We publish this Article (originally split into two parts) from the site Tjen Folket Media and urge every comrade to study it:
To discard people’s war is to discard the proletarian revolution
By Ard Kinera and the editorial group of Red Flag
“At present, the modern revisionists are opposing Marxism-Leninism under the pretext of opposing dogmatism, are renouncing revolution under the pretext of opposing “Left” adventurism, and are advocating unprincipled compromise and capitulationism under the pretext of flexibility in tactics. If a resolute struggle is not waged against modern revisionism, the international communist movement will be seriously harmed.”
Editorial in Renmin Ribao, December 31, 1962
“While the leaders of the CPSU and their followers talk about the use of all forms of struggle, in reality they stand for legalism and discard the objective of the proletarian revolution on the pretext of changing forms of struggle. This is again substituting Kautskyism for Leninism.”
Editorial Departments of Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) and Hongqi (Red Flag), 1964
“Epistemologically speaking, the source of all erroneous views on war lies in idealist and mechanistic tendencies on the question. People with such tendencies are subjective and one-sided in their approach to problems. They either indulge in groundless and purely subjective talk, or, basing themselves upon a single aspect or a temporary manifestation, magnify it with similar subjectivity into the whole of the problem. But there are two categories of erroneous views, one comprising fundamental, and therefore consistent, errors which are hard to correct, and the other comprising accidental, and therefore temporary, errors which are easy to correct. Since both are wrong, both need to be corrected. Therefore, only by opposing idealist and mechanistic tendencies and taking an objective and all-sided view in making a study of war can we draw correct conclusions on the question of war.”
Mao Zedong, On Protracted War, 1938
The cat is out of the bag. On the 3rd of september, the web page of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines published an article signed Andy Belisario with a clear position against the universality of people’s war. First published by PRISM, “People’s Resource for International Solidarity and Mass Mobilization”, the article has been promoted actively by the ILPS chairman Sison in social media.
The article is named ‘On the so-called universality of Protracted People’s War’ and in an editorial the PRISM editors calls this a ‘major response by Andy Belisario to the simmering debate on the “universality of people’s war”’. It is directed against two articles signed Ard Kinera, published by TFM. The articles was published in june, in response to articles by the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, José Maria Sison – now chairperson of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS). [Edit: This is an error, since june 2019 he is only Chairperson Emeritus in the ILPS, TFM editor.]
Belisario is letting the cat out of the bag. He is letting out all of the cats. And Sison is crossing a metaphorical Rubicon by promoting this article. We find this to be an occasion to celebrate, for it is making the contradiction clear and outspoken. There is two lines, and these lines are mutually exclusive.
The draft of this our article was made mainly by Ard Kinera, as the two first articles. But this one has been criticised, edited and rewritten by the editorial group of the new theoretical magazine Red Flag. The finished article is thus the result of a collective effort, and the subject pronoun of this text is then “we” and not “I”.
In finishing the text, it was divided into two parts, where the second part is of lesser importance in our view. This was done to make this first part more available for the readers. Still, we hope comrades will read both parts and find the whole article helpful. Even though it addresses the concrete article of Belisario, and the stance of Sison, the positions and questions raised are the same in debates and twoline-struggle in many countries. If we address them correctly, our article will be of help to Maoists in any country, especially in the imperialist ones.
The article is dedicated to the Unified Maoist International Conference and the comrades fighting for its realization, but the content and form is our own through and through.
– Editorial group of Red Flag, september 2019
People’s war is protracted war
“Take note that in his two articles, Kinera sometimes uses the term “protracted people’s war” and at other times simply “people’s war”. But it’s clear (…) that he treats the two as interchangeable terms in the context of the theory’s “universality.”
This is a crucial weakness in Kinera’s arguments, since the protracted character of the people’s wars that liberated China and Vietnam has a precise socio-economic context and political-military meaning for agrarian or semifeudal countries that are oppressed by imperialism as colonies or semi-colonies. It is not merely expressed in numbers of years that armed revolutions in industrial countries could quantitatively measure up to.”
It is true that we understand people’s war as protracted in its essence, and thus uses the words Protracted people’s war and people’s war as interchangeable. We do not simply or dogmatically claim this, but argue from facts and historical experience. No revolutionary war, that is people’s war, has ever been ‘brief’. They have always had a protracted character, not only in the agrarian countries. The revolution in Russia must be understood as beginning, also its military side, prior to 1905 and not conquering All Russian power before 1921. Still, we would agree the most precise is simply people’s war.
The Communist Party of Peru (CPP) writes in its Military Line:
“Mariátegui indicated and outlined fundamental ideas on revolutionary violence. He said: “There is no revolution that is moderate, balanced, calm, placid.” “Power is conquered through violence… it is preserved only through dictatorship.” He conceived war as being protracted in nature: “A revolution can only be fulfilled after many years. Frequently it has alternating periods of predominance by the revolutionary forces or by the counterrevolutionary forces.”
Thus, before Maoism was synthesized, great Marxists understood this to be fact – revolution must be protracted. Even Rosa Luxemburg in ‘Reform or revolution’, long pre-dating both Leninism and Maoism, both the Russian revolution and the people’s war in China, makes a similar point when she writes:
“In the first place, it is impossible to imagine that a transformation as formidable as the passage from capitalist society to socialist society can be realised in one happy act. (…) The socialist transformation supposes a long and stubborn struggle, in the course of which, it is quite probable the proletariat will be repulsed more than once so that for the first time, from the viewpoint of the final outcome of the struggle, it will have necessarily come to power “too early.”
In the second place, it will be impossible to avoid the “premature” conquest of State power by the proletariat precisely because these “premature” attacks of the proletariat constitute a factor and indeed a very important factor, creating the political conditions of the final victory. In the course of the political crisis accompanying its seizure of power, in the course of the long and stubborn struggles, the proletariat will acquire the degree of political maturity permitting it to obtain in time a definitive victory of the revolution. Thus these “premature” attacks of the proletariat against the State power are in themselves important historic factors helping to provoke and determine the point of the definite victory. Considered from this viewpoint, the idea of a “premature” conquest of political power by the labouring class appears to be a polemic absurdity derived from a mechanical conception of the development of society, and positing for the victory of the class struggle a point fixed outside and independent of the class struggle.”
In its essence, this points to the necessity for the proletariat to be politically matured through struggle and to grasp for power, even though the right opportunists hold it to be “too early”. This do not only apply generally to political struggle, but specifically also to revolution, that is revolutionary war of the masses, thus making this protracted in its character.
In the Military Line of the Communist Party of Peru, which is the center of the General Political Line of the Party and the concentrated expression of Gonzalo Thought, section 3 of the chapter on ‘People’s War’ is called ‘The Protracted War’. Here they write:
“The People’s War is protracted because it derives from the correlation between the enemy’s factors and our factors that are determined by the following four fundamental characteristics: The first is that Peru is a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society in which a bureaucratic capitalism is unfolding; the second is that the enemy is strong; the third is that the People’s Guerrilla Army is weak; and the fourth is that the Communist Party leads the People’s War. From the first and fourth characteristics we can derive that the People’s Guerrilla Army will not grow too rapidly and will not defeat its enemy soon. These peculiarities determine the protracted character of the war.”
Only one of these four characteristics has to do with the semi-feudal, semi-colonial character of Peru. The three other characteristics will apply in all people’s war, that is all revolutions, and thus, by these standards, makes the people’s war a protracted war also in imperialist countries.
We argue the point, that the people’s war must be protracted because it cannot be quick. Everywhere, the enemy is strong. Everywhere, the People’s Army is either weak or non-existing. Everywhere, the Communist Party must lead the people’s wars. The people’s war must be developed from the limited, relatively simple and low level, to the higher, more complex and advanced level. The People’s Army cannot pop up into existence. The forces cannot be accumulated in total legality. The enemy will not allow it. Revisionism will corrode every attempt in this direction. One cannot learn war without waging war, and the red power, proletarian power, must mature over time. It cannot wait for “ripe” conditions, it must always be “too soon” as Luxemburg stated.
On the necessity of particular strategy and a guiding thought
“Kinera also implies that the application of this universal theory of people’s war in different countries is a matter of simply “being flexible in tactics,” ergo, is not a question of difference in strategic line.”
Here we encounter what is typical for his whole texts, and which is typical for many opportunist writers. Belisario does not quote and he is inaccurate to serve his own agenda. He even put quotation marks on claims that are not quotes, giving the impression they are…
We do not claim that each revolution does not need its own strategy. This is quite ludicrous. True, we uphold the strategy of people’s war to be universally applicable. Just as Maoism as a whole is so. Just as we uphold the contributions of Chairman Gonzalo of universal applicability. But applying people’s war to a specific country does not only demand specific tactics but also specific strategy. And not only a strategy for the entire process of revolution, but for parts of this; a strategy for a phase or a stage, a strategy for a campaign etc.
The strategy of the Communist Party of one country must be part of the strategy of the International Communist Movement. And thus, the revolution of one country must be guided as part of the World Revolution.
But, as we have stated as clearly as we think possible, we uphold people’s war to be universally applicable and the sole path to communism. People’s war is the only road to power for the proletariat in each and every country, and in the world as a whole.
Belisario writes, on the basis of the mentioned non-quote of ours:
“This is another flaw, because it implies that CPs need only to concern themselves with tactics and no longer need to define their own strategies based on the particularity of their own countries—because, after all, their dear Gonzalo has already defined the Maoist “sole military strategy” of PPW for them!”
A rubbish claim. On contrary, Chairman Gonzalo, and the Communist Party of Peru explain in their ‘Fundamental Documents’ that every revolution must develop not only their own strategy, but even their own guiding thought:
“Moreover, and this is the basis upon which all leadership is formed, revolutions give rise to a thought that guides them, which is the result of the application of the universal truth of the ideology of the international proletariat to the concrete conditions of each revolution; a guiding thought indispensable to reach victory and to conquer political power and, moreover, to continue the revolution and to maintain the course always towards the only, great goal: Communism; a guiding thought that, arriving at a qualitative leap of decisive importance for the revolutionary process which it leads, identifies itself with the name of the one who shaped it theoretically and practically.”
The concept of Guiding Thought is masterly explained further in the article ‘Regarding the thought of Lenin’ in the magazine ‘El Maoista’, and translated and published in english by the comrades of ‘Dem Volke dienen’. In other words, the position of the Communist Party of Peru, Chairman Gonzalo and the Left of the International Communist Movement, is that the universal truth of Maoism must indeed be applied to the concrete conditions of every revolution. This should be known by Belisario, as he has written a quite extensive reply to our articles. He cannot have written this without reading the Fundamental Documents of the Communist Party of Peru, since this is most important to this debate. He then must know that the line of Gonzalo and the Maoists, is that there cannot be universal applicability without concrete application. There cannot be universality without particularity. If people’s war is universal, it must be concretely and particularly applied. If it cannot be applied particularly, it is not universal. So this has to be our stance, our position, and Belisario has to know. Thus his claim must be sinister for polemical reasons.
The right opportunists and the particularities of imperialist countries
They claim we do not concern ourselves with strategies based on the particularities of each country. But does Belisario and Sison bring forth any useful lessons on the particularities and strategies in the imperialist countries? The right opportunists does not engage in practice with this task with the revolutionary optimism it demands of us. Not with the conviction that we are in the strategic offensive of the world revolution, imperialism being rotting capitalism and the world being ripe for revolution.
Instead the task they seem to focus all energy on, is finding “particular” difficulties of making revolution. Only particular strengths of the enemy and weaknesses of the communists, and the negative assertions they have made have often been proven wrong. While we should know our weaknesses and the enemies strengths, we also know the famous words of Mao:
“All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality, they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are powerful.”
This long term point of view is rejected by Sison and Belisario in fearmongering on behalf of the tiger. Sison spreads fear that any guerilla “will be overwhelmed by the huge army” and this fear is reiterated by Belisario.
They spread this attitude, because they have not taken upon themselves to look at the particularities of the imperialist countries with true revolutionary optimism and a dedication to make revolution. Maoists have addressed the particularities of the proletariat in these countries, making class analysis of their countries and they have addressed the particularities of armed struggles in imperialist countries. They have creatively used the particular situations of these countries to find opportunities for struggle. Sison and Belisario have failed to do this.
Their analysis of the particularities of these countries is so weak that they write that they are “industrialized urbanised capitalist countries” instead of pointing out imperialism as the principal characteristic of these countries. They have not creatively used these particularities for developing revolutionary struggle. And Sison’s interest of the particularities of armed struggle is not based in the experience of actual armed struggle in imperialist countries, but merely his own imagination of the huge army smashing any insurrection.
On using Lenin’s ‘Left-Wing Communism’ as justification
On the basis of his “misunderstanding”, Belisario seek to give a lecture on “The revolutionary situation”. And he tries to use Lenin’s work on ‘Left-Wing’ Communism.
In 1964, the Editorial Departments of Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) and Hongqi (Red Flag) answered similar attacks from modern revisionism against the Communist Party of China:
“The leaders of the CPSU often make use of Lenin’s great work, “‘Left-Wing’ Communism, an Infantile Disorder”, to justify their erroneous line and have made it a “basis” for their attacks on the Chinese Communist Party.
This is of course futile. Like all his other works, this book of Lenin’s can only serve as a weapon for Marxist-Leninists in the fight against various kinds of opportunism and can never serve as an instrument of revisionist apologetics.
