On US Imperialism and a way forward for the Philippines

Under the influence of the ultra-Left opportunists, CPP cadres in the urban underground (Davao City and Cagayan de Oro) also exposed themselves in the early 1980s to the enemy through mass actions which did not use the mantle of protection from the broad anti-fascist united front. When the ultra-Left line was resulting in effective enemy offensives, the ultra-Left opportunists did not look into their wrong line but instead engaged in scapegoating and in a bloody witchhunt for presumed deep penetration agents and saboteurs.

By 1988, the ultra-Left opportunists were already a spent force, especially after the failure of the so-called nationally coordinated NPA operations, which resulted in a big loss of ammunition, without any gain in rifles. Frustrated, they swung to the Right and joined the longstanding Right opportunists. But certain ultra-Left opportunists who were captured by the enemy were recruited into the intelligence service. They were used to attack the CPP line of new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war. And they tried to discredit the rectification movement and they collaborated with the Right opportunists in doing so. At any rate, the Right opportunists became a relatively wider array of grouplets than the ultra-Leftists.

Since the 1989-91 fall of the revisionist regimes in Eastern Europe and disintegration of the Soviet Union, which they revered as socialist, the incorrigible Right opportunists have shed off their communist pretenses and have become bitterly anti-communist. They have joined the ruling system by getting employment in the bureaucracy and corporate offices, operating imperialist-funded NGOs or attaching their grouplets to major reactionary parties. Those who have chosen to engage in electoral politics have limited success because they are divorced from the masses and do not have a substantial mass base like the CPP, NPA and NDFP and the electoral parties being Red-baited as proxies of the CPP. A handful of them have been appointed to high positions by the Aquino regime.

The so-called ex-communists are the worst anti-communists. At one time, they misrepresented a political map of pseudo-progressive groups published in the organ of the CPP’s Central Committee, Ang Bayan (The People), showing how the opportunists of the past have divided and subdivided, as a hit list for NPA assassination teams in order to slander the CPP and Red-bait progressive legal mass activists. The psywar attack by the ex-communists emboldened the death squads of the reactionary government to abduct, torture and kill suspected communists and to cover their criminal deeds by claiming that communists were killing each other.

15. We are in a tumultuous global situation with a convergence of economic and environmental crises. In this conjuncture, what do you see as the prospects for socialism? In many parts of the Muslim World so-called political Islam seems to be a leading force. Is this political tendency outpacing socialism (and the Left)? Are there viable left-wing alternatives or are we still grappling with the implications of the crisis of socialism?

Answer: The prospects for socialism are bright precisely because of the convergence of the grave economic and environmental crises which point to monopoly capitalism as the culprit and cause of the crises. This is the criminal force that plunders labor power in the economy and the material resources in the environment all for the sake of profit-making and capital accumulation. The identification of the monopoly bourgeoisie and the financial oligarchy as the class enemy that captivates and plunders nature and society points to the working class as the opposite force capable of leading the entire people towards liberation in a revolutionary process.

The epochal struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie involves zigs and zags and ups and downs. On the 150th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto in 1998, I traced the alternation of great advances and retreats of the working class in periods of three to five decades. It is about time that the working class rises again from a deep trough and moves forward from the disintegration of socialist societies due to revisionist betrayal by degenerated ruling communist parties. The crisis conditions comparable to those of the Great Depression are again favorable for the rise of communist and workers’ parties and the resurgence of anti-imperialist and socialist movements. In the last three decades, the CPP has been proud to call itself a torch-bearer in a relatively dark period for the world proletarian revolution.

For some three decades under the neoliberal policy, the greediest of capitalist relations of production thrived on the adoption of higher technology which facilitated production, distribution and abuse of finance capital as well as powered the system of education and information to serve the purposes of monopoly capitalism. But the higher social character of production made possible by higher technology contradicts the capitalist character of the relations of production and demands the socialist revolution to remove production from the clutches of the monopoly bourgeoisie. But it takes decades before the communist and workers’ parties can take power again through the revolutionary process.

In the meantime, political Islam can arise and grow in certain Muslim countries against imperialism and against the most reactionary currents. But we cannot foreclose the possibility that Muslims, bourgeois nationalists and Marxists in Muslim countries can unite on the common ground of anti-imperialism and democracy to form secular states that assert national independence and aspire for socialism. There may also be viable Left-wing alternatives arising from the petty bourgeoisie or from a mix of workers and petty bourgeoisie. At the moment, they may be grappling with the petty bourgeois modes of thinking as well as with the implications of the defeats of the socialist cause. But we can be confident that in the long run communist and workers’ parties will reemerge and resurge and will come to united front and united actions with other anti-imperialist and progressive forces.

