Friday, December 07, 2012

Iquitos, Peru: Jews, not Jooos

--> Everyone wants to be Marilyn Monroe,
But nobody wants to be the audience.
Everyone wants everybody to love them.
But nobody, nobody, loves everyone.*

Everybody wants to be the Jews. But nobody wants to be the Jooos.
Some maybe want a “Boogy-Jew” to show that those who would be Jews are not the Jooos!
In Pucallpa, Peru, as I was lingering long while making my way slowly toward the jungle city of Iquitos, my first assumption on seeing ladies dressed in deep blue head scarves and long skirts standing on street corners was that they were nuns of some Peruvian Catholic order; but then I saw the ladies with husbands and children. The Amazon is a bit swelteringly hot for clothing like that, but I didn't give it more thought till I was on a boat to Iquitos much later and there I saw a fair number of ladies dressed similarly in blue. Those others on the boat I asked about the blue ladies just shrugged and said nothing more about them, turning to talk instead of fishing and family. I let it go, assuming nothing of interest about these blue costumed people. But when I saw them again and in large number in Iquitos, I asked further till a friend told me they are “the Jews.”

A Jew, but not one of the Jooos

Norman Mailer's WWII novel of US soldiers fighting in the Pacific, The Naked and the Dead, has a scene of two Jews in a fox hole, one arguing that, “I'm not a Jew: I'm an atheist.” The other responds: “When they come for you they won't ask what kind of Jew you are.”

--> I got curious, though, about what kind of Jews there are in Iquitos, finding as I looked around, as I met a man with a large blue and white magen david painted on his motorcycle helmet, he being one of the few people in this city of so many motorcycles one couldn't begin to count them all, he being one of the few who wears a tlilith under his jacket, he being one of the few Jews remaining in Iquitos at all, I found that the few Jews who had come to Iquitos during the rubber boom had married local girls, and over the generations had lost their ties to the religion, having to convert to claim the right to return to Israel, which most then did, leaving the field open, in effect, to the new Jews, an old story, indeed. So, in some sense, not credible to me, the Jews are not the Jooos of Israel that our post-modernist Left love to hate so much, these new Jews are Jews, new and improved over the old Jooos whom God hates and has forsaken in favour of Peruvian indians, many of whom moved to utopian communes in the Amazon. Who knew?

Even Muslims, who hate the Jooos more than anyone else, want to be the Jews; but in Peru Muslims have to wait in line for the followers of a dead shoemaker who got word from God Himself that the shoemaker is The New Jews, and the Jooos are cooked, as it were, Peru being the new Promised Land, particularly the Amazon, and the shoemaker is now the mouthpiece of God. Or is it the school teacher from the Andes? Or the hippie from the city?

In my position as a witness of understanding, and having set out the contents of this letter, I must testify:

Our Missionary General and compiler of the excellent and beneficial universal Law: Ezequiel Ataucusi Gamonal testifies that he was taken away to the third heaven, to write the ten commandments of the universal Decalogue, and to unite all the people whose names are written in the book of life, from the four corners of the earth, so as to save them: Then Jehovah will be sanctified and glorified among the people, and they will know the living God, Jehovah, God of truth, eternal king. Amen halleluya.

Ezequiel Ataucusi Gamonal

Nobody wants to be the Jooos, but there is some serious brand grabbing here in wanting to be authentic beyond the history we can all lay claim to, the ideas we know as old and tired, the ways that seem to dramatically to have failed us. And thus, if one can go back, as it were, to the very beginning of what we think we know as what is right, the first Revelation, then perhaps, the others having failed and we being the holders of the first truth, we can do it right, being the right folks by name and definition. We can be the Jews God favours with his whispers. The others having mis-heard or misspoken since. Better to lay claim to being even older than Christ in Christian country like Peru, better to go back of beyond to the Jewish time that so few have any critical knowledge of to lay a foundational claim to rightness and awareness of the future.
So too with the other turn to the Golden Age, the return to the prehistoric past of the Inca era and beyond even that in a challenge to the failed orthodoxies one might be at odds with, even to the point of being at war with orthodoxy. In an attempt to create a whole new world, going back to first principles can mean going so far back to original revelations that there is no record to compare against, only myth and the mind of the creator today. The new world, the new Jews, the new man, the new bringer of Light.

