On the 80th anniversary of the birth of José Carlos Mariátegui and 47 years from its founding, the Communist Party pays homage to its great founder and guide by calling upon its militants, upon the working class and the people of our country to obey the call of our times and prepare ourselves to occupy our place in history, LET US RETAKE MARIATEGUI AND RECONSTITUTE HIS PARTY!
I. THE CLASS STRUGGLE GENERATED MARIATEGUI’S THOUGHT.
Mariátegui’s Thought, the political expression of the Peruvian working class, was forged and developed amidst the class struggle and not outside it; thus, to understand it well, it must necessarily be linked to the struggles internationally and in our country.
The global class struggle. Mariátegui lived at a time when imperialism, according to his words, was experiencing the “capitalism of the monopolies, of finance capital, of the imperialist wars to control markets and sources of raw materials.” He lived, then, and fought, when capitalism was agonizing and the class struggle was empowering the proletariat to conquer power through revolutionary violence.
From 1914 to 1918 the world was shaken by World War I, the “imperialist predatory war” which, supported by the treacherous old revisionism, launched the working classes and the peoples of some powers against those of others, so as to re-divide the world for the imperialist powers and their monopolist bourgeoisie.
However as Lenin foresaw, the war hatched the revolution and in 1917 the Bolshevik Party, through armed insurrection, overthrew the power of tsarism in old Russia. With the October Revolution a new world era opened up, for the construction of socialism under the dictatorship of the proletariat led by the Communist Party. Fulfilling the scientific projections of Marx and Engels, the October Road set the general norms for the emancipation of the working class: the need for a Communist Party leading the revolution, the need for revolutionary violence to overthrow the old established order and the need to install the dictatorship of the proletariat to build socialism and march towards the classless society of the future. What Marx and Engels taught, in a word Marxism, materialized into an undeniable reality.
The October Revolution impacted throughout the world. Europe was shaken to its foundations and the proletariat launched itself to conquer power; the struggles in Germany, Italy and Hungary are examples which Mariátegui himself popularized in his History of the World Crisis, but while the masses were ripe for revolution there was a lack of the necessary communist parties to lead them and instead fascism was generated. The October Revolution not only changed the face of Europe, the colonial anti-imperialist movement was inspired by it; the East was convulsed by the Chinese Revolution, “the most extensive and profound sign of the awakening of Asia”, and our own America developed its anti-imperialist maturity. The working class generated its own communist parties and acquired political weight.
Ideologically, the crisis of bourgeois thought became more critical while within the global working class movement, revisionist opportunism was swept away, revolutionary syndicalism was improved and Marxism progressed to a new stage, that of Marxism-Leninism.
Mariátegui lived through this process directly as a working class fighter, he followed and analyzed the world class struggle to understand the revolution in our country. His accurate foresight is in the following words: “The class struggle fills the first plane of the world crisis”; “the most relevant events of the last quarter of a century surpassed all limits. Its stage has been the five continents”; “the dictatorship of the proletariat, by definition is not a dictatorship of a party but a dictatorship of the working class”; “Marxism-Leninism is the revolutionary method of the imperialist stage.”
a) Class development and struggle in Peruvian society. Modern industry was developed in Peru from 1895 and completed in the decade of the 1920’s, a decade demarcating the impetus of bureaucratic capitalism under Yankee domination. This industrialization took place in a semi-feudal society whose economy developed increasingly subjected to North American imperialism, which displaced English domination. That way bureaucratic capitalism implies development of our semi-colonial condition and underscores the entire development of Peruvian society. This understanding is vital to interpret the Peruvian class struggle in the 20th century.
In the former context, the Peruvian proletariat grew not just in numbers; the development of mining, textiles and other branches of industry gave it a progressively more important place. In synthesis, it implied the appearance of a new class and a precise goal. Our proletariat fought from the onset for salary increases, to reduce the work day and for other better living conditions, and generated a workers’ movement which under a trade unionist line created unions in struggle against anarcho-syndicalism until the creation of the General Confederation of Workers of Peru, a task precisely carried out under the leadership of Mariátegui. Even more, the struggle of the working class determined the founding of its Party, along with the acts and works of Mariátegui; in that way the Peruvian proletariat matured, conforming itself as an independent political party and having as its goal the “economic emancipation of the working class”, initiating a new stage in the country, that of the democratic national revolution led by the proletariat through its Party.
The peasantry, continuing its old struggles, also fought hard for “land to the tillers”; they defended their lands against usurpation by feudal landowners and monopolist enterprises and their struggle, continuing and persistent, faced the “armed response” by the Peruvian State and its repressive bodies. We witness their fighting spirit in the great actions of the first two decades of this century, particularly in Puno. The petty bourgeoisie, for instance employees and students, also fought against their enemies; this just struggle and organization of employees for demands, such as the university reform, are examples of the widespread struggle by the people.
In the exploiters’ camp the legal civil authorities, the expression of the “comprador bourgeoisie” at the service of Yankee imperialism, assumed power and became the axis of the economical process, displacing the “landowning aristocracy” which was more linked to England. Legalism implied remodeling Peruvian society and politics according to demo-liberal models, as can be seen in the constitutional ordering and legislation, e.g. the 1920 educational law and other measures. That way the Peruvian bourgeoisie which had emerged in the mid 19th century became a comprador bourgeoisie and axis of Peruvian social progress and leaders of the exploiting classes in the country.
The former was reflected in the ideological field. On one hand the ruling bourgeoisie struck at the system of ideas of the ruling landowners, one of whose expressions was the Villaran-Deustua dispute in the educational field early in the century; criticism was always moderate and lukewarm, also as a propagation of the North American model. But while this happened in the exploiters’ camp, in the midst of the people and mainly as a result of the working class, a system of democratic ideas was maturing which slowly set itself as an understanding of our society from the proletariat’s viewpoint, precisely through the theory and practice of José Carlos Mariátegui, who reflected and systematized all these thirty odd years in Peruvian life and was able to do it through his direct and arduous participation in the class struggle.
b) Mariátegui’s Thought is the political expression of Peruvian class struggle. The life of Mariátegui has a clear and precise trajectory as a man of the new type, an “actor and thinker,” of a life which matured rather than changed, as he himself said, from “a declared and energetic ambition: that of attending to the creation of Peruvian socialism.” In his 35 years of existence, in 1918 “nauseated by Creole politics”, he said, “I oriented myself resolutely towards socialism” fighting for the working class; and returning from Europe where, unlike many, he felt and became more Peruvian, working ceaselessly to propagate Marxism-Leninism, organizing the masses, especially workers and peasants, and crowned his work by founding the Communist Party.
José Carlos Mariátegui was a fighter of the working class, a main actor of the Peruvian proletariat who in theory and in practice, with words and actions, grew and developed in the heat of the class struggle, mainly in our country; a proletarian militant who firmly adhered to Marxism and fused it with the concrete conditions of our revolutionary process, becoming the crowning point and synthesis of the Peruvian class struggle, in the political expression of our country’s proletariat, who summarized more than 30 years of class struggle by our working class and our people.
In short, Mariátegui is a product of the class struggle, mainly that waged by the proletariat of which he is the highest political expression.
II. MARIATEGUI A “CONVINCED AND CONFESSED” MARXIST-LENINIST
More than 30 years ago enemies tried to deny the Marxist-Leninist position of Mariátegui and that campaign has increased by the end of the 1960’s and continues to be fueled openly or covertly today. To deny his Marxist condition is to deprive his work and actions of any basis, for the purpose of undermining the struggle of the proletariat, destroy its Party and fetter the revolution. Therefore the political question is important, to reaffirm and clarify, again, the Marxist-Leninist position of Mariátegui whom, let us recall, declared himself to be so “convinced and confessed.”