16. Do the experiences of the 20th century with attempts at socialism, particularly socialism as articulated by Stalin, still hang over the leads of the revolutionary Left? Do you think that the crisis of socialism tells the radical Left something about a different vision that it needs for the 21st century?

Answer: We should recognize the great victories won by the proletariat and the rest of the people in building socialism in the 20th century. In the countries where socialism was built, especially in the Soviet Union and China, imperialist domination was ended and the exploiting classes were overthrown. The workers’ socialist state was established. Socialist revolution and socialist construction were carried forward. Science and technology and proletarian culture flourished. Fascism was defeated. A powerful system of defense was established and the US and its imperialist allies were deterred from launching aggression against the socialist countries during the Cold War. It was modern revisionism (bourgeois degeneration of the party and state bureaucracy), not the US or Stalin, that corroded and ultimately brought down socialism in both the Soviet Union and China.

The imperialists and petty bourgeois anti-communists of various types have been demonizing Stalin and Mao as responsible for the defeat of socialism in the Soviet Union and China, respectively. The cause of socialism cannot be carried forward by those who simplistically scapegoat the longest-time builders of socialism Stalin and Mao for the defeat of socialism and restoration of capitalism. These two great leaders had their share of achievements and shortcomings, with Mao correcting and improving on Stalin in certain important respects. We should be able to learn a lot of positive and negative lessons from the class struggles in the socialist countries and the comprehensive experiences of building socialism in the 20th century. By learning such lessons, we have the advantage of knowing what principles, policies and methods we can carry over into the 21st century and what major errors we should avoid.

In 1992 the CPP issued a long document, Stand for Socialism Against Modern Revisionism, as a major document of the rectification movement and as a counter to all the attacks on the socialist cause churned out by the imperialists and the petty bourgeois anti-communists in the aftermath of the rapid full restoration of capitalism in the revisionist-ruled countries. For the purpose of building socialism in the 21st century, the CPP restated the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism, pointed to the positive and negative lessons from the socialist past, made proposals among others for the development of democracy, legality and restrictions on leading organs within the socialist framework, the mass line in every type of social activity, the well-balanced economy in the service of the people, the various aspects of cultural revolution and the use of science and higher technology for material and cultural progress and for promoting democracy.

17. You are generally identified as a Maoist. First, in light of various analyses of China during the time of Mao’s rule, do you see any limitations or weaknesses in Maoism? What is your sense of other left-wing tendencies (globally)? Do you see the chances for global and local strategic collaboration between differing left-wing tendencies? If so, do you have any examples from the Philippines or elsewhere? What role does Maoism have to play in the renewal of the Left?

Answer: I am aware of various analyses of China during the time of Mao’s leadership in China. But despite my overall favorable view of Mao in philosophy, political economy, social science, strategy and tactics and so on, I do not think that Maoism is some kind of final perfection in theory and practice. It is a further development of Marxism-Leninism and goes as far as the theory and practice of cultural revolution under proletarian dictatorship in order to combat revisionism, prevent the restoration of capitalism and consolidation of socialism. But soon after Mao died, the Dengist capitalist counterrevolution prevailed in China. It means to say that even as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution prevailed for ten years there must be reasons for its defeat. The lessons can be learned as in the earlier case of the defeat of the Paris Commune of 1871 which held power for some two months. The Paris Commune would serve as the prototype of the Great October Socialist Revolution in 1917.

I have my grounding in Maoism. It is my guide to action. But I am open to all Left tendencies on the ground of anti-imperialism and common struggle for national liberation, democracy and socialism. The CPP is not confined in any exclusive club of Maoist parties. It has publicly declared that it avails of bilateral and multilateral ways to exchange ideas and information, debate ideological and political issues, raise the level of common understanding through resolutions and arrive at various forms of practical cooperation. The protraction, worsening and deepening of the crisis of the world capitalist system inflicts intolerable suffering on the people but it also generates favorable conditions for the resurgence of the revolutionary mass movement and for the strategic collaboration and united front of various Left-wing tendencies.

There are various multisectoral, sectoral and issue-based alliances of anti-imperialist and democratic forces in Philippines. Maoism can play a major role in the renewal of the Left because it is concerned not only with the ideological building of the Maoist party but it is also concerned with political work, such as arousing, organizing and mobilizing the masses for the revolution and availing of the united front and united actions of various parties and groups in order to reach and militate the masses in their millions in the quickest possible manner. Maoist parties are waging people’s war in a number of countries and have gained the respect of many people in the world for daring to answer the central question of revolution in the appropriate conditions. They are expected to increase in number as the crisis of the global capitalism protracts and worsens. Thus, they will be more inspiring to all Left forces and the people on a global scale. They will also need broad international support.