It is about bringing people to orthodoxy, to an agreement about the way it must be for all men if they would live a right life in this corrupt world. Corrupt it is, and the corruption competes with the bringing of the new and the perfect that would be for all men better if only there were a way to take power from those who are evil, those who must, if life is to be right, be rid of. A new second coming, “surely some revelation is at hand.” Ezequiel Ataucusi Gamonal, an old shoe maker by trade, had a vision of a new world, and so too did his competitor in the new world business, Abimal Guzman. Two views. Two Perus. Two new Jews. But something is lost. In Peru, some people are determined to bring about a new order in the universe, to end the old order and make the new their own. The end of the world is the beginning of the world. Tear down the old to make way for the new.

In becoming the New Jews, something is lost in the wilderness of wandering translation. The old Jooos! would never use the "name" Jehovah nor its Hebrew equivalent, Yahweh, derived like an acronym from Exodus 3:14, where God only gives his name as a sentence: “I am that I am.” It is the True Universality revealed by that declarative sentence -- the first ever God who cannot be named, i.e. called to appear,who is no local God, which is to say that all erstwhile tribal gods or spirits are really just (mis)apprehensions of the same universal God-idea that all humans carry forward from a common origin -- of which the new Jews want to be the world's messengers, replacing the envied old Jooos, the first self-conscious universalists whose paradoxical mission is to remember religiously the event at Sinai where they alone in the desert first discovered 'God-defined-by-a-sentence', and hence to remain a distinctive, peculiar, people.

The new Jews, lacking (whether admitted or not) ancestors at the historical scene of the Exodus and the first ever discovery of the name that cannot be named, use the Biblical acronym that refers to the unknowable name, to represent their own relationship to or knowledge of Him.  Once the old Jooos have unleashed upon the world the idea of God as something one can universally define but not name, the only alternatives are to remain unknowingly tribal, or to convert to (or mimic pointlessly) Judaism and remember, as only the peculiar and religiously Jewish nation does, that one must never say "Jehovah" or "Yahweh". The new Jews have learned too much (from Christian missionaries and conquering nations) to go back to being unselfconscious tribalists, and they don't convert to Judaism, not simply because there are no rabbis in the neighborhood recruiting, but because they implicitly feel there is something falsely universal about a "tribe" that remains apart while pretending to be the embodiment of universal truth. That, in a nut shell, is the essence of Judeophobia, as Eric Gans has so effectively argued in his Chronicles of Love and Resentment.

The "antisemite" ignores the universal human paradox that someone must always go first, and remain marked by that peculiar firstness, in representing anything truly universal. But since we all descend from the unique and common origin of human language where someone unknown went first in representing a shared human scene as something transcending the physical world, we all do indeed carry the mark of firstness, however deeply buried within us. It is only in the modern age, where the global marketplace can make us all feel like Jews on exodus in the desert, searching for insights of value to take back and sell in the market, that can dawn the beginning of the idea that We Are All Jews (Now), an idea at first so scary that it emerges along with a big dose of Judeophobia, even in places where Jooos are rarely, if ever, present. But we can make the mark of firstness normal: imagine you are in the gym, working out, and you see on the tv a middle-aged woman with an "I mean business" haircut, and the caption "momtrepreneur".

Wanting to replace the Jews is at least as old as Saint Paul, and it was dead tired by the time Mohammad (whether he actually existed or was invented as the FINAL PROPHET by some who would deny the Jooos) came round with his version of why he was the New Jews c. 618 A.D. Today we see it in Peru, two groups of religious activists claiming to be the chosen ones bringing forth the Revelation of God, as if, and in one case “as” the Jews, if not the Jooos! In replacing the Jooos, one becomes the ultimate and most important deliverer of Truth. Unity, universality, totality, commandment. Smashing the idols, there is but One God, and he is We. We the Perfect.

The story of greater interest, and one older than the Jews, is that of the end of the old oppressive order of tyrant and the restoration of the true order that the righteous God intended for the oppressed suffering unjustly.

Mid 20th century Peru produced two chiliastic movements, certainly distinguishable but both very much religious chiliastic movements intent on ushering in the Millenium, the end of history, and the New Age of perfection. Obviously this hasn't quite worked out because James Redfield is still doing much the same with a series of hack novels, The Celestine Prophecy, most famously, based superficially in the Amazon, in Iquitos, and akin to lower level high school writing passing for profundity in our rather fallen literary world today. The desire for a perfect world never fails to entice the masses of unhappy people.

