Projectiles for the People, Volume One of The Red Army Faction: A Documentary History, is an important exposition of what it means to wage armed struggle as an urban guerilla in the post WWII western imperial-capitalist paradigm. Via the fast-turning pages of Projectiles, Smith and Moncourt usher us through the RAF ’s emergence in Germany from a moribund and constrained left opposition misdirected and suppressed by U.S. imperialism and a quisling bourgeoisie. The RAF ’s “projectiles for the people” documented their political, practical, intellectual, and emotional trajectory into taking up and using the gun in service of revolutionary communist class war. Projectiles brings us their voices and links their context to ours.
Projectiles shows us how the RAF engaged in people’s warfare without descending into adventurism. It reveals how the guerilla was able to work with apparently unlikely allies and eschew involvement with ostensibly likely ones based on sophisticated analysis of the demands of conditions, time, and place. It illustrates how the comrades were able to internalize the trauma of frequently fatal mistakes and defeats as well as the euphoria of correct practice and victories. It explains how the organization recognized and responded to the enemy’s slanderous campaign of vilification aimed at creating a false opposition to the underground. Projectiles, in this exploration of these and many other elements of raf praxis, thus illustrates that and how the RAF developed arguably the highest expression of armed struggle in the late capitalist first-world.
Projectiles for the People is more than a dry historical treatise, however; it is a highly accessible rendition of a story of struggle that puts us into both the thought and the action. That placement conveys more than a sense or understanding of the raf’s praxis. It transmits a connection in a visceral way. Not since reading Ten Days that Shook the World have I been so drawn into a political narrative. Reading like a historical thriller notwithstanding, Projectiles lets us see a rare confluence of theory and practice of which anyone who aspires to make revolution should be aware. The RAF may no longer be with us, but it has prepared the ground for and can yet aid the current movement for the most equitable social reality in which all people will have the greatest possible freedom to develop their full human potential. Nowhere else has the RAF ’s life, times, and legacy been so clearly laid out.
Bill Dunne was captured on October 14, 1979. He had been shot three times by police, and according to the state had been involved in an attempt to break a comrade out of the Seattle jail, as part of an unnamed anarchist collective. In 1980, he received a ninety-five-year sentence, and in 1983 had a consecutive fifteen years with five concurrent added due to an attempted escape. As he has stated, “The aggregate 105 years is a ‘parole when they feel like it’ sort of sentence.”