By a commentator for Tjen Folket Media.
In the 1990s, an attempt was made to liquidate the people’s war in Peru by a conspiracy between Peru’s intelligence services and the right-opportunist line (ROL) in the Communist Party of Peru. One important element in this sabotage was the claim that Chairman Gonzalo himself had capitulated and that he had given the party orders to lay down their arms.
This is a question that has created confusion and defeatism, even among those who initially supported the people’s war and its leadership.
The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming text on the people’s war in Peru.
Do not accept capitulation from captivity
It must be an inalienable principle for revolutionaries that we will never accept capitulation from our prisoners of war. They cannot capitulate as long as they are in captivity. We must struggle for the principle that so long as somebody is in the hands of the enemy, as long as they are subject to the enemy’s violence, they cannot freely express themselves. At the basis of this principle, we hold that everything that reaches the outside world by means of the hands of the enemy is a lie.
The alternative is that the revolutionary movement must first investigate and conclude relatively reliably whether the prisoner expresses themselves freely or if their statements are forced by means of torture or threats. Such investigations are impossible as long as comrades are completely and fully in the hands of the enemy and particularly if they, like Gonzalo, are placed in isolation.
Furthermore, it is so that if revolutionaries accept capitulation from prison, then this will motivate the enemy to place even more pressure on those arrested. It will motivate the enemy to implement torture and threats to pressure capitulations, because they will then know that the movement will allow itself to become confused, demotivated, or demobilized by such a capitulation. And in particular, it will make it important for the enemy to arrest the foremost leaders if the revolutionary movement is so mindless that it would accept orders from captivity.
In short, a line where one takes capitulations seriously, where one considers their truth and can accept that leaders give orders even if they have fallen into the hands of the enemy, would be an enormous threat not only against the movement, but against each and every person in prison! It will increase the pressure and the scope of torture and threats. The best thing that the movement can do for its imprisoned comrades is to refuse to accept a single word from their mouths, a single letter from their pen, as long as they remain trapped behind the enemy’s bars. And anything else would be a grave and dangerous error.
Some, like Avakian’s RCP in the US, claim that the question of whether or not Gonzalo has capitulated is “not important”. That what is important is “not the person, but the line.” This is an opportunistic dead end. Gonzalo’s last words before he was placed in isolation was that the people’s war must continue until victory and that the flag could never be lowered once it has been raised. When we choose to consider letters and alleged statements from him seriously by addressing the “line” that they contain, this is a break from a revolutionary principle we have in regards to our captured comrades. Just as the French OCML accepts the de facto capitulation, so do they, and behind this acceptance lies a political disagreement. In the first place, they are against Gonzalo Thought and they disagree that Gonzalo is the world’s greatest Maoist, and thereby it is easy to accept capitulation, or to say that “the man is not important, only his line”.
Furthermore, they have nonetheless participated in speculation as to whether the capitulation is genuine or not. They have discussed and problematized and have thereby contributed to confusion and demoralization.
In this context, it can be interesting to look at the Norwegian bourgeois state’s royal decree of 1949, which says the following on how military commands are to be issued in the event of an attack on the country:
An armed attack should be interpreted as an order for full and immediate mobilization across the country if the King (Government) is put out of play by the enemy. Orders issued in the name of the Government to suspend mobilization shall be considered false.Directives for military commanders and military chiefs in the event of an armed attack on Norway [our translation]
The decree does not call for an investigation into the trustworthiness of an order to lay down arms, or to analyze the line. If the leadership is put out of play by the enemy, all orders in the name of the leadership are to be considered false. This was a lesson that the Norwegian bourgeois state learned from the Nazi German invasion and occupation of Norway.
Furthermore, it is widely and generally known that the Peruvian state has used methods of liquidation, kidnappings, and torture against the people’s war. They have persecuted family members and used all kinds of intricate methods to sabotage the people’s war. And in the 1990s, the state intensified its use of the secret service in close collaboration with the CIA.
What revolutionary can, in such a situation, stand upright and accept that Chairman Gonzalo has capitulated? Who can sit in a distant country, far from Peru’s mountains, slums, and deep jungles, and declare that the people’s war in Peru is over and that Chairman Gonzalo himself is responsible for its defeat? Which role does one then play, if one contributes to the confusion and defeatist tone that the enemy so openly wishes for and fosters?
Such revolutionaries, regardless of how honest and well-meaning they may be, betray their most fundamental task. It is correct to demand that revolutionaries consider each and every message from the leadership that the people’s war is canceled as false, as long as they have fallen or ended up in the enemy’s hands. The leadership never dies and when the red flag has first been hoisted, it may never be lowered again.