QUESTION EVERYTHING / The problem with Jose Maria Sison

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Introduction to the book “Strengthen the People’s Struggle against Imperialism and Reaction” read last February 8, 2019 at UP Diliman, Solair

Mong Palatino is a Filipino activist and former legislator

By Mong Palatino | Bulatlat.com | Pilipino
14 February 2019

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that he has set a high standard on how to analyze the political conditions in the country. After reading his works, his comprehensive and sharp grasp of politics will be impressed upon you. As activists, we read and evaluate what many people, including what we call intellectuals and political analysts, say. Many of them can weave events intelligently, armed with diverse data, and advance interesting discourses. But the message seems lacking, it does not directly hit the totality nor emphasize what is to be done. In other words, unlike how Jose Maria Sison through his writings, breaks the dominant narrative and as importantly offers the progressive alternative.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that he shows it is possible to be a theorist without being complicated. Some critics say that Jose Maria Sison’s formulations are simplistic. Perhaps simple, yes; but simplistic, no. The pull of his thinking is deep and the view he puts forward are based on theory. But his articulation of points is easily understood even by ordinary readers who are not familiar with the language of the academe. Thus, we can say that his method is effective. It is now fashionable to let go of needless things or what is called decluttering which was made trendy by one called #KonMari. But it is not #KonMari but the example of #Jose Mari which can be our guide. That in writing we should discard too much flowery words and avoid analyses that create confusion instead of clarifying the issues. We write to arouse, organize and mobilize.  #KonMari says spark joy. #JoseMari says, spark a revolution.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that his teaching is consistent since 1960s to the present. According to his critics, the writings of Jose Maria Sison are repetitive. True, the flow of his fundamental arguments does not change. But the essence of things does not change. Our situation then holds true in the present. Even some scholars just added garnishing to their writings and incorporated postmodern views but the content is just hot air. It is easy for Jose Maria Sison to do what politicians and other apologists of the system do who constantly change and waver on their understanding of events in the country; but if the books of Jose Maria Sison are the basis, he chose to focus on the truth and divulge the rottenness of the system. It is also not true that his writings are repetitive. His arguments are anchored on particular and concrete situation, on the revolving and turning of situations, on the possibility of acceleration or remolding of the people struggling. He continues to condemn the imperialism he analyzed during 1960s but is focused on the particular political objective which is different then and now. Perhaps in the past, the analysis of imperialism was in the framework of how to serve the rectification campaign; today, it is on how to further strengthen the mass movement and create resurgence.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that his voice and intervention are being sought as a counter to the attacks of Rodrigo Duterte. Aside from Duterte being his former student, his blows are thrashings and are effective antidote to the poison spread by the president and Malacanang (presidential palace). Therefore, he is able to expose the posturing and lies of the regime. He easily connects the current crisis to the widespread scandals and how these should be challenged by the movement for liberation.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is he clarified the correctness of the struggle even in times when there was no open threat of a dictatorship in the country. Duterte had no pretension that he is a dictator, pro-Marcos and a criminal. But his predecessor pretended to be democratic and respectful of human rights. Is the national democratic line of struggle still reasonable in times when there is supposedly space for progressive forces in molding democracy in the country?

In this book which contains the articles he wrote in 2014 and 2015, Jose Maria Sison referred to the continuing existence of a system that is anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-poor. As chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, Jose Maria Sison studied the relation of countries, the contradictions in a capitalist system, and the effect on the country’s politics.  That is why it is a good guide to further understand the events today in Venezuela, the pivot to Asia of the United States, the rise of China as a superpower, the peace process, a summary of the history of the country’s protracted struggle, and other manifestation of the economic crisis.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that now more than ever his works are weapons of the people against reaction and a guide to the continuing revolution in the country.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that he will continue to be hated by the ruling class. And this book, together with the other books being launched today, is a testimony to why to date and even at the age of 80, he continues to be a pillar and an essential voice of the revolution in the Philippines.


QUESTION EVERYTHING / Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison

Mong Palatino is a Filipino activist and former legislator

Ni Mong Palatino | Bulatlat.com

Introduksiyon sa aklat na ‘Strengthen the People’s Struggle against Imperialism and Reaction’ na binasa noong Pebrero 8, 2019, UP Diliman, Solair

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison ay naglatag siya ng mataas na pamantayan kung paano suriin ang pulitikal na kalagayan ng bansa. Pagkatapos mo siyang basahin, tatatak sa iyo ang kanyang kumprehensibo at matalas na gagap sa pulitika. Bilang mga aktibista, binabasa at inaalam natin ang sinasabi ng maraming tao, kabilang ang mga tinatawag nating intelektuwal at political analyst. Marami sa kanila ay may matalinong paghahabi ng mga pangyayari, armado ng samu’t saring datos, at interesante ang sinusulong na diskurso. Pero parang kulang ang mensahe, parang hindi natutumbok ang kabuuan at hindi nadidiin kung ano ang dapat gawin. Sa madaling salita, hindi sila tulad ni Jose Maria Sison na kung paano sa kanyang mga sulatin ay binabasag ang dominanteng naratibo at kasing halaga nito’y naghahain ng progresibong alternatibo.

