Wednesday, August 22, 2018


Even if the Shining Path movement has been crushed it marked a historical epoch with remarkable achievements and is a lesson for all revolutionary cadres and intellectuals.
By Harsh Thakor
It was the Peruvian Communist Party[1] that was the pioneer in resurrecting the flame of Chairman Mao[2] after the defeat of the Chinese Socialist State by launching the peoples war in 1980. It not only synthesized Maoism in light of Peru but gave a moral leadership to all the peoples wars or Maoist parties in the world. No movement struck such a mortal blow to  the roots of revisionism and imperialism as this one in the last 4 decades.
No doubt Chairman Gonzalo is the greatest Marxist-Leninist-Maoist leader after Chairman Mao. He may be languishing in prison  but the inextinguishable flame of his historic speech in jail in 1992 shimmers all over the globe till today. This year is the 30th anniversary year when ‘Maoism’ was elevated to a 3rd stage and ‘Gonzalo thought’ was officially  established which marked a historical epoch in Communist history. Unlike several Maoists I defend ‘Gonzalo thought’ as an instrumental part of developing the mass line in Peru and an equivalent to the nation what the ‘thought of  Mao Zedong was to China in 1945. The intensity of the Shining path Struggle reached the height the peoples war against America in Vietnam in the late 1960’s. The bourgeois press often slandered the Shining path movement for committing atrocities which was effectively refuted by intellectuals. Chairman Gonzalo above all practiced the mass line. In spite of varying conditions from China with great ingenuity and  originality Gonzalo applied the path proscribed by chairman  Mao of encircling the cities. Meticulous efforts were made to educate party cadre. Heroic military actions were performed but almost always not at the sacrifice of mass line and demarcating from Che Guevarist' focoism. Even after Guzman was arrested the PPW was still at its height and even closer to toppling the state. One of the things the party was successful at was internal education; it is pretty amazing that a second generation of leadership were immediately ready to step into the void left by the arrested leadership. What was remarkable was that in the very belly  of Imperialist power America and in an era where no Socialist Country existed the PCP made such a spectacular advance.
As a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, I believe Gonzalo and the PCP didn't found Maoism, but served as the primary source of synthesizing Maoism into the higher stage of ideological development that it has become. Just like Marx didn't found Marxism. Chairman Gonzalo maintains that there is a qualitative leap from Mao Zedong Thought to Maoism; and this is expressed particularly in the recognition of the universal applicability of Mao's and the Chinese communists contributions to communist theory and practice. Gonzalo Thought was adopted organically through organized two-line struggle within the Party – beginning with defense against attacks on Mariategui early on in the Party, then by standing against Paredes and his “Patria Roja” fraction, against the fake and anti-Party “Bolsheviks” within the Party and finally in support of the Initiation of Armed Struggle in 1979-1980. As mentioned earlier, all revolutions and revolutionary movements have produced leaders. To deny this is to deny history. Chairman Gonzalo  gave due respect to every facet of Maoism when leading the peoples war be  it on question of peoples organizations, military line, party building, mass line or democratic centralism.
The PCP  took the Maoist concept of protracted peoples War to a level or stage never reached since the Chinese Communist party in the 1940's. In 1988 it virtually reached a point where it was literally on the brink of capturing state power. In no country since China in 1949 had a Communist party come so close to toppling the state and establishing revolutionary parallel people's power in such depth. The PCP came so close to toppling the fascist regime in Peru due to the fact that it appealed not only to the most marginalized sectors of Peruvian society —women, indigenous people, the peasantry, with its land reforms, attempts at gender equality, etc —but in general broad sectors of the masses. The PCP had even infiltrated the armed forces. Gary Leupp (Monthly Review, March 1993), quoting a Peruvian sociologist, notes that the PCP was the largest political Party in Peru with about 100,000 members. A PCP generated trade union, the MOTC, lead most of the strikes in Lima
PCP brilliantly blended de-centralization  and centralization  in the military strategy with articulate planning and methodology.