How to respond to those impugning him? There is only one road, and it is known: to see the position of Mariátegui in Marxist philosophy, political economy and scientific socialism; that is, to remember his theses about the three parts of Marxism because, by seeing clearly his position on these basic questions, the Marxist basis of the founder of the Communist Party will be understood.
a) Mariátegui and Marxist philosophy. He starts out with each society generating its own philosophy; in his words: “each civilization has its own intuition of the world, its own philosophy, its own mental attitude which constitutes its essence, its soul … ideas originate in reality and later on influence it, modifying it.” Thus, philosophy is a social product, it cannot be understood outside the material base generating it, but it also reacts upon that base. He conceives that the philosophical process confronts materialism or idealism and highlights the materialist basis of Marx and, that way, the materialist basis sustaining Marxism. But that is not all, to Mariátegui, as with the classics, philosophy has a class character, it is an instrument of the class struggle to conquer power or to defend what has been conquered. Even more, he conceives that philosophy follows the direction of the class generating it; that way bourgeois philosophy by necessity follows the road and development of the bourgeoisie. And, as result, to him philosophy is product of social practice.
He considers Marxist philosophy to be the product of a long development, the culmination of classical German philosophy, mainly Hegel’s; he accurately points out: “but this affiliation does not imply any servitude by Marxism to Hegel or his philosophy which, according to the well known sentence, Marx set right-side up … Marx’s materialist conception is born, dialectically, as the antithesis of Hegel’s idealist conception.” But even reiterating many times the dialectical character of Marxist philosophy, it impinges upon the essential of dialectics as the unity and struggle of opposites without falling into mechanistic pitfalls, clearly establishing, for example, the relationship between base and superstructure, that whether one or the other will be the main aspect depends of the concrete conditions. The astute use of dialectics is, precisely, one of the hallmarks of the theory and practice of Mariátegui.
Particularly important is his position regarding historical materialism which, by the scientific development it implies, he holds to be “a method of historical interpretation of today’s society”; and his proposition conceiving the base, the support of all society, as a set of social relations of production, with the superstructure as integrated by institutions and organizations in a legal and statutory order, a superstructure culminating in a system of ideas, is key. There we see the accurate description of base and superstructure which is the same as Engels’. He considers man not as an unvarying nature but as the product of social relations and therefore historically generated in social practice, especially molded by the class struggle, as he establishes by referring to the working class. He also establishes an indivisible unity between determinism and free will, a capacity to act as a trail blazer fulfilling the necessary laws of history; therefrom his expressive words: “history wants for each one to fulfill, with maximum action, his own role. So there is no victory except for those capable of earning it with their own resources, in inexorable combat.”
Finally, speaking of human beings, whom he considers as the most valuable thing on Earth and the main thing in every economic process, and when grouped in multitudes, in masses, are the great force of history; and that the masses reflected in the working class, are mobilized towards a goal, towards a modern myth, in his own words: “The proletariat has a myth: social revolution. Towards that myth it moves with a warm and active faith.”
Aren’t these basic proposals, perhaps, theses proposed by the classics of Marxism? And aren’t these the foundation of Mariátegui’s philosophical position? And isn’t this dialectical materialism, isn’t this Marxist philosophy? In conclusion, Mariátegui sustained himself in Marxist philosophy, to which he arrived through his direct participation in the class struggle and we find his philosophical theses, as with all great Marxists, when we judge and resolve the complex problems of the class struggle. Whomever wants to see it as abstract meditation or academic work will not find philosophy in Mariátegui, but it will be found by whomever seeks it as a weapon in the class struggle used to discover the laws of our revolution and politics guiding our people.
b) Mariátegui and political economy. He begins by relating economy and politics, aiming to establish the economic basis, teaching: “it is not possible to understand Peruvian reality without seeking and looking at the economic facts,” “the economic fact entails, equally, the key to all other phases of the history of the Republic” and “economics does not explain, probably, the totality of a phenomenon and its consequences. But it explains its roots.” He conceives economics, the social relations of exploitation, as root of the political processes; but he sees the economy of a country within the international economic system, not as an isolated thing. From that viewpoint, he analyzes economics in its political function to find the laws governing the class struggle in a country; a task especially carried out in our country by analyzing the direction historically followed by our economy, the agrarian production relations, industrialization and other economic terms, all with one goal: to establish the general laws of the Peruvian revolution.
Imperialism merited special attention according to Mariátegui; but aside from its economic character he emphasized its reactionary political character, pointing out that once “the stage of monopolies and imperialism arrives, the entire liberal ideology corresponding to the free competition stage is no longer valid.” This great thesis is identical to that proposed by Lenin. Concerning imperialism, he also emphasized the sharpening of the economic crises: “All this leads us to believe that during this stage of monopoly, trustification and finance capital, crises will show up with greater violence”; crises he considered as inherent to the system and not attributable to transient problems, just as today it would be an increase in the price of oil which at most acts as a triggering factor.
He similarly conceived the inter-imperialist clash for the expansion of markets, saying; “The great capitalist states have entered, fatally and inevitably, into the phase of imperialism. The struggle for markets and raw materials does not allow them any Christian fraternization. Inexorably, it impels them to expansion”; and underscoring even more the contention among powers: “besides the acting empires we have, therefore, embryonic empires. Side by side with the old empires, the young imperialisms oppose world peace. These show more aggressive and odious language than the former ones.”
Extraordinary words whose importance is greater if we consider the current contention between the superpowers, imperialist and social-imperialist, and their ostensible policy of disarmament and detensioning in the light of these other ones: “Limiting naval weaponry, discussed at Geneva, may seem to more than one pacifist as a step towards disarmament. But historical experience shows us in an unforgettable manner how after many such steps the world would still be closer than ever to war.” These theses about imperialism are, besides brilliant, very timely.
But economic matters do not end here. He also analyzed the economy of the underdeveloped nations; he astutely analyzed the semi-feudal and semi-colonial condition of the Latin America countries, especially ours. He showed how industrialization in the backwards nations is tied to and develops as a function of the imperialist powers, in the case of Peru Yankee imperialism. He saw clearly how imperialism does not allow the backwards nations to develop a national economy nor independent industrialization; how on top of their semi-feudal base monopoly capitalism is installed, linked to the feudal landowners and generating a “mercantile bourgeoisie,” a bourgeoisie controlled by imperialism for which it is the intermediate plunderer of national resources and the exploiters of the people. And he set forth the following thesis, which we must not forget, about the Latin American republics: “The economic condition of these republics is, without a doubt, semi-colonial; and to the same degree that capitalism grows, and consequently imperialist penetration, this aspect of their economy must grow even more acute.” Have these theses been fulfilled? Even the most superfluous look at America factually corroborates the semi-colonial domination exerted by Yankee imperialism. For the rest, Mariátegui’s theses on capitalism in the backward nations must be understood in relation with those of Mao Tse-tung, about bureaucratic capitalism and appreciate them taking into account the specific conditions of Latin America.
In treating the economy of the backward nations, he also emphasized the imperialist plans following World War I to unload their problems upon them, promoting the development of their backward economies to suit the economic and political needs of the imperialist powers. The question arises, aren’t we seeing something similar today after World War II? Let’s keep in mind, however, that those plans crashed and will crash against the national movement, since as Mariátegui observed, they “try to reorganize and expand the economic exploitation of the colonial countries, of the incompletely evolved countries, of the primitive countries of Africa, Asia, America, Oceania and Europe itself… So that the less civilized part of humanity toil for the more civilized part… But their plan to scientifically reorganize the exploitation of the colonial countries, to transform them into compliant providers of raw materials and abiding consumers of manufactured products, stumbles against an historical difficulty. These colonial countries are agitated to conquer their national independence.” Words which the years and reality confirm, today more than ever.
Finally, on political economy, let’s recall his thesis on cooperativism: “In the degree to which the advancement of syndicalism enters a country, so too enters the progress of cooperativism” and “the cooperative, within a system of free competition, and even with certain state support, is not opposed to, but on the contrary, quite useful to capitalist enterprises.” Let’s ask then, can cooperativism develop, as it is pretended, simultaneously with an anti-union offensive and even more so when a corporativist unionism is being promoted?