I use the term chiliasm rather than the latinate millenialism because too many people think of the latter as being about sewing, which the end of the world is not exactly about. Chiliasm, concern about the utopian fulfillment of history, has probably been with us since people developed a sense of history at all, believing that they were at the very cusp of a new time, a new awakening of mankind from a terrible nightmare of oppressors and oppressed, the latter being heirs of a new age, those special and elect folks who would live on top when the revolution finally rolled around. The meek finally inherit the earth, and the world would tremble at the righteous justice forthcoming. We usually call such people belonging to such groups cultists, if not losers, who are failed in the world of men, though not always because of personal failings. Some systems are truly oppressive and sometimes genocidal, and it makes some sense for people to long for a time when there will be an end to the evil, a restoration of the good, and a transplanting of the lower to the elite. I'm not in a position to want to think in such fashion, not being oppressed beyond endurance because I have money of my own and I can vote against my local petty tyrants when and if I so choose, or I can simply leave the place they rule over for some other thug somewhere else where I might be less a target for officious meddling in my private life. But my options are not those of most people most places, and certainly not available to most people throughout history. There more or less reasonable refuge from oppression, tyranny, and outright murder has often been into flights of phantasy, into chiliastic visions of cosmic justice meted out my an all powerful god who loves the oppressed and who will, in the fullness of time, come to their aid and rescue. When one has nothing but another day of suffering, who am I to scoff?

Most generally, we can say that utopia -- literally "no place" -- is an inherent quality of human desire, inasmuch as desire focusses on the obstacles to its realization and thus resents the given order of reality, leading us to phantasize about a state of unreality. Thus,  even if it wasn't until Thomas More, writing in the early sixteenth century, this quality of desire was articulated by the concept of a Utopia.   Utopianism may be inherent to our humanity, but that doesn't mean we can't resist its dangerous sirens in the building of practical goals and ethical interactions with others.  Or, if we can't learn how to do anything, but only dream of revolution and sex, we may end up with a very dangerous politics, or in the best case just mope about like Jobim's "Dreamer":

Why are my eyes always full
Of this vision of you
Why do I dream silly dreams
That I fear won't come true

I long to show you the stars
Caught in the dark of the sea
I long to speak of my love
But you don't come to me

So I go on asking if
Maybe one day you'll care
I tell my sad little dreams
To the soft evening air

I am quite hopeless it seems,
Two things I know how to do
One is to dream
Two is loving you

Well, dreaming of what may be might be may be innocuous when it involves "loving" a girl who sees only a boy, or when it's truly some poor sod crying about his oppression, but it can become downright deadly in the mind of Gnostic politicos sworn to destruction of the oppressive capitalist world that is, for they never have a realistic alternative, just empty words of hope and change-- if not the full rhetorical Mussolini-- in service of more restraint on exchange and fair reciprocity, if not the fully destructive will to power or a Hitler, Stalin, or Mao. Dreaming. In a dream one can do anything. Creating a Dream World? It is often not innocuous. The dream of the perfect world is a path to glory, and leads but to the grave. Replacing the Jooos to become The New Jews....

Life might well be harsh, and at times and places evil. One fights. Some fight not for good but for perfect, falling into the “Perfect fallacy” of “If it's not perfect it must be evil.” Some of those who long for the millenium kill to bring about the eschathon, the perfect peace of heaven on earth. Those people often wish to be the Jews, replacing the Jews and turning the first into “The Jooos!”**

Below we see two (and a half) cases of utopianism at work in the world, the Perfect Jews as 'Not the Jooos.' We see the cobbler from Lima with his visions of the perfect; we see the mad philosophy progessor with his blood-drenched dystopian cleansing on the march, and, so slight as to be hardly noticable, we see the cliched maunderings of a post-Modernist would-be cool guy moron nihilist slagging the Jooos and the Christians and the usual suspects of hip and edgy in the shiny plastic world of the West that has lost even the semblance of authenticity the two others strive for.


