Peru's Rotten System

One of Asumir's reasons for the so-called newly-found stability of bureaucrat capitalism is its economic recovery. Asumir says: "Economically, clearly they are establishing a basis.... Since 1988 there have been five years of recession. In 1993 the GDP grew by 6% after 5 years of growing recession.... We must strive to see the steps being taken, the increments obtained, as objective facts."

Yes, but we must strive to see all of the objective facts and not part of them--and a trivial part at that. We must strive to see what these economic measures have meant for the majority of the masses in Peru, and how they have influenced the basic relations between bureaucrat capitalism and the masses, the class antagonisms. As Chairman Mao pointed out, the Kuomintang controlled large and medium-sized cities and enjoyed the support of the imperialists, but it was divorced from the masses.

A. Fujishock and the So-Called Viability of Bureaucrat Capitalism

Let us take a brief look at the current economic wonders of imperialism in Peru. The regime of Fujimori under the direct auspices of the U.S. imperialists has launched a new economic program. The imperialists call it a "free market economy" and "privatization." In short and clear terms, it is about squeezing even more profit out of the Peruvian masses and plundering the country dry. Fujimori's economic plan offers up the Peruvian masses as low-cost wage slaves to the multinational capitalists, and has put the land and resources of Peru on the auction bloc.

What the Peruvian economy is undergoing is part of the global counter-crisis measures being taken by the imperialists, in which Latin America plays an important role for the U.S. in particular. In recent years, most of new U.S. investments in the so-called Third World have been in Latin America, while other Western imperialist powers have also increased their investments there.

It can be said that today there is some kind of economic growth going on in Latin America. The debt crisis, for example, has been temporarily mitigated (but a $500 billion debt remains, which can become a big source of instability in the absence of strong economic growth), and foreign investments have increased considerably. But this growth has been very uneven and unstable. It has led to extreme polarization in different countries, and this is only the beginning.

As a result of free market capitalism and privatization, the number of the "very poor" in Latin America has doubled. In Peru before Fujimori's regime came to power in 1990, the real value of the workers' wages had dropped 50% relative to 1980. Fujimori slashed wages even further. Subsidies for food and fuel were eliminated, and prices for basic necessities of life increased. By early 1991, the real value of wages had decreased to one-third of what they were when Fujimori took over. 120,000 workers in the state companies and ministries were fired. More peasants were driven into the cities under the pressure of intolerable poverty. Fujimori's economic program relies on tighter tax collection, which hurts the middle classes too. By carrying out the new economic measures, the number of the "very poor" almost doubled, from 7 to 13 million. This "economic development" does not look a bit "viable" to the majority of the masses in Peru. However, it definitely has fattened a minority of parasitic Peruvian bureaucrat capitalists, landlords and officials and other imperialist lackeys.

Does it serve the development of a coherent national economy? Not a bit. On the contrary, it makes the Peruvian economy even more dependent on the imperialists and their needs and wits. And it makes it even more lopsided and crisis-ridden. This new programme of economic development intends to eliminate inflation, to make the economy efficient and competitive. It is squeezing the economy to be able to repay its debts ($45 million per month) to the foreign, mainly U.S., banks. The most important element of this "recovery" is an influx of foreign capital to Peru. What is the character of these new investments? The foreign capital that has flowed in has been mainly on a short-term basis and in response to high domestic interest rates and new policies allowing the full repatriation of capital. This influx is based on the ability to shift money quickly. In terms of creating jobs, the results are pitiful. Many of the new investments in Peru are in the raw materials extractions sector, which is highly profitable for the multinationals, but imparts little economic stability to Peru. A large part of these new investments is speculative. The old enterprises are sold much below their value to enable Peru to pay back its debt. The only thing privatization really changes, except for changing hands, is that the masses become the target of ever more intense attacks. For one thing, these enterprises are sold on the condition that massive lay-offs and wage cuts will follow. Moreover, privatization is a one time only "jumpstart" to the economy and is unable to provide the economy with ongoing revenues. In short, it can be seen that Fujimori's programme falls far short of bringing dynamic and sustained economic growth to Peru.

But let us suppose that the economy is going through more sustained growth, as in China, Thailand or Indonesia. Does this mean that it is no longer possible to make revolution? The revolutionary upsurge in Iran occurred at a time when, although the Shah's regime was gripped with crisis, it was still one of U.S. imperialism's showcases. Several months before the revolution, the Yankee president Jimmy Carter called the Shah's Iran "an island of stability and calm" in the Middle East! The point is not that bureaucrat capitalism cannot experience any growth or partial recovery. It is wrong to think that bureaucrat capitalism will advance for a long period in a straight line and then dive straight downwards to its grave. Even a deep and long crisis does not proceed in a straight line. The imperialists will always strive to keep bureaucrat capitalism going, especially in areas of strategic importance for them, because the economies of these countries are part and parcel of the world economy of imperialism. Crisis-ridden third world economies are sources of crisis for the world imperialist economy at the same time that they are and have been vital for the overall profitability of the imperialist economies. Imperialism is doing what it has to do to survive. Whether to look at these efforts and analyze them with the perspective of abandoning revolution or of stepping up struggle to destroy this man-eating system is of course a matter class outlook and interests.

The economic growth in Peru is very uneven and unstable, and despite all the fanfare, the GDP has not even reached its 1987 level. The few points of GDP upon which Asumir builds its argument of "viability" to support its strategy have been obtained at the expense of further impoverishing the masses.

B. The So-Called Stability of the Reactionary State in Peru

In addition to economic growth, Asumir also mentions other aspects as proof of the stabilization of the reactionary state in Peru: "...they have elected their constitutional councils, worked out the constitution, they won the referendum, the way is being opened for reelection. This means establishing the basis for the restructuring of the state."

The point on the referendum is really laughable; only Fujimori himself and his cohorts saw it as a victory. In any event, why would partially reorganizing the governing of the state constitute a basis for short- or long-term stability for a reactionary regime? In fact, the self-coup of Fujimori is a cause for concern among some imperialist circles, because it showed the regime has a narrow base of support even among the reactionary classes themselves. Several attempted coups against Fujimori revealed that not all of the army is fully under his control. The Armed Forces themselves are riddled with contradictions. Once in a while big generals come out and accuse each other and the regime of drug trafficking, massacres like Cantuta, human-rights scandals, and so on. They do not even fully agree on how to conduct their war against the PCP.

Most reforms they have implemented have intensified the contradictions among the reactionaries themselves. The economic measures are undermining the interests of some factions of the ruling classes in favour of others and are provoking more internal disputes among them.

These conflicts in Peru's ruling circles do not mean that they have not made their state more efficient in terms of fighting the People's War and clamping down on the population. They have been doing both, and this must be analyzed and dealt with by the PCP in leading the People's War to victory.

But one thing has not changed: this regime is divorced from the masses, is hated by them and remains a paper tiger strategically. As the principles of People's War tell us, this strategic weakness of the old state must be brought into play, in order to deal with its tactical strengths. In the process of carrying out a people's war, there will always be two kinds of deviations: one, which takes the tactical strengths of the enemy as its strategic strength, and a second, which underestimates the tactical abilities of the enemy. Asumir commits the first error.

Asumir makes the claim that "there is no powerful liberation movement"! Some of Asumir's comments strike one as though these notes are not coming from Peru. What is People's War then if it is not a powerful liberation movement? Not to see this is really disturbing. With this kind of statement, Asumir's list of achievements of the People's War resembles some kind of eulogy that belongs in an obituary column.

Another factor that Asumir presents to prove the "viability" of bureaucrat capitalism is the "success" of the counter-revolutionary war. On this question we have spoken before, and we won't repeat ourselves. But we would like to point out just one thing: Marx said concentrated revolution gives rise to concentrated counter-revolution. This means that the old state will fight to its last breath to raise its capabilities to deal with a revolutionary war that aims to bring about its downfall. The old state also goes through transformation in the process of the war.

None of the points noted by Asumir can make bureaucrat capitalism viable. It can, of course, temporarily become more efficient in some areas of its functioning. However, if the People's War in Peru were to follow the road that Asumir is proposing, then bureaucrat capitalism would get a very important chance to achieve some long-term stability.