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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Joma Sison interviewed by Harsh Thakor on 50th Anniversary of Communist Party of the Philippines - Part 2

I am reposting this interview of Joma Sison. This article was also posted at Democracy and Class Struggle. There are also some futher comments from Harsh Thakor and quotes from Sison.
Joma Sison (AKA: José María Sison)  is the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Sison 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 (毛派) and Democracy and Class Struggle, among other periodicals. This article also appeared in Democracy and Class Struggle.

By 1990-91 the “Left” and Right opportunists were forced to retreat Earlier they made a concerted effort in disrupting the mass line . They tried to exploit the crisis faced by the central leadership by trying to usurp power and promote the counterrevolutionary rightist line.
Later in 1990, the Political Bureau nullified the erroneous concept of "strategic counter-offensive" and stopped its implementation. The Military Commission  of the Central Committee and the NPA Political Department held the National Central Conference on Political work in March-April 1990 supporting the proletarian revolutionary line.
A major campaign for educating cadres on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong was launched with many classic works reprinted for educating cadres.

HT What has been the role of the New People's Army?

JMS The CPP founded the New People’s Army on March 29, 1969. It started with only 9 automatic rifles and 26 other inferior firearms for the initial 60 Red fighters in the second district of Tarlac province.

The NPA is the main weapon of the people for defeating the enemy and winning the revolution. Without it, the people have nothing. It carries out three integral tasks: revolutionary armed struggle, agrarian revolution and mass base building. It carries out a war of fluid movement and avails of the tactics of concentration, dispersal and shifting as circumstances require. It follows the strategy of protracted people´s war, with three probable strategic stages: defensive, stalemate and counteroffensive.
The NPA applies the principle of centralized ideological and political leadership and decentralized operations, which is very appropriate to the archipelagic character of the Philippines even as the Party central leadership issues operational guidelines for the national, regional and lower levels to implement. Currently, the NPA is victoriously carrying out extensive and intensive guerrilla warfare on the basis of an ever widening and deepening mass base in order to advance from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate.
Now, the Red fighters run into thousands and their units operate nationwide in 110 guerrilla fronts in 73 out of 81 provinces. The full time Red fighters are augmented by tens of thousands of members of the people’s militia and hundreds of thousands of members of the self-defense units of the mass organizations. These are active auxiliaries as well as reserve force for the NPA.

The NPA has surpassed the number, strength and scale of all previous revolutionary armies in Philippine history. Most importantly, it has grown in strength and advanced since 1969 by carrying out the strategic line of protracted people’s war, using the countryside to accumulate strength and create the conditions for the strategic offensive to seize the cities.

At the moment, the NPA is striving to advance from the middle phase to the advanced phase of the strategic defensive in order to enter the stage of the strategic stalemate. It has a sound basis for the rapid advance of the revolution because of the tempering and accumulated experience of the revolutionary forces and the desire of the people for revolutionary change because of the worsening crisis of the ruling system and the escalating oppression and exploitation.

It strives to arouse, organize and mobilize the masses of the people in literacy and health campaigns, implementing land reform, and other campaigns, aside from military warfare. It  regularly carries out training in self-defense and combat for guerrilla warfare and builds organs of political power. The Party gives free play to the autonomy of  the mass organizations by working as Party groups within but not imposing the party line in a commandist or bureaucratic way.  It stresses learning from the masses and not imposing Marxism on them. Today the New People's Army has thousands of Red fighters. One hundred ten companies exist. The movement today is in the stage of the strategic defensive.

The NPA has mastered the art of capturing weapons from the enemy camp and also the art of winning over members of the reactionary army through the military academy since the 1960’s.  It also treats captured enemy soldiers leniently.

In early years, meticulous mass work was done by the Kabataang Makabayan, youth wing, particularly in cities.

In the White Areas, the revolutionaries do not expose themselves to the enemy. In Red areas, already under the people's government, they  lead the masses and conduct their activities openly, with security provisions against unreliable elements and possible enemy agents. If the Party does not trust the masses and is afraid of facing them, it cannot lead them in the revolutionary process and will wither away or disintegrate as a mere conspiratorial cabal.

The Party does not blindly eliminate all landlords.  The tyrants among them are differentiated from the englightened ones who are won over on a minimum platform.  Instead of just eliminating the tyrannical landlords, they could be tactically asked to acquire weapons for the revolution on the pretext of fighting the NPA.

