Review of Professor Joma Sison’s books  ‘Peoples War’ and ‘Imperialism in Turmoil, Socialism in prospect’

Professor Joma Sison in recent times has come out with some most analytical Marxist-Leninist works which are an invaluable collection in the treasure house of all Marxist or Progressive readers. In March in Netherlands there were book launches of his recent works on Critique of Philippines economy and politics and “On a Peoples War’. I recommend reference to the reviews on youtube  of ‘Message to launch book of Communist Party of Philippines, part 5 and 6. as well as book reviews of  Irina Malenko and Phoebe Maria Sanchez on ‘Phillipine economy and Politics.”, which I myself have used to compile this note.

On a Peoples War

peoples warProfessor Jose Maria Sison’s books On People’s War are a collection of Prof. Sison’s writings which comprises Books 5 and 6 of the Communist Party of Philippines’. Sison has also most articulately penetrated the history of the evolution of the Communist Movement in Phillipines,throwing light on the building of the Red Army and Communist party from the embryonic stage. to build a nucleus. which orchestrated a mass upheaval. The sequence of the chapters have been organised in a most symmetrical manner.

Sison has also most articulately penetrated the history of the evolution of the Communist Movement in Phillipines,throwing light on the building of the Red Army and Communist party from the embryonic stage. to build a nucleus, which orchestrated a mass upheaval. The sequence of the chapters have been organised in a most symmetrical manner. Most lucidly he encompasses the genesis of the founding of the Communist party and armed struggle, the rectification campaigns, the revisionist or deviationist trends within the Revolutionary movement, the aggravation of the capitalist crisis, the contention of imperialist powers, the armed people’s wars stage and the consolidation of the peoples war in Phillipines. Sison elaborates how genuine democratic areas have been established by the New Peoples Army. He sums up how integrated the New Peoples with the lives of the broad masses. establishing peoples mass organisations and participating in production. The book also self –critically analyses the mistakes that happened in the history of the NPA, and teaches us the importance of learning from errors

The book summarises how the CCP was founded in 1969 to sow the seeds against revisionism, establish proletarian leadership, and integrate universal theory of peoples War with agrarian revolution.Sison sums on how the CPP started from the very scratch with only 20000 members to knit a New People’s Army in March, 1968. which possessed only 9 automatic weapons and 26 inferior rifles. The creation of Peoples organs of revolutionary power in the countryside were touched upon and how today the peoples mass organisation shad a membership of 1, 50,000.members and 110 guerrilla fronts.

He recounted the fascist ploys of Marcos in 1977 and how in 1986 Corazon Acquino pretended to be liberal. acting   as a puppet of the US government.. The negativity of the Ramos regime was also narrated whose 10 point negotiations with the CPP were only conducted as a device to strengthen surveillance. Sison finally how fascism is simmering at its boiling point with the terror of Duterte in recent times, highlighting the chronic crisis of bureaucrat capitalism, misuse of public resources and terminating of all the conditions of negotiations.

There are also articles dedicated to the teaching of comrade Mao (such as the most fascinating and deeply analytical article, “Development, Current Status and Prospects of Maoist Theory and Practice in the Philippines”, written in 2012, which is a great example of how to successfully apply the Maoist theory to concrete conditions of one country, as well as “On Mao Zedong Thought or Maoism”, written in 2019); there are also articles clarifying the tasks of the Filipino and international communist movement right now and in the years to come, such as “On the Future of the Communist Movement” (2019) and “How To To Start Changing The World”(2019).

Sison in a most articulate manner has summed up  on how to successfully combat opportunism within our own ranks and Trotskyism outside our ranks, but still  vitiating  the international communist movement (“Trotskyite Attacks on the CPP and the Philippine Revolution”, 2020). It’s “Concerning The Communist Party of the Philippines, the Philippine Revolution and the International Situation” (October 2020) and “The Revolutionary Movement of the Philippines Today” (September 2021).All these writings are golden guidelines for cadres today.

