By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
& Currently Chairperson, International League of Peoples´ Struggle
February 21, 2013
It is an honor for me to be invited as main speaker by the Diosdado Fortuna Academy, a political workers’ school in the Southern Tagalog region that aims to provide educational programs for workers and professionals in order to help arouse, organize and mobilize them against the ruling semicolonial and semifeudal system.
I extend warmest greetings of solidarity to the organizers and delegates of this forum in celebration of the 165th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the significance and relevance of this great historic document to the continuing struggle of the Filipino people for national liberation and democracy.
I wish to deal with the topic in two ways. First, I present the Communist Manifesto as having set forth the fundamental principles that guide the working class in revolutionary struggle until now and as having clarified the colonial conditions that beset the Philippines in the 19th century. Then, I present how the great communist leaders after Marx and Engels have extended and developed the teachings in the Communist Manifesto in applying them to the conditions of the 20th century and thereafter.
Significance and Relevance of Communist Manifesto
In writing the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels applied their materialist-scientific outlook and method of analysis on the social history of the world and on the concrete conditions of free competition capitalism in 1848 in England. Consistently, they saw the existing forces of production (means of production and people in production) as the basis of the relations of production and the whole mode of production as the base of the social superstructure (politics, law, culture, philosophy and the like).
Applying materialist dialectics, they traced the changes in social systems through changes in the mode of production and superstructure from the tens of thousands of years of classless primitive communal life to class-dominated society, advancing from slavery to feudalism and further on to capitalism. They observed that since the advent of exploiting and exploited classes history has been that of class struggle.
The great constructions in the capitalist stage of social development have dwarfed all those in previous civilizations. Marx and Engels saw that the capitalist class needed the working class to work with the machines in order to engage in large-scale production and obtain huge profits by extracting surplus value (unpaid labor above wages) from the workers. The capitalists maximized their profits by increasing their constant capital (plant, equipment and raw materials) and decreasing the variable capital for wages.
The more they produced for the profit-making capitalists, the more the industrial workers suffered from the reduction of real wages and mass layoffs everytime the crisis of overproduction broke out. To cope with the rising level of exploitation, the workers became more aware of themselves as a class in itself and established trade unions for the purpose of economic struggle. Subjected to the escalation of oppression, they became more aware of themselves as a class for itself and established political parties to challenge and even seek to overthrow the capitalist class.
Marx and Engels described the capitalist class as having produced the industrial proletariat as its own gravedigger. They pointed out that the workers must struggle for their class empowerment and thus win the battle for democracy. The workers must overthrow the bourgeoisie and its system of wage slavery in order to realize the historic mission of building socialism. The class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie must be replaced by the class dictatorship of the proletariat.
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels saw the domestic and international contexts of the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. They pointed to the increasing division of society into the camps of the bourgeoisie and proletariat amidst the intensifying contradictions among the capitalists in a capitalist country as well as among capitalist countries, the increasing dissolution of the peasantry and the artisans and and the brutal exploitation of the working people in colonies by the colonial powers.
Marx and Engels issued the clarion call, “Workingmen of all countries, unite!” They declared that for the first time in the history of mankind an exploited class, the industrial proletariat, had arisen with the capability of liberating itself and other exploited classes,
making a radical rupture from the millennia of private ownership of the means of production
and paving the way for socialism and communism.
They stressed the justness and necessity of the dispossessed more than 90 percent of the people taking back for their common benefit the social wealth which they had created but which had been taken away from them by the bourgeoisie. They also declared that the workers in the capitalist countries could not be free unless the people in the colonies were also freed.
They observed that the industrial capitalist countries departed from the state policy of mercantilism, which had involved sheer plunder in the colonies, by raising the slogan of “free trade” to bombard the colonies with manufactures and take greater volumes of raw materials from them. In any case, colonialism continued as a method for the primitive accumulation of capital in addition to the proletarianization of the peasants and the extraction of surplus value from the proletariat.
At this point, we can say that the Communist Manifesto is highly significant and relevant to the Filipino people´s democratic revolution because this is led by the proletariat and has a socialist perspective. It clarifies the leading revolutionary role of the proletariat in the domestic and international context and in both the national democratic and socialist stages of the Philippine revolution. It sheds light on the colonial background of the Philippines and consequently on the semicolonial and semifeudal situation. National and social liberation through the new democratic revolution under the class leadership of the proletarian can proceed to the socialist revolution and ultimately to communism.
