduced to the spreading of limitless lies about bourgeois democracy. To safeguard it, they have willingly made every sacrifice and have even safeguarded it without making any sacrifices at all. Thus, the recent government decrees concerning [police] custody, the penalties for crimes of terrorism and “possession of subversive documents” were approved without protest and in homage to the fetish of democratic guarantees. The new provisions on preventive detention will permit the State to keep an accused person in prison for 12 years without trial. From now on, the Italian magistracy, for which the existence of courtesans has never been a State secret and no longer has to be proved, does not have to bother with demonstrating the guilt of whomever is de facto condemned to 12 years in prison, and this is just the beginning. From now on, the accusation coincides with the condemnation, and the fiction of democratic liberty in Italy has ended even as a fiction. Italy is a democratic republic founded on the exploitation of work[20] and executive orders.

In a passage in The Phenomenology of Mind that is little known by our intellectuals and that relates to governmental terrorism, Hegel says,

By no manner of means, therefore, can it [the government] exhibit itself as anything but a faction. The victorious faction is only called the government, and in the fact that it is a faction lies the direct necessity of its overthrow, and its being [the] government makes it, conversely, into a faction and hence guilty (…) Being suspected, therefore, takes the place, or has the significance and effect, of being guilty.[21]

When the arbitrary no longer fears to appear as what it has always been, and when being guilty or innocent no longer has any importance, since the condemnation becomes the only certitude, then anyone who combats the arbitrary no longer has to fear being guilty. He or she is condemned for being condemned as much as for committing an honorable crime. Thus, we cannot let ourselves be governed innocently. And so, waiting to destroy all the prisons, let us give the enemy good reasons to fill them, certainly not by falling into the well-set trap of terrorism, but rather by fighting openly and by all means all those who today make use of it and practice it: government ministers, politicians, bosses and police officers.

In our times, intellectual Jesuitism calls democracy “the arbitrary,” freedom “the freedom to lie,” and testimony “systematic and obligatory informing.” “Thus were informers, a race of men brought forward for the destruction of the public and never sufficiently restrained by pains or penalties, allured and invited to action by rewards,” Tacitus said,[22] though he – unlike our intellectuals – confessed that he preferred the dangers of freedom to the tranquility of slavery. These same intellectuals, after having debated courage back and forth, and up and down, proudly concluded that today one must have the courage to be a coward. The reasoning in fashion these days is simple: if one loves democracy, one must defend it; to defend it, one must combat its enemies; to combat the enemies of democracy, no sacrifice is too great; the nobility of the goal justifies every means; no democracy for the enemies of democracy! That which was essentially not a democracy has now visibly ceased to be one.

And who are [supposedly] the real enemies of democracy? All those who objectively put it in danger by propagating ideas that are incompatible with it, and all those who objectively support its enemies by not supporting the State. In sum, the enemies of this “democracy” are all those who practice democracy.

In 1924, had this “democracy” – so sincere, so quick to pretend to be the contrary of what it really is – been in power, instead of Mussolini, one could be certain that the means would have existed to accuse the Leftists of the assassination of Matteotti,[23] just as one accused the Leftists of assassinating Moro in 1978. But as Mussolini had less need of lies than the current State, he would not have needed to employ intellectuals such as Leo Valiani[24] to speak to us of State crimes with the same admiration that one speaks of the virtues of Cato [the Younger].

I know quite well that the Italian intelligentsia has a number of reasons to be fearful and dishonest; I even know its self-justifying arguments by heart; and I would never dream of refusing it the freedom to be contemptible. What I find tedious is the fact that intellectuals constantly intervene with respect to terrorism in the newspapers and weekly magazines, as if an obscure force pushes them to publish the proofs of their unlimited baseness, and as if it were still necessary to convince anyone of it, whereas they might be better off if they confined these proofs to their books, so that their baseness is not known to either posterity or their contemporaries.

For example, no one among the great thinkers in matters of terrorism has yet formulated the simplest of arguments on the subject. If the ghostly Red Brigades [RBs] were a spontaneous grouping of subversives, as one says that they are, and if Negri and Piperno were the leaders of the RBs, as one pretends that they are, then why would that clever group allow the State to imprison its leaders, who deny that this is what they are, and why would they not even seek to exonerate these men, if only to try to recuperate them afterwards? If, on the other hand, Negri and Piperno are not the leaders of the RBs, and are not even members of that organization, then the hypothetical subversives of the RBs would have even more reason to publicly clear them of these accusations. Indeed, they would have three good reasons for doing so: to not allow leaders to be falsely attributed to them without protest; to not be accused of allowing innocent people to be condemned in their places; and, finally, because – being protected by clandestinity – they run no risk of clearing the names of the people currently accused.