In the town of Equipi, Acobamba District, Tarma Province, Junín Region, in the year 1955, in the month of April, I was studying the Bible, and while reading the Bible, I felt a change in my face, and I felt a transformation in my person. I remained still in surprise and amazement; and by the mercy of God, I Ezequiel received the revelation of the mystery for the first time.
For the first time, in the morning vision, I heard a heavenly voice, that spoke to me saying: To you is given, this mystery of dispensation, and you will speak to the ends of the earth, you will no longer be dumb, for this I chose you, and have done this, I responded: this I will do, thank you my Lord.
After which I turned my face to God, with prayers and pleading cries, saying: Now Lord God of Heaven, give me understanding, and teach me of your ways and that which I must do: Then: during the night time vision, there came a voice like thunder, and said to me: Understand Son of Man, I am here to teach you: what there is to do, what is to happen, and what is to come.

[First, he referred to "how darkness prevailed," a clear reference to the colonial period. Second, he asserted, was an age that explained "how light emerged and steel was forged." Finally, he concluded with "how the walls were destroyed and the dawn spread."***]

EZEQUIEL GAMONAL, who has died aged 82, was a Peruvian prophet regarded by tens of thousands of followers as the Messiah.

A diminutive, rather bad-tempered figure who suffered from arthritis, Gamonal was worshipped by his sect, the Israelites of the New Universal Covenant. Its members were mainly Andean peasants who wore Old Testament costumes modelled on the Hollywood epics of Cecil B De Mille.

Add caption
Gamonal, a former village shoemaker, taught that he had been chosen by God to inaugurate the new Israel, which had been transferred from the Middle East to Peru as a punishment for the original Israelites' loss of faith. The new kingdom would extend far into the Amazon, where it was believed the last Inca emperor had been sleeping since the Spanish invasion in the 16th century.
Belief in the sacredness of the jungle led the Israelites to found a number of "colonies" deep in the rainforest....
At his month-long birthday celebrations in 1999... an Indian dressed as Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor, handed over a golden sceptre to Gamonal, signifying that he was destined to bring the fabled empire back to life.
Throughout the festivities the old man watched impassively, chewing methodically on enormous pieces of pork, sitting on his throne, a reclining orthopaedic armchair.
Ezequiel Ataucusi Gamonal was born in 1918 to a peasant family in southern Peru. It was while working as a shoemaker in the 1950s that he converted from Roman Catholicism to Seventh-day Adventism....
In 1969, the new religion was recognised by the Peruvian state, and by the 1990s estimates of its strength ranged from 60,000 to 200,000.
Gamonal's cosmology was a complex and often confusing mixture of Seventh-day Adventism, Judaism and Inca legend.
It was beyond doubt, however, that Gamonal's followers, most of whom were peasants uprooted from their villages by the collapse of the rural economy in the 1970s, derived spiritual comfort from his teachings. For many, the Israelites' life of prayer offered a peaceful alternative to the Shining Path, the Maoist guerillas who terrorised Peru during the 1980s.

The wooden pillar of blood and sacrifice.

The article on Aeminpu above from the Telegraph seems to have been originally published at, written by Lali Cienfuegos, a journalist for Al Jezeera and the BBC. The second version is stripped of the “cool”; the religion-bashing New Age hippie cliches removed from the standard journalistic piece. Not at all strange are the religious overtones in the original piece, the religion of pomo/Obama-worship, the pseudo-religious scientism of the Left eschatology. We can understand this by noting that while Utopianism may be a human universal, the specific form it takes is shaped by history. The BBC brat belongs to a postmodern age when Utopianism has lost any kind of concrete vision of the world to come. All it knows is that it must continually oppose the world as is, in the name of redeeming the victims of the putatively powerful or "privileged", an impulse that can always find more victims to make objects of media and bureaucratic mediation, maybe to throw Obama bucks at the victims though first to claim the debt-backed stimulus for their own mediation. It's a make-work project for guilty "white" folk, leaving one maybe just to cry out against capitalism, biting the hand that feeds, or as in Cienfuegos' piece to denounce a group he at first wanted to see as victims of the changing economy of Peru, but who in the end destroyed his guilty white "compassion" because of their penchant for Bibles, beef, and rice, all grown at the expense of the greater supposed victim, the death-loving bitch Gaia's rainforest. Life in the jungle may be a "verdant hell" of insects and reptiles, but a victim-worshipping death cultist respects Gaia for that and would not give the Bible thumpers the chance to gain dominion over her.

In other words, Cienfuegos is pissed that the new Israelites' Utopia is so old school.

