Floating around the internet is a 4 volume English language compilation entitled “The Collected Writings of the Communist Party of Peru 1968-1999” comprising some 1116 pages. A few are in Spanish. It has been seen in pdf and epub file format. Production wise it has some obscure last lines on various articles where the spacing and setting is off but the entries seem to be of released material from the CPP. No formal identification to its production is evident.
This contents listing is a research aid to the material.
The death of Chairman Gonzalo in the high security centre of the Callao Naval Base was always the intended outcome of the Peruvian state. His imprisonment, and three separate trials, for 29 years was envisioned both to diminish his influence and serve as a warning to any who took up arms in resistance with the intention of creating a better society. In a real sense, both objectives failed. The death of a revolutionary doesn’t kill the revolution, and the drive for a just society is created in the lived experience of those striving for change.
The response to the announcement of his death saw the usual life story obituaries in the mainstream media and different narratives from the communist press. There were contrasting perspective of the revolutionary achievements of Chairman Gonzalo among the tributes and homage paid to the leader of the decade long People’s War that begun in the countryside and swept into the capital before it strength diminished with his capture in 1992.
He was more than just a provincial academic, a Professor of Philosophy, who initiated an armed revolutionary struggle, a protracted people’s war, which he later saw as launched at the ebbing of the global revolutionary wave. The conduct of that struggle divides opinion over some of it features and the emphasis drawn by others seeking to establish the lessons of the revolution. His arrest did materially affect the course of the struggle, in the complexity of revolution remaining a symbol for some and an inspiration for a new tact for others. There is an opinion, voiced in the Kites journal, that
“Since Gonzalo was held in isolation in Peruvian prisons and denied contact with the outside world, it is impossible to know for certain what his political views and state of mind were since his capture. His death now means that we will likely never know. Moreover, while revolutions can take great inspiration and even strategic guidance from revolutionary leaders who have been imprisoned, revolutions can never be led from inside a prison cell for obvious reasons.”
Regardless of the judgement on his place in history, Chairman Gonzalo – party name of Abimael Guzmán, (1934-2021) Maoist guerrilla leader – contributed to the new democratic revolution of Peru, the revolutionary internationalist movement and in holding high the banner of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
These readings from across the spectrum of reaction to the passing of Chairman Gonzalo reflects the contentions that is less about the person and more about the political actor, thinker and leader.
El Pueblo newspaper ,Chile:
September 24 – International Day of Actions in honor of Chairman Gonzalo
The arrests conducted by the Peruvian National Police [PNP} in Lima in early December was targeted at the campaigning prisoner rights organisation, the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef). Movadef was created in 2009, initially as an organization to fight for an amnesty and freedom of political prisoners in Peru. The organisation is regularly referred to as “the political arm of the Shining Path terrorist group” by the Peruvian state.
On December 2, 2020, hours before resigning as the Minister of the Interior, Rubén Vargas had announced the capture of 72 people accused of being linked to the PCP through the “Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef).” According to the government official, Movadef-linked people have been previously arrested for the alleged crime of apology for terrorism, but alleged current investigations show that they are part of the Shining Path structure. The State’s prematurely gloated; this was “historic” because it liquidated the political and military structure of the terrorist group.
The PNP operation “Olimpo” after 4 years of surveillance, infiltration, and investigations included the participation of 1,200 police officers, as well as 98 representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office. It was a multiagency offensive as Olimpo was led by the Anti-Terrorism Division (Dircote), the High Complexity Investigations Division (Diviac), the Peruvian Army Intelligence Directorate, and the Third Supraprovincial Criminal Prosecutor’s Office.
Detainees include members of Amnesty Movement and Fundamental Rights (Movadef) and Fudepp (Front of Unity and Defense of the Peruvian People) set up in 2015 to seek registration with the national Election board. Peru News Agency reported the persons under arrest include former inmates belonging to Shining Path, such as Fernando Olortegui and Victor Castillo. The list also includes Evalisa Cano, a member of the Movadef Base in Downtown Lima, and Carlos Cano Andia, described as a member of the Eastern Detachment of the Popular Guerrilla Army.
The state authorities regarded these civil organisations not simply as apologist for “terrorism”, but as the political operating arm of the Peruvian communists that still seeks the same purposes and objective of the PCP led by the imprisoned Gonzalo/Guzman. The state alleges “they obeyed directives and slogans from the dome led by Abimael Guzmán Reinoso and other members currently in prison.”
In 2017 Interior Minister Carlos Basombrío pointed out that there is evidence that Abimael Guzmán is part of the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights structure, based on documentation seized in prisons in 2014.
“I am one of those who think that Movadef is not a Sendero sympathizing group. It is more than that [a legal arm]. We have abundant documentation, and in the handwriting of Abimael Guzmán, seized in prisons in 2014, which shows that Abimael Guzmán directs Movadef, that is, he is part of the Movadef structure.”
In contrast, Movadef and its activists are condemned by those who claim the name of the the Communist Party of Peru (PCP), specifically The Peru People’s Movement (MPP), who repeatedly asserts it was generated by PCP for the party work abroad. Politically Movadef is labelled an instrument of the Right Opposition Line (ROL), “revisionist and capitulationist rats” dedicated to recycling capitulators and trained repentant guerrillas, with the need to trace a “new path” for the struggle in Peru.
Movadef raised a new characterization of society, pointing out that because of the PCP’s armed struggle, Peru stopped being semi-feudal to become a dependent capitalist country. Obviously, when they characterize Peru as dependent capitalist, the form of revolutionary action can adapt to change, where the centre of said struggle necessarily passes through participation in electoral, constitutional, and bureaucratic life. In 2011 they tried to register as a political party before the National Elections , but they were rejected, closing the door to that route by the Peruvian state. The demand for democratic rights seen by sectarian leftist critics as the same line of abstract democracy and freedom as “opportunists and revisionists Patria Roja.”
Still Movadef campaign that their constitutional rights be respected, and say they are persecuted because they “think differently” or that “they are persecuted for ideas” to defend the life and freedom of Chairman Gonzalo, of those imprisoned who wield Gonzalo Thought.
