Jeremy Varon
Bringing the War Back Home

Reiche saw the guerrilla as a 'despairing attempt to realize in the individual the unity of theory and practice' insofar as he or she was to put into practice a revolutionary ideology whose main components RAF considered settled. Second, the RAF viewed resistance as a life-and-death struggle against an enemy that was absolute evil. Meins's judgment that one is 'either a pig or a man' with 'nothing in between' conveyed the RAF's inability to acknowledge anything other than extreme alternatives, resulting in an attitude of kill or be killed. To Reiche, the group's demonization of the Federal Republic as fascist ultimately served to 'eliminate the psychic resistance to the murder of human beings.' Mahler saw political murder as an extension of the RAF's uncompromising 'morality,' which he defined the following way: 'The world is terrible, unending suffering, murder, death blows. That can be changed only through violence, which also demands victims, but fewer than if the status quo persisted.' The RAF's 'morality,' in this rendering, contained a sacrificial logic that virtually required murder. RAF members, that is, participated as killers in what they saw as a continuum of death and suffering. Baader had in fact described 'hatred' and the 'willingness to sacrifice' (Opferwillen) as vital attributes of the revolutionary.

For the left-wing scholar Wolfgang Kraushaar, the RAF's killing of Schleyer's driver and his guards crystallized the group's bankruptcy. These murders, which the RAF did not even acknowledge in its communiques, served the purely practical goal of carrying out the kidnapping. Worse, the RAF implicitly asserted that by virtue of Schleyer's status as a high-ranking economic official, his life was worth more than those of his subordinates. The RAF thus reproduced the class hierarchy that it meant to destroy. In addition, the RAF made Schleyer's life equivalent to the freedom of eleven prisoners and so constructed a crude logic of exchange between human beingsā€”a logic in which the lives of the drivers and guards did not count. In Kraushaar's judgment, with its proposed exchange of Schleyer for the hostages, the RAF exceeded the purported inhumanity of the West German state. By treating the murders as 'an a priori breach of any possible exchange,' the state categorically refused to buy into the RAF's system of equivalencies.

  The World was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow,

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Through Eden took their solitary way.