Mariategui's Road

Chris, London 100423.2040 at
Mon Feb 26 01:51:51 MST 1996

To Adolfo Olaechea

Thank you for your reply

From: hariette at (hariette spierings)
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 1996 12:59:48 GMT
Subject: Re: New Flag - two questions?

Your reply is based on statements by Mariategui and Lenin.
Apart from the reference to "People's War" which of course
incorporates ideas that emerged during the Chinese Revolution
I thought you made an important self-sufficient argument based on
Mariategui and Lenin.

This helps me as someone with little knowledge of Peru to locate
the origins of its Communist Party in the politics of the
international Communist movement and to see them better as
an authentic Peruvian application of Leninist ideas and not
just the shining eyed fantasies of Maoist or Maoite maniacs, as
your enemies would indeed like to present you, and have done,
with some success.

As there is a day's lag in my reading of the l'st perhaps your
arguments have been totally demolished by your opponents but
I suspect they are more serious than that.

Against the arguments you present, I note the dates of the founding
of the Socialist Party of Pery in 1928 and its transformation in
1930 under Mariategui's leadership into the Communist Party.

This could be argued to be an action that took place during the
left-deviationist line in the international communist movement of the
later 20's and early 30's called "Class against Class", which
underestimated the forces against the revolution, and underestimated the
need to work with allies for a united front.

In favour of your presentation I found your points credible on a
number of counts. You refer to Lenin's later arguments about
the role of the national bourgeoisie in countries oppressed by
imperialism. You refer to Peru as a semi-colonial, semi-feudal country
which is a formula similar to that used for China in the 20's and 30's,
and has *some* parallels with the analysis I know of the ANC of South
Africa under apartheid being "colonialism of a special type".
What I am hearing is that Peru was analysed as being not a colony
but as being a constitutionally independent country in a semi-colonial
relationship with the imperialist powers, (including no doubt my own,
since British influence was stronger in Latin America in the earlier
part of this century).

I also hear that the class relations within the country were such that
it could not be characterised as a capitalist country. Presumably
the very large landed estates were thought to have a semi-feudal nature
particularly in relation to labourers who as descendants in many cases of
the indigenous population were not exactly free sellers of their
labour power but more analogous to peasants under feudalism in
western Europe in the first millenium.

You emphasise the importance of revolutionary activity being based
on the peasantry in Mariategui's analysis, with the formula
that the proletariat must lead. My understanding is that this is
mainstream Communist International thinking of the 20's and 30's
for a country as presumably Peru was then.

You state Mariategui advocated "Land to the Tiller". Without
checking references, I nevertheless assume this too is mainstream
communist thinking of the 20's.

You quote words of Lenin, "The transfer of the land to the peasants is
impossible without armed insurrection".

This seems to be the actual critical point in the case you have presented.
As Communist Parties have evolved particularly in the west, the
assumption has grown that the use of armed struggle is inappropriate.
[Lest there be any misunderstanding I too hold that assumption for
Britain today]. But Lenin in the twenties centrally assumed the
need for struggle to be armed. It is not a silly Maoist epigram
to say that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
Lenin's strategy in Russia indispensibly involved seizing guns and
using them to defend each advance of the revolution.

An article published by NACLA which I read over the weekend, gives
evidence that when settlers in Peru have tried to take over the
land of private estates they are met by fierce armed resistance.
I therefore accept your point that if Mariategui's road
involves land to the tiller, and armed insurrection in accordance
with Lenin's remarks, you are in a situation of war.
Indeed as Lenin's remark indicates it is hard to imagine
land distribution being successful without its armed defence
because every advance will be swept aside by the arms of the enemy.

[I exclude here the extensive land reforms introduced by reformist
state governments in some ways as pre-emptive measures against

Those who IMO condesendingly belittle revolutionary
movements based mainly on the peasants in countries oppressed
by imperialism, point out correctly of course that the
working class is weak. That is a problem to explain
the revolution in mechanical marxist terms, but not if you
are democrat. There are undoubtedly problems about the
consciousness of the peasantry compared to the consciousness
of the working class, and these are reflected in a party that
aims to be a party of the working class leading a mainly
peasant revolutionary movement. But it is not clear to me
that they are insuperable and that those aspiring to revolutionary
change in such a country should just give up.

The superficial critics of peasant based revolutionary movements
in countries oppressed by imperialism, forget that in 1917
Russia was mainly a peasant country. It was the Socialist Revolutionary
Party that principally represented the peasants in October.
It is IMO arguable that had the Bolsheviks had deeper roots in the
peasantry as well as the working class the repressive structures of
the Soviet State could have been less, not more, severe.

You refer to problems of how socialists can ensure genuine independence
from imperialism nowadays and imply that in the 90's Mariategui's
road is essential for this purpose. This is a very big question
which I will not comment on here but I would like to see it
seriously and thoroughly debated, preferably without superficial
point scoring.

You are right that the ANC on its own admission
is far from socialism at present in South Africa, as it says
the national liberation struggle is not completed. Its economic policies
have compromised very extensively with international finance capital
to win its victory over local apartheid Afrikaner national capital.

You have a fair challenge also on Cuba IMO. While I would hope
every member of the l'st would oppose the pressure and attacks on
Cuba from especially US imperialism, the strategy of communists
should be independent of the benevolence of the ruling classes.
Just as I think it is serious to ask why there was an extensive
famine in China in 1961-2, so I think the supporters of the Cuban
revolution need to be asked why there is a famine in Cuba now, and
what the Party could have done to avoid this.

But I will ask also, once the PCP gains power, how will it
insulate Peru from the pressure of international finance capital,
and ensure that there is no famine in Peru. I hope the answer
will not be to abolish money, or if so that this is done less
suddenly than in Kampuchea. I saw from the NACLA article to
my astonishment that there are now 6.5 million people in Lima.
You will I trust, not march them out into the countryside, however
logical that may look in terms of feeding them. But these are very
big questions, and another thread. If you reply on these current
questions of the viability of your strategy in the 1990's you may
wish to use another title to the thread.

Thank you however for your remarks about the origins of what
you call Mariategui's road.


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