By Dr. Peter Chua
Book review of Jose Maria Sison’s “Resist Neoliberalism, Fascism, and Wars of Aggression: Selected Writings, 2019”, edited by Juliet de Lima and published by the International Network for Philippine Studies (2021)
Very warm personal greetings to Prof. Jose Maria Sison and to our distinguished host and speakers as well as everyone joining us here. I would like to also acknowledge and thank the many behind-the-scenes people, who made this new collection possible and organized this international book launch in the mist of the COVID-19 crisis.
The continuing mass publication of Jose Ma. Sison’s writings is a decisive victory over the fierce ideological offensive by the bourgeois reactionary and the handful of counter-revolutionary revisionists that attempt to silent, to insult, and to dismiss Sison as obsolete. With this Resist Neoliberalism, Fascism and Wars of Aggression, a compilation of his 2019 writings, the people of the world now have a new and finely crafted ideological weapon for the aim of combating wrong ideas and frameworks, providing fresh analysis on the contemporary crisis and contradictions, and cultivating greater prospects for broadening and advancing democratic and anti-imperialist struggles. My comments here will focus on four general and overlapping themes: (1) historical lessons, (2) perspective on the current situation, (3) the building of peoples’ collective strength, and (4) the advancement of peoples’ struggle.
The first theme in this collection involved learning from the historical experience of democratic, anti-imperialist, and revolutionary struggles. One set of works, for instance, re-examined the colonial policies of the Third International, particularly involving the Communist Party of the Philippine Islands. Sison brought up assessment points related to issues of the legal and underground status of the Party, the involvement of cadres of the CPUSA and the Third International, the 1930s building the Popular Front against fascism, and errors in leadership of the merger Communist-Socialist party in the Philippines.
Another set of works focused on political and organizational achievements and challenges of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), specifically Sison’s final report as chair to its Sixth International Assembly. Points raised here involved the lessons of building the largest and most significant alliance of people’s organizations internationally, and intensifying more the anti-imperialist and democratic struggle. The growth of the League principally centered on its coordinated battle against the many appendages of neoliberalism, against the repressive fascist regimes attacking their people, and against wars of aggression launched against peoples’ movements and countries such as Syria, Iran, and Venezuela.
Notably was also the comment raised about the New People’s Army (NPA) in the Philippines for its recent conservatism in its military operations in 2002-2019, even while the NPA has overcome its 1980s disorientation and has achieved many gains and revitalization in advancing the people’s war. The intensifying fascist attacks and repression of Philippine President Duterte and his minions have created favorable conditions for the expansion of NPA units and for the NPA in its 50th year to launch more coordinated tactical offensives against bigger and more significant anti-people targets.
In this collection, the second theme involved major economic and political events in the Philippines and other countries. This represented the majority of the works published here, which analyzed international, national, and sectoral crises as well as the opportunities for political forces to respond to the ever-worsening crisis.
In 2019, the fascism of the Philippine state and of US imperialism remained unabated. Sison continued to highlight the intensifying attacks on the Filipino people coming from the US-Duterte regime, at the same time that the peace negotiation ended due to the hostile and anti-people actions of the Duterte administration. One can observe Sison exposed the growing trail of blood and bodies as well as the record of criminal acts of systemic lies, intimidation, and extrajudicial killings that the regime denies and dismisses. Duterte’s fascist record is not purely just one of gross political, electoral, and military abuses, but also his relentless record of economic plunder and corruption, in implementing neoliberal schemes, bloated spending, and large-scale infrastructure projects associated with China and other imperialist powers.
Moreover, Sison gave Duterte several new titles: the supreme protector of drug lords, the anti-peace schemer, the chief plunder and king of corruption, the butcher extending the scale of his butchery, the puppet of two imperialist powers (the United States and China), the saboteur of the Philippine economy, the generator of inflation, the patron of land-grabbers, and the misogynist and anti-church demagogue.
In analyzing the world situation, Sison placed emphasis on the neoliberal policy and on the ceaseless wars of aggression advanced by US imperialism. Under President Trump, the US adapted strong US-first protectionist measures, aggravated the trade war against China, while keeping China as a main partner in neoliberal globalization, and maintained the neoliberal economic arrangement globally. The US sought to unilaterally built its military and political strength, isolating itself from former partners, and pushed to use state terrorism and fascism to suppress the growing peoples’ movements in the US.