“On the CPP and the People’s Democratic Revolution” which is as recent as December 2021, not only summarizes Party’s achievements, but also in gross  detail covers  the intensity of   crimes of the Duterte regime as well as touches upon the issue of the upcoming presidential elections and stresses that “the people’s democratic government is already being built in the countryside and is expanding by the day encircling  of the cities from the countryside in the protracted people’s war. It sums up  that without strategically overpowering the enemy mainly in the countryside, it would be suicidal or  left adventurist to attempt to seize political power.e be “Left” opportunism” for the NPA to try to seize political power in Manila before it has gained enough strength to do so with certain success by inflicting strategic defeats on the enemy mainly in the countryside. Today The New Peoples Army  may not be directly encircling the cities but through building liberated base areas prepared the fuelfor  creating such a possibility.

In recent months daily we get reports of most daring counter offensives launched by the New People’s Army in Philippines  against the security forces. The long-running plan of the CPP is to raise the armed strength of the NPA from 10,000 high-powered rifles to 25,000 in order to reach the strategic stalemate and launch tactical offensives with companies and battalions.

No doubt it is questionable why the CPP engaged in negotiations with President Duterte in recent times calling for ceasefire .

Imperialism in Turmoil, Socialism in Prospect (With reference from Phoebe Maria Sanchez)

sisonThe second book, Imperialism in Turmoil, Socialism in Prospect, most articulately analyses the correlation of the bourgeois state political economy with the objectives and struggle of the national democratic revolution in the country.It most vividly illustrating the nature o political economy in a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society.

This work elaborates on how Philippine state is fundamentally semi feudal and semi-colonial and how it is manifestation of the objectives of the comprador bourgeoisie and landlord class innovating variegated devices to sustain exploitation of the Filipino people from time to time or from regimes to regimes. His characterisation also deepens our understanding of the anti-people nature of existing political parties who are mere factions of the ruling social classes whose programs and thrusts are in essence always the same completely alienating the poor , offering no effective alternative to the economically deprived. Sison’s work is a manual of sorts that probes into the specificity of the Philippines’ mode of production via identifying the forces of production and corresponding social classes and then defining the corresponding relations of production between and among them.

Major articles are compiled in the book projecting statistical data illustrating how the agri-agro-forestry and agro-fishery sector still remain predominant, compared to manufacturing, and trading and services. There are a huge set of documents defending thesis of “Semi-feudal” and “Semi-colonial” character of the economy and  consistently counterposing  such terms as “Semi-Capitalist”, “Capitalist” or “Dependent-Capitalist” state or that the country should be categorized as a “Newly Industrializing Country” first flaunted by the Ramos Regime. Sison affirms that the capitalist commodity mode of production had its genesis on  inter-island and foreign trade as early as the 19th century when feudalism with its natural economy of local self-sufficiency started to erode and that the semi feudal economy deliberately pushed by the US colonial regime promoted a land-based comprador big bourgeoisie as the chief trading and financial agent of US monopoly capitalism.

The  book deals with the  is a medium of appropriations on the environment and the plight of Muslim Filipinos and national minorities.

The development of the CPP as a party generating g a proletarian revolution is a highlighted in the Report on the Second Plenum of the First Central Committee of the CPP.

Sison enlightens us on the nature of state fascism in the Philippines. This fascist norm, however, is sustained even beyond the EDSA People Power Revolutions that never paved the way to genuine democratic transition in the country since the same ruling class retains power and the same suffering classes are subjugated to misery.

The book most notably states: Since its founding on December 26, 1968, the CPP has put forward the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution on the basis of the critique of the Philippine society as semicolonial and semifeudal. The US granted nominal independence to the Philippines in 1946 but retained it as a semicolony through the US-RP Treaty of General Relations and subsequent treaties, agreements and arrangements subordinating the Philippines to US hegemony economically, politically, culturally and militarily.