Former political prisoner Esther Palacios argues in support for “the new grand strategy proposed by its president [Gonzalo] of moving from a political struggle with weapons to a political struggle without weapons and to use all possible forms of struggle within the political struggle. Thus, fight for the fundamental rights restricted or denied by the open dictatorship of Fujimorism imposed by neoliberalism in 1992 and within which the different demo-bourgeois governments continue.
This new stage marks them out as having capitulated, label as traitors and the described as “faithful followers of the Prachanda Path in Latin America”. There are well-rehearsed positions against Movadef’s approach:
— Not only did they go against the People’s War, but claimed the way to solve the fundamental problems of society is through reconciliation, peace, the meeting of classes—they yelled like Kautsky, “there is no longer any room for armed struggle for the solution of class conflicts,” and “that it will be ridiculous … to preach a violent disorder” to change society. They turned their backs on the People’s War, on the revolution, they created their “glass ceiling” that was no more than reform and renewed constitutionalism, and they went against those who support the People’s War.
The thought that Chairman Gonzalo, “the greatest living Marxist-Leninist-Maoist on the face of the earth” could be accuse of being the author of the CIA’s “Peace Letters” and the right-wing opportunist line is repeatedly denied as part of the betrayal of Maoism, Chairman Gonzalo, the party and the People’s War by those who have given up on the revolution.
What remains loudly claimed is that it was in Peru, and precisely with the PCP’s doctrinaire interpretations of Mao and the People’s War that Mao Tse-tung Thought became Maoism, that is, a third and superior stage of Marxism, and not only that, but also its contributions of universal validity of Gonzalo Thought, an obstacle to opportunism and revisionism. Within the international communist movement is voiced the advice they should take Chairman Gonzalo to account for his own conduct of leadership in his own country, his “Left” opportunist line before his capture in 1992 and Right opportunist line soon after his capture. Furthermore, these conflicting opportunist lines have brought about the decline of the people’s war in Peru.
The elevation of Gonzalo Thought, in particular the concept of a militarised party and protracted people’s war, and the characterisation of Maoism places in the shadows those “miserable rats of the right opportunist line (ROL), revisionist and capitulationist,” who claim (with as much authenticity) to be equally inspired and led by Gonzalo to act and group themselves, as “the third instrument of the revolution”, the united front led by the PCP.
Rejecting the hoax is rejecting a presentation of Chairman Gonzalo, dejected, defeated who had generated letters calling for demobilization and entering a “new stage”, of the need to enter a new phase of the struggle marked by reconciliation and, a scenario that involves amnesty, electoral struggle, and struggle for rights in the framework of bourgeois democracy. All this is seen as a denial of the PCP, Gonzalo Thought, the people’s war and consequently of the ideology of the proletariat.
Hence , the flare up at the re-publication of the new edition of the so-called “Peace Letters”, the hoax of the CIA-Peruvian reaction presented by the former Minister of the Interior (of the Minter) Rubén Vargas shortly after the arrests in Lima of Movadef’s activists.
MPP somehow regard the arrests as a CIA operation, “the continuation of the one set up by this spy agency of US imperialism to detain and then infame Chairman Gonzalo, presenting him as the head of the ROL, with the service of these “revisionist and capitulationist rats” to annihilate the leadership of the party and the revolution.
There is a reference point frozen in time that remains fundament for those who honour the name of “Fourth Sword of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.” Two weeks after his arrest, Guzman was presented briefly before television cameras. Wearing a black-and-white striped prison uniform, he was filmed pacing back and forth in what resembled a circus lion’s cage
Guzman took full advantage of the 15 minutes the government gave him. “Here, under these circumstances, some may think that this is a great defeat,” he said defiantly. “They are dreaming. We say, keep on dreaming. It is simply––and nothing more than––a stone along the path. The path is long. We will reach our destination, we will triumph!” Guzman then stridently ordered his organization to continue the armed struggle, which he now described as a patriotic defense of the nation against imminent imperialist intervention.
That defiance remains celebrated.
What is disregarded and discarded from historic memory was another television appearance a year later in December 1993 when Guzman appeared in a video surrounded by all of the imprisoned members of the Central Committee reading out a document signed by them all reiterating request for peace talks with the government. While Fujimori sternly rejected any possibility of negotiating with Shining Path––”winners” of wars do not negotiate – no peace agreement was ever reached, both due to the refusal of the government and the refusal of those who remained in command of the war.
The original media reports in 1993 were that, from jail, Chairman Gonzalo was calling for the Shining Path “guerrillas to suspend the war, and to the government to start peace talks”. It was not a surrender as such but merely a call for negotiations under the pretext that the political period had undergone a major change. Other important jailed PCP leaders began to recruit support for a peace accord. The Peruvian state promoted the so-called “peace accords” by shuttling members of the ROL around from prison to prison to promote it. Still, it seems most of the political prisoners rejected the ROL, under very difficult conditions. The leadership outside the prisons rejected the peace proposal and continued fighting, thus setting up a two-line struggle in the PCP. In 1994 the PCP began to break-up and fall into decline. Critics say that in 25 years those adhering to the “old line” of armed action have stalled and they have never taken even one district, and, even if they do some ambushes, this does not add up to a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist people’s war.
The Movimeento Popular Peru de Alemania – MPP-Germany- operating through an anti-imperialist group based in Hamburg, was the only “PCP” group abroad to accept the “Peace Letters” as genuine and claims to have received phone calls from Abimael Guzman /Chairman Gonzalo instructing it to work for a peace accord in Peru.
These Peace Letters allegedly written by Abimael Guzman were quickly followed in October 1993 by a hundred-page document signed ‘President Gonzalo’ and released by the PCP under the title Asumir y combatir por la Nueva gran Decisión y Definición (‘Accepting and Fighting for the New Great Decision and Definition’) based on a supposedly qualitative change in the political period used to justify this initiative.
Since being imprisoned under harsh isolating security, two manuscripts have been smuggled out that have been largely ignored by those who maintain a protracted people’s war stance. The first publication smuggled out of prison was Guzman’s memoir, De puño y letra, a series of autobiographical manuscripts, letters, and legal arguments compiled by Elena Iparraguirre, his wife and number two in the hierarchy.
Reviewing, when publicly presented on September 12th 2009 at a hotel in Lima, former high profile supporter, Luis Arce Borja saw only betrayal arguing that the Shining Path, since 1993, has become a political party of the counterrevolution after all, objectively, Guzman’s book serves the interests of the government.
