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Friday, February 01, 2019

Joma Sison interviewed by Harsh Thakor on 50th Anniversary of Communist Party of the Philippines - New Revised Interview- Part 1

I am reposting this interview of Joma Sison. The interview that Harsh Thakor wrote had some serious errors in it. Democracy and Class Struggle reposted this interview that has been corrected by Comrade Joma Sison personally. According to DCS Harsh Thakor has apologized to Sison and he accepts his apology and they hope Thakor learns that recording and reporting comrades accurately is important for revolutionaries and mistakes can have serious consequences.
Joma Sison (AKA: José María Sison)  is the founder of the Communist Party of the PhilippinesSison reorganized the party as a Maoist group, in 1968, He is also a writer, activist and theoretician. Since 2002, Sison has been classified as a "person supporting terrorism" by the United States. The European Union's second highest court ruled to delist him as a "person supporting terrorism" and reversed a decision by member governments to freeze assets. The Communist Party of the Philippines has been classified by the US as a terrorist organization. He has been treated as a criminal by the USA and other European countries.

Harsh Thakor is a freelance writer. He writes for this blog, Otto's War Room and Democracy and Class Struggle, among other periodicals. This article also appeared in Democracy and Class Struggle.



For half a century since it's reestablishment on December 26th 1968 the Communist Party of Philippines (CPP) has displayed the tenacity of a rock, withstanding every hurdle. It has fought a protracted people’s war for a duration of 50 years, longer than any Communist party ever. It has turned a red spark into a prairie fire.

Such is the power of the torch of Marxism-Leninism -Maoism. It convinced me that no Communist party practiced mass line so penetratingly, deeply or correctly as the CPP after the reversal of socialism in China.  

No party has with such fortitude and clinical analysis and practice thwarted Right and "Left" opportunism within its ranks. It made the boldest of self-criticisms at many junctures in consonance with Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. It may have some flaws in theoretical plane on international questions but in practice true champions.

Being 50, the body of the CPP may be old or aged but it's soul blazes or extinguishes its spirit double that of quarter of a century ago.  In spite of being engulfed with enemies all around to sabotage it, the CPP shimmers its torch like an inextinguishable light. 

Without doubt its Founding Chairman Joma Sison is one of the greatest Marxist theoreticians and leaders of recent times and the CPP is a torch bearer of the world revolution.

Of great importance were the efforts of the rectification campaigns which were major stepping stones in the carving out of the revolutionary mass line.

In many ways the rectification line of 1992 was the turning point of the Philippine revolution with it's upholding the Cultural Revolution (GPCR) and recognizing the revisionist character of Dengist China

Most timely that it took place when Soviet social imperialism and revisionist states collapsed in 1991. Equal emphasis was placed on combating "Left" and Right opportunism which represented urban putschist actions and withdrawal of mass movements on one scale and totally reformist and parliamentary work on the other. The struggle for combating deviations and striving for mass line was similar to blood running through the veins of a body.

Revisionism was combated through revolutionary practice itself and not mere talk. I was most impressed how they handled times of crisis in several junctures and fought back with their backs to the wall. It depicted great dialectical approach like a surgeon performing continuous operations on the most serious patients.

Great planning was involved in every stage with the CPP traversing the most turbulent of waters. Above all, it did not impose itself on the masses but channelized every effort to establish itself as the true vanguard of the people. Brilliantly blended Marxist-Leninist methodology with creativity like an architect and artist blended into one. Genuine revolutionary organs of political power have been created similar to what the Chinese Communist Party did in the 1940's. I was astounded with how they blended political mastery with creativity. 

The New People’s Army demonstrated phenomenal mobility and flexibility and was fully integrated in the lives of the broad masses. Above all it proved the authenticity of Maoism being invincible and correctness of theory of protracted people's war. It brilliantly blended centralisation and de-centralisation of party work and dispersal and concentration in the New People's Army work. Brilliantly blended Marxist-Leninist methodology with creativity.

