he value of synthesis for concrete application
“However, these communist leaders did not set out to “synthesize” a “universally applicable theory” on how to wage armed revolution, or forge some “military theory of the international proletariat,” as Kinera claims Gonzalo had done. In fact, these great leaders repeatedly emphasized “concrete analysis of concrete conditions” and carefully applied theory to grapple with the specific characteristics of their own countries and solve concrete problems of their own revolutions.”
When we spoke of letting ‘all the cats’ out of the bag, this is a couple of them. In his reasoning, there is no military theory of the proletariat, nothing universal at all, only specific characteristics and concrete problems. It is staggering. These revolutionary leaders set out to apply the universal of the theory on the specific revolutions they partook in. It is not important if they “set out” to synthesize. The principal aspect is to apply, but in application on the particular, the universal shows it self. At least if applied correctly and with success. All the before mentioned leaders would – at least in words – adhere to the universal laws of armed revolution, and of marxism-leninism in general. They would not pretend they did not. And what makes revolutionary war something different from the rest of the body of marxism-leninism-maoism? Mao stated that the highest form of class struggle is revolutionary war, why should this not have universal laws and principles? How could we agree (if we do?), on universal Leninist principles of Party organization, but deny even the existence of a universal proletarian military theory?
In the last paragraph of the Mao-article quoted by Belisaro, ‘Problems of War and Strategy’, Mao writes:
“But so far only a few people have taken up the study of the problems of strategy and the theory of war. First-rate results have been achieved in the study of our political work, which, in wealth of experience and in the number and quality of its innovations, ranks second only to that of the Soviet Union; here too the shortcoming is insufficient synthesis and systematization.”
Does this sound like a leader that did not set out to synthesize? In the first paragraph of the same text, Mao writes:
“The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds good universally, for China and for all other countries.”
Does this sound like a leader who does not have great regard for what is universal? Mao writes in 1938, that there was shortcomings in the systematization and synthesizing of the period up to 1938. And still, there would be 11 years of people’s war in China, followed by 27 years of socialist construction and cultural revolution, before Mao died. Even the period before 1938 was not yet properly systematized and synthesized in the view of Mao. How could this article be “the final say” in the question we are discussing?
It is not important if Mao set out to systematize the military theory of the proletariat. What is important is that he did this, in theory and in application. And to deny it, like Belisario does, is simply to refuse to learn the lesson of hard fought victories and defeats, insisting on making the same errors over and over again. In its essence, to learn is often to synthesize. Even basic lessons, like “stoves are hot, don’t touch stoves”, comprise of some synthesizing. The likes of Belisario might rage over such focus on universality, insisting that every stove is unique and must be understood in its concrete and particular situation. But most parents would understand the value of systematization and synthesis when you set out to guide concrete application.
On the militarization of the Communist Parties
Belisario goes on and asks:
“What exactly is meant by a “militarized Communist Party”? Does it mean that the principle of democratic centralism, which applies to the essentially civilian and voluntary membership of a CP, will be replaced by a military command structure and its concomitant military law and military discipline?”
If we set out to debate this topic, we would at least read the Communist Party of Peru’s most relevant documents, such as the General Political Line and the five lines it is made up of. There, in the ‘Line of construction’ they write:
“In the First National Conference (November 1979), Chairman Gonzalo expounded the thesis of the necessity of militarizing the Communist Party of Peru; afterward, in the first months of 1980 when the Party was preparing to launch the People’s War, he proposed to develop the militarization of the Party through actions, basing himself on what the great Lenin said about reducing the nonmilitary work in order to center it on the military; that the times of peace were ending and we were entering into the times of war, so that all forces should be militarized. Thus taking the Party as the axis of everything, build the Army around it and with these instruments, with the masses in the People’s War, build the new State around both. That the militarization of the Party can only be carried forward through concrete actions of the class struggle, concrete military-type actions; this does not mean we will only carry out various types of military actions exclusively (guerrilla actions, sabotages, selective annihilation, armed propaganda and agitation) but that we must carry out mainly these forms so as to provide incentive and development to the class struggle, teaching with deeds, with these types of actions as the principal form of struggle in the People’s War.”
In the same line document, they write:
“In its organic structure, the Party is based on democratic centralism, principally centralism. Two armed Party networks are established, the territorial network which encompasses one jurisdiction and the mobile network whose structure is deployed. The organic system is the distribution of forces in function of the principal and secondary points wherever the revolution is acting. Party work is the relationship between secret work, which is principal, and open work; the importance of the five necessities: Democratic centralism, clandestinity, discipline, vigilance and secrecy, particularly democratic centralism.”
To answer then Belisarios question, another sinister one, we might add, militarization does not replace democratic centralism. It is not the first time such “questions” have been raised against the concept of militarization of the Communist Parties. We write our answer here not for Belisario, who probably will continue asking the same questions for the only cause of trying to sow confusion, but for the honest reader.