Almost all of the thousand published copies were seized by the government, and attention turned to repress (apply the apology law) the authors and publishers who collaborated with the publication of ‘De Puño y Letra‘.
Whereas Luis Arce Borja sees it reaffirms once again what he calls the treacherous conduct of Guzman, “who in 1993 agreed to a kind of cemetery peace with Alberto Fujimori and Vladimiro Montesinos”, generally the controversial book was regarded as an apologia for violence as a means to meet political ends but it also places the conflict firmly in the past and calls for national reconciliation.
Dr. Alfredo Crespo, lawyer for Abimael Guzman, in defense of this publication, has said that Gonzalo has ended the “historical process of the armed struggle”. The content reaffirms the approach of Guzman regarding a proposal for a peace agreement made in 1993, and an “amnesty general for all those who participated in the internal war”.
Guzman’s 2014 book, Memories from Nemesis compiles documents and memoirs substantiating the move to struggle without arms.
The merit of this decision from the leader split the organisation, accepted by some and rejected by others – both claiming to uphold Gonzaloist Thought. The repression of the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef) illustrates the state’s views that it is uprooted the underground PCP loyal to Guzman. To acknowledge that raises too many unpalatable issues for its political opponents who chisel the arrests in Lima into their own constructed reality of the overarching narrative of a hoax and CIA conspiracy.
Drawing a line of demarcation in 21st Maoism, the veteran Philippine Marxist, Joma Ma. Sison, in an interview spoke on the theme of Mao Zedong Thought / Maoism and the contemporary world communist movement.
Interviewer: Prof. Regletto Aldrich D. Imbong (RADI)
1. RADI: In a recent publication of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) entitled “Anniversary Statements (1992-2017),” I found out that it was only during the 26th anniversary of the CPP in 1994 that the term Maoism appeared (not in 1992 and 1993, as far as the said publication is concerned). Previous statements, like the “Rectify Errors, Rebuild the Party,” in 1968 merely mentioned Mao Zedong Thought, despite the fact that Chairman Gonzalo of the Communist Party of Peru in 1983 supposedly affirmed the universality of Maoism. Can you please enlighten me with the CPP’s appreciation of Maoism and the seemingly delayed upholding of the CPP of Maoism’s universality?
JMS: The adoption of the word Maoism, instead of Mao Zedong Thought, by the Communist Party of the Philippines is a matter of transcription and symmetry alongside the terms Marxism and Leninism. It is a reaffirmation of the earlier CPP recognition of the great contributions of Mao (under the rubric of Mao Zedong Thought) to the development of Marxism-Leninism in philosophy, political economy, party building (especially the rectification movement), the people’s war and the proletarian cultural revolution in socialist society.
In the course of his leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese revolution, Mao together with his Chinese comrades had the modesty of being averse to glorifying himself by the term Maoism. In the literature of the Chinese CP, you will find summary references to his contributions in ideology and policy as “Mao’s thinking” and “Mao’s thought”. It was only in the course of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that “Mao Zedong thought” graduated to “Mao Zedong Thought (with a capital T).
By that time, the CPC had already acclaimed Mao Zedong Thought as representing the third stage in the development of the universal revolutionary theory of the proletariat. Thus, it is false to say that Gonzalo was the first to sum up or synthesize the teachings of Mao or his theory and practice as constituting the third stage in the development of Marxist theory and practice. The foundation for the Marxist theory and practice of people’s war was already established in the Leninist stage when the October revolution of 1917 shifted from the cities to the countryside in the civil war and war against foreign intervention.
Regarded as Mao’s most important achievement to constitute the third stage of the development of Marxist theory and practice was not his theory and practice of protracted people’s war but that of continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship through cultural revolution to combat revisionism, prevent capitalist restoration and consolidate socialism. (Considered as the first stage in the development of Marxism was the formulation of its fundamental principles and critique of free competition capitalism by Marx and Engels. And the second stage of Leninism was the further development of Marxism by Lenin in the era of modern imperialism and proletarian revolution).
Before Mao died, he had achieved all theoretical and practical contributions that he was capable of in order to achieve the third stage in the development of Marxism. But the CPC called this the stage of Mao Zedong Thought. In the early years of the GPCR there was even an overenthusiastic notion within the CPC that after the solution of the problem of modern revisionism “imperialism was heading towards total collapse and socialism was marching towards world victory. But Mao himself cautioned in 1969 that it would take another 50 to 100 years to reach that desired goal.
Soon after Mao’s death in 1976, the Dengist counterrevolution overthrew the proletariat in China. The Chinese state and CPC changed their class character. But they have continued to refer to Mao Zedong Thought formally and ritualistically, despite the official condemnation of the GPCR as a total catastrophe and the full-blast capitalist restoration and teaming up of China with US imperialism in promoting neoliberal globalization.
It is to the credit of Gonzalo that he took the initiative in 1983 to use the term Maoism, instead of Mao Zedong Thought, by way of posthumously showing a higher appreciation of Mao at least for some of his great accomplishments and for acclaiming Mao’s theory and practice as third stage in the development of Marxist theory and practice. But it is absurd to assert that because of Gonzalo’s “synthesis” he is responsible for making Maoism “universal” or that the universality of Maoism is reduced to the “universality of protracted people’s war” and the prescription for a “militarized party.”
As I have earlier pointed out, Mao himself constituted in his own lifetime Mao Zedong Thought or Maoism by making great contributions to the development of Marxism-Leninism in philosophy, political economy, party building (especially the rectification movement), the people’s war and the proletarian cultural revolution in socialist society. Mao Zedong Thought has gained universal significance long before Gonzalo called it Maoism. The universal significance of Mao Zedong Thought or Maoism does not depend in any way on Gonzalo who has not really summed up all the great achievements of the great Mao.
The worshippers of Gonzalo use his coinage of the term Maoism to evaluate him as the greatest Maoist after Mao. They should take him to account for his own conduct of leadership in his own country, his “Left” opportunist line before his capture in 1992 and Right opportunist line soon after his capture. These conflicting opportunist lines have brought about the decline of the people’s war in Peru. And the mystique about him as being responsible for “synthesizing” Maoism should not be used as an ax against those who continue to wage people’s war. Kautsky did not prove himself any better than Lenin when he protested that Lenin’s ideas were not Marxism but Leninism. He was the first among all people to utter the term Leninism against Lenin himself.
