Historical Fragment: Communist Task Force (Denmark)

One of the reasons that I started this blog was that I wanted to have a space in which I could attempt to work through a process, with all of you as participants, of attempting to reassemble the history and theory of the revolutionary communist Left around the world. This of course neatly dovetails my own interests as an amateur archivist/historian and leftist trainspotter. As part of this re-assembling and reconsideration of the revolutionary movement I had hoped that I would post snippets, or fragments, of different books/articles/films etc that I was reading at a given moment and I have tried to do some of that through discussions of a variety of Left movements including the UCPN(Maoist), the Weather Underground, Black Liberation Army etc. However, I realize that a) I have been rather lackadaisical  about doing so (the fact that despite the fact that I have been enrolled in a fascinating course on the Cultural Revolution but have yet to have a single post on the topic is remarkable and a glaring example) and b) due to the disorganized nature of this blog those preliminary investigations have never been marked as such and so I would like to start doing so. Thus, I would like to start a series of blog entries that will appear occasionally on some far Left group that has been consigned to the dustbin of history. If you know any more information about the groups that I mention on this blog I really do encourage you comment on a given entry and share your knowledge.

In this historical fragment I would like to discuss the Danish group, the Communist Task Force (KAK), which engaged in a series of robberies in the 1970’s and 80’s to raise funds for the armed movement in Palestine, ostensibly for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [please note that all of this information has been taken from the very informative wikipedia entry which itself is a distillation of a Danish study of the group]. Like many other groups that were similarly engaged in revolutionary appropriations it was called a ‘Gang’ by the media and thus are commonly known as the Blekinge Street Gang in Denmark, however, I will use its party name. What is interesting about the KAK besides its more commonplace Third Worldism was its adherence to a nascent form of Maoism-Third Worldism. Maoism-Third Worldism is not something that I have been following closely, however, I do think that they are an interesting movement and in the past I admittedly have contacted Monkey Smashes Heaven, which at the time was its own group, to learn more about their theories. There avowed support for the Chinese ultra-Left is something that I do not simply scoff at, like some other Maoists, although I must admit that I find it difficult to agree with other political positions they have taken including their dismissal of all First World movements and the UCPN(Maoist) and CPI(Maoist) for being First Worldist in their Maoism. I would thus be interested to know whether the current trend of Maoist-Third Worldists was inspired at all by the KAK.

The Communist Party of Denmark, like many other Scandinavian parties, sided with Moscow during the Sino-Soviet split in June 1963. Gotfred Appel, a member of the DKP, informally formed the KAK to influence the line of the DKP and was expelled from the DKP in September 1963 for having taken the trouble to do so. In December of the same year the KAK was declared a formal separate party. The same month as he was expelled from the DKP, Appel formed a publishing company, “Futura”, which would translate and publish the Danish-language publications for the Chinese embassy in Denmark including the immensely popular Quotations from Mao Zedong. In 1965 the KAK organized the first pro-Vietnam rally and in 1966 formed the first Vietnam Committee. None of this is particularly interesting. Indeed, it follows the usual course of events that one can see around the world. Thus, we must ask what is distinctive about them?

What is distinctive about the KAK is Appel’s theoretical developments from 1966-1967. In “Communist Briefing”, a KAK publication, Appel penned a series of theoretical articles in which he elaborated a ‘leech state theory’. The ‘leech state theory’ argued:

that the rich countries make so much money by exploiting 3rd world countries that even their “poorest” citizens are so rich they are effectively “bribed” into being part of the Capitalist bourgeoisie and unlikely to participate in any Communist revolution until this source of wealth dries out due to liberation of the 3rd world. Accordingly, western communists who really want a communist ideal state must first help liberate the 3rd world countries from western exploitation.

I would assume that most contemporary Maoist-Third Worldists would argue that, although they agree with Appel regarding the nature of the working class in the First World as being a labor aristocracy which had been bribed by imperialist super-profits, they would differ on the role of the working class in the imperialist countries having in a) the process of liberating the 3rd world and b) in the case of a drying out of wealth due to 3rd world liberation. Appel developed this theory into a larger book, Perspektiver for socialismen i Danmark (unfortunately this book has not been translated in English, perhaps some enterprising Maoist-Third Worldist will take it upon him/herself to do so). In September 1967 Maoist youth broke from the DKP’s youth mass organization and the KAK was able to form a youth-wing called the KUF. In 1968 the Maoists broke from the KAK and formed their own organization, the “Communist Association Marxists – Lenininsts” which later renamed itself as the “Communist Workers Party”. It is not clear whether either organization also adhered to Appels position on the labor aristocracy.

The Chinese embassy cancelled the publishing contract with Futura on July 30, 1969, as Gotfred Appel insisted that the various “student” uprisings in the west were not the start of a new communist revolution, but merely internal strife in the bourgeoisie, from which new communists could be recruited. In contrast, the official National People’s Congress had passed a resolution to the contrary. From this point on, KAK would be based solely on Marxism-Leninism and Appels theories, and in the fall of 1969, “The Young Communist” dedicated an issue to Palestine in general and PFLP in particular.

The KUF engaged in a series of violent demonstrations in 1968 and 1969 and in 1970 the KAK received military training from the PFLP in Jordan and Lebanon. In 1972 the KAK started its  own version of the urban guerrilla campaign by raiding a Danish police post and capturing the weapons there and then proceeded to rob several sources etc to raise money for arms for the PFLP. Inspired by the Canadian Liberation Solidarity Movement, the KAK also started a front to gather clothes that they proceeded to send to various guerrilla struggles in Africa including the ZANU, the MPLA, FRELIMO etc. From 1975 till 1988 the KA (there was a brief period from November 1977 to May 1978, in which all illegal activity ceased as Ulla Hauton, a central leader of the KAK, led a feminist investigation amongst the male KAK/KUF membership and forced self-criticisms, isolated members from their families and engaged in beatings). In 1978 Hauton and Appel were purged from the KAK (although they legally retained the name) and renamed itself the Communist Workgroup (KA) that continued the legal/illegal struggle and the Marxist Workgroup (MAG) which was tasked with doing a summation of the organizational failure (it disbanded in 1980).

In 1988, in a story that has been repeated numerous times, during a botched robbery the KA killed a police officer (the KAK/KUF/KA was always careful to not injure people and even changed the type of weapons used to reduce injuries). This resulted in an enraged police force that put a lot more resources into capturing the perpetrators. In 1989 the police were able to capture all of the members of the KA and the rest is history. The KA, unlike other similar groups like the Revolutionary Armed Task Force in the USA, did not experience the brunt of the legal system and were all released from prison in 1995 and the last member was released in 1997.

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