ON TROTSKYITE VIEWS AGAINST THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES
By Jose Maria Sison
In Reply to the Questions of the Journalist Michael Beltran
June 26, 2020.
1. Critics from a Trotskyist standpoint say that the CPP’s measure of success primarily banks on quantitative developments such as how many rifles it has won and how many new party members it has recruited. Moreover, they claim a disjunct in the Party extolling the advancement of the revolution yet the conditions are worsening for the Filipino people, making the seizure of political power a sole determinant in political development. Do you think this is fair? What are your thoughts on this?
Jose Maria Sison (JMS): That is an unfair comment. Trotskyites suffer from having blinders of their own making. They deny and misrepresent the entire range of revolutionary forces and toiling masses of workers and peasants waging the people’s democratic revolution. The CPP has never said that the number of NPA rifles is the sole determinant of the success of the revolutionary movement of the people. That is not the way the CPP thinks and acts. The accusation of militarism is well disproven by the CPP leading the toiling masses of workers and peasants in revolutionary political struggles against the tremendous odds posed by US imperialism and the local exploiting classes.
The CPP has always taken into account the worsening crisis conditions of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system, the desire of the people for revolutionary change and realization of national and social liberation, the adoption and implementation of the general line and program of people’s democratic revolution and the development of such revolutionary forces as the vanguard proletarian party, the mass organizations of workers, peasants and other people, the people’s army and its auxiliary forces, the organs of democratic political power, the united front formations and level of outrage and militancy of the unorganized masses.
The revolutionary forces of the Filipino people have declared from time to time what are their respective levels of organized strength, their programs and declarations and more importantly their activities and campaigns against neoliberal policies and related matters. All these debunk the Trotskyite slander. The broad range of legal democratic forces is encouraged by the organized political strength of the workers and peasants. The CPP would not have survived and overcome all the US-directed campaigns of military suppression since the time of Marcos if not for the political work of the CPP and the resulting wide and deepgoing mass support for the revolution.
The CPP started from scratch in 1968, with a few scores of Party members, supported by some 10,000 youth activists, trade unionists and a few veterans of the old armed revolutionary movement. In the last more than 51 years, the CPP has become nationwide and deeply rooted among the toiling masses. It leads a people’s army, various types of mass organizations and the local organs of political power which constitute the people’s democratic government. All these revolutionary forces constitute a solid base for advancing on the urban areas and eventually defeating the class enemy.
Contrary to the claims of the Duterte regime, the Trotskyites and other Philistines that the revolutionary movement is a failure until it seizes power in Manila, I wish to call attention to the fact that the revolutionary organs of political power are already governing thousands of barangays, hundreds of municipalities and scores of districts within the range of more than 110 guerrilla fronts. They do administration, land reform and other social programs, production campaigns, health and sanitation work, self-defense, judicial work, disaster relief, environmental protection and so on.
There is no other combination of revolutionary forces and people in the Philippines closest to the socialist revolution but the one led and inspired by the CPP.. In the programmatic view of the CPP and all other revolutionary forces, the Filipino people and the Philippine revolution must first complete the stage of fighting for, realizing and winning the national and democratic rights against foreign and feudal domination by overthrowing the big comprador-landlord counterrevolutionary state.
Upon the seizure of political power in the stage of new democratic revolution, the proletariat and the people can begin the socialist revolution, with due attention to transitional measures to be undertaken. The Trotskyites do not accept the necessity of the new democratic stage in the two stages of the Philippine revolution. Because of their fatally wrong line, they cannot grow in the Philippines. Like Trotsky, the Trotskyites think that they can grow by vilifying the genuine communist parties, now guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Their anti-CPP obsession practically puts them on the side of the counterrevolution.
2. Similarly, these detractors advocate for pluralism within the left. Because the left worldwide can be considered weak, much needs to be re-learned in terms of strategies and methods. For them, the vanguard parties must go through a necessary process of re-learning, merging and splitting to accommodate a number of different answers to their challenges. Conversely, the CPP supposedly denies the need for this. What can you say about this critique of the CPP’s notion of a vanguard party?
JMS: In the Philippine context, what may be loosely called the Left of the political spectrum consists of the anti-imperialist and democratic forces, otherwise called patriotic and progressive. In class terms, these are motivated mainly by adherence to the rights and interests of the toiling masses of workers and peasants. The CPP always considers it of the utmost political importance to appeal to and rely on these forces and masses of the Left. It is a big lie for anyone to caricature the CPP as denying the need for these diverse Left forces to be put into revolutionary play and aroused, organized and mobilized for the purpose.
