Important Ideas of Presidente Gonzalo
A Reader in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism
Revolution and Guiding Thought
Great Leadership (or Jefatura)
The Universality of Protracted People’s War
Concentric Construction of the Revolutionary Movement
The Militarization of the Vanguard Party And Unitary People’s War
NOTE: This pamphlet has been written primarily for readers who have already studied the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao; the author has assumed readers will understand much of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist terminology without explanation and so has left out some explanations for the sake of brevity.
Marxism is, we have constantly asserted, a scientific method for analyzing and advancing society. The reason the star of Marxism shines brighter than any other philosophy of socialist revolution, the reason Marxism is consistently the most successful philosophy in guiding proletarian rebellion, is that marxism is scientific and factual; it is the science of class struggle and of proletarian revolution. And, as any science does, Marxism has grown and changed over time as new facts became apparent and undeniable. Marxism began with Marx and Engels, grew into Marxism-Leninism with Lenin and Stalin, and today has grown into Marxism-Leninism-Maoism with Mao and Gonzalo. Of course, there are always the pseudo-scientists, the “Marxists” who cling dogmatically to Marxism’s past and cannot acknowledge its changes. But the dogmatists and revisionists cannot hold back history; the scientific ideology of the proletariat is growing and changing, rising ever closer to the goal of world communism! They deny Gonzalo’s contributions foolishly, while we defend them scientifically. They fail to see that many of his ideas (Great Leadership, Guiding Thought) are not claims but rather empirical observations of the nature of all revolutions throughout history which simply cannot be refuted, while the rest have been proven to be valid new theories by their execution in practice by the Communist Party of Peru under his leadership. These fools are dogmatists! They are not scientists and therefore they are not Marxists. To truly be Marxist, one must be Marxist-Leninist. To truly be Marxist-Leninist, one must be Marxist-Leninist-Maoist. And to truly be a principled Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, one must be Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, principally Maoist, and a student of Gonzalo. So let us study his ideas and prepare to apply them!
Revolution and Guiding Thought
“Revolutions give rise to a thought that guides them, which is the result of the application of the universal truth of the ideology of the international proletariat to the concrete conditions of each revolution; a guiding thought indispensable to reach victory and to conquer political power and, moreover, to continue the revolution and to maintain the course always towards the only, great goal: Communism.”- PCP, On Gonzalo Thought
One of Gonzalo’s key contributions to Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology is the idea of Guiding Thought. Admittedly, Guiding Thought existed before Gonzalo named it, but it was his formal analysis of what it is and why it matters that enabled the global Communist movement to properly understand it. So what is Guiding Thought? The Guiding Thought of the revolution in each nation is the unique set of ideas which emerge in order to put MLMism into practice in that nation. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is universal, but since the material conditions of the dialectic are different in each nation, advancing dialectical class struggle requires a distinctive set of guiding ideas for each nation. As such, each revolutionary movement and its vanguard party produces a distinctive set of ideas which are, along with the broader theories of MLMism, key to that revolution. This is the Guiding Thought of the revolution. Presidente Gonzalo formulated the guiding thought of the PCP and the revolutionary movement in Peru, Ibrahim Kaypakkaya formulated the guiding thought of the TKP/ML and the revolutionary movement in Turkey, and each nation’s vanguard party must similarly formulate its own guiding thought in order to put MLMism into practice and successfully build socialism.
