Communist Party of Peru: “The Problem of the Peasant and the Revolution”

Proletarians of all countries, unite!
There is one goal, the conquest of Power!

THE PROBLEM OF THE PEASANT AND THE REVOLUTION

Communist Party of Peru
August 1976

Red Flag PublicationsReproduced by The Red Flag

THE PROBLEM OF THE PEASANT AND THE REVOLUTION

Article by Chairman Gonzalo in „Red Flag no. 46, August 1976.

1. THE PEASANT PROBLEM AND THE PROBLEM OF POWER

It is especially important and crucial to address the peasant question from the standpoint of how it serves to seize power; and this is what matters for the Party in the end, as the problem of power is the central question of revolution. In this way the class struggle must be led and organized as a whole with the defined goal of taking power, and in this perspective it is fundamental to clarify and resolve the problems that arise. The 5th Plenum of Communist Party of Peru (CPP), when addressing topics such as this one, says:

The problem of power as a central issue, the People’s War as a realization of revolutionary violence, the conditions under which a Party develops in a country such as ours and the importance of peasant labour as the basis of the People’s War are, perhaps, substantial issues of our line, which we must always bear in mind and which today, while we promote the reconstitution of the Party will be put increasingly on the table and have an impact on the political line and its application.“

Thus, the importance of addressing a topic such as the peasant problem is prevalent: after all, the development of the peasant movement by means of armed struggle is now the crux of the problem of power.

The great teachers of the proletariat laid the basic questions about the issue. Marx puts it aptly in a letter to Engels:

The whole course of events in Germany will depend on the ability to assist the proletarian revolution by a ‚second edition‘, meaning the peasant war.“

Lenin reaffirms this idea, discussing the Russian Revolution:

The proletariat must carry to completion the democratic revolution, by allying itself to the peasantry masses in order to crush by force the resistance of the autocracy and to paralyze the instability of the bourgeoisie.“

He affirms in a report to the 3rd Congress of the International:

The movement progresses, and the working masses, the peasants of the colonies, despite the fact that they are still backward, will play a very great revolutionary role in the successive phases of the world revolution.“

And finally Mao Tse-tung, who reached a very deep understanding of the role of the peasant movement, states:

The current rise of the peasant movement is a great event. Soon, hundreds of millions of farmers in the provinces of Central, South and North China will rise like a storm, a hurricane, with such an impetuous and violent force that nothing, however powerful, will be able to contain it. They shall break all obstacles and shall throw themselves onto the path of liberation. They shall bury all the imperialists, warlords, military, corrupt officials, local tyrants and ‚shenshi‘ wicked. All Parties and revolutionary comrades will be subjected to a test before the peasants and shall have to decide which side to take. To march at their head and lead them?Stay at the rear gesticulating and criticizing them? To stand in their way and fight them? Every Chinese is free to choose between these three alternatives, only that events will force him to choose quickly.“

Mariátegui, the founder of the Party, defined the basic problem in the General Political Line. Speaking of the indigenous peasants, he said: „The indigenous hope is absolutely revolutionary“ and reminded the CPP that in order to organize workers and peasants with a class character, and to „stimulate first and afterwards perform the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution“, or to lead the agrarian revolution.

To get back on Mariategui’s path, the CPP has been raising its understanding of this important issue. So says the editorial of „Red Flag“ no. 41:

Without revolutionary work among the peasant masses, this is politically guided by Marxism-Leninism, led by the Communist Party, there can be no development of the armed forces nor may there be People’s War, in conclusion there can be no national liberation, nor, for that reason, destruction of imperialist and feudal exploitation.“

2. THE PEASANT MOVEMENT AND THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION

The peasant struggle for land, which is an anti-feudal struggle, organises the basis for the democratic-national revolution; this follows from the general laws of the class struggle of our revolution, laws codified by Mariátegui as the General Political Line. Our society has a semi-colonial and semi-feudal character, where the Peruvian people suffer exploitation and oppression of imperialism, the feudal landlords and bureaucratic capitalism; this is where the need to overthrow these classes and sweep their dominion is born, this is what the current stage of the revolution calls for, its content is bourgeois-democratic, which does not pit itself against the entire bourgeoisie but only against a part of it, the bureaucratic bourgeoisie as well as fighting the feudal landlords and imperialism.