It is absurd for anyone to claim that the strength of the CPP comes from denying the need to cooperate with others and from presuming that it knows all answers to all questions. The CPP constantly teaches its cadres and members to learn from the masses and cooperate with allies. It promotes and carries out the broad united front policy of building the basic worker-peasant alliance, winning over the middle social strata and taking advantage of the splits among the reactionaries in order to isolate, weaken and defeat the enemy, which is currently the Duterte tyranny.
It has alliances with Left liberals in professional and occupational organizations and religious-minded revolutionaries like those in the Christians for National Liberation and Muslims in the Moro Revolutionary Liberation Organization. These are honest opponents of the Duterte tyranny unlike the most obnoxious Trotskyites who talk in an ultra-Left way but specialize in attacking the CPP and in fact serving the counterrevolution.
The CPP adheres to the Marxist-Leninist principle and line of building itself as the advanced detachment of the working class or the revolutionary vanguard party of the proletariat. Like the Bolsheviks, the CPP has become the revolutionary vanguard party of the proletariat by building itself ideologically, politically and organizationally, engaging in a life-and-death revolutionary struggle and strengthening itself in the process, learning from the masses, giving full play to democracy as the basis for making decisions from one level to another and using criticism and self-criticism and rectification movements to correct errors and improve work and the style of work.
In contrast, there are several grouplets of Trotskyites with varied conflicting origins in the Philippines. They specialize in slandering and attacking the CPP. They are under the influence of Trotskyites in the US, UK, France, The Netherlands, Japan and Australia. They have a talent for splitting among themselves as to be expected of petty bourgeois factionalists overreaching for socialism under semicolonial and semifeudal conditions. By attacking each other, they have weakened each other other instead of strengthening themselves,. Take for example the well-known conflict between Popoy Lagman and Sonny Melencio, financed and influenced by their respective Japanese and Australian partners.
They are all afflicted with a certain kind of political schizophrenia. They can flip-flop from bourgeois liberalism and factionalism in line with their anti-Stalinist obsession to ultra-Left phrase-mongering about socialism as the urgent main issue under semicolonial and semifeudal conditions. They oppose the current general line of people’s democratic revolution under proletarian leadership and with a socialist perspective. They try to gain self-importance and please the reactionaries by attacking the CPP. They specialize in sniping at the CPP from the flanks in coordination with the psywar agencies of whichever incumbent or incoming ruling clique in the Philippines.
3. I have heard phrases of the CPP’s revolution “happening behind people’s backs” in that the masses are mobilized on the basis of democratic struggle whereas socialist consciousness is absent from the equation. For them, socialism is not something implemented by the vanguard party alone, and hence, there is a disjunct between the mobilizing methods of the CPP and the socialist program it espouses. How do you respond to this? Basically, they are purporting that the CPP is not advancing proletarian consciousness among the masses.
JMS: There is nothing wrong for the CPP to propagate and carry out the general line and program of the people’s democratic revolution, with the proletariat as the leading class and with socialism as the direction of the current democratic struggles against the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system. Socialism is openly discussed as the bright future of the Filipino people that commences upon the overthrow of the current unjust social system. It is not something “happening behind people’s backs.”
The CPP, the people’s army and the revolutionary mass formations spread and follow the general line of people’s democratic revolution with a socialist perspective. They never conceal the socialist direction and future of the people’s democratic revolution. They explain fully the two stages of the Philippine revolution: the new democratic stage and the socialist stage. And they always answer questions about socialist revolution in study meetings as well as in public meetings.
The masses of workers led by the CPP as well as those coming from other class origins who wish to remould themselves as proletarian revolutionaries or communists are well educated on socialism as the historic mission of the working class on top of the immediate necessity of the democratic struggle against the current ruling system. The peasant masses also understand that they will benefit from free land distribution in the agrarian revolution and they will go through cooperativization and mechanization in the socialist society.
Right now, as in the time of the people’s struggle against the emergence and entrenchment of the Marcos fascist dictatorship, the CPP and the revolutionary mass movement are once more calling for anti-fascist, anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggle as an emphatically combative expression for the people’s democratic revolution.
The anti-fascist line condemns the attack on and violation of the civil and political rights of individuals, groups and nonexploitative classes. The anti-imperialist line condemns the attack on and violation of national sovereignty and independence. And the antifeudal line condemns the feudal and semifeudal forms of oppression nd exploitation in the countryside and carries out agrarian revolution as the main content of democratic revolution in favor of the peasant majority of the people.
