The Newnan Times-Herald


The professor in the Peruvian prison

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Jun. 23, 2020 - 5:26 PM

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The professor in the Peruvian prison

The Newnan Times-Herald

To waste your life chasing dopey delusions is bad enough. To sacrifice innocent lives without remorse as you pursue those fantasies is downright criminal.

It defines you as an imbecile and a homicidal maniac.

Abimael Guzmán is all of that and worse. At age 85, he presently resides in a maximum-security prison at a Peruvian naval base near Lima. Unrepentant and unlamented but for a handful of fellow radicals, he is living testimony to the terrible power of socialist extremism.

“Socialism, in general, has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it,” economist Thomas Sowell once observed. “The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. We should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.”

Guzmán came from one of those very institutions Sowell was describing. He was an academic.

Academia isn’t monolithic, and its ranks aren’t universally rotten. Nonetheless, especially in the social sciences, it’s a world glutted with otherwise-unemployable pontificators and socially dysfunctional geeks. Often protected from reality by tenure and taxes and smothered in pompous self-importance, the worst of them revel in gossip, nit-picking and department politics — and that’s in their spare time when they’re not poisoning idealistic young minds with discredited dogmas.

Few of them could manage, market or strategically plan their way out of a soggy paper bag, which is why a smart hiring rule at productive businesses is to steer clear of academics. Many harbor a deep resentment of free enterprise; they hate that it rewards individuals not for the college degrees they’ve purchased but for the value they create in the marketplace. Today, they are a significant source of the “ideas” that are trashing parts of our inner cities and college campuses.

In the 1960s and ‘70s, Guzmán taught philosophy at a university in Ayacucho, Peru. He drenched his students in Marxism. He enjoyed denouncing other faculty members and visiting speakers who did not share his viewpoint. He formed a terrorist organization called Sendero Luminoso (“Shining Path”) and in 1980, he and his merry band declared war on Peru, including expendable peasants who stood in their way. Result? Two decades of mayhem which claimed the lives of 70,000.

Guzmán’s trail of death and destruction included blowing up voting booths, bombing buildings and intersections, torturing for the sake of torture, and other “vanguard of the proletariat” amusements. Karl Marx was one of his intellectual inspirations for these crimes, but his god was China’s Mao Zedong. Guzmán visited China in 1965. He took the official sucker tour and departed with admiration for Mao’s brutal policies that killed 20 million in the name of a socialist paradise.

Guzmán’s ivory red tower collapsed when he was arrested in September 1992. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for his murder spree.

If you’re interested in the details of the wasted, blood-soaked life of this nutty professor, you won’t be disappointed in the 2019 book by Orin Starn and Miguel La Serna, The Shining Path: Love, Madness, and Revolution in the Andes. It would make a great Christmas present for any Antifa friends you might have.

Lawrence W. Reed, a resident of Newnan, is president emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education. His most recent book is “Was Jesus a Socialist?” He can be reached at