A WORLD TO WIN    #22   (1996)


A Hard Look at the Dangers and Opportunities in the Two-Line Struggle in Peru

The following article in a question-and-answer format was prepared with the help of reports from comrades and friends in many countries who have been grappling with this two-line struggle and the tasks it poses for those who support the People's War led by the Communist Party of Peru. - AWTW

You talk about "two lines" that emerged in the Communist Party of Peru (PCP). What are these two lines, exactly?

The main point is whether or not the People's War can and should continue. The Party's Central Committee (CC) says it can and must. The line that has risen up against that, what the CC calls the Right Opportunist Line (ROL), argues that it has become impossible to pursue the war, basically because of the capture of PCP Chairman Gonzalo in September 1992, as well as other alleged changes in the situation in Peru and the world. The ROL claims that without Chairman Gonzalo at the helm of the Party, victory is impossible, and without the perspective of victory, any military actions are meaningless. Therefore, they believe, the Party should seek to negotiate a way out of the war to escape the danger of being crushed.

So then the question is whether or not the PCP should negotiate?

No. The question is what is the pur-pose of these particular negotiations: what kind of compromises are being offered, for what aim, under what circumstances.

In October 1993, when US-backed Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori claimed that he had received letters from PCP Chairman Gonzalo appealing for negotiations, the proposed peace accord had to be analysed in light of an evaluation of the situation of this People's War in particular as well as the laws of people's war in general. This analysis had to go beyond the mere diplomatic language involved. If, for instance, this proposal was meant to serve the People's War in some way, you could hardly expect that to be explicitly announced in these letters to Peru's President.

Marxist-Leninist-Maoists, including the PCP, do not reject all negotiations and compromise in principle. The PCP has used this tactic in the past. For example, in May 1992, jailed PCP members and leaders seized Canto Grande prison to thwart a government plan to murder them, then called for negotiations through the International Red Cross to end the siege. Their aim was to stave off the regime's assault if the negotiations were successful, to expose its bloodthirsty hypocrisy if they were not, and so in either case to deal it a political blow. Both Lenin and Mao entered into full-scale negotiations with the enemy at different moments and even offered important compromises when it was in the interests of the revolution to do so.

The content of this negotiations proposal turned out to be very different. The thinking behind the letters was made explicit in a series of documents the authorities allowed to leak out of Peru's prisons starting in late 1993. They began circulating abroad in 1994. What was being offered was the disbanding of the people's army and the base areas where the people hold revolutionary political power, in exchange for an accord with the Fujimori government that would lead to the release of imprisoned Party members and legal status or at least tolerated status for the Party. Later ROL documents declared the proposed negotiations only a means to achieve the Party's going over to what it called a "grand new strategy" - a long period of leading non-armed struggles, instead of people's war. This basic question of strategy is the heart of the matter.

What was the stand of the Party leadership on this bid for negotiations?

The PCP Central Committee (CC) had to respond quickly and decisively to the question of whether or not the People's War should be halted. They did so in a Declaration of 7 October 1993, expressing their determination to continue in the strongest terms. That Declaration did not directly mention the letters, although it stated that the enemy had concocted "a hoax". In its February 1994 meeting, the CC characterized the letters as a "counter-revolutionary plot" and "hoax" by the regime and the imperialists. At the same time, they also analysed that a Right Opportunist Line had arisen, and called for the struggle against it to be "raised to the level of line struggle" - "attention must be paid to the two-line struggle". The CC also declared that the Party could never go against principles, and pointed out that one such principle is that no one can lead a communist party from prison. (Both these documents are in AWTW 1995/21) The CC's further thinking on the Right Opportunist Line, especially in light of later developments, has not been made public. However, the CC is actively pursuing the People's War.

What's wrong with the idea that these negotiations may be necessary to "save the life of the Party", as the ROL says?

First, the premise on which it is based - the claim that the People's War can't continue - is false. Conditions in Peru have not changed in a way that would make the continuation of the People's War impossible. This has been proven in practice since the ROL arose, as the People's War has successfully held out against repeated full-scale enemy offensives and hit back hard enough to repeatedly shock the reaction.