We emphasize the role of bureaucratic capitalism, which through its development matures the final conditions for the triumph of the national-democratic revolution. Mao teaches us that this monopolistic capital associated with State power, as well as subject to and closely linked to imperialism and to the landlords forms a monopolistic, comprador and feudal state monopoly capital. In this manner it reaches the peak of its development and prepares „sufficient material conditions for the New Democratic Revolution“, leaving the task of „confiscating the land of the feudal class and giving it into the hands of the peasants“ and „seizing monopolists’ capital“. In our country, this bureaucratic capitalism increasingly deepens and employs the state monopoly capital as the lever of the economy, seeking to amass huge amounts of capital and to monopolize the vital arteries of the economy. All of which leads inevitably to the same conclusions that were made by Mao Tse-tung on the topics of National-Democratic Revolution and Peasant War. To analyze the Chinese Revolution, Mao Tse-tung established the extent at which the deeply linked to one another peasant problem and the problem of war are absolute conditions of a bourgeois democratic revolution:

Thus, the bourgeois-democratic revolution in China has two main characteristics: 1) the proletariat either establishes a revolutionary national united front with the bourgeoisie, or breaks it when it feels obliged to, and 2) armed struggle is the main form of revolution. We do not consider here the relationship between the Party and the peasantry and its relationship with the urban petty bourgeoisie as a fundamental characteristic because first, these relationships are in principle the same with all the Communist Parties of the world, and second, in China, when we talk about armed struggle, we mean at the bottom of the peasant war and the close relationship of the Party with the peasant war and its relationship with the peasantry being one and the same thing.“

It is thus clear that the armed struggle that we have to carry out is an agrarian revolution, which shall be made by peasants under the leadership of the proletariat; which constitutes a constant, the natural environment of the revolution.If the war has not yet been brought into motion, everything must serve to prepare it, and, once it starts, everything must serve to develop it.

The worker-peasant alliance. Mariátegui has taught us:

The strength of the revolution always resided in the alliance of agrarian land and labour, it is the worker and peasant masses.“

In agreement with this, workers and peasants will form the basic masses of the revolution, once they are mobilized and organized, the exploiters be overthrown and the revolution will triumph. Based on the alliance of millions of workers and peasants, it will also be possible to unite the urban petty bourgeoisie and, under certain conditions, the national bourgeoisie.

The peasantry is the most numerous and most oppressed class, and over it weigh heavy chains of the semi-feudal system, and therefore it is a formidable force. In the words of our founder:

The Indian, so easily crippled by submission and cowardice, has not ceased to rebel against the semi-feudal regime that oppresses him under the republic as much as under the colony.“

Supporting peasants in their struggle for land brings us to gain the greatest ally for the proletariat and in this way organise powerful fighting forces. The peasantry turns out to be the main force of the national-democratic revolution and the best ally of the proletariat.

The proletariat, the most advanced class in history has the urgent duty to lead the peasantry.Mariátegui fully synthesizes this problem in the preface to „The Amauta Atusparia“:

Farmers’ claims did not succeed against feudalism in Europe, since they were not being expressed but rather in the ‚jacqueries‘. They succeeded with bourgeois liberal revolution that transformed them into a program. In our Spanish America, still semi-feudal, the bourgeoisie has been unable or unwilling to carry out the tasks of the liquidation of feudalism. The following descendants of Spanish settlers had been unable to take over the claims of the peasant masses. This task consists of nearing to socialism. The socialist doctrine is the only one that can give a modern sense, constructive, to the cause of the Indigenous peoples, which, located in its true social and economic fields, and raised to the level of a creative and realistic policy, seeks to carry out the task with the will and the discipline of a class that, even today, makes its appearance in our historical process: the proletariat.“

Giving proletarian leadership to the peasantry is the essence of the worker-peasant alliance, which means smelting the Party with the peasantry and their struggles, give proletarian conception to peasants, win over activists from among them and build the Party in the field. In concrete terms: mobilising, organising and arming the peasantry under the leadership of the working class represented by its Party, the Communist Party.

3. THE STRUGGLE FOR THE LAND

The bureaucratic path. Throughout centuries, feudal oppression has manifested itself in the fact that ownership of the land is concentrated in in the hands of a few landlords in such that millions of peasants cannot take ownership of land, or if they do, the land is very little. As such, facing this gigantesque concentration of land, misused cruelly by the feudal class, a system of serfdom, which under different modes (free labor, wages in cash…), allows the class of feudal landlords to live like a parasite in all luxury at the expense of limitless misery and oppression of the peasant, therefore sinking our people in backwardness and hunger. As such, big landownership and serfdom are maintained throughout the centuries as pillars of social, political and economic organization of Peru.