18. Let’s focus, for a minute, on this matter of Stalin. Nationalities were expelled from their homelands; the leadership of the CPSU was largely annihilated; anti-Semitism was promoted after World War II; and it is difficult to identify any real mechanisms of worker control that were built during the Stalin period. What does the experience of the USSR and, in a different way, the PR of China, say about a vision for socialism for the 21st century? You speak about modern revisionism bringing down these various systems, but for our readers who have observed undemocratic systems that have called themselves “socialist”, what would you say? What lessons have been taken from these experiences?

Answer: To say the least, despite all the allegations against him, Stalin must have made significant achievements with regard to keeping the Soviet Union as a state of various nationalities, with regard to maintaining the CPSU as the lead force in socialist revolution and socialist construction, with regard to letting Jews excel in Soviet society and defending them and the rest of the people against the racism of Nazi Germany and with regard to workers’ control in factories and collective farms through the party and the workers’ courts.

I think that is inaccurate and unfair to make a complete negation of Stalin and/or Mao or to simply dismiss them as anti-socialist and anti-democratic. It is even more unfair and unjust to use allegations against them as a way of burdening or denigrating non-Soviet and non-Chinese communist parties and leaders or later generations of fighters for socialism, who must be assessed and evaluated according to their own history and circumstances in the light of Marxist-Leninist theory and related experiences. I need not clutter my answer with trying to cover what you sweep as undemocratic systems that have called themselves as “socialist”.

Let me underscore that Stalin and Mao and their respective parties had remarkable merits and demerits. In studying their theory and practice, we must be as sober and fair as when we do not condemn and totally negate the French Revolution, the Jacobins and the liberal democratic revolution just because the French Revolution was followed by the Reign of Terror, the Thermidorean reaction and the monarchical restorations in France. We can learn valuable lessons, positive and negative, from the experiences of socialist revolution and socialist construction in the 20th century, for the purpose of fighting for and building socialism in the 21st century.

I have earlier referred to some lessons and proposals in this regard. Let me stress one of them: In the course of uniting the people for fighting imperialism and the persistent reaction and building socialism, let us ensure that democratic rights are respected and the state, the leading organs and leaders are prevented from abusing their power. We do so as a matter of principle as well as a matter of practical wisdom in view of the new means of communications which allow people to speak out to the whole world.

19. Did you ever think that the struggle would be this long? This is a question i have wondered for a while. When you and others formed the CPP and when the struggle started, did you ever conceive that it would be going on for this long?

Answer: At the founding of the CPP, I thought that the armed struggle to seize power would be protracted, perhaps ten to 20 years. I did not think that it would this long, more than 42 years already. It is even longer if you start counting from 1942 when the People’s Army Against Japan (Hukbalahap) was formed or from the three centuries of Spanish colonial rule when more than 200 armed uprisings occurred before the Philippine Revolution could come into force in 1896. The people’s struggle for national liberation and democracy will go on for as long as imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords continue to oppress and exploit the people.

20. When the People Power uprising took place against Marcos, it appeared that the CPP and much of the Left was taken by surprise. What are your reflections on that period and lessons learned? I thought about this in light of the Occupy movement that we are seeing taking place in the USA and elsewhere and the role/place of the Left in it.

Answer: The CPP was not taken by surprise. The course of events was too clear. In fact, soon after the Marcos dictatorship cheated in the February 1986 presidential snap election, the CPP leadership issued a call for all-out people’s resistance to overthrow the regime in concert with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines which condemned the illegitimate and immoral foundation of the Marcos regime and Cory Aquino who called for civil disobedience. The legal organizations of the national democratic movement were at the forefront of the open mass struggles to overthrow the fascist regime along EDSA highway and in front of the presidential palace and in the provinces in all the days before Marcos was flown out of the Philippines by the US.

The biographical books, The Philippine Revolution: The Leader’s View which I co-wrote with the German social scientist Dr. Rainer Werning in 1988, and At Home in the World: Portrait of a Filipino Revolutionary which I co-wrote with the Filipino novelist Ninotchka Rosca in 2004, describe the significant participation of the CPP and the patriotic and progressive forces, which are often Red-baited as organizations of the CPP. Their participation in large numbers was not only in Metro Manila but also in major provincial cities and towns. These organizations played a key role in starting the mass uprising and in providing a conscious and disciplined force, a hard core, for the mass uprising at EDSA and elsewhere.