HT:  What is the policy of building united front and the basis of formation of the National Democratic Front?

In developing the alliance of the working class with the peasantry in the antifeudal untied front, the CPP has correctly taken the line of relying mainly on the poor peasants, winning over the middle peasants, and neutralizing the rich peasants in order to isolate and destroy the power of the landlord class. The CPP and NPA have taken the key role in carrying out agrarian revolution as the main content of the democratic revolution.

As it now stands, the people´s democratic government has millions of people under its governance and influence. It is mindful of the class line in the national united front and in the anti-feudal united front in being able to govern the revolutionary mass organizations and the broad masses of the people. The policy of the united front guides the people’s war as well as the various forms of legal struggle in the urban areas in order to promote the armed revolution and attract the support of the people in their millions.

The CPP has built the united front as a weapon of the people for armed as well as for legal struggle. The united front is embodied in the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as the largest and most consolidated united front organization. The NDFP consists of 18 allied organizations bound together by patriotic and progressive principles and policies. And it has the flexibility to become the base for an even broader united front that takes advantage of the contradictions among the reactionaries in order to isolate and defeat the current enemy, which is the most reactionary clique in the country.

HT:  What are the political achievements of the CPP?

JMS: Depending on the circumstances, they have carried out the minimum and maximum land reform programs. The minimum program involves rent reduction, elimination of usury, setting of fair farm-gate prices and promotion of agricultural production and sideline occupation through independent households and rudimentary cooperation. The maximum program involves the confiscation of land from the landlords and land grabbers and free land distribution and agricultural cooperation in stages.
Because of the people´s army and advance of the people´s war, the CPP has been able to build the local organs of political power nationwide, from the barangay level upwards. At the barangay level, the barangay organizing committees are appointed and then eventually the barangay revolutionary committees are elected. The local organs of political power constitute the people´s democratic government of workers and peasants in opposition to the reactionary government of big compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists.

They are composed of the representatives of the Party cadres, the masses and technically capable persons. They oversee and supervise mass organizing, public education, production, finance, self-defense, health and sanitation, cultural affairs, environmental protection, disaster relief and rehabilitation and the settlement of disputes. They are in charge of the people´s militia and the people´s court at the pertinent level.

Two conflicting governments exist in the Philippines. The reactionaries are talking nonsense whenever they say that the revolutionaries have not accomplished anything in 50 years by not being able to seize the presidential palace in Manila. They are even more absurd when they attempt to deny the existence and belligerent status of the people´s democratic government and dismiss it as a mere nonstate actor.

In fact, this government, duly constituted by the workers and peasants, is growing and advancing wave upon wave until it shall be able to overthrow every level of the reactionary government. At certain levels and in many areas in the Philippines, the reactionary government cannot function without its enlightened local officials obtaining the permission or cooperation of the revolutionary government.

As it now stands, the people´s democratic government has millions of people under its governance and influence. It is mindful of the class line in the national united front and in the anti-feudal united front in being able to govern the revolutionary mass organizations and the broad masses of the people. The policy of the united front guides the people’s war as well as the various forms of legal struggle in the urban areas in order to promote the armed revolution and attract the support of the people in their millions.

HT:  How did the CPP carry out ideological education?

JMS: The CPP has educated tens of thousands of Party cadres and members in the theory and practice of MLM by providing them with three levels of Party study courses: basic, intermediate and advanced. These cadres are the ever growing hard core of the revolutionary mass movement, institutions of various kinds and specialized fields of work. Party education is meant to enlighten and inspire the Party cadres and members among the toiling masses of workers and peasants as well as among the middle social strata of the bourgeoisie.

The basic Party course provides Party cadres and members with a knowledge of Philippine history, the basic problems of the Filipino people and the people´s democratic revolution.  The intermediate Party course is on building the Party, the people´s army and the united front, including  a comparative study of successful revolutions led by the proletariat.  The advanced Party course is devoted to gaining a comprehensive knowledge of materialist philosophy, political economy, scientific socialism, the strategy and tactics of proletarian revolution and the international communist movement.