Great Leadership (or Jefatura)
“We believe that the revolution, the Party, our class, generate leaders, a group of leaders. It has been like this in every revolution. If we think, for instance, about the October Revolution, we have Lenin, Stalin, Sverdlov and a few others, a small group. Similarly, in the Chinese revolution there’s also a small group of leaders: Chairman Mao Tsetung, and his comrades Kang Sheng, Chiang Ching, Chang Chun-chiao, among others. All revolutions are that way, including our own…it is necessity that generates leaders, and a top leader, but just who that is is determined by chance, by a set of specific conditions that come together at a particular place and time. In this way, in our case too, a Great Leadership [Jefatura] has been generated. This was first acknowledged in the Party at the Expanded National Conference of 1979. But this question involves another basic question that can’t be overlooked and needs to be emphasized: there is no Great Leadership [Jefatura] that does not base itself on a body of thought, no matter what its level of development may be.” -Presidente Gonzalo, Interview with Chairman Gonzalo
Another necessary facet of all revolutions that Gonzalo noticed and documented is the phenomenon of Great Leadership. History is, of course, made by the masses moving united in class struggle against their oppressors, but those movements are always guided by ideas and those ideas always come from a group of important social leaders who embody the will of the oppressed class. These people are the Great Leaders. In each nation, the Guiding Thought needed to build the D. of the P. will emerge from such a group (made up, of course, of Marxist-Leninist-Maoists), that group will establish a Leninist Democratic Vanguard Party around its ideas, and through Mass Line leadership the power of the proletariat will be built up around that party (this gets into Concentric Construction, which will be section #4). In this way, each revolution’s Guiding Thought is created and the vanguard and the people follow it to successfully establish a Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
It must be noted that no true Maoist supports building up a cult of personality around the Great Leaders, and the accusation of such is a Khruschevist trick. They are not infallible, nobody is. It is the proletarian majority- whose labour fuels society- who deserve to rule, and everyone must be vulnerable to their democratic criticism, even their own democratic leaders in the Vanguard Party (this is why Mao Tse Tung called upon the masses to criticize the Communist Party during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the GPCR). The Great Leaders- people like Gonzalo, Ho Chi Minh, and even Lenin himself- are not gods or dictators, they are merely the great thinkers who have created the tools with which the working majority may democratically liberate and lead themselves. We should respect and learn from the Great Leaders, but not worship them. All members of oppressed social classes have a place within the revolutionary movement, and we all shall have our voices heard by the leadership of the Democratic D. of the P. as we work together towards global freedom for all: communism!
The Universality of Protracted People’s War
“There are even those who say that we incorrectly try to apply Chairman Mao in an era where he is no longer applicable. In short, they babble on so much that we feel perfectly justified asking whether they have any idea what they are talking about… People’s war is universally applicable, in accordance with the character of the revolution and adapted to the specific conditions of each country. Otherwise, it cannot be carried out. In our case, the particularities are very dear. It is a struggle that is waged in the countryside and in the city, as was established as far back as I968 in the plan for the people’s war.” -Presidente Gonzalo, Interview with Chairman Gonzalo
It was Chairman Mao Tse Tung who first devised PPW as a strategy for proletarian revolution, but it took Presidente Gonzalo to reach our full current understanding of it. Mao devised PPW specifically for the material conditions of the dialectic in China, a very rural semi-feudal and semi-colonized country on the path to New Power or New Democracy (a sort of halfway step between capitalist-imperialist subjugation and the socialist D. of the P. that is a necessary part of the path to socialism in colonies, semi-colonies, and semi-feudal countries). But the Peruvian masses, with the democratic leadership of Gonzalo and the PCP, proved its universality by applying it to a country quite different from China. True, Peru is also a semi-colony and therefore also on the path to NP/ND, but unlike China its economy is very concentrated (like many South American countries) in urban areas and therefore must be conquered in the cities instead of in the fields. Mao had conceived of PPW as a means of revolution only for the very rural conditions of China, yet the PCP and their People’s Guerrilla Army managed to use it to encroach upon cities from the countryside and came to pose a legitimate threat to the Peruvian capitalist system. They thus showed it to be applicable to all manner of different situations; indeed, they showed it to be applicable to every nation, regardless of its political-economic conditions. And given that People’s War is universal and that electoral struggle is no longer worthwhile (as shown by people like Charu Majumdar), Gonzalo as Great Leader of the PCP was able to conclude that the People’s War is now the primary avenue of revolutionary class struggle and that therefore- based on the conditions of People’s War and on the importance of the People’s Army to the People’s War and thus their importance to the revolution- we may come to understand a new and improved way of constructing the revolutionary movement based on the Three Weapons theorized by Mao: Concentric Construction, the topic of the next section.
Concentric Construction of the Revolutionary Movement
Through recognizing the universality of PPW and through actively applying PPW to Peru’s revolutionary struggle, Gonzalo and the rest of the PCP rose to a new understanding of the nature of revolution. Correctly reaching the conclusion that (for the reasons explained briefly above) the People’s War is now the essential primary avenue of all revolutionary struggle in the present day, they found that the conditions and nature of waging People’s War lend themselves to a particular style of organizing the movement to organize and construct the Democratic D. of the P.: the Concentric Construction of the Three Weapons.
