hariette at easynet.co.uk
Mon Feb 26 17:33:40 MST 1996
I am enclosing the documents which I think would contribute to give you an
idea of the ideology of the PCP.
Also a small essay about an adventure of ours in Britain (The Valuable
Admissions of Professor Miliband) that may contribute to bridge the gap of
understanding that different conditions (and traditions) place sometime
among people who are moved by basically the same passions and struggles.
That is my hope and current endeavour.
I find your answer very interesting and wonder if some of the disagreements
that you mention are not because we have not yet arrived at a common
language regarding certain aspects of the question of violence and its
necessity. I will, if you are interested, elaborate further on this because
to my mind we may still come to agree on the basics without in any way
There are a couple of points I like to deal with:
>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.
You are very right on this point. Let us say that another panflet of ours
"Two Line Struggle within the RIM" may help to throw some light on the fact
that not only our enemies have done this. Also some "friends" have put
their two-penny's worth in this circunstance, and, moreover, with no small
help from the Right opportunists posing as "100% bolsheviks" who were until
a couple of years ago in charge of organising the International support for
the Peruvian revolution. I am also including this document in the package
you will receive (sorry about the band width - however, in consolation,
these are FREE OF CHARGE!) (Thanks for your offer to pay, anyhow).
>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.
Well, this is another example of having the same opinion, but lacking all
the facts. You are of course absolutely right on this too. I did not
mention the fact that Mariategui actually died in 1930 and that, yes - as
the Party history now teaches - after his death a "left-deviation" took
place in the Party during those years, and that the change of the Party's
name was an expression of that. This does not mean that we should go back
to the name of "Socialist Party", because today, 66 years later, this name
no longer outstrips the "actual degree of development of the Movement" and
it has become, on the contrary, something that the bourgeoisie is prepared
to go to any lenghts to deny the Party - therefore the nicknaming of the
Party as "Shining Path".
But yes, that is indeed what happened. It was not something I was trying to
cover up, but explaining this facts would have been lenghty. Chairman
Gonzalo - the Party's leader says about this the following: "The Communist
Party of Peru was founded by Jose Carlos Mariategui on the 7 of October of
1928 upon a solid Marxist-Leninist basis, endowing it with the fundamental
thesis in reference to Peruvian society, the problem of land, imperialist
domination, the role of the Peruvian proletariat, as well as programatic
points, and a general political line and the lines that derive from this
last. However, Mariategui died in 1930, barely two years after the founding
of the Party, when even its constitutional Congress was still unrealised.
Therefore the Party had no time to consolidate itself, when, something that
was already looming from before overwhelmed it, questioning Mariategui and
also his line, and moreover this was changed by Ravinez. In this way,
opportunism usurped the Party leadership and got the upper hand in the
two-line struggle within the Party with dire consequences for the class and
The history of Ravinez is really something. He was to become known as "The
Barcelona Commissar" for his role in the Spanish Civil War as a Comintern
man. Although Ravinez was originally a "left-deviationist", he later
adopted Browderist positions and eventually - when expelled from the Party,
became the darling of the Peruvian bourgeoisie during the 50s, having his
own McCarthy style column in the most reactionary press, and even a TV
programme into the 60s, where he specialised in denouncing "hidden
communists". His name is today synonimous with the most craven treason!.
He died as a bourgeois journalist sometime in the early 70s, if my memory
serves me right!. So, as you can see, your perception was really rather
accurate. The mis-understanding was that I could not go into the whole of
the Party's history at one go!.
Moreover, the reactionaries and "phoney leftists" have tried to appropiate
themselves of Mariategui depriving him of his revolutionary cutting edge.
Lenin has something to say about how this "canonization" of revolutionary
heroes into sops to assuage the oppressed is done by the bourgeoisie and
Some have claimed, because of this fact that Mariategui founded the Party
with the name of Socialist Party, that he is not the founder of the PCP.
Well, the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party turned into the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union (bolsheviks), and Lenin himself was of two minds
about that change of name, which we could at least agree was imposed by
circunstances, principally the betrayal of the II International
Social-democrats. The question is that a Party is of course more than a
name, it is also the leaders and the ideology it embraces. Mariategui
created the "Socialist Party" AS A PARTY OF THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL, of the
Lenin International, as a Marxist-Leninist Party. That is the fundamental
>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.
Here the question is what kind of armed struggle may be suitable for
Britain. To start with do not we need to "arm the minds" with the
proletarian ideology? Would not armed minds equip their own arms with the
necessary instruments? I, of course agree that the conditions in the
advanced countries necessitate a concrete approach to this issue. Moreover,
you yourself understand well what Marx said about Briatin in the XIX century
(before the trappings of the imperialist state were in place) and the
possibility of a seizure of power without the use of armed struggle, as an
exception. However, he also pointed out that "nevertheless, it goes without
saying that this hardly would occur without an armed insurrection on the
part of the slave owners" (or something to that effect. This means that
even under those conditions, the question is to prepare the class for CIVIL
WAR, for the excercise of violence in DEFENCE of the new order of society.
I include you an article I wrote - not on the subject of Peru - but as a
letter to the members of the Stalin Society in Great Britain. I think you
will find my point of view on the question of "peaceful transition" there.
>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.