In the age of imperialism, can cooperativism serve, within a regime like ours, as anything else but a complement to bureaucratic capitalism? In light of the ideas transcribed the answer obviously is: No! And let’s bear in mind that cooperativism can be of service to the working class and the people only when the proletariat has power in their hands. To finish this point, let’s remember his teaching that imperialism develops the increasing state intervention in the economic process and that, representing and defending the bourgeoisie, it sees itself compelled even to carry out “nationalizations”; so the question is to see who has benefitted from the nationalizations, and that is decided by which class controls power. In light of this, who has benefitted from the nationalizations of the current government?
b) Mariátegui and scientific socialism. He starts by distinguishing between old social-democratic reformism and militant socialism, pointing out that the difference is that the former “wants to achieve socialism by collaborating politically with the bourgeoisie” while the latter ones, Marxists, “want to achieve socialism by wholly confiscating political power for the proletariat.” The matter delimited, he firmly takes the position of the Communist International, of the followers of Lenin, in whom he recognizes a great leader of the international communist movement, declaring himself Marxist-Leninist.
Another point of scientific socialism important to Mariátegui is the crisis of bourgeois democracy whose symptoms could be perceived before World War I and whose causes he sees in “the parallel growth and concentration of capitalism and the proletariat”; in that way the development of monopoly, characteristic of imperialism, and the questioning of the bourgeois order by the proletariat are what causes the bourgeois democratic crisis. Deepening the problem he emphasizes that under the bourgeois regime industry developed immensely with the power of machinery, with “great industrial enterprises” having arisen, and since the political and social forms are determined by the base sustaining them he concludes: “The expansion of these new productive forces does not allow the subsistence of the old political patterns. It has transformed the structure of nations and demands the transformation of the structure of the regime. Bourgeois democracy has ceased to correspond to the organization of economic forces tremendously transformed and enlarged. That is why democracy is in crisis. The typical institution of democracy is the parliament. The crisis of democracy is a crisis of parliament.”
Here we have a thesis intimately linked to Lenin’s on the reactionary character of imperialism, on which Mariátegui bases his understanding of fascism as political reaction, as an international phenomenon not only Italian nor exclusively in imperialist countries but feasible also in backward nations like Spain, fascism which typically blames “all the misfortunes of the fatherland on politics and parliamentarism”; fascism as an expression that “the ruling class does not feel itself sufficiently defended by its institutions. Universal suffrage and parliament are obstacles in its way,” how “reaction which in all countries is organized to the tune of a demagogic and subversive beat. (Bavarian fascists call themselves ‘national socialists.’ During its tumultuous training, fascism made abundant use of an anti-capitalist prose …)”; as “a nationalist and reactionary mysticism” which “has taught the way of dictatorship and violence” with its taking of power and repression, the use of the blackjack and castor oil but which despite its duration, “it appears inevitably destined to exacerbate the contemporary crisis, to undermine the basis of bourgeois society.”
To Mariátegui, as he taught in “The Biology of Fascism” of his work The Contemporary Scene, fascism is a political process which “for many years did not want to call itself or function as a party,” whose social composition is heterogeneous and in which “the national flag covers up all the contraband and equivocations in doctrine and program … They want to monopolize patriotism.” But within this “the contradictions undermining fascist unity” always develop, contradictions which first faced “two antithetic souls and two antithetic mentalities. One extremist or arch-reactionary fraction proposing the integral insertion of the fascist revolution in the Statute of the Kingdom of Italy. The neoliberal State had, in its view, to be replaced by the fascist State. While a revisionist fraction instead called for a more or less extensive political rectification”; a contradiction which, resolving itself favorably towards the first tendency, did not therefore cease to exist but continued to develop under new forms: one tendency proposing to sweep away “all opponents of the fascist regime in a Saint Bartholomew’s Night,” while others “more intellectual, but no less apocalyptical … invited fascism to definitively liquidate the parliamentary regime,” meanwhile “the theoreticians of integral fascism sketch the technique of the fascist State which it conceives almost as a vertical trust of workers’ unions or corporations.” Thus, fascism is masterfully presented, essentially analyzed even in its contradictions.
Furthermore, in his analysis of fascism Mariátegui advances to typify the “characteristic attitude of a reformist, of a democrat, however one tormented by a series of ‘doubts about democracy’ and of unsettled feelings respect to reform” shown by English writer H.G. Wells regarding Mussolini’s regime: “Fascism appears to him a cataclysm, more than a consequence and result of the bankruptcy of bourgeois democracy and the defeat of the proletarian revolution in Italy. A confirmed evolutionist, Wells cannot conceive of fascism as a phenomenon possible within the logic of history. He must understand it as an exceptional phenomenon.” To reformism, as we can see, fascism is not the consequence of the crisis of bourgeois democracy but “an exception,” “a cataclysm,” which is how some see it today in our country, only and exclusively as terror on the march, not seeing it is “a phenomenon possible within the logic of history” caused by: The development of the monopolies into imperialism and the questioning of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat. Let that thesis help us to reject the reformist concepts being propagated about fascism and to have a correct and necessary understanding of history and the current situation in our country.
Other problems of scientific socialism set forth by Mariátegui are the violent revolution, the role of the proletariat and of the Party. On these he maintained: “The revolution is the painful gestation, the bloody birth of the present,” “that power is conquered through violence” and “it is conserved only through dictatorship,” thus pointing out the role of revolutionary violence; which “the proletariat does not enter history politically except as a social class; at the instant it discovers its mission of erecting, with the elements procured by human effort, moral or immoral, fair or unfair, a superior social order,” which points out the role of the working class. Judging the political weakness of Spain: “in Russia there existed, besides the profound agitation of the people, a revolutionary Party, led by a ingenious man of action, of clear vision and goals. That is what today is lacking in Spain … The Communist Party, too young, still does not constitute more than a force of agitation and propaganda,” thus highlighting the need of the Party of the proletariat.
The theses on Marxist philosophy, political economics and scientific socialism as shown, are they Marxist positions? Can anyone say these do not substantially correspond to Marxist proposals? Can anyone prove that such positions are not the ones upheld by the classics of Marxism-Leninism? Evidently Mariátegui’s theses are firmly and definitely based on the concept of the proletariat and this in no way can be distorted or denied. What is the basis of those pretending to deny the Marxist position of Mariátegui? Simply and plainly a simplistic analysis which lacks any reality, and, above all, lacks a solid class position, alienated from our reality and the application of Marxism.
The position of the founder of the Communist Party with respect to Marxist philosophy, to political economy and to scientific socialism reveals, a correct and just way of thinking from a working class position. They are based on Marxism-Leninism, showing the maturing of Mariátegui’s thought in his theoretical and practical participation in the class struggle, and that he arrived at that understanding, while, struggling against old revisionism and its European representatives and similar elements in our country.
III. MARIÁTEGUI ESTABLISHED THE GENERAL POLITICAL LINE OF THE PERUVIAN REVOLUTION.
What does it mean to say that Mariátegui established the general political line of the Peruvian revolution? In fact, he set forth the general laws of the class struggle in the country, and established the road of revolution in our country. That statement implies its validity and necessarily entails the Retaking Mariátegui’s Road to carry forward the revolutionary transformation of our society under the leadership of the working class, through the organized vanguard, the only class capable of fulfilling such a leading role.
Let’s analyze this substantial problem, whether openly or covertly; the destiny of our country depends on the position we take in this regard.
a) The character of Peruvian Society. Let’s start from the words of the founder of the Communist Party:
“Capitalism develops within a semi-feudal country like ours; at times in which, having reached the monopoly and imperialist stage, the entire liberal ideology corresponding to the free competition stage has ceased to be valid. Imperialism does not tolerate an economic program of nationalization and industrialization in any of those semi-colonial nations it exploits as markets for its commodities and capital, and as sources of raw materials. It forces them into specialization, to monoculture (in Peru petroleum, copper, sugar, cotton), suffering a permanent crisis of manufactured products, a crisis derived from this rigid determination of national production, by factors of the capitalist world market.”