With dialectical precision in practice and theory in several stages it controlled 'military' approach or left sectarian armed actions as well as 'legalistic' work and Rightist parliamentary work. It did not mechanically apply Mao's military theories but innovated them to the concrete Philippine conditions. It placed emphasis on higher party committees learning from the lower ones and activating them. It also struggled against trends that used pretext of mass movement to blunt armed offensives.

Meticulous efforts were made to educate party cadres on the essence of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. It published writings in accordance with level of the consciousness of different sections of the people. It always solidified the base when building the superstructure. Through the building of the National Democratic Front, it promoted the concept of united front.

With great diligence, land reform was initiated with the NPA directly involved in production. With most flexibility the Party has built bastions in the urban areas in trade unions. The NPA displayed great fluidity moving like a fish in water. It is also significant that the party membership was created from the mass activists of mass organizations which were like nurseries for schooling them.
What was most important is that it sowed the roots to create political bastions of power in the countryside solidifying the base with clinical precision to intensify the armed struggle. The alliance of the landless and poor peasantry with the middle and rich peasantry has been knit with meticulous application of Maoist ideology and similar to days of the 1940's in China an independent form of government has been formed which is a thorn in the flesh to the ruling regime.

The main reasons for it's setback from the 1980's was its incorrect evaluation of the GPCR and neutrality towards Dengist China which made certain sections even vacillate towards supporting social imperialism. I also am somewhat skeptical as to the reason it reached a state that it had to negotiate with ruler Duterte.

Also marginal theoretical flaws on international questions like supporting Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Freedom Road Socialist Organisation in America or even rightist groups in India. Still an outstandingly positive assessment of Chairman Mao's contribution and Maoism giving it the same meaning as CPC did in era of Mao. [Note: I do not agree with this paragraph.  But you can retain it because it is your statement JS]

In recent times what was most encouraging was its sporadic and timely armed actions challenging fascism of Duterte. Today it may not be directly encircling the cities but through building liberated base ares prepared the fuel or the roots of creating such a possibility. It has not reached the level of political power or intensity as Chinese Communist Party did by the 1940's or as strong revolutionary base but we must consider that we are in an era where no socialist country exists and where imperialist forces are twice as strong now than they were in the 1940's with the current impositions of neocolonialism and neoliberalism.

In many ways the rectification line of 1992 was the turning point of the Philippine revolution with it's upholding the GPCR and criticizing the revisionist character of Dengist China. Most timely that it took place when Soviet social Imperialism and  revisionist states collapsed in 1991. Of great significance towards the mass line after 1980 was their main rectification document of 1992, "Reaffirm our Basic Principles and Rectify Errors, ",  “General Review of Important Events and Decisions from 1980-1991”  and “Stand for Socialism against Modern revisionism."

In the 1970's the most important works to study were “Rectify errors and Rebuild the Party” and “Constitution of the Communist Party of the Philippines,”the “Program for a People's Democratic Revolution (PPDR),"  the "Rules for Establishing the People's Government” and the “Revolutionary Guide to Land Reform". Also of great value was the communique of the Inter-regional conference of cadres of the CPP in Northern Luzon and Manila-Rizal.

In recent times what was most encouraging was its sporadic and timely armed actions challenging fascism of Duterte. Today it may not be directly encircling the cities but through building liberated base areas prepares the fuel or the roots of creating such a possibility.

Below I have recorded my Interview with Founding Chairman Joma Sison in Utrecht on December 27th and Dec 31st. I personally interviewed the great Comrade in the National Democratic Front Office in Utrecht,  which was an experience in a lifetime.

I had gone to attend the commemoration event of the 50th anniversary in Utrecht attended by around 400 people and 20 different nations.

Before the interview I had written a brief summary. Also added notes which were sent later by Comrade Joma and from past literature of CPP (mainly Rebolusyon on rectification history.)

HT: What led to the re-organization of the Communist Party of Philippines in 1969?