The third theme involved the development of quality, capacity, and fighting strength of subjective forces such as those in the revolutionary parties of the proletariat, mass organizations, effective alliances, the people’s army or self-defense units, and the organs of political power. Through his tributes, for instance, Sison skillfully highlighted to readers a number of exemplary individuals who embodied revolutionary strength, courage, and commitment to serve the people in their fullest. Throughout the many articles, messages, and interviews, one can find important pointers, guides, and insights to aid in the further development of subjective forces.
One clear guidance relates to political education in terms of their incisive content as well as an approach that advances a democratic and discipline style of study. Take, for instance, the message to the German youth. It served as an introductory study on imperialism, its key features, an analysis of the contemporary imperialist crisis and the rivalries among imperialist forces, and the prospects for waging an effective anti-imperialist struggle.
In another example, the message to Philippine farmworkers and landless peasants emphasized on the need to better study how “transnational corporations and local exploiters are aggravating the land problem and ruining the social and natural environment under the neoliberal policy regime.”
There was also the guidance given to study sessions for the French, Turkish, and Brazilian translated editions of the Philippine Society and Revolution. This guidance aimed to promote deeper mutual understanding and mutual support among anti-imperialist forces in various countries waging struggles against common enemies.
For me, one special piece was a succinct guide on conducting social investigation and class analysis (SICA), which democratic and revolutionary organizations should pay attention to. This essay added to the earlier SICA guides developed, for instance, for the rural base-building efforts during the 1970s. While this 2019 guide was directed at Filipino organizers in Europe, it is also useful for organizers overseas. It pointed to the need to overcome empiricist tendencies, and to “know the situation, needs and demands of overseas Filipinos …. the purpose of arousing, organizing and mobilizing them.” It emphasized the use of conversation and small meetings for finding facts and investigating conditions. It highlighted the importance of using dialectical historical materialism in analyzing the balance of class forces among Filipinos as well as people of the host country, to determine the form of mass organizations, and the launching of local and overseas mass struggles, campaigns to support the people’s struggle in the Philippines, and international anti-imperialist campaigns.
The fourth and last theme I would like to highlight involved the carrying out various forms of peoples’ and revolutionary struggles to overthrow the class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
Central here were articles on the strategic preparation and conduct of people’s war, particularly in capitalist countries. Taking up lessons from Marx and the 1871 Paris Commune, from Lenin and the 1917 proletarian revolution in the relatively weak capitalist Russia, and from Mao and the people’s democratic revolution in semicolonial and semifeudal China, Sison made plain and clear the continuing validity of the theory and practice of armed revolution in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution, in general, and the universality of theory and practice of people’s war, in particular.
In elaborating on the universality of people’s war, Sison placed emphasis on the importance for the preparation and step-by-step organizing of the people for their active participation in a revolutionary process, alongside the step-by-step building of the revolutionary party of the proletariat, which is applicable within capitalist and non-capitalist countries. Sison cautioned the military adventurist tendencies of early and unnecessary display of arms, which would result in immediate state repression. He also raised concerns about likely “left” and right opportunist pitfalls for groups (which Sison remarked that some have proven themselves as charlatans) that have not seriously engaged in the necessary ideological, political, military, and organizational preparation. In short, serious painstaking mass work is needed to prepare and unite the majority of people for their participation and support in the revolutionary democratic process for change.
In addition, Sison discussed a key number of points in the collection on the status and prospects of PPW in the Philippines, given its current economic and political situation. He highlighted how revolutionary forces and the Filipino people have confronted and victoriously struggled in the countryside and cities against a long series of puppet dictators, their fascist regimes, and against their strategic operational campaigns and counter-insurgency programs attempting to curtail the revolution.
In keeping this review brief, I have intended to give you some of the gems in this rich collection, particularly on new lessons to learn from historical accounts, new situationers and the analysis of the many crisis related to neoliberalism, fascism, and wars of aggression in 2019, new lessons on developing the fighting strength and commitment of subjective forces, and new lessons on peoples’ and revolutionary struggles to overthrow the bourgeois rule.
You should get a copy of the book, read it to find fresh inspirations, analysis, and lessons, and share it with others. Read and learn, for instance, more about recent migrant worker issues, of the environmental crisis, of the ever-broadening united front of the Philippine struggle, and of the uniting more anti-imperialist, democratic and progressive forces in building the new global alliance, the International Anti-Imperialist Anti-Fascist United Front, for democracy and freedom, national and social liberation and socialism.