In these words which belong to point III of the Party Program, the semi-feudal and semi-colonial character of our society is established. The first one, semi-feudalism, “surely must not be sought in the subsistence of institutions and political or judicial forms of the feudal order. Formally Peru is a republican and democratic bourgeois State. Feudalism or semi-feudalism survives in the structure of our agrarian economy,” said Mariátegui. We see it today, despite the years elapsed, because it persists and new forms of semi-feudal roots are developed, forms of unpaid labor, family obligations and deferred salaries, personal privileges, maintenance and fusion of old latifundia and the preponderance of gamonalismo, under cover of new conditions and high sounding words. Semi-feudalism, harshly attacked in years past has developed into a self-evident truth, since the class struggle itself, with the rural explosion we have seen so many times, the agrarian reforms and the counter-revolutionary action we have seen since the 1960’s, show the semi-feudal base of Peruvian society.
With respect to semi-colonialism, Mariátegui maintained that a country can be politically independent while its economy continues to be dominated by imperialism; Furthermore, he firmly maintained that South American countries like ours are “politically independent, economically colonized.” And that situation continues to develop; our economy suffers growing and diversified imperialist and social-imperialist penetration, direct and indirect. The semi-colonial situation has been questioned in recent years, by affirming without proof that Peru has become a colony, since that is what is affirmed when one typifies the country as a “neocolony”; and that affirmation reaches an extreme when it is proposed that we are a “neocolony,” but ruled by “a bourgeois reformist government.”
The quoted paragraph proposed that capitalism develops in Peru, but it is a capitalism subjected to the control mainly of North American imperialism, not a capitalism that allows a national economy and independent industrialization; but quite the opposite, a capitalism subservient to the imperialist metropolis which does not tolerate a true national economy serving our nation, nor independent industrialization. Thus, Mariátegui does not deny capitalist development in the country, but specifies our type of capitalism; capitalism in a semi-feudal country living in the age of monopolies and political reaction, a capitalism that while it develops it increases our semi-colonial condition; a capitalism engendering a comprador bourgeoisie linked to U.S. imperialism. In summary, a bureaucratic capitalism from the viewpoint of Mao Tse-tung.
That is the valid and current understanding Mariátegui had about the character of Peruvian society. Later studies and research only confirmed and specified the accurate theses sustained by our founder.
b) The two stages of the Peruvian revolution. Starting from the country’s semi-colonial and semi-feudal condition, Mariátegui analyzed the revolutionary forces concluding that there are two basic classes: the proletariat and the peasantry.
Although the latter is the main force, being the majority, and supports the weight of semi-feudalism, the former, the working class, is the leading class; further on, he noted that only with the appearance of the proletariat can the peasantry fulfill its role: “Socialist doctrine is the only one capable of giving a modern, constructive sense to the indigenous cause, which, placed in the true social and economic arena, and elevated to the level of a realistic and creative policy, counts for the fulfillment of this enterprise with the will and discipline of a class now making its appearance in our historical political process: The proletariat.”
Joining the peasantry and the proletariat is the petty-bourgeoisie, which “always played a very minor and disoriented role in Peru,” put under pressure by foreign capitalism “it appears destined to assume, as its organization and orientation prospers, a revolutionary nationalist attitude.” These are the driving classes of the revolution, who under certain conditions and circumstances can be joined by the national bourgeoisie, which Mariátegui calls the “left bourgeoisie.” Those are the four classes who united aim at the targets of the revolution: Semi-feudalism and imperialism.
In two well known paragraphs of the Communist Party Program, written by the founder himself, the stages of the Peruvian revolution are defined and its character specified:
“The emancipation of the economy of the country is only possible through the action of the proletarian masses, in solidarity with the world’s anti-imperialist struggle. Only the action of the proletariat can first stimulate and later on carry out the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution which the bourgeois regime itself is incapable of fulfilling.”
“The bourgeois-democratic stage accomplished, the revolution becomes, in its objectives and doctrine, a proletarian revolution. The party of the proletariat, qualified by the struggle to exercise power and develop its own program, fulfills in this stage the tasks of organizing and defending the socialist order.”
Here we see the problem of the Peruvian revolution and its stages masterfully condensed: The national-democratic or bourgeois-democratic of the new kind in the wording of Mao Tse-tung, and the proletarian revolution. Two stages, the first one which we are living in since 1928, but which still has not been fulfilled or concluded, and the future, proletarian stage; two uninterrupted stages of the same revolutionary process. Under no circumstances should their character and contents be confused. This great thesis by Mariátegui became, after broad debates and struggles, a fundamental truth of Marxist understanding of the laws of our revolution.
But if this is fundamental, then it is even more so that the working class and only the working class through its party is capable of leading the national-democratic revolution. That only by preparing and organizing within the national-democratic revolution can it develop the second, proletarian stage.
Consequently, if the national-democratic revolution is not led by the working class, in no way can it be completed, much less build socialism. This is the paramount question today, since counter-revolution and social corporativism deny this great truth and assert that in our country the armed forces of the old State is fulfilling the first stage of the revolution and even, they claim, laying the foundations for socialism. This key question differentiates revolutionaries from counter-revolutionaries: The first ones, with Marxism and Mariátegui, maintain that the proletariat and only the proletariat “can first stimulate and later on fulfill the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution which the bourgeois regime is incapable to develop and fulfill.” That is our position. We must uphold and fight the counter-revolutionary theses, aiming our spear against social-corporativist revisionism that preaches against the thesis of Mariátegui and is the detachment of social-imperialism in our country, whose efforts serve only its collusion and collision with the Yankee superpower for world domination.
c) The anti-feudal struggle. The land program is basic to our country and, in synthesis, it is the question of feudalism with its two elements: Latifundia and servitude; that is why, as Mariátegui said, the agrarian problem in Peru is the destruction of feudalism, whose relations taint our society from top to bottom, from the base to the superstructure. The motor of rural struggles has been and is the land question, and that the three agrarian laws of the 1960’s did not destroy its base is clearly shown by today’s struggles by the peasantry.
In analyzing the land question, the founder of the Party highlighted the struggle confronting community and latifundia; he showed its economic and social superiority, pointing out that the community had given the peasant majorities strength to resist the thievery by feudal landowners throughout the centuries, and that it entails the living yeast which will help socialist development in the future. Reviewing the agrarian labor regime he highlighted the existence of feudal relations of exploitation hidden behind seemingly capitalist forms. These questions do not belong to the past, but to a present which we must search well to discover its blurred semi-feudal essence hidden behind the apparent and purported “destruction of feudalism” of the so-called agrarian reform.
Considering the struggles of the Peruvian and of Latin American peasantry generally, Mariátegui brought forward the slogan of the peasants: “Land for those who till it, expropriate them without compensation” and that their mobilization demands the “arming of workers and peasants to conquer and defend their gains.” In that way, feudalism must be destroyed by confiscating the lands and only the armed workers and peasants will be able to accomplish this, since there is no other way to break up feudalism, destroy latifundia and abolish serfdom. We must not forget that Peruvian laws have been ruling agrarian relations and abolishing serfdom for over l50 years, but in reality they have maintained the underlying feudalism.
Consequently, the anti-feudal struggle is the motive of the class struggle in the countryside and the basis of our national-democratic revolution itself.
c) The anti-imperialist struggle. Peru, like the rest of the Latin American countries, is a nation in a formative stage. “It is being built over the inert indigenous strata, and the alluvial sediments of western civilization.” In that way, “the problem of the Indians is the problem of four million Peruvians. It is the problem of three fourths of the population of Peru. It is the problem of the majority. It is the problem of nationality,” Mariátegui observed, and he added: “A truly national policy cannot do without the Indian, it cannot ignore the Indian. The Indian is the foundation of our nationality in formation. Oppression makes the Indian an enemy of civility. It annuls them, practically, as an element of progress. Those who impoverish and depress the Indian, impoverish and depress the nation… Without the Indian, the condition of being Peruvian is not possible. This truth ought to be valid, above all, to persons of mere demo-liberal bourgeois and nationalist ideology…”
Thus, the problem of the Indian is that of the majority ignored by the policies of the Peruvian State, of the republic generally, for more than 150 years; it is the problem of acting outside the interest of four fifths of the population. As our founder said, of looking and acting with eyes aimed at the imperialist metropolis dominating us. Digging deeper into the problem, Mariátegui set forth that the Indian problem is the problem of the land; consequently, the national question is based on the land question and in no way can one be separated from the other, a proposal which follows strictly the these; of Marxism, proved by the practice of the class struggle of our own masses and expressed, incontrovertibly, in the character of our revolution.