When Lenin criticized the “Left-wing” infantile disorder and asked the party of the proletariat to be skilful in applying revolutionary tactics and to do better in preparing for revolutions, he had already broken with the revisionists of the Second International and had founded the Third International.
Indeed, in “‘Left-Wing’ Communism” he stated that the main enemy of the international working-class movement at the time was the Kautsky type of opportunism. Lenin repeatedly stressed that unless a break was made with revisionism there could be no talk of how to master revolutionary tactics.”
It is no coincidence that Belisario tries to make use of Lenin’s work. We have seen it before. But we maintain that the main danger is from the right. From Khrushchev – in disguise of Leninism – to Hua-Deng – disguised as Mao Zedong Thought – and today the right opportunist line in Peru and in the international movement disguised of Maoism. The main danger is not ‘Left-Wing’ Communism. It exist, it is a danger first and foremost in the form of dogmatism which really serves the right, but the main danger is right opportunism.
It is no coincidence that Gonzalo and those who adhere to his line, is called secterians and dogmatists. But the real dogmatist is Belisario himself, when he turns to a quote by Mao in 1938 to prove his point. He quotes Mao saying:
“The one war they want to fight is the civil war for which they are preparing. But this insurrection and war should not be launched until the bourgeoisie becomes really helpless, until the majority of the proletariat are determined to rise in arms and fight, and until the rural masses are giving willing help to the proletariat. And when the time comes to launch such an insurrection and war, the first step will be to seize the cities, and then advance into the countryside’ and not the other way about. All this has been done by Communist Parties in capitalist countries, and it has been proved correct by the October Revolution in Russia.”
Firstly, we unite with the Communist Party of Peru when they understand the October Revolution as people’s war. This is a new understanding, but true. Secondly, is it true that “all this” has been done by Communist Parties in capitalist countries? Has there been any revolutions where insurrection and war has been launched when “the majority of the proletariat is determined to rise in arms and fight”? We do not know of such revolutions. It is simply dogmatism to repeat such a quote as it was a factual description of history. Chairman Mao was eternally great, but this quote is not proof that people’s war is not universal. Neither is other potential quotes by Mao or the Chinese Communists. We know that this was their line also in other documents of later dating, but it does not prove the line of people’s war is wrong. This question is not decided by “he said”, but the content of what is being said and if it is correct in the light of practice, especially revolutionary practice and revolutionary war.
The protracted legal struggle resulting in urban insurrection and civil war has not led to revolution. Not in Russia, nor in any other country. It is simply not the experience of our class. On the other hand, our experience is people’s war being victorious. It has been synthesized by Mao Zedong and Chairman Gonzalo has made clear that this synthesis is a integral and universally applicable part of Maoism.
Let us dwell also with the fact, that not only we argue the point of the Communist Party of Peru, that the Russian revolution should be understood as people’s war, we argue this was not precursed by ages of legal work to accumulate forces. The communist party was mainly organized clandestinely. They combined legal work with illegal work. The party was well drilled in secrecy. This should also be included when we learn from this experience. The right opportunists tend to neglect also this part of our history.
Is revolutionary theory even important?
“Quite the opposite, Kinera says this “Petrograd model” is a “tired old strategy.” “
Again, as we have noted, this speaks to Belisarios rotten method of debate. It is the same as Sisons. He does not quote us, but here he gives the impression of doing so. Neither of our two articles include the phrase “Petrograd model” or “tired old strategy”. We did quote the Communist Party of Peru writing:
“To understand this key question it is helpful to keep in mind the fact that since the Petrograd insurrection this model has not been repeated (…) and to see that in the end, the October Revolution was not only an insurrection but a revolutionary war that lasted several years. Consequently, in the imperialist countries the revolution can only be conceived of as revolutionary war and today this can only mean people’s war.”
Why does Belisario make up quotes? Why does he put together different claims and statements? Again, it must be to serve his agenda. Or he is simply lazy. In any way, it is the typical Right Opportunist way, being lazy and inaccurate in the realm of revolutionary theory. It is simply not that important to them.
Belisario quotes Mao from his 1938-speech “Problems of war and strategy” stating that the main form of revolutionary organizing in the imperialist countries is one of protracted legal struggle leading to insurrection and war, and thereby concludes:
“Mao says that PPW does not apply to capitalist countries, while Kinera insists it does. … On this point alone, Kinera’s entire house of cards about the “universality of protracted people’s war” collapses into a heap. He claims to be Maoist but doesn’t really get Mao’s teachings. He is shown up to be an infantile Maoist, or worse, a fake Maoist.“
It is worth dwelling on this point. Firstly, all Maoists need to pay attention to what Belisario says and Sison promotes; if you defend, promote and apply people’s war as universal, you are an infantile or fake Maoist who do not understand the teachings of Mao. This is a clear position. Sison and the web page of NDFP has promoted this stance, and with no modifiers.
The second thing worth dwelling on is Belisarios apparent view that one Mao-quote, in a speech on the specific character on revolutionary war in China from 1938, is enough to settle the question of revolutionary strategy in the imperialist countries today, or for that matter provide a conscientious portrayal of Mao’s teachings and theory on people’s war. Why does not Belisario instead quote Mao on the “three wrong views” on “How to study war” (“Problems of strategy in China’s revolutionary war”, 1936)? Because Belisario would then openly place himself among those who “cut the feet to fit the shoes” by only studying revolutionary war in this or that particular country, and never the general laws of revolutionary war. Why not quote from Mao’s later summaries of the history of the Communist Party of China (‘Some experiences in our party’s history’, 1956)? Because Belisarios “analysis” of the Chinese revolution as a kind of “Russian opposite” would turn into thin air confronted with the actual historical experiences summarized by Mao, emphasizing much more the similarities than the “crucial differences” supposed by Belisario. However, if one follows the hermeneutical method of Belisario, then a carefully picked quote will suffice, distorting Mao to promote legalism and parliamentary cretinism at all cost and argue against universality of armed struggle. What a spectacular and unabashed form of scholasticism that here poses as “Maoist analysis”. Hence Belisarios conclusion that a synthesis made in 1980, refined during the development of people’s war in Peru, propagated and elaborated up until today and beyond, is a mere “house of cards” because this synthesis was not fully developed by Mao already in 1938. What an extreme form of dogmatism!
Everchanging development in both practice and theory
In 1928, Mao wrote the article ‘Why is it that Red Political Power Can Exist in China’. Also a favorite of the types of Belisario, setting out to topple ‘houses of cards’ and dismiss the universality of people’s war. The comrade editors of the selected works of Mao including this article has added an interesting footnote reading:
“(…) Thus, much as in China, it has become possible for the peoples of all, or at least some, of the colonial countries in the East to maintain big and small revolutionary base areas and revolutionary regimes over a long period of time, and to carry on long-term revolutionary wars in which to surround the cities from the countryside, and then gradually to advance to take the cities and win nation-wide victory. The view held by Comrade Mao Tse-tung in 1928 on the question of establishing independent regimes in colonies under direct imperialist rule has changed as a result of the changes in the situation.”
Let us dwell with this important reminder, that the great Chairman Mao was able to change his view as a result of changes in the situation. Not a surprise to us, but still worth noting. We hold that the theory has to develop even further on the basis of the everchanging concrete situation, and also our enriched understanding of the history.
On objective factors and failures of armed groups in imperialist countries
Belisario dismiss our position on why most armed groups of the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s disintegrated in Europe and North-America. Belisario writes:
“In short, Kinera focuses exclusively on subjective factors for the failures, e.g. “loss or morale” or “lack of ideology and political leadership” by a “militarized Maoist CP.” He avoids giving weight to the objective factors, which were stressed by Lenin and Mao.”
It is true the focus was on the subjective factors. The experience of Ireland is proof neither the objective factors, nor the counter revolutionary enemy, defeated these armed organizations. Belisario does not propose a counter-explanation to this, he simply state that this is something to be figured out. Ofcourse, our articles did not pretend to have the full and final analysis and synthesis of the experience of armed struggle in the imperialist countries. Far from it! And Belisario knows this, and yet again fall into dishonesty. Our position is simply that protracted armed struggle has been proven to be possible in imperialist countries. And this is proof against the claim that any such attempt would be smashed by the “huge army” of the reactionaries.
As opportunist always do, Belisario throws around the word “failure”. In their vocabulary, all the greatest achievements of revolutionary struggle seem to be “failures”. But how do real communists sum up an enormous “failure” like the Paris Commune of 1871? Karl Marx wrote:
“Working men’s Paris, with its Commune, will be forever celebrated as the glorious harbinger of a new society. Its martyrs are enshrined in the great heart of the working class.”
This is the attitude of the founder of Marxism, today Maoism, towards a failure of great magnitude. The armed struggles in the imperialist countries is not for Belisario to wave off as simple failures of no great relevance when we discuss the road to revolution. No Maoist claim these groups waged a people’s war, we simply claim they prove the position of Sison/Belisario to be wrong. Sison claim “As soon as that army [a revolutionary army in a capitalist country, authors note] dares to launch the first tactical offensive, it will be overwhelmed by the huge enemy armed forces”, and we hold the very real experiences of groups like RAF, Red Brigades (Italy), ETA and IRA to prove this wrong. Sison tried to wiggle by redefining the term tactical offensive, but the proof is still there.
On the social and geographical terrain of our people’s war
“If it is to be a protracted people’s war, as in Mao’s China and Ho’s Vietnam, then where in the social and geographic terrain of a capitalist country, and how exactly, will the organs of revolutionary political power be organized and sustained?“
One great addition to the treasure chest of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, is the forms of New Power in the people’s war of Peru. In the rural theatre of war “[the] new Power, the clandestine People’s Committees (…) are the backbone of the Support Bases.”. In the urban areas, in the slums of Lima, revolutionary mass organizations was established and developed even there into the embryonic new power.
The social and geographic terrain in the imperialist countries is mainly the poor and proletarian neighbourhoods of the big cities, but in general the marginalized areas of the countries. Not only urban, but mainly urban. New power has to be built, and must be built in clandestine forms of organization, like the clandestine People’s Committees of Peru. Organs of revolutionary power must be established by mass organizations and sustained only by the help and support by the deepest and broadest masses. This is the road of people’s war, in general. The concrete application in concrete revolutions will differ, but in essence it is the same, and it cannot be any other way if it is to be victorious.
Both Belisario and we understand there are major differences between mainly urban and developed capitalist imperialist countries on the one hand, and the semi feudal and semi colonial third world countries on the other hand. These differences gives birth to different characteristics, and thus different concrete application of the universal theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
Firstly, imperialist countries are imperialist countries. This is the most important defining characteristic. This makes a larger strata of relatively well paid labour aristocrats and thus creates a deeper split in the proletariat, as mentioned by Lenin in his work ‘Imperialism’. This is the objective socio-economical root of social patriotism and right opportunism, reformism and legalism. These tendencies are thus very strong in these countries, even amongst the masses.
Secondly, these countries are not semi-feudal or semi-colonial, thus the revolution is not new democratic but socialist in character. There is no basis to build a new democratic class alliance and there is no basis of a worker-peasant alliance for revolution.
Thirdly, the main force of revolution is the proletariat, which is the largest class in all these countries. Thus, the proletariat is not only the leading class but also the social mainstay of the revolution, and not the poor peasants like in the third world. The war is thus not an agrarian war.
Fourthly, the countries is mainly urban, so the main theatre of war is the urban areas, especially the proletarian neighbourhoods. This is the main place of organizing new power, but the main enemies of revolution is situated other places, and thus military work will in now way be restricted to these areas.
These are four characteristics, but there is many more. And each country also has its own particularities.
But how come only we are put on some metaphorical trial? We can refer to several revolutionary wars being waged in this moment, all taking the theory of people’s war into account. Why not turn the burden of proof? Where is the successful protracted legal accumulation of forces, followed by insurrection and civil war? Does Belisario and Sison have any such examples, that is in either imperialist countries or the third world? Even if they do not acknowledge the Russian revolution as People’s War, but maintain it to follow the “orthodox model”, has there been any such revolution after 1921? Any such revolution in the imperialist countries? The models and programs and roads for this has been made in plentiful. Belisario could find lots of books on the british/american/norwegian/italian road to socialism. In all variants of opportunism, this road has been presented in so much detail, one can get lost in it. A prime example is Trotskys transitional program. Another is the soviet brand of “anti-monopolist united front strategy”. The “Euro-communists” Togliatti and Thorez might help. Or the backwood of dogmatist, hoxhaist and trotskyist groups. So much dual power on paper, so little new power in practice. All the time, the answer is quite simple people’s war.
Belisario “reminds us” that people’s war is about “mobilizing the masses in the armed struggle in order to dismantle the bourgeois-reactionary state machinery (especially its armed forces) step by step and in likewise fashion to build the revolutionary state machinery and use it to defend the people’s gains.” He ask us what main form the war is going to take, what types of military formations will be built and and from which social class. He want to give us a “chance to explain [our] own version of “Maoist military strategy and tactics” in detail” and he says “My guess is that it will be a revised edition of Gonzalo’s Peru ca. 1988, transplanted to current-day Europe. But Kinera should further expound”.