JMS: The general secretary Jesus Lava was completely isolated from any mass movement. He adopted policies that first liquidated the remnants of the old people's army by calling on the armed units to turn themselves into organizational brigades, and subsequently also the party by adopting in 1957 what he called the single file policy of dissolving every party collective and ordering party members to form single files to which he sent his political transmissions from his Manila hideout. He had no significant connections with any mass movement nor with the remnants of the people's army which continued to exist as roving rebel bands in the plains of some provinces of Central Luzon.
The single event that broke the long period of reaction was the demonstration of 5000 students mostly from the state university, to oppose and stop the anti-communist witchhunt in 1961.

The young proletarian revolutionaries initiated the mass protest action, without direction from the underground remnant of the old merger party of Socialist Party and the Communist Party.  Following their success, they expanded their study and organizing activities from the University of Philippines to other universities and gained leadership over students governments and campus publications. The young proletarian revolutionaries linked up with veteran cadres and masses in progressive trade unions and peasant associations. The mass movement of the youth, the workers and peasants grew steadily.

The Kabataang Makabayan was formed in 1964 as a comprehensive mass organization of students, workers, young peasants and young professionals. They became most active in promoting the study of the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, and in creating Party groups within the mass organizations and party branches in localities to serve as the revolutionary core of the mass movement. They were also the most militant in launching workers strikes and mass actions to expose the anti national and anti democratic policies of the reactionary government.

The Lava revisionist renegades wished to impose their line of indefinite parliamentary struggles on the proletarian revolutionaries and the people. Their line was engendered by their own bourgeois subjectivist and opportunist world outlook and encouraged by the line of Soviet revisionist renegades. The two-line struggle between the Lava revisionist renegades and the proletarian revolutionaries became so intense that the former wished to inflict physical harm on the latter.

The task of demarcating from the counter revolutionary revisionists and to wage a relentless campaign against them was the order of the day. Preparations began with consolidation meetings of the proletarian revolutionaries and mass activists and drafting the documents of re-establishment "Rectify Errors and Rebuild the Party " and the CPP Constitution and Programs for a people's Democratic Revolution. The Congress of Re-establishment had only 12 delegates representing only a few scores of party members and candidate members in the trade unions and youth movement. Soon after the re-establishment of the party in 1968 the proletarian revolutionaries linked up with the majority of the remnants of the people’s army, with a rural mass base of 80,000 peasants, in the second district of Tarlac in Central Luzon.

In the urban and rural areas, the reestablished party inherited the fine revolutionary tradition of the proletariat as well as the senior and middle aged cadres of long drawn workers and peasants movement. The mass organizations of workers, peasants and youth condemned both the Lava revisionist group and the Sumulong gangster clique. The Lava revisionist renegades prated about parliamentary struggle as the main form of struggle but it was the proletarian revolutionaries who actually continued to lead the legal democratic movement.

The proletarian revolutionaries wished to create a nationwide party organization with a cadre and mass character, deeply rooted among the working people, and building a people’s army waging protracted people’s war. They realised they had to expand the party base from region of Central Luzon. They also saw the necessity of creating guerrilla zones. Thus from the very outset members of the Party Central Committee were deployed in particular regions to facilitate nationwide expansion. They understood the importance of building guerrilla zones in different regions at various strategic areas.

The mass organizations were virtually nurseries for developing party members in significant numbers. Party members were recruited from people's organisations in line with mass line.
All types of mass organizations were built among workers, peasants, youth, women and cultural activists. In April 1969 the party led a legal peasant demonstration of 15,000 in Manila and another of of 50,000 in Tarlac. Great mass demonstrations were led against US occupation of Vietnam.
The urban based Kabataang Makabayan acted as the nationwide seeding machine of the national democratic revolution. It became the most important source of cadres who were immediately responsible for urban work. It encouraged the rise of progressive unions and federations such as KASAMA and PAKMAP and the transformation of reactionary into progressive unions.
A most crucial base was laid after the first rectification campaign from 1969 itself.  It laid the basis for challenging the fascist rule of the dictator Marcos and firmly upheld that Philippines was an underdeveloped semicolonial and semifeudal state, with only comprador type of industrialization, dependent on imported equipment.