On this basis, the founder of the Communist Party analyzed the classes and the anti-imperialist struggle in our country, and in Latin America in general; he pointed out that the Latin American bourgeoisie “feel sure enough of their ownership of power so as not to care much about national sovereignty,” as well as having common interests with imperialism, adding that: “While imperialist policy … is not forced to resort to armed intervention, in case of military occupation they will count on the absolute collaboration of the bourgeoisie.” In that way the relationship of the Peruvian “mercantile bourgeoisie” and its position with respect to imperialism was clarified. Referring to our country, when treating the subject of the united front, Mariátegui proposed the possibility of uniting “with the left liberal bourgeoisie, truly disposed to struggle against the remnants of feudalism and against imperialist penetration,” defining the position of what today we call the national bourgeoisie; and he specified, besides, as we saw, that the petty-bourgeoisie will go on developing “a revolutionary nationalist position” as the foreign domination increases.
On the other hand, charging against the Apristas who had raised anti-imperialism “to the level of a program, a political attitude, a movement that is an end in itself and led spontaneously, due to what process we don’t know, whether socialism or the social revolution” and exposing their thesis of “we are leftists (or socialists) because we are anti-imperialist” Mariátegui, keeping in mind that only the proletariat, together with the peasantry, can be consistently anti-imperialist, pointed out: “For us, anti-imperialism does not constitute, nor can it constitute by itself, a political program, a mass movement capable of conquering power,” and he concluded: “In conclusion, we are anti-imperialists because we are socialists, because we are revolutionaries, because we counterpoise socialism as an opposite system to capitalism, destined to replace it, because in the struggle against foreign imperialism we fulfill our duties of solidarity with the revolutionary masses of the world.”
Thus, the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist struggle intermingle as two inseparable matters and as integral parts of the national-democratic revolution which only the working class is capable of leading, provided it establishes the worker-peasant alliance as the starting point of the united front of the revolution.
d) The united front. Seeing the basic problems of the character of society and of the revolution and the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist struggles, the question arises of the instruments of social transformation, of the “three key levers of the revolution”: The united front, the military problem and the Party.
“My attitude, from the time I incorporated myself to this vanguard, was always one of a convinced, fervent propagandist of the united front,” wrote Mariátegui on the occasion of the May 1st, 1924. He pointed out that “we are still too few to divide ourselves” and the many common tasks pending in the service of the class. He was a consistent defender of the united front, he demanded it as a solidarity action, concrete and practical for those who, without getting ideologically confused, “must feel themselves united by class solidarity, linked by the common struggle against the common adversary, linked by the same revolutionary will and the same renewing passion”; and after recognizing that “the variety of tendencies and the diversity of ideological shades is inevitable in that human legion called the proletariat,” he demanded: “What matters is that those groups and those tendencies to know how to understand each other before the concrete reality of the day. So they do not crash like Byzantines in mutual excommunications and ex-confessions. That they do not alienate the masses from the revolution, by a big show of the dogmatic quarrels of their preachers. That they don’t use their weapons or waste their time in hurting each other, but in fighting the old social order, its institutions, its injustices and its crimes.”
These words resound alive today as the current order, demanding to unite so as to fulfill the common “historic duties” of developing class consciousness and the feeling of the class, of sowing and spreading and renovating class ideas, to wrest the workers away from the false institutions claiming to represent them; to fight repression and the corporativist offensive, to defend the organization, the press and the tribune of the class, to struggle for the rights and gains of the peasantry; “historical duties” in whose fulfillment our paths will meet and join.”
On that basis Mariátegui proposed forming the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal front which under the leadership of the working class and based on the workers’ and peasants’ alliance could unite workers and peasants, the petty-bourgeoisie and, under certain conditions and circumstances, the “bourgeois left,” which we now call the national bourgeoisie. The united front is a fundamental weapon of the national-democratic revolution; but it can only be developed based on the worker-peasant alliance and led by the proletariat, not by the bourgeoisie or the petty-bourgeoisie. In this front, the working class, through its Party, enters into an alliance with other classes. “But in any event it will give the proletariat ample freedom of criticism, of action, of the press and of organization.” There we have the politics of the united front and the independent class politics which the Party must never abandon.
On the other hand, Mariátegui highlighted that when confronted by a revolutionary threat the bourgeoisie also forms a united front, “but only temporarily, only while a definite assault on the revolution is prepared. Afterwards each one of the bourgeois groups tries to recover its autonomy …. Within the bourgeoisie there are contrasts of ideology and interests, contrasts which no one can suppress”; that way, the bourgeois block is necessity broken by the development of its own internal contradictions and the development of the class struggle.
These theses, verified by reality, also demand overcoming sectarianism, which today is badly generalized, keeping in mind that “the masses demand unity” and keep our ears alert to these relevant and peremptory words: “The noble, lofty and sincere spirits of the revolution perceive and respect that above any theoretical barrier, the historical solidarity of their efforts and works. Sectarian egotism and the privilege of incomprehension belong to the lowly spirits without horizons or wings, to dogmatic mentalities, who want to petrify and immobilize life in a rigid formulation.”
Our country lives today under a corporativist offensive, a reactionary offensive which like all of its kind employs political deceit and repression, according to its needs; while in the people’s camp sectarianism and hegemonism divide and conspire against the common united action, each day more necessary and urgent. We must struggle for unification, today more than ever, since “a reactionary policy will ultimately cause the polarization of the lefts. It will provoke the fusion of all proletarian forces. The capitalist counter offensive will achieve what the instinct of the working classes has been unable to do: The united proletarian front.” We are fighting against a fascist government which carries on a general corporative readjustment that, after intense demagoguery and much propagandized “humanist, libertarian and Christian socialism,” it confuses understanding and surrenders wills, deceitfully using the reactionary double tactic, of repression and political deceit, generates vacillation and sharpens conciliatory rightism in the people’s own ranks. In these circumstances, we must adhere and apply the following proposals by Mariátegui:
“We live in a period of open ideological belligerence. The men who represent a renewing force cannot enter into concerts with or be confused by, not even casually or fortuitously, those representing conservative or regressive forces. An historical abyss separates them. They speak diverse languages and do not have a common intuition of history.”
“I think we must unite those who are alike, not those who are unlike. We must get closer to those whom history wants united. That we must support those whom history wants to be solidarity. That I think is the only possible coordination. The only intelligence with a precise and effective historical sense.”
And also: “I am a revolutionary. But I think that among men of clear thinking and defined position it is easy to reach an understanding and appreciate each other, even while clashing with each other. Above all, while fighting each other. With the political sector, with which I will never reach an understanding is another thing: That of mediocre reformism, of domesticated socialism, or with the democracy of pharisees.”
f) The military problem. Not much is said about Mariátegui’s theses on the military problem, moreover it is believed he never expounded on such an important question; on the contrary, in his works the importance Mariátegui gave to revolutionary violence, war and military organization is notable. Already by 1921 he wrote: “there is no such thing as a measured, even, soft, serene, placid revolution”; in 1923: “power is conquered through violence … only through dictatorship is power preserved”; in 1925: “While reaction is the instinct of conservation, the agony of the past, revolution is the painful gestation, the bloody birth of the present”; and in 1927: “if revolution demands violence, authority, discipline, I am for violence, authority, discipline. I accept them, as a whole with all their horrors without cowardly reservations.” The thesis of revolutionary violence, therefore, is a constant theme of his thought, theses that are hidden by opportunism and which as Marxists we must raise firmly and consequently.
