Over the last few years I have noticed that history is being re-written by various people and that especially goes for history of the left. One example is the re-writing of history for the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) known to everyone else, including bourgeois members of the press, Trotskyists and other opponents as Shining Path. The fact that Shining Path never called themselves that doesn't seem to matter to all their many opponents and enemies. It is easy to tell if a report is pro or negative of them because the group never referred to themselves as Shining Path.
So I was reading Wikipedia and I was amazed at all the inaccuracies of the article on Shining Path. Wikipedia is known for being inaccurate but many people probably believe what they read in this article and I have seen the miss-information repeated a lot.
One example is that they banned "the consumption of alcohol." Over and over this has been reported but it simply is not true. They did control the amount of profit a person could sell alcohol for and they did ban "continued drunkenness" but alcohol was available and tolerated by the movement.
Wikipedia said: "The Shining Path became disliked for its policy of closing small and rural markets in order to end small-scale capitalism and to starve
. As a Maoist organization, it
strongly opposed all forms of capitalism." Again this is simply not
true. The guerrillas were tolerant of petite bourgeois businesses and believed
they had a roll to play in the modern Maoist economy. Lima
Another claim is "Many peasants were unhappy with the Shining Path's rule for a variety of reasons, such as its disrespect for indigenous culture and institutions."
Wrong again. The group had formed alliances with various tribal groups and was on the verge of making all kinds of commitments that the government never even tried to do. They were making all kinds of inroads to having good relations to the various indigenous tribes.
The Article admits: "In some areas, the military trained peasants and organized them into anti-rebel militias, called "rondas".
Then the article later claims that the Shining Path (PCP) "suffered embarrassing military defeats to self-defense organizations of rural campesinos — supposedly its social base."
The implication is that the peasants turned against them, but the reality is the peasants had been forced to join rondas by the military and forced to attack them. These were military led and not led by the peasants against the PCP on their own.
It is true that the capture of Chairman Gonzalo (Abimael Guzmán) caused a power vacuum and that lead to the demise of the PCP military campaign.
Another thing to point out is that the comparisons of the PCP to the Khmer Rouge (Communist Party of Kampuchea) is completely bogus. The Wikipedia article did not make that connection, but many of the PCP opponents have. To set the record straight, the PCP NEVER supported or looked up to the Khmer Rouge. They considered that group to be revisionists. The comparisons are only taken serious by PCP enemies and opponents. Such comments as "They wanted to slit the peasant's throats if they only had the time" are noting more than the baseless arguments of young Trotskyists.
The PCP used to give regular reports to the newspaper El Diario. That paper is not considered reliable today, but they used to regularly post the documents and reports from the PCP.
It is easy to just want to believe what a lot of others are saying. I keep hearing "that's what I've heard." Just because someone heard it does not make it true. Just because the stereo types don't match reality does not mean that reality is wrong.
"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people." -Giordano Bruno
Pix by www.theguardian.com.