We uphold, as the Communist Party of Peru, that the essence of people’s war is new power, is base areas. We thus agree – as Belisario writes – that dismantling the bourgeois state and building the revolutionary state is essential in people’s war. But here Belisario makes a leap, when he says “the essence of protracted people’s war is not simply to maintain fighting teams that use guns—which the fascists, the Mafia, and conspiratorial terrorists also do”, which is interesting. Armed fighting groups is possible in imperialist countries. They need not be smashed by the “huge army”, as claimed earlier by Sison and Belisario. Even isolated groups, groups without a mass base, can fight is the conclusion. Why not within a revolutionary mass movement? In Belisarios world, something changes qualitatively when such fighting groups is led by a Communist Party and part of a revolutionary war. If this is tried, then the fighting groups will be smashed. It does not make sense.
On his other questions, this article will not answer in depth, but we agree it should be done. It is part of a military line, necessary for each and every people’s war. But this article is not such a line. But we will answer very briefly:
1) The main form of people’s war in the imperialist countries are urban guerilla warfare, but in many countries the operations in rural areas will be an important addition.
2) The types of military formations will be the squads, troops and other formations of the people’s guerilla army.
3) The revolution in the imperialist countries is a socialist revolution, a proletarian revolution, and the party, the army and the front will be mainly proletarian.
4) The strategy and tactics must be informed by the military theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and by the contributions of universal validity from Gonzalo Thought
Who was first and what is principal?
Belisario writes: “Despite Kinera’s misplaced flattery, Mao was not the original proponent or first theorist of people’s war as ‘the military theory of the international proletariat.’” and he then moves on to mention Marx, Engels and Lenin. Again, Belisario does not quote! Where have anyone claimed Mao to be the first theorist of revolutionary war? Again, this is pure opportunist and sinister claims.
In the introduction to the ‘Line of Construction of the Three Instruments of the Revolution’ the Communist Party of Peru writes:
“Marx said that the working class creates organizations in its image and likeness, that is, its own organizations. In the XIX century, with Marx and Engels, we started off endowed with a scientific conception, our own doctrine, our own objective, our common goal—how to take Power and the means to do it—revolutionary violence. “ and “by the end of the XIX century, Engels came to the conclusion that the class did not have either the proper organic forms or the proper military forms to seize Power and hold it, but he never said we should abandon the revolution, rather we should work for revolution, seeking a solution to these pending problems.”
All Maoist will acknowledge the contributions of other great communist leaders. Mao stood on the shoulders of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, as he underscored many a time, and as is underscored by Chairman Gonzalo. It is a rubbish claim by Bolsario, and speaks on his methods, as copied by the playbook of Sison.
But, who else than Mao systematized people’s war? Would Bolsario claim that Marx, Engels or Lenin did this? It would be a really unique claim, one we haven’t heard before. Then Belisario goes on:
“Mao of course made immense contributions to proletarian military theory based on his vast leadership experience in the long years of Chinese revolution, as did Ho Chi Minh, Le Duan and Vo Nguyen Giap in the case of the Vietnamese revolution, and Sison in the case of the Philippine revolution. All of them successfully applied proletarian military theory to practical questions of people’s war in their respective countries, and in the process enriched such theory.”
We encounter here the arch typical right opportunist reasoning. Mao was not first, because Marx, Engels, Lenin. And then, Mao was not alone, because Ho Chi Minh, Le Duan, Giap and Sison. What is typical here? The unwillingness or inability to tell what is principal. Is Sison of the same importance to the proletarian military theory as Chairman Mao? We do not think Belisario would claim this. What about Ho, Le Duan or Giap? In his eagerness to strip Mao of “misplaced flattery”, he reduces Mao’s contributions in military questions to one of many. The bourgeois Thomas Marks is wrong, Mao was not to irregular warfare what Clausewitz and Napoleon was to regular warfare. He was simply “one of many”, is how Belisario sees it. We know this reasoning from how stale dogmatists and opportunist the same, refuses ‘Maoism’. Mao was simply a marxist-leninist, a great revolutionary of China, or even, as hoxhaists claim, just a bourgeois nationalist.
Further on, who was first? The concrete application of people’s war in Vietnam and the Philippines happened mainly after Mao’s application in China. They was clearly inspired and guided by the contributions of Mao. If one reads general Giap on people’s war, this is very clear. He copy the three stages of the people’s war and he adhere to the same principles as Mao already has outlined, like “concentration of troops to realize an overwhelming superiority over the enemy”, like “initiative, suppleness, rapidity, surprise, suddenness in attack and retreat”, like “exhaust little by little by small victories the enemy forces and at the same time to maintain and increase ours” and “losses must be avoided even at the cost of losing ground”. This is Vo Nguyen Giap, but firstly these principles was formulated by Chairman Mao. Does Belisario suggest Giap did not know the writings of Chairman Mao? We doubt it.
The value of synthesis for concrete application
“However, these communist leaders did not set out to “synthesize” a “universally applicable theory” on how to wage armed revolution, or forge some “military theory of the international proletariat,” as Kinera claims Gonzalo had done. In fact, these great leaders repeatedly emphasized “concrete analysis of concrete conditions” and carefully applied theory to grapple with the specific characteristics of their own countries and solve concrete problems of their own revolutions.”
When we spoke of letting ‘all the cats’ out of the bag, this is a couple of them. In his reasoning, there is no military theory of the proletariat, nothing universal at all, only specific characteristics and concrete problems. It is staggering. These revolutionary leaders set out to apply the universal of the theory on the specific revolutions they partook in. It is not important if they “set out” to synthesize. The principal aspect is to apply, but in application on the particular, the universal shows it self. At least if applied correctly and with success. All the before mentioned leaders would – at least in words – adhere to the universal laws of armed revolution, and of marxism-leninism in general. They would not pretend they did not. And what makes revolutionary war something different from the rest of the body of marxism-leninism-maoism? Mao stated that the highest form of class struggle is revolutionary war, why should this not have universal laws and principles? How could we agree (if we do?), on universal Leninist principles of Party organization, but deny even the existence of a universal proletarian military theory?
In the last paragraph of the Mao-article quoted by Belisaro, ‘Problems of War and Strategy’, Mao writes:
“But so far only a few people have taken up the study of the problems of strategy and the theory of war. First-rate results have been achieved in the study of our political work, which, in wealth of experience and in the number and quality of its innovations, ranks second only to that of the Soviet Union; here too the shortcoming is insufficient synthesis and systematization.”
Does this sound like a leader that did not set out to synthesize? In the first paragraph of the same text, Mao writes:
“The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds good universally, for China and for all other countries.”
Does this sound like a leader who does not have great regard for what is universal? Mao writes in 1938, that there was shortcomings in the systematization and synthesizing of the period up to 1938. And still, there would be 11 years of people’s war in China, followed by 27 years of socialist construction and cultural revolution, before Mao died. Even the period before 1938 was not yet properly systematized and synthesized in the view of Mao. How could this article be “the final say” in the question we are discussing?
It is not important if Mao set out to systematize the military theory of the proletariat. What is important is that he did this, in theory and in application. And to deny it, like Belisario does, is simply to refuse to learn the lesson of hard fought victories and defeats, insisting on making the same errors over and over again. In its essence, to learn is often to synthesize. Even basic lessons, like “stoves are hot, don’t touch stoves”, comprise of some synthesizing. The likes of Belisario might rage over such focus on universality, insisting that every stove is unique and must be understood in its concrete and particular situation. But most parents would understand the value of systematization and synthesis when you set out to guide concrete application.
On the militarization of the Communist Parties
Belisario goes on and asks:
“What exactly is meant by a “militarized Communist Party”? Does it mean that the principle of democratic centralism, which applies to the essentially civilian and voluntary membership of a CP, will be replaced by a military command structure and its concomitant military law and military discipline?”
If we set out to debate this topic, we would at least read the Communist Party of Peru’s most relevant documents, such as the General Political Line and the five lines it is made up of. There, in the ‘Line of construction’ they write:
“In the First National Conference (November 1979), Chairman Gonzalo expounded the thesis of the necessity of militarizing the Communist Party of Peru; afterward, in the first months of 1980 when the Party was preparing to launch the People’s War, he proposed to develop the militarization of the Party through actions, basing himself on what the great Lenin said about reducing the nonmilitary work in order to center it on the military; that the times of peace were ending and we were entering into the times of war, so that all forces should be militarized. Thus taking the Party as the axis of everything, build the Army around it and with these instruments, with the masses in the People’s War, build the new State around both. That the militarization of the Party can only be carried forward through concrete actions of the class struggle, concrete military-type actions; this does not mean we will only carry out various types of military actions exclusively (guerrilla actions, sabotages, selective annihilation, armed propaganda and agitation) but that we must carry out mainly these forms so as to provide incentive and development to the class struggle, teaching with deeds, with these types of actions as the principal form of struggle in the People’s War.”
In the same line document, they write:
“In its organic structure, the Party is based on democratic centralism, principally centralism. Two armed Party networks are established, the territorial network which encompasses one jurisdiction and the mobile network whose structure is deployed. The organic system is the distribution of forces in function of the principal and secondary points wherever the revolution is acting. Party work is the relationship between secret work, which is principal, and open work; the importance of the five necessities: Democratic centralism, clandestinity, discipline, vigilance and secrecy, particularly democratic centralism.”
To answer then Belisarios question, another sinister one, we might add, militarization does not replace democratic centralism. It is not the first time such “questions” have been raised against the concept of militarization of the Communist Parties. We write our answer here not for Belisario, who probably will continue asking the same questions for the only cause of trying to sow confusion, but for the honest reader.
In the article ‘Lenin and the Militarized Communist Party‘ in the magazine El Maoista, they write:
“As we stated in the introduction, the militarized Communist Party has its foundations in Lenin and Chairman Mao, but it was developed by Chairman Gonzalo and the PCP. Chairman Gonzalo, creatively applying Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to the concrete practice of the Peruvian Revolution, developed, through the glorious and invincible People’s War, the theory and practice of the Communist Party, raising it to a new level, that of the Militarized Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Communist Party and the line of concentric construction of the three instruments of the revolution.”
If Belisario want to write polemics against militarization of the Communist Parties, he should start with this article of the Latin-American comrades. It gives a thorough presentation of the question and on a much more advanced level than we can hope to do any time soon. The Communist Party of Peru applied the concept of the militarized communist party and concentric construction as particularities in the people’s war of Peru, but came to the conclusion that this is a contribution of universal validity. To sum it up, in our best but limited manner, it is to make the communist party a party of and for the people’s war, and secure its dedication to the people’s war and its undivided leadership of the people’s war through the people’s army and the front-new state. The Communist Party of Peru has in its General Political Line presented the six characteristics of the construction of the militarized party; Ideological construction (1), political construction (2), organizational construction (3), the leadership (4), two-line struggle (5) and mass work (6).
Why the strategy of protracted accumulation is wrong
“Kinera rejects the so-called “strategy of protracted legal accumulation to the brink of crisis and revolution” in capitalist countries as an “old strategy,” and chides Sison of being “never tired of the protracted legal accumulation of forces, in wait and want of the cataclysm” of crisis. But he doesn’t produce any arguments that show why such strategy is incorrect.“
We do not agree. There is produced many arguments to show this strategy is incorrect. But we are happy to repeat some, and add some. We must emphasize that this is our own arguments. We do not speak for anyone else, and our errors and shortcomings is our own.
1. This accumulist-legalist strategy has not produced any revolutions for (at least) 80 years, and have not even come close to topple a bourgeois state in this period.
2. People’s war strategy have produced revolutions, and have become major threats to many reactionary states in several continents.
3. The strategy of protracted legal accumulation is in practice identical to the practice of reformist right-opportunists. It does not prepare revolutionary leaders, cadre, activists or masses for grasping political power with revolutionary violence.
4. This strategy paves the way for capitalist work methods of NGOism, bureaucratic work methods of the social democratic labour movement, and reformist work methods of ministerial socialism.
5. The strategy and tactics of people’s war apply to revolutionary warfare in imperialist countries, as we partly (not entirely!) might observe in the war of liberation in Ireland and the Basque Country.
6. In the shining illuminating light of people’s war, as explained by Mao Zedong, we should be able to understand better the experiences of anti fascist resistance during WW2 in Europe – in countries like France and Norway for example, there was protracted armed warfare during nazi occupation and collaboration. It indicate that revolutionary war is possible in industrialized countries with high degrees of control and surveillance.
7. The experiences of armed groups like the KAK, RAF and the Red Brigades proves the possibility of waging armed struggle inside the imperialist countries, even for decades, without being militarily defeated.
8. The experiences of protracted legal work, of accumulation of forces, has led to no revolution. It has led countless parties and organizations into revisionism, reformism or simply dissolvement. Their cadre and sympathizers have been integrated more and more into the old society and even the reactionary state apparatus.
9. We march towards militarized societies. The imperialist countries militarize more and more, the reaction is more militarized.
10. The governments of imperialism develop towards fascism, through corporativism, undermining parliamentarism, growing racism, more police surveillance and state violence.
11. The elections are seen as farcical by the majority of the deepest and broadest masses. Most of them do not have any faith in them.
12. The old social democratic trade unions have lost significant masses of members, the masses does not trust the trade union leaderships.
13. We have entered the epoch of proletarian world revolution and people’s war sweeping away imperialism in the next 50 to 100 years, as stated by Mao.