2. RADI: In the same 1994 anniversary statement mentioned in the previous question, the latter equated Mao Zedong Thought with Maoism (as stated, Mao Zedong thought OR Maoism), a criticism which is likewise charged by Dem Volke Dienen in First Critical Remarks about the Role of the Communist Party of the Philippines in the International Communist Movement (see http://www.demvolkedienen.org/…/2726-first-critical-remarks…). You have given the explanation that “there is no difference in content between Mao Zedong Thought and Maoism” in an interview by the New Culture Magazine of the Communist Construction Union of Brazil. For the Dem Volke Dienen, however, if both Mao Zedong Thought and Maoism were terms having the same content, there would be no difference as well in either saying Marxism or Marx Thought, or Leninism or Lenin Thought. However, the “ism” in Maoism has to be distinguished as it means the systematization and closed development of all the three components of Marxism “to a higher level and to a higher truth” and not merely as an individual contribution of a Chinese communist. What is your response to this critique?
JMS: I had the good fortune of being in China in August 1966, when the GPCR was just beginning and Mao was being evaluated, appreciated and defended against his detractors and in relation to his great Marxist-Leninist predecessors. I had very enlightening conversations with members of the CPC Central Committee and the highest responsibles of the CPC Higher Party School. They summed up the great achievements of Mao under the term Mao Zedong Thought, such as the following:
a. In philosophy, Mao elaborated on and developed Lenin’s identification of the unity of opposites (divide into two) as the most fundamental law of materialist dialectics. He did so in such essays as On Contradiction, On Practice, Where Do Correct Ideas Come From? and On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People. He applied materialist dialectics in gaining higher knowledge from the dialectics of theory and practice, in carrying out the new democratic revolution through people’s war and undertaking socialist revolution and construction.
b. In political economy, Mao had the advantage of learning positive and negative lessons from Stalin’s policy of socialist industrialization and agricultural cooperation, the revisionist reversal of socialist revolution and construction and leading self-reliant socialist revolution and construction by using the basic and heavy industries as the lead factor, agriculture as the base ofthe economy and light industry as the bridging factor under conditions of imperialist blockade, revisionist betrayal and other adversities.
c. In social science, Mao developed further the theory and practice of the new democratic and socialist stages of the Chinese revolution. But his most important achievement in social science was in recognizing the problem of modern revisionism and the continuing fact of classes and class struggle in socialist society and in adopting solutions. He put forward a series of campaigns to uphold, defend and advance socialism, such as the anti-Rightist campaign, the Great Leap Foward. the socialist education movement and ultimately the cultural revolution as he faced greater resistance of the revisionists and capitalist roaders.
d. In party building, Mao adopted and developed further Leninist teaching on building the proletarian vanguard party. He excelled at developing the rectification movement as the campaign for educating the Party cadres and members in Marxist-Leninist theory and practice, as the method for identifying the errors and weaknesses and for saving the patient from the disease and and as the way for the Party to better serve the masses, mobilize them, let them acquire power and come under their supervision.
e. In people’s war, Mao had already demonstrated how the toiling masses of workers and peasants could defeat an enemy that was superior in military equipment and trained personnel through the strategic line of protracted people’s war by encircing the cities from the countryside in semicolonial and semifeudal countries. By winning the new democratic revolution through people’s war, the revolutionary proletariat and the people gain the power to proceed to socialist revolution.
f. The theory and practice of continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship through the GPCR was regarded as the greatest epoch-making contribution of Mao. It was aimed at combatting modern revisionism, preventing capitalist restoration and consolidating socialism. Even as the GPCR would be defeated by the Dengist counterrevolution, it still confirms and explains how socialism can be subverted and destroyed from within. Such a lesson will guide the forthcoming socialist revolutions.
Before, during and after the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the foregoing six components of Mao Zedong Thought or Maoism were already acknowledged and propagated in CPP publications and grasped by CPP cadres and members. What the Gonzaloites are doing is to tear apart Mao Zedong Thought or Maoism and exaggerate protracted people’s war as prescription for all countries under all circumstances and require militarization of the party as the principal or essential elements of Maoism. This is not Maoism but a grotesque Gonzaloite distortion of Maoism.
In other articles, I have already pointed out that the Gonzaloites have well proven themselves as mere charlatans by claiming that protracted people’s war can be done in industrial capitalist countries and by not doing any single armed tactical offensive anywhere for decades to prove their point. The militarization of the party is an anti-Maoist notion which runs counter to the principle that the Party, as the ideological and political leading force, commands the gun. In its Second Great Rectification Movement, the CPP opposed and defeated the “Left” opportunists who wanted to subordinate the Party to the army.
3. RADI: Contemporary leftist philosophers like Alain Badiou, Slavoj Zizek, and Jodi Dean affirm the communist idea (although they have various interpretations of this idea) but strikingly glaring among them is their divergences in terms of the question of political organization which can be commonly described as a clear surrender of the Leninist vanguard party. Badiou, for example, a self-proclaimed Maoist and an heir to the May of 1968 of France, argues for a “politics without a party.” Dean, on the other hand, argues for the necessity of a party but a party in an international level, not anymore the traditional state-bound communist party of the past that clearly claim as its aim the seizure of political and state power from the bourgeoisie. What is your insight in relation to the question of political organization in winning the struggle for communism and what was Mao’s or Maoism’s important contribution to this problem?
JMS: It is absurd for Badiou to argue for “politics without a party”. He is intellectually and practically a subjectivist and anarchist who seeks to disorganize the masses and lead them to the predominance of bourgeois parties and the bourgeois state. He is out of the world of class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Definitely, he is not a Maoist even if he proclaims himself to be a Maoist.
The first great socialist state would not have been established had there been no Bolshevik party to lead the toiling masses of workers and peasants in overthrowing the reactionaries and seizing political power. Without the CPC, the Chinese proletariat and people would not have succeeded in winning the new democratic and socialist stages of the Chinese revolution.