In the article ‘Lenin and the Militarized Communist Party‘ in the magazine El Maoista, they write:
“As we stated in the introduction, the militarized Communist Party has its foundations in Lenin and Chairman Mao, but it was developed by Chairman Gonzalo and the PCP. Chairman Gonzalo, creatively applying Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to the concrete practice of the Peruvian Revolution, developed, through the glorious and invincible People’s War, the theory and practice of the Communist Party, raising it to a new level, that of the Militarized Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Communist Party and the line of concentric construction of the three instruments of the revolution.”
If Belisario want to write polemics against militarization of the Communist Parties, he should start with this article of the Latin-American comrades. It gives a thorough presentation of the question and on a much more advanced level than we can hope to do any time soon. The Communist Party of Peru applied the concept of the militarized communist party and concentric construction as particularities in the people’s war of Peru, but came to the conclusion that this is a contribution of universal validity. To sum it up, in our best but limited manner, it is to make the communist party a party of and for the people’s war, and secure its dedication to the people’s war and its undivided leadership of the people’s war through the people’s army and the front-new state. The Communist Party of Peru has in its General Political Line presented the six characteristics of the construction of the militarized party; Ideological construction (1), political construction (2), organizational construction (3), the leadership (4), two-line struggle (5) and mass work (6).
Why the strategy of protracted accumulation is wrong
“Kinera rejects the so-called “strategy of protracted legal accumulation to the brink of crisis and revolution” in capitalist countries as an “old strategy,” and chides Sison of being “never tired of the protracted legal accumulation of forces, in wait and want of the cataclysm” of crisis. But he doesn’t produce any arguments that show why such strategy is incorrect.“
We do not agree. There is produced many arguments to show this strategy is incorrect. But we are happy to repeat some, and add some. We must emphasize that this is our own arguments. We do not speak for anyone else, and our errors and shortcomings is our own.
1. This accumulist-legalist strategy has not produced any revolutions for (at least) 80 years, and have not even come close to topple a bourgeois state in this period.
2. People’s war strategy have produced revolutions, and have become major threats to many reactionary states in several continents.
3. The strategy of protracted legal accumulation is in practice identical to the practice of reformist right-opportunists. It does not prepare revolutionary leaders, cadre, activists or masses for grasping political power with revolutionary violence.
4. This strategy paves the way for capitalist work methods of NGOism, bureaucratic work methods of the social democratic labour movement, and reformist work methods of ministerial socialism.
5. The strategy and tactics of people’s war apply to revolutionary warfare in imperialist countries, as we partly (not entirely!) might observe in the war of liberation in Ireland and the Basque Country.
6. In the shining illuminating light of people’s war, as explained by Mao Zedong, we should be able to understand better the experiences of anti fascist resistance during WW2 in Europe – in countries like France and Norway for example, there was protracted armed warfare during nazi occupation and collaboration. It indicate that revolutionary war is possible in industrialized countries with high degrees of control and surveillance.
7. The experiences of armed groups like the KAK, RAF and the Red Brigades proves the possibility of waging armed struggle inside the imperialist countries, even for decades, without being militarily defeated.
8. The experiences of protracted legal work, of accumulation of forces, has led to no revolution. It has led countless parties and organizations into revisionism, reformism or simply dissolvement. Their cadre and sympathizers have been integrated more and more into the old society and even the reactionary state apparatus.
9. We march towards militarized societies. The imperialist countries militarize more and more, the reaction is more militarized.
10. The governments of imperialism develop towards fascism, through corporativism, undermining parliamentarism, growing racism, more police surveillance and state violence.
11. The elections are seen as farcical by the majority of the deepest and broadest masses. Most of them do not have any faith in them.
12. The old social democratic trade unions have lost significant masses of members, the masses does not trust the trade union leaderships.
13. We have entered the epoch of proletarian world revolution and people’s war sweeping away imperialism in the next 50 to 100 years, as stated by Mao.
14. The big and complex develops from the small and simple, and one learns war from waging war. Thus, revolutionary war must be grown from the little to the grand, and revolutionary fighters must learn war by waging war, in a protracted process.
15. As Clausewitz stated in ‘On War’: “The greater and more powerful the motives of a war (…) by so much the nearer will the war approach to its abstract form, so much the more will it be directed to the destruction of the enemy, so much the nearer will the military and political ends coincide, so much the more purely military and less political the war appears to be” and what is a more great and powerful motive of war, than seizing power for the proletariat? This makes more war, more protracted war, and not quicker and more limited war.