The "oppressions" (to use the modern term) under which people lived in traditional societies were to some considerable degree understood and accepted in terms of the "natural" hierarchical order into which one who was born, say, a slave, cobbler, or feudal peasant and hence could expect little but hardship in this world. The Utopian impulse of such people, at least in the Christian and Islamic worlds, tended to the millennial and other-worldly. Taking a messianic bent, their relationship to Jewish, Christ- or Mohammed-killing, otherness was understood by reference to the peculiar ritual and law of Judaism (whether actual or invented - e.g. the belief that Jews put children's blood in their Passover mazoth), the supposed failures, evils, and limits of which could justify the ascendancy of a new covenant of new Jews. The new Jews don't kill gods and prophets. That's what the Jooos do.

In contrast, the modern word, supposedly too sophisticated for stories of blood-sucking Jewish rituals, gives rise to a utopianism that takes holistic resentment of the market-driven social order as the normal stuff of intellectual life and, in the manner of Karl Marx, makes of "the pushy Jew" the epitome of commerce, so that the transcendence of capitalism by Communism is the liberation of mankind from Judaism whose essence is no longer divine law, but simply the law's no-longer-hidden foundation: Money.  One no longer simply resents the lord or master, but the system as a whole.  And one starts to see supposedly invisible, but indubitably money-grubbing, hands manipulating the system in their own interest.  Whether one offers a concrete vision of the society to come (as Marx thought he did), or one goes postmodern, like Cienfuegos, and simply implies that resentment of an imperfect world is proof itself of an authentic vision, one may well wonder what if anything in this could be relevant to the situation of Peruvian peasants.

Here we will consider the Cerberus of Peruvian Gnostic religion, the Israelitas, and the Shining Path terrorists, groups lead by messianic figures promising a New Age as they become the new Chosen People, those who would become the better Jews of our nature.
In the face of reactionary military actions... we responded with a devastating action: Lucanamarca. Neither they nor we have forgotten it, to be sure, because they got an answer that they didn't imagine possible. More than 80 were annihilated, that is the truth. And we say openly that there were excesses, as was analyzed in 1983. But everything in life has two aspects. Our task was to deal a devastating blow in order to put them in check, to make them understand that it was not going to be so easy. On some occasions, like that one, it was the Central Leadership itself that planned the action and gave instructions. That's how it was. In that case, the principal thing is that we dealt them a devastating blow, and we checked them and they understood that they were dealing with a different kind of people's fighters, that we weren't the same as those they had fought before. This is what they understood. The excesses are the negative aspect... If we were to give the masses a lot of restrictions, requirements and prohibitions, it would mean that deep down we didn't want the waters to overflow. And what we needed was for the waters to overflow, to let the flood rage, because we know that when a river floods its banks it causes devastation, but then it returns to its riverbed.... [T]he main point was to make them understand that we were a hard nut to crack, and that we were ready for anything, anything.
Abimael Guzmán[2]


Lucanamarca Documentary:

Wikipedia enters that on 3 April 1983 the religious fanatics of the Peruvian Communist Shing Path murdered 69 peasants in the Andean town of Luicanamarca in the Ayacucho region. The massacre is ostensibly in retaliation for the stoning, stabbing, and burning and shooting death of Olegario Curitomay, a Shining Path leader from the town, in March previous. The peasants murdered by Shining Path were hacked to death by machetes and axes, some were shot. “Eighteen were children, the youngest of whom was only six months old. Also killed were eleven women, some of whom were pregnant. Eight of the victims were between fifty and seventy years old. Shining Path members also scalded villagers with boiling water.

There is no good in preventing the perfect. Whatever creates the perfect must be good in itself, no matter the means. The Jooos aren't perfect....

Abimael Guzmán Reynoso (B. 1934--), was a philophy professor at Lima, Peru before he turned to violent revolution as the means of creating the perfect world.

Son of a business man, he studied at Arequipa, was a philosophy professor at Ayachuco in the Andes. He converted to Communism shortly after Ezequiel Ataucusi converted to AEMINPU.

Initially Guzmán attempted to win over the support of citizens by punishing corrupt government officials and other unpopular leaders. However, Shining Path's increasingly brutal methods together with strictly imposed curfews, the prohibition of alcohol and an overall sense of insecurity and fear lead to an increased popular reaction against the communist party. Eventually Guzmán's plan backfired as rural militia or "rondas" rallied support for the military against Shining Path. The very peasants Guzmán claimed to defend had turned against the Shining Path. This resulted in a cyclical state of violence in which Maoist guerillas embarked in ruthless punitive expeditions against Peruvian civilians living in the Andean region.
Theodore Dalrymple has written that "the worst brutality I ever saw was that committed by Sendero Luminoso 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 Guzmán."

In the early 1960s military dictator General Juan Velasco attempted to expropriate 19 million hectares of agricultural land for peasant communes. When the expropriation program ended in 1976, about 7 million hectares had been seized by the government. By 1979, “only 13 percent of the rural lands of Peru were actually under the control of the peasants. Most of the land remained under the control of the state itself. This created disillusionment. ... It led many to believe that even a government seemingly sympathetic to their economic plight could not be trusted. Rather than rely on a top-down approach to reform, many believed that it was time to take action at the grass roots level.”

Land reform was a failure and by 1978 Peru was almost bankrupt. “The availability of clean drinking water and adequate waste facilities deteriorated to the point that 'an estimated forty percent of Lima 's mushrooming population and approximately seventy-five percent of Peru 's rural population did not enjoy access to clean water or sewage'.” (Cynthia McClintock, Revolutionary Movements in Latin America, 1998, p.193).

Disillusionment set in “[P]articularly in the rural regions such as Ayacucho, [where people] came to believe that they completely lacked sociopolitical mobility, as well as the basic necessities of life and that no remedy was in sight. Indeed, conditions continued to worsen. Relying on the legitimate political and legal system ... no longer appeared to be a viable option.” (See Gaociela Tarazona-Sevillano and John B. Reuter. Sendero Luminoso and the Threat of Narcoterrorism, 1990).

For the chthonic peasant, the usual response to oppression is a rejection of the established religious order, replacing the old prophets with a new messiah who will bring purity and good to the oppressed; whereas for the Modernist, newly educated intellectual, the usual response is a Gnostic political rebellion; the former delving into 'religion' itself; the latter into a Gnostic “poligion” (political religion) as escape from cosmic injustice and for a restoration of the cosmic good in which the lower will be the higher.

“Many Sendero members claimed that socioeconomic misery drove them to join the movement. Others claimed that government duplicity and incompetence were important reasons. In short, they saw society as corrupt.” ( McClintock, Revolutionary Movements in Latin America , 273).
For many, the problems of Peru stemmed from a society dominated by people who were perceived by the Indians as foreigners in their own land. They were convinced that if this dominant and seemingly "foreign" class of elites could be removed from the positions of power in Peruvian society, the country's problems would be much closer to being solved. The movement perceived of violence and terror as agents of rebirth and renewal. As Abimael Guzman himself asserted:
Revolution will find its nest in our homeland; we will make sure of it ... the people's war will grow everyday until the old order is pulled down, the world is entering a new era.... This is of transcendental importance ... The people rear up, arm themselves, and rise in revolution to put the noose around the neck of imperialism and the reactionaries, seizing them by the throat and garroting them. The trumpets begin to sound, the roar of the masses grows, and will continue to grow, it will deafen us, it will take us into a powerful vortex ... there will he a great rupture and we will be the makers of a definitive dawn. We will convert the black fire into red and the red into light. This we shall do, this is the rebirth. Comrades we are reborn. (Quoted in G. Gorriti, The Shining Path, 1990,34-35).
The symbolism here is clear: conflict, dark, light, death, sacred intervention, destiny, rebirth, paradise. …. (Ibid.65.)
In recent years, religious movements have emerged in the Andean region that carry on the millenarian traditions of the past. The congregation of Jehovah or the Mision Israelita del Nuevo Pacto Universal del Peru (Israelite Mission of the New Universal Pact) believe that their founder, Ezequiel Ataucusi Gamonal, is a prophet and son of God. … Los Israelitas, as it is commonly known, possesses symbols and theology uniquely crafted from both Judeo-Christian and pre-Columbian Indian sources.
Nonetheless it appears to be "explicitly Peruvian and implicitly Andean in its use of symbols and sacrifice." ... (Sarah Lund Skar, Lives Together, Scandinavian University Press, 1994, p. 246).
[I]n the mid-1960s ... Guzman ... insisted that Sendero Luminoso ... were increasingly presented by the movement as possessing a kind of scripture- like quality. Sendero ideology was built on this firm and seemingly sacred foundation....
Sendero Luminoso really came into its own in the early 1980s within a background of rapid sociopolitical and economic change and profound crisis in Peru.
Guzman and his colleagues worked diligently to craft an ideology that successfully merged the millenarian stream of the Inca past with the dialectic of Marxism. Nonetheless, Guzman's conscientious and meticulous manipulation of Indian traditions was subtle. At the same time, his supporters were quite aware of the syncretic mixture that he had created and were comfortable with it.
One poetic interpretation of the "people's war" declared:
Thousands of Indians and Mestizos Descend to the town Like a red avalanche With muscles of steel And voices of thunder, shouting "freedom'" Because they know that the days of Pachacutec And the Inkarri have arrived. (Quoted in Strong, ShiningPath, 61).
Sendero forces, when crying out acts of violence against the state, purposely utilized the widely known Inkarri myth of Indian resurrection. In addition, in 1980, they chose to openly celebrate the one hundred and ninety-ninth anniversary of the execution Gose Gabriel Condorcanqui, Tupac Amaru II. This was a highly symbolic action and afterward, one can clearly discern that consistent and meaningful elements of Quechua Indian culture and ritual pervaded the Shining Path and significantly influenced their activities.
Guzman viewed Sendero at the forefront of a revolution, which, he believed, would accompany "humanity's third millennium." In a speech entitled "For the New Flag" delivered at a Sendero conference in 1979, Guzman divided Peruvian history into three important epochs. ***First, he referred to "how darkness prevailed," a clear reference to the colonial period. Second, he asserted, was an age that explained "how light emerged and steel was forged." Finally, he concluded with "how the walls were destroyed and the dawn spread."These three epochs were designed to purposely coincide with the transformation in the colonial period of the initial five ages of the Andean world. According to traditional Indian myth, each of these five ages lasted 1,000 years and was made up of two distinct halves. By the time of Juan Santos Atahualpa, the five ages had been cut to three-the age of the Father, the age of the Son, and the age of the Holy Ghost. It was in this third age that the separation between the Indian and European worlds would be reestablished. (See Stefano Varese, The Ethnopolitics of Indian Resistance in Latin America, in Latin Latin American Perspectives Vol. 23, No.2, Spring 1996, 58-7).

Here we would do well to note that none of this was original thinking. As Thomas Bertonneau writes (

That politics since the eighteenth century at least has been   ersatz religion , and that the results have been murderous, is perhaps the axial proposition in [Eric] Voegelin's ample and wide-ranging work. It is necessary to qualify the statement because Voegelin sees the roots of modern political religion--he sees the roots of modernity   as   political religion--as far back as the Twelfth Century in certain   “symbols of immanence,” as he calls them. In   Joachim   of Flora's (1145 - 1202)   Tractatus super quatuor evangelica , to cite what Voegelin sees as the primary text of the phenomenon, one finds a new image of history in which chronology is for the first time divided into three ages: that of the Father, that of the Son, and that of the Holy Spirit. Joachim   believed himself to be living in the senescence of the second age; the third age, he argued, was about to dawn and would be the   final   age of history, now seen as a closed system.   Joachim's tripartite construction reappears monotonously in European speculation, as does his notion of a dux and his cadre who will refashion the world according to their inspired vision. There is the Machiavellian "Prince," the Puritanical "Godded Man," the Nietzschean "Superman." All occupy the realm beyond good and evil and are uniquely gifted to see the extra-moral justification of their own acts. Voegelin calls attention to the way that Joachim's doctrine rejects Pauline Christianity's indefinite postponement of the Last Judgment, and of salvation through a transcendental divinity, in favor of the audacious assertion that humanity can reorder existence, making good all the deficiencies, and redeem itself through the actions and worldly grace of its charismatic leaders. A Joachitic vehemence attends the events of 1789 and immediately thereafter. Auguste Comte projected a scheme similar to Flora's, going him one better in ascribing the role of   dux -and-redeemer to himself, while introducing coinages like "altruism" and "positivism" that became current in all political schemes styling themselves "progressive," not least Marxism, that pit an agenda against individual conscience. In   The New Science of Politics   (1952), Voegelin writes of Comte's politico-religious projection that:

There were provided [in it] honorific degrees of . . . immortality, and the highest honor would be the reception of the meritorious contributor into the calendar of positivistic saints. But what should in this order of things become of men who would rather follow God than the new Augustus Comte? Such miscreants who were not inclined to make their social contributions according to Comtean standards would simply be committed to the hell of social oblivion. The idea deserves attention. Here is a gnostic paraclete setting himself up as the world-immanent Last Judgment of mankind, deciding on immortality or annihilation of every human being. (Collected Works V. 5, p. 194).