The CPP has contributed greatly to the world treasury of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism by issuing ideological and political documents and bylined works  by CPP leading organs and cadres on the position of the Party on theoretical and practical issues, on  building and developing the Party, the people´ army and the united front,  criticizing and rectifying errors and shortcomings and  analyzing and opposing imperialism and reaction in the Philippines and abroad.

HT: JMS, Why are you negotiating with Duterte whom you claim is a dictator?

JMS: Yes, he is autocratic but he did earlier cooperate with the movement in Mindanao and supported progressive reforms. He made positive proposals in 2014. We thought that  even if he had defects as a bureaucrat capitalist, we could utilize the contradictions among the  reactionaries to split and defeat the ruling system.  Duterte was the less reactionary and wished to cooperate five years ago. The policy of the united front was being applied to advance the revolution.

The Chinese Communist Poarty engaged in peace negotiations with the Guomindang and even had two great alliances with it first, against the northern warlords and next against the Japanese invaders.  Mao himself engaged in peace negotiations in Chungking  in an attempt to prevent civil war with the Guomindang.

It is foolish and self-defeating for the Duterte regime to wage an all out war and commit barbarous acts of state terrorism against the people and all democratic forces, whether these are engaged in armed struggle or not. The people’s war in the countryside is advancing while the broad united front and democratic mass movement in the urban areas are rising up to oust the Duterte regime.

The Duterte regime needs the peace negotiations more than the NDFP does, even if the regime does it only as a futile tactic to confound the opposition and confuse the public. But the NDFP is highly principled and competent to stand firmly for the national and democratic rights and interests of the people in the exploration of peace negotiations, actual peace negotiations and otherwise.

it is the consistent policy of the NDFP to be open to peace negotiations with the Duterte regime despite its determination  to seek the ouster of this regime.It is for the benefit of the people that the peace negotiations resume and stop the Duterte regime from proclaiming martial law nationwide, from calling off or rigging the May 2019 elections and from pursuing the scheme to impose a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people via charter change for a bogus kind of federalism.

The NDFP presumes that, when peace negotiations resume, the way is open to the forging of agreements on social, economic and political reforms that are desired and needed by the people.

HT: What are your views on the criticism of sections of parties that claim that CPP has veered towards rightist path in International line?

JMS:  Let me make one thing clear.  Infantile “communists” cannot distinguish issues and relations in ideology from those in politics.  A communist party can have fraternal relations with other communist parties on a MLM ideological basis and friendly anti-imperialist relations with all sorts of parties.  In mass work, which is ;political, a Maoist deals with all sorts of people who have different thoughs and beliefs. There is no such thing as discovering  and dealing only with ready-made Maoists among the masses.  Also, a Maoist party does not prohibit the united front organizaion or the people from having protodiplomatic and diplomatic relations with non-Maoist governments.
Cooperating politically with a revisionist communist party does not mean supporting it's ideological line or totally supporting  its political line or practice.  In the 1980's ther “Left” in the CPP advocated establishing CPP relations with the CPSU.  Instead the CPP allowed  the NDF to act like the PLO and seek protodiplomatic relations with certain revisionist countries like USSR or Eastern Europe on the basis of opposing US imperialism. The CPP never agreed with Dengist revisionism and capitalist restoration.  It also never agreed with Soviet revisionism and social imperialism.  The CPP analyzed and recognized the revisionist character of the Dengist CCP. In continuing relations with the revisionist CCP up to 1989, the basis was political rather than ideological.  By the early 1990's,  the CPP  took an even more clear cut and elaborate stand against Soviet and Chinese revisionism.

The CPP has opposed the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) seeking to impose the principle of democratic centralism on communist parties in violation of the principle of equality and independence among them.  At the same time, RIM exaggerated the status and role of the RCPUSA.  Since the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943, communist and workers’ parties have become equal to each other and independent from each other.  There has been no Comintern Executive Committee to treat them as national sections of a world party.

The CPP has supported progressive and anti-imperialist non-Maoists like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Fidel Castro of Cuba and Kim Il Sung in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Politically they are more worthy than infantile “communists” who cannot distinguish ideological from political issues and ideological relations from political relations.
The "Left" opportunists in the CPP were the ones who hoped for military assistance from the Soviet Union or pro-Soviet parties from 1982 to 1988. They were accommodated by the CC of the CPP by letting the NDF to explore the possibility of such assistance. By 1988 the Maoists in the CPP started to oppose the "Left" opportunists for major  errors of line and crimes in violation of due process. By 1992, the Second Great Rectification Movement was launched, targeting mainly the "Left" opportunists.  Stand for Socialism Against Modern Revisionism was issued.