Second, no matter what anyone might intend, the actual result of doing what the ROL proposes would be the opposite of what it claims. Despite the difficulties the Party faces today, giving up its army and base areas would mean giving up any chance at all of solving these problems in the course of people's warfare. In the oppressed countries, a protracted people's war is the only way the revolution can go from weak to strong and over time accumulate the forces to seize countrywide power. Giving up because there is no immediate perspective of victory means giving up any possibility of ever winning victory.

Third, people's war cannot be turned on and off at will. Once those who are "supposed" to toil and obey rise up in arms under the leadership of a proletarian party whose goal is to turn society and the whole world upside down, then even if the leadership surrenders the enemy will still seek bloody vengeance on the masses and on their leaders as well, to make sure the masses are taught a lesson. Experience has shown that even where there has been no such people's war, such as Indonesia in 1965 and Chile in 1973, when the reactionaries feel threatened by the masses, then the fact that the people are unarmed only means they are more easily massacred. Those who did not lead the masses to prepare for people's war led them to the slaughterhouse.

If the PCP did what the ROL calls for, it would throw away all that the revolution has won at the cost of the people's sacrifice. No matter what the risks are in continuing the People's War, if the Party betrayed the people that would make a future revolution all the more difficult.

(Here all we can do is summarize a few points taken from the major criticism of the ROL written by the Union of Communists of Iran [Sarbedaran], and the RIM Call, available in AWTW 1995/21.)

What's new or particular about all this? In any revolution, aren't there always some people who just give up, especially when things get tough?

What is new is that a whole line has leapt out - a whole worked-out strategy, tactics and ideological position - that is trying to overthrow the line developed under the leadership of Chairman Gonzalo that guided the People's War from the beginning. It is fighting all-out as an organized force to shatter the present political and ideological unity of the Party and the organizational structures built on that basis, in order to create a different kind of party with a different political and ideological line. The harm done by this destruction extends far beyond the numbers of those who are won to become militants for the new line.

This is particularly complicated because this ROL claims to be led by Chairman Gonzalo himself. This opposed line has not taken the form of open capitulation, of renouncing violent revolution and Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM), but rather of claiming to give an answer to the obstacles now faced by the revolution, in the name of "applying MLM".

It may well be that many proponents of the ROL do not necessarily see or refuse to see that even if they have devoted their lives to fighting the class enemy, by adopting and working for this line they are tumbling down a slippery slope towards an enemy who is eagerly awaiting them, with a wide sinister smile, open arms and sharpened knives.

In order to have a correct orientation on this two-line struggle, revolutionaries must grasp both aspects - the form and the essence of the ROL. Its essence, its final result, is not the same thing as how it appears on the face of it. The ROL has arguments. What makes them dangerous is not just that some historic Party leaders are putting them forward, but even more importantly that the ROL claims to give Maoist answers to real burning questions facing the Party.

But if this line arose in prison, can it really be said that a two-line struggle emerged in the Party, or is it the result of torture, drugs and brainwashing?

Peru's prisons are notorious for their extreme cruelty. Fujimori himself was widely quoted in the media crowing that no one, including Chairman Gonzalo, could expect to stay alive very long in his prisons.

Still, under any circumstances, no matter how extreme, what political and ideological line people maintain or adopt determines what they do. Furthermore, in this particular case, some people have become conscious and very active organizers for a wrong line. The urgency of exposing and denouncing the regime's crimes does not lessen the need to refute that line in its own right. The idea that the ROL is just about some individuals whose weaknesses the enemy has exploited to shatter their will and manipulate them misses the point that what is happening is a political phenomenon that cannot be explained away by the enemy's ruthlessness.

An illustration that this is a question of line and not any individual frailty or "human weakness" in general is provided by the PCP's experience during the early years of the People's War. Although in retrospect we can see this time as one of great advance, there were painful twists and turns, including very difficult periods, especially when the Armed Forces were sent in at the end of 1982 and the years following. In defiance of capture, torture and murder in prison, PCP comrades set a magnificent standard for turning the enemy's dungeons into "shining trenches of combat" and heroism, based on a Maoist line. This was witnessed in 1986 at El Frontón and other prisons when revolutionary prisoners met the regime's ruthless repression with an unforgettable rebellion that came to be known as the "Day of Heroism". About 300 prisoners were killed in combat or murdered in cold blood afterwards. No wave of capitulation to the regime surfaced at that time.