Jodi Dean is somewhat better than Badiou in recognizing the need for a revolutionary party. But while being internationalist, the proletarian revolutionary party has to win the revolution within national boundaries. For Lenin and the Bolsheviks to win the Great October Socialist Revolution, they had to oppose the social pacifism and social chauvinism of the Second International.
It is relevant to recall that the Third International or Comintern tried to run a world party with local communist parties as national sections. But came 1943 the Comintern had to dissolve itself because it could not communicate and instruct or advice the CPs who were engaged in the bitter anti-fascist wars. Consequently, the principles of equality, independence and mutual support and cooperation were adopted in the comradely relations of communist and workers’ parties.
In the bitter struggles against the well-organized bourgeoisie and imperialist powers, the proletariat as the leading class in the revolution must have a political party. It must have an ideological, political and organizational line to defeat the enemy. It must grow in strength by being intimately linked to the toiling masses. It must arouse, organize and mobilize them in their own best interest. The mass base generates the mass activists and the best party cadres and masses. The party can defeat the enemy and win the revolution only with the participation and support of the masses.
We can learn from Mao and Maoism how to build the Party ideologically, politically and organizationally, how to do social investigation and mass work, how to arouse, organize and mobilize the toiling masses and how to avail of the people’s war and the united front to reach and mobilize the masses in their millions. Mao taught us how to use the rectification movement in order to correct errors and shortcomings and thereby further strengthen the Party. He insisted on the mass line of mobilizing the masses and gaining strength from them from one stage of the revolution to a new and higher stage.
Some petty bourgeois intellectuals have the high flown disdain for nation-states and political parties. But these are progressive products of history in relation to the backward conditions of colonial and feudal domination. And for the proletariat to defeat the bourgeois states and parties, it must create the socialist state under the leadership of the proletarian revolutionary party. Before the classless communist society can be achieved, socialist states and communist parties are needed to fight and defeat imperialism and the local reactionary classes
I need not comment on Slavoj Zizek because you do not raise any specific point about him. You do not have to. He is a chameleon and charlatan who poses as a philosopher, flip-flops from pro-Stalin to anti-Stalin statements and plays with phrases like a child playing with his toys. I suggest that you look into how Noam Chomsky describes him.
4. RADI: Alain Badiou interprets the Great Cultural Proletarian Revolution (GPCR) as a novelty as it is the first revolution to happen in a socialist state in the same way that the Paris Commune was the first revolution to happen in a capitalist state. However, in his reading of the GPCR, Badiou reinforces his stand of the “politics without a party” as the Communist Party of China then (and now) became intertwined with state power, the machinery which he claims must be abolished rather than seized. In this way, his notion of emancipatory politics advances the claim of a politics “at a distance from the state,” claiming that restrain rather than seizure should now be the model of contemporary political procedures. What is the correct Maoist view concerning the relation between the party and the state? Can we say that the Mass Line constituted a significant contribution to this problem?
JMS: There would have been no GPCR as a “novelty” for Badiou had there been no CPC that established a socialist society that was being subverted by the capitalist roaders and that needed the GPCR to combat the capitalist roaders and consolidate socialism. The Dengist counterrevolution defeated the GPCR precisely because the revisionist or capitalist roaders were able to retain and eventually enlarge their power and authority within both the Party and state.
As shown in the examples of the Soviet Union and China, when the ruling party of the proletariat is undermined by modern revisionism and the capitalist roaders, the character of the state changes from socialist to capitalist. In the first place, no socialist state and society can ever arise and develop if there were no revolutionary party of the proletariat that leads the people’s army and the masses in overthrowing the bourgeois state.
During the GPCR, the most extensive kind of democracy arose, with Mao rallying the masses of Red Guards and the people to bombard the bourgeois headquarters in the Party and state and calling on the Party and the People’s Liberation Army to support the Left. Under the leadership of the CPC, revolutionary committees arose to lead the masses in communities, factories and farms. But in the course of the class struggle, the Rightists and the ultra-Leftists also generated an anarchy of factions behind which the capitalist roaders maneuvered to retain their positions in the CPC and state in collaboration with the Centrists in order to defeat the GPCR ultimately.
It is in accordance with Maoism or the teachings of Mao that the CPP has strengthened itself ideologically, politically and organizationally and has built the mass movement as its and at the same time the local organs of political power as the embryos of the future people’s democratic state. The sum of these local organs of political power may be considered the provisional revolutionary government of the workers and peasants. These organs of political power can be formed only because there are the Party, the people’s army, the mass organizations and the united front that support and enable them.
5. RADI: In my dissertation, I argue that contemporary communist hypothesis must consider three terms, each of which are dialectically related with each other: party, state, and mass movement. I argue further that the possibility of communism could only be if the nature of the party is “a party in scission,” that is, a party which, while utilizes state power to suppress reaction, also immerses itself with the mass movements. What is Maoism’s greatest lesson to the question of political organization (a question which Lenin brilliantly answered in What is to be Done)? Did Maoism modify, in one way or another, the question of vanguard leadership (especially if we take into account the lessons of the GPCR)?
JMS: You are on the correct track by considering the party, the state and mass movement, each of which are dialectically related to each other. Even if only one of these is lacking or is weak, it is impossible to achieve the full development of socialism, which is the precondition to communism. If there is no genuine communist party, there can be no socialist revolution and no socialist state to establish.
If there is no socialist state, there is no way to promote the forces and factors of socialism and pave the way to the communism. Without the class dictatorship of the proletariat, there is no way to suppress reaction and to prevent the bourgeoisie from re-emerging and taking power. A ruling communist party or socialist state cannot survive and progress without relying on the mass movement.
Mao adhered to the Leninist concept of a vanguard party representative of the proletariat as the most advanced political and productive class that is most interested in socialism. In the course of the new democratic and socialist stages of the Chinese revolution, Mao and the CPC had ample time and opportunity to develop the CPC as the leading force and the various types of forces that brought about the Chinese socialist state.
In an all-round way, the CPC benefited from the line of relying and trusting the masses and constantly arousing, organizing and mobilizing them in communities and work places in the course of fighting the enemy and building a socialist society. The Party was in the lead and at the same time at the core of mass formations. In both ways, it drew strength from the masses.