The economy of landlordship is developed though a very slow and prolonged process towards a capitalist form, which follows the bureaucratic path that consists of introducing techniques and capitalist modalities that maintain the grand agrarian property and safeguards the power of the class of the landlords. In this way, the economy of landlordship has developed internally and instead of liberating the peasant, takes advantage to the maximum of the exploitation of free labor and other feudal modalities to guarantee an accelerated accumulation of capitals. The peasant suffers painfully from this large process of transformation, which absorbs his work and his goods, and he finds himself stripped off his little land, and he is even chased outside the field. Landlordship and serfdom are maintained and shadowed under new names, linking themselves more closely to bureaucratic capitalism and State Power.

Mariátegui explains this process in the following words:

Capitalism, as an economic and political system, manifests itself in Latin America, as incapable of forming an economy that would be emancipated from feudal defects. The prejudice of the inferiority of the indigenous race, grants to capitalism the maximal exploitation of the indigenous race’s labor; and is not willing to renounce this privilege, from which many profits are obtained. In agriculture, the establishments of the wage earner, the adoption of machines don’t efface the feudal character of the big property. They perfect, simply, the system of exploitation of the land and the masses of peasants.“

The peasant problem cannot be detached from the national problem. Mariátegui has already told us: The problem of the Indians is not the problem of three-quarters of the population of Peru. It is the problem of the majority. It is the problem of nationality.“ The struggle against imperialism has its livelihood in the struggles of the peasantry, in the semi-feudal struggle. Detaching the two would be to fall in a false rationalism.

„The land belongs to those who work it.“ The founder of our Party, in „Outline of the Indigenous Problem” says:

The struggle of the Indians against the landlords has always rested invariably in the defense of their land against absorption and dispossession. Therefore, an instinctive and profound indigenous claim exists: the claim to the land. To give an organized, systematic and defined character to this claim is the task that we must actively fulfill.“

Mariátegui thus summarizes hundreds of years of peasant struggle; as well as the necessity to channel this peasant aspiration of „the land belongs to those who work it“, therefore only the proletariat organizing with the peasant in the struggle for the land will have a good result. The transfer of the land to the peasant after crushing the class of landowners and its state will permit the erasure of serfdom forever, emancipating thus the peasant from the feudal agrarian relations. With the peasant way in agriculture, the perceptive of a capitalist growth emerges in the best of possible conditions for the peasant. It is in the second phase of the revolution, the socialist phase that these capitalist relations are limited and restricted to give way for the collectivization of the field. As such, as a part of the democratic way, the peasants push for an agrarian reform, which would liquidate feudalism; this reform means:

Destruction of big landownership, and its repartition to the peasants. Confiscation or „expropriation without compensation“. Execution by force, for the peasants’ war, for the people’s power.

4. THE PEOPLE‘S WAR IS THE PEASANTS‘ WAR

War is an absolute necessity for the realization of our revolution. Mariátegui has instilled this Marxist-Leninist principle of universal validity in the CPP and in the Peruvian proletariat in the following words: „Power is conquered with violence […] Power is maintained only through dictatorship.“ To train the vast masses to the use of revolutionary violence is key to achieving the liberation of our people, and this is even more urgent in a country lagging behind, that finds itself a semi-feudal and semi-colonial condition like ours.

War is the main form of struggle. The victory of the proletariat and of the people over their enemies is the inevitable future. The current situation of the weakness of the people and the power of the enemy is merely apparent and temporal, thus seeing things in their whole, the reaction is nothing more than a „paper tiger“, while the people are an iron wall, the people are invincible. This concept of Mao Tse-tung is fundamental for the certainty of victory in the struggle, according to his own words:

The enemy has a fragile basis, it is disintegrating internally, it is separated from the people and submerged in inextricably economic crises and therefore can be defeated“, and at the same time „the masses, the millions and millions of men who support in all sincerity the revolution. This is the real iron wall that no force can break“. Fearing the enemy as if they were omnipotent is right-leaning that halts action. In their fear of the enemy, some will come to say: „Fascism is the destruction of the people’s movement and its organizations“ and they will opt for occultism, in the name of „doing the withdrawal“ or „being made illegal“.

The reactionaries have a great army but their economy finds itself in big contradictions and it undertakes a serious economic, political and ideological crisis. The enemy’s strength lies in a weakness, but this weakness does not show itself overnight. Likewise, the masses are huge and strong, but their weakness consists in the fact that they are not mobilized and organized.