Based on this understanding PCP Chairman Gonzalo established the axes, sub-axes, and the directions and lines of movement, so as to maintain the strategic direction of war. This was done after a thorough study of history of social relations,  wars, political, military and economic conditions, terrain etc. Next on the basis of this National Military Plan was formulated, which was strategically centralized and tactically decentralized guided by the Maoist understanding of linking strategy and tactics, strategic operational plans were formulated.
Every committee below it formulated their own strategic operational plans based on the strategic operational plan followed by the entire party.
All military plans are based on thorough reconnaissance and careful study of the situation of the enemy and our forces, and are guided by the political strategy and the military strategy. The strategic centralization and tactical decentralization gives full play to the lower committees to decide specific struggles to be carried out in their area, based on the guidelines.”(From Bhavin)
Great emphasis was placed on the mass line towards the building of people's mass organizations and armed struggle was only launched after the seeds were sown through a protracted preparation period from 1968-78 when party schools were formed. In a most dialectical way the rightist trend of open functioning and the leftist trend of overemphasizing fascism and abandoning mass activity was fought. The PCP brilliantly blended Maoism in the context of the Peruvian nation or Latin America. Revolutionary Peasant Committees sprouted from 1982 with revolutionary democratic depth almost on par with that of the CCP base areas in the 1940’s. Land was seized from landlords and distributed to poor peasants, relying on the mass line. From building peasant committees guerilla Zones were built into base areas.
In 1986 the peoples war entered the phase of building base areas. New revolutionary political power was created. Peoples Committees were established taking into account the subjective forces. The Committees comprised 5 members-called commissioners. They were chosen by representatives of the village mass organizations of poor peasants, laborers, women, intellectuals, youth and children. 
In towns the party exhibited creativity at it’s highest zenith when developing secret and open mechanism to support the peoples war. Chairman Gonzalo brilliantly analyzed the complexities of Peru which had a significantly larger urban population than  in the rural areas and much more neo-colonial infiltration than most 3rd world countries. In spite of superpower America being it's neighbor it displayed an aura of invincibility for a decade. In 1983 the PCP had formed the Organizing Committee for a New Democratic People's Republic. In the cities ,with the situation different from the villages a Revolutionary Peoples Defense Movement was created “ with the goal of mobilizing the masses to resist and to raise their struggles to a higher level-people's war .Shanty town dwellers were mobilized .The Revolutionary Peoples Defense Movement called for armed shutdowns in Ayacucho lasting 3 days in 1988.
The armed shutdowns later rocked Lima and the capital was shaken in November 1989 and March 1990. On the eve of the November strike, the traditional day of the dead’ about 3000 families of the prisoners of war marched into Lima in honor of the fallen heroes of the peoples war. On 21st August another shutdown was launched following Fujimori’s price hikes with leafleting at markets, factories, schools. etc.
The  1988 document of the PCP ‘Organization of the Masses’ part of  ‘Re-affirmation of the principle that Masses make History’ revealed  depth of mass line towards carrying 2 line struggle to combat left liquidation and rightist liquidation or legalism, balancing centralization  with de-centralization, differentiating open and secret party work applying Lenin and Mao, building genuine mass organizations in cities and countryside keeping the party clandestine, preparing  for initiation of peoples war, combining mass and military work, building the peoples guerilla as the principal organization as well as peoples war as the principal form of struggle and giving the cutting edge to the PCP. The final note about the qualitative  leap of party mass work  in the document sums up the achievements. Mass line was reflected  at its highest depth in every phase of re-constitution of the party, phase of initiating armed struggle, staring peoples war, and consolidating base areas in peoples war, comparable to that of the Chinese Communist Party when waging armed struggle. Below are some important excerpts
Chairman Gonzalo fought against revisionism which led the masses towards electoralism and against revolutionary violence in order to preserve the old order. 