It is also pertinent to mention that, after the death of Lenin, Stalin and the CPSU carried forward Leninism in Party building, mass mobilization and in socialist revolution and construction. He built a powerful socialist state that could defeat fascism and subsequently challenge US imperialism and the world capitalist system. He carried out well the Leninist task of promoting the building of communist parties in many countries through the Comintern.
The Chinese revolution would not have won victory and would not have established the Chinese people’s democratic state (gliding into the socialist state) if not for the vanguard role of the Chinese Communist Party, the mobilization of the masses, the use of the people’s army to destroy the reactionary state and the readiness of the people to build further as the new democratic government the local organs of political power established in the course of people’s war.
False flag operations are familiar tools of counter-insurgency strategy, undertaken by the state and its NGO allies, to discredit, disrupt and destroy progressive and radicals’ campaigns and movement. Even the accusations raised can have a disproportionate effect as seen in the aftermath of the arrest of the Peruvian leader Chairman Gonzalez, Abimael Guzmán. The fragmentation of the movement and its support base – domestically and internationally – were around political lines that coalesced on whether the call for a “Peace Accord” was seen as a state-sponsored hoax or a strategic call that was a rupture with the previous orientation of waging Protracted People’s War in Peru.
Figure 1 A defiant Elena Albertina Iparraguirre Revoredo, also known as Comrade Míriam, stands in prison stripes facing reporters and military in 1992
No doubt it was in the interest of the beleaguered Peruvian state to encourage the confusion and divisions within its revolutionary opponents, however that call could still be a genuine response to changed circumstances. There are well-rehearsed arguments from “brain-washing” to CIA manipulation, employed by those unwilling to accept that Guzman was the source for this strategic direction , however there did emerge those professing loyalty to the leadership of Chairman Gonzalez that mobilised politically in support of that alleged position. Less was heard of these forces in the non-Spanish speaking world as the line that it was a hoax received more support in the active international solidarity network, and rarely reported in the Left-wing media, in the absence of a solidarity network the silence descend with the desertion of the Avarkian-led supporters and disintegration of RIM. Political opponents argue they were inspired by the Right Opportunist Line within the PCP but still the campaign in support of the imprisoned Guzman, incarcerated in the maximum security prison of the naval base of Callao, on the island of San Lorenzo, off the coast of Lima, found expression within Peru through the activity of his defense team, a civil, peaceful successor movement overshadowing the PCP as its “political wing”, the Movimiento por Amnistía y Derechos Fundamentales (MOVADEF – The Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights), from its initials in Spanish.
Figure 2 Members of MOVADEF hold a poster of Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman during a protest in front of the Justice Palace in Lima on, July 25, 2012
Movadef denies being the political arm of the Shining Path.
Led by lawyers and Movadef’s co-founders, Manuel Fajardo and Alfredo Crespo, works for the release of the imprisoned senderistas, including the leader Abimael Guzmán. Introducing his new movement at a conference, Crespo said that it was made up of “leaders of social organizations, intellectuals, the families of jailed subversives, and artists, amongst others.” Elsewhere, Crespo described the movement as 30 percent ex-convicts, and 70 percent “young people.” He said that their political causes included the fight for labour rights, the protection of children, and freedom of expression.
Authorities have identified two organizations they suspect of being legal extensions of the Shining Path: principally (MOVADEF), a group of families of imprisoned guerrillas, and Conare, a union committee of radical teachers.
They chant slogans in support of Guzmán, saying he is a political prisoner who should be freed. They deny that terrorism existed in Peru, of around 650 still detained Movadef says they are political prisoners who fought to liberate the poor, and complain that history books side with the winners of the war. Establish in 2008, local media claimed in 2011 MOVADEF received $179,000 from Shining Path’s Huallaga Valley cell to establish itself as a political movement by establishing 60 support committees across the country and, after organizing as a political party, obtaining registration to allow its participation in elections (El Comercio [Lima], April 11). MOVADEF filed papers with Peru’s Jurado Nacional de Elecciones (JNE – National Jury of Elections) seeking registration as a legitimate political party and describing its ideology as “Marxism-Leninism-Gonzalo thought.” MOVADEF claimed to have mustered more than 350,000 signatures to support its political registration effort (Diario La Primera [Lima], January 23, 2012). The electoral authority denied the registration.
“What’s appropriate for today is a political fight without arms. We don’t think this is the right moment for an armed fight,” Alfredo Crespo, Guzman’s lawyer and a Movadef leader, arrested in the 2014 state crackdown that saw 28 leaders and other activist arrested and some charged with terrorist and drug offenses. Alfredo Crespo, also allegedly acted as Guzmán’s intermediary with Shining Path field commander Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala (a.k.a. Camarada Artemio) before his arrest in 2012. Asked if he had sworn off violence, Crespo said: “This (unarmed) moment could last for quite a while. Besides, violence has always existed in Peru. Look at who applies violence now – the state!”
“A key question is whether the group is in fact being used as a “front” by the Shining Path. One argument that supports this theory is a string of recent armed actions carried out by the guerrillas. On January 31, hours before Movadef renounced its effort to register as a political party, Shining Path guerrillas made an incursion into the town of Campanilla, in the region of San Martin. In an action reminiscent of the days of the conflict, although without hurting anyone, some 50 armed guerrillas arrived in trucks, rounded up the population and forced them to attend a political rally. This lasted about an hour and a half, while the guerrillas made speeches arguing for a “political solution” to the conflict.
They painted some 200 houses with the hammer and sickle, and distributed flyers around the area, calling for a ceasefire with the government and a general amnesty. Hours later, at 3:30 a.m. on February 1, armed guerrillas entered the town of Pucayacu, also in San Martin, and distributed more flyers. The next day, three more villages in the district of Campanilla were targeted, with guerrillas putting up banners calling for a general amnesty.
These actions, coinciding with the withdrawal of Movadef’s appeal, have been interpreted by some as propaganda work on behalf of the political movement. The Shining Path faction responsible is based in the Huallaga region of northern Peru, not far from where the attacks took place, and is considered to be the more ideological branch, and to be closer followers of Guzman. Peruvian analyst Jaime Antezana has argued that the incursions and the political party are both part of a new tack being taken by the guerrillas. He told RPP Noticias that the Shining Path’s new strategy was to strengthen the position of Movadef in order to promote Guzman’s “Gonzalo Thought” ideology, and try to bring about an amnesty to get him out of prison. For Antezana, the relationship between Movadef and the Shining Path is “straightforward, direct, and umbilical.” He presented documents to the Peruvian media which he said were issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Peru – Shining Path (PCP-SL) in 2009, ordering the creation of a party to take part in elections, saying that “since 1993 the party has been living a new and fourth stage of the political struggle, without arms.”
