The "tragedy' of Peru

Dan Axtell daxtell at
Thu Feb 15 18:01:30 MST 1996

On this list, I see a lot of messages about the People's War in Peru, going 
back and forth on whether it is a good thing or not.

For people like "Comradely" Carlos and Louis P., it would no doubt be a 
"tragedy" if the PCP wins power.  After all, what would happen then?  It 
would be a serious blow to U.S. imperialism to lose one of its many fertile 
feeding grounds for economic exploitation, and the PCP's commitment to turn 
the People's Republic of Peru into a base area of the world revolution would 
cause capitalism to have a really bad day.

Yes, this would be a real "tragedy": for imperialism and capitalism.  That's 
why people like Bill Tupman, a British expert on counter-terrorism and 
lecturer at the Staff College of the Royal School of Infantry, was quoted as 
saying: "Sendero Luminoso is quite right...  The young revolutionary has only 
one place to run to.  Maoism gives people something to do.  Trotskyism was 
about waiting around and selling newspapers.  I see it coming back in a big 
way.  Maoism has all the bits of popular appeal: a step-by-step guide to 
action, a sophisticated model for the study of revolutionary struggle in your 
own country." [NY Times magazine, May 24, 1992]  Or to paraphrase one U.S. 
admiral: "if Communism is not crushed in Peru, it will be reborn in the world 
like the phoenix from its ashes."  Sometimes your enemies tell you more about 
yourself than your "friends" do.

Of course, Carlos and Louis are more sophisticated than this.  They will 
vehemently protest that they want "real" revolutionary change, not one by 
brutal, human-rights suppressing Stalinists.  Perhaps the United Left (IU), 
with its imaginary "armed front", will suddenly be resurrected.  Like all 
real revolutions, some mythical "third way" would be better.  If only 
Trotskyists had taken power in China, we would see a REAL revolution, not 
that historical distraction Mao led.  The fact that Trotskyists, with all 
their scholarly rhetoric, have never come close to seizing power anywhere, 
seems to lead only to further rounds of perusing the works of Marx, Trotsky, 
etc. for clues to this odd failure.

When the PCP does win, people like Louis will no doubt be deploring this 
great "setback" for the socialist movement.  After all, socialism in one 
country can never match the "achievements" of a "permanent revolution" that 
is as elusive as it is "permanent".  The prospect of defending a movement 
that is committed to defeating U.S. imperialism and building a classless 
society is appalling to many on the U.S. left.  This is sad, since part of 
our tax money goes to prop up the death-squad democracies that Clinton and 
Dole love to arm.

The point is not to be mean to Carlos and Louis, to bait them as 
reactionaries.  I am constantly perplexed why people who call themselves 
"Marxist" in America have such a hard time dealing with the PCP.  Is the PCP 
objectively hurting or helping U.S. imperialism?  For better or for worse, 
Peru is polarized, it's either the PCP or Fujimori.  Which do you think is 
better?  Or human rights: Why did Marx, Engels, Lenin (to say nothing of 
Stalin and Mao!) ALL uphold and develop the theory of the proletarian 
dictatorship?  Why not the proletarian republic or proletarian democracy?  
Because on basic questions about state power and revolutionary violence, they 
were crystal clear.  The PCP is quite orthodox in this regards, and this 
strategy is paying off.  Remember, without state power all is illusion.  If 
all this seems chillingly "Stalinist", why bother to call yourself Marxist?  
What's wrong with calling yourself a liberal?  Why cloud the issue?

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