Internationalism Is Always Concrete



On the 7th of April, 2023, Marc Rudin (also known by his cover name, Jihad Mansour) passed away. Those of us who had the opportunity to meet him recall him as a caring, humble person who always put the interests of the oppressed people above his own — as a genuine anti-imperialist fighter. All revolutionaries should learn from the positive example of his internationalist spirit while at the same time taking warning from his «Third-Worldist» deviations.

Born in Berne, Switzerland, on the 29th of September, 1945, Marc Rudin was the archetype of the 1968 generation of revolutionaries. He was born in the wake of the Second World War, which brought about an unprecedented upswing in the revolutionary movement all over the world. His childhood and youth unfolded against the historical background of the world-historic rise of the national-liberation movement during that time. As he himself wrote:

[When I was in the Swiss armed forces], I listened to and played jazz. I was fascinated by the Afro-American musicians, who connected their «message» with the Black Panther movement.

In the second half of the 1960s there were these so-called Easter marches, peace marches — first and foremost against the threat of nuclear war. With the sharpening of US aggression against Vietnam these protests were transformed into a movement against the US war of agression in south-eastern Asia.

Then came May 1968 and all the cultural earthquakes and anti-authoritarian ideas connected to it. Through practical activist work, I then made my first big organizational experiences — among other things in connection with the many demonstrations in solidarity with Vietnam, but also in connection with protests against the military dictatorship in Greece, as well as the more practical work of calling attention to the miserable working conditions of the apprentices.

Already in June 1968, Marc Rudin began to fight for the interests of the oppressed and exploited. At the first Vietnam demonstration in Berne that month, he was part of a group of activists who climbed 100 metres to the peak of the Münsterturm, where they hoisted the flag of the National Liberation Front of Southern Vietnam. Moving to France to work as a graphic designer, he became active in the French Maoist organization Proletarian Left, which was the origin of the modern French Maoist movement. In Paris, he also came into contact with the Palestinian liberation movement, and he came to identify himself strongly with the struggle of the Palestinian nation against Zionist settler-colonialism. He would later say: «In my heart, I am a Palestinian. Long live the Arab resistance! Long live the global struggle!» This sentiment was what motivated him — along with needing to flee persecution for the bombing of a fascist Spanish bank in Fribourg — in 1976, to move to Lebanon, where he lived and worked among the Palestinian refugees. In 1982, he took the name «Jihad Mansour» as he joined the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine and worked for them as a graphic designer, creating many beautiful works of revolutionary art.

As a cadre of the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Marc Rudin was put in contact with the Communist Working Group in Denmark — a clandestine anti-imperialist organization which carried out bank robberies to fund the Palestinian liberation struggle. This group, as Rudin himself, was inspired by the revisionist ideology of «Third Worldism», developed by the Danish ex-Communist Gotfred Appel. In the absence of any revolutionary potential in the First and Second Worlds, the «Third Worldists» held, revolutionaries in the imperialist countries should focus on giving material aid to national-liberation struggles in the Third World, which alone had the potential to weaken imperialism enough to eventually bring about world revolution. Although this theory amounted to armed economism, the practice of its adherants nonetheless proved the potential of international solidarity once the boundaries of bourgeois legalism are crossed.

In October 1991, Marc Rudin was arrested when he crossed the Turkish border using a false passport. After a year and a half in a Turkish prison, he was extradited to Denmark, where he was put in connection with a particular bank robbery conducted in November 1988, where a police officer was killed by unknown members of the Communist Working Group in self-defence. Although no evidence connected Rudin to the incident, he was nonetheless convicted in a show trial and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Until his deportation to Switzerland in 1997, Marc Rudin was kept in solidarity confinement — a form of mental torture almost always applied to political prisoners in so-called «democratic» countries — in spite of international law and numerous protests, out of fear by the Danish imperialists that he would politicize his fellow-prisoners. He was also tortured physically, for instance by denying him necessary healthcare, to the point that he risked losing one of his kidneys. During his torture, members of the Communist Working Group and anti-imperialists across western Europe launched a campaign for his release and that of other political prisoners, which garnered much support and turned Rudin into a symbol of this struggle.

After his release, Marc Rudin continued to fight for the right of the Palestinian nation to self-determination, for the rights of political prisoners, and against the imperialist system of global exploitation and oppression of hundreds of «poor» countries by a handful of «developed» ones. Even as he fought against Parkinson’s disease, he continued to fight against injustice, for instance by speaking at demonstrations. Now that he has died, it is not only a moral loss, but also a political loss to the Swiss revolutionary movement — the loss of a veteran activist who was with us until his last breath.

Above all, Marc Rudin was an internationalist and anti-imperialist fighter. Much like Barbara Kistler and the hundreds of Swiss volunteers during the Spanish Civil War, Rudin remains, even after his death, an inspiration to us Swiss revolutionaries in our struggle. He lived and fought his whole life according to the mantra that internationalism is always concrete. We should all learn this spirit from him, so that he may never die, but rather live on forever in us, the workers of the world.

But we must never forget that Appelian revisionism — that is, so-called «Third Worldism» — by which Marc Rudin was greatly influenced, cannot guide the revolution. Because it denies the revolutionary potential of the working class in the imperialist countries, Appelianism is, in the final instance, counter-revolutionary, no matter what great deeds and heroic self-sacrifice its adherants historically have been capable of performing. As Lenin correctly pointed out:

There is one, and only one, kind of real internationalism, and that is — working wholeheartedly for the development of the revolutionary movement and the revolutionary struggle in one’s own country, and supporting (by propaganda, sympathy, and material aid) this struggle, this, and only this, line, in every country without exception.

Everything else is deception […].

Vladimir Il’ic Uljanov Lenin
10th of April, 1917 (Old Style)

If we are to be genuine proletarian internationalists, and not small-bourgeois anti-imperialists, we must first recognize the profound, and not the shallow, meaning of the slogan: «Internationalism is always concrete!» In spite of Comrade Rudin’s self-sacrificing internationalism, he never managed to perform the greatest deed of international solidarity which a person can perform — to fight for the revolution in his own country. The fall of Swiss imperialism will be an immeasurably greater contribution to the cause of the liberation of the oppressed people of the world, as it will free them from the imperialist political, economic, military, and cultural shackles imposed on them by «our own» capitalists. Moreover, a successful proletarian revolution in an imperialist country then, and even more so today, would send shockwaves through the whole capitalist world system. Any amount of money or weapons one could send to the Third World, then, is nothing but mere pennies compared to the «real internationalism» of the proletariat, which consists in redoubling one’s efforts to make the revolution at home, in our «own» country, no matter how many mercenaries, police, or labour-aristocrats stand in one’s way. «Everything else is deception.»

We should learn from Comrade Marc Rudin, one of the greatest internationalist fighters in the history of «our» country! But let us learn from him in the real way — by understanding him as a contradiction: by learning from his positive examples, of which there are many, and by being warned by his negative examples, of which there are also some. If we do so, we will be worthy continuators of his legacy, the legacy of all other Swiss internationalists, and the legacy of the Swiss communist movement. Then, not only will Marc Rudin be made immortal, but he will be made greater in death than he was in life.