He fought against Patria Roja, a form of revisionism which trafficked, as it does today, with the slogan "power grows from a barrel of a gun," negating semi-feudalism, centering on the petty-bourgeoisie, especially students and teachers. He also defeated the right liquidationism that diluted the Party's leadership among the masses, preaching legalism and saying everything could be done through the Peasant Confederation of Peru (CCP), that the peasants didn't understand confiscation but they did understand expropriation, and that the fascist and corporative measures of the Velasco government should be deepened.
‘He founded the character, content and role of the Generated Organisms applying Lenin's thesis on a clandestine Party and points of Party support in the masses, learning from the Chinese experience in open and secret work. He specified the necessity, in order to develop the Reconstitution of the Party, of opening the Party to the masses more. In order to reach agreement upon and carry out this policy he had to defeat the left liquidationism that began from the notion that fascism sweeps everything away, aiming at the Party's extinction by isolating it from the masses.
With the defeat of the left liquidationist line the ties with the masses grew and People's Schools begin to be formed, schools which politicized the masses with the conception and line of the Party, which played an important role in the agitation and propaganda by linking the struggle for revindications with the struggle for political Power.

The advance of the work of the Generated Organisms led to Chairman Gonzalo proposing their development into one torrent, under the political guide of initiating the armed struggle. This led to the forming of zonal work. The Metropolitan Coordination was established for the cities, applying Lenin's thesis for open work and Chairman Mao's thesis for work in the cities, so that the struggle of the masses should be developed in a reasonable, advantageous and precise way. Their application allowed us to keep the Party clandestine, entrenched in the masses, moving in a good number of activists, distribute propaganda in a short time and facilitated agitation and mobilization under a centralized Party plan..

In the third political strategy of the Reconstitution, the Party broadly developed its mass work in the zones of the Sierra, linking itself with the peasants, primarily the poor peasants. In the cities it linked itself with the proletariat and masses in the slums and shantytowns. The generated organisms have played a good role within the culmination of the reconstitution and laying foundations for the armed struggle. In synthesis, all the mass work of the Party in the Reconstitution was to prepare the initiation of the People's War. As Chairman Mao taught us, before initiating the war, everything is preparation for it, and once it has begun everything serves to develop it. Chairman Gonzalo has applied and firmly developed this principle.
In the leadership of the People's War there was a great leap in the mass work of the Party, a qualitative leap, which shaped the principal form of struggle—the People's War, and the principal form of organization—The People's Guerrilla Army.
For the mobilization of masses, the Party through the EGP carries forward the People's Schools, forms the Generated Organisms and the support groups. This is a policy that is applied one way in the countryside, because that is where the New Power is being formed, and in another way in the cities. In the cities, the Revolutionary Defense Movement of the People was formed, aiming at the future insurrection.

In the countryside, where we have power, Support Bases and People's Committees, we see to it that all the masses engage in armed participation, organized in the Party, Army and Front/State. If all the masses are not organized the New Power will not be able to sustain itself for long. Amorphous masses or power without masses organized under the leadership of the Party is not enough.

In the cities, the mass work is carried out by the Army as well, and the main thing is the struggle for power through the People's War, with the struggle for revindications serving political power as a necessary complement. Obviously, this happens through many armed actions with the goal of materializing the new forms of organization. We formed the People's Revolutionary Defense Movement (MRDP).

Today, after nearly eight years of People's War the Party has made a great leap in its mass work, proving that it is just and correct to develop mass work within and for the People's War.

As a result of its application our people are learning each day that the class struggle necessarily leads to the struggle for Power; their growing participation in the People's War is very expressive of this, and even if not everyone reaches an understanding of it, they see in it the concrete hope of their emancipation. They are developing their struggles with new forms of struggle and organization, and the class struggle in Peru has been elevated to its principal form: The People's War.’