14. The big and complex develops from the small and simple, and one learns war from waging war. Thus, revolutionary war must be grown from the little to the grand, and revolutionary fighters must learn war by waging war, in a protracted process.
15. As Clausewitz stated in ‘On War’: “The greater and more powerful the motives of a war (…) by so much the nearer will the war approach to its abstract form, so much the more will it be directed to the destruction of the enemy, so much the nearer will the military and political ends coincide, so much the more purely military and less political the war appears to be” and what is a more great and powerful motive of war, than seizing power for the proletariat? This makes more war, more protracted war, and not quicker and more limited war.
On the particular experiences of war and fascism in Europe
Belisario quotes Sison and elaborates:
“Sison explains: “Even if the material foundation for socialism exists in capitalism, the proletariat must first defeat fascism, thus winning the battle for democracy, before socialism can triumph.” He was actually anticipating the convulsions of capitalist crises and the rise of fascism, which impels all proletarian revolutionaries to prepare for future armed conflict even prior to the actual socialist revolution. This was in fact the scenario that led to Communist-led forces waging extensive partisan warfare in Europe during World War II and even earlier during the Spanish Civil War.”
This comparison completely disregards what were the mistakes and successes of the communist movement in this period. Can the success of partisan warfare in Europe be attributed to line of Sison that Belisario promotes, of protracted legal struggle?
The experience of Norway and many other European countries is that the communist parties had disregarded the tasks originally given to them by the Communist International. In its 21 conditions for membership, Comintern demanded in the third condition:
“Under such conditions the communists can place no trust in bourgeois legality. They have the obligation of setting up a parallel organisational apparatus which, at the decisive moment, can assist the party to do its duty to the revolution. In every country where a state of siege or emergency laws deprive the communists of the opportunity of carrying on all their work legally, it is absolutely necessary to combine legal and illegal activity. “
This task was totally neglected by many parties. Instead the widespread legalist practice made the Norwegian and other European communist parties wide open for being smashed by the fascist once they grabbed state power in some countries followed by the occupation of many more. The result was tens of thousands of communists killed, jailed and put in conzentration camps. And it seriously hampered the communist resistance. The protracted legalism of the Communist Party of Norway was fatal.
Belisario and Sison parade the communist resistance and Spanish civil war. If Sison and Belisario sees this situation returning with the rise of fascism, why are they attacking those who want to build communist parties capable of waging wars? If they see guerilla warfare as a tool against fascism, why do they monger fear of the “huge army” overwhelming the people’s army? In fact, their failure to see any lessons is clear. They are not capable to learn that protracted legal struggle led to the arrestations and deaths of communists in Europe during the rise of fascism. That the “huge army” could not smash armed struggle, even in countries were the resistance was relatively weak. That this was even possible when the front line and allied forces was a 1000 km and several years away. With this inability to put the experiences of armed struggle in imperialist countries to use, why do they then claim that it is we who do not concern ourselves with developing strategies based on the particularities of our own countries?
Opposing the military theory of the proletariat under pretext of flexibility
“These are all opportunities for the proletariat to arm itself and seize power when the conditions are ripe, and make the necessary but calibrated or discreet preparations prior. But Kinera doesn’t see the underlying Marxist-Leninist logic. He is singular obsessed with the template of PPW (as “synthesized” by Gonzalo) needing to be implemented now; anything outside the template is branded as revisionism, reformism, or legalism.”
Here, Belisarios argument is that the proponents of protracted people’s war are proponents of people’s war. We are guilty of this claim. We do adhere to the universality of people’s war. It is true we propose this strategy must be implemented now. That is, if it is not waged it needs to be initiated. If it is not initiated it needs to be prepared. If it is not prepared, it needs to be defined. And all our work, all the work of the communists, must be for the people’s war. We do claim this, but we do not claim it dogmatically. We argue the facts, we consider the experience, we propose the synthesis of universal laws based on particularities, experience, analysis and lessons of 200 years of proletarian class struggle. This is not an obsession, but a recognition of necessity.
It is true, we thus discard the accumulationist strategy of protracted legal struggle and preparations for the cataclysmic crisis where objective conditions gives “all opportunities for the proletariat to arm itself and seize power”. We discard this to be a fairy tale fitting hand in glove with revisionism. This was the position of the Communist Parties of Europe, who was mostly smashed in 1940, rebuilt during the war as warfare parties, but then disarmed themselves in 1945 and again turned back to legalism. It has been the position of most of the Marxist-Leninist movement of the 1970-thies, who either have dissolved or degenerated into reformist electoralist parties.
These parties have not made the discreet preparations to seizing power by violence. Not at all in fact. We know them, and we know them quite well. Belisarios claim of Marxist-Leninist logic, is nothing else than what the communists of China exposed in the Great Polemic of the 1960’s, in ‘The Differences Between Comrade Togliatti and Us‘:
“the modern revisionists are opposing Marxism-Leninism (…) under the pretext of flexibility in tactics”
Many activists buys into this. They believe this is what they are doing. They believe they are being flexible and “exploiting” legality by protracted legalism. It is our job not to be arrogant or treat these people with hostility, but to be patient and argue our case. Of course no one will agree with us just because we say they should, or because “Gonzalo said so”. Serious people will demand serious answers, facts and summations. This is what the Communist Party of Peru has given. They have applied the theory of people’s war, as synthesized principally by Mao Zedong, on the people’s war in Peru, and thus proved its universality. As is also being proved in Turkey, India and the Philippines. It is being explained and applied by great maoists, as the Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction).
Sison and the promotion of right opportunism and liquidationism
“Despite their mantra of PPW, they have not done anything to start any kind of people’s war in Norway or assist such war if any in some other industrial capitalist country or give any significant kind of help to the people’s wars going on somewhere else in the world. They still need to grow from their small-group status and infantile mentality by doing serious mass work among the Norwegian workers and engaging in truly MLM Party-building to be able to contribute more significantly to the resurgence of the world proletarian revolution against imperialism, revisionism and all reaction.”
This is a cowards way of arguing. When Belisario is tired of arguing the principles, he wants to argue the person. From the point of Sison, it would be more understandable. Everyone knows where Sison is coming from. But who is Andy Belisario? The first articles of Kinera was not statements of organizations, but it was promoted by Tjen Folket Media and we don’t deny Kinera is a supporter of the Maoist movement of Norway. But where is PRISM based? The web page does not tell. What organization or movement does Belisario support? He does not tell. One might think his angry words against the Maoists of Norway, signalised he is in some way connected to a big and successful communist party. Who knows? As far as we can tell, he does not even say he adheres to Maoism.
The NDFP web page and the ILPS chairperson Sison promotes Belisario. Our own article does not set out to investigate or write about the people’s war in the Philippines. It is one of four people’s wars today, and we support it wholeheartedly. On the workings of Sison/ILPS/NDFP abroad, especially in the imperialist countries, we will address three points:
1. 12 members of the leadership of ILPS disclosed undemocratic and hegemonic aspirations in the ILPS, led by its leader, Jose Maria Sison in 2011, resulting in their expulsion from ILPS and furious attacks from Sison. Most known of the 12 is probably professor Saibaba of India. To underscore this fact, the well known professor Saibaba was expelled by Sison and the ILPS! Other expelled comrades represented mass organizations in the USA, Turkey, Brazil, Greece and Iran.
2. The right opportunist line of Peru is represented in the ILPS by a MOVADEF group. MOVADEF is traitors of the people’s war of Peru, but they are included and defended in the ILPS.
3. Sison does not promote the need for organizing communists or unifying under Maoism, but promote right opportunist and revisionist parties and organizations in Europe and the Americas. The right liquidationist ‘Jugendwiderstand’ and the reformist MLPD of Germany is amongst those who are supported and promoted by Sison.
In summation, the practice of Belisarios promoters in Europe and the Americas, does not differentiate between “truly MLM Party-building” and “the necessary but calibrated or discreet preparations” by Marxist-Leninists on the one hand, and legalist, reformist, right opportunist, right liquidationist and traitorous parties and cliques on the other hand. Or, they do differentiate, by attacking those who do build Maoist parties and do necessary definition and preparation, and warmly embracing and saluting all forms of right opportunism.
Even the mere Sison/NDFP-promotion of Belisarios frontal attack on Chairman Gonzalo and the theory of people’s war as universally applicable, is a prime example of what line is being promoted by this centre based in the Netherlands. We know this attitude of being soft on revisionism and aggressively attacking “Left-Communism” very well. It is a typical feature of right opportunism itself.
Again, we mean no disrespect against the Communist Party of the Philippines and the cadre and masses they organize and lead in the people’s war of the Philippines. We do not set out to criticise the revolution in the Philippines. Not that this would be principally wrong, but it is not in the scope of our capacity. Also, we emphasize our heartfelt respect for the combattants and the blood that has been shed for the new democratic revolution and proletarian world revolution. We owe a great debt to the people’s war, its combattants and martyrs. It does not however, excerpt Sison or anyone promoted by him or the NDFP web page from criticism. On the contrary, it makes it even more important, since they might promote right opportunism under disguise of supporting the people’s war or hold the people’s war up as some shield against the twoline-struggle.
Gonzalo did not create Maoism but was the first to define it
“Kinera idolizes Gonzalo to high heavens, for his role in “synthesizing” Maoism (…) These incredibly arrogant claims by Kinera (following his idol Gonzalo) is a brazen insult to Mao, who after his death apparently needed another thinker to “synthesize for the very first time” his well-known teachings and to pin on it the shiny new name Maoism. It is a historic slap at the Chinese Communist Party, which up to 1976 was led by Mao himself together with other proletarian revolutionaries, and which was guided by Mao’s theories (which was called Mao Zedong Thought and eventually Maoism).”
Belisarios text is dripping of venom. On behalf of Sison and now Mao and the Communist Party of the Philippines, he lashes out against those who he claim insults them. Like there is any insult against Mao in synthesising Maoism as a third and higher stage of Marxism-Leninism, that is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism! Listen to the “insults” against Mao, from the Communist Party of Peru:
“Three big historical landmarks must be emphasized in the present century: first, the October Revolution of 1917, which opened the era of the world proletarian revolution; second, the triumph of the Chinese Revolution, in 1949, which changed the correlation of forces in favor of socialism; and third, the great proletarian cultural revolution, which began in 1966 as the continuation of the revolution under the proletarian dictatorship in order to maintain the revolutionary course towards Communism. It is enough to emphasize that Chairman Mao led two of these glorious historical feats.”
“the key point is to see how, in this great class struggle on the world level, Gonzalo Thought considers that a third stage of the proletarian ideology arises: First, as Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tse-tung Thought; then Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought; and later, it is defined as Maoism, understanding its universal validity; and in this way reaching Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism, as the present expression of Marxism.”
We hold this not to be insults but facts. Neither Mao nor the Communist Party of China synthesised what is Maoism and understood this as a the third and higher stage of proletarian ideology. It is fact. Belisario blurs this by stating the CPC “was guided by Mao’s theories (which was called Mao Zedong Thought and eventually Maoism)”. It is correct it was guided by Mao Zedong Thought. This was understood and formulated by Mao and the CPC as the concrete application of Marxism-Leninism on the particular revolution of China. But it was not understood as third and higher stage of proletarian revolution, universally applicable. This is explained masterly in the article concerning Lenin’s Thought in El Maoista, also referred to earlier in this document.
We might have made some errors in our formulations, we might have been unclear. The synthesis of Maoism is not about inventing but of revealing. To define Maoism is not to invent it, but to apply and thereby understand what is universal. And the application of Mao’s Thought led to really understanding what is universal, and understanding how he developed the proletarian ideology in all three realms, in philosophy, economy and socialism. Chairman Gonzalo did not invent Maoism, neither did he develop Maoism. Maoism was mainly forged in the people’s war in China, in the new democratic revolution, the socialist construction and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, under the leadership of Mao. But Maoism as a third and higher stage of the ideology of the proletariat was firstly understood and explained by Chairman Gonzalo. It was firstly defined by him.
The struggle against the so called cult of personality is an attack on democratic centralism
Further on, as the followers of Lenin and Mao, also the followers of Gonzalo gets our fair share of such frenetic slander as Belisario throw at us. When we uphold Gonzalo, when we define him as the greatest living Maoist, we “idolize to high heavens”. He talks of “their dear Gonzalo”, “his idol Gonzalo”, “his Gonzaloite friends” etc. So much hot air, so little substance. We do not idolize anyone, but as Mao was the greatest living communist from 1953 to 1976, Gonzalo is today. Belisario does not agree. Let him disagree and explain why, but this slander and hot air is mere distractions. Gonzalo is no demigod. He is the great leader of the people’s war of Peru and has made substantial contributions to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism by applying it on the concrete revolution of Peru, that is Gonzalo Thought. This is our position. Let us explain why. But Belisarios sneering attitude speaks to his contempt of both theory and practice, that is the people’s war of Peru.
