WritingsinterviewsOn criticism and creativity

On criticism and creativity

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Questions by Prof. Sarah Raymundo
Answers by Prof. Jose Maria Sison

1. Calls for creativity have emerged as responses to a criticism of the Left being “passé” and “dogmatic.”The command to be creative is being considered seriously for activist practice in response to this criticism, but what does this call achieve?

JMS: It is a good policy for any anti-imperialist and anti-fascist formation to pay attention to criticisms and proposals from any source. It does not take much time to distinguish a good criticism or proposal from a bad one. A sweeping criticism of the Left as being “passe” and “dogmatic” comes apparently from either a hostile or ill-informed source and should be subjected to a critical examination to find out exactly what is the basis of the criticism behind the proposal of creativity.

If there is a basis of any kind, degree or scale that is cited, then it can be critically examined and creativity can be applied in the correction of any error or solution of any problem. If there is no basis for the criticism and its objective is merely to malign the movement and mislead the people, then the attack has to be countered immediately and sharply.

2. How does it apply to the propagation of ideological education, political campaigns and overall organizational maintenance and sustainability?

JMS: Creativity can be the discovery, working out and adoption of new ways of understanding, presenting, realizing and improving the factors, methods and conditions of ideological education, political campaigns and overall organizational maintenance and sustainability.

In the propagation of ideological education, we must be updated on the content that is to be imparted and innovative in the presentation. We have a stock of knowledge but we must read and study further and learn from the people, their conditions and needs in order to apply correctly revolutionary theory. We must adopt the methods and means by which to engage more activists in programs and courses of study and learning through publications, study meetings and webinars.

In the work to achieve organizational maintenance, sustainability and growth, we must build the revolutionary party of the proletariat and the mass organizations of the classes and sectors of the people who suffer various types and degrees of oppression and exploitation in any country within the world capitalist system. The aforesaid party and mass organizations must assert, defend and advance the fundamental rights and interests of their constituencies.

In undertaking the political campaigns, the organized masses must be mobilized to engage the unorganized masses according to their common and specific interests. There must be a united front within every class and within every sector and there must be also a broad united front embracing all the oppressed and exploited classes and sectors and taking advantage of the contradictions among the reactionary classes in order to isolate and defeat the enemy at every given time.

3. As a demand for a modified activist practice, is creativity merely a protest aesthetic attuned to the demands of populist market ideology?

JMS: The revolutionary forces are always ready to undertake criticism and self-criticism to correct errors and shortcomings and raise the level of their ideological, political and organizational work. The timely and sharp counter must be made to the malicious demand for modified activist practice that is calculated to malign or mislead the revolutionary movement under some notion of “protest aesthetic” or cosmetics in commercial advertising that suits the bourgeois populist market ideology.

The anti-fascist and anti-imperialist and entire revolutionary movement has a comprehensive array of formations and masses that can make the struggle against the enemy always interesting and inspiring in so many ways in the various fields of struggle: ideological, political, socio-economic and cultural. What can be more exciting than an honest-to-goodness struggle against imperialism and all reaction. We can trust the activists, their organizations and the masses in expressing their needs, demands and aspirations.

The people’s democratic revolution in the Philippines is one of the best examples in the world for overcoming so many campaigns of anti-communist suppression and the setbacks suffered by the anti-imperialist and socialist cause because of the revisionist betrayal and capitalist restoration in the former Soviet Union and China. But all forms of struggle are being carried out and developed in the most creative ways by integrating revolutionary theory and practice.

4. What sort of activist formations has this demand for creativity spawned and actually created for broad united front building?

JMS: We must first identify those imperialist powers and big bourgeois elements that finance and direct the state agencies, schools of thought, think tanks, corporate media, academic pedants, presstitutes, bourgeois ideologues and influencers and other entities that specialize in playing up supraclass notions of idealism and subjectivism, magnifying any fragment or aspect of history and society and misinterpreting old terms or generating new terms in the direction of drawing away the intelligentsia and the toiling masses from the anti-imperialist and class struggle.

The broad united front has a definite anti-imperialist and class line in the current people’s democratic revolution in the Philippines. To the activist formations themselves, the proletarian revolutionary party is the leading class in the people’s democratic revolution. Consequently, it must build the basic alliance of the proletariat and peasantry in order to gain the majority of the people, win over the middle social strata (urban petty bourgeoisie and middle bourgeoisie) and take advantage of the contradictions within the reactionary classes servile to foreign monopoly capitalism in order to the isolate and defeat the enemy (the most reactionary puppet ruling clique or the foreign aggressor) at every given time.

To lose sight of the revolutionary anti-imperialist and class line in building the united front is to go shallow, fragmentary, impertinent or completely out of the struggle. A demand for creativity that ignores and lays aside the revolutionary anti-imperialist and class line will mislead the activist formations. There is a revolutionary class line to pursue in waging struggles against monopoly capitalism as it exploits and oppresses the proletariat and peoples of the world, plunders the environment, engages in genocide through state terrorism and wars of aggression and threatens the very existence of humankind with nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, pandemics and global warming.

5. New challenges and contradictions emerge as activists interpret and practice this call to be creative. May you give examples of these challenges and contradictions?

JMS: New challenges and contradictions arise as the revolutionary forces and objective conditions change for the better or for the worse by any significant degree or scale. Critical thinking and creativity are required to raise a given level of development to a new and higher one or to determine the causes of failure or defeat and solve the problems in order to advance on the road of revolution.

In the course of revolutionary practice, there are periodic and timely sessions of criticism and self-criticism in order to correct mistakes and improve the work, the style of work and the outcome of the work. As a matter of course, the revolutionary party and the mass formations make their annual summing up of experience, analysis of the objective conditions and subjective forces and setting forth of new tasks. Rectification movements are carried out on a wide scale and for an extended period to criticize major errors and rectify them.###

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