Those who deeply understand (or at least those who bother to use their brain’s left hemisphere) the Communist movement in the Philippines, as opposed to those who admire it on their phonescreens, will notice that since its so-called re-establishment in 1968, its history is a series of “repudiations” and “affirmations” – a never-ending episode of ideological cartwheels and somersaults over the past 55 years that is way, way less entertaining than the Coco Martin Probinsyano series on local television.
A close examination of Communist Party founder Joma Sison’s political writings will make one thank Michael Bay for the clarity he gave to Transformers 3 or make one swear that 12 Monkeys is the most logical movie ever.
The past Semana Santa and the long weekend that came with it gave me enough time and space to recollect my thoughts and, because of the solemnity of the season (and the blistering heat that made me stay indoors) made me brood on mortality and read the works of dead philosophers like Nietzsche.
Perhaps the fact, too, that summer is here and the ninth year post my stroke is approaching this July made me set pen to paper and write what I might describe as ramblings. I deign not describe this as deep thoughts for that description is only reserved for those who live off their parents’ labor, cannot fix their beds or cannot even fix themselves a meal.
Yet they hold all the answers to the grand problems of this good Earth.
I do not belong to that esteemed and rare class of intellectuals
I am a distant cousin of the Death Angels, otherwise called The Listeners – those creatures in John Krazinski’s A Quiet Place – for whom Johnsons and Johnsons have yet to develop cotton buds for their giant ears, or listening holes, I should say.
I have spent considerable time flirting with, and actually serving the Communist Party as its urban spokesman for Bayan-Negros, yapping like those social justice warriors about the “ills of society” but blind to the corruption within the Party, and I have grown an aversion to know-it-all types, especially trying hard ideologue kids and teens whose exposure to politics is reading memes on Facebook bashing government in between surfing pornsites.
I now listen more than quack.
It is not my intent to do a micro-level analysis of the guys and gals of the Communist movement in the sentrong syudad or the urban areas today.
Rather, I shall discuss my observation that the Communist movement in the Philippines will never be successful in its desire (or obsession in the case of Joma’s ilk) to make its protracted people’s war win or, even if they do, build a society for those who toil, for the oppressed and the exploited.
I used to say the last phrase in so many ways in mamy interviews with moist eyes. I was a zealot, a Dilios to Leonidas who, in my younger years, was the masa, the hukbo and the Partido.
We used to quote Mao ad nauseam, praise Lenin to no end and assassinate Trotsky in thoughts and in words, strove to live like Norman Bethune and, in my case, woke up each day looking for another enemy to add to my list of enemies – chief of which are US imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism and feudalism.
But I stray.
Why is the CPP not capable of uniting the people in winning a revolution?
Its history proves so.
When Jose Maria Sison bickered that he was ousted in 1992 by a hyphenated gang of power grabbers, he was actually facing a repeat of what he did in 1968 when he, styled as a young intellectual, led what is now known as the First Great Rectification Movement when Sison broke away from the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas and “re-established” it to become the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Note the simple switch in name from the original Filipino name of the Party to the American equivalent.
In doing so, Joma came up with his first hyphenated enemies, the “Lava-Taruc faction,” the ancestors of all hyphenated enemies, traitors and revisionists who were the cause of all “errors,” “opportunisms” and “adventurism” the CPP committed even while he was abroad and though these “enemies” were forging on with the revolution at the homefront.
A generation later, Joma was the one defending himself from the “attacks” of his comrades who were gleeful enough to oust him.
That coup against Joma during the 10th Plenum of the CPP became the impetus for the “Second Great Rectification Movement” and the birth of a new “clique,” the Tabara-Lagman hyphenated villains.
This seeming loop of events inside the CPP, a “continuing past” to borrow the phrase from Renato Constantino Sr is a fulfillment of the conflict theory of Karl Marx that all hardboiled and softboiled Filipino Communists love to talk about: an endless state of contradiction.
In fact, Joma’s attack on the CPP leadership in 1968 was inspired by Mao Tse Tung’s “Bombard the Headquarters” in 1966, which preceded the Great Cultural Revolution that left thousands dead in what was already Communist China.
It is of no moment to those observing the CPP or those who who became its cadres or active and zealous elements (as opposed to “plain members” who wear Mao caps every once in a while during rallies and froth in the mouth with polemics in coffeeshops) that there was and still is infighting in the CPP leadership here since Frank Fernandez was captured years ago.
Conflict and contradiction is the ethos of the Communists who are confused without those things.
This alone shows their culture, born out of an ideology that believes in never-ending conflict, that can never allow them to build institutions.
Any smart aleck Party member, like that TikTok loving young buffoon of theirs, totally absent of practice and experience can always claim to know more than the cadre who came before him.
For instance, in the 80s a former cadre under the Regional Trade Union Bureau in Negros island successfully negotiated with landowners to allow their workers to plant vegetables on the fringes of plantations during the tiempo muerto – the end of the milling season when wages plunge in the haciendas.
To the sane mind, it could have tided over the workers until the milling season opens
But to the “forward thinking” leaders then of the CPP in Negros, that cadre’s initiative was “economism” and would result to less Red fighters in the countryside.
To the CPP, a hungry people will blame the government and make them rebel. It is clear in this example that the CPP is not interested in solving hunger.
Hunger is necessary to drive people to the hills and the CPP, if at all, has succeeded in turning Negros into a land of deepened hunger and poverty.
That is not to say that there are no seeds of discontent in the island: the skewed land ownership being one but the CPP’s revolution to “free the masses” has only succeeded in making the masses suffer more through more than half a century.
I have been to haciendas where the CPP’s legal fronts operate and have travelled deep into guerrilla zones of the New People’s Army, perhaps deeper than Joma had been to and in all these places, I have not felt what Joma had been claiming for more than 50 years: a revolutionary fervor in the countryside.
In the haciendas, members of the NFSW have a standard line when asked “kamusta, kamo (how are you)?” to which they would always answer: “pigado gihapon (still poor)?”
In some areas though run by the “rejectionists,” beneficiaries of the government’s land reform program have been organized into cooperatives and have made significant progress like lessening hunger during the tiempo muerto.
Many, I one of them, believed in the crimson dream of building a new world even if that is to be built with bloodshed and violence.
That world cannot be built on dreams of angry old men who believe that all the world’s a cockpit and we are only fighting cocks in it.