Since nothing of the sort has happened, we must conclude that the real leaders of the RBs have the same interest as our State does in having it believed that Negri and Piperno are their leaders. This novel convergence of interests between the State and the RBs has nothing fortuitous or extraordinary about it and can only stupefy the stupid people who have not realized that the RBs are the State, that is to say, one of its armed appendages.

Therefore, even these few simple deductions, which, on their own, suffice to prove the enormity and fragility of the generalized lies about terrorism, are too bold to be formulated by our free thinkers, who are so free that they have come to the point of no longer thinking. On the contrary, they revel in trying to outdo each other with sub-Machiavellian and maladroit theories, such as the one that tries to prove that the dissolution of Potere Operaio,[25] which occurred six or seven years ago, was a diabolical simulation that allowed its leaders and militant members to better devote themselves to armed struggle. And this has been repeated for months without anyone perceiving that the hypothesis is absurd, and for the very good reason that it invokes. If Potere Operaio had truly been the cover for terrorist activity, why would its leaders deprive themselves of such a valuable legal front?

The truth is completely different and, as is customary, to find it one must reverse the shameless lie with which one would like to camouflage it. It certainly isn’t Potere Operaio that feigned to dissolve itself to better devote itself to terrorism, but the famous S.I.D. that feigned to dissolve itself to have its past terrorism forgotten and to practice it better thereafter. Other salaried thinkers, from Scalfari to Bocca,[26] reason fraudulently when – admitting that the strategies of the RBs, among other things, aim at preventing the arrival of the ICP into power, which is what I have demonstrated – they believe that this aim results, not from the aversion that the Communists cause in certain sectors of Italian capitalism and its secret services, but from the aversion that the Soviet Stalinists feel for their Italian counterparts. Our thinkers who are paid by the week thus conclude that Moro was kidnapped with the support of the KGB and the Czech secret services. The Italian capitalists, the military men and the agents of the SISDE, SSMI, CESIS, DIGOS and UCIGOS,[27] as well as [the American President Jimmy] Carter, would be happy to see the ICP in Italy’s government, but this is, unfortunately, not possible because the Russians and the KGB don’t want it to happen. What bad luck! If the KGB was behind the Moro affair, then who or what is behind Bocca and Scalfari, those idiots? And is it possible that they have been raised to such heights by their own strengths?

In any event, this curious and stupid theory, which impetuous Pertini[28] hastened to make his, clearly serves to reassure the bad consciences of all those who want to believe that this State, because it is at war with terrorism, cannot be directing it, too.

For my part, I note with legitimate satisfaction that my book, which at first forced silence upon all those who are paid to speak, then obligated them to talk all day and commit themselves to an interminable series of outrageous remarks designed to support the opposite of the truths that, with this book, began to circulate freely in Italy.

In an extremely different sense, here one can mention Russia, because contemporary Italy and Russia under Stalin are perhaps the only States in the world that are exclusively maintained by the secret police. In Russia, “counter-revolutionaries” were discovered everywhere, and anyone opposed to Russia was accused of being one. In Italy today, “revolutionaries” are discovered everywhere, and every extra-parliamentarian, even the most timid ones, are open to this accusation. According to the judges and newspapers, Negri, Piperno, Scalzone and the others would be the leaders of the Italian revolution, its brains and its strategists. I have defended them here as innocent people, but I would never dream of defending them as revolutionaries, because they are neither guilty nor revolutionary. In reality, all of the Autonome leaders are only naïve politicians, and even as politicians they are imprudent failures. One has never seen [true] revolutionaries dine with magistrates, as Negri has done, nor converse over a meal with an ex-minister of Mancini’s type, as Piperno has done. Neither man is a [true] revolutionary for a thousand other reasons that are so obvious that it is useless to recall them. The Italian revolution follows a completely different course and completely different ideas, and it deliberately passes over these leaders, these brains and these strategists, just as it passes over all those who understand nothing about terrorism, that is to say, the counter-revolution.