On the particular experiences of war and fascism in Europe
Belisario quotes Sison and elaborates:
“Sison explains: “Even if the material foundation for socialism exists in capitalism, the proletariat must first defeat fascism, thus winning the battle for democracy, before socialism can triumph.” He was actually anticipating the convulsions of capitalist crises and the rise of fascism, which impels all proletarian revolutionaries to prepare for future armed conflict even prior to the actual socialist revolution. This was in fact the scenario that led to Communist-led forces waging extensive partisan warfare in Europe during World War II and even earlier during the Spanish Civil War.”
This comparison completely disregards what were the mistakes and successes of the communist movement in this period. Can the success of partisan warfare in Europe be attributed to line of Sison that Belisario promotes, of protracted legal struggle?
The experience of Norway and many other European countries is that the communist parties had disregarded the tasks originally given to them by the Communist International. In its 21 conditions for membership, Comintern demanded in the third condition:
“Under such conditions the communists can place no trust in bourgeois legality. They have the obligation of setting up a parallel organisational apparatus which, at the decisive moment, can assist the party to do its duty to the revolution. In every country where a state of siege or emergency laws deprive the communists of the opportunity of carrying on all their work legally, it is absolutely necessary to combine legal and illegal activity. “
This task was totally neglected by many parties. Instead the widespread legalist practice made the Norwegian and other European communist parties wide open for being smashed by the fascist once they grabbed state power in some countries followed by the occupation of many more. The result was tens of thousands of communists killed, jailed and put in conzentration camps. And it seriously hampered the communist resistance. The protracted legalism of the Communist Party of Norway was fatal.
Belisario and Sison parade the communist resistance and Spanish civil war. If Sison and Belisario sees this situation returning with the rise of fascism, why are they attacking those who want to build communist parties capable of waging wars? If they see guerilla warfare as a tool against fascism, why do they monger fear of the “huge army” overwhelming the people’s army? In fact, their failure to see any lessons is clear. They are not capable to learn that protracted legal struggle led to the arrestations and deaths of communists in Europe during the rise of fascism. That the “huge army” could not smash armed struggle, even in countries were the resistance was relatively weak. That this was even possible when the front line and allied forces was a 1000 km and several years away. With this inability to put the experiences of armed struggle in imperialist countries to use, why do they then claim that it is we who do not concern ourselves with developing strategies based on the particularities of our own countries?
Opposing the military theory of the proletariat under pretext of flexibility
“These are all opportunities for the proletariat to arm itself and seize power when the conditions are ripe, and make the necessary but calibrated or discreet preparations prior. But Kinera doesn’t see the underlying Marxist-Leninist logic. He is singular obsessed with the template of PPW (as “synthesized” by Gonzalo) needing to be implemented now; anything outside the template is branded as revisionism, reformism, or legalism.”
Here, Belisarios argument is that the proponents of protracted people’s war are proponents of people’s war. We are guilty of this claim. We do adhere to the universality of people’s war. It is true we propose this strategy must be implemented now. That is, if it is not waged it needs to be initiated. If it is not initiated it needs to be prepared. If it is not prepared, it needs to be defined. And all our work, all the work of the communists, must be for the people’s war. We do claim this, but we do not claim it dogmatically. We argue the facts, we consider the experience, we propose the synthesis of universal laws based on particularities, experience, analysis and lessons of 200 years of proletarian class struggle. This is not an obsession, but a recognition of necessity.
It is true, we thus discard the accumulationist strategy of protracted legal struggle and preparations for the cataclysmic crisis where objective conditions gives “all opportunities for the proletariat to arm itself and seize power”. We discard this to be a fairy tale fitting hand in glove with revisionism. This was the position of the Communist Parties of Europe, who was mostly smashed in 1940, rebuilt during the war as warfare parties, but then disarmed themselves in 1945 and again turned back to legalism. It has been the position of most of the Marxist-Leninist movement of the 1970-thies, who either have dissolved or degenerated into reformist electoralist parties.
These parties have not made the discreet preparations to seizing power by violence. Not at all in fact. We know them, and we know them quite well. Belisarios claim of Marxist-Leninist logic, is nothing else than what the communists of China exposed in the Great Polemic of the 1960’s, in ‘The Differences Between Comrade Togliatti and Us‘:
“the modern revisionists are opposing Marxism-Leninism (…) under the pretext of flexibility in tactics”
Many activists buys into this. They believe this is what they are doing. They believe they are being flexible and “exploiting” legality by protracted legalism. It is our job not to be arrogant or treat these people with hostility, but to be patient and argue our case. Of course no one will agree with us just because we say they should, or because “Gonzalo said so”. Serious people will demand serious answers, facts and summations. This is what the Communist Party of Peru has given. They have applied the theory of people’s war, as synthesized principally by Mao Zedong, on the people’s war in Peru, and thus proved its universality. As is also being proved in Turkey, India and the Philippines. It is being explained and applied by great maoists, as the Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction).