Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Maoism in Peru: Opposing Perspectives

In his December 2005 missive on Maoism, Mark Rosenzweig wrote the following:

In Latin America (Peru for instance, but elsewhere too) Maoism is an important component of counter-systemic armed opposition to the gross social and economic inequalities and inequities of that continent.

In a piece originally written for New English Review, Theodore Dalrymple describes what this "counter-systemic armed opposition" to "social and economic inequalities" actually looked like in practice. His perspective is just a little bit different from Rosenzweig's:

The worst brutality I ever saw was that committed by Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) in Peru, in the days when it seemed possible that it might come to power. If it had, I think its massacres would have dwarfed those of the Khmer Rouge. As a doctor, I am accustomed to unpleasant sights, but nothing prepared me for what I saw in Ayacucho, where Sendero first developed under the sway of a professor of philosophy, Abimael Guzman. I took photographs of what I saw, but the newspapers deemed them too disturbing to be printed. Human kind at breakfast can bear very little reality. But I also found it difficult to persuade anyone by means of words of the reality of what I had seen: most people nodded and thought I had finally gone mad. On the plane back from Peru, I delighted a worker for Amnesty International when I described to him some of the bad behaviour of the Peruvian Army; but when I described what I had seen Sendero do, incomparably worse, I might as well have talked to him of sea monsters, and of giant squid that could drag nuclear submarines to the depths.

(Belated thanks to Walter Skold, who was the first to let me know about the "Mao missive".)


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