We find this interesting, because it reminds us of how right opportunists always have attacked the leadership. Listen to the Khrushchev renegades attack on Mao and the CPC in an editorial of ‘Pravda’ named ‘The Anti-Soviet Policy of Mao Tse-tung and His Group’:
“The entire practice of the C.P.S.U. and the other Communist Parties which are consistently developing Leninst standards in inner-party life, strengthening the principles of collective leadership and strictly adhering to democratic principles in the activities of all party organisations from top to bottom, naturally creates a danger to Mao Tse-tung and his power, for Mao Tse-tung’s group has long been attacking its own party. The most elementary standards and principles of inner party life-the elective nature of party bodies, the responsibility of leaders to the party and party organisations, publicity in the discussion of the party line, etc. have been trampled underfoot in China. The cult of the personality of Mao Tse-tung has reached absurd lengths and has become actual idolatry …”
From Khrushchev’s attack on the so called “cult of personality” of Stalin, to their identical attack on the leadership of Mao, to Belisarios attack on the idolatry of Gonzalo, there is a coherent dark and reactionary thread. On their own hand, they might blur the leadership, but generally are happy to promote their own leaders in the most blatant and servile way.
The Communist Party of Peru states:
“Reaction has two principles to destroy the revolution: Annihilate its leadership and isolate the guerrilla from the masses; but in synthesis its problem is to annihilate the leadership, because that is what enables us to maintain our course and realize it.”
In the great debate between the CPC and the CPSU, the editorial departments of chinese People’s Daily and Red Flag writes ‘On The Question Of Stalin’:
“The Central Committee of the CPC pointed out in its letter of June 14 that the “struggle against the personality cult” violates Lenin’s integral teachings on the interrelationship of leaders, party, class, and masses, and undermines the Communist principle of democratic centralism.”
There is no coincidence in the right opportunist attacks on Gonzalo and so called “idolization” and “cult of personality”, with the same words as Krustshevites once used against the great Stalin and the great Chairman. We do not here compare Gonzalo to the before mentioned great leaders, but acknowledge his role in understanding and promoting Maoism as a third and higher stage, in applying Maoism on the People’s War in Peru and in this forging Gonzalo Thought, which also have contributions of universal applicability.
On the so called “cult of personality”, Gonzalo answers like this in the ‘Interview with Chairman Gonzalo’ made by El Diario:
“Here we must remember how Lenin saw the relationship between the masses, classes, the Party and leaders. We believe that the revolution, the Party, our class, generate leaders, a group of leaders. It has been like this in every revolution. If we think, for instance, about the October Revolution, we have Lenin, Stalin, Sverdlov and a few others, a small group. Similarly, in the Chinese revolution there’s also a small group of leaders: Chairman Mao Tsetung, and his comrades Kang Sheng, Chiang Ching, Chang Chun-chiao, among others. All revolutions are that way, including our own. We could not be an exception. Here it’s not true that there is an exception to every rule because what we’re talking about here is the operation of certain laws. All such processes have leaders, but they also have a leader who stands out above the rest or who leads the rest, in accordance with the conditions. Not all leaders can be viewed in exactly the same way. Marx is Marx, Lenin is Lenin, Chairman Mao is Chairman Mao. Each is unique, and no one is going to be just like them”
The only party in the world in the vanguard of the defense of Maoism
“Kinera’s claim that PCP was the “only Maoist Party in the world in 1982” is a blatant lie, if only because the Communist Party of the Philippines had already been reestablished earlier in 1968 on the basis of its founding cadres’ firm grasp of Maoist theory and its application to concrete Philippine conditions. In Rectify Errors and Rebuild the Party (a major CPP document of reestablishment issued in 1968), Mao Zedong Thought was already repeatedly and correctly described as the acme of Marxism-Leninism in the current world era. The CPP has been assiduously building itself and achieving victories in people’s war on the basis of MLM since then, as its voluminous documents, publications, and study courses show.”
Before claiming we are liars, an honest revolutionary (then excluding Belisario), would seek to clearly define then what is a Maoist party. It is quite clear to us, that we depart from Belisario here. Of course, the Communist Party of the Philippines adhered to Mao Zedong Thought. But as we have stated, adhering to the understanding put forth by the Communist Party of Peru, Mao Zedong Thought and Maoism is not the same. As the party writes:
“Nevertheless, while Marxism-Leninism has obtained an acknowledgment of its universal validity, Maoism is not completely acknowledged as the third stage. Some simply deny its condition as such, while others only accept it as “Mao Tse-tung Thought.” In essence, both positions, with the obvious differences between them, deny the general development of Marxism made by Chairman Mao Tse-tung. The denial of the “ism” character of Maoism denies its universal validity and, consequently, its condition as the third, new, and superior stage of the ideology of the international proletariat: Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism, that we uphold, defend, and apply.”
In the ‘International line’ of the party, they write:
“In 1980 the PCP launched the People’s War based on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought; it is in the applying and developing the People’s War that the PCP has advanced further in the comprehension of Maoism as the third stage of Marxism. Hence, at the Second National Conference held in May 1982 the Party agreed that Marxism-Leninism-Maoism was the third stage of Marxism. Thus, the PCP was the only party in the world in the vanguard of the defense of Maoism, and assumed the task of struggling for the unity of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoists of the world so that this ideology be the command and guide of the Peruvian and world revolutions.”
And this line also elaborates on the historical development of Maoism. Let us not make this a discussion about what was a “real” Maoist party in 1982. Let us just say we agree with the Communist Party of Peru, and state as a matter of fact, that “the PCP was the only party in the world in the vanguard of the defense of Maoism”.
We acknowledge that the Communist Party of Peru by no means was alone in adhering to Mao Zedong Thought. When the Communist Party of the Philippines was reconstituted in 1968, they stated in the preamble:
“The integration of the universal theory of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought with the concrete practice of the Philippine revolution is the highest task of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The Communist Party of the Philippines is a revolutionary party of the proletariat that draws lessons from all previous revolutionary struggles of the Filipino people and from the great teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong. It is in stride with the advance of the theory and practice of the world proletarian revolution guided by Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought.”
In 1968, this was a correct and bold statement. But Maoism was yet to be synthesised as the third and higher stage of proletarian ideology. Even though the Communist Party of Peru state in their ‘International Line’ that they, and others, where just waiting for the Communist Party of China to make this synthesis and claim themselves.
In 1991, a couple of decades later, the chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines does not mention Mao Zedong Thought in the article ‘Reaffirm Our Basic Principles and Carry the Revolution Forward’. He only mentions Marxism-Leninism, and writes:
“The advanced level provides the Party members with a comprehensive and profound knowledge of materialist philosophy, historical materialism, political economy, scientific socialism and the world revolution as taught by such great communist thinkers and leaders as Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Ho. This provides us with the most extensive and deepgoing understanding of the basic principles of the proletarian revolution and proletarian dictatorship.”
In the latest program of the Communist Party of the Philippines, they uphold Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as universal, but also write that they:
“learns basic principles from the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho and other great communist thinkers”
This seamingly eclectic approach to theory is concerning. Also, we do not know what is the universally applicable contributions of Ho Chi Minh, or why he is elevated to the level of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. This is not a known or acknowledged position of Ho Chi Minh in the International Communist Movement. When we refer to Gonzalo, we can answer why we do so, even though we are not experts in Gonzalo Thought by any means. But we at least have a rudimentary understanding of what is Gonzalo Thought and what is specific to this theory.
Why does Belisario mention Ho – and also Le Duan and Bo Vo Nguyen Giap – when he speaks of the military theory of people’s war? What did they contribute to this theory? The war of national liberation in Vietnam was of immense importance. But how did this elevate the theoretical body of people’s war? In Giaps words, Vietnam differed from China in being a small country and a direct colony, but we have not investigated this thoroughly. If Belisario or others could tell us what lessons of Vietnam is different or new compared to China, and then has been applied in the Philippines, we might stand corrected.
Further, Belisario is again offended on behalf of others, this time the Communist Party of the Philippines when he writes that “Mao Zedong Thought was already repeatedly and correctly described as the acme of Marxism-Leninism in the current world era” and that the “CPP has been assiduously building itself and achieving victories in people’s war on the basis of MLM since then”, but we hold that there is a qualitative difference from applying Mao Zedong Thought, and to fight to bring Maoism into command of the world proletarian revolution. This is not a competition! It is not about who gets a medal. But we cannot understand our ideology if we are not precise and clear.
Right opportunists expose themselves
“It is laudable if indeed in 1982 Gonzalo was the very first to transcribe Mao Zedong Thought to Maoism. It is another matter whether his supposed “synthesis” of Maoism would surpass the summing up by his own loyal Chinese comrades. By itself, the transcription from Mao Zedong Thought to Maoism is not a great achievement. Marx berated Paul Lafargue in 1883 for using the term Marxism for revolutionary phrasemongering against the struggle for reforms. Even then, Karl Kautsky popularized the term Marxism and subsequently used it to deny the Marxist character of Lenin’s theory and practice which he termed as Leninism.”
Neither we nor the Communist Party of Peru claim “transcribing Mao Zedong Thought to Maoism”. What we discuss is content, not form. The form should match the content, but the ism-character of Maoism is not a question of transcribing. What is important is content, not the word, as is stated by the Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction) in their document ‘Combat Liquidationism and unite the International Communist Movement under Maoism and the People’s War’ where they write:
“It is not enough to recognize that Maoism is a third stage, a correct definition of its content is necessary, without a correct definition of its fundamental elements, there can not be a correct application.”
This is what is important. This is what this discussion is about. Is the theory of people’s war part of the fundamental elements of Maoism, as the Communist Party of Peru stated, as the Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction) is stating, and as is stated by the parties and organizations of Latin-America initiating the unification of the International Communist Movement under Maoism?
Belisario and Sison does not agree, and resort to sinister attacks, slander and mockery to get this point through to us and all others. They now stand exposed.
On the contributions and great leadership of chairman Gonzalo
“To differentiate “Maoism” from “Mao Zedong Thought” is to nitpick and invent a false distinction. Even Gonzalo used the phrase Mao Zedong Thought until 1982. Whichever term is used, we certainly have no need for the dubious genius of a Gonzalo to “comprehense” or “synthesize” or canonize or reinvent it anew for the world’s benefit. He could not have added to the achievements of Mao himself after his death in 1976. It is pure nonsense to make it appear that the continuous significance and consequentiality of Mao’s theory and practice depend on the words of Gonzalo.”
Again dripping with venom, Belisarios stance is clear; there is no difference between Mao Zedong Thought and Maoism, and it was fully understood by the international communist movement way ahead of 1976. To further synthesize and understand, in Belisarios view, adds no value. The contributions of Mao must then simply be a summation of all his writings and efforts, or maybe the synthesis acknowledged by the Communist Party of China before the death of Mao. We do not agree, as we have made very clear.
“As dogmatists and sectarians of the worst kind, they use such expressions as “Gonzalo is the greatest after Mao”, sounding like evangelists who proclaim Jesus is the Lord. Mistaking struggle mania for revolutionary struggle, they are quick to throw invectives and do not really engage in a serious substantive debate.“Gonzalo thought”, as painted by Kinera, is not ideology but IDOLOGY.”
We do not find the word “idology” in the dictionary. Maybe the word Belisario is looking for is Khrushchev-Pravdas “idolatry”, which they slung against the Communist Party of China and their leader Mao Zedong? Belisario is not quoting us, but we adhere to the understanding of Gonzalo as the greatest living communist. Maybe the position of Belisario is that Sison is the greatest? Or maybe he is of the opinion that there has been no greatest among great communist leaders since the death of Mao? We do not know. It is the way of the right opportunist not taking a clear position.
Our position in this question is the logical conclusion from adhering to the understanding of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism, as it was made clear by the Communist Party of Peru and Chairman Gonzalo. It has nothing to do with religious metaphysics, when we uphold a communist leader to be great. The role of the Communist Party of Peru has been of great significance far from the Andes where they hoisted the red banner of Maoism in 1980. We acknowledge them to have advanced Maoism to its, by now, highest level. To hide this acknowledgment would be cowardice.
“Kinera and his fellow dogmatists and sectarians are incapable of recognizing the egotism, immodesty and arrogance of certain leaders who wish to proclaim their universal greatness even before winning the revolution in their own country and who actually brand their own theories and practices with their own names, like Gonzalo Thought, Prachanda Path and Avakian’s Synthesis (to proclaim himself the great leader of the new wave after MLM).”
Belisario, and his promoter Sison, would then equal the traitor Prachanda and the tragic figure Avakian with Chairman Gonzalo. Falsely he claim Gonzalo to proclaim himself a leader of a wave after Maoism, even though Gonzalo repeatedly states Gonzalo Thought to be Maoism applied in the peruvian revolution and thus part of the third stage, not a fourth one. Belisario calls egoism, immodesty and arrogance, since the people’s war in Peru has not yet won victory in the whole of Peru, but failing to mention that the guiding thought of Mao was acknowledged before the victory in 1949. Was this egoism and arrogance? Further on, he does not engage the reasoning made by the Communist Party of Peru, when they explain the relation between guiding thought and a great leader, and the understanding of the historical law that every revolution must produce a guiding thought and a great leadership, to be victorious, and that is is, in essence, about the concrete application of the universal Maoism on the concrete revolution.
Belisario equates Prachanda Path to Gonzalo Thought on a very superficial basis of their names. If we try to look into the essence of Prachanda Path its right opportunism is not only contrary to Gonzalo Thought. But it applies the same forms of right opportunist trickery as Sison and Belisario does. Under pretext of applying revolutionary theory to the particularities of a country, they give cover for right opportunism. And they only use the particularities to turn revolutionary struggle into legalism and reformism.
