To defend the life of Chairman Gonzalo is to defend Maoism!

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Translation done by Redspark

On the day of the 25th anniversary of the arrest of Chairman Gonzalo of the Communist Party of Peru, leading the Protracted People’s War in Peru, the OCML-VP decided to publish a long statement presenting Chairman Gonzalo as a liquidator. This article’s intentions, entitled “On the People’s War in Peru, the betrayal of the leadership of the PCP and the surrender of Chairman Gonzalo”, are clear.

The essence of this statement is:

– After his arrest, Chairman Gonzalo would have capitulated and collaborated with the enemy more or less directly to end the People’s War and reach peace agreements.

– Chairman Gonzalo would be in full collaboration with the Opportunistic Right Line (LOD) represented by MOVADEF

– Peru’s People’s War would have failed because of a “cult of personality” around Chairman Gonzalo

We will see how this statement, far from being a criticism of the Communist Party of Peru and its experience, acts instead as a complete attack on the whole line of Maoism. This statement is the result of a fundamentally erroneous ideological and political line based on a wide distortion of Maoism, the result of which is that the OCML-VP has taken a stand supporting both the right-wing and “left-wing” opportunist lines in Peru, an international position which of course is reflected in their practice locally.

Criticism or Attack?

The Communist Party of Peru, led by Chairman Gonzalo launched the Protracted People’s War (PPW) in Peru in 1980. When the PPW was initiated, the international communist movement was weakened and in decline: in 1976 the coup and counterrevolution in China put an end to the last socialist bastion, in the 1980’s the People’s War in India was weakened by repression and the movement’s geographical and organizational divisions. In the Philippines, the People’s War suffered successive failures following major strategic mistakes, which were rectified in the 1990s with the Second Rectification Campaign, reaffirming Maoism and the strategy of PPW. Thus the outbreak of the People’s War in Peru was an initiative of major importance for the international communist movement and was for that reason immediately the target of imperialism, which sought to crush it by all the means at its disposal.

Despite brutal repression and massacres, including the massacres in prisons as in June 1986, the People’s War developed rapidly reaching the vast majority of the territory, including the capital city of Lima. It reached the highest development experienced by People’s Wars in the period after the 1976 counter-revolution in China. Even after the capture of Chairman Gonzalo in September 1992 and with him being in the hands of the enemy, the People’s War continued throughout the 1990s before diminishing in intensity.

During this People’s War the international communist movement realized major victories against imperialism. These victories are especially important in understanding the Maoism today. It is against these victories that the OCML-VP attacked and against the communist movement of Peru.

Why do we say this statement is an attack and not a criticism? Within the communist movement criticism is not only permitted, but actually encouraged – the process of criticism, self-criticism is indispensable to rectify our mistakes and to advance. What distinguishes criticism from attack is its non-constructive character: its destructive character. In the case of OCML-VP it is not an ideological and political criticism of the communist movement of Peru on errors that it committed, rather, resuming the unsubstantiated lies and defamations broadcast by the enemy and by the liquidators to unilaterally attack the Communist Party of Peru and its leader, Chairman Gonzalo.

The attack of the OCML-VP is based on the assumption that Chairman Gonzalo would have betrayed the People’s War by acting as a liquidator after his arrest by the enemy. According to the OCML-VP, he was a liquidator consciously or subconsciously, but in any case let himself be played by the imperialists. What is the basis of this grave allegation, an allegation that has always been rejected by the Maoist movement and whose only supporters are right and “left-wing” opportunists?

This theory of Gonzalo as liquidator is the thesis presented by the Peruvian State, a thesis elaborated by the SIN (the Peruvian secret services) with the CIA’s complicity. These are all of the OCML-VP’s sources, as it admitted in the article. Admitting that the peace agreement letters and the video “interviews” were false, how could the OCML-VP still claim that Chairman Gonzalo was a traitor? It does so by pretending that he was playing their game, by consenting to the filming for example or by failing to raise his fist at his last trial!

