The Power of the Gun Barrel or the Germs? : A Discourse on the Means of Fulfilling the Proletarian Revolution
Hansley A. Juliano, II AB Political Science: January 6, 2009
Hansley A. Juliano, II AB Political Science: January 6, 2009
We tend to view any movement for radical reform and revision of existing social systems as a suicidal attempt of making a dysfunctional society take the first step towards repair and regeneration. One need not look far beyond us to see that there is still a considerable majority among the Philippine population who believes in the position of resignation, to the jubilation of capitalists who arrogantly brandishes their “victory” against the Leftist forces. They seem to have successfully implemented the maxim of complacency from satisfaction with the present conditions. “Ganyan naman talaga e, pagtyagaan na lang [It’s always the same, so let’s just endure it],” they would say when, in fact, it is actually out of despair and the fear of losing what little they have that drives to inertia. Many are of the opinion that this atrophy explains why the Philippine Communist revolution has never arrived in its most potent form, why it spiralled down from the stalemate with the oppressive, fascist and American puppet state that our government became under Marcos. It seems to us that what it has worked hard and many of their comrades died for to achieve was all in vain. This notion of irredeemable failure for the proletarian revolt, however, misses the possibilities of the entire corpus of Marxist thought and reveals what is problematic in the dogmatic and historical progression of human action towards the stateless society. To be able to proceed towards fulfilment of the revolution, we must subscribe to the continual reinvention of what Marxism founded (and therefore contradict historical progression) for it to survive and outlive the manipulative nature of capitalism.
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s statement of the proletarian class being organized by the vanguard party is working under the assumption that the dichotomies of class struggle have already been achieved; that is, that the capitalist systems and all that falls under it are seen as the summation of all evil. Therefore, there is this consciousness that the proletarian camp really is and truly believes that they are the antithesis of the capitalists which is constantly devouring and mangling society. To truly progress, then, the proletariats have to arm themselves in smashing the capitalist state. The common misconception about the concept of the “withering away of the state” is that it is the capitalist state that is supposed to wither; it is not. Capitalism itself should be smashed and then replaced with the communist state which will then “wither” at the end of historical progression. This is why Karl Kautsky’s proposition of parliamentary struggle within the capitalist state is considered by Lenin as a betrayal of Marx, as it does not help in the progression of history and even gives capitalism some semblance of legitimacy. In our context, the consistent failures of our identified Leftist party lists such as Akbayan, Gabriela, Bayan Muna and the like to bring forth legitimate reforms in the “peaceful manner” illustrates this all too well.
The problem, however, begins when the organization process escalates. The question of whether there should be only one centric and solid camp of the proletarian party or there should be multiple pockets of proletarian organization becomes relevant in order to speed up progression towards the stateless society. The standing Communist Party of the Philippines under the chairmanship of revolutionary ideologue Jose Maria Sison might be seen as a very good case study of proving the historical progression of a reformist as stated by fictional District Attorney Harvey Dent: “you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” As the National Democratic Front would propagate, the CPP subscribes to Marxist-Leninist-Maoist tradition of establishing the vanguard party. This was to be the cure for the “adventurist errors,” as Sison would put it, of the former leaders of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas-1930 under the brothers Jose and Jesus Lava.
Antonio Gramsci illustrated that capitalist structures are not simply governed and maintained by the economic modes of production. There are also historical and cultural blocks which intervene. Since capitalism does not assert its authority through coercion but by consent, the capability of capitalism to weather the advances of the proletariat is very stable and formidable. Thus, there is the need for strategic movement and waging two types of wars: that of direct conflict or aggression, and that of position or establishing oneself in historic blocks and the consciousness of the demos. As seen from the events of the 1970’s, the vanguard party is very effective in waging their “protracted people’s war,” dismantling the authority and credibility of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in part thanks to the increasing corruption that state institutions have descended into. However, by their own admission, their inability to properly organize and indoctrinate to the people the steadfast adherence to their philosophy allowed the displaced bourgeois forces (in the form of Corazon Aquino) to wrest power and re-establish old capitalist institutions. Worse, the failure of the vanguard party to remain coherent in the aftermath of this “restoration” brought forth the purges which killed many Party stalwarts, most famous being former NPA commander Romulo Kintanar. Sison himself is condemned for supposedly masterminding the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing which taints the credibility, as well, of the Party and the legitimacy of the Communist movement in general. The recent discovery of the “mass graves” does nothing at all to efface the suspicion and paranoia of the people they were supposed to fight for.
In short, they were indeed able to sustain a war of aggression, but they failed to properly position themselves for the movement to remain relevant and pressing to society. The question of whether to persist in the vanguard party or begin the rhizomatic proliferation of centers and focus points of conflicts become more relevant in the pursuit of smashing a constantly mutating capitalist society. By looking at the historical achievements of the Philippine proletariat, it does appear that stubbornness in maintaining a form of engagement that is no longer conjunct with the current historical block will hinder the success of the progression towards the stateless society. As long as the CPP-NPA-NDF is unable to reinvent itself, they will remain as impotent as the Lavas which they displaced and, in the words of Benedict Anderson, “Stalinist bores”.