Opportunism is eclectic, and as such it does not take the same pride in its history. It dishonestly uses the achievements great communists of the past like Marx, Lenin and Mao, as well as people shedding blood for the revolution today, only as a way to put themselves in a better light. Always weaving it into their argumentation so as not to reveal the sinister attacks on the revolutionary movement they are committing. Great communists like Gonzalo build upon the great achievements and innovations of communists before them and the struggles of the masses, it is a necessity that it is so. But the opportunists have the option of eclectically rejecting the counter-revolutionary role it has played throughout history, even condemning parts of it. But if we use maoism to reveal the essence of right opportunism then it puts Prachanda Path and Belisario in the same camp, whatever Belisario claims.
And further, as the avakianists attack Maoism and negates it with their “new synthesis”, as Prachanda negates every fundamental principle of Marxism with his integration in the reactionary state, this is by far not the case of Gonzalo and the Communist Party of Peru. And, contrary to the avakianists, the synthesis of Gonzalo Thought is not ellusive and thus impossible to grasp. It is stated quite clearly in the documents of the party itself. While getting avakianists to explain the concept of Avakians “new synthesis” is opening up for a nonsensical mush.
And even further, to compare Avakians “achievements” to the people’s war of Peru would be laughable, if it did not display a cynical contempt of the shed blood of the masses and their party and leadership, which is alien to any communist and should provoke nothing but anger. Prachanda’s liquidation of the glorious people’s war of Nepal is in this matter greater than Avakian, but also more reactionary and criminal. This traitor with his diplomacy, negotiations and parliamentary cretinism should serve as a concrete warning of where the path of right opportunism and eclecticism leads. The problem was not the form of ‘Prachanda Path’, but the right opportunist content. We don’t give a damn about who is the most arrogant or most humble. If Khrushchev had lived in a shack tending to his humbelity (bear over with this fantasy for one moment), he would still be the greatest traitor of his time and a criminal in the eyes of the international communist movement.
Both in defence and offence, Belisario fails to differentiate. He fails to differentiate between great leaders, and he fails to differentiate between great criminals. And sometimes he confuses them altogether. It is nothing new. It is the way of right opportunism.
A black attack on the People’s War in Peru
“Let us focus on the idol of Kinera. Gonzalo may be praised for founding the PCP (Sendero Luminoso) in 1969 under the guidance of Mariategui and Mao Zedong Thought. But despite his belief that people’s war can be started at the drop of a hat, Kinera does not take Gonzalo to task for being a sluggard, starting the people’s war only in 1980 (eleven years after the PCP-SL founding), so different from the CP of the Philippines being founded on December 26, 1968 and starting the people’s war on March 29, 1969 (three months after the CPP founding).”
Again, one wants to ask who is this Belisario? Who came up with such a paragraph? It is impossible to engage such writing in a serious way. It shows nothing but contempt for the very real blood that has been shed, both in the Philippines and in Peru.
For the honest reader, we emphasize that the main question is not when to start, but to start. And before starting, it is about defining, contrary to not defining. That is, to pose the questioncorrectly and make the first steps towards preparation.
“Despite his gross failures at building the united front as a political weapon from 1969 to 1992 , Gonzalo may still be praised for engaging in the building of the Party and the People’s Guerrilla Army up to late 1980s when without respect for the facts of the revolutionary armed struggle he invented the illusion of “strategic equilibrium” and proceeded to seek a “Left” opportunist short cut to victory through urban insurrection. Inasmuch as he abhors stages, Kinera can praise Gonzalo for disregarding the probable stages in the development of protracted people’s war as previously defined by Mao. But Gonzalo is a gross violator of Mao’s teachings on protracted people’s war.”
Again, Belisario writes of people’s war as a yankee writes movie reviews, with the complete discontempt of the real lives and real blood, and also of the real dangers, hardships, leadership and organization. The claim of a failure to build the united front, does not correspond with reality and the large number of mass organizations and people’s committees generated and led by the party. How could they wage such a war without it? It would be impossible.
The stage of strategic equilibrium was real, as indicated by the yankee congress debating the people’s war, the direct involvement of yankee imperialism on the highest levels and the Fujimori coup of 1992. New York Times in March 22 of 1992, wrote:
“In Congress, the State Department, the Organization of American States and private research and human rights organizations, the sense is growing that the astonishing momentum being shown by the Shining Path rebellion in Peru is the toughest post-cold war policy test on the horizon for the Western Hemisphere. ‘Put out of your mind the F.M.L.N., the Sandinistas, the M-19 of Colombia and other South American insurgencies,’ Bernard W. Aronson, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, told a recent Congressional hearing. ‘Sendero Luminoso is in a category by itself.’”
When Mao define where the strategic defensive ends and the strategic stalemate begins, he writes:
“The second stage may be termed one of strategic stalemate. At the tail end of the first stage, the enemy will be forced to fix certain terminal points to his strategic offensive owing to his shortage of troops and our firm resistance, and upon reaching them he will stop his strategic offensive and enter the stage of safeguarding his occupied areas.“
This is the ‘tipping point’ of these two stages. We do not act as if we have studied the people’s war in Peru in all its aspects, but to us it does not at all seem like Chairman Gonzalo was wrong to understand the transition from strategic defensive to strategic stalemate. At least, if Belisario claim it is so, he should really explain why. At the stage he mentions, the old state was in crisis in Peru. This is known to all experts. The people’s war was raging in all parts of the country. The new power controlled almost half the country. There was armed actions in the whole country. The activity was simmering also in Lima. The yankee imperialists discussed the matter on congressional levels, deployed forces in Peru and president Fujimori made a coup to fight the people’s war more efficiently. It seems very much the enemy of the old state was entering a stage mainly “safeguarding” their areas, and thus the stage of strategic stalemate or equilibrium.
On the sinister claim that Gonzalo has capitulated
“After his capture in 1992, Gonzalo was quick to captitulate [sic] to the Fujimori regime and become a Right opportunist by offering peace negotiations and peace agreement with the regime, causing costly splits among the members and supporters of the PCP-SL. Since then, the infantile Maoists have made a blanket denial of Gonzalo’s capitulation and Right opportunism despite subsequent manifestations of the truth since 1993, such as his public TV appearance, confirmation by his wife and testimonies of his lawyer who visited him weekly. On this basis, RIM started to become critical of Gonzalo’s behavior.”
Our position is one with the position of the International Communist Movement, as in the statement ‘In defence of the life of Chairman Gonzalo, hoist higher the flag of Maoism!’ of 2018:
“There are those that until now insist on spreading the counterrevolutionary hoax (that Chairman Gonzalo is the head of the opportunist, revisionist and capitulationist right opportunist line,). They argue with what was stated by traitors (“he told me” or “he embraced me” and other gossip), with what is controlled by imperialism and the psychological warfare of the reaction (“courts” and “filtered” videos). Anything that comes from whoever wants to throw mud at Chairman Gonzalo supposedly has to be taken very seriously, has to be “analyzed” and has to break our heads to enter into a discussion “whether or not it is him”. They are wrong, because they do not understand that “the debate” has already been closed, the communists have already taken a position and the matter is settled: It was demonstrated that Chairman Gonzalo has not denied the Party Unity Base of the PCP for a moment. He is the Great Leader of the Party and the revolution, the greatest living Marxist-Leninist-Maoist on the face of earth, keeping on struggling to transform the concentration camp of Callao Navy Base into the most Shining Trench of Combat of the People’s War. What corresponds is to defend his life with People’s War. 26 years have already passed in which Chairman Gonzalo could not directly communicate with the Party or the ICM; 26 years of absolute isolation, this is what it concretely is. That imperialism, the reaction and revisionism will continue to plot intrigues is clear, the contrary would be that they have changed their nature (a thesis of the disciples of the sacred Avakian, which is impossible), but we must not allow that these intrigues stop the advance of the communists.”
The Maoist Communist Party of France writes, on this question in the article ‘To defend the life of Chairman Gonzalo is to defend Maoism!’:
“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.”
We add, on our own note, that it is a matter of principle to us, not to accept any capitulation from comrades in the hands of the enemy. We will view all such messages as false. If we did not, this would place an impossible burden on the movement, to sort out what is true and what is false, as long as our comrades are in the sole hands of the enemy. Secondly, it would place all our prisoners of war in immense danger. If the enemy knew the movement to accept such statements, they would apply all types of pressure on the prisoners. Parties and organizations who accept such “capitulation” should be prepared to bear an enormous responsibility. They might end up with blood on their hands and heavy weights of responsibility on their shoulders.
In the final report of the bourgeois so-called ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ (TRC), even these lap dogs of the old state admit the torture practices of the police:
“The TRC concludes that the fight against subversion reinforced pre-existing authoritarian and repressive practices among members of the police. Torture during interrogations and undue detentions, which had been frequent in addressing common delinquency, acquired a massive character during the counter-subversive action. Additionally, the TRC has established that the most serious human rights violations by military agents were: extrajudicial executions, forced disappearance of persons, torture, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The TRC particularly condemns the extensive practice of sexual violence against women.”
The TRC admit massacres and other atrocities, and the massacres of heroic fighting revolutionaries in the prisons is well known to us and will forever be remembered as the ‘Day of Heroism’. Just to put emphasis on the character of the old state, we quote the bourgeois Human Rights Watch who writes:
“In 2015, the government created a national registry of victims of forced sterilizations committed between 1995 and 2001. More than 5,000 victims had been registered at time of writing.”
In this context, Belisario states “Gonzalo was quick to capitulate to the Fujimori regime and become a Right opportunist”. And by quick, he is referring to a year in solitary isolation, in a cell defined as ’spartan’ by the butcher-president Fujimori himself, his to be wife and several comrades in other cells, in the hands of the same torturing enemy. And this filth is being promoted by the ILPS chairman and NDFP advisor José Maria Sison.
Against empiricism, subjectivism and dogmatism
If we move from Belisarios criticism to summing up the main problem of his right opportunist method, we want to address his empiricism, which in essence is anti-Maoist. It is basic Marxism that practice is principal in the contradiction of theory and practice. Knowledge develops from practice, this is principal. But this should not be understood as putting no emphasis at all on theory or rational knowledge. It is basic Maoism that “from the particular to the general”, but this is but the first of two processes whereas the second is “from the general to the particular”, as Mao explained in ‘On Contradiction’.
A one-sided emphasis on the particular, on the ‘concrete socio-economic characteristics’, on the ‘objective conditions’, on the ‘revolutionary situation’, does not develop rational knowledge from the practice. It does not do what Mao describes like this:
“Thus cognition always moves in cycles and (so long as scientific method is strictly adhered to) each cycle advances human knowledge a step higher and so makes it more and more profound.“
Chairman Gonzalo also address this question when he states:
“Pay attention to analysis and synthesis — these are two aspects of a contradiction and synthesis is the principal one. Analysis allows us to break down and set elements apart in order to achieve a better understanding, but this is only one aspect. It is not, nor can it ever be, the entire process of knowledge. It requires its other aspect — synthesis. It is synthesis which enables us to grasp the essence of knowledge. If there is no synthesis there is no qualitative leap in knowledge. Synthesis is the decisive aspect, the main aspect, the one which enables the formulation of objective laws.”
Belisario and Sison ends up in short-wiring the whole Marxist cycle of knowledge, when they refuse to work seriously with the question of what is general, what is universal. Belisario boldly declares, in defiance tho the whole Marxist method:
“these communist leaders did not set out to ‘synthesize’ a ‘universally applicable theory’”
And he pretend there is an antagonistic contradiction between such synthesis (a word he puts in squeremarks, as if he even question the mere concept of synthesis!) and the “’concrete analysis of concrete conditions’ and carefully applied theory”.
This is a total rejection of the Marxist theory of knowledge, a serious error, and ends up as a blatant rejection of the entire body of work produced by the great communists Marx, Lenin, Mao – and Gonzalo.
And at the same time, there is hardly any concrete and precise socio-economical analysis in the articles put forth by Belisario and Sison. All this talk of concrete analysis of the concrete situation is simply replacing such, and not followed by such. The empiricist error thus transforms into dogmatism. We see this when Belisario eclectically handpicks quotes from Lenin’s ‘Left-Wing Communism’, without even a sentence on the concrete socio-economical situation and the historical context in which it was written. Neither does he address the context of this work in relation to the subjective forces, where this pamphlet was part of Lenin’s struggle against anarcho-syndicalism, national bolshevism and different “anti authoritarian” factionalists and splitters in Russia, Germany and Britain in 1920, a situation where Marxism had won the most advanced proletarians and the task at hand was to combat factionalism and, as Mao said, ‘raise the level of the intermediate’. This is a concrete situation that has not been replicated in the imperialist fortresses for many decades. Or does Belisario really believe we are in a similar situation in imperialist Europe 2019, as Lenin and the communists of 1920?
But in the end, what the pamphlet on ‘Left-Wing Communism’ absolutely is not, is a critique of people’s war theory as the universally applicable military theory of the proletariat…
Neither Belisario nor Sison seem interested in solving any problems. They seem focused on inventing new problems and making the least amount of real investigation. They thus again discard the Marxist theory of knowledge, where Mao states that to investigate a problem is to solve it. They criticise others for dogmatism and phrase-mongering, but they themselves have little other than empty talk to present. They attack form, person and words, instead of bringing real matters to discussion. They talk about concrete analysis, but replace any analysis with hollowed out phrases and nasty words.