In contrast, since the ROL broke out, a number of people who were ­upper-level Party leaders at the time of their arrest and other prominent Party members have defended the ROL in television interviews. Several hundred imprisoned members and fighters have signed petitions to the authorities in support of the ROL. Accounts of family visits have confirmed that each of the two opposing lines has a large following among the thousands of jailed PCP members and fighters.

Dialectics teaches us that internal contradictions are the basis for change, and in this sense the regime and its brutality cannot be considered the cause of this line that arose within the ranks of the Party. However, the authorities have done a great deal to promote and enforce the ROL and forcibly suppress the CC's line. The ROL is not being organized mainly through "free debate" or "the free exchange of ideas". Who gets to see whom in prison and when, and who is allowed in to visit, is one part of this. The ROL is allowed to have meetings, and prisoners are shuttled around from one jail to another to strengthen the ROL in those quarters where it is weakest, while prisoners who support the Central Committee are repressed. (For instance, for some time now certain prisoners have been brought from Puno to Lima to shore up the ROL there, especially in the Chorrillos women's prison, while at the same time the government sends prisoners from Lima to Puno, where conditions are particularly harsh, as a form of punishment.) Of course, the continuing fierce resistance of many hundreds of Party people in prison who defend the People's War and the line of the CC is blacked out of the media.

How could this happen in a party like the PCP?

The Maoist understanding of the question of the two-line struggle is explained more directly elsewhere in this issue. (See "An Initial Reply to Arce Borja")

In a word, ideas representing all the different classes contend within every communist party. So this ROL did not arise out of nothing - there is a particular material base for lines representing different classes to arise in this Party and for the shifting political alignment and moods of these classes to have influence within it.

Further, this ROL has roots in the Party's specific practice and history, which only future struggle and review will fully reveal. Like everything else in the universe, a basically correct line is contradictory; it has within it incorrect or not completely correct aspects which can come to the fore under certain circumstances.

But what made this erupt now and in such a dramatically antagonistic fashion was an external objective factor: the change in the situation for the revolution that erupted with Chairman Gonzalo's capture.

What was this situation that led to the outbreak of the two-line struggle?

On the eve of the capture, the Peo-ple's War was advancing by giant strides. Panic swept Lima's wealthiest neighborhoods. At cocktail parties held under the looming shadow of revolution, families that had ruled for generations and their hirelings made morose jokes about the "twilight of the gods". The US Congress debated whether open intervention was in order. Within the Party itself, meetings of its Central Committee in 1992 focused discussion on the need to take the revolution to a higher level. The Party leadership was grappling with the question of what strategy and what scenarios could lead to country-wide victory. The possibility was discussed that the Party could unite ninety percent of the people in a national war of liberation if US imperialism invaded.

Instead, the Yankee imperialists tried a different tactic. They sought to avoid the dangers of sending in massive numbers of troops by concentrating their considerable resources on efforts to decapitate the PCP, with painful results for the Peruvian revolution and the international Maoist movement. (This doesn't mean that they would have refrained from invading directly if that had proved the only alternative.) The imperialists also threw their undivided backing behind Fujimori and supported his efforts to unite the squabbling ruling classes at gunpoint. Beginning with Fujimori's so-called "self-coup" in April 1992, when he sent tanks to resolve the issue of opposition in Congress and institute presidential rule, a reorganization of the state overcame some obstacles hindering the regime's ability to fight a reactionary war. Coming after these military and political moves, a new influx of imperialist capital modified the economic situation somewhat. A few sectors of the middle classes began to entertain some hope for the system, even while others were driven deeper into disaster.

Especially after the capture, the Party faced new questions and unprecedented difficulties that had to be addressed. The People's War could not continue at the same level and in the same way as before. Under these circumstances, it was inevitable that debate and differences would exist in the Party over how to proceed. Thus it is not surprising that a major two-line struggle would break out. The ROL has given wrong and opportunist answers to the problems facing the Peruvian revolution, but it did not make them up from whole cloth.

The ROL exaggerates and absolutizes changes by evaluating them one-sidedly. It sees only the imperialists' gains and not the long-term instability and volatility of the situation, only the obstacles faced by the People's War and not that the reactionaries have been unable to crush it. Above all, the ROL takes the great difficulties posed by the capture of Chairman Gonzalo as unsolvable - as though his captivity were an inexorable reason why the People's War has to be halted. It points to an altered situation - what Chairman Gonzalo himself correctly disparaged as only a "bend in the road" shortly after falling into the hands of the enemy - to claim that a fundamental "turn" had taken place, changing not only the situation of the revolution but even the road it has to follow. As has so often happened in the history of the international communist movement, in the face of an acute change or crisis an opportunist line has jumped out to claim that key principles that had guided the revolution are no longer valid.