The Three Weapons (Party, People’s Army, and United Front) are known to everyone who has studied Mao, and have been elucidated numerous times elsewhere. But in order to construct them to accomplish the goals of revolution most efficiently, we must also understand Gonzalo’s contributions. Revolution is defined primarily by violent overturning of contradictory social structures, and that violence takes the form of the People’s War. Based on this importance of the People’s War and therefore of the People’s Army who wage it, we may conclude that the People’s Army is the key proletarian institution through which the workers fight for their cause, and therefore that the Party as the democratic leaders of that cause must operate within and at the head of the Army. The Party must be at the heart of the Army, using the ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the Guiding Thought, and the lessons learned from the people through Mass Line leadership to guide its actions and lead its cadre in building up the D. of the P. Therefore, the revolutionary movement is a unified unit of the Army of the proletariat around the democratic leadership of the proletariat in the Party and the democratic government of the D. of the P., which the Party must work to build. This is the meaning of the word concentric- the Three Weapons of revolutionary war are built around eachother sharing a center (co-center), that center being the leadership of the Party and Great Leaders. But there are three Weapons, what of the third?
The function of the United Front has always been as the broadest and loosest segment of the struggle to build the D. of the P., as the loosely confederated masses of workers and revolutionaries who form into groups that help fight against the capitalist system and shall ultimately coalesce into the Worker Democratic structures of the new socialist society. They are not necessarily as theoretically advanced or as dedicated as the core of the movement in the Party and Army, but they are the masses who make history and they move following the Party to help build Worker Democracy in their areas and carry society towards the victory of the proletariat. Gonzalo pointed out in Interview with Chairman Gonzalo, however, that it is this fact of following the democratic leadership of the workers in the Party and the democratic bodies of the Party government that makes the mass organizations of the United Front revolutionary. If the organizations and local workers’ groups we wish to form our United Front do not follow the cause of the Party and the ideological plan of action of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Guiding Thought, they can quickly become counter-revolutionary and work against their own interests as proletarians (he cites in the aforementioned text several mass organizations to which this happened in his own country of Peru). As such, the task of the masses in the United Front to build worker democracy is dependent on the construction of that United Front around the leadership of the D. of the P.: the Party and the democratic workers’ state it must build. Each branch of the United Front has its own interests, its own cause, its own line (the cause of the Black proles, or the cause of the proletarian women, or the cause of workers in a particular industry, etc.) but all these different causes must be united around one cause with one leadership: the cause of building the Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and constructing Worker Democracy, the cause of socialism, led by the Party and the elected officials of the Party’s democratic-centralist revolutionary new government, the Proletarian Semi-State. By uniting around the line of the Party and working together with the People’s Army to build Worker Democracy in accordance with MLMism and Guiding Thought, the masses in the United Front may truly make history by replacing capitalism and the bourgeois state with socialism and workers’ democratic self-governance.
Therefore, the correct manner of constructing the revolutionary movement is thusly: at the heart of the struggle the Party, led by the Guiding Thought of the Jefatura, building the new workers’ state of the D. of the P and setting the line of the whole struggle. Around the Party and with the Party at its center the People’s Army, using People’s War to conquer base areas and build Worker Democracy and socialism there. And around the Army and Party the United Front, following the work of the proletarian leadership to build Worker Democracy and socialism in their own areas and truly construct the new socialist system of the D. of the P. The movement is constructed as three concentric circles, with Mass Line leadership allowing for information to pass democratically between them and for the Party at the heart of the struggle to listen to and advance the needs and causes of the masses.
The Militarization of the Vanguard Party and Unitary People’s War
“…we could say of the plans that we’ve learned how to direct the war with a single strategic plan, applying the principle of centralized strategy and decentralized tactics. We direct the war by means of a single plan with different parts, through campaigns, with strategic-operative plans, tactical plans and concrete plans for each action. But the key to all this is the single strategic plan which allows us to direct the war in a unified way, and that is key in leading a people’s war.” -Presidente Gonzalo, Interview with Chairman Gonzalo
As explained above, it is necessary and correct that the Party operate within and at the heart of the People’s Army. This development, born from the study of People’s War as a scientific revolutionary discipline, necessitates two further developments.
