Shining Path

More on Gonzalo

Harsh Thakor

Chairman Gonzalo or Abimael Guzman is no more. His was not a natural death but an assassination by the Peruvian state. Exactly 29 years ago on September 12th he was captured by the Peruvian police and placed in the Callao prison.In spite of a sustained worldwide campaign to demand his release, the Peruvian state kept him entrenched within the jail walls. This testified that a leader like Gonzalo threatened the very backbone of the neo-colonial regimes.

No movement in the world caused such tremors in the camp of the ruling dictatorial regimes in the last 4 decades as the Shining Path led by Gonzalo and the PCP. Gonzalo was denied the rights promised within a bourgeois democracy, morally being denied political prisoner status.

Gonzalo may be gone but his spirit is not dead and buried, which still shimmers in every corner of the globe. No Marxist leader as methodically re-organised a Communist party or so clinically paved the way for undertaking armed struggle. Chairman Gonzalo turned the spark of Maoism into a Prairie fire in unparalleled proportions after the death of Mao, traversing regions unexplored. Since Mao no Marxist took creativity to such un-traversed regions or gave such a striking blow to revisionism. Communist cadres should in detail study how Gonzalo confronted opportunist trends to knit the party together. In present time no Marxist leader has inducted spiritual change within the oppressed masses at the magnitude of Gonzalo. He literally galvanised millions like red spark illuminating within ,taking the boiling point of indignation to a crescendo. Gonzalo revealed shades of genius when building the party schools to confront revisionism and in confronting all trends negating People’s War. No communist leader did as much justice to upholding the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution or the military teachings of Mao. In the period of the Peruvian People’s War since Chairman Mao there was no leader who led a revolutionary struggle creating such tremors in the enemy camp at such magnitude or come so much within touching distance of overthrowing the oppressive rulers. Gonzalo exhibited genius when penetrating the shanty towns or slum areas, and thus not mechanically copying the Chinese experience. Above all he proved that Marxism-Leninism was a creative ideology .Gonzalo gave a striking blow to revisionism of the Dengist and Khruschevite variety as no other leader and ignited the spark of Marxism-Leninism -Maoism in regions unparalleled in his lifetime.

His interview in El Diaro in1988, translated into English encompasses every sphere of Marxism and World Revolution and gives the sensation of a new epoch being written in history. Similar to Che Guevera,Gonzalo illustrates the spiritual aspect of a Marxist revolutionary and how a new man needs to be created, reaching the very core of the soul. Most analytically he dissects Marxism from revisionism and projects why Chairman Mao elevated Leninism to a higher stage, making a Universal Contribution. In a most dialectical manner he addressed the strides of the People’s War led by the Peruvian Communist Party and what distinguished Maoist protracted People’s War from foco militia concept of Che Guevera.A fitting homage was given to Jose Carlos Marieuteigi ,highlighting how he laid the base for Peruvian Marxism. In Marxist light the national question was also explored. Gonzalo put forward a global perspective of Marxist revolution. Gonzalo also analysed the distinguishing characteristics of fascism in Peru and how it disguised itself. What distinguished the ‘Shining Path’ movement as it was known was it’s differentiation of the party with the guerrilla army unlike the focoist Che Guevarist theory applied in Cuba and Nicaragua. What was remarkable was the manner the People’s Guerrilla army encircled the urban areas, virtually besieging the administration. It brilliantly combined self -defence and aggression to confront the enemy at its strongest point. That Peru is principally urban with a greater population in cities so it had to adopt Maoist strategy in accordance with its unique characteristics. With meticulous planning mass fronts of women, youth, intellectuals or peasants were also set up, who most systematically built the party link with the masses. Applying dialectical foresight it penetrated into the urban regions to develop a united front with the intellectuals like professors, journalists, doctors etc. and made inroads in the slums of the shanty towns. With immense creativity it applied Maoism where a bourgeois democratic parliamentary system was firmly entrenched and a revisionist left.

In 1988 PCP published a document, ‘Organisation of the Masses’ part of ‘Re-affirmation of the principle that Masses make History’. It revealed great penetration of depth of mass line towards carrying 2-line struggle to combat leftist liquidation and rightist liquidation or legalism, balancing centralisation with de-centralisation, differentiating open and secret party work applying Lenin and Mao, building genuine mass organisations in cities and countryside keeping the party clandestinely, preparing for initiation of people’s war, combining mass and military work, building the people’s guerrilla as the principal organisation as well as people’s war as the principal form of struggle and giving the cutting edge to the Communist Party.

Gonzalo’s writings on how fascism arrives and nature of Peruvian fascism should be studied. Most analytically he exposes how bourgeois democracies function morally as dictatorships and how they evolve into fascist societies.

Everyone should refer to the articles published by Nick Glais on Democracy and Class Struggle Blog on Gonzalo, who although opposing ‘Gonzalo thought’ and ‘Militarisation of the Party “as un Marxist, upheld Gonzalo as a great Marxist Revolutionary.

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Vol. 54, No. 20, Nov 14 - 20, 2021