It says in the CoRIM Call that "the greatest difficulty facing the Party is the Right Opportunist Line itself". How can this be if the revolution faces such ferocious enemies as the Fujimori regime and imperialism? Why do you insist on the need for a two-line struggle?

Lenin argued that the struggle against imperialism is "a sham and a humbug" if it is not linked to the struggle against opportunism. Furthermore, experience the world over has shown that it is revisionism and opportunism, even more than the enemies' bombs and bullets, which have derailed revolutions. It is certain that the ROL will continue to wage and intensify its own struggle against the correct line. Without waging the two-line struggle, the Party cannot defend itself. In order to defeat and root out the ROL, its arguments must be analysed and refuted directly and deeply.

Waging the two-line struggle is key in enabling the Party to fully overcome the "bend in the road" and succeed in its task of leading the revolution. It is only in the context of a thorough demarcation with the ROL, at all levels of the Party and its revolutionary activity, that it can formulate the political, organizational and military policies that can solve the challenges in continuing on the fundamentally correct path the People's War has followed, and on this basis analyse the roots of the two-line struggle and advance further. Of course, this does not contradict the necessary taking of organizational measures against those who unabashedly proclaim that they reject the Party's basis of unity, the fundamental line adopted at the 1988-89 First Congress.

It is in the course of repudiating opportunist lines that Marxism-Leninism-Maoism has always achieved its greatest advances. The Maoist understanding of the decisiveness of line and two-line struggle which alerts us fully to the danger posed by the ROL also allows us to see the opportunities. It is for both negative and positive reasons that accounts must be settled with this line. The outcome of the two-line struggle will have profound consequences for the course of the Peruvian revolution.

What about the ROL's charge that the Central Committee is incapable of leading?

The ROL claims that only Chairman Gonzalo and not the present CC leadership is capable of leading the Party. But why should that be? Since the Central Committee has taken a correct stand against the ROL and has more than proven its determination and ability to continue the People's War, then why can't it overcome difficulties step by step? For its part, the Fujimori regime seems quite convinced of the CC's capabilities, which is why it has mounted campaign after campaign to hunt down Comrade Feliciano and other leaders of the CC. In fact, with its steadfast rejection of the ROL, the Central Committee has proved that it is more capable of leading than those former Party leaders in prison who have espoused the ROL.

Is it true, as Fujimori claims, that Chairman Gonzalo is behind the ROL?

From the beginning, it has been impossible to know for certain whether Chairman Gonzalo was involved. This is a factor that has given even more weight to the vital importance of deep study and struggle around the line being put forward in his name.

No one can say with any certainty what Chairman Gonzalo's current position is. Fujimori and the Yankee imperialists are manipulating the situation and seeking maximum advantage from it. Since October 1993, when Fujimori presented a short video purporting to show Chairman Gonzalo reading the letters, he has deliberately maintained a certain degree of ambiguity and confusion by keeping Chairman Gonzalo isolated. It continues to be important that the people fight to break the isolation, in order to win this battle, defeat the enemy's manoeuvres and clear up the situation. This would help centre the debate even more sharply on the question of line, and not author.

There are some developments that have given more credibility to claims of Chairman Gonzalo's involvement. Members of his family abroad claim that on two occasions they were telephoned by Peruvian authorities who put Chairman Gonzalo on the line. The main point of these lengthy conversations was for the caller to issue appeals for the ROL. Almost a dozen major documents have now filtered out of prison, also with the assent of the authorities, polemicizing against the Central Committee's stand and putting forward extensive arguments for a new, opportunist line for the PCP. These writings may or may not be authored by Chairman Gonzalo himself, but they cannot be considered a simple fabrication by the likes of the Peruvian authorities or the CIA.

Another disturbing thing has been the prison conversion of Margie Clavo, a principal CC member at the time she was arrested in March 1995 along with other PCP members and leaders. When the police paraded her in handcuffs before the media with bruises on her face, telling reporters that "she was tougher than we thought" but that they would "wrench it out of her", she denounced the ROL and called on the Party to "Persist! Persist! Persist!" Then, some six months later, in a long prison interview shown on TV, she made an about-face, proclaiming that she had been won to the ROL as a result of conversations with Chairman Gonzalo.