The construction of a   Third World , an idea indispensable to postmodern discourse   soi disant, closely resembles prior quasi-religious constructions such as the Joachitic "Third Realm," the Liberal-Socialist "Third Way," the Neo-Conservative-Libertarian "Third Wave," or the National Socialist "Third Reich." The putative Third World identity is inextricably tied to victimary claims, which sanctify and elect the claimant, whether he stakes the claim himself or has it staked for him by some supervisor. "Just as in the Nineteenth Century," writes Paul Johnson of what he calls in   Modern Times   (1982) "the Bandung Generation," "idealists had seen the oppressed proletariat as the repository of moral excellence--and a prospective proletarian state as Utopia--so now the very fact of a colonial past, and a non-white skin, were seen as title-deeds to international esteem" (477). Johnson, whose analysis is consistent with Voegelin's, points out "the political religiosity" (477) of early "Third World" discourse in the speeches of Nehru, Sukarno, Sihanouk, Nkrumah, and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the Afro-Asian Conference in the Indonesian city of Bandung in 1955. Sukarno said on the occasion that "we, the people of Asia and Africa . . . can mobilize . . . the   moral violence of nations   in favor of peace" (Johnson 477), conjoining the ideas of "violence" and "peace" ominously. The novelist Richard Wright, also in attendance, summed up the apocalyptic character of the event, as understood by the participants: "This is the human race speaking" (477). Human and all too human.

Sendero Luminoso furthermore utilized symbolism to enhance Abimael Guzman's image as a savior of the people.51 For example, many of Guzman's closest advisors were known as the "holy family." (Poole and Renique, Peru: Time of Fear, 43. See also, Gorriti, The Shining Path, 25). “Simply being linked to [Guzman] could somehow raise the status of mortal men to that of the near sacred. As the perceived 'father of a new age in Peru' Guzman was portrayed as a "bright, soaring flame, burning with ideological passion and power'." (Tarazona-Sevillano and Reuter, Sendero Luminoso, 22).
The literature of the Sendero Luminoso was dotted with messianic references designed to strengthen the belief that they were leading the people to a new age.
Biblical references often peppered party pamphlets circulated around Ayacucho. In particular, these glorified the image and symbol of Guzman, asserting, "we are communists as your image and as your simile ... fortunate the eyes that see you, fortunate the eyes that heat [sic] you." In this way, Guzman's role as a god-like figure was embellished and "the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism were internalized as dogmas." (Jefrey Gamarra, Conflict, Post-Conflict and Religion: Andean Responses to New Religious Movements." Journal of Southern African Studies Vol. 26, No.2, June 2000, 271-287).

After an initial three-day trial Guzmán was sentenced to life imprisonment. After other trials, “On 13 October 2006, Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison on charges of aggravated terrorism and murder.”
He is currently incarcerated in Callao in one of four subterranean cells. His neighbours include victor Polay, leader of the tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, and, ironically, Vladimiro Montesinos, the former head of the National Intelligence Service, who served under the (now also imprisoned) President Alberto Fujimori.

Everybody wants to be the Chosen people; nobody wants to be a philistine. The new Jews of Iquitos live down the road from my place, and they are quiet and peaceable. Iquitos was spared the violent insanity of the school teachers and their peasant followers from the Andes, those who wished to bring about the New Jerusalem in Peru. Today, as usual, those who would be perfect, the Gnostic would-be Jews of Modernity, howl like dogs about the Jooos! No one in this part of the world is interested in exterminating the New Jews from resentment of their success in life or their “firstness” as John Truepeers puts it. The New Jews in Iquitos don't do much at all but live. In my area at least we can all get some sleep at night, the “Jews” down the road keeping it to themselves. A quiet night and a bit of sleep in Iquitos can be almost heaven. Who could ask for anything more?

*Song lyrics originally in French. I can't recall any further details.
**I coined the phrase “The Jooos” one evening as I was writing on the Internet about Leftists protesting something about Israel. As it happened, while I was typing I heard a dog howling outside my window, and I thought for a moment he was a Left Jew-hater going on about-- The Jooos!

A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:

And here are some reviews and comments on said book:

No comments: