It Is Right to Rebel!

by the Leading Committee of the Union of Communists of Iran (Sarbedaran)

In Peru Today Revolutionary Politics Means Revolutionary War

Asumir touches upon many important points, lists many correct principles and tries to address some real factors in the present situation. Its completely different line on the world situation and bureaucrat capitalism than what we know to have been the PCP's analysis is striking. But the bone marrow of this document is its approach to the question of revolutionary warfare in general and the People's War in Peru in particular. This exposes its disturbing nature.

Asumir gives us a "new" reading of Chairman Mao's theories on war and peace; it twists the relationship between war and politics and between different forms of the class struggle in order to convince its audience that it is permissible to slip back from armed struggle to political struggle, with the expressed hope of "repeating" the People's War later. This article claims that the whole process of the counter-revolutionary war has succeeded and holds that under present conditions the People's War can at best only be "maintained". The prison article takes the line of Asumir to its logical conclusion, that the People's War should be terminated; it claims that in order to save the People's War from collapse, the PCP should shift back to "politics without bloodshed" and attend to the problem of leadership that has been created by the capture of Chairman Gonzalo and other top leaders. The fight for a "peace accord" is meant to facilitate this "general pull back", as Asumir puts it. This is the principal aspect of the line and program of these documents. Other arguments, including Asumir's seemingly profound analysis of the world situation, dubbed the "General Political Ebb" (stressing that it is strategic and global), serve this aim. We also believe that its analysis of the partial economic growth which is being experienced by Peru now is meant to conclude that the material underpinnings for continuing the People's War no longer exist.

Even if these documents repeat one thousand times that MLM is universal or how great the achievements of the People's War in Peru are, their unfortunate nature will not go away.

The Centrality of Arms in Fulfilling the Proletariat's Mission

Revolutionary violence is the highest form of struggle in seizing power; this has been a decisive question in the struggle between Marxism and revisionism. Not grasping this firmly will help the revisionists. Revisionism holds that power could be seized non-violently or that it can be reformed bit by bit in the interests of the people, and if violence is used, it is not to destroy the existing state power and establish the state (revolutionary dictatorship) of the proletariat and the oppressed, but rather as one means to pressure the existing state to reach an agreement for sharing power.

The proletariat and the people cannot seize power without the use of organized violence, that is, revolutionary war. Because the class enemy rules by organized violence (the reactionary state), this is true in both openly dictatorial states and in the most "democratic" bourgeois republic. The state (the army, the police force, the courts, etc.) exist to enforce the system of exploitation and oppression, and this reality is felt daily by the masses in their millions. Further, history has shown again and again that the ruling classes will use the full power of their state to crush the people whenever they feel their fundamental interests (their right to rule over the people and exploit them) are threatened.

That is why our great leaders, especially Comrade Mao, paid special attention to developing the military strategy of the proletarian revolution. To emphasize this cardinal question, Lenin said, "An oppressed class which does not strive to learn to use arms, to acquire arms, only deserves to be treated like slaves." ("Military program of the proletarian revolution", CW, v 23, pp. 77-83)

The People's War in Peru led by the PCP has demonstrated strong support for this principle in its practice of 13 years of revolutionary war.

Eclecticism on the Question of War and Politics

Asumir says: "The class struggle is a great and constant class war directed by political leaders. It has two forms: bloodless...and bloody. Both are forms of the great political war," "politics is war without bloodshed, just as war is politics with bloodshed"; "...and if it breaks out, to oppose unjust war with just war, whenever possible." "War is initiated and develops according to concrete conditions, and as these change, the forms of struggle must change."

Asumir of course does not refrain from throwing in some correct statements without elaborating or showing their connections to other ones. For example, it says, "If the obstacle is not completely swept away, the war will have to continue." The question is, when is that, and how does this apply today? Does Asumir mean this People's War which is going on, or some unknown and non-existent one? One of the chief characteristics of eclecticism is to hide its rightist nature by throwing some correct statements into the pot.

