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Monday, January 28, 2019


ByHarsh Thakor


The aspect of Jetafura. Personality Cult or Great Leadership has been a topic of great relevance and important debate for cadres. A consistent struggle was waged against it by Comrades like VI Lenin, Mao Zedong and even Joseph Stalin to a certain extent. Nevertheless its infection had an important bearing on the Chinese revolution in the pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary stages. 

It reached its crescendo in the time of the Great Proletarian Cultural revolution with many instances when image of Chairman Mao was exaggerated. Today in the International Communist Movement several parties and individuals are opposing the trend of Jetafura. Vivid examples are Scott Harrison of America, Ajith of the C.P.I(Maoist) in India, Joma Sison -chairman of the Communist Party of Philippines and the RCP-Canada. A trend endorsing it is the Struggle Sessions or Red Guards Los Angeles and earlier the Red Guards Austin. They also assert term of 'principally' Maoism. The error possibly made by chairman Gonzalo was to claim it as the 4th sword of Marxism and a new thought so prematurely before the completion of revolution. It is ironic that the peoples war had such a dramatic overturn and Chairman Gonzalo propagated suspending the peoples war after his arrest in 1992. 

Athought can emerge after the revolution is completed or on the very verge of taking place as in the case of Mao Zedong thought in China or Leninism in Russia. Personality cult of a leader promotes religious approach of blind faith. The similar mistake was made by Prachanda in Nepal when creating Prachanda thought that morally upheld line of insurrection in place of people’s war and eventually aligning with the parliamentary process. In India this tendency took place in the era of Charu Mazumdar who greatly foundered his own cult. In Nepal Prachanda repeated the experience of Gonzalo in Peru. Infact in India certain effect of personality cult did take place with the existence of so many Marxist-Leninist groups with groups named after leaders like 'Chandra Pulla Reddy group", "Pyla Vasudeva Rao group'' "Tarimela Nagi Reddy Group" ,'kondapalli Seetharmiah PW group etc. 

Major splits took place on personality issues. In this context we must admire the humility of former secretary Ganapathy to pave way for a new general secretary for the C.P.I.(Maoist) in recent months ,which upheld the collective spirit. Leaders of course play a substantial role but the personality cult obstructs the principle of collective leadership with M.K.Gandhi being a vivid example in the Indian national Congress. A major transition from a bourgeois democracy to a Socialist state is eradicating the glory of the individual. 

Leaders have been granted such a stature like Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao for their contribution to development of theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism. In China the aspect of the personality cult had it's roots in the Confucian religious culture where a great philosopher turned into a God and thus had oriental heritage. No doubt it is an inherent part of human nature to have faith in leader or philosopher just like Jesus Christ and identify with such people. It is virtually impossible that certain tendencies of personality are a forgone conclusion .However we must apply the dialectical concepts so inherent in Marxism to prevent any leader from turning into a demi-God just like Hitler was created in Germany or Gandhi in India. In China Lin Biao used Mao's personality cult to promote himself and at times Mao was hailed like an emperor in slogans. Chairman Mao did not arguably do enough to curtail the elevation of his cult from 1966-69.

Ironic that within 3 years of the death of Stalin and Mao bourgeois leaderships However I feel we have to combat Great Leadership concept as Struggles Sessions are doing. No doubt Gonzalo made great strides but in the end It was the lack of capacity of collective leadership that led to the termination of the peoples war. Creating concept of militarisation of the party 'taking Maoism as principal 'and incorporating insurrection was purely a creation of Gonzalo. What was ridiculous was calling 'Gonzalo thought' principal for Peru and classing Gonzalo as the 4th sword discarding greats like Engels and Stalin. Equivalent of Gonzalo taking Marxism or Maoism to a higher stage. 

Principally Maoism is a hyper antagonistic position that has only caused trouble for Maoists genuinely engaging in the mass-line and building to revolution. It’s very adventurist. Gonzalo thought is another weird semantic game. Gonzalo almost won a revolution, but I think it was idealism of his "thought" that led to the failure of the PCP.Jefatura is ridiculous and definitely confused the revolutionary process after his capture. Much of his positions are ambiguous, though I think correct if read in a certain way - unfortunately many of the principally Maoist types read him radically differently than I would give an optimistic reading of. (Views of comrade Nick Marlatte) Militarisation of the party is an ambiguous term if it means hearing the party for PPW, it’s great, if it means liquidation into only activities of war it will not suffice the PCP’s writings are too vague to even draw a line on this of course military struggle is the necessarily highest stage of smashing the state and taking power, but we need to be clear in what that means for a protracted proletarian process. (Quoting Nick Marlatte) What is most vital when being critical of personality cult is that we connect it to the struggle for the massline and not isolated from it. We have to meticulously study how Lenin, Stalin and Mao became leaders of the party and how it related with the building of the massline. 

