Review of Jose Ma. Sison’s Combat Tyranny and Fascism
By Prof. Peter Chua, San Jose State University, California
June 23, 2019, Saturday, 7pm, Hong Kong Book Launch
I would like to graciously thank the organizers of this book launch to invite me to say a few words about Combat Tyranny and Fascism. It is the second book in the official third series of Jose Maria Sison’s selected writings, edited skillfully and purposefully by Julieta de Lima and published by the International Network for Philippine Studies. It is his sixteenth compilation published in English since 2009 as part of the thirty-plus volumes of poems and essays so far.
This book is not a rehashing of old or outdated ideas or formulations presented in earlier writings. Rather, Sison continues to enrich, deepen, and contribute valuably to the dialectical materialist analysis of the current world crisis of imperialism as well as the developing revolutionary conditions in the Philippines. In this collection of his 2017 writings, Sison proves himself to be again a prolific Marxist theorist, a genuine proletarian revolutionary leader and fighter, and an outstanding proletarian internationalist.
My comments tonight will focus briefly on two major aspects. First is his continuing contribution to advancing the broad anti-imperialist united front internationally, particularly as ILPS chair and through media outlets such as Telesur and publications of revolutionary organizations across Europe and Asia. Significant here also are the number of speeches elaborating on the many aspects of Leninism and the continuing relevance of the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution. And, the second aspect I will comment tonight is his continuing contribution to advancing the Philippine national and social liberation in 2017 as related to the US-directed Duterte regime, particular as the founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines and as chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
Let me start first with Sison’s writings on advancing the broad anti-imperialist united front internationally. Two messages are significant since they involved the 2017 founding of ILPS national chapters in Mexico and Senegal. The ILPS Mexico message focused on the struggle of the Mexican people against imperialism as related to the neo-fascist US President Trump as well as neoliberal and repressive offensives of the former Mexican President Peña Nieto. The ILPS Senegal message highlighted on the negative cumulative impacts of US, French, and other national imperialisms on the Senegalese people and nation, particularly as these imperialist powers engage in a new “scramble for Africa” and intensifying acts of war aggression to plunder Africa’s resources and further exploit the people of Africa.
As ILPS Chair, Sison wrote over twenty-plus other solidarity messages and statements in 2017, exposing and condemning the many economic, political, and social consequences of imperialism:
- from the condemnation of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land (published on January 1st);
- the role of women internationally in rising-up and striking against militarism and imperialism;
- the unjust conviction of progressives in India, particularly of Delhi University professor G. N. Saibaba;
- the advancement of the Indonesian youth movement through the leadership of the National Student Front;
- the condemnation of US attack on Afghanistan using the largest non-nuclear bomb;
- a detailed historical and current situation of Irian Barat (known as West Papua) for a study conference;
- the condemnation of US missile attack on Syria;
- the birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung who lead the Korean Worker’s Party in founding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea;
- the condemnation of Trump’s war actions in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and other nations;
- the unshakable solidarity with the Venezuelan people against the US imperialism and the US-backed right-wing opposition’s violent attacks on the Maduro government
- the condemnation of the massacre of Brazilian peasants in the Mato Grosso state
- the role of the G20 Hamburg Summit in advancing the neoliberal imperialist agenda; on the August 2017 international solidarity and fightback conference against US-led war, militarism, and neofascism
- the condemnation of US sanctions and nuclear threats against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
- the support of the Thirty-Two County Sovereignty Movement in Ireland in fight to control their resources, wealth, and welfare;
- the defence of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany against the unlawful termination of its bank accounts and criminalization of the organization; and
- finally to the condemnation of Trump’s decision in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (published on December 12th).
This extensive list demonstrates Sison’s considerate, unrelenting, and wide-ranging political analysis, Marxist critique, and guidance forward.
Substantively, several works here provided a sustained analysis and commentary on the continuing relevance and validity of Leninism and the October Revolution. They were papers of speeches given and feature articles published in association with various events and media outlets commemorating the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution in west Africa, Asia Pacific, western Europe, and North America.
Major recurring themes in these papers and articles include: one, the development of Leninism from the legacies and lessons from Marx, Engels, and the 1871 Paris Commune to Lenin’s further elaboration on the fundamental principles of Marxism in the era of modern imperialism and proletariat revolution, to the political and organizational tasks of the Bolsheviks in overthrowing Tsarism and the armed seizing of political power, the establishment of the first socialist state in one country, and to Stalin’s consolidation, defense, and advancement of socialist revolution and construction up to the early 1950s.
The second recurring theme involves the global impact and continuing validity of the October Revolution. For Sison, one way to measure the global impact of the October Revolution is in terms of the negative reaction of the imperialist powers and the international bourgeoisie. In addition, Sison highlights the building and development of socialism from 1917 to 1956 on one-sixth of the people of the world, especially the working class and the oppressed peoples and nations. Concretely, this meant the upsurge of Bolshevik-type of communist parties, revolutionary mass movements, and national liberation movements that expanded on a global scale under the guidance of Lenin, Stalin, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and the Third International. Important is also the fight against fascism for the toiling masses on the worldwide scale and for the toiling masses to gain more political power during and after World War Two.