Validity of the Communist Manifesto
Even as the Communist Manifesto was written in the time of free competition capitalism, the critique of the capitalist form of society and the principles of proletarian class struggle and class dictatorship of the proletariat as requisites for socialism remain valid. Lenin upheld, extended and further developed the teachings of Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto by taking into account the development of free competition capitalism into monopoly capitalism or modern imperialism and the rise of proletarian revolution.
In the first half century (1848-1898) since the publication of the Communist Manifesto, the teachings it carried were validated for the first time by the seizure of political power by the proletariat who established the Paris Commune in 1871. Even as this was defeated after two months, it would become the prototype of the proletarian revolution. Marx studied its strengths and shortcomings to further illumine the road of proletarian revolution. In the last decade of the 19th century, Marxism became the main ideological and political trend in the European trade union movement.
In the second half century (1898-1948) since the publication of the Communist Manifesto, Lenin made the critique of monopoly capitalism as moribund capitalism and extremely aggressive imperialism. He defined the era as one of modern imperialism and proletarian revolution, replacing the world bourgeois-capitalist revolution with the world proletarian-socialist revolution. He linked the proletarian revolution to the national liberation movements in a new clarion call, “Workers and oppressed peoples and nations of the world, unite!”
In his theory of the uneven development of capitalism, Lenin saw the possibility of the victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie at the weakest points of the world capitalist system. As a result of the first inter-imperialist war, the Great October Socialist Revolution arose in 1917 in Russia, the weakest link among the imperialist powers. Under the auspices of the Third Communist Internationale, the Communist Party of the Philippine Islands was established in 1930 and aimed to continue the unfinished Philippine revolution for national liberation and democracy.
The US colonial regime suppressed the party a few months after its establishment. This would be legalized in 1936 in line with the anti-fascist Popular Front against Japan. The second inter-imperialist world war resulted in the formation of a people´s army under the leadership of the merger party of the Communist and Socialist Parties. But the success of the revolutionary movement was limited by the Right opportunist error called “retreat for defense” policy.
World War II resulted in the victory of the anti-fascist forces and national liberation movements and in the emergence of several socialist countries in Eastern Europe and Asia. The proletarian-socialist revolution reached a new peak. The national liberation movement was also spreading in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Within only 100 years, the teachings of the Communist Manifesto became the effective guide to revolutionary action of the proletariat and people in several socialist countries and in the international anti-imperialist and socialist movements.
In the Philippines, attempts to continue the revolution were frustrated by the “Left” opportunist line of “victory in two years´ time” in 1949-50 and the Right opportunist line of liquidating the people´s army in 1955 and the merger party in 1957. But the ever worsening conditions of exploitation and oppression in the semicolonial and semifeudal system fueled the people´s desire to struggle for national liberation and democracy and the victories of socialism and national liberation movements abroad continued to inspire hope among the Filipino people.
Within the first decade of the third half century (1948-98) since the publication of the Communist Manifesto, the revolutionary movements led by the communist and workers´ parties continued to win victories. The Chinese revolution won victory under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and breached the imperialist front in the East. One third of humanity was governed by communist and workers’ parties. This was an advance from the Soviet Union occupying one-sixth of the earth. The Korean people fought the US aggressors, inflicting severe losses on them and compelling them to accept an armistice.
However, within the Soviet Union, Krushchovite revisionism arose after the death of Stalin and subsequently caused a split with Marxism-Leninism in the international communist movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Brezhnevite revisionism and social-imperialism followed to aggravate the bourgeois degeneration and crisis of the Soviet Union and the revisionist regimes in Eastern Europe. Even as the Chinese Communist Party led the Marxist-Leninists against modern revisionism, certain social factors and worship of everything Soviet (including revisionism) persisted to generate Rightism and revisionism in China and counter the proletarian revolutionary line of Chairman Mao.
In the decade of 1966 to 1976, he put forward the theory and practice of continuing the revolution under proletarian dictatorship in order to combat revisionism, prevent the restoration of capitalism and consolidate socialism through the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Soon after his death, the Chinese revisionists headed by Deng Xiao Ping carried out a coup in order to pave the way for capitalist-oriented reforms and integration in the US-dominated capitalist world. The total defeat of US imperialism by the Vietnamese in 1975 was overshadowed by the restoration of capitalism in the revisionist-ruled countries.
The full restoration of capitalism was accelerated and completed by Gorbachov, Deng Xiao Ping and other revisionist traitors to the socialist cause. The years of 1989 to 1991 saw the social turmoil in China, the disintegration of the revisionist regimes in Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The world proletarian revolution suffered a temporary defeat and took a retreat. Becoming the sole superpower, the US imperialism intensified a multi-pronged offensive against the proletariat and people of the world.