Asumir's statement on war and politics--one bloody, the other bloodless--is similar in appearance to what Chairman Mao has said. But any similarities end right there. In essence, the difference is that Comrade Mao is stressing the historical and social necessity of the oppressed class to wage its political struggle through revolutionary violence, while Asumir is trying to undermine this necessity by equating the place and value of both violent and non-violent forms in the struggle of the proletariat to advance towards communist society.

Let us look at Asumir's line on war and politics up close.

A. Revolutionary politics must be in command of a revolutionary war

In "On Protracted War," Comrade Mao clearly states that all wars have a political character, and he explains the dialectical relationship between war and politics. Chairman Mao said: "When politics develops to a certain stage beyond which it cannot proceed by the usual means, war breaks out to sweep the obstacles from the way.... But if the obstacle is not completely swept away, the war will have to continue till the aim is fully accomplished." ("On Protracted War", "On War and Politics", SW, v 2, p 153, Foreign Languages Press)

Every war is waged to achieve a definite political objective and will need to continue until this objective is achieved. At the same time, the relationship between war and politics is highly dynamic--the two aspects constantly interpenetrate and influence each other. In class struggle, only revolutionary politics could lead to a revolutionary war, and once it is started only revolutionary politics could maintain and develop it as such. Class collaborationist reformist politics will neither lead to nor serve a revolutionary war.

From this interplay between war and politics, it follows that the position of the oppressed classes and the political objective of a revolutionary war decide the depth and scope of the war, how it should be conducted in terms of strategy and tactics, and even its macro and micro policies (political, economic, etc.), manoeuvres, formations, and so on. For example, Comrade Mao pointed out that the victory of the anti-Japanese war of resistance was not separable from its political objective (to oust the Japanese invaders and form a new China); nor was it separable from the general directive of perseverance in the war of resistance, the united front, mobilizing the whole people, the concept that people, not weapons, are decisive, and so on. This is crucial to grasp, because on this basis we should proceed to examine whether Asumir's policy of a "peace accord" serves revolutionary war and revolutionary politics in Peru or is antagonistic to both. In short, either reformist policies will be renounced by revolutionary war or, if reformism prevails, it will bring about defeats and finally will transform the revolutionary nature of the war. From this dynamic relationship between war and politics follows the great importance of a correct ideological, political and military line for revolutionary warfare. The history of our class has proven that at times the outcome of an important two-line struggle can have a crucial impact on a revolutionary war.

Looking at the pattern of some more recent counter-insurgency strategies, we can observe that the imperialists have been using this interplay of war and politics in wearing down the guerrilla movements and in finally dealing death blows to them: alternating between striking them militarily, and on that basis trying to "mellow them down politically", followed by dealing them further military blows. Today in Peru, the reactionaries are trying to use this same policy. They have intensified their operations against the base areas, and they are trying hard to turn their success in capturing Comrade Gonzalo and dealing other blows to the party structure into a political victory in order, in turn, to fortify their military plans aimed against the People's War.

B. Asumir says both war and politics are forms of the great political war

Mao emphasized that war is the highest form of struggle and that seizing power through revolutionary violence is the central task of the communists everywhere. To eliminate these crucial points (highest and central) in the relationship between the two forms of struggle is pure eclecticism, that is, slick opportunism. In the dialectical relationship between politics and war, in the overall sense, it is politics which is the principal aspect--that is, it is the political objective of the war which determines the nature and circumstances of the war, and the way that it should be conducted. From here it flows that politics should command the gun and the party should command the army. But when we are talking about the measures that must be taken by the proletariat and the people to seize power, we must not forget that between the two forms of struggle (political and armed struggle), armed struggle is principal and all other forms should serve to prepare it, and when the war is launched, they must serve to develop it and bring it to victory.

This principle has been born out of objective reality, not simply out of anyone's mind. The underlying basis for this profound truth is that class antagonisms throughout the world overall have reached a point where they can only be solved through war, in particular in the oppressed nations where the conditions are generally already ripe for starting revolutionary warfare. This basis has been further strengthened in the era of imperialism and is continuously being reinforced by the very workings of imperialism on a daily basis. The fact that the struggles of the oppressed masses continuously break into armed struggle is testimony to this truth. The fact that the political forces of the revolutionary movements have been slaughtered and are continuously chased and violently suppressed by the reactionary states even before laying their hands on a gun has been and is strong evidence that revolutionary warfare is on the agenda. The fact that reactionary states in the oppressed nations rule by open violence against the people and utilize short intervals of "openings" and "peace" to temporarily calm down the oppressed and lure the revolutionaries and their party structures into the daylight in order to hunt them down even more savagely--and this story goes on and on--all this cries out to say that war is on the agenda, and this is forcing itself to the fore to be seen and recognized and acted upon consciously by the revolutionaries.