Sadly after 1992 it received a reversal of 360 degrees  after the arrest of chairman Gonzalo and the release of ‘peace’ letters.
I disagree  it was Gonzalo who wrote the peace letters in Jail after 1992 when the other party cc leaders wished to continue the armed struggle. I never meant to suggest that the entire party immediately assumed that the peace-letters were correct. Rather, the position I'd take is that the cult of personality provided the opportunist line with the grounds necessary to push their position. It is telling that the statements that supposedly came from Gonzalo were eventually used in the way they were Because it is rather telling that they were close to overthrowing the state and then suddenly, after the peace letters, the PPW began to decline. The revolution in Peru did not fail because of its military strategy––indeed, as even the rightist Senderologists claim, it would have succeeded had it continued––but because the PCP splintered, with large parts of the organization acceding to the call for peace talks, due to the arrest of the central committee. (View of JMP[3])
The presentation of later Gonzalo thought is mechanistic .The mass line in later documents is not a formal presentation of from the masses to the masses but a line of militancy and anti revisionism to bring to the masses the line is not incorrect, even Lenin and Marx were straight forward we must bring the necessity of violence to the masses. However the mass line is a method of doing it Individual leadership prioritized individuals over politics, and I think it’s demeaning. Teach people why we must struggle this way, not that we need a leader who says so.(View of Nick Marlatte)
CAUSES OF REVERSAL (with quotes of the Pro-Gonzalo  'Struggles Session' blog ‘or  'red Austin group from a faction of the RCP-Canada. Fascinating all 3 points inter-related.)
A major error was terming ‘Gonzalo thought as  'principal' for Peru  and elevating its status as the 4th sword of Marxism. The personality cult of chairman Gonzalo violated the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist concept of collective leadership and promoted concept of 'individual greatness.' I think the organization degenerated in various areas due to an erroneous political line on the national question, and the cult of personality around Abimael Guzman ("Gonzalo Thought") that actually served to prevent the Sendero Luminoso from winning the Peoples War.  We have to recount how during both the Russian and Chinese revolution the trend of 'individual leader' was never promoted with even Leninism or Maoism being officially founded. No doubt leadership plays a most vital role in the mass line and building the party but personality cult acts against the dictatorship of the proletariat. The great leaders are after all products of the Communist Party and revolutionary movement and not vice-versa. His image should have been projected with greater humility by the PCP.' No self criticism of ‘personality’ cult in 1988 Party Congress with example of Kruschevite critique of Stalin used to justify it.
“The future belongs to communism and the masses, not capitalism and the supremacy of the petite-bourgeois individual. Great Leadership is not in contradiction to the collectivity and mass character of Communism, exactly as how the proletarian state is not in contradiction to the statelessness of Communism; they are both necessary steps in the road to Communism.”
“Chairman Gonzalo did not invent Great Leadership, but he did develop it and squarely placed it on the red banner of Maoism. He did not take a single step back and apologize or downplay his rise to leadership at the helm of the Peruvian PPW.”
Concept of 'militarization' of the party violates Leninism or even Maoism as it does not demarcate the party from the military wing which is the guerilla army.' It has overtones of Guevarist foco theory. Excesses of armed actions were also committed reflecting ‘military ‘ approach and insufficient  review of mass line. Guerilla  army doing mass work in the cities strips it’s military character by mixing military and mass work ,displaying trends of insurrection.
‘Hierarchy is a necessary component of the militarized Maoist Communist Party because it instills the discipline of subordinating oneself to the higher militarized command of revolutionary leadership and revolution itself. The militarization of the Party, which is also the militarization of the masses, cannot exist without the concept of Great Leadership.”
Below is an indication of the partially eclectic method of deploying army to do mass work in the cities in the 1988 document.
“In the cities, the mass work is carried out by the Army as well, and the main thing is the struggle for power through the People's War, with the struggle for revindications serving political power as a necessary In the countryside, the Generated Organisms are militarized; in the cities many degrees of militarization can be applied.
'Principally Maoism' virtually puts Leninism into the museum and rejects the Leninist era of 'Imperialism and Proletarian  Revolution.' In Gonzalo's view it was chairman Mao who founded a new era in the next 100 years where revolution would triumph. Another most deviationist assessment was that the followers of chairman Mao fought a peoples war against the capitalist roaders during the Cultural Revolution. Such faulty evaluation is related to it’s wrong understating of the era. Commandist tendencies were exhibited by the PCP towards the revolutionary committees and mass fronts with not sufficient review of weaknesses prevailing at the base level. A red army doing mass work in the cities does not do justice to the role of a military organization and mixes the military and mass platforms .