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison ay pinakita niya na posible ang maging teorista nang hindi kailangang maging kumplikado. Sabi ng ilang kritiko, simplistiko ang mga pormulasyon ni Jose Maria Sison. Maaaring simple, oo; pero simplistiko, hindi. Dahil malalim ang hugot ng kanyang pag-iisip at nakabatay sa teorya ang kanyang inaabanteng pananaw. Pero ang artikulasyon ng mga punto ay madaling maunawaan kahit ng mga karaniwang mamababasa na hindi pamilyar sa wika ng akademya. Kaya masasabing mabisa ang kanyang paraan. Uso ngayon ang pagbabawas ng mga bagay na hindi natin kailangan (decluttering) na pinasikat ng tinatawag na #KonMari. Pero hindi si #KonMari kundi ang ehemplo ni #JoseMari ang pwede nating gabay. Na sa pagsusulat ay winawaksi ang sobra-sobrang mabulaklaking mga salita at iniiwasan ang mga pagsusuring lumilika ng kalituhan sa halip na makapaglinaw ng mga usapin. Sumulat upang magpukaw, makapag-organisa, at magpakilos. Sabi ni #KonMari, spark joy. Ayon naman kay #JoseMari, spark a revolution.

Photo by Kodao Productions

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison ay consistent ang kanyang tinuturo mula dekada sisenta hanggang sa kasalukuyan. Sabi ulit ng ilang kritiko, paulit-ulit na lang ang mga sinusulat ni Jose Maria Sison. Totoo, ang daloy ng kanyang mga pundamental na argumento ay hindi nagbago. Subalit ang esensiya naman ng mga bagay-bagay ay hindi rin naman nagbago. Ang sitwasyon natin noon ay totoo pa rin para sa kasalukuyan. Kahit naman yung ilang mga iskolar ay naglagay lang ng palamuti sa kanilang mga sinusulat at nilangkapan ng mga postmodernistang tingin pero ang laman naman ay ampaw. Madaling gawin ni Jose Maria Sison ang ginagawa ng mga pulitiko at iba pang apologist ng sistema na pabagu-bago at urung-sulong ang pag-unawa sa nangyayari sa bansa; pero kung ang mga aklat ni Jose Maria Sison ang batayan, mas pinili niyang tukuyin ang katotohanan at isiwalat ang kabulukan ng sistema. At hindi rin naman totoong paulit-ulit ang kanyang mga sinusulat. Nakaangkla ang kanyang argumento sa partikular at kongkretong kalagayan, sa umiinog at pumipihit na sitwasyon, sa mga posibilidad na pwedeng pabilisin o hulmahin ng mga taong lumalaban. Ang imperyalismong kanyang sinuri noong 1960s ay patuloy niyang kinukundena ngayon subalit nakatuon sa partikular na layuning pampulitika na magkaiba noon at ngayon. Maaaring noon, ang suri sa imperyalismo ay nasa balangkas kung paano magsilbi sa kampanyang rektipikasyon; at ngayon naman ay kung paano higit na palakasin (resurgence) ang kilusang masa.

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison ay hinahanap ang kanyang boses at interbensiyon bilang pantapat sa mga atake ni Rodrigo Duterte. Bukod sa dati niyang estudyante si Digong, humahataw ang kanyang mga banat at epektibong antidote ito sa mga lasong pinapakalat ng pangulo at ng Malakanyang. Kaya niyang hubaran ang mga pagpopostura’t kasinungalingan ng rehimen. Madali niyang nauugnay ang krisis ng kasalukuyan sa mga sumusulpot na iskandalo at kung paano dapat ito hamunin ng kilusang mapagpalaya.

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison ay nilinaw niya ang kawastuhan ng pakikibaka kahit sa panahong walang lantarang banta ng diktadurya sa bansa. Si Duterte, walang pagpapanggap na siya ay diktador, maka-Marcos, at kriminal. Pero ang kanyang sinundan ay nagpakilalang demokratiko at kumikilala sa karapatang pantao. Makatwiran pa ba ang pambansang demokratikong linya ng pakikibaka sa panahong may espasyo diumano ang mga progresibong pwersa sa paghubog ng demokrasya sa bansa? Sa librong ito na naglalaman ng mga artikulong sinulat noong 2014 at 2015, tinukoy ni Jose Maria Sison ang patuloy na pag-iral ng isang sistemang kontra-manggagawa, kontra-magsasaka, at kontra-maralita. Bilang tagapangulo ng International League of Peoples’ Struggle, inaral ni Jose Maria Sison ang relasyon ng mga bansa, ang mga kontradiksiyon sa sistema ng kapitalismo, at ang epekto nito sa pulitika ng bansa. Kaya mainam itong gabay upang higit na maunawaan ang nangyayari ngayon sa Venezuela, ang pivot to Asia ng Estados Unidos, ang pag-angat ng Tsina bilang superpower, ang dinaanang proseso ng usapang pangkapayapaan, ang buod ng kasaysayan ng mahabang pakikibaka sa bansa, at ang iba’t ibang manipestasyon ng krisis sa ekonomiya.

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison, ngayon higit kailanman, ang kanyang mga sulatin ay sandata ng mamamayan laban sa reaksyon at gabay sa pagpapatuloy ng rebolusyon sa bansa.

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison ay patuloy siyang kinamumuhian ng naghaharing uri. At ang librong ito, kasama ang iba pang inilulunsad sa araw na ito, ay patunay kung bakit hanggang sa kasalukuyan at kahit sa edad na 80, siya ay nananatiling isang haligi at mahalagang boses ng rebolusyon sa Pilipinas.

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