Would not this be the case - let's say, if the working class of any of the
imperialist powers were to seize power without the use of force - in a
circunstance such as it happened in Hungary in 1918? Would not the class be
obliged to resort to arms to defend the revolution from the wild elements of
the ancient-regime AND THEIR FOREIGN SUPPORTERS? Even if whole swathes of
Western Europe were to find themselves united in a revolutionary people's
dictatorship, would that not require armed resistance, dictatorship - which
is also the exercise of violence - as the same logic of the defense of the
peasants' conquest would then apply?
In other words, and following your same logic -which is sheer common sense -
would not socialism (the seizure by the proletariat of the means of
production, distribution and exchange) just be as HARD TO IMAGINE without
its armed defence BECAUSE EVERY ADVANCE WILL BE SWEPT ASIDE BY THE ARMS OF
However, any mechanical transposition of the People's War to this kind of
countries, would of course be a nonsense, as every mechanical philistinism
tends to be at all times!. In that, we may not be that far apart!.
>[I exclude here the extensive land reforms introduced by reformist
>state governments in some ways as pre-emptive measures against
Of course I also exclude here the extensive "nationalisations" introduced by
reformist state governments as preventive measures against the revolution,
as happened with the Labour reforms in Briatin!.
>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.
Yes these are extremely serious problems, like all problems that revolutions
must confront. Far from subscribing the line of Pol-pot, Mariategui's road,
as I said in the mailer I sent you before, IMPLIES THE PROLETARIAT'S
LEADERSHIP IN THE REVOLUTION.
Yes, Lima is a monster city of nearly 7 million - I myself remember when it
was a city of barely 500.000! This implies a process both of
"peasantrisation" of the urban centers, as well as proletarization of the
peasantry! Offers challenges as well as opportunities. Moreover,
Mariategui's Road implies the role of the National bourgeoisie IN THE
REVOLUTION. Not its extermination as in Cambodia, or driving them to Miami,
like in Castro's case.
You are right that these are big questions and I would be lying if I said to
you that we have a clear idea of more than the general lines and a faith in
the creative power of the masses, both in Peru, the rest of Latin America
and the world (it is just as HARD to imagine that a People's Republic of
Peru can arise in the heart of Latin-America without at least a chance of a
general intervention on the part of the reactionary regimes, and,
conversely, a general spread of the revolution - something which is already
happening EVEN before the triumph of the Peruvian revolution - and,
moreover, a sporting chance of the rise of a Soviet Union of South America
and even of Latin-America. One thing is certain, and that is one of the
main reasons why the US imperialists - and its "left" mouthpieces as well -
are so desperate in trying to smash this baby in the craddle and are driven
to the most appalling insults and slanders.
Also there is always a perspective of the world revolution taking a turn for
the better. I do not think their rule is secure, even less so today, after
the failure of "peaceful transition to capitalism" in the former Soviet Union.
However, I am not blind to the possibilities of defeat, even after the
seizure of power, and even after a fairly good advance in the road of the
social transformation. Not in vain Marx pointed out that most chapters of
the revolution begin with the words "Defeat of the revolution" However,
that is no reason not to keep trying! Remember, the proletariat has NOTHING
TO LOSE BUT ITS CHAINS!
In a more serious vein, there is a book by Simon Strong (A British
"Senderologist" - being British he is more open minded) and in his last
chapter describes the workings of a People's Committee. I think that in
embryo, the masses are already finding common sense solutions to their
problems. The main question is the question of power, because, as Lenin put
it "Without Power All is Illussion".
Be assured that money will not be abolished yet! Nor classes will go at one
stroke! Even the Bolshevik Party was confronted with this problems and had
to decide whether it was possible for the proletariat of Russia to build
socialism or if it was doomed to "serve as manure for a different social
system". Will the Peruvian -and the Latin American proletariat contribute
less sacrifice to the cause of the world revolution? I hope not!
All in all, I think the principal question today is to accumulate forces for
an attempt to break the chains of capitalist oppression in a part of the
world. Part of this accumulation is our "People's War" to win international
public opinion in favour of the revolution. In the end, it is down to the
class and the people, not only in Peru, but also in all parts of the world,
and in the people, I include all democrats and right thinking intellectuals,
specially true and not phoney Marxists who play with the theory of the
proletariat like children with their toy rattles.
We united can make a difference and see this baby start with a good - or at
least better - chance in life. Don't you think?
In this conection, I would quote again Lenin's words:
"Historical action is not the pavement of Nevsky Prospekt, said the great
Russian revolutionary Chernychevsky. A revolutionary would not "agree" to a
proletarian revolution only "on condition" that it proceeds easily and
smoothly, that there is, from the outset, combined action on the part of the
proletarians of different countries, that there are guarantees against
defeats, that the road of the revolution is broad, free and straight, that
it will not be necessary during the march to victory to sustain the HEAVIEST
casualties, to "BIDE ONE'S TIME IN A BESEIGED FORTRESS", or to make one's
way along extremely narrow, impassable, winding and dangerous mountain
paths. Such a person is not a revolutionary, he has not freed himself from
the PEDANTRY of the bourgeois intellectuals; such a person will be found
constantly slipping into the camp of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie,
like our RIGHT SOCIALIST REVOLUTIONARIES, Mensheviks, and even (although
more rarely) LEFT SOCIALIST REVOLUTIONARIES".
>From your serious interest, I know you certainly are not one of those!.
PS: Sorry, I tried to post this to your compuserve address but I keep
getting error messagges. Therefore I will post it in the list and I will
have to delete the documents I was going to send you. If you are interested
in receiving them, please send me instructions to E-Mail them to you free of
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