The first of these is the important Maoist tenet that the Party must be militarized. This means that it must be not merely a political leader, but a military force. Essentially, the cadre of the party must be not merely the leadership of the D. of the P. to be built but the leadership also of the forces fighting to overthrow the current bourgeois state and capitalist system, and must lead the People’s Army from amongst them on the front lines. A Party which does not fight on the front lines for its beliefs cannot lead the construction of the new socialist proletarian society, for a Party away from the front lines of its own cause is one which does not truly walk among the masses and lead them in their cause, but one that is separate from the masses and their cause. If the Party truly believes in the cause of the masses, the cause of the revolutionary D. of the P., it must be able prompt them into militant action and then join and lead them in that action. The leaders of the revolution must also be soldiers in the revolutionary Protracted People’s War. This is the only way for the Vanguard Party to truly be the democratic leader of the proletariat, to truly take its place at the head of the proletariat and fight for the cause of the Party and the working class: the construction of socialism. If the Party fails to genuinely fight with the people and lead them toward their shared interests, then that Party is not a true Democratic Vanguard of the cause of the proletariat, it is an isolated sect with no real influence, no connection to the people it claims to lead, and nothing to contribute to the cause of proletarian freedom and democracy. To truly lead the masses toward democracy and liberty for proletarians- towards the socialist Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat- the Party must walk among them, share their experiences, and fight alongside them for that glorious future.
The other of these important philosophical developments is the development of Gonzalo’s view on the most effective way to carry out People’s War: Unitary People’s War. There are essentially two ways a war can be planned and carried out, either as a piecemeal movement of several unrelated conflicts with their own directions and plans or as a single, unified campaign driven by one clear and overarching agenda. Gonzalo, as a Great Leader of the PCP and the Peruvian proletariat during the start of the People’s War in Peru (although, on a tangential note, he was not the only leader of the People’s War as many people have claimed in order to paint him as some sort of autocrat. There were other important leaders after his arrest, and the People’s War continues without his direct involvement even today! He is also not the only Great Leader of the struggle in Peru; Mariátegui also deserves that title.), affirmed that the correct way to wage the revolutionary People’s War for socialism and communism was the latter. This is in line with Leninist democratic centralism; the line reached democratically by the workers’ leadership in the Party and its associated workers’ semi-state bodies should, in order to continue upholding the workers’ will and needs, be the unifying overarching political plan of the entire struggle and all who fight for the workers’ cause should follow it. This key Leninist teaching, when applied to the era of Maoism and the People’s War, tells us that the way the PPW should be carried out is under the guidance of a single unified plan that is upheld by the Vanguard Party and agreed to by the revolutionary proletariat of a given country as a whole. This does not, of course, mean that there can be no variety or creativity in how the war is waged in specific areas. It is impossible to predict all of the scenarios that will arise during the waging of PPW, and we Maoists will have to be ready to lead the revolutionary forces in adapting to the unexpected. However, in the interest of waging the PPW in a way that follows the will of the masses as a whole, all these adaptations should be guided by the overarching plan of the united movement of the Party, People’s Army, and United Front and that plan should be applied, and the war should be waged, as a unified whole across every situation where the revolutionary struggle is waged. Specifically in Peru, this means that while the bulk of the PPW is happening in certain rural areas, the work in those areas must be matched by corresponding revolutionary work in the cities that follows the same programme (as explained in the PCP’s General Political Line, more specifically the section entitled “Military Line”). In general, it means that the PPW must follow a unified programme and that programme should be applied by comrades to every kind of situation, not just the primary situation in which the PPW is occurring but also to every other situation in which revolutionary struggle through PPW must be waged. In short, the PPW should be guided by a united programme for the whole country, a programme that is determined democratically to be for the good of all the masses in that country and that is applied to every situation where revolutionary actions must be undertaken. This is the principle of Unitary People’s War, and the correct way of waging the Protracted People’s War to destroy the bourgeois state, bring about the D. of the P. and socialism, and pave the way for world communism.