Twists and Turns in the People's War

A. "Concrete Conditions" and the PCP's Experience of the 1960s and 1970s

Asumir suggests that with fluctuation in "concrete conditions," the proletariat can slip back and forth between these two forms of class struggle [unarmed political struggle and armed struggle--RW]

Contrary to what Asumir wants to imply, war does not erupt according to "concrete conditions," by which it means immediate, punctual and surface conditions, but according to the deep-rooted structural and determinant conditions flowing from strategic contradictions. Here Asumir takes a correct concept--Lenin's insistence that concrete analysis of concrete conditions is the living soul of Marxism--and reduces it to simple pragmatism in the service of opportunism, as reformists and revisionists have been doing for decades.

As far as "concrete conditions" are concerned, in the lifetime of a people's war, they will change many times, because in the course of war both sides of the war go through transformations. Furthermore, the People's War takes place in the context of a changing world situation. Changes in concrete conditions do require a new appraisal of the concrete conditions and may require changes in tactics and strategies of conducting the war, but Asumir is proposing to stop and start it each time!

When Asumir strong>says, "keep in mind the experience of the 1960s and 1970s," it is trying to get support from the party's history at a time when it was not waging armed struggle. Asumir implies that the reason for not starting the war during that period was because the "concrete conditions" had not arisen. "War is initiated and develops according to concrete conditions, and as these change, the forms of struggle must change."

We believe this is a distortion of the PCP's history. We do not think that the PCP had waited for some "concrete conditions" to arise to start the war. It had waited mainly for restructuring the party through two-line struggle and preparing it ideologically, politically and organizationally. Objectively, the contradictions based on which the PW started had been ripe for a long time, and the concrete manifestation of this was the struggles of the peasants and other sections of the masses in the region where the PW was initiated, and even beyond. Choosing the best possible moment (moment, and not decade) to start the war (when the government was changing hands) was only a tactical question, and it was neither strategic nor global. All throughout the two-line struggle in the Party, the forces led by Comrade Gonzalo had succeeded in struggling for the adoption of resolutions in the Central Committee plenums in favour of waging armed struggle--of course, the revisionists in the Party never let those resolutions materialize. So it is an outright distortion to imply that the Party did not start the war in the 1960s and 1970s because it was waiting for "concrete conditions" or "whenever possible" objectively. This goes against the correct line--which we believe the PCP firmly held and still holds--that revolutionary conditions develop unevenly in the oppressed countries, making it generally possible to initiate the war in one or another part of the country. We have never seen or heard a summation by the PCP that it was objectively not possible to initiate a revolutionary war during the 1960s and 1970s. The PCP never raised disagreements with the profound truth in the Declaration of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement that, in the oppressed countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, a revolutionary situation generally exists--of course, with ebbs and flows, and not in a straight line (see Declaration strong>, p. 34). When in 1965 the MIR (a focoist pro-Cuba group) started a kind of armed struggle in Peru, the previous leadership of the PCP condemned it as adventurist; but summing up those years, Chairman Gonzalo affirmed that if the proletariat does not lead the armed struggle, others will; and that it is not enough just to condemn such forces for their mistakes, we have to take up our responsibility.

B. Problems Should Be Solved in the Midst of War

Let us take a brief look at how the revolution and counter-revolution have confronted each other since the beginning of the People's War in Peru, and especially during difficult periods in the life of this war.

The beginning was modest, almost without arms. Based on a correct strategy and tactics, with a correct appraisal of the situation, plans were drawn up to "initiate" the People's War. An initially weak fire grew to become great, turbulent, raging fires through protracted war. This was an extremely important achievement for the proletariat and the oppressed in Peru and worldwide. What did the counter-revolution do in the face of the People's War in Peru? They opened up their hell and let loose their demons, plagues and horsemen of the apocalypse against it.

First they tried to minimize the problem. They sent in their police force; and they committed tremendous crimes against the people, but suffered humiliating defeats, while the first People's Committees arose. In the face of the advance of the new state power, the regime sent in the Armed Forces --the backbone of the state. A state of emergency was imposed at various times, putting millions of people under military authority. This was a new situation in the war. The Party had to analyze the new situation and solve the problems. The Armed Forces began to implement the policy of pitting the masses against each other by forming vigilante bands and unleashing white terror in the countryside. When this failed to check the People's War, they resorted to the most evil crimes. They began to wipe out the peasants along with their communities and small towns in Ayacucho. In 1984 this genocide reached its height.

The regime trumpeted that the People's War had been smashed or held back. "Senderologists," opportunists, and even some vacillating revolutionaries said it was impossible for the People's War to sustain its bastion in those three states which were under assault, and they proposed that the revolutionary forces leave those areas and come back later at an "opportune moment." But the PCP said, "we are convinced of the great truth of what Chairman Mao said about how an area should not be abandoned until it has been repeatedly proven impossible to defend." ("Develop People's War," PCP CC, 1986 in AWTW 8 and 9) The People's War proved to be superior to the enemy's strategy and savagery. The People's Guerrilla Army and the masses under the leadership of the PCP proved to be capable of confronting persistent offensives and genocides. 1983 and 1984 were years of struggle centering around restoration and counter-restoration, that is, counter-revolutionary war to smash the new political power and to restore the old, and revolutionary war to defend, develop and build the newly rising people's power. This was only possible through the People's Guerrilla Army waging a series of hard-fought contests against the reactionary Armed Forces. The People's War developed unevenly, that is, it was marked with fluidity, with restorations and counter-restorations, retreats and advances, and consolidations and expansions.

In the course of these years, the PGA under the leadership of the PCP came to grips with the laws governing these encounters, became steeled and spread roots among the masses. At each step of its development the People's War was guided by plans that were based on an appraisal of the two sides, the "two hills" of the war. Each plan had defined political and military objectives and dealt with the problems of the consolidation and advance of the war.

As the People's War advanced, the US imperialists stepped up their hidden intervention in the form of more aid to the Armed Forces, setting up bases and so on, as well as preparing public opinion under the pretext of the "war on drugs." But the US did not intervene openly. They continued with their "low intensity warfare," one objective of which was to cut the head off the People's War through utilizing complicated covert activities.

In 1990, they clearly saw the People's War as a "national security threat" to US imperialism; they came up with elaborate plans to restructure and tighten up the Peruvian state's repressive institutions in order to carry out an all-round suppression campaign. This campaign resulted in victories for the enemy: most importantly, the capture of Chairman Gonzalo and the blows to the Party's structure. This was the most important military victory that the old state achieved in its counter-revolutionary war against the People's War. But what is to be done? It has never been smooth sailing for the People's War in Peru. In 13 years it has confronted difficulties, twists and turns and new situations. But all were looked at and solved in the context of defending and developing the People's War. In short, everything was solved and built around the centre of combat guided by correct strategy and tactics plus tenacity, striving and giving blood. This kind of orientation can only flow from a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideological and political line. It becomes a strategic orientation for people's war once it is launched.