* * *

One knows the passion that the freest people (the ancient Greeks, for example) had for the enigma, which they considered to be the Hic Rhodus, hic salta[29] of wisdom. Confronted with an enigma, the wise person must know how to solve it at the cost of his or her life. Solving it was a struggle in which the one who could not do so could not expect any indulgence. If one believes in the legend reported by Heraclitus, as well as by Aristotle, Homer, who was the wisest of the Greeks, died from despair because he had not been able to solve an enigma. He who does not manage to solve an enigma is deceived by it; he who is deceived is not a wise man; he who is not wise dies, because the wise man is a warrior who must know how to defend himself or succumb, because it is only in battle that he can prove what he is.

A eminent Hellenist has observed that the formulation of an enigma “contains the distant origin of the dialectic, called upon to open up without interruption the enigmatic sphere, according to the structure of the Agon and the terminology itself.”[30] Nietzsche had already said that the dialectic “is the new art-form of the Greek Agon.”[31]

Therefore, Italian terrorism is the last enigma of the society of the spectacle and only those who reason dialectically can solve it. It is because of the lack of dialectics that this enigma continues to deceive and cut down all the victims that this State liberally sacrifices at its own altar, because it is on this unresolved enigma that it provisionally maintains itself. Thus it is necessary and sufficient to solve this enigma, not only to put an end to terrorism, but also to provoke the collapse of the Italian State. Only those who have an interest in doing so will resolve this enigma in practice. But who has an interest in untangling the enigma of terrorism? Obviously no one, except the proletariat, because only the proletariat has the necessary urgency, the motivations, the strength and the abilities necessary to destroy the State that deceives and exploits it. The goal of all the provocations of the last 10 years and the subsequent pedagogical campaign to indoctrinate the masses was to mastermind people’s thinking, to obligate them to think certain things. With terrorism, the State hurled a deadly challenge at the proletariat and its intelligence; and the Italian workers can only accept it and demonstrate that they are dialecticians, or passively accept their defeat. Today, all those who speak of social revolution without denouncing and combating the terrorist counter-revolution have a corpse in their mouths.

Having reached the height of imposture, the State has never felt so assured of itself, but in this it is much more deceived that it believes it is, because the State manages to deceive fewer people than it hopes and even fewer than it needs to. But, more particularly, this discredited State is deceived when it believes itself to be believed always, that is to say, when it believes that the lies propagated about terrorism by all the sources of information suffice to corrupt the entire population for the simple reason that there are no other sources. The proletariat, which, as one knows, has no means of expressing itself freely, thus cannot even express its legitimate incredulity concerning the tragic-comic farce of terrorism, at least to shut up (once and for all) the sycophants who speak of terrorism in the manner that we have described, as well as their constituents, who are precisely the constituents of terrorism and the beneficiaries of exploitation.

This being said, never – not even in wartime – has the Italian State, having recourse to systematic brainwashing, been able to corrupt so many minds so cheaply.

In contemporary Italy, everything that is obviously false and only what is false finds a home, sells itself, is purchased and is a source of profits. The staging and propagation of the infection of terrorism is a colossal and profitable enterprise that ensures the employment of tens of thousands of journalists, cops, secret agents, judges, sociologists and specialists of all kinds. “Only the truth has no clients,” Montesquieu said in less mendacious times, but today the truth has no need of them.

* * *

I hope that this preface will help readers outside of Italy understand the forces, interests and fears that, in barely 10 years, have made it the country of the lie and the enigma (to adopt the title of the famous book by Ciliga on Russia under Stalin).[32] On this peninsula – cradle of modern capitalism, headquarters of the Papacy, center of Christianity and Euro-Stalinism, and privileged place for the counter-revolutionary experimentation that stretches from the Counter-Reformation, through fascism, to the current enterprises of the secret services and the Stalinists – where the vestiges of past grandeur attract so many visitors from abroad, the putrid wastes of the decomposition of all that marked the past millennium now flow and the entire population is besmirched by the fetid and foul smell of Christianity, capitalism and Stalinism at their ultimate stages of infection, all of them supporting each other for one more moment in the face of the menacing imminence of the most modern revolution, all of them meeting here to put to work the most merciless and desperate repression, and to argue about the most efficient system to condemn history, which has condemned them.

But whatever the events that await us, the only certainty is that they will obligate the Italian proletariat to make its own the phrase by Lucius Junius Brutus: “I swear that I will never let either this person or any other govern Rome.”[33]

January 1980

[1] Note that in a letter to Guy Debord dated 15 August 1978, Sanguinetti refers to the title of this work as Terrorismo di Stato, e stato di terrorismo (“State terrorism and the state of terrorism”), which is a title that we find preferable to “On Terrorism and the State.”

[2] 12 December 1969.