HT: Do you think Mao's military line of protracted people's war is universal?

JMS: Mao made clear that because of the chronic crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal country, protracted people's war is possible, starting from small and weak, the people's army can develop into one that is big and strong.  It acccumulates armed and political strength in the countryside until conditions are ripe for the seizure of the cities. Like Marx, he warned against playing with insurrection in the well-developed and highly centralized capitalist countries. So far in history,r guerrilla partisan warfare can arise successfully under conditions of inter-imperialist war in capitalist countries like France and Italy in WW II.

Are there conditions of inter-imperialist war to divide the attention of the monopoly capitalist ruling class and military? Whether the war is carried out in the hinterlands or in the cities, can there be a people's army immediately to give battle to the highly organized security forces of the imperialist state? A number of those who advocate people's war in industrial capitalist countries  presume that the ruling system is extremely rotten and that the people are already ready to rise up and it is only a matter of igniting the situation to rally the people to march on the centers of power. That is more like literary imagination than military science and tactics under the command of the Party based on materialist dialectics.

Mao was absolutely clear that protracted people's war, especially building a people's army from small and weak to big and strong over time, is possible only in semi-colonial and semi-feudal countries because of their chronic crisis and their wide physical and social terrain (countryside and peasantry) for guerrilla warfare to develop into a regular mobile warfare.

While there is yet no inter-imperialist war, genuine Communists can do what the Bolsheviks did like penetrating the reactionary army with cadres.  The main thing is to do however is to form self-defense units among the workers and youth as the hard core of the proletarian masses.  They can exist as self-defense groups during strikes or as athletic groups. For more than 75 years, the imperialist powers have avoided a direct war among themselves because they fear the probability of mutual destruction in a nuclear war.  But it is also probable that the crisis and disintegration of the imperialist countries can be so grave and rapid that the masses can take power in cities through uprisings and not through a protracted people’s war.  The nuclear weapons of Soviet social imperialism became useless when the masses rose up to overthrow it. 

HT: How do you view  the Maoist Movement since capitalism was restored in China?

JMS:  In China itself, the Maoist movement was defeated after the death of Mao and the coup engineered by Deng Xiaoping and his collaborators was successful.  The GPCR was denounced, the communes were dismantled and capitalist reforms and opening up to the capitalist world were promoted.  Analysis is needed to understand , draw lessons and overcome the defeat of Maoism in China from 1976 onward.  The Chinese communists are trying hard to bring back the socialist revolution under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

The CPP admires the Maoist parties that have waged people’s war  in such countries  as IndiaNepalPeruTurkey and the like.  In the 1980’s the people’s war in Peru was very promising.  However, Comrade Gonzalo in Peru made a mistake in assessing that people’s war was already  in the stage of strategic equilibrium and in expecting urban insurrection as a shortcut to victory. He also underestimated the aspectof the united front.  After his arrest, he put forward the line of stopping the people’s war to give way to peace negotiations that are  supposed to lead to the resumption of people’s war.   

I admire the Communist Party of India (Maoist).  It adheres to the theory of Marxism-Leninism- Maoism as guide to revolutionary action. It practices the mass line and pursues protracted people's war with resilience and understanding.  After being subjected to concentrated attack in North Telengana, it has reinvigorated itself in Dandkaranya to uphold the torch of Maoism.  It has skillfully countered the attacks of the reactionary Indian paramilitary forces. Without mass support it could never have succeeded.  It is starting to overcome weaknesses and shortcomings in urban areas and in building urban-based  mass organizations. Being the  proletarian revolutionary party in such a big population, the CPI (Maoist) can play a major role in the world proletarian revolution, like the Bolsheviks in the former Soviet Union  and the Communist Party of China under the leadership of Mao. The CPP stands to benefit greatly from from the advances achieved by the CPI (Maoist).

HT: What is your view of the state of the world today?