Significant also is the victory of the Chinese Revolution, the struggle of Mao and the Chinese Community Party against modern revisionism, and Mao’s development of the theory and practice of continuing revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat through the cultural revolution up to 1976. In China, we see how Mao and the Chinese Community Party applied concrete dialectical and historical materialist analysis to the concrete condition of China to wage protracted people’s war to victory. We also see how Mao and the Party advanced after victory nationalist industrialization, socialist transformation of agriculture in the countryside, and prevail against imperialist blockage, natural calamities, Soviet withdrawal of cooperation, and modern revisionists. On the
global stage, Mao and the Party waged a major public ideological debate against Khrushchev and the revisionist takeover of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
As such, Sison strongly asserts the continuing validity of the proletarian revolutionary party in arousing, organizing, and mobilizing the broad masses to victory against imperialism and all reaction, the strategies and tactics of proletariat revolutions, the need to explain better to the toiling masses the past, present, and future of the revolutionary cause of socialism, and the need to learn lessons from the disintegration of the former socialist systems so to avert the restoration of capitalism in building new socialist societies in the near future.
The third recurring theme involves the future of imperialism and socialism and the major immediate tasks today in resisting monopoly capitalism militantly and resolutely, particularly its current neoliberal economic offensive, in fighting for and advancing the democratic rights of the toiling massing (not just expecting to be given these rights from the imperialists), and in realizing socialism by defeating the international bourgeoisie, by overcoming the moves of the revisionists and the temporary strategic retreat, and by developing through relentless struggle the various subjective forces of the revolution.
Let me now turn to the second and most major aspect of this 2017 collection, which relates to the Philippines president Duterte’s more open tyranny and fascism starting 2017, the halting of the peace negotiation between the reactionary Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and the people’s outrage and militant advance.
Six months into his administration, Duterte started 2017 by continuing to offer some cautious hope as a potential patriotic and progressive president with the formal start of the third round of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiation. These talks would advance concurrently the agreements on social and economic reforms as well as political and constitutional reforms. The third and fourth rounds of talks transpired even while all
political prisoners were not yet released, Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire pronouncement, the termination of immunity guarantees declarations, and concerns of new human rights violations by the armed forces, the national police, and Duterte’s anti-drug campaigns.
By late May 2017, the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations were halted, and by December 2017, they were formally terminated due to Duterte’s intensifying and provocative all-out war against the broad Filipino people and revolutionary forces that included the shoot-to-kill orders of peace consultants, human rights advocates, and the working poor as well as the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. This all-out war and martial law declaration were propelled by reactionaries, peace spoilers dominant in his national security cluster, and the pro-neoliberal economic development cluster in his cabinet and administration who oppose just peace and genuine social and economic reforms, particularly related to the NDFP’s concrete proposals on genuine land reform and national industrialization.
Instead of promoting concrete solutions to root problems of the Filipino people, Duterte continued to seek out principally military assistance from the U.S. and economic developments loans from China and the U.S. By June 2017, Sison took a more negative view of Duterte. More and more, Duterte revealed his fascist rule and his “iron-hand” stance advocating the nationwide extrajudical killing of thousands of suspected poor drug addicts and low-level drug pushers, the assault on women and their bodies, and the intensifying the so-called “anti-terror” mass murder and bombing campaigns. Sison later termed this as “Dutertismo.” All this is covering-up the negative impacts of his economic programs such as the actually worsening rising unemployment, the plunging of working people’s incomes, the soaring of taxes and prices of basic commodities, the increasing issues of poverty, hunger, and injustice. This became more evident in the unveiling of Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure projects in April 2017 and with the passage of the so-called “TRAIN” tax reform law enacted on December 2017.
Expressing a more direct judgement of Duterte’s character and behavior, Sison aptly refers to him as a “bully,” a “nut-case,” a “big liar,” “cold-blooded,” a “coward … an utterly stupid one,” the “No. 1 drug addict in the Philippines,” a “US puppet and a reactionary politician,” “the No. 1 terrorist and butcher of the Filipino people,” a “bureaucrat capitalist” “from the big landlord-comprador class,” a “crazy guy with a really sick mind,” “out of touch with reality,” and “surpassing Marcos as best recruiter and supplier of the armed revolution.”
Much more can be said about Duterte. In the many statements and messages, Sison emphasized the raising people’s movement against the US-Duterte regime and the people’s war in advancing the national and social liberation in the Philippines given the rise of intensifying tyranny and fascism. For instance, he highlighted some important points to consider in advancing recent urban poor campaigns and the call for “decent affordable mass housing” instead of just “free housing,” as well as the building up of the broadest united front against Duterte’s tyrannical rule and fascist acts.
I hope my comments are somewhat persuasive in buying this collection and studying its content in a systemic manner. In closing, let me quote from the book:
“Let us emulate Lenin and the Bolsheviks on how they were able to turn the grave crisis and the inter-imperialist wars to the revolution’s advantage. We must face the challenges and prepare for intense difficulties in the struggle. We must further strengthen the revolutionary party of the working class, the mass organizations, the Red Guards, the organs of democratic power and the alliances to be able to reach out to, draw in, organize and mobilize the broad masses in their millions until we attain complete victory…” (pp. 153).