Memories from Nemesis: Tale of a Peruvian Maoist Reply

A somewhat interesting review of Abimael Guzman’s autobiography. For quite some time, I have held the view that the Shining Path developed what is arguable the most advanced critique of imperialism on the Marxist “far-left,” although it’s not substantially different from what anarchist anti-imperialists were saying in the 19th century. Marxists still held to a generally pro-imperialist line at the time. Marxist anti-imperialism really begins with Lenin (at least as far as major theorists). It’s also interesting how the Shining Path’s emphasis on recapturing a supposedly glorious Inca past resembles the primordialism found in aspects of fascist thinking. Pol Pot’s emphasis on reclaiming Angkar was similar.

By Frank Beyer

“Mao Zedong Thought” was a major global ideology at a time when China didn’t have much to offer the world economically. Chairman Mao influenced a wide range of groups, such as the Black Panthers in the United States and revolutionary movements in Nepal, India, and the Philippines. Mao was also a guiding light for one particular Peruvian revolutionary: Abimael Guzman. This acolyte’s revolution caused radical waves long after Mao’s death in 1976 – and ultimately ended in failure.

In 1965, a philosophy professor at Peru’s University of Huamanga named Abimael Guzman — also known as “Chairman Gonzalo” — travelled to China with seven other Peruvian communists; he would return to become the most famous Maoist in Latin American guerrilla history. While in Beijing, Guzman got to see Chairman Mao, but only from afar.

Guzman was also greatly inspired by a rally in Tiananmen Square where the masses waved red flags, sang “The East is Red” and “The International,” and chanted “we support Vietnam” and “down with Yankee imperialism.” Guzman was impressed by Chinese factories, schools, universities, hospitals, communes – all teeming with optimistic energy as the socialist society was being constructed. He then attended classes on revolution, politics, and party organisation. And in Nanjing, he received military training, including how to make explosives out of anything. He recounts in his autobiography, Memories from Nemesis (Memorias desde Némesis) 2014, that even the pens they used in class blew up; the teachers used this example to convince the class that anything was possible when you had the support of the masses.

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