The article is divided into two parts; the first part points out, not without irony, the far too simplistic perspective of those who from the “radical left” criticize the FARC-EP and the Peace Process. The second part contains the author’s arguments on context and analysis in defense of the FARC-EP as a Marxist-Leninist organization that employs historical materialism and dialectic methods to develop their action in today's context.
What follows is the article, translated into English by farc-epeace.org. The original article in Spanish can be found here:
In an extremely synthetic way, given the space limitations, we could marshal the main criticisms launched from the radical left against the peace process in Havana and against the FARC-EP in simple formulas, in the idea of establishing their degrees of validity and relevance. Apparently, for some sectors, we, the champions of armed insurgency and violent revolution, have now become reformists, traitors and simple social democrats.
Let's start with their general appreciation of the world and class struggle. According to them, the world is divided into two clearly distinguishable camps, imperialism and its lackeys on the one hand, and on the other, peoples in struggle for materializing the revolution and socialism. If the latter have not been able to succeed, it has been mainly because they have not applied the correct line drawn by Marxism-Leninism.
Or because they have deviated from it after the taking over of power. The line is clear, the revolution is a violent clash promoted by a peasant-worker vanguard that takes away the power from the capitalist class through an armed insurection. The latter is a result of the maturity of objective and subjective conditions. The first are a tangible reality in all current societies, the second ones are the heritage of the most loyal followers of Marxism.
This heritage is revealed in the works of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin, and comprises a set of immutable principles that should be applied without any variation. Capitalism is a decadent system that is about to collapse and therefore its fall only depends on the audacity and coherence of the vanguard party. The revolution has always been just around the corner and it has only been obstaculized by hesitant leaderships.
These leaderships are those which have doubts about the permanent willingness of the masses to embark on the final battle, or those who foolishly conceive alternatives other than armed uprising, those who have invented various stages to reach socialism, imagining they can conquer democratic spaces in the world of capitalism, naively believing that imperialism and the bourgeoisie will somehow share their State with the exploited classes.
Those who instead of leading the insurrection claimed by the opressed, tend to talks and pact formulas of coexistence with the dominant classes. Those who dare to believe in absurd reconciliations between exploiters and exploited, those who even - to reach that hallucination- are able to disolve a revolutionary army about to triumph, those who sign peace accords instead of waging war to the extreme.
The perfect example, the guide that every revolutionary movement should follow, is in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. It was through an armed uprising that the Russian people buried Tsarism in February that year, imposing a brief republican period in which the soviets shared power with the bourgeoisie, to finally reach full power through another insurrection in October.
Learn how it is done! Shout the critics.
This is why, sovereignly ashamed and grateful, the FARC-EP must send the Peace Talks and the signed agreements to hell, and instead make a call for the general uprising of the population, while we return to combat, completely ready to fulfill once and for all our strategic plan. People in Colombia are ready to take the streets, block roads and cities, to storm the local power for the revolutionary triumph.
And if by misfortune or because of the work of some whim we were to be defeated in the attempt, we would have perished heroically, on the battlefield, turned into the heroes of future generations, and therefore inspiring the final triumph, which will inevitably occur as a result of the teachings left by our sacrifice for those who will excitedly pick up our banners.
That would be a genuine revolutionary behaviour, the irrefutable proof of our loyalness to the guidelines, with our blood reaffirming its absolute correctness and validity. Those who now criticize us would be the first to go out and proclaim this in their weblogs, they would be in charge of raising monuments in our memory, they would stand firm and livid when they hold the one-minute silence in our honor before starting their meetings.
With all the respect that these critics may deserve, we have to say that they are deeply mistaken. Revolution, like any other human activity linked to the dispute over State power, is fundamentally and foremost a political situation. And politics consists of earning the support of others towards a political purpose. A victorious politician is the one who has an overwhelming number of followers.
Therefore, a revolution will only be victorious when the masses are not simply on the abstract mindset of dreamers, but rather in the reality of the political struggle. We can say anything we like about the hated imperialism and the evil bourgeoisie, but as long as they have the concurrence of a majority who, for whatever reason, prefers to sit in their shadow instead of fighting them, then no matter how strong rebels shout or how noisy their firearms are, the dominating classes will be impossible to beat.
Moreover, only a fanatic could deny the fact that they have huge military and repressive apparatuses that they never hesitate to use, they hold the reins of formal education and are owners of the mass media dedicated to shaping people's opinions. And as if that were not enough, they are the owners of scientific and technological knowledge, and by virtue of the above they are able to impose a cultural hegemony that traps and shapes consciences.
We consider that we surpassed the old debate about the Marxist dogma. For all of us, it is clear that as a valuable source of economic and social knowledge, its invaluable dialectic heritage imposes consider it as a guide and not as a series of commandments. Abraham Lincoln liked to repeat that a compass shows us where the north is and the direction we want to take, but it doesn't show us the abyss, deserts, or the mud of the road.
It is the concrete analysis of the concrete reality that tells us when to turn around for a while, when a bridge should be build first, when it is better to wait for the river to calm down before jumping into it. To follow the line straight forward, invariably, however correct its Azimuth may be, very easily makes us perish in the attempt. With apologies to our critics, more than half a century of being guerrillas has taught us something about that.