Thus the OCML-VP knows a something that the entire Maoist movement does not, for it knows that Gonzalo did not raise his fist during his last trial.

It is obvious that this makes no sense. Chairman Gonzalo has been kept in total isolation for 25 years. The Peruvian state is trying to make him die a slow death because his direct elimination would only intensify the People’s War. Chairman Gonzalo has never been able to give any interviews with the international press, except during his speech from where he was caged on September 24, 1992, where he called for the People’s War to be pursued, saying that his arrest was only a bend in the road. Chairman Gonzalo has no contact with the outside world.

And what exactly is MOVADEF from which OCML-VP makes their defamations? The Movement for General Amnesty and National Reconciliation (MOVADEF) is an organization set up by the right opportunist line (ROL). The ROL is composed of former members of the PCP who rejected the prolonged People’s War and called for disarmament; they are the liquidators of the People’s War. The ROL generated MOVADEF thanks to the work and support of the SIN. The only lawyer associated with Chairman Gonzalo today heads MOVADEF. MOVADEF is directly a tool set up and put in place by the imperialists in their counterinsurgency program.

One year after Chairman Gonzalo’s arrest in 1992. In 1993, Peru’s Chairman, Alberto Fujimori (now imprisoned for crimes against humanity, responsible for a genocidal policy against the revolutionary movement, including the forced sterilization of thousands of indigenous women accused of procreating communists!) presented false letters of peace attributed to Gonzalo and soon after, counterfeit videos (this was evident to all communists and was revealed later by the secret services). The entire international Maoist movement led an intense campaign for the release of Chairman Gonzalo after his arrest. All requests by prominent progressive personalities to visit Chairman Gonzalo were rejected.

The only ones who believe that Chairman Gonzalo called for peace agreements are former PCP leaders who have become liquidators, opportunists on the right, as well as a militaristic, opportunist “left” line, which demanded that Gonzalo be released to be judged by them. Thus the OCML-VP effortlessly continues the defamation directly emanating from the imperialists and their local lackeys who are supported only by right-wing and “left” opportunists. As in the past, the OCML-VP sails between the right and the “left” opportunism.

No worthy revolutionary grants credence and importance to the words of an imprisoned revolutionary leader in the hands of the enemy who cannot express himself directly to his Party. To accept the enemy’s slander and to take them up as their own is to become a transmission tool of the imperialists in the Maoist movement.

If the OCML-VP conceals the shame of taking up such allegations, it is because it underestimates and does not at all understand the enemy’s counterinsurgency tactics and techniques. The OCML-VP has always contemplated the revolution as an event in the distant future and has never seriously prepared for it. It does not study the issues of clandestine work and repression in the event of a People’s War. Yet history shows how much the enemy has invested in and perfected its psychological warfare and counter-insurgency tactics. This was particularly the case when French imperialism led a fierce struggle against the Algerian national liberation movement, at which time many counterinsurgency tools were developed and then exported to South America by French military directly employed by South American military dictatorships. Among these methods, one of them is to fabricate the betrayal of leaders so that they are eliminated by the movement itself and in order to demobilize the masses.

The People’s War in Peru in the ‘80s and ‘90s represented the only communist movement to go against the current in a period of total restoration of capitalism and a generalized offensive of the bourgeoisie against communism, which was presented as a thing of the past. The Communist Party of Peru thus constituted a target of particular importance for imperialism, in particular Yankee imperialism. To understand this, it is enough to do some research on the impressive number of studies carried out by the US military and its schools, US strategic organizations and the secret services concerning the PCP in order to establish counterinsurgency strategies. Many of these studies came to the conclusion that the victory of the People’s War in Peru was almost inevitable. The Peruvian State and its secret services, thanks to the collaboration with the United States, put a brutal end to the People’s War through massacres and through intensive psychological warfare.