It  criticized and repudiated the Right opportunist line and also the "Left" opportunist line that prematurely adopted the path of strategic counter offensive which was ineffective and confusing.

The revisionist trend even denied correctness of Mao's theory, the need for the united front and mass activists. The forces of movement from 1972-77 laid the base in Mindanao. From 1979,  new members of the Central Committee were selected mainly from the regional leaders.  Struggles in the form of mass strikes developed in urban areas. The New People's Army was regularized, with 16 companies formed rapidly in Mindanao.  The Preparatory Commission for the National Democratic Front was established in 1974 in accordance with the united front policy of the CPP. 

In breaking out of the Merger Party of the Communist and Socialist Parties (MPCSP), the young proletarian revolutionaries launched the First Great Rectification Movement in 1966. This criticized and rectified the subjectivist and the ¨Left¨ and Right opportunist errors from 1942 to 1966, the year when a scion of the Lava family imposed his revisionist line and grabbed leadership in the MPCSP.

The proletarian leaders who developed from the workers and youth mass organizations pursued the rectification movement and prepared the way for the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines from 1966 to 1968.

The CPP waged rectification movements to overcome major errors in ideology, politics and organization. It successfully waged the Second Great Rectification Movement from 1992 to 1998 as an education movement in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to criticize and repudiate major subjectivist and” Left” and Right opportunist errors in the period of 1981 to 1992. 
It debunked the subjectivist notion that the Marcos fascist dictatorship had made the Philippine economy industrial-capitalist. This subjectivist error gave rise to Right and “Left” opportunist errors. The Right opportunists advocated a united front without the leadership of the revolutionary proletariat and kowtowing to the anti-Marcos reactionaries. The” Left” opportunists rejected Mao´s strategic line of protracted people´s war and promoted adventurism and the premature regularization of the NPA at the expense of mass work.

HT: What was the cause or significance the second rectification campaign?

JMS: From 1988 onward, the mass base was eroded by 40% and then by another 20% and Right opportunism was ascendant. Some party cadres had shifted to Right or “Left” opportunism. They even rejected Mao. Thus the party literally had to be reinvigorated to be saved from death.  NPA units were re-deployed for mass work.

The Party successfully waged the Second Great Rectification Movement from 1992 to 1998 as an education movement in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to criticize and repudiate major subjectivist and “Left” and Right opportunist errors in the period of 1981 to 1992.

The Second Great Rectification Movement criticized, repudiated and rectified the Right opportunist error of taking out the leadership of the communist party and the working class from the national united front supposedly to attract more people and make the united front the main weapon of the struggle; and several trends of ¨Left¨ opportunism, the most damaging of which overstressed the verticalization of the NPA at the expense of horizontal deployment of the NPA for mass work and which upon failure resulted in blaming those tagged as deep penetration agents as causing the failure and subjecting them to punishment without due process.

As a whole, the CPP has learned well from the Second Great Rectification Movement by developing the balance between armed struggle and mass work and the center of gravity in a relatively concentrated force (e.g., command platoon of a company or the command squad of a platoon) and the relatively dispersed force for mass work (two-thirds of a formation deployed on a wider scale).

The line for the NPA is to wage intensive and extensive guerrilla warfare on the basis of an ever widening and deepening mass base. But the erroneous currents of conservatism and roving rebel bands, which neglect the waging of guerrilla tactical offensives by overemphasizing mass work by armed propaganda teams, has afflicted some regions for extended periods, especially in Luzon and the Visayas.

The 1981 plenum of the Central Committee encouraged the exponents of "Left " and Right opportunism to espouse urban insurrectionism and parliamentarism, respectively, by allowing both opportunists to spread doubts about the strategic line of protracted people's war. The Politburo meeting favored both types of opportunism. The “Left” and Right opportunists  came together and confused the line and lumped both the liberal democrats and the anti-Marcos reactionaries  as bourgeois reformists. They adopted the line of monopolizing victory in the antifascist struggle which was anticipated as forthcoming.