JMS:  US imperialism i is on the strategic decline.  Acute contradictions are intensifying among the imperialist powers. The contention of the imperialist China with the US is of great political significance by way of challenging US global hegemony.  Revolutionary forces can take advantage of the Inter-imperialist contradictions. Today fascism  is rising worldwide, taking different shapes.  Maoists can cooperate with non-Marxist but progressive Left sections of the people to combat fascism in Europe and elsewhere.  A major feature in third world countries is the reign of neocolonialism and neoliberalism.  They breed fascism. Neoliberalism and the so-called war on terror combine to promote the rise of authoritarian regimes and state terrorism.  Duterte is already on the path of imposing a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people. He has labeled the CPP and other revolutionary forces as terrorist.  He is using all kinds of barbarities against the CPP and other revolutionary forces.  He is also targeting all non-communist forces that are critical of his tyrannical regime.  He has targeted for repression even the Catholic Church to discourage it from criticizing the criminal acts of his regime.

HT:  How do you see future of revolution in CPP?

JMS: The CPP is very determined to defeat the tyranny of Duterte and the entire ruling system of big compradors, landlords and bureaucrats servile to US imperialism. Today the CPP has 75,000 members and leads a mass movement of people in the millions.  It is in all spheres of society.  It is marching from victory to victory because of its adherence to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as guide to action and because of its application of the mass line in pursuing the people’s democratic revolution.  It upholds and defends the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and understands Mao’s theory and practice of continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship through cultural revolution.  This ushers in the third stage in the development of Marxism.

The CPP has excelled in leading the armed revolution that is among the longest running, strongest, and continuously growing armed revolutions for national liberation, democracy and socialism in the world. This armed revolution has proven correct Mao´s theory and practice of protracted people´s war. The CPP has developed this theory and practice in accordance with the specific characteristics of the Philippines in terms of social and physical terrain, with the peasant population as the most numerous class in the mountainous archipelago.

What makes the Philippine revolution most outstanding currently is that it has overcome a long running fascist dictatorship like that of Marcos and a long series of strategic operational campaign plans of US-lining pseudo-democratic regimes to destroy it. The revolutionary forces and people have become strong precisely by fighting all the series of strategic operational plans that have been undertaken by the US and its Filipino puppet regimes. They have also combated and prevented all attempts of modern revisionism, reformism and opportunism to undermine and weaken the armed revolution.
Here are some full names of those mentioned in this article; Rodrigo Duterte , Mikhail Gorbachev, Corazon Aquino.

Added quotes and comments:

Quoting Joma Sison:
"Of course, militarization of the party is the anti-MLM line of the Gonzaloites who worship Gonzalo, make him the definer of Mao's theory and practice in China and who ignore how he actually made his own ten-year long people's war ultimately decline with his flip flop from "Left' opportunism to Right opportunism in his own country."

How do you assess Gonzalo thought and his followers today Comrade?
Quoting Joma Sison- "Regarding the religious-like dogmatic and sectarian worship of Gonzalo and Gonzalo Thought, those practicing it insult the great communists (MELSM) by elevating Gonzalo to their level or close to their level as well as the people's wars that still growing and are far more successful than that in Peru by claiming that Gonzalo is the greatest of Maoists after Mao. Instead of simplistically denying the capitulation and betrayal of the Peruvian revolution by Gonzalo, his worshippers should answer with facts and arguments those facts and arguments raised by critics who hold responsible Gonzalo as "Left" opportunist for neglecting the united front as a weapon, inventing the "strategic equilibrium" and putting forward the notion of urban uprising as short cut to total victory and as Right opportunist and outright betrayer of the revolution by proposing while in prison peace negotiations and peace agreement with the enemy, calling for the end of the people's war and conflicting with those who continued the people's war. Causes must be established for the decline and defeat of the Peruvian revolution. In the Philippines, CPP leaders lose their position as soon they are captured by the enemy to avoid the negative lesson of Aquinaldo of the First Philippine Republic surrendering the revolution to the US soon after his capture. Ard Kinera and his kind in Tjen Foldet are mere charlatans and fake Maoists. They have been blabbering about protracted people's war for more than 20 years (since their expulsion from AKP) and for as long as social democrats and other reformists hope for the gradual evolution of capitalism to socialism. And they pose as superior in theory and practice to the thinkers and leaders of people's war far more successful than the already failed people's war of Gonzalo. But even after so long, these charlatans have not tried what they preach by starting protracted people's war in Norway or elsewhere in Western Europe or North America or even only join the people's war in the Philippines, India Turkey, Kurdistan or Colombia."

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