In short, the OCML-VP forgets one of the essential lessons of the revolutionary struggle: that the enemy is tactically strong, but strategically weak. It is strong tactically because it has immense military resources, expertise, and brutal and sophisticated know-how in counterinsurgency and low-intensity warfare; weak strategically because the enemy does not have the support of the people, it represents a minority and is an oppression, it is on the side of injustice and it will be necessarily reversed. The OCML-VP underestimates and completely forgets the tactical strength of the enemy and gets caught in its game.

Today, we reaffirm, as the international Maoist movement has always affirmed, that the last valid instructions of Chairman Gonzalo concerning the People’s War in Peru are those given in his speech from where he was caged on September 24, 1992. In this masterful discourse, he affirmed the need to continue and intensify the People’s War, and he stated that his arrest did not constitute a defeat but just a bend in the road.

Öcalan and Gonzalo: the same thing?

In its statement, the OCML-VP ventures to compare Chairman Gonzalo with Öcalan, the pillar of the PKK imprisoned for more than 18 years.

The statement starts from the assumption that both are be capitulators and that they should be defended in a similar way.

First, there are fundamental differences between Chairman Gonzalo and Öcalan. Chairman Gonzalo is one of the most important Marxist leaders in history. The People’s War that he led with the PCP in Peru had deep international value and served as a model for the outbreak of the People’s War in Nepal in 1996. On the other hand, Öcalan is the leader of the Kurdish national movement, which opposes the Turkish reactionary state, a state under US domination. From a class standpoint, Öcalan is the representative of the Kurdish national bourgeoisie. They are therefore two enemies of a very different value for imperialism.

Similarly, and contrary to the total isolation of Chairman Gonzalo, Öcalan has had means of publication and communication which are recognized by the Kurdish national movement.

The OCML-VP states that a political prisoner, even if he becomes a liquidator and put himself at the service of the enemy, must be defended, and that we must demand his release. This position demonstrates their opportunism on all points, and is exactly the opposite of revolutionary movement practice. If it becomes clear that a comrade arrested, and once in the enemy’s hands begins to collaborate, to give up information – if he becomes a liquidator and therefore a traitor, then there is no longer any duty to defend him. This individual, whatever his past may have been in the movement, falls into oblivion and the only thing that the movement would want is his liberation to pass a sentence for treason. If we defend the prisoners who collaborate with the enemy and liquidate our movement, then we encourage all comrades arrested to do the same. This is unacceptable.

The revolutionary position consists in not believing the words of a comrade locked up or in enemy hands, because it is not possible to check its authenticity nor to know what is suffered by the comrade. If a comrade is proven to be a traitor to the movement, his Party must judge him accordingly.

The position of the OCML-VP on political prisoners in general is thus completely erroneous and in contrast to the international communist movement’s experience.

On the “Cult of Personality”

The OCML-VP states that one of the main reasons for the People’s War’s failure in Peru is the practice of the PCP’s “leadership cult”. The OCML-VP had identified this as a problem in one of its 1990 documents.

Accusations of the “cult of personality” against the communist movement are not new. They were used against Lenin, Stalin and Mao. The most blatant example is that against Stalin by Khrushchev at the CPSU’s 20th Congress: this attack on the so-called “cult of personality” around Stalin was only a pretext for liquidating socialism in the USSR and for the restoration of capitalism.

Let’s look at what Chairman Gonzalo said about the accusation of the “cult of personality” in his Interview for El Diario in 1988:

“Khrushchev raised the issue of the cult of personality to oppose comrade Stalin. But as we all know, this was a pretext for attacking the dictatorship of the proletariat. Today, Gorbachev again raises the issue of the cult of personality, as did the Chinese revisionists Liu Shao-chi and Deng Xiaoping. It is therefore a revisionist thesis that in essence takes aim against the proletarian dictatorship and the Great Leadership [Jefatura] and Great Leaders of the revolutionary process in order to cut off its head. In our case it aims specifically at robbing the people’s war of its leadership. We do not yet have a dictatorship of the proletariat, but we do have a New Power that is developing in accordance with the norms of new democracy, the joint dictatorship of the workers, peasants and progressives. In our case they seek to rob this process of leadership, and the reactionaries and those who serve them know very well why they do this, because it is not easy to generate Great Leaders and Great Leadership. And a people’s war, like the one in this country, needs Great Leaders and a Great Leadership, someone who represents the revolution and heads it, and a group capable of leading it uncompromisingly. In sum, the cult of the personality is a sinister revisionist formulation which has nothing to do with our concept of revolutionary leaders, which conforms with Leninism.”

In light of Chairman Gonzalo’s remarks, one understands perfectly the purpose behind the OCML-VP’s accusation of the “cult of personality” against Chairman Gonzalo.

The OCML-VP affirms that the Gonzalo Thought was one of the main factors of the People’s War’s failure in Peru, because it contributed to “depoliticizing the masses” and let them think that it is only great men who make history. First of all let us see what Chairman Gonzalo himself says about Gonzalo Thought:

“EL DIARIO: Speaking of ideology, why Gonzalo Thought?

CHAIRMAN GONZALO: Marxism has always taught us that the problem lies in the application of universal truth. Chairman Mao Zedong was extremely insistent on this point, that if Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is not applied to concrete reality, it is not possible to lead a revolution, not possible to transform the old order, destroy it, or create a new one. It is the application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to the Peruvian revolution that has produced Gonzalo Thought. Gonzalo Thought has been forged in the class struggle of our people, mainly the proletariat, in the incessant struggles of the peasantry, and in the larger framework of the world revolution , in the midst of these earthshaking battles, applying as faithfully as possible the universal truths to the concrete conditions of our country. Previously we called it the Guiding Thought. And if today the Party, through its Congress, has sanctioned the term Gonzalo Thought, it’s because a leap has been made in the Guiding Thought through the development of the people’s war. In sum, Gonzalo Thought is none other than the application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to our concrete reality. This means that it is principal specifically for our Party, for the people’s war and for the revolution in our country, and I want to emphasize that. But for us, looking at our ideology in universal terms, I emphasize once again, it is Maoism that is principal.”

Thus Gonzalo Thought, far from being a “cult of the leader” or depoliticizing the masses, was formed by and in the struggle of the masses; it was formed in the heat of the People’s War.

To assert Gonzalo Thought would have depoliticized the masses constitutes a total negation of the Peruvian masses’ high ideological and political level the during the People’s War in Peru – a rarely achieved ideological level that manifested itself in all fields. We can see it demonstrated in the documentary translated by La Cause du Peuple: “People of the Shining Path”. The PCP has always put ideological training at the heart of its trainings, as the most central and most essential thing for PCP activists and the masses of Peru.

To assert that the constitution of a guiding thought would be accompanied by a depoliticization of the masses is simply anti-historical – it goes against the history of Maoism. It was during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China that Mao Zedong Thought was more asserted than ever. Would the OCML-VP also affirm that during this period the Chinese masses depoliticized themselves? This obviously makes no sense, as the period of the Cultural Revolution is when the masses became the most politicized!

If the OCML-VP attacks Chairman Gonzalo, the PCP and the Gonzalo Thought so forcefully, it is because it basically rejects all it contributions.

The Communist Party of Peru and Chairman Gonzalo Contributions

The OCML-VP has never claimed to be Marxist-Leninist-Maoist. They prefer to propose an eclectic version of “Maoism”, which they call “Marxism-Leninism and Maoism.” At first glance it might seem close: is it be only a difference in form? A vulgar debate about some words rather than substance?

Far from it. Despite the closeness in names, the fact is that the OCML-VP rejects essential concepts of Maoism, concepts that have been affirmed in particular by the Communist Party of Peru through an intensive line struggle on an international scale. These ideological issues have, of course, impact on their practice.