C. Different laws govern war and politics

Asumir says, "politics is war without bloodshed, just as war is politics with bloodshed...both are forms of the great political war that is the class struggle, and the latter is the development of the contradiction between revolution and counter-revolution...." "War is initiated and developed according to concrete conditions and as these change, the forms of struggle must change..."

We have already demonstrated how Asumir distorts the relationship between war and politics and how it muddies the centrality of armed struggle in the struggle of the proletariat and the people for emancipation. Asumir also does another thing: it treats the two forms of struggle as though going over from political struggle to war does not constitute a leap; therefore, for Asumir it is possible and permissible to end the war before the basic contradictions which gave rise to it in the first place are resolved or considerably mitigated.

War exists to accomplish political goals, and, for revolutionary communists, this means the seizure of political power. But war has its own laws of development and its own dynamics. Mao discusses this problem at length in "On Protracted War," and says that "war has its own particular characteristics and in this sense it cannot be equated with politics in general."

The fundamental law of all wars is to preserve one's own forces and destroy those of the other side. To meet this end (preserve-destroy), the hostile parties in all wars try to use strategy and tactics that are favourable for them and unfavourable for the enemy. Mao explained this to the representative of the PLO in these words: all military logic comes down to "you fight your way, I'll fight my way." (Mao Tsetung Unrehearsed [UK edition]/Chairman Mao Talks to the People [US edition], ed Stuart Schram)

Not only does war have its own laws of development and its own dynamics, but these laws take particular forms in particular contexts. Thus, revolutionary war has its own particular laws. The fundamental principles of war are applied with strategy and tactics which are specific to the nature and conditions of the revolutionary class and its enemies. For example, in revolutionary warfare, relying on the masses is the key to victory. And in addition to the general laws of revolutionary war, in the two types of countries (imperialist countries and semi-feudal semi-colonial countries dominated by imperialism) revolutionary warfare has its own particular laws. By applying these general laws, the particularities of revolutionary war in each country must be explored by the proletarian party that leads the war.

It was Chairman Mao who in a comprehensive way formulated the military strategy of the proletariat and especially the military strategy for the oppressed countries. Its cardinal points are, briefly: people's war is necessarily protracted; this road follows an approach of surrounding the cities from the countryside, which gives rise to the step by step seizure of power, in particular through building rural base areas in which the party leads the masses of peasants (principally the poor peasants) to exercise political power, and from there the red army draws it recruits, its supplies and its superior intelligence, and is able to lure the enemy into an arena of war that is more favourable than in the white areas.

Along with this, Mao's military thought contains a treasure house of rich tactical doctrines that enable a numerically and materially inferior force to prolong the war and in the context of a protracted war to chop up its enemy by making maximum use of the conscious dynamism of its troops and commanders and of other tactics such as mobility, flexibility, superior intelligence, and so on. All these points have been utilized skillfully in 13 years of the MLM-led People's War in Peru, and the invincibility of the strategy of people's war has once again been proven.

To go from revolutionary politics to revolutionary war requires a qualitative leap in the existence of the party (this headquarters of the war) and in the intensity and scope of the struggle, as well as a qualitative change in the means being used. The specific features of war lead to the creation of a series of specific organizations and methods and a specific process of war. These organizations make up the army and all that relates to it. The methods include the strategy and tactics required for leading the war.

When war starts, a new life starts. It is metaphysical to assume that the previous stage can be resurrected and replayed.

Once the war starts, anyone who wants to get into politics must get engaged in this war and take a stand on it. From here on politics is the war; it is subjected to certain rules, rules which when neglected will bring about the ruin of the party neglecting them.