Again, Belisario and Sison is totally embedded in empiricism in this matter, that is the matter of proletarian military theory and universality of people’s war. They are subjective and one-sided. And this transforms into dogmatism at the first theoretical obstacle.
It is good that they expose themselves. But it is of no use if this is not acknowledged and understood in the International Communist Movement. The wrecking ways is dangerous if one let them get their foot inside the door. We will learn this lesson and be vigilant in the future.
- Part 2 -
“Chairman Mao emphasized that we must always be concerned about revisionism because it is the main danger facing the world revolution. So we also take into consideration the situation outside our ranks, since any rightist tendency in the Party, expressed in attitudes, ideas, approaches, and positions of a rightist nature, has to do with ideological processes, with the repercussions of the class struggle, and the campaigns of the reactionary State, with the actions of revisionism itself in our country, with the counterrevolutionary activities of imperialism, especially the contention between the two superpowers, and the sinister role of revisionism on a world scale.”
Chairman Gonzalo, in the El Diario interview of 1988
This is the second part of a longer article. In dividing into two, we tried to focus the first part on issues of burning importance, and place most secondary issues in this second part. We also put some paragraphs here that deal with issues that has been addressed earlier by Ard Kinera or other Maoists.
All the references to the article as a whole is attached to both parts.
People’s war was not synthesized by Marx or Lenin
“Marx and Engels had long developed this theory on the necessity of armed revolution by the masses of toiling people led by the working class, further clarifying the need to smash the existing bourgeois state machinery and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat in order to pursue and complete the socialist revolution. (…)
So, yes, in this sense, there should be no debate about the universal applicability of people’s war in all countries ruled by the big bourgeoisie and its reactionary allies. Had Kinera kept his polemics within these bounds, about “people’s war” being the equivalent of “armed revolution,” then there would be essentially no debate on the question.”
This is certainly true. But the point is, people’s war was not developed, not synthesized by Marx or Lenin, but by Mao – and later made part of the definition of Maoism by Chairman Gonzalo. If people’s war did not mean people’s war, as understood by Mao and then Maoists, but simply was another word for something else, then yes, Belisario would be correct. Then, there would be no debate. And also, there might not even be Maoism.
Maoism was understood in the furnace of people’s war in Peru. Without people’s war, no Maoism – and no Maoism without people’s war.
Communist Party of Peru writes in ‘On Marxism-Leninism-Maoism’, part of their ‘Fundamental Documents’:
“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.”
We understand perfectly clearly, why Belisario and Sison prefer to attack us instead of addressing the CPP and Gonzalo directly. But wouldn’t it be more honest it they did? Or if they answered the documents of the ‘El Maoista’, of the Maoist Parties and Organizations of Latin America, or the Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction)? No, they prefer directing the articles against us – while the attack in reality is against the red line put forward by these great Parties and Organizations. It is transparent why they do so, and comrades should make a note of this. To be blunt, they do so because they think this is a good tactic. One more of their special so called tactics.
On the other hand, the contradiction is still made very clear. Belisario is promoting a right opportunist line.
On strategy and revolutionary situations
“However, Kinera glosses over two important corollaries to this fundamental principle of Marxism-Leninism. First, his arguments assume (even though not directly) that a revolutionary situation currently (or perennially) exists in all countries. Therefore all communist parties (CPs), if they are truly engaged in revolution, must adopt a corresponding military strategy and place armed struggle on their practical work agenda. And second, he insists that the Maoist strategy of protracted people’s war is applicable to industrial capitalist countries.”
To clear this “misunderstanding”; we simply adhere to Chairman Mao and Chairman Gonzalo. As Mao stated, the main tendency of our time is revolution. This is the era of proletarian revolution and the demise of imperialism. As stated in the ‘International Line’ of the Communist Party of Peru:
“In the current situation and in perspective we have entered the strategic offensive of the world revolution, within the “50 to 100 years” in which imperialism and world reaction shall be sunk and we shall enter the stage when the proletariat settles into power and establishes its dictatorship.”
Every act in this era, for the communist, is conducted for the people’s war. Our position is not that there is a permanent revolutionary situation in each and every country. But it is our position that the revolution in all countries take form of people’s war, and is part of the Proletarian World Revolution. The military theory of the proletariat is not a strategy for a revolutionary situation, it is a theory that is integral part of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. It is simply the sole and only military theory of the Proletariat, on which all revolutionary strategy must be based.
Communists must indeed place armed struggle on their agenda, both in theory and practice. It cannot wait for the revolutionary situation to appear. First it must be defined, then prepared, then initiated and then developed – in each and every country.
Chairman Mao and the people’s war
Contrary to the obscure and subjectivist distortions of Belisario, there is no coincidence in the term ‘Maoism’. Chairman Mao was the great leader who developed the guiding thought of the Chinese revolution, and through it he developed Marxism in its three realms; philosophy, economy and socialism. And he developed the theory of people’s war. These are objective facts that are also acknowledged by bourgeois military theorists, like Thomas Marks, as Kinera wrote in an earlier article.
They do not propose that Maos works as only relevant to insurgency in semi-colonial and semi-feudal countries. Instead, their position mirrors, from the bourgeois side, the position of Maoists, that hold people’s war to be universal, or “unavoidable” when the question of revolution is raised. In this question, it is of no relevance if this was fully grasped by Mao himself in 1938. Firstly, because Mao lived on for almost 40 more years, and in these four decades, he led the victory in the people’s war of China, the socialist construction and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. He led the charge against modern revisionism in the form of Khrushchev, and was recognised as the leader of the International Communist Movement. And Mao Zedong Thought inspired countless Parties and Organizations all over the world, and more than a few revolutionary wars.
How these four decades formed or inspired Mao’s thoughts is yet to be studied by us. It is obvious that the first letters to the revisionist leadership of the Soviet Union in the great polemic, differs quite a bit from the last ones. Also the letters on Togliatti and Thorez shows what great lengths the Chinese leadership went to in the struggle to maintain unity, while fighting right opportunism in the movement. There is development, and this development culminated in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and an all out war on revisionism and capitalist roaders. We do not have the full picture of the development in the military thought of Mao, from 1938 till the peak of Cultural Revolution thirty years later. But it must have been some leaps in his understanding. Any how, Maoism as synthesized by the CPP and Chairman Gonzalo, includes the military theory of Mao as an integral part and as being universal. What the bourgeois yankee Thomas Marks understand, Belisario does not, people’s war is the theory of insurgency, it is the military theory of proletarian world revolution and its two currents; the national liberation movement and the proletarian movement.
As the Communist Party of Peru writes in ‘On Marxism-Leninism-Maoism’:
“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.”
As the reader might notice, the Party does not refer to a quotation of Mao to argue the universality of people’s war, but it argues reality. It sums up the experience of the national liberation movement and the proletarian revolution in the light of Mao’s theory. It points out the fact that there has been no – lacking a better word – “Petrograd style” of revolution since the Russian revolution, and – importantly – they understand also this revolution as people’s war, lasting several years. They refer to the armed struggles of Europe, like the Irish armed struggle still being waged, as something to be considered in understanding the universal validity of people’s war. We do not want to fall into some kind of empirio criticism, like Belisario later does, but still remembering the words of Mao in his article On Practice:
“Marxists hold that man’s social practice alone is the criterion of the truth of his knowledge of the external world.”
Belisario goes on explaining Sison and denouncing people’s war in imperialist countries:
“Sison’s point is that in the highly urbanized and other highly developed areas of capitalist countries, under current conditions when there is no full-scale war and revolutionary crisis, a people’s army that launches tactical offensives with no sizeable mass base (at least equivalent to rural guerrilla bases in countries such as China and Vietnam) will be hard-pressed to counter-maneuver, employ guerrilla tactics, retain initiative, and hit back at the enemy’s weak points, and much less be able to consolidate and expand their bases.”
We hold this statement to be falsified by the Irish Republican Army, waging such a guerilla war for many decades against a British imperialism not under conditions of full-scale war and revolutionary crisis. The statement is simply proven wrong by “man’s social practice”. Further on, as we have referred to before, there is experience of armed struggle in most imperialist countries, both during war and fascism, and not.
Further on, many semi-feudal and semi-colonial countries are today highly urbanized. The communications of such countries are highly developed today compared to rural China in 1938. Still, the people’s war continues in the Philippines, India, Turkey and Peru. In Nepal, the people’s war raged for ten years and engulfed 80% of the country, from 1996 to 2006. This in small country situated between two hostile giants (China and India). Even though the people’s war was betrayed by the leadership who entered parliamentary cretinism and succumbed to bureaucratic capitalism, it proved the universality of people’s war again. We mention here five countries distinctly different from China of 1938.
From specific to universal, from particular to general
Further, we must point out, that what is a specific characteristic of one revolution, might later become acknowledged as universally applicable. One such example we find when Stalin writes about the strategy and tactics of the October revolution. Here, he points out two specific characteristics, the first being:
“Thus, the undivided leadership of one party, the Communist Party, as the principal factor in the preparation for October — such is the characteristic feature of the October Revolution, such is the first specific feature of the tactics of the Bolsheviks in the period of preparation for October.”
Would not this become an integral and universally applicable part of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism? We claim it is, and that this is understood and acknowledged by every maoist. In this text of Stalin, we see how he with greatness elaborate on this specific characteristic of the Russian revolution, different from the experience of the Paris Commune, but this “characteristic feature” was then replicated in China and in all other people’s wars later on. What was applied as specific has been proven universal. This is an example of the Marxist spiral of knowledge. From the practice to theory to new enriched practice to new enriched theory. What Stalin present as a specific characteristic in this text from 1923, he includes in his writing of the synthesis of Marxism-Leninism, the second and higher stage of Marxism, in the eternal article ‘Concerning Questions of Leninism’ written in 1926:
“Lenin uses the word dictatorship of the Party not in the strict sense of the word (“power based on the use of force”), but in the figurative sense, in the sense of its undivided leadership.”
Stalin does not here talk about Leninism as specific for Russia, but define it like this in ‘The Foundations of Leninism’:
“Leninism is Marxism of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution. To be more exact, Leninism is the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general, the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular.”
Make note of how unapologetically Stalin not only says theory, but also tactics. Stalin cannot be a great Communist in Belisarios view, since such only “carefully applied theory to grapple with the specific characteristics of their own countries and solve concrete problems of their own revolutions” and “did not set out to “synthesize” a “universally applicable” theory on how to wage armed revolution”.
Stalin writes in ‘The Foundation of Leninism”:
“Some say that Leninism is the application of Marxism to the conditions that are peculiar to the situation in Russia. This definition contains a particle of truth, but not the whole truth by any means. Lenin, indeed, applied Marxism to Russian conditions, and applied it in a masterly way. But if Leninism were only the application of Marxism to the conditions that are peculiar to Russia it would be a purely national and only a national, a purely Russian and only a Russian, phenomenon. We know, however, that Leninism is not merely a Russian, but an international phenomenon rooted in the whole of international development. That is why I think this definition suffers from one-sidedness.”
The development of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism follows the principles of the cycle of knowledge as described by Mao in ‘On contradiction’:
“These are the two processes of cognition: one, from the particular to the general, and the other, from the general to the particular. Thus cognition always moves in cycles and (so long as scientific method is strictly adhered to) each cycle advances human knowledge a step higher and so makes it more and more profound.“
The concrete application is the particular and the summing up of experience, systematizing it and making a synthesis is to find what is general, what is universal, and thus to advance human knowledge.
“Leninism is Marxism of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution. To be more exact, Leninism is the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general, the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular.”
One gets the notion, Belisario and Sison are amongst those who believe the process of developing the Marxist theory of universal laws and of tactics and strategy of the proletarian revolution in general, was finished sometime around this writings of Stalin. Belisario admits that:
“The basic principles of armed revolution by the proletariat and other allied classes were further elaborated by Lenin in his many works.”
But he does not grant Mao the same status. In other words, the principles of armed revolution has not been developed further since Lenin, or at least since Stalin synthesized these. If Belisario even recognise Stalin’s synthesis of Leninism. If so, Belisarios article on “the so called universality of people’s war” should be the perfect occasion to at least mention the universal contributions of Mao in the area of revolutionary war. But when given the opportunity, Belisario uses it only to make Mao “one of many”, in the company of three Vietnamese leaders and José Maria Sison. Sison himself, in the texts of ‘Philippine Society and Revolution’ (1970), says:
“The fundamental strategic line of fighting for national democracy as the first stage in the longer-term struggle for socialism had still to be firmly grasped by the Philippine Left, almost fifteen years after the 1949 victory of the Chinese Revolution led by Mao had overwhelmingly reaffirmed the universal validity of Lenin’s revolutionary strategy for semicolonial, semifeudal societies.”
“The Philippine Revolution is today illumined by the great universal truth of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.”
This is the words of Belisarios promoter Sison nearly 50 years ago. How does this compare to the writings of Belisario and Sison today? And, our point here is not to focus on the content, but the method.
On the other hand, today Sison salutes the bolivarian government in Venezuela, upholding Chavez and Maduro. So it seems people’s war and new democracy is not universal in the semi-colonial and semi-feudal countries either in his opinion. Not any more.
What revolutionary parties in the imperialist countries apply electoralism today?