But this is not his entire understanding of the revolution, which is conceived and defined as protracted: “A revolution is not a coup d’etat, nor an insurrection, it is not one of those things here we call a revolution by the arbitrary use of that word. A revolution takes many years to be fulfilled. Frequently it has alternate periods when revolutionary forces are dominant and then when counterrevolutionary forces predominate. Just like a war is a process of offensives and counter-offensives, of victories and defeats, as long as one of the conflicting sides does not finally surrender, as long as it does not resign from the fight, it is not vanquished. Its defeat is temporary but not total. According to this interpretation of history, reaction, white terror … are but episodes in the class struggle … an ungrateful chapter of the revolution.” Here we see the correct Marxist position before the struggle of revolution and counterrevolution, the unchanging confidence in the necessary revolutionary triumph; here we have the theses that must guide us.
Besides, Mariátegui establishes the relationship between politics and war, he derives the weakness of the military front from the political weakness, and military strength also as a political product: “Because, that way, in this as in the rest of world war, as in the rest of its great aspects, the political factors, the morale factors, the psychological factors had more importance than purely military factors.” So, war follows politics. He understood, as our founder, that revolution generates an army of the new type with its own tasks and different from the armies of the exploiters: “The red army is a new case in the world’s military history, it is an army which feels its role as a revolutionary army and which does not forget that its aim is the defense of the revolution. Any specific and militarily imperialist feeling is by necessity excluded from its soul. Its discipline, its organization and its structure are revolutionary.” Here we have the army of the new type which the revolution generates and which can only arise under the absolute control of the Party, as Mao Tse-tung teaches.
Finally, Mariátegui paid special attention to the Mexican Revolution in Latin America and the Chinese Revolution in Asia, highlighting in both their national-democratic character, their agrarian roots, the role of the peasantry and the vital participation of the working class, while at the same time highlighting the contrary works of imperialism and of the bourgeoisie which betrayed or trafficked with the revolution.
Starting from the basic premise of “land for those who till it,” he proposed arming peasants and workers to conquer and defend it, arming the masses of peasants and workers to carry forward the national-democratic revolution. He highlighted its development as a peasant’s revolution which advances from the countryside and which develops in “revolutionary actions,” in montoneras [armed group of masses in the Andes–Trans.] joined together by the solidarity of soldiers and officers in “organic unity, in whose veins circulates the same blood”; in montoneras joined to the masses with the same solidarity relations existing within them: “the same relationship of body, of class, existed within the montonera and the workers and peasants masses. The montoneras simply were the most active, warlike and dynamic part of the masses.” Evidently when Mariátegui wrote those words about the Soviet guerrillas which in the 1920’s fought in Siberia against the reactionaries, he thought of the montoneras in our country and Latin America; and in doing so he described and revealed for us the essential relationship between guerrillas and the masses of the people, its undetachable unity, the guerrilla condition of being “the most active, warlike and dynamic part of the masses,” integral part of the masses and never an action separate from them.
These points make up Mariátegui’s thought about the military problem besides his basic thesis that peasant uprisings cannot triumph on their own and if ever they triumphed it was under the leadership of the old bourgeoisie. But today, in the age of imperialism, and precisely in our America, where “the bourgeoisie has not known how or wanted to fulfill the tasks of liquidating feudalism,” where “a close descendant of the Spanish conquerors, it has been impossible for it to appropriate the rights and gains of the peasant masses,” it corresponds to the proletariat and only the proletariat, to lead the masses of the peasantry towards the destruction of feudalism through the protracted war of the countryside to the city in the national-democratic revolution.
g) The Party of the Proletariat. “The political struggle demands creating a class Party,” says point III of the Act of Constitution of the PCP. What does that mean? Simply that the class struggle demands from the proletariat their independent organization as a political party, with their own interests for the achievement of the historical goal of the working class. In that way, the party is the result of the development of the class struggle in our country and of the appearance, development and maturity of our proletariat. It is a need of the logical development of our history, of the existence of classes, of the existence of the working class and, therefore, in no way can it be considered superfluous, quite the contrary, it is the main and indispensable instrument for the working class to conquer power and for building the new Peruvian society, necessary for as long as there are classes and while the classless society is not yet achieved.
The Communist Party “is the organized vanguard of the proletariat, the political force assuming its task of orienting and leading the struggle for the fulfillment of its class ideals,” says its Program, established by Mariátegui himself; and about social composition, the “organization of the workers and peasants with a strict class character is the object of our effort and our propaganda, and the base of the struggle,” says point III of the aforementioned Act. The Communist Party is the organized vanguard of the Peruvian working class, there we have its precise demarcation and adherence to Marxism-Leninism, “revolutionary method in the age of imperialism” which “it adopts as a means of struggle,” as the Program says; while its social composition aims at incorporating into its ranks the best of the proletariat and the peasantry.
The Party is not and cannot be an electoral apparatus but an organization for the taking of power; while it may be able to take advantage of elections, its power is not rooted in them. Mariátegui, analyzing the German situation, clearly delimited what was happening: “The power of a Party, as shown in this case, does not depend strictly on its electoral and parliamentary strength. Universal suffrage may diminish their votes in the chamber, without touching its political influence …. The Socialist Party, which is a class Party with more than hundred and fifty parliamentary votes, are enough to assure for them organizing a cabinet, but does not authorize them to exclude from this cabinet the bankers and industrialists, unless it opts for a revolutionary road.” That way, to Mariátegui the Party is not electoral nor can it follow “parliamentary cretinism,” parliamentarism is a political organization of the bourgeoisie just as much as the corporativist modes of organization. Therefore, for the Party the question is to forge itself as a “system of organizations,” as a war machine for the conquest of power by way of revolutionary violence to overthrow the governing social order, like our founder reminds us: “History teaches us that all new social State have been formed upon the ruins of the preceding social states. Between the birth of the one and the death of the other there was, logically, an intermediate period of crisis.”
Once again, the founding of the Communist Party is the fulfillment of Mariátegui’s theoretical and practical struggle and of his direct participation in the class struggle, it was his great contribution and service to the proletariat, over more than 30 years of combat in our contemporary history, which sustained the appearance and development of the PCP. In contributing to the building of our Party, Mariátegui gave it the ideological-political bases we find in the Act of Constitution, the Party Program. In its three fundamental theses: Background and Development of the Class Action, Anti-Imperialist Viewpoint, and Outline of the Indigenous Problem; as well as Mariátegui’s entire works, among which we note Seven Essays, History of the World Crisis, Let’s Peruvianize Peru, and others, in each one of them he sets forth and resolves problems of the revolutionary struggle. Consequently, we must understand the written work of Mariátegui as part of the construction and political-ideological foundation of the Party.
José Carlos Mariátegui, our founder, crowned his struggle for the Party with his Theses of Affiliation to the III (Third) International, an important text that must be remembered:
“The Communists of the Party adhere to the Third International and agree to work to obtain that same adhesion from the groups which form the Party. The ideology we adopt is revolutionary and militant Marxism, a doctrine we accept in all its aspects: philosophical, political and social-economical. The methods we endorse are those of orthodox revolutionary socialism. We not only reject, but fight by all means and in all its forms the methods and tendencies of social-democracy of the Second International.”
“The Party is a class Party and therefore repudiates any tendency implying fusion with political forces and organizations of the other classes. The Party recognizes that, within national conditions, reality will impose upon us pacts and alliances, usually with the revolutionary petty-bourgeoisie; but in any event it will win for the proletariat freedom of criticism, of action, of the press and of organization.”
Here, we have a document edited by Mariátegui and which he himself presented to the Central Committee on 1st March 1930 and approved on following March 4th; this document is enough to topple so much anti-Party phrase-mongering which today does not deserve to be considered.