The book encompasses the nature of Philippine economy as export oriented and import dependent and not necessarily industrializing but only at the tail-end of the assembly line. Sison sums up the manner the Philippine peasant economy has historically evolved into a system of tenantization, into peasantization and into proletarianization as he says: ‘To preserve the exploitative relations of production, the monopoly capitalist class sheds off the trappings of bourgeois democracy, adopts an open rule of terror and launches wars of aggression to redivide the world. Inter imperialist war leads to social revolution.”

Important features highlighted

The rate of agricultural land expansion has exceeded the rate of population growth from decade to decade, mainly because of spontaneous peasant resettlement and opening of new land. But the rate of land accumulation by landlords has multiplied faster. Now, the frontier areas have practically given no access for further resettlement. Peasant settlers and even minority nationalities are being deprived of their homesteads and ancestral lands.

In old and new settlements, the peasants are being proletarianized (dispossessed of land and tools) and yet there is no industrialization to compensate for the growing surplus labor. Too many people are competing for seasonal farm work and they are pouring into the cities to compete for odd jobs. Unemployment is simply booming.

The land problem has intensified as never before. Thus, the agrarian revolution of the peasants and farm workers against the landlord class is crystallizing on a national scale. Coinciding with the strength of the armed peasant army and other people’s organizations, the current general campaign for rent reduction and elimination of usury is paving the path for land confiscation from the landlords and free distribution of land to the tillers.

Feudalism is still prop or base of the socioeconomic problems. Covering the vast peasant majority of the people. The largest amount of surplus product is extracted from this class and is divided among the exploiters. Together with foreign monopoly capitalists, feudalism must be erased away with in order to liberate the forces of production in the country.

With objective of of “industrial development,” US imperialism has endorsed  agricultural milling, extractive enterprises, slight processing of local raw-materials, the import-dependent “import-substitution” manufacturing for domestic consumption of the 1950s and more recently the far more import-dependent “export-oriented manufacturing” for reexport and domestic market penetration.

Actually, financial resources have been invested most into construction, utilities, transport and communications, tourist facilities, the military, the least useful parts of the bureaucracy and so on. All these have high import requirements and have drained resources from the goal of genuine development of the country’s productive capacity.

As the US imperialist and the regime prate about “export-oriented development,” the Philippine economy has further distanced itself from industrialization and has become more dependent on the unequal exchange of raw-material exports and manufactured imports. The proportion of industrial employment, especially manufacturing, to total employment has gone down.

Unemployment has been spiralling. In rural and urban areas .Consider that in 2019 10.9 million stay in the country unemployed and another 10 to 12 million go abroad to get jobs. These amounts to 22.9 million out of a total labour force of 45 million. . The export of cheap skilled and unskilled labour and the emigration of professionals and highly trained technicians are a vivid illustration of the inability of the economy to absorb the growing manpower.

The foreign debt has magnified at a crescendo to support nonproductive projects and activities, to cover the rapidly widening trade deficits and the servicing of accumulated foreign debts. This debt is being used to tighten the nooze of imperialist banks and firms on the Philippine economy.

The Philippines is now compelled  to extend more privileges to foreign investors against long-standing nationality requirements, further liberalize imports, make drastic devaluation of the peso, increase the tax burden of the people, etc.

For the multinational firms to expand their ownership of enterprises, they do not have to make new investments. They can choose to simply convert the foreign loans and supplies that cannot be paid by local businessmen into takeover equity.

. The US and other transnational corporations want to extract cheap raw materials from the Phillipines,, a market for their manufactures and a zone of direct and indirect investments for nonindustrial purposes. Continuously it is extracting superprofits.

45% of occupational lines are integrated the agrarian sector, 22% with the manufacturing sector and 33% with the trading and services (my data UP Cebu Social Science Research 2019).

Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has personally met Professor Joma Sison and conducted an interview at the 50th party founding anniversary celebrations maintaining consistent contact with him and done extensive research on the Revolutionary Movement in Phillipines

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