Doesn't publicly discussing the possibility that Chairman Gonzalo could be linked to the ROL give aid and comfort to the enemy? Wouldn't it be more useful not to bring it up or even to deny it - why not just point out that the imperialist media lie all the time anyway?

Such a pragmatic approach could explode in our faces. It would be doubly short-sighted - short-sighted in terms of what could happen in this specific battle and short-sighted in terms of our long-range goals.

In the most immediate sense, closing our eyes and gambling everything on the hope that Comrade Gonzalo is not involved could be self-defeating. Our duty is not only to recognize the truth but to act on it. In this case, that means that even though conclusive proof is lacking we have to prepare for the worst. Acting on that means arming the advanced masses politically and ideologically to deal with what might happen and not risk being caught by surprise and unprepared. Anything less than this would mean instead of "fighting our way", drawing on our strengths, we'd be fighting with one hand tied behind our back, not to mention blindfolded. Furthermore, no matter what happens in this battle, we want to fight in a way that will advance our long-term goals. We must have confidence that the masses can be won to understand a correct line, even if it includes a painful and difficult process. The short-term expediency of fooling the masses, or ourselves, about the real situation is no solution at all.

The PCP CC and RIM both argue that one must base oneself on principles and not do anything that goes against them. Concentrating on line, not author, is itself a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist principle. There is no other way to determine right from wrong. This is always true, but it is particularly applicable here.

If we base ourselves on MLM and if we use the struggle against the ROL to raise our own level and that of the masses to the greatest extent possible, then we will be in the best possible position no matter what. Otherwise, if our understanding of the correct and incorrect line remains on a superficial level and the masses are left unprepared, we will fail to really get to the bottom of the ROL and repudiate it thoroughly. We will throw away the opportunity to draw the maximum advances out of this struggle so as to strive to turn a bad thing, no matter how bitter, into a good thing.

If Chairman Gonzalo does turn out to be involved in the ROL, what does that mean about the line developed under his leadership?

The ROL claims that its "grand new strategy" is the application today of the same principles that have guided the People's War all along. The opposite is true - the ROL is opposed to the basic thrust of these principles. The ROL guts the MLM content of the PCP's line, while preserving some of the same words and phrases and trying to patch over the qualitative gulf that separates the two roads.

We cannot agree with the ROL's wrong conception of leadership that holds that Chairman Gonzalo's alleged championship of this line in itself constitutes sufficient proof of its correctness. Nor, by the same token, can we agree with the idea that if Chairman Gonzalo did turn out to be behind the ROL, this would invalidate the PCP's basic line he led in formulating.1 Both views confound Marxism and religious faith. The truth or falseness of an idea does not rest upon the thinker. It can and must be verified in light of practice - historical and present social experience.

No matter who is behind the ROL, the viability of the strategy that the Party developed and carried out for sixteen years under Chairman Gonzalo's leadership has been confirmed in practice and it remains essentially correct today.

We need that truth. How can we do without it, even if it turns out to have been grasped by someone who later dropped it? This was Lenin's attitude toward Plekhanov, who was considered "the father of Marxism in Russia". Lenin deemed Plekhanov's earlier works essential and insisted that the Soviet government continue to publish them, long after Plekhanov himself turned against the Bolshevik revolution.

Still, Marxism develops in the struggle against its opposite. When a deep two-line struggle erupts in a party, the correct line does not emerge exactly the same as before, but rather advances.

How could someone like Chairman Gonzalo possibly change his line? How is it conceivable that such an advanced leader could possibly support such a dangerous position?

In the absence of any decisive proof of Chairman Gonzalo's authorship of the ROL, it would not be helpful or correct to take up the question that way at this time. However, there are some general points that are useful to go into.

