PCP Idealisation of violence

Chris, London 100423.2040 at compuserve.com
Sat Apr 27 00:36:05 MDT 1996

Thanks to Jay for submitting part of an interview with Abimael
Guzman in 1988 which shows a PCP policy on negotiations.

<<<<From: detcom at sprynet.com
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 1996 01:02:40 -0700
Subject: Re: PCP Idealisation of violence

Here are some of the thought of President Gonzalo from the "Interview
with Chairman Gonzalo" conducted by the editors of "El Diario",
Luis Arce Borja and Janet Talavera, July 1988.>>>>

I would comment: As one of those who could not support the PCP but
can sympathise with the idea of resistance in Peru and other parts of
Latin America to oppression and exploitation, I accept that Abimael
Guzman is no fool

The points about a stage of negotiations coming eventually and about
not wanting a division into North and South Peru, like North and South
Vietnam/Korea, struck me as particularly relevant. I also accept of course
the criticism of bad faith by the regime and its imperialist backers in
the way they propose peace negotiations, though of course also the problem
may be that some of the regime's listeners may not see through this.
How to expose this most effectively is therefore one of the
most immediate issues.

I do not therefore accept the statement fully at face value. Although
to a friendly publication, El Diario, it is deliberately and consciously
in the public realm, and therefore would have been given noting
that it might be quoted by the other side, and by middle elements
such as well-meaning or not so well meaning members of the Catholic
Church. It therefore inevitably enters the area of skirmishing prior
to negotiations, or negotiations about negotiations.

It could be interpreted as a way of upping the ante, which might
be accompanied by some parallel secret discussions between intermediaries,
eg about a cessation of government search operations in the liberated
zones as a precondition for more formal exchanges.

As stated however, the words of Guzman are too dogmatic and
rigid to be free of questioning from a marxist position.

<<<But we
must start from the understanding that in diplomatic meetings
agreements signed at the table only reflect what has already been
established on the battlefield, because no one is going to give up
what they have not obviously lost.  That is understood.  Well, one
could ask, has that moment arrived in Peru?  That moment has not

That is too sweeping a statement. Negotiations are often about carrying
on the conflict by other means. After all, marxists do not think
the interests of the different classes disappear because someone
has signed a piece of paper, but at times it may be better for the
politically conscious forces of working people to fight mainly with
arms, at other times, to offer to fight mainly by non-violent means
on certain conditions that the other side do not use violent means
against the organisations of the people.

Therefore for example in response to the recent massacre of a score
of landless workers in Brazil, a marxist position should be
prepared to consider both possibilities:

Not because it is holy writ, but because it a a succint dialectical
statement, can I commend the passage to you again, for consideration which
I quoted earlier from Mao's Selected Works Vol 5?

I think it might also be helpful for supporters of the Peruvian Revolution
to reduce the damage done to their ranks by Fujimori's hypocritical peace

<<"Generally speaking, the political parties of the proletariat had
better be prepared for two possibilities: one, a gentleman uses his tongue,
not his fists, but two, if a bastard uses his fists, I'll use mine.
Putting the matter this way takes care of both possibilities and
leaves no loophole.">>

This issue of course is not decided anyway by the comparison of
textual passages, even if good ones concentrate the mind, but in the
course of practice.

I do think Guzman's statement on negotiations is too curt as more than
a public statement about what the PCP can do. My understanding is that
when he flew to Chungking, for negotiations with Chiang Kai-Shek,
Mao not only made it clear that what had been gained on the
battlefield could not be lost, but he took the opportunity of
having many meetings with middling elements, noted democratic
personages etc.

A response to a call for negotiations, provided that it
ensures the vital interests of the progressive forces are not surrendered,
may open up a valuable space for undermining the credibility of the
repressive regime and winning allies. This is also a form of struggle.

Therefore I think PCP supporters should be more flexible in how they
give solidarity so as not to imply, in a way I have criticised as
idealist, that violence is the supreme and *only* way of struggling for
the interests of the working class and working people, but to be
prepared for both possibilities.

Chris B, London.

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