The PCP affirmed that Maoism forms the third milestone of Marxism, that it is the third, newest and highest stage of Marxism. It was a necessary demarcation from those who saw in Mao Zedong Thought as only a few additional contributions to Marxism-Leninism, and that it was mainly valid for semi-feudal semi-colonial countries, but not for imperialist countries. By asserting that Maoism is a new stage means that it has developed Marxism in its three essential components: dialectical and historical materialism, Marxist political economy, and scientific socialism. In these three areas a qualitative leap was made.

But the OCML-VP does not recognize all these contributions of Maoism to Marxism, and for this reason it refuses to identify itself as Marxist-Leninist-Maoist.

One of the essential contributions of Maoism that the OCML-VP rejects is the Protracted People’s War. The PCP asserted that the People’s War is an essential and universal component – that is, applicable everywhere – of Maoism.

“The People’s War is the military theory of the international proletariat; in it are summarized, for the first time in a systematic and complete form, the theoretical and practical experience of the struggles, military actions, and wars waged by the proletariat, and the prolonged experience of the people’s armed struggle and especially of the incessant wars in China. It is with Chairman Mao that the proletariat attains its military theory; nevertheless, there is much confusion and misunderstanding on this issue. And much of it springs from how the People’s War in China is seen. Generally, it is considered derisively and contemptuously simply as a guerrilla war; this alone denotes a lack of understanding. Chairman Mao pointed out that guerrilla warfare achieves a strategic feature; but due to its essential fluidity, the development of guerrilla warfare is not understood as it exists, how it develops mobility, a war of movements, of positions, how it unfolds great plans of the strategic offensive and the seizure of small, mid-sized, and big cities, with millions of inhabitants, combining the attack from outside with the insurrection from within. Thus, in conclusion, the four periods of the Chinese revolution, and mainly from the agrarian war until the people’s war of liberation, considering the anti-Japanese war of resistance between both, shows the various aspects and complexities of the revolutionary war waged during more than twenty years amidst a huge population and an immense mobilization and participation of the masses. In that war there are examples of every kind; and what is principal has been extraordinarily studied and its principles, laws, strategy, tactics, rules, etc. masterfully established. It is, therefore, in this fabulous crucible and on what was established by Marxism-Leninism that Chairman Mao developed the military theory of the proletariat: The People’s War.

[…]

A key and decisive question is the understanding of the universal validity of people’s war and its subsequent application taking into account the different types of revolution and the specific conditions of each revolution. To clarify this key issue it is important to consider that no insurrection like that of Petrograd, the anti-fascist resistance, or the European guerrilla movements in the Second World War have been repeated, as well as considering the armed struggles that are presently being waged in Europe. In the final analysis, the October Revolution was not only an insurrection but a revolutionary war that lasted for several years. Consequently, in the imperialist countries the revolution can only be conceived as a revolutionary war which today is simply people’s war.”

On Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, Communist Party of Peru, 1988

For more details on the PCP’s contributions in the affirmation of Maoism, we refer you to the international declaration on the 30th anniversary of the Day of Heroism recently translated into French.

Thus, it is understandable why the OCML-VP is spreading the reactionaries’ slander against Chairman Gonzalo and the PCP. Behind this attack on Chairman Gonzalo and on the PCP, is actually an attack against Maoism and all what the PCP has been able to do to synthesize, defend, and apply Maoism. It is an affirmed rejection of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, of the Protracted People’s War, made not by the means of ideological struggle, but in the most cowardly way – by taking up the broad lies spread by the enemy. This is clearly a practice that is profoundly opposed to the very essence of Marxism and which should cause revulsion in every revolutionary.

To those who still had some doubts about the nature of the OCML-VP, this statement should sweep away those doubts once for all!

Defend, apply, and develop Maoism!

Let us fight revisionism and opportunism!

Defend the life of Chairman Gonzalo!

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