Finally, let’s recall that to Mariátegui: “Parties are not born out of some academic little council” and that the Party “is not and cannot be a peaceful and unanimous academy”; but the Party is forged amidst the class struggle of the masses and advances amidst the internal two-line struggle, so its history cannot be understood outside the red line imprinted by Mariátegui and its protracted and winding struggle against the non-proletarian line which has always surfaced, openly or covertly, against Mariátegui’s thought.
h) The mass line. Along with all that has been exposed we see how at the bottom of all these proposals there is a position, the mass line, a basic question in Mariátegui’s thought, which is little known. It suffices to highlight here that Mariátegui considers that the presence of the masses fills contemporary times, that the multitudes, as he says, are the main actors today. The working class have a myth, a goal–social revolution, a goal which the proletariat upholds and marches towards, with “an active and vehement faith”, in contrast to the bourgeois skepticism and decadence. The masses fight for “the final struggle” sure of their victory and he says: “The sentence in Eugene Portier’s song (The Internationale) acquires historical relief: ‘It’s the final struggle!’ The Russian proletariat greets this ecumenical cry of the world proletariat. The war cry and hope by the multitudes, already heard in the streets of Rome, of Milan, of Berlin, of Paris, of Vienna and of Lima. All the emotion of an era is with them. The revolutionary multitudes believe they are waging the final struggle.”
The masses, the main actors of history, today more than ever before go on defining world history the way “the professionals of intelligence are unable to find … that the multitudes will find”; the masses formed out of anonymous heroes, the real heroes Mariátegui admired: “The anonymous hero of the factory, of the mine, of field; the unknown soldier of the social revolution.” Masses whose interests are in solidarity confronting the contradictory and concurrent interests of the bourgeoisie; masses “which work to create a new order” and to which we must serve and interpret, since individuals and leaders are judged according to “how well they have been able to serve and interpret the revolutionary masses.”
However, Mariátegui always emphasizes that the masses ultimately are the basic masses, the workers and peasants: “the force of the revolution always resided in the alliance between workers and agrarians, that is of the workers and peasants masses,” as he says speaking of the Mexican Revolution; that before them opportunism is manifested by “trusting more the possibility of exploiting the contradictions and rivalries among chiefs than in the possibility of carrying the masses towards clear revolutionary politics,” and that the Mexican struggle always crushed the counterrevolution “by way of a great mobilization of the workers and peasant revolutionary masses.” These and other proposals show the definite position of Mariátegui with respect to the masses, in whose struggles he considers that Marxism is alive: “Marx lives in the struggle for the realization of socialism waged by innumerable multitudes animated by his doctrines throughout the world.”
What is said does not imply the negation of the importance of leaders in the class struggle, leaders whose dimension, we reiterate, are measured by the identification with the interests of the revolutionary classes and service rendered to them, mainly to the proletariat, the class that generates a new type of “thinking and acting” person. With respect to the acts of revolutionaries, Mariátegui demanded taking into account the class struggle in the mind of the individual: “Decadence and revolution coexist in the same world and also in the same individual. The conscience … is the fighting arena of a struggle between the two spirits, the understanding of this struggle, sometimes, almost invariably, escapes … but finally one or the other spirit prevails. The other one remains strangled on the arena.” While speaking of the hero he stated: “the hero always arrives at the goal blooded and torn: only through this price can we wholly pay for his heroism,” noticing that the struggle always leaves its marks; finally stating: “Today like yesterday a political order cannot be changed without individuals resolved to resist jail or exile” and, “to a revolutionary, a prison is merely a work-related accident.
Mariátegui’s mass line meritts our attention, more so today when the basic problem becomes the arena of a battle larger and increasing each day. Let’s keep in mind today, more than ever, the following: “the masses demand unity. The masses want faith. Their souls reject the corroding voice, the dissolving and pessimistic voice of those who deny and who doubt. They seek the optimist and cordial voice, youthful and fruitful, of those who affirm and who believe.”
i) Other aspects of Mariátegui’s line. All the above confirms the basic points of the general political line of Mariátegui about the Peruvian revolution; but that is not his entire work. The founder of the Communist Party, from the viewpoint of the working class and in function of the revolutionary transformation of our Peruvian society, set specific political lines for work in trade and industrial unions, among workers, feminist, youth, teachers and intellectual groups, and other working fronts. These specific policies are the basis to develop a class line in each front of the mass work; also the question in them is to Retake Mariátegui’s Road and develop it according to the present circumstances in the class struggle.
j) Mariátegui set the general political line of the Peruvian revolution. It follows clearly that Mariátegui, systematizing the experience of struggle of the working class and the people of Peru, established through his direct theoretical and practical participation in the class struggle the general political line of the Peruvian revolution, as well as the specific political class line in the various fronts of the mass work. All this can be considered Mariátegui’s Road, the road of the Peruvian Revolution, the general laws of the revolution in our country and of the action of the working class as the leading class for the conquest of power and installing the dictatorship of the proletariat allowing the building of a new society in our nation, socialism as the revolutionary transformation towards the classless society, the Communist society.
Mariátegui’s Road has an axis: The Communist Party, without which there can be no revolution or genuine successes for the people. The Communist Party, the organized vanguard of the proletariat, is needed so the working class can lead, since only it, through its vanguard, is able to lead the national-democratic revolution and sustained by the worker-peasant alliance fulfill the first stage of the Peruvian Revolution so that, with the dictatorship of the proletariat, it can develop into the second stage, that of the proletarian revolution.
So the decisive question in our revolution, today more than ever, is to Retake Mariátegui’s Road and to develop it in the midst of the class struggle of the masses today to serve the working class, the people and the revolution.
IV. TO RETAKE MARIATEGUI AND RECONSTITUTE HIS PARTY SERVES THE WORKING CLASS, THE PARTY AND THE REVOLUTION.
a) Mariátegui’s Road emerged and developed through struggle.
Mariátegui’s Road emerged in the midst of the class struggle against the existing social order; it had to fight against the reactionary system of prevailing ideas and battle arduously with APRA, which denied the need for a Party of the Proletariat. The founding of the Communist Party was the product of a sharp struggle and sets a fundamental milestone in the process of Mariátegui’s Road. However the struggle which José Carlos Mariátegui waged was not only outside the ranks of the Party, but also within its ranks where he struggled to keep it adhering to Marxism-Leninism and the Communist International.
Quite soon, almost immediately after his death, a whole opportunist line developed which treacherously began to speak about the “proletarianization” and “improvement” of Mariátegui; while outside Party ranks the “Aprista criticism” labeled Mariátegui as “intellectualized” and a “Europeanizer” with the veiled purpose of denying his line and destroying the Party. By the early 1940’s, questions surfaced concerning Mariátegui’s Marxist foundation, though hypocritically, they recognized its great quality. Later on Del Prado and company, while calling themselves “disciples of Mariátegui,” made an “inoffensive icon” out of him, whom they enveloped in frankincense while renouncing his Road. That is how an entire period of denying and questioning Mariátegui and his Road evolved; however Mariátegui’s red line kept on living embodied in the struggle of the classes, mainly of workers and peasants and in the minds and actions of communists who carried forward Mariátegui’s flag and continued the struggle within the Party in search of Mariátegui’s Road.
b) Retaking Mariátegui’s Road. The decade of the 1960’s shook the international communist world with the struggle between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism, which had repercussions in our country, mainly the great works of Comrade Mao Tse-tung and the very important struggle waged by the Communist Party of China together with fraternal parties. Simultaneously, the 1960’s in our country implied the sharpening of the class struggle and a great rise in the movement of the masses, especially of the peasantry. The country experienced the deepening of bureaucratic capitalism, still going on; the workers carried out large strike movements and increased affiliation to their unions; the peasantry spontaneously carried forward, most of the time, conquering the land with their own actions and an unending wave of land occupations shook the entire country. The petty-bourgeoisie, especially teachers and students, became more and more involved in the people’s struggles.
At the same time, the demo-liberal parliamentary order entered a crisis, as in other parts of America, and its political parties, its reactionary political parties entered a fierce battle to gain positions and reap privileges. This confronted reaction with the need to fulfill two tasks: To deepen bureaucratic capitalism, taking the State as the main economic leverage, and the corporate remodeling of Peruvian society so as to overcome the crisis of bourgeois parliamentarism. These are the conditions and the cause of the rise of the current fascist regime and the tasks the exploiting classes and imperialism have charged it with fulfilling, when they saw the dangers of the questioning of their order entailed by the rise in the struggles of the masses, one chapter of which was the guerrilla struggle, which contained important future lessons for the people.