Marxism-Leninism-Maoism teaches us that all things in society and nature "divide into two". This law of "one divides into two" also applies to revolutionary leaders. So long as the proletarian political and ideological line is firmly in command, leaders make great contributions to the revolutionary cause. But no leader is immune from the danger of adopting a wrong line. This question can never be settled once and for all in relationship to anyone, because new problems and questions arise constantly to challenge everyone, even those who hold the truth in their hands at any given moment. As RIM wrote, "Chairman Gonzalo's farsighted leadership in initiating and waging the People's War, his contributions to the political and ideological development of our Movement and the courageous stand he took upon his capture in no way lessens our responsibility to make our political evaluation based upon the concrete analysis of concrete conditions and in the light of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. History has shown that even important leaders of the proletariat who had made real and lasting contributions to our struggle can become champions of a wrong line." (See "Twists and Turns in the Two Line Struggle")

One particular responsibility assumed by leaders in an MLM party, their place in the party's division of labour, is to play a key role in synthesizing the correct ideas that arise from the experience of the masses, in the course of leading them in class struggle. This is what Mao meant when he said that "all correct leadership is necessarily "from the masses, to the masses". A party's chain of command, its organized discipline in the system of democratic centralism, is based on this chain of knowledge. The Marxist theory of knowledge holds that all correct ideas arise from the social practice of the masses and are in turn tested and refined in that process, in "an endless spiral, with the ideas becoming more correct, more vital and richer each time". (See "Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership", Mao, Selected Works, Vol III) We cannot agree with the ROL's incorrect conception of leaders as geniuses from whose heads the correct line springs full-blown.

Nor can we agree with the ROL's conception of how leaders play their role, as individuals standing apart from the party's chain of knowledge and command. Like all leaders, Chairman Gonzalo played his role as part of a collectivity, in this case as the head of the Central Committee, a collective body that concentrates the process being carried out by the whole PCP. (See "On Strengthening the Party Committee System", Mao, SW, Vol IV) The principles of democratic centralism are that the individual is subordinate to the collective, the minority to the majority, the lower bodies to the higher bodies and the entire party (including the party leader) to the Central Committee.

Any leader can get arrested or "go bad", and all leaders will eventually die, which is one reason the question of developing collective leadership and successors is so important. But the main reason for collectivity is that no matter how advanced any individual leader may be, no one can have a sufficiently all-sided comprehension by themselves. In the end their abilities, including their understanding and ability to lead, depend on the collective strength of the Party and its ties to the masses.

When captured, regardless of whether a person retains their individual qualities in prison, the enemy keeps them from functioning as party leaders in the sense of being fully part of this process. This would be true even if the majority of members of a leading body were to be thrown together into the enemy's dungeons, and there under his guns "decide" to overthrow the party's line. The principle that no one can lead a party from prison is an example of the opposition between the proletarian and bourgeois conceptions of leadership.

Whatever else he may have done to Chairman Gonzalo, Fujimori boasted that he had been put on an "information diet" where Chairman Gonzalo only found out what Fujimori wanted him to find out. The enemy violently ripped Comrade Gonzalo out of the Party's chain of knowledge and isolated him from the collective discussion and struggle through which the masses' knowledge is synthesized. No one confined under such circumstances could be in a position to correctly sum up the effects of major changes in the situation, and still less to reverse the Party's basic line. Even attempting to do so in the first place would be a step in the wrong ­direction.

Does this experience mean that all revolutions are at the mercy of the fate of their leaders?

If we understand that leaders are a product of the masses and the party, then we can see how difficult it is to produce them, how important they are, and how much they must be cherished and safeguarded from the enemy. The masses and the party cannot do without leaders. The most powerful force in the world is the conscious activism of the masses, and in a society divided into social classes, with all that means for how different people are brought up and trained, we need leaders to unleash that power to the greatest degree possible at every step of the revolutionary struggle. The loss of a leader can be a big blow, there is no doubt. But the fate of the revolution can never be reduced to the role of a single individual, however important.

As the Internationale says, "We want no condescending saviours/To rule us from their judgement hall/We workers ask not for their favours/Let us consult for all." The role of communist leaders enables others to use their heads and assume their responsibilities to the best of their abilities.

Actually, no matter who turns out to be behind the ROL, there have been glorious lessons in Peru regarding this question of leadership. By applying Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, a correct line has been developed and has unleashed a mass uprising. That line has become the property of a great number of masses, especially the most downtrodden and despised of Peru, who have wielded that science and their guns in a way that has served as a beacon to the oppressed of the world and a source of horror to the world's reactionaries. Despite the terrible blows the imperialists have rained down on the Party's leadership, and despite the ROL that is perfidiously seeking to capture the proletariat's fortress from within, at all levels people have come forward, stepping into the breach and accomplishing miracles. Old leaders have stood firm, new leaders are being forged, and the whole Party is undergoing the difficult but heroic process necessary to rise to the occasion.