It is necessary therefore to undertake a prolonged war, a war until death until we destroy the enemy part by part. This way and only this way, through a long process of turns and returns, the weakness of the enemy will be rendered evident and the strength of the people will be overwhelming.

The proletariat must forge and train in the middle of the war, they must organize and mobilize all the people, mainly the peasant according to this from of struggle. The fact of being in a semi-feudal semi-colonial country, in which the vast fields are shackled in feudal oppression, without liberty nor political rights, determines that the armed revolution has to come to face with the counter-revolution if the former wants to advance.

Mao Tse-tung has summarized this great truth, which valid for all the countries lagging behind, and which are of a tremendous value for building a Communist Party in these countries:

In China, the main form of struggle is war, and the main form of organization is the army. All the other forms, like the organizations of struggle and the popular masses are also important and absolutely indispensable, and under no mode they must be left aside, but the objective of all of those is to serve the war. Before the outbreak of the war, all the organizations and struggles must have as their objective to prepare for it, […] After the outbreak of the war, all the organizations and struggles must coordinate in direct and indirect ways with the war.“

It does not suit us to engage in a long period of preparation and legality before unleashing the war as in a capitalist country. It is in the midst of war that we will gain the people and we will destroy the enemy, part by part.

Mariátegui has analyzed the role of the peasant in the revolution and sustained the necessity of arming the workers and the peasants in order to gain their claims, the first of which is the land. He remarked „the armed action of the peasant masses“ in Mexico and that there „the rebellion propagated in a fast way“ even though it had no plan: „its first concrete claim was the claim to the land taken by the landlords“. („Themes of our America“). And he pointed out that it deals with a democratic-bourgeois revolution, which will only advance if the proletariat leads it. Otherwise, the revolution will march „backwards“. The hegemony of the proletariat in the national-democratic revolution, once aligned with the right path, is measured by the influence it exercises on the peasant movement. The Party must be concerned with the mobilization of the peasant and the organization of the peasant as a powerful force in the combat.

The path of the revolution is from the countryside to the city. Mariátegui has taught this path when he said:

With feudalist landlordship broken, urban capitalism will lack in forces to resist to the growing working class.“ This path consists of encircling the cities from the countryside, to finish taking the cities. This way, advantage can be taken from the fact that the enemy is weak and that he has reduced forces in the fields and therefore the vast peasant masses are the main contingent in this war.

The revolution must develop its forces by primarily occupying large rural zones and once it is strengthened in the fields, it must go on to seize cities where the armed forces of the reactionaries are concentrated. This path of the revolution in the countries lagging behind has been systematized by Mao Tse-tung, who with his profound teachings, provides a valuable weapon for our own revolution:

Given the fact that the powerful imperialists and their allied Chinese reactionaries are for a long time entrenched in the main cities of our country, revolutionary detachments , if they refuse to compromise with imperialism and its watch dogs and if they want to preserve the struggle, if they want to accumulate forces, to loosen up and avoid, while they don’t have sufficient power, a decisive battle with the powerful enemy; they have to transform the rural zones lagging behind to advanced and solid basis of support, they have to transform them to big military, economic and cultural bastions of the revolution, from which to fight the fierce enemy, who attacks the rural zones using the cities, and taking the revolution step by step to complete victory through an extended struggle.“

We will not win over the peasantry immediately. Firstly we will build base areas in large areas and from them we will develop the People’s War. We will build a support base required to annihilate the enemy forces, mobilize the peasant masses and develop our own armed forces. In these support bases the people’s power rises and land reform is carried out. The problem of support bases is cardinal for the development of People’s War.

Party building and it’s work in the field should be aimed at converting the peasant struggle to the armed struggle. In its overview of the revolutionary work it is required for the Party to be built in the countryside, where it has it’s main weight. The Party must adequately recognize the economic and political situation of the countryside and using Marxism-Leninism must investigate classes there to define who are the friends and who are the enemies.

The Party must go to the poorest and take root among them, mobilizing and organizing the masses in their struggle for land, this work imperceptibly leads to the armed struggle, and we should be leading this fight because toppling the reactionary power a region establishes the people’s power. This is how the Party carries itself with the problems of establishing support bases, advancing in the ideological, political, organizational and military aspects. Finally, we must make the agrarian reform, confiscating the land of the feudal landlords and distributing it to the peasants.