The Trotskyites are rabid anti-communists pretending to out-communist the communists. They are brazen liars beyond redemption when they say that the CPP and the revolutionary movement do not appeal to the workers to defend their class interests, as workers against the government. They use outright lies to construct their own straw figure which they demolish with their verbiage.
The CPP itself and the underground organizations of the workers have resolutely and militantly upheld, defended and advanced the class interests of the working class against the counterrevolutionary state, the imperialists and the big bourgeoisie in the Philippines. The revolutionary work and influence of the CPP in the trade union movement are so strong that every reactionary regime has tried to red-tag the legal trade union movement for the purpose of state terrorism and anti-communist suppression.
4. One recommendation for building a strong communist party in the Trotskyist fashion is to start with a strong mass base already and that it should be born out of a strong, existing and active resistance and that they are the expressions of social contradictions, not necessarily of a ideological drive to do so. In your many years of party building, what can you draw from your experience about successful party building?
JMS: I have already pointed out that when the CPP was re-established in 1968, it was so small and weak with only a few scores of members. But it based itself on and was benefited by the mass movement of workers, peasants and the middle social strata in the entire 1960s. The CPP further grew in strength not just by building itself in exclusive closed-door study sessions but by further developing and drawing recruits from the revolutionary mass movement through various forms of struggle.
In developing the revolutionary mass movement, the CPP, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front help each other out. As far as I am concerned, the Trotskyites are not competent ideologically, politically and organizationally to talk about building a communist party and are not qualified to give a serious fact-based critique of the party building and mass work done by the CPP. If you examine the record and activities of the current Trotskyites, they have no experience in organizing any communist party beyond their small echo chambers and using the computer to attack the CPP and other communist parties.
The CPP has become one of the most formidable forces in the upsurge of the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles and resurgence of the world proletarian revolution. It has grown in strength by having the correct ideological, political and organizational line, by arousing, organizing and mobilizing the masses and by engaging in various forms of revolutionary struggle that are aimed at the armed overthrow and defeat of the class enemy. In the course of the revolutionary struggle, the communist party recruits its cadres and members from the revolutionary mass movement.
5. Trotskyists have regularly made claims that the CPP has an existing policy to attack them. Specifically, that there are even assassination orders within the NPA to target other members of the left. This is done supposedly to defend the CPP’s “monopoly of truth.” What can you say about this? Why do you think they have made such claims?
JMS: The most malicious and most unbelievable lies of the Trotskyites are their false claims that the CPP has an existing policy to attack them and that specifically there are even assassination orders within the NPA to target other members of the Left. They should present facts so that the CPP and the NPA can answer the charges. It is not enough to ascribe a false motivation to the CPP like “defending its monopoly of truth.”
Genuine Marxist-Leninists like those in the CPP do not believe in mediaeval dogmas of infallibility and monopoly of truth. The CPP has a materialist-scientific philosophy and methods of cognition and practice. It engages in periodic and timely criticism and self-criticism and rectification movements against major errors. In political work among the masses, it has the line of learning first from the masses their needs and demands through social investigation and class analysis before trying to teach them about anything. In its organizational life, the CPP upholds the principle of democratic centralism and bases its decision-making on democratic discussions of the facts and issues at the various levels of leadership.
In the Philippines, the Trotskyites who hate the CPP are so few and are on the wayside casting malicious statements and false claims against the CPP. They have been ineffective in their counterrevolutionary activities and have thus been ignored by the CPP and by the revolutionary mass organizations. Even if they are rabid anti-communists in the clothing of super-communists or overanxious socialist, they do not deserve any kind of physical punishment so long as they use only their mouths and computers against the CPP.
In my experience of Trotskyite malice, there is one Filipino Trotskyite who used his masteral dissertation against the CPP to ingratiate himself with a foreign intelligence agency and executed a written testimony against me in connection with the false murder charges against me in 2007. And he has continued to publish a stream of slanderous articles against the CPP. I have been happy enough to win my cases in court against false charges of murder and terrorism. I do not even think of any physical counteraction against any of my detractors. I am satisfied with debunking the lies and false charges.
The most service that the Trotskyites give nowadays to the counterrevolutionary state in the Philippines is to talk and write against the CPP. In this regard, the CPP has let them wallow in their own shit. I think that with regard to some elements who have a Trotskyite background but who have some amount of mass following and are willing to join the broad united front formally or informally, the CPP is well known to have been open to cooperation with them within the framework of the broad united front.