Of great relevance was how Mao won the majority in the CCP in Tsunyi in 1953 after earlier being in a minority. In India we must study the relationship of Charu Mazumdar's cult with left adventurist line and later how revisionist ideological trend led to opportunist unifications and splits. Bob Avakian's conversion from a genuine revolutionary into a revisionist had more to do with the impact of revisionism world over and not merely his individual cult. We have to analyze the subtle features that lead to degeneration of collective leadership. However we must be careful of not falling into the trap of finding fault with Lenin, Stalin and Mao and thus attacking the backbone of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. 

Being too critical of great leaders including Gonzalo ,but particularly Stalin and Mao could help the counter-revolutionaries .Some very strong on criticism cult of personality of Stalin fell into the quagmire of ecclectism like Joshua Moufawad Paul Scott Harrison with regards to Stalin and the Indian comrade Rangayakaama. Several comrades. and trends overcritical of cult of even Mao have deviated strongly to the right.We have to overtly respect the problems comrades like Stalin in building the 1st ever Socialist states and Gonzalo in leading a revolutionary war when no Socialist state existed. Progressive today that the nations holding the biggest peoples Wars which are India and Philippines have demonstrated no tendency of personality cult.

We have to complement comrades Joma Sison and Ganapathy for this .While combating sectarianism we should support and admire the tenacity or commitments of Struggles sessions or RGA Los Angeles for defending Marx, Lenin, Stalin ,Mao and Gonzalo with such deoth nad thus refuting counter-revolutionary revisionists. Of great help to my work are the notes of Comrade Nick Marlatte of RCP-Canada. Quoting Scott Harrison in Massline. info on Bourgeois and proletarian leadership Neither of us [Marx or Engels] cares a straw for popularity. A proof of this is, for example, that, because of aversion to any personality cult, I have never permitted the numerous expressions of appreciation from various countries, with which I was pestered during the existence of the International, to reach the realm of publicity, and have never answered them, except occasionally by a rebuke. 

When Engels and I first joined the secret Communist Society we made it a condition that everything tending to encourage superstitious belief in authority was to be removed from the Rules.[16] Lenin, too, followed this fine example. As even bourgeois biographers acknowledge, Lenin "strongly disapproved of anything that smacked of what later became known as the personality cult".[17] Another bourgeois historian, Sheila Fitzpatrick, says: While Lenin lived, the Bolsheviks acknowledged him as the party's leader. Nevertheless, the party did not formally have a Leader, and it offended Bolsheviks to think that it necessarily required one. In moments of political turbulence, it was not unheard of for party comrades to rebuke Lenin for trading too much on his personal authority; and, while Lenin usually insisted on having his way, he did not require flattery or any particular show of respect. The Bolsheviks had nothing but contempt for Mussolini and his Italian Fascists, regarding them as political primitives for dressing up in comic-opera uniforms and swearing loyalty to Il Duce. Furthermore, they had learned the lessons of history, and had no intention of letting the Russian Revolution degenerate as the French Revolution had done when Napoleon Bonaparte declared himself Emperor. Bonapartism—the transformation of a revolutionary war leader into a dictator—was a danger that was often discussed in the Bolshevik Party, usually with implicit reference to Trotsky, the creator of the Red Army and hero of Communist youth during the Civil War.[18] 

There is indeed a tremendous difference between having a leader and having a Leader. I am sorry to see the RCP making Bob Avakian into a Leader, which can only harm the party, and perhaps even bring contempt down upon Avakian in the long run. In 1920 Maxim Gorky published a series on Lenin in one of his journals which praised him extravagantly, remarking for example that "In a religious era, Lenin would have been considered a saint... A stern realist, a shrewd politician, Lenin is gradually becoming a legendary figure. This is good."[19] These articles were reprinted together with an editorial by Gorky, without Lenin's knowledge or approval, in the magazine Communist International. In response, Lenin drafted the following resolution and circulated it for approval by the Politburo: The Politburo of the C.C. considers the publication in no. 12 of "Kommunisticheskii internatsional" of Gorky's articles extremely inappropriate, especially the editorial, since there is not only nothing communist about these articles, but a great deal that is anti-communist in them. In the future such articles must on no account be published in "Kommunisticheskii internatsional."[20] Lenin actually seemed so concerned to prevent a cult of personality around himself that he occasionally went a bit overboard. In April 1920 he initially opposed the publication of his collected works, for instance. But with Stalin, things went to hell. The glorification of the authority of Stalin went to wildly extravagant extremes, and collective leadership eventually became a totally empty phrase, especially at the top level. 