In politics, considering that one is right will never be enough, in spite of the fact that this is what drives us forward. The massive support of others will always be needed and that's not produced by spontaneous generation, much less within the unequal conditions in which the popular movements confront the power of the ruling classes. To reach massive support, a series of conditions must be reached and created, which would allow us to reach out to people, talk with them, create class consciousness, organize and mobilize.
In 1917, apart from the tragic experience of the Paris Commune, neither the dominant nor the oppressed classes had knowledge of how a revolution was done. But from the moment the Bolsheviks came to power with the global spread of their ideas and approaches, the issue acquired a scientific spirit. While the underdog obtained a formidable example to follow, the above learned what to do to crush it.
The specific conditions of Tsarist Russia were rigorously studied by Lenin to shape his tactics, based on past experiences, like the French Revolution, but designing his own line of action, creating it, not mechanically copying a past experience. All later triumphant socialist revolutions had the Russian revolution as a reference, but none of those was the exact repetition or traced the same route. Only those who were truly authentic were able to sustain themselves over time.
We still continue to live in a capitalist world as was the case in 1917, but it is wrong to consider that the situations of a century later must be examined with the same criteria as Lenin applied to his time and place. The system has developed much more, today's world is more complex, the ruling classes have acquired their own counter-revolutionary experiences and even the proletariat is qualitatively different.
Lenin himself knew no fascism or national security doctrine, he wasn't able to theorize about the economic crisis of 1929 or the ability of capital to reproduce and concentrate even more as a result of it. In 2008, the most recent financial global crisis took place, but despite its depth and scope, contrary to the provisions of the classics, it was far from representing the breakdown of the system. The old building still looks strong.
And that cannot be called defeatism. Revolutionaries have to recognize reality to accordingly draw the route to follow. We are not living a heyday of the revolutionary movement, as produced on the planet after World War II or the heyday of the Soviet Union after its victory, which meant a wave of struggles for the independence of peoples, for their democratization, for the revolution and socialism.
We live in the historical period that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union and socialism in Eastern Europe, which opened the door to the globalization of capital and its neoliberal policies. We live in a moment of absolute arrogance of imperialism. Its capacity and greediness it has shown in order to subjugate people cannot be ignored. We are obliged to recognize the reflux of the revolutionary movement in which we act, which mustn't be understood as the recognition of being defeated, like many of those who are predicting a global anticapitalist revolution coming soon.
Fortunately, all over the world there still are people and organizations willing to not abandon hope, committed to uphold the validity of revolutionary causes and socialism. But by own experience they've understood the need to find different paths than the so far employed.
We recognize ourselves as part of this wave that needs to strengthen itself and advance. At the same moment of the revolutionary chaos that followed the fall of the Soviet Union, the Eighth National Conference of the FARC-EP launched its proposal for national reconciliation and reconstruction, which presented a more elaborate version of our old approach to find a political solution to the conflict, within the framework of democratic and anti-neoliberal proposals.
Knowing that ours would not be the immediate proposals of revolution and socialism, in a time when such words were changed by the ruling classes of the world - and well assimilated by many people - into painful and unsuccessful experiences which should better be forgotten forever. We, revolutionaries, had to survive and it was essential to find a discourse that would find a response from the masses.
People saw the fall of socialism that way, but what they have been living in their own capitalist countries had been the end of social welfare model, the closure of one factory after another and their transfer to the Far East, the tide of layoffs, privatization of basic services that were previously State owned enterprises, precarious working conditions, bankruptcy of their companies due to liberalization and foreign competition, social decline and overwhelming insecurity.
Not to mention Colombia, where in addition to those dire consequences of the neoliberal model, agents of the underground drug economy quickly seized the State, and initiated in partnership with major sectors of the traditional parties, a violent onslaught against those who opposed their plans. The State itself did not take long in becoming their ally to fight the insurgency, providing legal and social status to paramilitarism.
This, in turn, would be more than functional for the project of multinational financial investment in infrastructure, mega mining and agriculture for export, thus becoming an implementor of the most barbaric counter-land reform, stripping millions of peasants from their lands through atrocious crimes, under the plausible pretext that these were collaborators of the antediluvian guerrillas who refused to surrender.
A revolutionary organization as experienced and responsible as the FARC-EP realized that what had to be done, was to formulate proposals in line with the tragic reality that Colombians were going through, before engaging in heated debates about the validity of the revolution and socialism. At that point, it was understood that massive support to the political struggle would come through the adequate interpretation of the needed changes according to the people´s deepest longings.
A people besieged by State and paramilitary violence, victim of the terrorist attacks carried out by the drug mafias, threatened on a daily basis on the streets of towns and cities by the death squads, harassed by the impact of a long internal war and on top of that victim of the economic model, had feel the deep aspiration of peace and change in its favor.
The FARC-EP was clear that peace, democracy and social justice were the banners that had to be raised in a Colombia stricken by State terrorism. We had to provide a huge impetus to the demands of the Colombian people to stop State terror, to open spaces that would allow political action by those from below, who have been deprived of their rights due to the official violence while generating awareness against neoliberalism and injustice.
