I’LL find out on Monday, November 7. I got this invitation (translated from Tagalog) from a group calling itself Socialista: “We wish to invite you to unite with us and participate in a forum on the celebration of the 99th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. This will be held in the hall of the Claret Church in UP Village, Quezon City on Monday, November 7, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. We hope for your participation in the political discussion in the forum. Thank you and mabuhay – Socialista Secretariat.”
Readers will recall that Socialista is the workers group I wrote about sometime back for its stand of “critical support” for the Duterte administration, particularly expressed in the statement: “Contractualization is addiction far worse than drug abuse. Will Duterte kill capitalists?” It will be an interesting opportunity to, in a manner of speaking, mix it up with the group once again on the theme, this time in the context of the struggle that spawned the first socialist state in history, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
But is this the struggle that Socialista is commemorating on Monday?
Russia has undergone two revolutions leading to the establishment of the USSR. The first was the February Revolution of 1905. At the end of that revolution, Czar Nicholas II issued the October Manifesto which led to the establishment of the Russian Duma, the legislature signifying the transformation of the Romanov autocracy into a constitutional monarchy.
The other revolution was the February Revolution of 1917 (though it started on March 8, 1917 in
the Gregorian Calendar, it was February 23 in the Julian Calendar in use by Russia at the time), which resulted in a two-phase development: the final abdication of Czar Nicholas II on March 15, 1917 and the creation of the Kerensky government into which, in contrast to the desire of the Mensheviks to create a separate revolutionary government, Lenin insisted in the Bolsheviks’ participation in the Duma; and the October 24-25 striking seizure of political power by Lenin through the very simple expedience of arresting the Kerensky cabinet, with Kerensky himself beating a retreat to faraway lands. Whereupon Lenin proclaimed his historic: “All power to the Soviets!”
Now, those October 24 and 25 are Julian Calendar dates. In the Gregorian Calendar which is now universally used, those dates correspond to November 6 and 7. So it must be safe to presume that the Russian revolution the Socialista is commemorating on Monday is the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
At any rate, with the February Revolution of 1905, the struggle of the world proletariat in asserting its vanguard role in pushing society to the apex of development took concrete realization. It went through stages for sure, stages that could be taken as the learning process the workers had to undergo in asserting that role. But once Lenin delivered his coup de grace, there was no more turning back for socialism and communism as the main trend in the world.
For 74 years thence, Soviet Russia, the cradle of Marxist pure orthodoxy, became the effective counterpoint to the United States’ obstinate imperialist drive for world hegemony–-until 1991 when perestroika and glasnost, promoted by Mikhail Gorbachev, brought down the strict Leninist tradition of socialism and communism.
The Socialista celebration comes in the midst of a growing perception among keen observers of Philippine politics that the Duterte administration is inclining towards socialism. In a recent column for instance, the venerable former Senator Francisco Kit Tatad points out the preponderance of CPP/NPA/NDF elements in responsible, highly placed positions in the Duterte government, to wit:
“Seasoned communists are already entrenched in the Cabinet, even without the benefit of a peace agreement, which mandates a coalition government with the CPP/NPA/NDF. Until now, the popular impression in the media is that only four active CPP/NPA/NDF members have been named to sensitive government positions. The latest secret document from highly authoritative sources belies this.
“The document claims that the apparently non-ideological Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea is a full member of the CPP.
“Evasco, former priest, former mayor of Maribojoc, Bohol, DU30’s presidential campaign manager, in control of Kilusang Pagbabago and 12 strategic government agencies under his supervision as Cabinet Secretary was elected CPP central committee member at the 8th CPP plenum at Susung Dalaga in Bicol in 1981;
“Rafael Mariano, secretary of agrarian reform; elected CPP central committee member at the 10th CPP plenum in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur in August 1997; Anakpawis, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; Pambansang Kaisahan ng Magbubukid;
“Judy Taguiwalo, secretary of social welfare and development; chair, women’s committee of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers; elected CPP central committee at the 9th plenum in 1985;
Silvestre Bello III, secretary of labor; chief negotiator, GRP panel; active national democrat, Davao;
“Liza Maza, chief convenor National Anti-Poverty Commission; elected CPP central committee member at the 10th CPP plenum in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur in August 1997; former Gabriela party-list representative;
“Peter Lavina, undersecretary, Office of the Cabinet Secretary; NDF;
“Joel Maglunsod, undersecretary for labor relations, DOLE; elected CCP central committee member at the 10th Plenum in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur in 1997;
“Marcelino P. Escalada Jr., National Housing Authority administration; full member, CPP;
“Ednar Dayanghirang, administrator, National Commission for Indigenous Peoples; NDF;
“Delfin Cabrera, undersecretary, Office of the Cabinet Undersecretary; elected CPP central committee member at the 12th Plenum in Sariaya, Quezon, in 2008; member, NDF national council;
“Terry Ridon, chairman, Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor; elected CPP central committee member at the 13th plenum in Quezon City, 2012.”
To anyone who has undergone genuine and thorough bolshevization, the above information, granted that it’s true, actually raises a concern quite the opposite of Kit’s worries. As the legendary American folk hero Davy Crocket proclaimed to the defenders of The Alamo mesmerized by the brilliant battle regalia of the advancing British forces, “Uniforms alone do not a fighting man make,” positions in the Duterte government alone do not a socialist and a communist make. Marx’s admonition in the Communist Manifesto is unequivocal: “The proletariat cannot just lay hold of the bourgeois state and use it for its own purpose.” The Marxist mandate is for that bourgeois state to be demolished and upon its rubble build socialism–necessarily the dictatorship of the proletariat.
In the case of the Russian Revolution, Lenin had already gotten the Russian soviets, particularly those in St. Petersburg, consolidated, and most importantly, had the Red Army under the control by Leon Trotsky. The Bolsheviks were in perfect position to stage a coup and grab power from the weak Kerensky anytime they wished.
Is the case the same for the CPP/NPA/NDF triad?
Oceans apart, to state a hyperbole. They will not be up against Duterte but the monstrous power of the United States of America. And they are not stupid not to know this. In participating in the Duterte government despite such knowledge, what they betray is either one of two things: a camouflaged stoogery to US imperialism or pure and simple political opportunism.
Beginning with the breakup of the socialist state founded by Lenin, socialism has undergone radical changes from the original tenets expounded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In China, the dogmas of Mao Zedong underwent a deep overhaul under Deng Xiaoping soon after the latter’s restoration to the top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party upon Mao’s death. Today, China is no longer strictly socialist–-as I personally witnessed during my recent visit to Shanghai where I was informed that 90 percent of its 24 million population are private homeowners and big capitalist entrepreneurs and. though in a very limited sense, are private owners of their businesses, including land and buildings.
Calibrated capitalism is how one reader put it in commenting on my Shanghai piece. Now, that’s something. “A rose called by any other name would,” said Shakespeare, “smell as sweet.” Would the stench of capitalism be less obnoxious for being calibrated? In the upheavals of the 1970s that would have elicited from Jose Maria Sison outcries of revisionism. But now that his top minions appear to be entrenched in the Duterte administration…Oh, well.
How this development affects–or has already affected– the original strategy of the working class to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat, as a prerequisite to the final attainment of the withering away of the state and the dissolution of social classes, can be one subject matter for raising in the Socialista event.