Mariátegui was always concerned about the construction of the CPP in the countryside. While speaking about a peasant activist of that time, he said:

The ‚new Indian‘ hopes. He has a goal. That is his secret and strength […] Urviola represents the first spark of fire that is to come. It was the Indian revolutionary, the socialist Indian […] today, the highland is full of spartans.“

Another important problem of warfare is the People’s Army which is the main form of organization and one of the three instruments of the revolution. Mariátegui defines the role of this military of a new type and says:

The Red Army is a new occurrence in the military history of the world. It is an army that feels its role as a revolutionary army and does not forget that its purpose is to defend the revolution.“ And, highlighting the guerrillas, he said that „the same form of body, class, existed between the Montoneras and the worker and peasant masses. Montoneras were simply the most active, warlike and dynamic part of the masses.“ The problem of war and its general laws should be studied thoroughly by the entire Party to resolutely fulfill the role that the history has shows us.

5. THE ROAD OF THE REACTION

In our country the reaction develops a bureaucratic path that essentially unfolds the imperialist and feudal rule, and on these two pillars bureaucratic capitalism develops.

From the beginning, it has found itself with the firm opposition among the people, and it has presented itself as a difficult task to advance. In the ‘60s, the peasantry rose up and dragged the entire people to a revolutionary upsurge that has put serious strain on the reaction and questioned its power. Hence the reaction came to two conclusions: 1) deepen bureaucratic capitalism and 2) corporatize Peruvian society.

In the spirit of those events, the fascist regime arose with a preventive plan oriented to crush the People’s War. One of the key measures that it gave was the agrarian law that consists of maintenance and development of large estates based on new forms of free labor. It is the bureaucratic way in the countryside and not the „socialization“ as they say.

Given the difficulties that these measures encountered due to the opposition of the peasantry, general corporate readjustment was undertaken two years ago by the fascist regime, to secure its objectives through „bring capitalism to the countryside“, and through a frantic exploitation of the peasants to achieve their cherished „accelerated accumulation of capital“. In the 7th anniversary of the Land Law (June 1976), the agriculture minister announced that „all institutions, both public and private sectors, should attend this great mobilization to transform the Peruvian countryside in the fastest and most powerful path which will be a step towards developing our country“.

Actually, with these measures of bureaucratic capitalism in the countryside, the path towards the revolution will be made. Engels had made this problem clear long time ago: „Transformation of all the small rural house owners into industrial domestic workers; the destruction of the old isolation and with it the destruction of the political insignificance of the small peasants who would be dragged into the ‚social whirlpool‘; the extension of the industrial revolution over the rural areas and thus the transformation of the most stable and conservative class of the population into a revolutionary hotbed; and, as the culmination of the whole process, the expropriation by machinery of the peasants engaged in home industry, driving them forcibly into insurrection.“

6. THE ROAD OF THE PEOPLE

The Peruvian people have a unique way towards liberation, this is the path of Mariátegui. This road tells us about the urgency of knowing that the national-democratic revolution will go forward only if we use „rifles, programme and doctrine“ as Mariátegui literally said, what is now known as the three instruments of the revolution: Party, Army and the United Front.

Currently, the main trend of the development of the masses is that in which the free people increase their struggles and develop all aspects of life: ideological, political and organizational. The deepest and the most backward masses of the country live through this situation intensely, with discontent spreading in them as they prepare to unleash great revolutionary storms.

This foremost tendency necessarily lead to a rise of the masses.Let us recall the experience of the ‘60s: the rise of the masses firstly means the rise of the peasantry, at that time the peasants took the land and, unknown to the courts, came the violent confrontation with the reaction. Certainly we live in such a situation that, as Mao Tse-tung said: „A single spark can start a prairie fire“, in which all contradictions are sharpened and the most sound people appear out a colossal and self-powered mass.

Mariátegui masterfully analyzes a situation similar to ours, that of Mexico in the moments before its revolution:

But the people that have fought so persistently for their right for the possession of the land, could not bring themselves to this feudal regime and give up their claims. In addition to the growth of the factories it created an industrial proletariat to which the foreign immigration brought the pollen of new social ideas. A new core of unionists and socialists appeared. And, above all, it created the sour revolutionary mood in the countryside. A leader, a skirmish, anything could burn the country.“

In this intense situation, the CPP was driven towards reconstitution and merging with the masses, mainly peasants. Let us conclude with the full confidence in these wise words of Mao Tse-tung:

The correctness or incorrectness of the ideological and political line decides everything. If the Party’s line is correct, we have everything. If we don’t have men, we will have them; if we don’t have guns, we will get them; and if we don’t have power, we will conquer it. If the line is incorrect, we will lose what we have already achieved.“