Tried for the third time since his arrest in1992, this time for the 1992 Tarata car bombing in Lima in which 25 people died, Guzman’s attorney, Alfredo Crespo, said before the sentencing that Guzman believes lower-level rebels carried it out without his knowledge. On 11 September 2018, Guzman was sentenced to a second life term in prison.
Condemnation issued in the name of the PCP, reflecting support for the strategic reorientation others labelled Right Opportunist Line, continues to find expression on internet sites. The authenticity and authorship remains uncertain but the coherence of the argumentation suggests a genuine commitment to what they regard as their Chairman’s politics.
MLM Line Struggle concerning the struggle in the International Communist Movement on the role of Chairman Gonzalo
Documentary material on radical themes & occurrences
The inspirational struggle unleashed in Peru last century still reverberates, and for all its complexities, it generates debate and confrontations that shape contemporary revolutionary politics. The Communist Party of Peru were commonly referred to as the Shining Path. That struggle did not begin with its armed phase in 1980, nor 1970 when independent of the Communist Party of Peru — Bandera Roja (red flag), itself formed in 1964, from a split in the revisionist Peruvian Communist Party. Its origins and period of preparation contain valuable experiences to draw upon, however these postings singularly focus on exploring the contentious evaluation of the role of the imprisoned Chairman Gonzalo. Using participants’ contributions, it illustrates the issues and positions that set the polemical texture as they sought “to keep our red flag flying in Peru.”
In a sense, the international communist movement had had a Peruvian shadow, having to address questions it raised. The 21st century legacy of the armed struggle initiated in the remote countryside of Peru in 1980 was that it raised major questions for revolutionaries throughout the world.
It raised the ideological threshold for what constituted Mao’s contribution
It suggested a Peruvian template for preparation and laying the foundations for a higher stage of struggle
It renew consideration of what constituted the strategic line of protracted people’s war
It provided a contentious model of a militarised party organisation
It evaluated the idea of leadership with the concept of Guiding Thought
It tangentially inspired a minor Third wordlist/Lin Biaoist revival
In its disintegration it provides assessment and evaluation to correct the practice of ongoing struggles
To keep our red flag flying in Peru: Word & Web (Part one)
Access to the writings from the revolution launched in 1980 for an English language audience was limited until two avenues allowed for a wider distribution of translated material. Prior to these developments, small groups of sympathisers and internationalists had to seek out information about the struggle in Peru from specialist outlets and marginal groups, with the development of alternatives lines of communication information was democratised in the access and availability to an interested audience. These were the magazine A World To Win which published statements issued by the Communist Party of Peru and the emergence of an internet presence in 1996.
SPREADING THE WORD
It was relatively late into the struggle that translated printed material became available to a wider audience outside that of the academics and Spanish-speaking activists.
Luis Arce Borja – from El Diario Internacional published in 1989 [reprinting in 1994] the Spanish language volume, Guerra Populae en el Peru, El Pensamiento Gonzalothat collected the most important works of the CPP however some important text like the 1988 El Diario’s Interview of Chairman Gonzalo was missing from the selection, however it was circulated in pamphlet form. It was published by Committee to Support Revolution in Peru, Berkeley (1991). An earlier 156-paged English translation was produced (1989) by Red Banner Editorial House by the People’s Movement Peru of France but had a limited distribution. Likewise with the compilation CPP and Mao Tsetung published in December 1987 – the 95 paged booklet printed in the house-style using red ink.
The London-based Committee Sol Peru had Adolofo Olaechea translate a lecture given by Chairman Gonzalo and published in 1991 the pamphlet, “On the Rectification Campaign based on the study of the document ‘No to Elections! Yes to people’s War!”.
The American solidarity group, the Committee to Support the Revolution in Peru, published English translations of Develop Guerrilla Warfare issued nearly two years after the initiation of the armed struggle in May 1980, and Don’t Vote! issued in 1985 prior to the Peruvian elections. It was not until 2016, that the Utrecht-based Foreign Language Press publishing house produced the first volume of the Collected Works of the Communist Party of Peru covering the years 1968-1987. Three subsequent English-language volumes were planned. The associated website Redspark has the online access at http://library.redspark.nu/Communist_Party_of_Peru.
Promoted as the foremost MLM theoretician, Dr. Abimael Guzman Reynoso, was better known (before his arrest) by his nom de guerre President Gonzalo, chairman of the Central Committee of the CPP. Here Gonzalo Though was described as “the creative application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in Peru, and is, so far, the greatest attempt to develop the fourth stage of Marxism.”
While Redspark notes that “All writings of Communist Party of Peru between 1968 to 1992 are attributed to Chairman Gonzalo” since his arrest there have been internet statements and English-language pamphlets attributed to the Communist Party of Peru. Those produced by Ediciones Bandera Roja, and Français textes de langague are available from Les Éditions Soleil Rouge at http://www.bibliomarxiste.net/documents/perou/.
With “The Andes Roar” in its first issue in 1985, the RIM associated magazine, A World to Win, carried news, statements and commentary on the PCP up until its last edition in 2006. In print, this source was, as explored in part three, not so much as supplementary, but more contentious in relationship with small circulation newsletters of the various solidarity organisations – New Flag in the USA, the London-based Committee Sol Peru, Borca’s Brussels relaunch of El Diario International (EDI), the Spanish and English language editions of MPP’s Sol Rojo / Red Sun. Especially when much of this solidarity material migrated to find expression on sympathetic websites. A World to Win , the bulletin of the IEC and Peru Action and News were produced by the same stable of activists and publication ended when the patronage of the RCP, USA was eventually withdrawn.
