2017 is a particularly important year for me. It is the beginning of at least a five-year period when I intend to accomplish the things I had aspired to achieve when I allowed myself to be siphoned into the mainstream of the so-called National Democratic Revolution beginning 1970. If, God willing, I continue to exist beyond that period, I’ll spend the reprieve just the same trying to accomplish still what of my intentions shall I not have accomplished during this five year-timeline.
As I have resolved to my darling Apo that I will love her forever, so is it my determination now to embark on ventures which, I am convinced will in effect enable me to keep my second stated New Year’s resolution that I will make her happy forever, too. Making me true to that resolution is making the ideal of good life true as much to her as to everyone else.
That certainly is such an immensely enormous resolution. Even comrades in the First Quarter Storm tend to be indifferent to my current ideas for charting off the confusion of the Sisonite program for establishing National Democracy, patterning it after Mao Zedong’s conduct of exactly that program in China in the 1940s.
To these comrades I would point out the debacle of the people’s war strategy in that program, a perfect replica of Mao Zedong’s own. It was a terribly confused replication. For one thing, the Philippines in 1970 was far removed from China in the 1920s when the Chinese Communist Party was established: aside from its small size, the Philippines is an archipelago consisting of 7,100 islands (at high tide, says Miss International Charlene Gonzales), a physical condition that made it impossible to build revolutionary bases in the countryside, unlike in China whose enormous land mass made it possible for revolutionary forces to build those kind of bases and be consolidated undisturbed by the enemy over a long period of time; and unlike the Philippines which in 1970 had a tightly-consolidated central government equipped with war technology that enabled it to counter any revolutionary at a moment’s notice, China in the revolutionary period was splintered among several war dynasties, each exercising political authority over their respective territories, with the Chinese government virtually confined to its rule over Nanking. Various other factors must come into play in this regard, and this column is not the proper occasion for discussing them. Suffice it to say that the Sison-led people’s war found itself floundering in an irremediable sea of errors and confusion that trying to salvage it now would only be an exercise in futility.
One comrade advises not to be too harsh on the revolution, contending that at least we succeeded in inculcating in people’s mind the idea of revolution; that’s gain enough. To that assertion I counter with, “As there is no substitute to success, there is no substitute to failure.”
“With me,” he uttered a rejoinder, “there is substitute to failure.”
“What?” I ask.
That got me raging.
I told the fellow, when you reach the passing grade of 75 and regrets over grand failures become truly overpowering, you just have to reach out to anything you can hang on to. And anything includes turning big dreams into small realities.
KOMUN, the concept expounded on in this column last week, pictures just that kind of resolve. If it seems a far cry from the grand delusion that was the Sisonite National Democracy as contained in the PPDR (Program for People’s Democratic Revolution), let it be. At least it promises being achieved in the immediate term, therefore in a term realizable by the poor, not in the term of the eternal protraction of the national democratic revolution. Of what use is the dictatorship of the proletariat if its reality is on the same plane as the Biblical Seventh Heaven? This heaven might be the best for the human soul, but the best as well is demanded by the human physical existence. My communism is not communism in the unreachable paradise; my communism is communism in the here-and-now.
For that reason, I fully subscribed to the Nicaragua-type of seizure of political power strongly advocated by the late Chief of the New People’s Army (NPA), Rolando Kintanar. By his strategy, the workers and the poor of society stood to realize the benefits of socialism in the immediate, clearly foreseeable future. In a sense, the idea harmonized with the earlier strike movement espoused by the late Banero (Noli Collantes), head of the National Trade Union Bureau (NTUB) of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The strike movement was conceived as a mass movement with the vanguard working class in the lead and seizing political power mainly through city insurrection. Both the Collantes and the Kintanar scenarios were diametrically opposed to the Jose Maria Sison protracted people’s war, which was working on the strategy of surrounding the cities through the countryside. Quite noticeably enough, both Collantes and Kintanar were gunned to death; Collantes in 1983, Kintanar in 2003. Though I know of nobody owning up to the slaying of Collantes, that of Kintanar was admitted to have been done by Sison’s spokesperson in Southern Luzon, Gregorio Rosal alias Ka Roger.
In the turmoil that erupted following the controversy over the contested win of President Ferdinand E. Marcos by Cory in the 1986 snap presidential election, the Kintanar strategy was ready for implementation in every aspect (arms and ammo, powerful explosives capable of blasting bridges and pedestrian overpasses, military trucks in transit, including facilities inside Clark Airfield if this became necessary; and international support, specifically from Libya and North Korea). In those four days of the so-called People Power Revolt in February 1986, the KTKS (Komiteng Tagapapaganap ng Komite Sentral) of the CPP was in a marathon meeting in Metro Manila in a frenzied effort to reach a consensus on the Kintanar strategy. That Friday evening, the consensus was reached: go ahead. And so, the city insurrection was to explode the following day. But that Saturday was astounded by the news that Marcos had fled the night before with the First Family to Hawaii. Thus did Cory actually rob the people of their revolution.
Now, that revolution has come to stand as still grand, but no longer the way it had been passed on to me to be in the beginning, when it promised the attainment of the good life for the workers and the people at large. That revolution, though pictured to be continuing – indeed, for what can a revolution programmed to protract on and on do but continue – serves best to testify to the futility of the armed method for achieving the modest aims of the people – food, shelter, education, health and social security. Given the more than half a century of its existence, the current propagandized muscle-flexing by the NPA in that parade in Davao City for commemorating the anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines last December 26 can only amount to the spasms of a monster about to breathe its last. And Duterte’s accommodating this Sison ilk in his government is nothing but a poorly-written skit for gaining leverage in the geopolitics among the world’s superpowers. It is a grand act, sure, but nothing more than that really, pure and simple grandstanding.