[3] Anne Louise Germaine de Stael-Holstein (1766-1817).

[4] Circa March-April 1975.

[5] A member of Autonomia Operaia (“Workers Autonomy”).

[6] The Divisione Investigazioni Generali e Operazioni Speciali, which is officially tasked with fighting organized crime, terrorism and capital offenses.

[7] The Servizio Informazioni Difesa, a defense intelligence agency.

[8] At the time of the investigation, Giulio Andreotti (born 1919) was the Minister of Defense and Mariano Rumor (1915-1990) was the Minister of the Interior.

[9] Aldo Moro (1916-1978), while still the Prime Minister of Italy, was kidnapped and murdered in an attempt to stop the “historic compromise,” which he had long championed.

[10] The day on which the Italian authorities began arresting dozens of alleged subversives, including Antonio Negri and Franco Piperno.

[11] Here Sanguinetti has détourned the title of a well-known series of violin concertos by Vivaldi: Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione, which is commonly translated as “The Trial of Harmony and Invention.”

[12] Front Populaire de Libération de la Palestine (“Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine”) founded in 1967.

[13] Vito Miceli (1916-1990) was the head of the S.I.D. until his arrest in 1974 for assisting in a failed right-wing coup d’etat.

[14] Ugo Pecchioli (1925-1996), a member of the Italian Communist Party.

[15] Pietro Calogero (born 1939), the public prosecutor in Padua.

[16] That is, just throw the accused out the window and kill him that way, as was done on 15 December 1969 with Giuseppe Pinelli, allegedly one of the perpetrators of the bombing at the Piazza Fontana. Note that in Richard N. Gardner’s book Mission Italy: On the Front Lines of the Cold War, published in 2005, Eugenio Scalfari is quoted as saying (in 1978) that “terrorism will be conquered in Italy only when Berlinguer is in charge of the police.”

[17] Dante, Inferno, XXVI, 125-126. Note that the port side of a ship is its left side.

[18] Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy, Book I, Chapter 23.

[19] Enrico Berlinguer (1922-1984), the Secretary General of the Italian Communist Party. Note that Chapter IV of Sanguinetti’s Remedy to Everything was devoted to “Invective Against Enrico Berlinguer.”

[20] Cf. Article I of the Italian Constitution.

[21] GWF Hegel, “Absolute Freedom and Terror,” The Phenomenology of Mind, translated from the German by J. B. Baillie.

[22] The Annals, Book IV, Section 30. Latin in original.

[23] Giacomo Matteotti, a socialist leader who was murdered by the fascists.

[24] Leo Valiani (1909-1999) was an anti-fascist militant and organizer of the Resistance during World War II. In the 1970s, he wrote for L’Espresso, a leftist news magazine. In the words of an obituary written by Philip Willan and published in The Guardian on 21 September 1999,

In the 1970s and 80s, his was one of the firmest voices to denounce the violence of politically motivated terrorists. He criticised the laxness of Italy's penal laws and even went so far as to argue for a restoration of the death penalty. He insisted that the state had to be defended against all sources of violence, whether the originators were fascist thugs, terrorists or mafiosi.

Sanguinetti’s comments about him and Mussolini are especially vitriolic: in April 1945, Valiani was in fact one of the signers of the document that ordered the Italian dictator’s execution.

[25] “Workers’ Power.”

[26] Eugenio Scalfari (born 1924) was the editor of La Repubblica, which he founded in 1976, and Giorgio Bocca (1920-2011) was the author of Il Terrorismo Italiano (1978).

[27] The various Italian secret services.

[28] Sandro Pertini (1896-1990), then the President of Italy.

[29] This Latin expression (a translation of a line in Aesop’s fable “The Boastful Athlete”) literally means, “Here is Rhodes, jump here.” In his preface to The Philosophy of Right, Hegel – in an apparent reference to the Rosicrucians – offered an altered translation: Hier ist die Rose, hier tanze (“Here is the Rose, dance here”). According to Marx, writing in The 18the Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, “a situation is created which makes all turning back impossible,
 and the conditions themselves call out: Here is the rose, here dance!”

[30] Theodor Adorno, “Enigmaticalness, Truth Content, Metaphysics,” Aesthetic Theory (1970).

[31] Frederick Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (1888).

[32] The title of the Italian translation of Anton Ciliga’s Ten Years in the Country of the Disconcerting Lie, which was first published in 1940 under the title The Russian Enigma.

[33] Livy, A History of Rome, Book 1, Paragraph 59. Latin in original.