What is wrong with Communist Party of the Philippines’ and the National Democrat’s ( People’s Democratic Revolutionary (PDR) Line?
Something is terribly wrong, theoretically and practically, with the CPP/NPA/NDF’s people’s democratic revolutionary line, which is being blindly parroted by their legal fronts in all propaganda discourses everywhere. Worse, this political line, as absurdly applied in the Philippine context, has been reaffirmed twice in a row — firstly, in the Reaffirm document of Joma Sison and the so-called great rectification movement in the early 1990s, and secondly, during their avowed second party congress in the late 2016, which is certainly without the benefit of a deeper theoretical and practical scrutiny. This only further belies their supposed adherence to theMarxist–Leninist (supplemented by Maoist) theory of revolution and reveals their Marxist theoretical inadequacy.
The Philippines has long been freed from the shackles of autocracy, monarchy and/or absolutism as experienced during the Spanish colonialism. The country was then an extension of the absolute sovereign rule of the Spanish king — utterly repressive and without political liberty, so to speak. The quest for complete political liberty and the establishment of the bourgeois democratic liberal republic has long been achieved partly with the proclamation of the First Philippine Republic by Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898. Complete political liberty, however, was cut short by the brutal American colonization. Just the same, the formal bourgeois liberal republic, with all its trimmings, was in nominal operation under the American tutelage who professed themselves to be the beacon of Jeffersonian liberalism, as opposed to the ‘ancient regime’ associated with Spanish monarchy.
The material basis for the democratic revolutionary line, as formulated by proletarian revolutionaries at the turn of the century and adopted by Joma Sison in the 1960’s, was such that the bourgeois democratic revolution waged by the Katipunan was unfinished and undercut by the American colonization which perpetuated a semi-feudal agrarian arrangement in the countryside. While professing “to educate the Filipinos in the art of democracy,” the Americans define their liberalism and political liberty to mean subservience to American imperialism until formal independence and actual liberal democratic rule by Filipino bourgeoisie was inaugurated in 1946.
Such formal independence signaled the victory of bourgeois liberal democracy in the country, notwithstanding its infirmities. It was won not without intense struggle involving not only the proletarian class led by the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas and the incessant struggle of the peasantry as class, but most of all, by the local bourgeoisie themselves led by Quezon, Roxas, Osmena et al., who organized themselves as an independence movement from American colonialism and for “self-rule” along the bourgeois liberal democratic tradition. They turned out later to be at the helm of the bourgeois republican liberal rule in the country.
Later historical evolution, which was punctuated by the continuing proletarian-led struggles leading to political convulsions such as that of the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (HMB) revolutionary struggle, and later the anti-dictatorship movement against Marcos, which peaked in the EDSA people power uprising which thoroughly completed the process. The outcome of which is the establishment of one of the freest constitutional political system in the strict bourgeois liberal sense of the word, guaranteeing as it is, human rights, right to suffrage and full exercise of political freedom.
Meanwhile, everywhere in the country, commodity production and exchange, whether in the domestic or world context, and based on immutable laws of the capitalist development, took its logical course and gained complete hegemony, sweeping aside remnants of the feudal and semi-feudal order. Everywhere, the market, commodity, commerce and industry, consumerism, money, wage labor, competition and the drive for profit (big or small), ruled and became not just the mode of production for material existence, but the mode of everyday life itself, holding sway even in the socio-economic landscape of the ancestral domains of the lumad tribes, wherever these may be. The process unfolded, as human labor became the main commodity in the market.
The bondage to the soil and to the landlord, the self-contained natural economy and individual production not associated with money and market or with social production, which is in one way or the other characteristic of the feudal system, were swept aside historically, forever.
The landlord class of Spanish and Chinese ancestry had long evolved into capitalists themselves, starting from the establishment of the hacienda system in the country centuries ago and combined with the new entrepreneurial capitalist class, who became the ruling bourgeois class of the present. Many of them constitute the finance oligarchy consistent with the highest stage of capitalism of the present period.
Where now lies the foundation of the PDR?
Where now lies the material and political foundation of the much-vaunted PDR or the People’s Democratic Revolution of the CPP/NPA/NDF when bourgeois republican liberal democracy has long been won, established and ruled by the bourgeoisie themselves? It has no material and political ground upon which to stand, even flimsily. Rather, they are mere abstract phrases in the mouths of the CPP/NPA/NDF leaders, which they cannot probably even reconcile in their minds.
What is then left to the bourgeois democratic revolution led by the people — particularly the proletariat and the peasantry -– that remains to be achieved? The basic Leninist theoretical formulation of tactics says that in the struggle against autocracy, monarchy and/or absolutism (which in this case was represented by the Tsar), to achieve complete political liberty, the bourgeois republic and/or bourgeois democracy, particularly in the context of Russia, the proletariat cannot rely on the bourgeoisie, but on the most advanced class — the proletariat themselves in alliance with the peasantry. This is towards the establishment of the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, to pave the way for the continuing struggle towards socialism. That with the victory against autocracy also ends the democratic revolution and begins the socialist revolution led by the proletariat.
This tactical formulation, which is in contraposition to the formulation of the Mensheviks, asserts that the bourgeois revolution should be led by the bourgeoisie themselves, and that the proletariat should only play a supporting role and the peasantry cannot be relied upon. And that in course of the struggle, the proletariat should only concern themselves with the day-to-day economic struggle of the proletariat.