Belisario writes, after some juvenile slander:
“In short, Kinera disdains the work in reactionary trade unions and bourgeois parliaments that Lenin (in “Left-Wing” Communism and other works) had so patiently explained as important part of revolutionary tasks during a non-revolutionary period.”
Again, Belisario does not argue facts, when he argue. As he simply refer to Mao, he now simply refer to Lenin. Why is this thesis of Lenin in 1920, true in 2019? The point made of Chairman Mao and Chairman Gonzalo is that our era is not the same as in 1920, they claim this is the era of sweeping away of imperialism. And Gonzalo states it is the strategic offensive of the proletarian world revolution. In this era, we have eight decades more experience since Lenin wrote his book against the infantile disorder of “Left-Communism”. Just as we have six decades more experience since Mao’s main work on protracted war. Have we not learned anything from this experience worth summing up?
On the one hand, Belisario claim all the classics wrote almost purely for their own particular and specific situations. On the other hand, he treats what they wrote – but only arbitrarily – as some dogma never to be questioned. What a gymnastics performance! Yes, we disdain the practice of the “proletarian revolutionaries” of Belisarios, “patiently accumulating strength”, because we know too well what this coded words really mean. But Belisario does not mention these patient revolutionaries. Who are they? Which parties and organizations in the imperialist countries does he have in mind?
We know which “revolutionaries” are engulfed in elections and trade unions run by the social democrats. We do not believe for a second that they are really paving way for proletarian revolution. They willingly give their names, pictures and addresses to the class enemy. They do not study military theory. Ask them Belisario, what tactics and strategies they have for revolution, and they will only present tactics of gathering votes. And most of them does not even succeed very well in this.
Let it be clear that our disdain is not for the heroic fighters and cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines, even though we disagree with the line of Sison and the line of participation in elections. We have nothing but the utmost respect for their sacrifice and wish their struggle to succeed. We also respect all comrades that disagree or have questions in these matters. We are not to arrogant to see where we come from, what errors we have made ourselves, and our shortcomings. But we have no respect for the parliamentary cretinism of the legalist left of the imperialist countries. This is a comfortable choice in our countries. It is the path of least resistance, but it does not lead to revolution. The decades have spoken, their practice is known. They are being integrated into the reactionary state, or they are withering away of old age.
“Sison’s remark about not seeing “any Maoist party proclaiming and actually starting” PPW in imperialist countries was obviously to show that truly serious Maoist formations in these countries see such course of immediate action as not viable for now. Kinera’s response to this is dishonest and disingenuous: he basically challenges Sison to publicly reveal “any Maoist party not adhering to the strategy of People’s War and being of such quantity and quality” (note that he dropped the word “protracted”). This is a cunning trap.“
It is no trap, it is simply asking for some direct and honest talk. What Parties and Organizations does Belisario and Sison support in the imperialist countries? Preferable “Maoist”, not adhering to the universality of People’s War, of some quantity and quality, and doing patient parliamentary and trade union work? If there is such a party, it should be easy for Belisario to remember or promote it. Where is it?
On tactical unity and bolshevik bank robbers
“He simply condemns it as “the totally dominating strategy” of practically all Left forces in Europe, including those that “adhere to Mao Zedong Thought” (but not Gonzaloites). This shows that Kinera is a hopeless infantile sectarian who cannot even derive good points of tactical unity with other revolutionaries and progressives who do not kowtow to Gonzalo Thought.”
Belisarios point, if there is one, is lost to us. We do not define anyone as “gonzaloite”. It is simply a derogatory term. Why should we seek “tactical unity” with those who find us infantile and speaks of “your dear Gonzalo” and similar ways to mock Chairman Gonzalo? By all means, mock us all you want. But the slander against Gonzalo speaks volumes to what kind of dark agenda Belisario is pushing. We have no problem uniting in alliances and fronts with most people we have some disagreements with. But in the two line-struggle, when we struggle over revolutionary theory, we do not make “tactical unity” with right opportunism. We don’t blur facts for tactical purposes. We are not debating the basis of unity for a single street protest, but the general line of the international communist movement.
“Kinera thus dishonestly conjures an illusion of a continuous PPW in a capitalist country. He conveniently forgets about the years of reaction (1907-1910) when the revolution was in full retreat, and the years of revival (1910-1914) when the Bolsheviks pursued tactics combining illegal work (but not yet armed struggle!) with the “obligatory utilisation” of many legal channels including winning seats in the reactionary parliament.”
In 1907 and the years after, bolshevik armed groups did many actions in Kaukasus, amongst them robberies and attacks on reactionaries. Is this not armed struggle? Was it only in Kaukasus such actions took place? Lenin and Stalin was linked to one of the largest heists in contemporary Europe. Not armed struggle? The bolsheviks waged both legal and illegal struggle, also armed struggle, in 1904 and 1905, also in the period of reaction and war, and from 1917 to 1921 it was insurrections, civil war and national liberation war. Is it dishonest to view this as protracted people’s war? To view it as protracted, and not a quick insurrection after prolonged accumulation of forces? We do not see the dishonesty on our part.
On the industrial and non-industrial proletariat
“Kinera claims that “[those] employed in public or private services … outnumber the industrial proletarians in most imperialist countries.” He must be reminded that the modern industrial proletariat includes such service workers, insofar as their class situation is most analogous to industrial workers.”
This Belisario writes to defend Sisons words in the matter. This is not a central issue in our text, but if they want to not create confusion, they could simply say proletariat, and not ‘industrial proletariat’.
In his own class analysis of the Philippines, Sison writes:
“The proletariat refers principally to the industrial workers and secondarily to other wage-earners.” and “The industrial workers are in land, water and rail transport; mines and quarries; logging areas and lumber yards; sugar, coconut and abaca-stripping mills; public utility plants; food processing; beverage plants and breweries; tannery and shoe manufacturing; textile factories; printing presses; merchandising firms; chemical and drug factories; soap and cosmetic factories; oil refineries; flour mills; cement plants; pulp and paper manufacturing; scrap metal and steel processing plants; and several other enterprises and industrial lines.”
Thus, in the Philippines Sison makes a distinction in the proletariat, between industrial proletariat and “other wage-earners”. But in the imperialist countries, the whole of the proletariat is industrial? And we are the confused ones?
Again, this is not a principal question of this debate, but Belisario should really learn to pick his battles. Of course service workers are proletarians, and part of the modern proletariat which was born in the industrial revolution. But to us it does not make sense to define all proletarians as industrial workers.
Belisario tend to start shouting when he is arguing a weak point. He writes:
“Apparently, Kinera automatically excludes from the industrial proletariat those sizeable working masses employed in major service firms in transport and storage, communications and media, health, and so on. There is no such class as “service proletariat” mechanically separate from the modern industrial proletariat, as if they are boxed off from the intense class struggles and the aspirations for socialism.”
Apparently, Belisario is a charlatan. We argue no such point against the service proletariat being part of the proletariat, that is the modern working class. We have never claimed there to be a class distinction between different proletarians. The proletariat is one class. But, as Sison did when analysing the classes of the Philippines, and Mao in his analysis of the classes in China, we acknowledge there to be different strata and sectors of the proletariat. We do not in any way think this sectors to be boxed of from each other. The stratification is more important than the sectorisation, that is, the division between upper, middle and lower strata is more important in our view, than the different areas of industries and work of the proletarians. But for the sake of clarity, it makes little sense to claim hospitals and shopping malls to be ‘industry’. To be clear – there is only one class, but we would hold that insisting on calling our class the industrial proletariat, and not simply the proletariat, could be quite confusing. We again hold, that the most important point to emphasize is that the imperialist countries are imperialist, not that they are industrialized.
The workers’ militia of Sison and Trotsky
“But here Kinera turns ballistic again. He argues about “strict gun laws in Europe” (which of course was not Sison’s point). He also wrongly associates Sison’s ideas with the creation of Russian workers’ militia (which emerged in the extremely revolutionary situation of 1917 and certainly was not just Trotsky’s idea but incorporated into the Bolshevik program). The Red Guards were a creation of the Bolsheviks and the masses, not Kinera’s idol Trotsky.”
When people reads emotions into the texts of others, it is often a case of “what the heart is full of, spills out of the mouth”. The text of Belisario is full of “Kinera goes ballistic” and such claims. It spices up the text of Belisario, but the one coming off as “ballistic” is himself. How he ends up in making Trotsky an idol of ours, he does not try to explain. But when we firstly referred to Trotsky, we referred to something concrete, namely the ‘Transitional Program’ of his “International”. Here the trotskyites wrote:
“A new upsurge of the mass movement should serve not only to increase the number of these units but also to unite them according to neighborhoods, cities, regions. It is necessary to give organized expression to the valid hatred of the workers toward scabs and bands of gangsters and fascists. It is necessary to advance the slogan of a workers’ militia as the one Serious guarantee for the inviolability of workers’ organizations, meetings and press.”
This was not proposed for Russia during the revolution as Belisario is talking about, but as a part of the proposed general line of the international workers movement and program of the Trotsky conspiracy. We were reminded of this, when we read Sisons first article, where he wrote:
“It is therefore possible to organize proletarians with firearms as sporting gun clubs, as community self-defense organizations and as voluntary security for public events and structures. But of course it is unwise to make displays of armed groups of people and at the same time provocatively declare themselves in opposition to the capitalist state, its army and police.”
What Trotsky recommended in 1938, is qualitatively just the same as Sison puts forward. Even the examples mentioned is quite similar. The nature of the ‘Transitional program’ was one of centrism and reformism. It merges two stages into one transitional stage, and merges two types of program, the long term and the short term, into one. It is an error typical of trotskyism.
Our position is that this line does not apply for most imperialist countries today. For the most part, armed militias should not be built in the open, even disguised as legal organizations who do not “provoke” the capitalist state, army and police. There might be local or national specific characteristics that makes this the correct path, but we would recommend the principles of clandestine work to apply in these matters. In general, revolutionaries should learn how to handle guns, but the question of organizing the masses militarily and arming them, is not mainly a question of forming militias or ‘sporting gun clubs’ and ‘self-defence organizations’. If such a movement truly is led by the communists, to do so in the open or semi-openly is in itself a provocation. We hold that communists should absolutely be open with our intent, with or program, strategy and goals, but our organization must be clandestine and secret. This is sometimes inverted by right opportunists, who hide their intent but present their organization for the enemy with no real measures of secrecy.
Again, Belisario does not quote our text, but claim we confuse Trotskys proposal with the Red Guards of the Russian revolution. The trotskyist ‘Transitional program’ we referred to, had nothing to do with the Russian revolution. But we uphold that the similarity with Sison’s paragraph is striking.
On Serve the People and the right opportunist line
“Kinera and his group Tjen Folkdet [sic] lack self-awareness and self-criticalness. Since 1998, which is more than twenty one years ago, they have not advanced from a pre-party formation and have not become a revolutionary party of the proletariat or a Communist Party to lead the proletariat and people in any kind of armed revolution. Their protracted talk about PPW has not yet proven to be any different from the illusion of the social democratic and other reformists about the protracted evolution of capitalism to socialism.“
Firstly, the text signed Kinera was not from a group. Kinera supports the Maoist movement of Norway, and thus the movement of Serve the People – Communist League (Tjen Folket), but the articles is no more statements from this group, than the texts of Sison or Belisario is statements of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The claim that Serve the People are not self-aware or self-critical is baseless. In a statement from 2018 ‘On the ongoing struggle against a rightist line in Serve the People’, the league wrote:
“The rightist line in the organisation has gradually appropriated the word “Maoism” , but it has never practiced Maoism. It has only in word, but not in action, dedicated itself in serving the people. On the contrary it has shown itself to be a manipulative opportunism and through and through revisionism. With this we declare that we have broken with this line and are in the process of correcting our own faults and developing our work in accordance with the interests of the proletariat and the proletariat’s own ideology: Maoism.”
When Serve the People was founded, it was as a Marxist-Leninist Mao Zedong Thought group. It did not from the beginning uphold the universality of people’s war. Maoism and people’s war was adopted in 2008 in the program of the league, but still it was not defined as in the synthesis of Maoism developed by the Communist Party of Peru and Chairman Gonzalo. In fact, most of the life span of Serve the People, the line of the leadership majority seem quite close the line of Belisario. Thus, the “criticism” from Belisario of Serve the People not advancing from pre-party formation is like lifting a stone and letting it go on his own feet. The main obstacle of further development of Serve the People, was exactly the line opposing Gonzalo thought and Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism.
Never have a Maoist from Norway claimed to be in the forefront of world revolution. It is true there is no protracted people’s war under Maoist leadership in Norway, or any other imperialist country. But again, where is the revolution due to protracted legal preparations? And what is the theory that has been applied by the most organizations for the longest time? Honesty in this area will make it very clear, that the adherence to people’s war as the sole path to liberation, is new in comparison.
The principal problem of the communist movement in the imperialist countries is the danger of right opportunism. Right opportunism in the form of reformism and social patriotism, and often disguised in the “imperialist exemptionalism” claiming the path to revolution must be bloody and violent in the third world, but one of protracted legalism in the imperialist countries, eventually and only in theory, ending in some kind of rapid revolution. In the question of the main contradiction in the line struggle, in the struggle between left and right, there is no question where to put Belisario and his promoters.
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