Fortitude of the Communist Party of the Philippines
Still within the third half century since the publication of the Communist Manifesto, the Communist Party of the Philippines has upheld this great document of proletarian revolution as its red banner. It has been inspired by all previous victories of the anti-imperialist and socialist revolutions. Since its reestablishment on December 26, 1968, the Party has been guided by Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. It has held on to the revolutionary conviction that the proletariat and people of the world will continue to struggle and win victories.
It has adhered to the three basic components of Marxism as laid down by Marx and Engels in philosophy, political economy and social science. It has learned from the Marxist-Leninist theory and practice of socialist revolution by Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Union. It has learned from the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism by Mao in the great victories of the new democratic revolution through a protracted people’s war in a semicolonial and semifeudal country, socialist revolution and construction and the theory and practice of continuing revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
When the full restoration of capitalism in the revisionist-ruled countries was accomplished in the years of 1989-91, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) had benefited so greatly and so profoundly from the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism that it had the fortitude to carry out the Second Great Rectification Movement, to make a clear stand for socialism against modern revisionism and to persevere in the new democratic revolution through protracted people´s war and in the direction of socialism.
The CPP expressed complete contempt for the imperialist powers and their camp followers as they proclaimed the end of history with capitalism and liberal democracy, the death of socialism and the end of the epochal struggle of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. It also manifested contempt for the revisionists, the neo-revisionists, the Trotskyites, liberals and neoliberals who chorused with the imperialist powers in gloating over the fall of the revisionist regimes and misrepresented these as failed socialist regimes. They obscured the fact that the fallen revisionist leaders, their families and friends were partaking in the full-scale privatization of public assets and could do so because of previous decades of evolving capitalism and misrepresenting revisionism as socialism.
Even before the end of the third half century since the publication of the Communist Manifesto, the CPP has earnestly remained in the forefront in upholding, defending and advancing the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and rallying the proletariat and the people to the struggle for national liberation, democracy and socialism against the escalating imperialist offensives in the ideological, political, economic and military fields.
The Filipino proletarian revolutionaries have been resolute and militant in undertaking ideological and political struggles against the anti-communist ideas and sentiments spewed out by the academic institutions, mass media, political parties and other instruments in the service of the imperialists and the local reactionaries. They have excelled in opposing the neoliberal policy of “free market” globalization and the wars of aggression, interventions and provocations by the imperialists headed by the US. They have exposed so lucidly the aggravation of neocolonialism by neoliberalism.
Since the adoption of the neoliberal economic policy at the beginning of the 1980s in the vain attempt to overcome the phenomenon of stagflation, the US and other imperialist powers have been confronted by the ever worsening crisis of overproduction and the ever growing inability of the imperialist states and multilateral agencies to solve or alleviate it. Since the end of the Cold War, the US and other imperialist powers have used war production and wars of aggression both to make a futile attempt at solving the problem of stagnation and to grab sources of fuel and other raw materials, markets, fields of investment and spheres of influence.
The proletarian revolutionaries of today are confident that, in the fourth half century (1998 to 2048) since the publication of the Communist Manifesto, the world capitalist system shall be beset by graver crises, more repression and more horrendous wars and that the proletariat and people of the world will fight more determinedly and vigorously than ever for national liberation, democracy, socialism and the ultimate goal of communism.
Right now, the forces of the anti-imperialist movement and the world proletarian revolution are stirring and growing because of the worsening crisis of the world capitalist system. They will be far more powerful and victorious before 2048, the 200th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto. The proletariat and people can never accept being exploited and oppressed by the imperialists and local reactionaries. They will surely resurge and score new victories in the world proletarian revolution.
By persevering in revolutionary struggle, under the inspiration of the Communist Manifesto, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Filipino people have already earned the honor of being recognized as the torch bearer of revolution at a time that the proletariat and people are struggling hard to rise from the general conditions of revisionist betrayal, defeat and retreat of previous revolutionary forces and the ruthless offensives launched by imperialism and reaction. ###
Agreed on your observations, particularly,on your statement that “the Filipino people have earned the recognition as torch bearer of revolution at a time when the proletariat and the people are struggling hard to rise from the general conditions betrayals of the revisionists betrayàls, defeat and retreat of revolutionary forces and, the ruthless offensives launched by imperialism and reaction”.