The Pincer Assault: Strategies and Tactics, and ways to Overcome such a fascist pincer assault
This article provides the model for analyzing power/factional struggles in movements. Every large movement has within it loyal proponents and traitors. The treacherous forces seeking the implosion of a movement use two flanks: on the one hand, they promote its liberalization so to open up the ›gates‹ of the movement for mass infiltration of hostile elements. On the other hand, they promote in the movement extremist behaviours that sow division within and provoke resentment towards the movement. However, the extremists and liberalizers, while conspirationally collaborative behind the scenes, are also superficially ›opposed‹ given the diametrical ›contradictions‹ of many of their stances. This superficial ›opposition‹ can be, and has been, exploited by movements‹ loyal proponents to divide and conquer the liberalizer-extremist coalition, using the extremists to speed up the movement and using the liberalizers to keep in check the extremists’ excesses, while systematically eroding the influence of both the extremists and liberalizers over time. Examining the tactical details of this intra-movement conflict, this article has important implications for analyzing factional conflicts within the anti-fascist and labour movement.
To implode a movement from within, the general strategy is to reinforce two tendencies in the cause: (1) the extremists and (2) the liberalizers.
The extremists exhaust the movement and sow division through their hypocritical pseudo-purity. They play as adventurists who advocate the swift export of the cause, the absence of any negotiations or even the slightest compromise with foes, the sectarian refusal to form alliances against the greater enemy, the refusal to pursue divide and defeat strategy as advocated by Lenin, and the rejection of stage-based procession. The extremists may flatter to skies the leading proponent of the movement, while viciously slandering and conspiring against the leading proponent behind his/her back. They engage in both suppressive terror and provocative terror, although they are typically associated to the policy of provocative terror, since the latter sows division, precisely what the extremists desire. Through extremism, they exhaust the movement enough to create the setting for the liberalizers to take over. In revolutionary movements, the extremist wing constitutes the counter-revolutionaries disguised as ultra-›revolutionaries‹.
The liberalizers preach equal rights and liberties to the just and the unjust, the friends and foes, while actually aiming to give those rights only to the foes, so as to open up the gates for enemy infiltration. Under the guise of ›moderation‹ and ›reforms‹, they openly challenge the fundamental principles of the movement while pretending to also belong to it. They oppose the purge of corrupt officials, embezzlers, enemy spies and saboteurs. Defeatists, they consistently concede to the enemy or even portray the enemy in a positive light. Ultimately, the liberalizers would ›open up‹ the gates of the fortress to the hordes of fascist barbarians camping outside the walls.
Dialectical inter-connections correlate extremism and liberalism, despite the appearances of contradiction between these two currents. To show extremist behaviour in one direction is to show liberalizer behaviour in another direction. This is why extremism and liberalism are inextricably bound. They are extreme ends of a horseshoe spectrum. Since there is no third side in any conflict between progress and reaction, the alignment of class interests can draw forces of different ideological appearances towards an alliance with one another. The alliance of the liberalizer vs. extremist camps is a case in point: despite the appearances of fundamental differences, the fierce hostility that both extremists and liberalizers will have towards the centrist/moderate faction of the proponents of the movement will orient the liberalizer and extremist contingents towards an alliance even if a covert or tacit alliance. The extremists play well into the hands of the liberalizers, by terrorizing the actual proponents of the movement on their behalf, and by giving liberalizers the excuse to depict the real proponents of the movement and the extremists as one. Upon exhausting the system/movement, the extremists give way to liberalizers who would then open up the system for the enemy to enter and strike. On the other side, the liberalizers would tolerate the extremists giving them the way for terrorist activity and extremism. This renders the liberalizers and extremists natural allies, backed by the enemies of the movement. Should the liberalizers and extremists succeed in gaining enough power, in the ultimate critical stage of the conspiracy though, when the counter-revolutionary coup plan is being finally carried out, the liberalizer and extremist contingents would sharply reduce their outwardly pretensions to hostility and would openly band together for striking the death blow to the cause.