What detractors of the CPP misrepresent as failure of the CPP to join the so-called EDSA revolution is actually the boycott policy adopted by the CPP leadership, in particular Chairman Rodolfo Salas and the Executive Committee, against the presidential snap election. The CPP leadership correctly stated that Marcos would use the election to keep himself in power but failed to see that, as in what was then a recent example in the Haiti of Duvalier, the US and the anti-Marcos forces would discredit and seek to oust Marcos on the charge of electoral cheating. Afflicted by sectarianism, the CPP leadership went to great lengths in disciplining CPP cadres in Metro Manila who opted for participation in the election and it failed to complement its boycott policy with a deployment of secret Party cadres and alternative legal formations to join the pro-Aquino electoral alliance. For sectarianism and inflexibility in the boycott policy, Salas himself would be removed from his position in May 1986.

I think that unarmed mass uprisings to confront those in power and seek their ouster are an important part of the revolutionary process. At a given time, such unarmed uprisings may not result in the overthrow of the entire ruling system but only the ouster of a corrupt and despotic regime and the adoption of some significant reforms. At any rate, they are part of a chain of events that can lead to the overhaul or overthrow of the ruling system. In this connection, I take a positive view of the Occupy movement in the US and elsewhere. whoever are the initiators at Wall Street. I appreciate the role that Left forces are taking in this movement. As chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, I have expressed solidarity with and support for the movement and have called on the more than 300 member-organization of the ILPS and their allies in more than 40 countries to expand and intensify the Occupy movement.(https://www.bulatlat.com)

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a long-time racial justice, labor and international writer and activist. He is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com, and a Visiting Scholar with the City University of New York Graduate Center.

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  2. pag-araln mo talaga kung anu yung binasa mo, at tingin ko mag-aral k talga tungkol sa mga sinabi ni joma, malibn dun pag araln mo talaga ang bawat anggulo n binasa mo, (kulit no) american citizen? o taga koment lng ng taga pinas? mukang ang anggulo na binggit mo sa kdnapping,torture, etc. mukang sa opisina mo yan ah.. (AFP)???hahhhhaaaa

  3. The writer of the story, and I mean Communist propaganda spreader, obviously has his head stuck up the ass of the Islamic troublemakers in the Philippines speaking in terms of the US imperialist as if we are the enemy of the world. One thing you will notice about this article is written in a question and answer form. It is obvious that there is absolutely no room for discussion! People in the Philippines do not fall for this rhetoric, these people need and want to enslave you in order to fuel their communist machine. You will have no freedom of expression, you will have no rights, you will be forced to pay tariffs and tax to corrupt communist enforcers. If you want freedom and a chance to live your life in peace. You must drive these communist infiltrators and the Islamic barbarians from your midst. They say that the US imperialist capitalist pigs, only one to exploit your land for its minerals and resources. If this were true, America would already have done so. But it is not the truth, it is nothing more than communist brainwashing in order to make you believe that a communist/socialist government would be better for the Philippines. The fact of the matter is, the United States has reduced its military presence in the Philippines, and only offers assistance and training to the Philippine government of democracy. The United States has no interest in conquering the Philippines, nor do we want to enslave the Philippine people. But I can guarantee you one thing, if you believe one word that was written in this article by this highly educated, but obviously anti-American, propaganda spreader, you have been misled.
    These different Islamic and Communist groups that the author of this article claims that they only want to have peace in the Philippines is an outright liar. Under Islamic law, and Communist law , you have no right to express your opinion, to the vote in a democratic election, you will be told when and what to do at all times. Americans believe in freedom for all people. The freedom of choice! Americans do not sponsor terrorist attacks against innocent civilians. Americans are not responsible for abduction, murder, rape, and plunder of the Philippine people. I have personally been to the Philippines on two separate occasions. I found the Philippines to be very beautiful place with wonderful people. The Philippine people need a chance to grow and prosper under democracy! But before that can happen piece must be restored to the Philippines. But unfortunately, there will be no peace for the Philippine people until the communist, and the Islamic terrorist are destroyed. It is not the United States waging war against the Philippines, in contrast, it is the Islamic liberation front, and Communist supporters that are kidnapping, extorting, murdering, raping, bombing, the Philippine people to achieve their agendas. This is my opinion as an American citizen that can publicly express my opinion, enjoy freedom, and worship God according to my own beliefs. And if the time should come, when the Philippine people need me to drive these vermin from your midst, myself and my fellow Americans will be there to aid you in the defense of your liberties.

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