Erroneously the PCP upheld  concept of Protracted Peoples War as a  Universal concept and that the Russian Revolution was a part of Peoples War. The CCP had propounded concept of protracted peoples war only for liberating the 3rd world countries where condition existed similar to China evaluating the terrain. In cities of America or Europe there are no mountains or forest areas for a red army to launch a peoples war and state machinery is too fortified for the cities to be encircled. The capitalist model of production and bourgeois parliament do not facilitate it. In such areas there are no avenues for the peoples army to retreat and camouflage themselves. Erroneously PCP and Gonzalo equated the armed struggles in Serbia or Ireland as protracted peoples war. Even if insurrection may not be deployed in developed countries in the classical sense as by the Bolshevik's in Russia a century ago the military strategy will be far closer to the Russian than the Chinese path. I cannot reconcile the Gonzalite view that the Russian revolution practiced path of  of peoples war and feel October Road had a distinct path. Certain aspects of Maoist military theory can be incorporated in armed struggles even in developed countries with its laws being universal but that does not imply the  universality of PPW. I still maintain that basically PPW is applicable to semi-colonial countries and if errors occurred in practice in Nepal and Peru it was due to treading on insurrection path and deviating from PPW. We have to credit Mao for giving the proletariat it's 1st military line which Marx and Lenin did not. 
' Mao’s Thought 'has been put to the test by history and practice but lets give time to see if Gonzaloism is universally applicable, Where or which countries have reached socialist revolution with Gonzalo’s strategy?  There is Philippine, Nepal, India where there are PPW but it have leaded to negotiate reforms until now.... nowhere proletariat have reached power with Gonzalo’s strategy.(Mario Labbe)
In fact today with the intervention of globalization production relations are very complex with imperialism and capitalism operating and influencing feudalism in 3rd world countries on a much greater scale. Arguably protracted peoples war cannot copy the Chinese path classically even if there are strong similarities. The neo-colonial influence of capital is far greater today on the 3rd world than it was in the days of China in the 1940's. Development of computer technology and automation in the 3rd world is also a very significant factor. Even if still semi-feudal and semi-colonial they have different characteristics from China of the 1940’s.PPW will have to developed in a form suitable to the concrete situation in the aftermath of globalization.
We have to remember that however defective insurrection theory has been in semi-colonial societies attempts to launch protracted peoples war have been crushed in recent years . Nepal in 1996 came closest to emulating Peruvian example under Prachanda and was on the verge of victory before the compromise of Prachanda for sharing power with the Nepalese monarch state. In the case of the PPW in Nepal had in fact not "completed its military aim of placing the Maoists in power", rather, the party entered into the peace process for the very reason that it could not win militarily at that juncture. Indeed, there had been an effective military stalemate with the party controlling the countryside, but unable to capture any major cities (effectively negating a significant aspect of the encirclement tactic which is to starve the urban centers). Thus, at the time of the strategic offensive the CPN(Maoist) found that it could not capture the cities by the PLA nor did not it have the urban forces to carry out the last stage of the PPW which is in fact insurrection.(Assessment of Nepal by Dhruv Jain)
Today the strongest architect of the mass line in PPW  is the Communist Party of Philippines that has been leading an armed struggle for over 4 decades and initiated a major rectification campaign 30 years ago,. It opposes concept of personality cult and placed great stress on building the united front of mass organizations and urban work. It does not refrain from deploying extra-parliamentary tactic son building a broader democratic front with non communist forces. Although conducting negotiations with the ruling Duterte regime it was done for purely tactical reasons. As often misunderstood by revolutionaries Sison did not morally cal of the peoples war but only temporarily called for a truce. 
Significant that successful  peoples wars in  Vietnam or Angola did not practice Maoist path in total, nor did the successful  revolutions n Nicaragua and Cuba, or the JVP uprising in Sri Lanka. In countries of Latin America like Argentina, Chile, Brazil the urban population far exceeds the rural population but still the mode of production is still predominantly semi-feudal. However their geographic characteristics significantly differ from China and thus a particular from or revolutionary warfare has to be developed combining the upheavals of the workers in the cities with the peasantry and red Indians in the plains. and forests. A new form of peoples war has to be developed for the neo colonial, principally urban based Latin American countries with large sections of peasantry' virtually forced to migrate to cities because of being landless.
Maoists attempting to regroup in Bengal

[1] Officially "Communist Party of Peru," also known in the press as Shining Path or Partido Comunista del Perú or PCP.

[2] Mao Zedong (毛泽东).

[3] Joshua Moufawad Paul.

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