Revolution in the Revolution?

excerpts from the classic by Regis Debray –
Pelican Latin American Library, Penguin Books, 1967

From the Preface by Leo Huberman and Paul M.Sweezy: “…. In April 1967, Debray went as a journalist.. (to) Bolivia. He was arrested by the Bolivian police….. reports – credible in view of what is known of present day Latin American realities – have circulated that Debray has been tortured and starved in prison and that he has been subject to lengthy interrogation by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Why such barbarous treatment for a mere journalist? We believe that Jean Paul-Sartre, the illustrious French philosopher, stated the simple truth when he told a mass meeting in Paris on 30 May 1967 (according to a report in Le Monde): ‘Regis Debray has been arrested by the Bolivian authorities, not for having participated in guerrilla activities but for having written a book – Revolution in the Revolution? – which ‘removes all the brakes from guerrilla activities.'”

“…The guerrilla force is independent of the civilian population, in action as well as in military organisation; consequently it need not assume the direct defence of the peasant population. The protection of the population depends on the progressive destruction of the enemy’s military potential. It is relative to the overall balance of forces: the populace will be completely safe when the opposing forces are completely defeated……. By restricting itself to the task of protecting civilians or passive self-defence, the guerrilla unit ceases to be the vanguard of the people as a whole and deprives itself of a national perspective… By choosing to operate at this level, it may be able to provide protection for the population for a limited time. But in the long run the opposite is true: self-defence undermines the security of the civilian population…. limiting oneself to passive defence is to place oneself in the position of being unable to protect the population and to expose one’s own forces to attrition. On the other hand, to seek for ways to attack the enemy is to put him on the permanent defensive to exhaust him and prevent him from expanding his activities, to wrest the initiative from him, and to impede his search operations….the political and the military are not separate, but form one organic whole, consisting of the people’s army, whose nucleus is the guerrilla army… the guerrilla force is the party in embryo….”


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