Book Review of Continuing Struggle for National and Social Liberation
by Ilena Saturay
26 July 12015
The book, Continuing Struggle for National and Social Liberation, is a compilation of selected writings of professor Jose Maria Sison between 1986 to 1991.That period was no doubt a momentous period for the Philippines as the Filipino people had just overthrown the 20-year running Marcos fascist dictatorship. People were debating on how to go forward, hoping that the fruit of their resistance would not be stolen and turned to another political turmoil.
The US imperialists and the local exploiting classes were quick to spread their propaganda that democracy was already restored in the country, desperate to contain the people’s anger in a superficial anti-authoritarian regime change. Meanwhile, the movement for national democracy was convinced and ever ready to continue the struggle. It was indeed a time of heated political debate.
There is therefore no doubt that in such a period, the analyses that the author offered were of crucial significance. These were a critical contribution in shaping, guiding and advancing the people’s movement for national and social liberation.
Professor Sison’s writings offered a comprehensive analysis of the Philippine society. He was able to let the readers see the then current events through a telescope and a microscope. His writings tackled not just the Marcos dictatorship and the succeeding Aquino regime, but also the historical roots of the country’s political, economical and social system that brought about the dictatorship. By applying Marxism-Lenninism-Maoism to the concrete conditions of the Philippines, he was able to present an accurate analysis of the Philippine society and also the necessary measures to deliver genuine change.
He was able to put forward a thorough class analysis of society and defined the role of each class in waging revolution. He was also able to clarify points on various issues, from US military bases to the question of ceasefire. He placed the Filipino people’s movement from the international point of view and provided insights on socialist movements in different countries.
His writings proved that revolution did and should not end with the People Power that brought down the Marcos dictatorship.
These selected writings were from 24 to 29 years ago. One might wonder what significance it would have now to launch a compilation of writings from almost three decades ago.
Reading through the pages will prove that not only is the launching of the book significant, but it is in fact very, very timely. Today, three decades after, the same rotten semi-colonial and semi-feudal system, that author comprehensively discussed in the book, still persists.
I just came back from the Philippines and reading the book was like reading a narrative of what I had seen there. Peasants and farm workers still make up the majority of the Filipino people, who are faced with feudal relations and backward production. The government is composed of bureaucrat capitalists serving the interest of the imperialists. The current president itself is one of the biggest landlords in the country, the son of Corazon Aquino who took the presidency after Marcos was overthrown.
In fact , when you read the news, you will be confronted with issues like indigenous people from Mindanao who are displaced because of intensive militarization in their lands. Activists are still systematically harassed, abducted and murdered. After the Marcos dictatorship, the Corazon Aquino regime prided herself with freeing political prisoners. But today, political prisoners are still present in large numbers. So who says the fascist state is history?
As the author repeatedly wrote,, the “people power” that overthrew the Marcos dictatorship was not a social revolution. One might call it an uprising or a political upheaval. Faces and style change but the same rotten base that it was built on is still in place. However, that necessary social revolution we are all hoping for is ongoing. More and more people are resisting. The struggle is not yet finished, and herein lies the importance of this book.
This means this book should not serve merely as an addition to our bookshelves of history books. We should not read it solely to gain knowledge, or to win debates, but most importantly, to put it into practice. The title of the book is very appropriate – Continuing the Struggle for National and Social Liberation. The keyword is continuing, and every person who will read this book should take a part in it. We should read it in order to continue the struggle.
It is a reminder that we should never get used to this oppressive system. Books such as this are not merely a collection of words and sentences. These did not fall from the sky but came from the concrete experiences and struggles of the people. It is our duty to continue the struggle. We owe it to all the masses making history, all our comrades who offered their lives. And most of all, we owe it to the next generation.
We should never lose hope. Remember that the New People’s Army had only 35 firearms before and was only concentrated in Central Luzon and then Northern Luzon. Now it is spread throughout the country, building mass bases, carrying out agrarian revolution and armed struggle. The Communist Party has gained political power in different provinces and is continuously growing.
As the writer wrote, “There is no end in sight to the ever worsening economic and political crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal system, except a revolutionary upheaval.”
For our international friends, it means building and advancing the struggle in their respective countries. There is a lot of lessons and inspiration to be drawn out of the Philippine revolutionary experience. We share the same struggle. It is necessary for us to create unity and solidarity to defeat our common enemy and build a common world without exploitation and oppression.
This is what makes us different from other readers and this is what what makes this book different from other books. What Karl Marx said rings true. ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.
It is our duty to not allow this book to be merely an interpretation of the world, but to be a weapon to change it.
So indeed this book launching is very timely. Why? Because a new book is waiting to be written and all of us are the writers of it. A new world is being created. We have to make sure that every action, every moment of our lives, is a contribution to a better one and not for the preservation of the rotten one we have today.###