As has often been remarked, the Party became synonymous with the Central Committee, the Central Committee became synonymous with the Politburo, and the Politburo became synonymous with Stalin. Whatever Stalin said was law, and even beyond mere law, practically the word of God. Nothing that Stalin said or did could be criticized, or even questioned, whether within or outside of the Party. Such an approach to leadership is not scientific, and it is not Marxist. It is, ironically, Stalin, of all people, who provided one of the most important arguments against personality cults when he complained of leaders becoming unapproachable for the masses: Lastly, there is yet another circumstance that impels us to self-criticism. I am referring to the question of the masses and the leaders. A peculiar sort of relation has lately begun to arise between the leaders and the masses. On the one hand there was formed, there came into being historically, a group of leaders among us whose prestige is rising and rising, and who are becoming almost unapproachable for the masses. 

On the other hand the working-class masses in the first place, and the mass of the working people in general are rising extremely slowly, are beginning to look up at the leaders from below with blinking eyes, and not infrequently are afraid to criticize them. ...the fact that as these leaders rise they get further away from the masses, and the masses begin to look up at them, cannot but give rise to a certain danger of the leaders losing contact with the masses and the masses getting out of touch with the leaders. This danger may result in the leaders becoming conceited and regarding themselves as infallible. And what good can be expected when the top leaders become self-conceited and begin to look down on the masses? Clearly, nothing can come of this but the ruin of the Party... and precisely in order that we may move forward and improve the relations between the masses and the leaders, we must keep the valve of self-criticism open all the time, we must make it possible for Soviet people to "go for" their leaders, to criticize their mistakes, so that the leaders may not grow conceited, and the masses may not get out of touch with the leaders.... [This] is a question of organizing, along the lines of self-criticism and criticism of our shortcomings, the broad public opinion of the Party, the broad public opinion of the working class, as an instrument of keen and vigilant moral control, to which the most authoritative leaders must lend an attentive ear if they want to retain the confidence of the Party and the confidence of the working class.[33] 

The personality cult built up around Mao, for example, was in some ways even more extreme than that around Stalin. In Mao's case though, it was concentrated more in the area of public adoration, and he did not flout the principles of democratic centralism to anywhere near the degree that Stalin did. Moreover, Mao—unlike Stalin—constantly employed the mass line, continued to learn from the people, and always endeavored to lead the masses in the transformation of society towards communism. Unfortunately, the personality cults of Stalin and Mao continue to be emulated. It has gotten to the point where it is common for personality cults to be erected around leaders of communist parties which have not even achieved political power. The Communist Party of Peru now speaks of its application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to Peru as "Gonzalo Thought", after the top leader of the Party, Chairman Gonzalo (Abimael Guzmán).[21] According to the Wall Street Journal, they also refer to "Presidente Gonzalo, the Fourth Sword of Marxism".[22] Presumably the first three swords are Marx, Lenin and Mao. The Communist Party of Peru defends the description of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism applied to Peru as "Gonzalo Thought" with two main arguments: Every revolution, in the course of its development, due to the struggle of the proletariat as the leading class and, above all, of the Communist Party which unwaveringly upholds the proletariat's class interests, brings forth a group of leaders and principally one who comes to represent and lead it, a leader of recognized authority and influence. In our situation, because of historical necessity and for historical reasons, this has meant concretely Chairman Gonzalo, leader of the Party and of the revolution. 

But, further, and this is the basis of all leadership, revolutions bring forth a thought that guides them, a product 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 achieve victory and seize power, and further, to continue the revolution and always advance towards the only truly great goal, communism. This guiding thought, having made a qualitative leap of crucial importance for the revolutionary process, becomes identified with the name of the person who forged it in theory and in practice. In our situation this phenomenon took specific form first as guiding thought, then as the guiding thought of Chairman Gonzalo, and finally as Gonzalo Thought; for it is the Chairman who, creatively applying Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to the concrete conditions of Peruvian reality, has developed it, thus providing the Party and the revolution with an indispensable weapon which is the guarantee of victory.[31] There is one obvious thing that is wrong with these two arguments: the Peruvian revolution is by no means over. Proletarian power has not even been seized, let alone has society been transformed into communism. The arguments in effect assume that the theory of the Peruvian revolution has now been entirely worked out, at least in its essentials. It is, in other words, a static analysis of Peruvian revolutionary theory. But all revolutions require dynamic theory, theory which gets extended and modified as the revolution proceeds. 

I know that Chairman Gonzalo has made many important contributions to the struggle, and has led the CPP in getting the revolution off to a tremendously encouraging start. But the Peruvian revolution still has a long way to go, and no one can be completely sure of the exact course it will have to take. Many, probably most, of the future ideas necessary for the continued success of the Peruvian revolution will come ultimately from the masses. Perhaps they will continue to be summed up and implemented under the direction of Chairman Gonzalo; perhaps not. It is for history to say, not for anyone to proclaim before it is accomplished.

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