“In all these years, we have never given up the defense of this speech and of Chairman Gonzalo, the support to the PCP, and even today, while the People’s War in Peru suffers a phase of flexure and the Party struggles to overcome it, we support the Peruvian comrades who in Peru and abroad carry on the ideology and practice and the line of the People’s War pointed out by Chairman Gonzalo, as established in the 1st Congress of the Party”
However this trend does not embrace all who express support in defence of Gonzalo as theoretician of Maoism, as is the position of Marxist Leninist Maoist Center of Belgium, and Communist Party of France (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), co-publishers of the online journal, Communism.
And there has been the recent appearance of PPM (RC) in opposition to Red Sun magazine of the Peru People’s Movement.
Among the multitude of English language websites providing news of the struggle in Peru, the question of authorial authenticity for pronouncements attributed to the Communist Party of Peru was far from settled.
SURFING THE WEB
Following Guzman’s capture, supporters created the International Emergency Committee to Defend the Life of Dr. Abimael Guzman (IEC) to raise awareness of his condition as a political prisoner with good reason given the Peruvian state’s murder of Sendero Luminoso prisoners.
The emergence in April 1996 of a website associated with a US –based solidarity group, New Flag meant that official documents of the Communist Party of Peru became instantly accessible worldwide, and distributors and readers would not risk reprisals. It provided a means to combat the state’s psychological warfare. What was publicised on the site showed that Party documents confirm, for instance, that the spokespeople for the PCP believed that Guzman’s letters and videoed TV appearance in 1993 — when, in an extraordinary jail cell volte face, he appeared to admit defeat and call for peace talks — were an elaborate hoax.
“Portraits of Marx, Lenin and Mao emerged like faded ghosts on to my aged black-and-white screen. Five buttons offered routes to “Frequently Asked Questions” about the “People’s War”, as well as to the party’s documents in Spanish and English, to back issues of New Flag and information on “President Gonzalo” — the nom de guerre of Shining Path’s founder and leader, Abimael Guzman.” [Simon Strong, Shining Path wages flame war. Financial Times, London: May 13 1996 p. 13]
This site emerged as an alternative source of information (and analysis) to the established Committee to Support the Revolution in Peru (CSRP) based in Berkeley, California, publishers of Peru Action & News and seen as a front for the RCP, USA headed by Robert Avakian.
While not an official site as such, Maura Conway’s study noted it had the aura of a “quasi-official nature…founded and maintained by supporters who appear to have no direct ties to the groups for whom they cheerlead.” [Maura Conway | Terrorist Web Sites: Their Contents, Functioning, and Effectiveness in Philip Seib (Ed.), Terrorism and the Media. New York: Palgrave (2005).]
As noted above, over the years, there have been a proliferation of Sendero related websites. There used to be just two. As internal disputes developed the dynamics of the Internet let many flowers bloom however some information and documents scanned were put on line by, say the « Maoist Document Project », on a website that does not exist anymore. There is an archive afterlife for some like the Maoist Internationalist Movement, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The CSRP site contained a section for ‘Documents of the Communist Party of Peru,’ which included numerous reports and declarations of the Central Committee, and issues of its own publication Peru Action and News, earliest available issue dated from summer 1997. Each newsletter was six to ten pages in length and contained political commentary, statements of the Committee to Support the Revolution in Peru (CSRP), news, and other information.
The site also had a large section devoted to the activities of the International Emergency Committee to Defend the Life of Dr. Abimael Guzmán (IEC) which contained reports, conference proceedings, published advertisements, leaflets, and emergency bulletins, while elsewhere on the site the text of Dr. Guzmán’s 1992 ‘Speech from a Cage’ was reproduced along with accompanying photographs.
Elsewhere on the Net in the 1990s, solidarity activists engage in flame wars — verbal lacerations — that range from the farcical to the deadly. These occur mainly on high-volume Marxism discussion lists managed from the University of Virginia in the US.
“Harriet” , one of the main protagonists signed her letters with his real name, Peruvian exile Adolfo Olaechea. According to Olaechea — who in absentia has been sentenced to life imprisonment in Peru — his country’s intelligence service participates, too. “They have used an account in Germany to send death threats in my name to try to create rifts.”
The high-velocity Net communication fanned endless splits among PCP’s international supporters and still to be found on mail archive sites are the contributions and acrimonious exchange on Marxism-General list dating from the mid-1990s onwards.
In September 1992, the Peruvian government issued a list of 49 people (many labelled “terrorist criminals”) and 39 organizations network in the United States and Europe As reported Lyndon LaRouche. What it did not discuss in its accompanying commentary on alleged PCP militants, highlighting the overall importance of the Paris-based exiles, were the animosity between the various individuals and often competing organisations. A major analytical flaw was in the assertion that the PCP “actually leads the RIM” whereas the dominance of the RCP USA was shortly to be clearly demonstrated.
One group of supporters abroad the (PPM) Peru People’s Movement’s claim the status of the only generated organ for the party work abroad, with the authority to be able to centralize any kind of support, or materialize a support work for the People’s War in Peru. Its main focus initially being calls the defense of the life of Chairman Gonzalo and later the exhortations to “Impose Maoism” as expressed in Gonzalo Thought and the practice of the Peruvian revolution. PPM’s statements adhere to Gonzalo’s pre-arrest positions and acts as publicist for statements from the Central Committee of the PCP.
The claim to sole leadership was in a confused environment when activists thought “it is not known which one is the Communist Party of Peru, much less who their representatives are abroad”, there are so many “MPP’s”, there are so many “Support Committees”, there are so many “movements who claim to support the people’s war”.
Via its website and publication of the same name, Red Sun, http://www.redsun.org, the Peru People’s Movement criticises
“grouplets of renegades and degenerates that in some cases join together and others of them who want to reestablish their fiefs with merely personal interests… these individuals and grouplets created their different fiefs and called themselves defenders or representatives of the Revolution in Peru: “MPP USA, New Flag”, “MPP Germany”, “MPP Sweden”, “MPP France”, “MPP Switzerland”, the RCP’s “Committee to Support the Revolution in Peru”, etc. Even LAB [Luis Arce Borja] failed to make his own “MPP” and afterward he also wanted to replace the RIM with his” World-wide Mobilization Call.” [Peru People’s Movement COMMUNIQUÉ August 2011]
Such division, PPM explained, “It is the plan of imperialism, the reaction and the new revisionism. And some infiltrators promote this, others want their fiefs like in the old days and others want to satisfy their low desires with trafficking.”