These were not precisely the slogans of revolution and socialism, but it was clear to us that by achieving and materializing them, they would generate the conditions for the victims of the economic and political system to play a key role in further transformations, it would open the possibility to organize and advance, to conquer rights and deepen the struggle to expand them. The slogans of life, peace, political freedom, land, State support and others would eventually become a hurricane.
But we didn’t only say it in proclamations and conferences. We defended it with the force of arms. At the historical moment in which all voices of the Establishment and significant leftist groups were trying to convince us of the need to demobilize, the FARC-EP assumed the military confrontation at its most intense level, we fought without hesitation against the State and its paramilitaries, we shed our blood and many valuable combatants gave their lives.
This heroic action was what made the Establishment start peace talks in El Caguán. The talks that were used by imperialism and the Colombian oligarchy as a holding pattern for their re-armament and military qualification, in order to launch the most impressive offensive annihilation against us. And so they did, taking advantage of the desire for peace of a people victimized to the limit. A tenacious campaign of defamation accompanied their plans.
Then the ten bloodiest years of internal war in Colombia arrived. North American, Israeli and British States advised and supported the Colombian State with resources, technology and military aid. Paramilitarism became a heartless monster with the same purpose. Never before so many bombs and fire had rained down on the FARC-EP camps, so much poisonous syndication and so much international manipulation. Still, they were unable to defeat us in spite of the blows we received.
Then, while our struggle was going on, there was the awakening of much of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean. Surprising and enthusiastic mass movements were gathering and conquering governments in neighboring countries. Chavez, Evo, Correa, Kirchner, Lula, Lugo, Ortega, Zelaya, Funes symbolized and embodied the response of the peoples of the continent to neoliberal policies and the impositions by force by the empire.
Some more radical than others, some more committed than others with the empoverished sectors, all of them would make up a surprising wave in the middle of the imperialist arrogance of big capital that invaded and destroyed entire countries and cultures to ensure their resources and profits. New slogans and tactics, based on the massive actions of the masses helped us confirm that we were right; revolutions would never again have the classic molds.
The coup of April 11, planned in the offices of the empire and planned even in its smallest perversity in conjunction with the reactionary sectors of Venezuela, supported immediately throughout the continental right, sank before the eyes of its makers because of a spontaneous and overwhelming popular reaction that returned President Chavez to power. If you look well, that was a revolution that brought the people to power, more than the elections that had taken place a few years before.
It has been our armed resistance, united to the clamor of millions of Colombians for peace and for the end of the neoliberal policies -that threaten the very existence of the human species- which conquered the space of the Peace Process in Havana. And within it, we have waged a political battle of historic dimensions in order to enforce our idea of peace with social justice and democracy. The agreements signed so far are an example of it.
Since the beginning of the government of Belisario Betancur [mid 1980s], the FARC-EP has worked tirelessly to achieve a political solution to the internal armed conflict in order to democratize national life, defeat State terrorism and route our country towards a different destination from the one imposed by savage capitalism. It has been 34 years of intense military and political confrontation, incontrovertible proof of our condition as consistent revolutionaries.
Such political solution requires a sufficient dose of political realism. Of Marxism applied to the concrete Colombian conditions in present time. Once formalized the guarantees for full political exercise, not only for us but also for social and political movements, having the State committed with the eradication of paramilitarism and its promoters in the economic and political sectors, and with an agreed comprehensive rural reform, what's next?
An important agreement was reached already regarding victims, with an original comprehensive system of truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition, including a Special Jurisdiction for Peace praised by all kinds of experts at the international level. The UN, its Security Council, the European Union, UNASUR, CELAC, the Vatican and the international community in general support what has been agreed and are willing to work together to ensure compliance.
The FARC-EP will transform into a legal political movement, preserving our cohesion and historical unity with the purpose of broadly working with the masses of exploited people in Colombia, for the fulfillment of all agreements reached at the Peace Process and at the same time the struggle for their strenghtening. We have not abandoned nor will we abandon our ideological and political convictions for revolution and socialism.
We'll just be working to achieve the latter according to the context of the contemporary world, extending our embrace of solidarity to all revolutionary parties and movements of the world. It is impossible, given the objective correlation of forces, thinking of continuing our armed struggle within the new conditions of legality and guarantees. The abdication of arms is the final conclusion of all conquered by them and by the strength of the masses.
We understand the dissatisfaction expressed by some radical sectors, but we don’t share it. We are not of those who think that the Cuban revolution has abandoned its purposes and their socialist model for the sake of normalization of relations with the United States. We trust in it, in its people and its history. Times and conditions change and you need to act in accordance with them. As good Communists, we and the Cuban State know it.
Pathways for revolution and socialism are still being explored by today's revolutionaries. History has not ended because class struggle within it beats stronger than ever. It is true that David managed to beat Goliath with a simple slingshot, but we cannot forget that this is merely a religious myth, that both of them had the support of their masses, and that only the masses are the ones that produced victory.
Havana, July 5, 2016.