In case anyone needed a reminder, the Peruvian commission that investigated the war between the government and the Shining Path guerillas has found that both sides committed appalling atrocities. But the self-described Maoists of Shining Path—one of the most gruesome “revolutionary” movements in recent decades—were found responsible for most of the murders and other crimes.
Founded by Abimael Guzman, a university professor who called for the killing of 10 percent of Peru’s population to make way for a new political system, the Shining Path was one of the most savage and bizarre insurgencies in Latin American history. Guzman, who launched his movement from a small campus here, has been jailed since his 1992 capture. But he will soon receive a new trial, and the movement is showing faint signs of reemerging in the jungles east of here.
When it failed to indoctrinate peasants in its radical Maoist ideology, the group massacred civilians to clear out areas it sought to control, hanging dead dogs from lampposts as warning signs. Husbands were killed in front of wives, mothers raped in front of children, mostly in Peru’s remote plains and jungles. Eight of every 10 victims of Peru’s violence lived in the countryside, the report concluded.
One can only shudder to think what Shining Path would have done had it managed to seize power in Peru. Nightmarish descriptions of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge come to mind.
You’d think nobody on the responsible left would want anything to with Shining Path or its supporters.
Welcome to the strange world of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
The Maoist-inspired RCP is closely tied to a radical group called Refuse & Resist, which in turn started and runs one of the main American antiwar groups, Not In Our Name.
According to Michelle Goldberg, writing last October in Salon.com:
Not In Our Name actually has two distinct parts — the Not In Our Name Statement and the Not In Our Name Project. The statement is an antiwar manifesto with more than 100 celebrity signatories, including Martin Luther King III, actors Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover, novelists Russell Banks and Barbara Kingsolver, playwright Tony Kushner, rabbi and activist Michael Lerner and law professor Kimberly Crenshaw, that was published as an ad in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. The project is the activist arm, involved in putting together actions like the Oct. 6 rally [antiwar rally in New York], and is being run by Mary Lou Greenberg, a founder of Refuse & Resist and a spokesperson for the RCP.
The RCP’s ideology isn’t just harmless campus Marxism. It supports Peru’s maniacally brutal Shining Path (“Support the People’s War in Peru!” screams the RCP Web site), the communist guerillas who specialized in urban terrorism, and venerates the bloody insurgency in Nepal and lauds the Maoist campaign to “liberate” Tibet. In an article for WorkingForChange.com, Seattle Times journalist Geov Parrish writes about Not in Our Name statement coordinator Clark Kissinger, whom he identifies as a “core member” of the RCP, “I still have vivid memories of Kissinger explaining calmly to me once why, when the RCP took over, it would be necessary to shoot everyone who didn’t agree with them.” Kissinger is also a founder of Refuse & Resist, whose members organized Not In Our Name and who act as its spokespeople.
In response to the Salon.com article, several NION supporters– including Clark Kissinger– did not challenge Goldberg’s accuracy but complained:
Given the potential of this statement to mobilize hundreds of thousands of Americans from all corners of the political spectrum to oppose this war, we are not surprised that attempts would be made to target certain signers of the Statement for their political views and to send a chilling message to others to watch with whom they associate. We are disappointed, however, that this attempt to scare people away from a movement that has been marked by diversity and that is capable of activating and inspiring tens of thousands would be denounced by a journal that otherwise champions the very values NION seeks to defend.
The RCP is under the control of the mysterious Bob Avakian, a cultish figure and an apparent Mao wannabe, who has been living in self-imposed exile in France since leaving the US in 1980. According to a worshipful account in the RCP publication Revolutionary Worker:
The Central Committee of the RCP hereby enthusiastically reaffirms its respect, love, and firm support for Comrade Avakian and his role as Chair of the Central Committee of the RCP, USA.
As part of stepping up our collective struggle to better meet the challenges and opportunities of these times, the Central Committee hereby urges all Party members and revolutionary-minded people to further ponder and discuss what exactly constitutes genuine revolutionary leadership, and to reflect on, and learn from, the particular role and contributions of the Chairman of our Central Committee in that context.
The Central Committee also hereby reaffirms our determination to prevent the enemy from silencing Chairman Avakian’s crucial revolutionary voice or denying the revolutionary masses his revolutionary leadership, and our renewed determination to ensure that his guidance and methodology will reach an ever widening audience.
The Central Committee of the RCP,USA hereby urges all revolutionary- minded people to join us in this dedication.
The RCP people aren’t the only foreign “revolutionaries” expressing solidarity with the murderers and rapists of Shining Path. The web site of the California-based Committee to Support the Revolution in Peru is a repository of Shining Path propaganda. The CSRP also hosts the web site of the “International Emergency Committee to Defend the Life” of Shining Path founder and leader Dr. Abimael Guzmán.
After Guzmán was captured by the Peruvian army in 1992 (he remains imprisoned), the IEC issued a call to spare his life, including this assertion:
“No knowledgeable and truthful observer of Peru, regardless of their political beliefs, can deny that Dr. Abimael Guzmán is the recognized leader of millions of peasants, workers, students, intellectuals and others of various walks of life in Peru. In no way can the 12-year-long war he has been leading be dismissed as ‘acts of terrorism.’ In no way can Dr. Guzmán be denied the stature of a captured leader of a revolutionary party and army. Dr. Abimael Guzmán merits the broad international support that all imprisoned opponents of imperialism and reactionary regimes have always benefited from.”
–Tony Benn (Britain) – Member of Parliament, House of Commons
–Ramsey Clark (US) – Former U.S. Attorney General
–Rev Peter H.F. Duncan (Britain) – Vicar, St. John’s Church
–Danny Glover (US) – Film actor
–Sinead O’Connor (Ireland) – Musician
–Arthur Scargill (Britain) – President, National Union of Mineworkers
–Gloria Steinem (US) – Editor, MS Magazine
–Howard Zinn (US) – Historian, Author, People’s History of the United States
As is so often the case on the left, the problem isn’t so much the tiny sects that support butchers like the Guzmán and defend the indefensible activities of Shining Path. It’s the naivete and moral blindness of more decent leftists who knowingly or unknowingly make common cause with those who would be pleased to eliminate such unreliable elements if they ever got the chance.