Despite this covert alliance, however, the extremists and liberals, to sound credible, must pretend to be opposed to one another. And to truly appear credible in their opposition, they would not just speak but also partially act against each other. This helps the liberalizer-extremist alliance to diversify risk. Whichever of the two groupings rises to power, the liberalizer-extremist alliance would retain dominance. However, such diversification of options also carries the risk of the exploitation of outwardly differences between liberalizers and extremists by the third grouping: the faction of the proponents of the movement. Indeed, in order to appear credible as liberalizers or extremists, these two groupings have to not just speak but also really take action against one another outwardly, despite their covert conspirational alliance behind the scenes. Hence, the way to defeat this covert band of liberalizers and extremists is to maximize the exploitation of the overt pretensions of hostility between these two covertly-allied networks. The way to compel the two covert allies, the liberalizers and extremists, into acting against each other is through coopting.
In intelligence studies, ›coopting‹ refers to a process in which a bribe-and-blackmail or carrot-and-stick combination is used against a hostile agent in order to encourage-and-compel that hostile agent to fight against other hostile agents. The bribe-and-blackmail can, for example, take the form of offering the targeted hostile agent a promotion in rank (hence higher income) in exchange for that hostile agent accepting the presence of one’s ›advisors‹ (i.e. spies) in the hostile agent’s office both to help the hostile agent fight against other hostile agents and to ensure that the to-be-coopted hostile agent actually behaves according to how he/she was coopted to behave. The promotion is like a bribe whereas the presence of ›advisors‹ and ›office assistants‹ engaged in espionage against the hostile agent is like blackmail or threats ensuring compliance. As a result of coopting, the agents of the enemy would be compelled to fight against the enemy itself. The policy of coopting is advantageous because it allows one to use a few loyal agents in order to compel some disloyal agents to serve one’s cause against the enemy’s cause. The disadvantage lies in the fact that, along the way, whenever not being sufficiently surveilled, the coopted agents would use the chance to deliberately betray the mission which they were coopted to fulfill.
The way to purge the extremist and liberalizer agents in the movement is to treat them as if they are two components of a thermostat. When the class struggles need to be intensified, the proponents of the movement can ally with, and coopt, the extremists against the liberals so to intensify the class struggle and speed up the process, while also using such an alliance to purge some of the liberalizers. Subsequently, to keep the excesses of the extremists in check, the proponents of the movement can ally with, and coopt, the liberalizers so to moderate the situation and to form a majority by which the extremist minority is partially purged. Then, when the liberalizers slow things down and there is again a need for intensification, the proponents of the movement would again ally with and coopt the remnants of the extremists to speed things up and to purge some of the liberalizers. And the cycle would go on and on until the movement is purified ›enough‹ from its fifth column, all the while advancing around the optimum speed or mode of class struggle.
When revolutionaries temporarily ally with and coopt the liberalizers to counter the influence of extremists, the extremists would use the opportunity to conflate the revolutionaries and liberalizers, to depict the revolutionaries as ›liberal‹ and ›counter-revolutionary‹, and thus to undermine the revolutionaries. Vice versa is true as well: when revolutionaries ally with and coopt the extremist contingent to counter the influence of liberalizers, the liberalizers would depict revolutionaries as being the same as extremists. One additional way in which the counter-revolutionary faction propagates against the revolutionaries is through exposing the past counter-revolutionary activities (e.g. espionage, torture, terrorism, corruption) of the liberalizer or extremist elements coopted by the revolutionaries, as means of again conflating the revolutionaries with counter-revolutionaries, hence to depict revolutionaries as spies, torturers, terrorists, corrupt officials, etc.
The demotion of powerful individuals often takes the form of moving them from the military and intelligence sector onto the economic sector and then onto the cultural and media sector. The more a person gets demoted, the more this person will feel compelled, for the sake of one‹s own political survival, to adopt ideological positions that are similar to those of their powerful demoters. Since the demoted person has become politically weaker, he/she has emerged easier to encircle by agents and thus easier to coopt. Hence, the demoted person would be compelled to help the demoters in purging the lower-importance sector to which the demoted person has been sent. This fact allows the demoters to, on the one hand, remove unfavorable elements from positions of higher importance while also helping to purge the lower-importance sectors.
This article is a sub-chapter (Chapter 1, Section 7 (C1S7)) taken from Saed Teymuri’s The History of the USSR & the Peoples’ Democracies (Version May 13, 2023), published at sovinform.net, title rearranged, format adapted, author’s summary added.
Image: Montage by Saed Teymuri