The line of strategic counter offensive and regularization encouraged the more blatant militarist line of combining urban insurrectionism with military adventurism in Mindanao from 1982 to 1985. Mass organizing was totally abandoned and underground cadres exposed themselves to the enemy in small provincial cities. There was also the trend of  seeking military and financial assistance from the Soviet Union and importing heavy military weapons. Couriers were already dispatched to contact parties close to the CPSU.

In common with Left opportunists,  the Right opportunists gave utmost importance to legal struggles,-not revolutionary armed struggle. As early as 1978-79 one group of Right opportunists in the Manila-Rizai Party Committee provoked a struggle with the central leadership by insisting on the participation of the Communist Party of Philippines in the farcical elections held by the Marcos regime. The debate was erroneously formulated as one of choosing between participation or boycott in the elections. It led to disruptions in the Manila-Rizai Party Committee. The disruptive elements were meted out with disciplinary actions.

In 1981 ,the Right opportunists were already advocating replacement of the proletarian vanguard party with a so-called vanguard front called 'New Katipunan. However the Party thwarted this liquidationist proposal. The Right opportunist line ran so deep that so-called national democrats from the ranks of the masses were enrolled into the party without any Marxist-Leninist education. The Right opportunists proceeded to realize their concept of strategic alliance , which meant denying the role of the Party in the anti-fascist alliance.  They reversed the trend of drawing cadres from the cities to the countryside.

Following the overthrow of Marcos dictatorship, the Political Bureau of the Party decided that the boycott policy was a major tactical error and forced the Party Chairman to resign. However the Right opportunists insisted that the error was a strategic one connected to the strategic line of protracted people's war.

From 1986 onward, the Right opportunists who advocated parliamentarism as well as those who combined parliamentarism with urban insurrection within the Party to collaborate with those outside the party, such as Christian democrats and bourgeois populists. Right opportunists openly supported Gorbachev revisionism and attempted to get rid of working class leadership, advocating that the Communist Party function openly. By 1988 the Right opportunists had virtually sabotaged the legal mass movement by colluding with the supporters of urban insurrectionism.

Right opportunists had misdirected personnel towards building foreign funded NGOs and building coalitions out of the same legal organizations towards parliamentarism. Similarly the “Left” opportunists concentrated on forming small groups of armed city partisans and ordered them to launch indiscriminate killings,  which provoked the enemy to assassinate mass activists and suppress the militant mass organizations. They virtually abandoned mass organizing.

From 1988, the bankruptcy of the Left opportunist line of combining urban insurrrectionism with military adventurism by the conspiratorial and splittist faction supported Gorbachev's line in certain central staff organs, institutions and organizations. In 1990 they tried to usurp the authority of the central leadership and liquidate the party. They tried to replace the party as the center of the revolution with their version of National Democratic Front. They also attempted to amend the NDF program for a people’s democratic revolution with a program of bourgeois nationalism.  They wished to convert the NDF from a united front into an alliance with a hodge-podge of member organizations and individual members. A concept of an anti-imperialist democratic front was propagated combining the Left, Middle and Right against the US.-Aquno regime supposedly to reach the objective of urban insurrection.

From 1986 onward, several inter-regional or regional party committees pushed to build absolutely concentrated companies and adopt some putschist or insurrectionist plan. However most of them complained about the unreasonable targets imposed upon them by the Left opportunists with regard to formation of companies and launching offensives
The 1988 anniversary statement summed up the 20 year history of the Party and criticized the imbalances in revolutionary work. In 1989 conferences on mass work were held at regional and inter regional levels and cadres were re-deployed for mass wor.,especially for recovery and expansion 1988 party anniversary statement called for rectification,,the further strengthening of the party, and the intensification of people's revolutionary struggles.

The 1990 party anniversary statement was critical of the errors of regularization and verticalization of the forces at the expense of developing the horizontal forces in stages and called for extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare on the basis of ever widening and deepening mass base. The acute struggle between the proletarian revolutionary line and the bourgeois opportunist line intensified within the central organ of the party.

Continued =>

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