In the midst of these conditions and sharpening struggle, the theoretical and practical action of the communists developed, the Peruvian Marxist-Leninists, who, taking Mao Tse-tung Thought and its wise teachings, battled to Retake Mariátegui’s Road and Reconstitute his Party. In January 1964, the PCP expelled from its ranks the revisionist clique of Del Prado and company, a fact which established a milestone in the long road of the Party; that way at the IV Conference a step was given to adhere to Marxism under the guidance of Mao Tse-tung Thought. Another point of advance was the V Conference, in November 1965, which centered its attention in the understanding of our society and its revolution, getting us closer yet to Mariátegui’s line. Other important moments in Retaking Mariátegui and Reconstituting His Party were the successful struggles the Communist Party waged against a right opportunist line masquerading as leftist, whose crowning point was the VI Conference, in January 1969 an event in which the Party formalized its reconstitution starting from the Basis of Party Unity, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought, and Mariátegui’s thought and the general political line, whose cornerstone is Mariátegui; a reconstitution which, as was sanctioned, implied reconstituting the Party for the People’s War. That is how the long period of searching for Mariátegui’s Thought was fulfilled, opening up the stage of: “Retaking Mariátegui’s Road,” one of whose stages is the reconstitution of the Party, as a basic and necessary question.
However, the struggle did not end there but is constant. The rise of the current fascist regime and its counter-revolutionary program impacted our ranks by generating a liquidationist right opportunist line, which aimed dangerously against the life of the Party itself. This struggle had as milestones the II Plenum of the Central Committee, which characterized the struggle against liquidationist opportunism, and called to fight against it, and the III Plenum of the Central Committee “ON RECONSTITUTION” which corroborated the defeat of liquidationism and set the political, organizational and mass work basis for the function of the reconstitution of the Party. That way, an ever better perspective to the fulfillment of its historic mission opened up for the Party of Mariátegui. Finally, the VI Plenum of the PCP Central Committee, under the slogan of “FULLY RETAKE MARIATEGUI’S ROAD TO DEVELOP THE MASS WORK TAKING THE PARTY AS ITS CENTER,” officially sanctioned RETAKING MARIATEGUI’S ROAD as the decisive question in the Reconstitution, in synthesis, the general political line around whose application and development we must fulfill the reconstitution of Mariátegui’s Party.
Of what was said, Mariátegui’s Road, that is the general political line of the Peruvian Revolution, emerged and developed itself amidst the class struggle and the two-line struggle within the Party, the proletarian red line imposed by Mariátegui and the various non-proletarian lines it has assumed along the years. Thus three moments can be distinguished in its development:
1) The emerging of Mariátegui’s Road and founding of the Party;
2) The search for Mariátegui’s Road;
3) The Retaking of Mariátegui’s Road and Reconstitution of the Party. Three moments which imply over 40 years of our Party’s history, of the history of the Peruvian proletariat and of the history of the class struggle in contemporary Peru.
c) The relevance of Mariátegui Thought. We saw how in the 1960’s Mariátegui’s thinking went on establishing itself more and more firmly; however in that period, in which we still live, interest for Mariátegui grows, inside and outside the country. At the same time, we see a denial of Mariátegui on two levels: Some attack and deny the Marxist bases of Mariátegui thinking, and others deny its relevance. Those questioning its Marxist bases contend the ideological base sustaining it is irrational idealism and the concepts predominating in western philosophical thought, mainly European. Once Mariátegui’s theses about Marxist philosophy, politics economics and scientific socialism are set forth, these observations need not be analyzed any further; it suffices to reiterate that the Marxist character of the bases of Mariátegui are sufficiently clear, and point out that those impugning it have a the bottom a central argument: The impossibility for Marxism to develop in a country with few industrial workers. This starting point uncovers an unacceptable mechanical position; for Marxism to appear on a world scale, the development of the working class to the level it had attained in Europe by the mid 19th century was needed, and on that material base Marx and Engels created Marxism, which from that point on develops vigorously and spreads itself through the five continents. The revolutionaries of the backwards countries, where there are immense masses of peasants and proportionally a reduced industrial working class, found in Marxism an instrument to guide their actions and taking its principles they fused them with specific revolutionary conditions; in that way, Marxism-Leninism fused with the concrete conditions of the movements of national liberation and their democratic revolutions. This was consequently shown incontrovertibly by Mao Tse-tung Thought, as it developed Marxism.
A similar case is that of the founder of the Communist Partyof Peru. Mariátegui also applied Marxism-Leninism to a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country, furthermore, he analyzed similar countries in Latin America; and participating directly in the class struggle in our country he was able to develop himself as a Marxist and to apply the universal principles creatively, therefore, there is a similarity between many of his ideas and Mao’s proposals. Facts prove, as the years passed, the Marxist essence of Mariátegui’s thought. What happens is that those who are unguarded get disoriented by the language he uses, which they are unfamiliar with, compounded by ignoring the conditions in our Latin America and, more fundamentally, by starting off from positions which are contrary to Marxism.
Those questioning the relevance of Mariátegui allege that, while he was indeed a Marxist and a notable thinker, his positions were left behind 40 years ago. These people forget that later studies and researches do not deny but quite the contrary confirm Mariátegui’s theses; and, what is more important, that not having completed the national-bourgeois revolution and much less initiated the proletarian one, Mariátegui’s thought and his Road, his general political line of the Peruvian Revolution continue to be fully current as shown, precisely, by the four decades elapsed and even more by the need to Retake His Roads born amidst the great struggles of the 1960’s and the current class struggle.
c) Retake Mariátegui and Reconstitute His Party. In reaching this point and after having seen the above on Mariátegui’s thought, which is materialized politically in his Road for the Peruvian Revolution, the first thing we must reiterate is that Mariátegui is the culminating political expression of the Peruvian proletariat. On the other hand, the almost 50 years of development of Mariátegui’s Road show that its flags are those of the working class, proven over long decades during which it has been clearly established that the success of the proletariat depends on holding them firmly to carry them forward, while its failure is in abandoning or underestimating them. No Peruvian class or party, except the Communist Patty, is able to show such accumulated experience, nor such lofty flags proven in the class struggle.
The key today, more than ever, is Retaking Mariátegui’s Road; which implies placing the working class in command of the revolution, establishing the leadership of the only consistent revolutionary class to the process which will demolish the prevailing social order; to develop the organized vanguard of the proletariat, the Communist Party, so it can fulfill its role of chief of staff without which there cannot be a revolution; while adhering to Mariátegui as the concentrated political expression of the working class; in synthesis, it is to struggle for the leadership of the working class in the Peruvian Revolution. In that way, Mariátegui becomes the flag for the people of Peru, the basis of the unity of the exploited and broad masses and the only road to our national-democratic revolution.
To Retake Mariátegui’s Road is to Reconstitute the Communist Party, his Party; to work for its ideological-political buildup, develop the foundations given by its founder and simultaneously, to fight for its organizational buildup by readjusting the organizational to the political. To Reconstitute the Party today is, in sum, promoting its reconstitution by Retaking Mariátegui and aiming at developing the People’s War.
The Communist Party, sure of its road and conscious of its goal, in the 80th anniversary of its founder and 47th of its founding, raises its red proletarian flags and declares before the masses of our country, especially before the workers and peasants, that in the current counterrevolutionary offensive and the perspective of the increasing development of the struggle of the masses, our duty is to get ready for the struggle by preparing ourselves in the midst of the storm of the class struggle of the masses under the slogan of RETAKE MARIATEGUI AND RECONSTITUTE HIS PARTY TO SERVE THE WORKING CLASS, THE PEOPLE AND THE REVOLUTION.
October, 1975 PCP-CENTRAL COMMITTEE