How can Duterte ever pretend to being a socialist when the social system he rules in is capitalist. There is before us an urgent need to clarify: Does the government Duterte heads become socialist just by accommodating members and top-rank leaders of the CPP in its bureaucracy? What laws, for instance, do these CPP elements implement? Laws passed by a capitalist legislature. And in cases of controversies when judicial ruling on these laws are needed, what judiciary rules? A capitalist judiciary.
In fact, in the general dispensation of justice, courts from down and up rule in brazenly capitalistic manner, i.e., profit-motivated. In a set-up where laws are crafted for the benefit of capitalists, interpretation of laws cannot but similarly be for the benefit of capitalists. And that’s mentioning just one aspect of the rottenness of the Philippine judicial system. Another aspect is the remarkable malleability of laws so that in the hands of an unscrupulous magistrate, those laws are easily made to favor the side of the highest bidder. In another piece focused on this particular issue, I may endeavor to name names. In any case, that great multitude of impoverished masses who don’t have the means to bid, almost always end up the losers in court cases, no matter the merits. And the third, and probably the most rotten aspect of the judiciary, is that the appointment of judges is subject to discretion of the executive. Given the qualifications of aspirants to a judicial post being equal, the one who gets the capitalistic presidential favor gets the plum.
More than the men in government is the decadent capitalistic system that pesters the community, promotes social injustice and fetters the people’s aspiration for a truly prosperous, humane and just society. When we really come down to it, the problem of illegal drugs, both users and pushers, is rooted in the one single social setup in which it flourishes: capitalism. But what Duterte has been doing – and what the damn many consents to by their silence – is killing the victims, not the monster that is capitalism. How many big drug lords for instance has Duterte ever netted. Senator Tatad says, “None.” Why? Because those big drug lords are the capitalists against whom Duterte has manifested his utter powerlessness.
As Marx stated it quite unequivocally: “The proletariat cannot just lay hold of the bourgeois state and use it for its own purpose.” To raise this concern in contemporary Philippines, Filipino communists cannot just be in top government posts to pretend being able to transform that government to socialism. The fears raised by some sectors of the media about the Philippine government being in the process of “communization” have no basis in Marxism. The bourgeois state, according to Marx, must be demolished and then on its rubble build the socialist state, the dictatorship of the proletariat.
How can a handful of men and women avowing socialism and communist ideology expect to rule Philippine society without first destroying the Philippine bourgeois state. By their acts of joining the Duterte government, the next best thing to capitulation that may be committed by these communist pretenders is accommodation into the enemy’s purposes. That should satisfy nothing but selfish hankering for self-preservation in an otherwise hopeless situation. I always love to quote the reminder Chairman Mao Zedong gave President Ferdinand E. Marcos during the latter’s visit to China in 1975: “He who rides the tiger ends up in the tiger’s mouth.”
In a recent article in his column, First Things First, the eminent legislator, statesman and journalist, Senator Francisco Tatad expressed grave concern about Secretary of the Cabinet, Leoncio Evasco, Jr. having taken effective control of 12 influential positions in the Duterte government. I join Senator Tatad in this critical apprehension, but not for the reason that Evasco would eventually transform the government into a communist one. The real danger consists in this: that given the powers and prerogatives Evasco must have consolidated in his hands through his effective control of those 12 agencies so far named by Senator Tatad, he must be out to grab more such powers and prerogatives by which he may eventually delude himself that he could embark on an armed power grab. Unless he succeeds, too, in integrating the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) into the NPA, that power grab cannot be had except through a civil war.
Regardless of the question that the NPA will not win that war – because in fact it has already proven that it cannot – it is the very idea of that war that horrifies me. Such a war has raged over Syria over the past five years, had ravaged societies elsewhere in the world and in history, and in none of these experiences had the ruled classes, the workers and the poor, been installed as the rulers of the succeeding regimes. What got into power were the highly-select clique of revolutionary leaders who in many cases (Cuba is an evident exception) turned out to be tyrants no less than those they had replaced.
So now I am into this venture, KOMUN, a conscious undertaking of charting an entirely new course of achieving what the armed struggle just miserably failed to do. The power to achieve the workers’ dream of the good life does not consist in the braggadocio of flailing high-power rifles in a pretentious show of might as was that NPA parade in Davao City last December 26. That power actually need no longer be flaunted. It is a power inherent in the economic power the people already have in their hands. It is just a matter of diverting the direction that power is being undertaken by the people from day to day – from feeding the rapine of capitalism to planting and watering with dedication and loving care the lovely seeds of socialism.
“Mahirap po iyan, Sir (It’s difficult to accomplish, Sir),” begins a long comment by a reader on the publication of my KOMUN concept.
I had expected that skepticism. It is always a case that, as in a mother’s giving birth to a child, bringing new life into the light involves exquisite forbearance for pain. It is precisely due to this motherly ardor that in his time Karl Marx likened revolution to child birth, expressed in this beautiful figure of speech: “Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one.” And Marxists from that time on had promoted such force as the one single means for achieving the redemption of the proletariat from oppression and exploitation.
But of Marx, that was understandable. He made that dictum at a time when war was the only known method of regime change. His words completely did not anticipate that time will come when – just as the first socialist revolution, the October Revolution of 1917, took place, as historians put it, without a single shot fired – child delivery need no longer be painful when accomplished through the Lamaze method, which requires not any of the previously known method of medical intervention.
Force need no longer be the midwife of an old Philippine society pregnant with a new one.