Ulrike Meinhof: Fragment Regarding Structure

This is a fragment about the structure of the group, which Ulrike insisted on presenting in Stammheim, in order to destroy the leadership theory around which the baw wanted to build this trial. Andreas was opposed, and we all wanted to write it differently.

It is not very important, but I have put it out today anyway because it refutes Buback’s filthy lies—“the conflict”—and because this is what Ulrike was working on last.

It must only be published in its entirety, accompanied by the two letters to Hanna Krabbe and the one to the Hamburg prisoners.


May 11, 1976

Fragment Regarding Structure


Concepts developed by Habermas provide a starting point, from which we can draw conclusions about proletarianization in the metropole: isolation resulting from the alienation which exists throughout the entire system of production. Isolation is the basis for manipulation.

Freedom in the face of this system is only possible through its total negation, that is to say, through an attack on the system as part of a fighting collective, the guerilla, a guerilla that is necessary if a genuine strategy is to be developed, if victory is to be had.

The collective is a key part of the guerilla’s structure, and once subjectivity is understood as the basis of each person’s decision to fight, the collective becomes the most important element. The collective is a group that thinks, feels, and acts as a group.

The guerilla leadership consists of the individual or individuals who maintain the open and collective functioning of the group and who organize the group through their practice—anti-imperialist struggle, based on each individual’s self-determination and decision to be part of the intervention, understanding that he can only achieve what he wants to achieve collectively, meaning within the group in all its dimensions, military and strategic, and as the embryo of the new society, developing and conducting the anti-imperialist struggle through the group process.

The line, which is to say a rational and logical strategy geared towards a single purpose—action—is developed collectively. It is the result of a process of discussion informed by everyone’s experiences and knowledge, and is therefore collectively formulated and serves to draw people together. In other words, the line is developed in the course of practice, through an analysis of conditions, experiences, and objectives. Coordination is only possible because there is unanimity regarding the goal and the will to achieve it.

Once the line has been developed and understood, the group’s practice can be coordinated according to a military command structure. Its execution requires absolute discipline, and, at the same time, absolute autonomy, that is to say, an autonomous orientation and decision-making capacity regardless of the circumstances.

What unites the guerilla at all times is each individual’s determination to carry on the struggle.

Leadership is a function that the guerilla requires. Leadership cannot be usurped. It is exactly the opposite of what psychological warfare describes as the raf’s leadership principle. Andreas has stated that if he had in fact acted in the way described by the baw, there would be no raf and the political events of the past five years would not have occurred. Simply stated, we would not exist. If he assumed leadership of the raf, it is because from the beginning he has always had that which the guerilla needs most: willpower, an awareness of the goals, determination, and a sense of collectivity.

When we say that the line is developed in the course of practice, through an analysis of conditions, experiences, and objectives, what we mean is that leadership falls to the individual who has the broadest vision, the greatest sensitivity, and the greatest skill for coordinating the collective process.

Leadership must have as its goal the independence and autonomy of each individual—militarily speaking, of each combatant.

This process can’t be organized in an authoritarian way. No group can work this way. The idea of a ringleader is out of the question.

The goal of the baw’s smear campaign against Andreas is clear: they are laying the groundwork for the pacification of public opinion in the event he is murdered. They present the entire issue as if it is only necessary to snuff out this one guy, Andreas, and that would solve the whole problem the urban guerilla poses this state—according to Maihofer, the only problem this state does not have under control.

We doubt that. Over these past five years, we have learned from Andreas—because he was the example we needed—specifically, someone from whom one could learn to struggle, struggle again, always struggle.

What he and we are doing is in no way irrational, involves no compulsion, and is not evil.

One reason that the baw hates Andreas in particular is because he makes effective use of all available weapons in the struggle. It was from him that we learned that the bourgeoisie has no weapons that we can’t turn against them—a tactical principle drawn from the observation that revolutionary contradictions can be developed within capitalism. So Andreas is the guerilla about whom Che said, “He is the group.”

Of us, he is the one who has consistently and for a long time now made the function of rejecting individual possessions clear. It was he who anticipated the role of the guerilla and of the group and who was able to direct the process, because he understood that it was necessary. It was he who understood the complete dispossession implicit in proletarianization as it exists in the metropole. It was he who understood that the guerilla’s isolation required the development of strength, subjectivity, and willpower in order to build a guerilla organization in the Federal Republic.

Once again, we must not forget that all revolutionary initiatives are initially instinctive processes—for us, the massive wave of strikes in Russia in 1905 and the October Revolution come to mind—direction, coherence, continuity, and political power encouraged individuals to develop their resolve and willpower.

For Gramsci, willpower was the sine qua non; strength of will as the motor force of the revolutionary process in which subjectivity plays an important role.