Lenin said in his famous “Two Tactics of Social Democracy:”
“The time will come when the struggle against the Russian autocracy will end and the period of democratic revolution will be over in Russia; then it will be ridiculous to talk about “singleness of will” of the proletariat and the peasantry, about a democratic dictatorship, etc. When that time comes we shall attend directly to the question of the socialist dictatorship of the proletariat and deal with it at greater length. But at present the party of the advanced class cannot but strive most energetically for a decisive victory of the democratic revolution over tsarism. And a decisive victory means nothing else than the revolutionary‐democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry…”
The two Russian Revolutions of 1917 — February and October, is proof to the correctness of Leninist tactical formulations. However, when talking about the Philippine context in the present period, the tactical application of the said formulation losses its full significance. We can only learn from its lessons and principles.
Where is our tsar, our autocracy and/or monarchy which serves as the main basis of the bourgeois democratic revolution and which stands in the way of a socialist revolution? That was over in 1898 in the Philippines along with the last Spanish governor-general. Is not ours a full-blown bourgeois republican liberal democracy? What is more liberal that this liberal democracy of ours? What is more bourgeois than our present bourgeois rule?
Where are these bourgeoisies? They are everywhere in the Philippine capitalist landscape — industry, banking and finance, trade and commerce, real estate, agriculture, etc., partaking with the surplus value either as profit, rent or interest. Most of them interlock the various branches of capitalist ventures and with finance capitalists as the controlling section.
Where are now the landlords? They too, have long been transformed into full blown capitalists and absorbed into the overpowering capitalist machine of social production and exchange of commodity, striving to adapt into the fast evolving competition for technological progress associated with capitalism.
Where are now the peasantry as a class which the CPP/NPA/NDF rely upon in basic alliance? Obviously, they have long been disintegrated, proletarianized, freed and alienated from the bondage of the soil and the landlord as a result of the long history of combinations of agrarian struggle, capitalist transformation, revolutionary convulsions and legislation (fake or not). They have now been woven and absorbed into the sphere of generalized commodity production and exchange. Maybe the RAs do not understand these Marxist concepts of proletarianization and alienation etc.?
Where are the proletariats? They too are everywhere, as the capitalists are, segregated according to the growing complexity of the division of labor in the present capitalist system. Many are in work or regular workers in various lines of capitalist ventures here and abroad. However, many more are out of work as irregular workers or informalized, which includes the displaced unemployed, underemployed, self-employed, landless Sisonal workers, as well as the semiproletarians – the poor farmers, poor fishermen, vendors, etc. Altogether, these irregular workers constitute the overwhelming number of reserve army of labor, and as a function of the laws of the labor market, their growing number is the main factor that depresses wages down.
Their growing number or informalization is a logical result of the increasing organic composition of capital, where machines and technology (or dead labor) replaces the labor of living persons to increase productivity and thereby resulting to growing labor displacement or alienation. This is also a logical result of financialization, where finance capital slaughters industrial capital, as the capital therein goes out of the real economy in a massive fashion, characteristic of capitalism in the present period.
Under this condition of financialization and the historic decline of capitalism in the world scale, social crisis becomes permanent; thereby making the socialist revolution led by the proletariat against the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie becomes more imperative. Only with the victory of socialism over capitalism can genuine democracy (not bourgeois democracy), peace and progress for all can be achieved.
The basic tactic and/or marching line of a vanguard party in the present context, therefore, is to organize and make class conscious the greatest number of proletarians possible, wherever they are, under the banner of socialism, so that when the favorable objective and subjective conditions already exist, it can wage a proletarian revolution for the seizure of political power from the bourgeoisie, and thenceforth, commence the transition towards socialism.
This is the only correct line — any other formulation is dogmatism, if not an idealist and/or fantastic abstraction wherein reality is made to fit into theory and not that theory should rather fit into reality. Any other formulation, as in the never changing national democracy crap with its decade’s same-old slogans, will only result to pedantry — irreconcilable with Marxist theory.
Even worse is when dogma becomes brazenly sectarian, firmly in grip of the rifle in a state of war without end — as in RAs protracted people’s war against who knows whom. The supposed proletarian struggle is reduced to a sort of imaginary cultist crusade — as dangerous as the one being posed by extremist Islamic jihadist ideology.
If the absurdity and the fatal flaw in the CPP/NPA, NDF’s PDR line is not clear enough, think about this: as a purported proletarian party, the CPP is waging a democratic revolution against an imaginary tyrannical autocracy or monarchy and its landlord vassals who have long been swept aside by history – – dreaming for complete liberty and republican democratic order when such democracy ,in the bourgeois-liberal sense, is now firmly established by the bourgeoisie themselves, and in a supposed alliance with the non-existent peasantry as a class, which in the course of the unstoppable laws of capitalist development, has been disintegrated, alienated and proletarianized. Moreover, when the victory against their imaginary monarch and its vassals and political liberty is achieved, they would pursue a capitalist development — which they vaguely call nationalist industrialization in alliance with the national bourgeoisie whoever they may be in their definition, under the present historical circumstances. Alongside this, they will wage an agrarian revolution in the midst of firmly established capitalist productive forces. The relations in agriculture are now fully held sway by the laws of the market or social commodity production and exchange, ruled by the law of value.
How fatally flawed, absurd, and utterly unmarxist indeed, this CPP/NPA/NDF revolutionary line is. No wonder that after half a century of armed rampage — especially in the countryside that left tens of thousands of deaths, destruction and untold suffering — the proletarian movement for socialism in the country is in crisis and victory has slipped even farther in sight. Ka Mark (July 13, 2017)