Book Review of Jose Maria Sison’s REFLECTIONS ON REVOLUTION AND PROSPECTS: In relation to Filipino-German revolutionary solidarity and global issues
By Peter Weispfenning
Comrades, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be able to say a few words of appreciation for the current book by Jose Maria Sison, Reflections on Revolution and Prospects.
It is remarkable that the book was published almost simultaneously in English and German. Of course this has something to do with the person of the interviewer, Dr. Rainer Werning.
Yes, he is a profound German Southeast Asian expert. But he doesn’t do this on an academic level, but out of a felt and lived solidarity with the revolutionary struggle in the Philippines. He is also on the board of the German-Philippine Friendship. Thanks also go to the competent and fast team of translators.
I believe that the German-Filipino friendship – meaning of course the friendship of the German with the Filipino people, the revolutionaries in Germany and in the Philippines – is something special. We were very happy that we were able to publish the book by Joma Sison in the publishing house Verlag Neuer Weg.
For the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD), I can definitely say that everything that Joma Sison says is not just a statement of some revolutionary – which of course would be significant too – but always meets the special interest of our comrades. The book presents Jose Maria Sison in excellent form and at the cutting edge of the times.
It is therefore also a defeat for the anti-communist agitators, who rant about an aloof Joma Sison who “retired” in the Dutch exile. This asylum is hard-won, as the book shows, and of course he will not go to the Philippines without security guarantees against Duterte’s fascist death squads.
Marx and Engels, too, had to spend the longest period of their revolutionary work in English exile, and yet they were closely linked to the German working class. No matter where you live, it is primarily a question of the mode of thinking whether you are closely connected with the class struggle internationally and in your country of origin.
Joma Sison shows himself in this book as multi-faceted as he is as a personality: as a Marxist-Leninist theorist, as a fervent revolutionary, as leader of the Philippine workers’ and people’s movement, as an internationalist, as a diplomat, as a poet and as a humorous, cheerful and optimistic person.
The book is the eagerly awaited sequel to Rainer Werning’s earlier interview series of 1988, The Philippine Revolution. The Leader’s View. The ten chapters and the numerous questions assigned to each of them appear like a tour d’horizon ride through the turbulent times since 1989, across the most diverse continents and into the most diverse subject areas.
But – and here I must of course limit my term of the tour d’horizon – this is not about the empty ranting of an ignoramus about any questions in the world, as we find it so numerously in literature. It is about sound analyses based on the Marxist-Leninist approach.
What I see as certain basic lines in the book are the following points: A thoroughgoing critique of modern revisionism and the restoration of capitalism in the former socialist countries. He continues Mao Zedong’s analysis of the importance of ideological struggle and writes:
“At first, the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking arose and spread among the new intelligentsia and bureaucracy in the ruling party, the economy and various institutions (…) In due course the new bourgeoisie became a reality bred by the selfish impulses of the intelligentsia and the bureaucrats, the acquisition of privileges and the influence of the international bourgeoisie.” (page 32)
This is not only a fundamental historical question. We will not be able to win the masses to socialism today if we cannot answer the causes of the betrayal of socialism and the lessons learned from it.
The analysis of the far-reaching changes in imperialism since 1989. The author examines the emergence and advancement of new great imperialist powers, China and Russia.
He confronts the faith healers of imperialism with the analysis of a deepening crisis of imperialism on a wide range of issues: the environmental question, the intensified threat of war, the increasing exploitation of the dependent countries, etc.
He also sheds light on the international danger of fascism, which has taken concrete shape with Duterte as leader of a proto-fascist government in the Philippines. Even in Germany, where the ruling classes still adhere to the system of petty-bourgeois mode of thinking as the main method of government, we are experiencing an acute fascist tendency.
Joma Sison, however, calls for a common struggle of the workers and masses of all countries against this development. That alone should make the book worth reading.
In Germany we are experiencing a sharp polarization between the development to the right of the government, the bourgeois parties, in culture and media and a part of the masses and a progressive change of mood among the masses. After all, four million people have already taken to the streets in Germany this year and we are successfully fighting for the leading role of the party.
Interesting is a quintessence on page 143: “We are on the eve of a new upsurge of revolutionary struggles worldwide.” The International Workers’ and Marxist-Leninist Movement has passed through the deep valley of defeat by revisionism and it is making noticeable progress.
Joma Sison has made an important contribution to this in his leading work in the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations and as a long-standing chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS).
And Joma Sison is also currently playing an important role in the initiative for building a worldwide anti-imperialist united front, in which ILPS and International Coordination of Revolution (ICOR) cooperate.
What I also like: Sison is not a revolutionary romantic. He combines his deep confidence in victory with a critical and self-critical approach. For example, he pointed out that it had already been expected several times that the strategic stalemate in the Philippines would be reached, which for various reasons did not yet happen.
The way to national and social liberation is just full of twists and turns, and who, in contrast to Joma, claims know everything up front and had nothing to learn, should apply for the papacy in Rome and not want to be the leader of the revolutionary movement.
And last but not least, I see the book as an offer for further discussion of the questions that have been raised. The very worst, apart from the revisionists, are the dogmatists, who in any case expect nothing new from the world under the sun or since Lenin’s death.
We will gladly take up this offer of discussion and will continue to discuss with him in a stimulating way about far-reaching questions like the emergence of new imperialist countries and changes in the superstructure of the imperialist world system, the development and role of the international industrial proletariat an so on.
Of course, the book deals in particular with the development in the Philippines. This is fundamental for anyone who wants to show solidarity with the Philippines. I cannot organize effective solidarity if I myself do not know what is happening in the country, what the actors represent, how the revolution is developing, and so on.
This is another reason why this book is a must read for every progressive person who wants to develop solidarity with the Filipino people or – what is even more – the mutual solidarity of the peoples and the labor movement of the world.
It highlights important changes in the Philippines. Thus, the author proves that the USA still has the main imperialist influence in the Philippines politically. But he also examines how Chinese new imperialism is penetrating the Philippines more and more economically, which is connected with military aggression and of course also with political influence. Joma Sison does not side with any imperialist, but stands up for a consistent anti-imperialist standpoint.
This is very important. The revisionists in Germany, for example, claim, in contrast to this, that one must take the side of Russia and China against NATO. This causes confusion, whereas a clear anti-imperialist position is important.
The book gives new insights into the current development of the Philippine revolutionary movement. It defends the right to revolutionary struggle and proves that the CPP has never bowed to imperialism but has stuck to the revolutionary line for 51 years.
One thing is certain: the development will continue and raise new questions. So this book will be continued in one way or another by Joma Sison. What better thing can you say about a book if you are already looking forward to its continuation?
But first of all you should buy and read this book. Thank you.