What is the real situation in Peru now?

There is a material basis for the People's War to continue, especially the conditions created by the People's War itself - a mature Party, with strong ties to the masses, and an aroused people who have seen that another kind of world is possible and have even begun to live in it, in the base areas.

This Party has been able to continue, despite the worst the enemy has been able to throw at it. The People's War has not been defeated militarily. If it is true that the greatest danger to the Party comes from the wrong line, it is also true that the MLM weapon of waging two-line struggle has proven to be very powerful.

The military news has been very encouraging, even though it would be wrong to look only at an abstract count of military actions, as "Senderologists" often do. In the period after Margie Clavo's about-face, and influenced by the reaction's own triumphalism, the ROL was all puffed up and wrongly certain that "the war is coming to an end". Then, starting around mid-1996, imperialist mouthpieces such as The Economist and Newsweek declared, "Sendero is Back", as if the previous period in which there were few spectacular actions in the capital had meant that the PCP had gone away. No matter what the pace of the People's War is at this moment, the most vital question for the future is the progress of the two-line struggle.

ROL documents give a glimpse of frustration and grumbling in the ranks of those who have followed it, especially because the CC has refused to go along as apparently expected and the government has sneered at the idea of negotiating with prisoners who have no army. At the same time, the regime has been releasing some selected ROL followers from prison so that they can step up the struggle against the CC in the shanty towns and on other fronts.

The line we've seen so vociferously advocated by some people abroad, denying the existence of the two-line struggle and crying, "It's all only a hoax", has promoted denial about the real difficulties and dangers the PCP faces. But it also flips into or even coexists with an unwarranted pessimism - denial by day, dread by night.

Our optimism is based on what the comrades and people in Peru have achieved and on the Maoist understanding of the real opportunities the two-line struggle presents to solve problems and move forward on that basis.

Since this two-line struggle emerged within the PCP, what is the role of RIM? Why not let the PCP take care of itself and have RIM concentrate on other matters?

This type of thinking reflects a lack of understanding that the communist movement is an international movement - as opposed to the view that every nation should retreat to its own national tent. It is an extremely favourable factor that RIM exists, because it can concentrate international experience and lend assistance to the Peruvian revolution in this way. Further, at stake in this particular two-line struggle are burning questions that pose themselves in different but not necessarily less urgent ways for many other RIM parties and organizations, both questions specific to oppressed countries such as Peru and also ones of vital significance for proletarian revolution in both the oppressed and oppressor countries. Because of this, we can and must find ways to bring our international strength into play to aid our comrades in this two-line struggle, deepen the understanding of the whole RIM and other Maoist forces on cardinal questions of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and thus turn a bad thing into something that can help push the whole revolutionary movement forward.

Could focusing on this two-line struggle distract from building support for the People's War in Peru?

On the contrary, the struggle against opportunism is essential to the fight against imperialism, and should push this fight forward.

A large and varied number of people all over the world "came to the rescue" in the campaign to Move Heaven and Earth in Defence of the Life of Chairman Gonzalo at a decisive moment. Many of those people and others who have more recently come forward are taking part in RIM's current campaign around the two-line struggle and rally around the defence of the correct line. Once again, our task is to turn a sobering moment into an opportunity to deal blows to the enemy, to answer the questions and concerns of the revolutionary masses, and to seize the time to create a mass school of communism that will help rally and train forces to fight for it.

The experience in a number of countries has been very positive when this matter has been dealt with correctly. The imperialists and reactionaries and their allies would like to spread demoralization and demobilization among the masses and turn back revolutionary efforts, but we have already seen that this two-line struggle can have the opposite effect and give the revolutionary movement new depth, breadth and enthusiasm. The further grasping of the correct Marxist-Leninist-Maoist line will serve as a motor propelling forward the support for the People's War in Peru and help lead to breakthroughs on other fronts of the world revolutionary struggle as well.


1 For example, the editor of El Diario Internacional, Luis Arce Borja, has written, "Of what value could Gonzalo Thought be if its own author would betray it?" ("Trappist Monks Turn into Village Charlatans", 10 May 1995)