Questions from the ND Online School of Anakbayan Europa
Pointers to Full Answers by Jose Maria Sison
18 April 2021
What is culture?
Culture encompasses the modes of existence and ideology of thought in philosophy, politics, economics, in the environmental and social sciences, in art and literature, in jurisprudence and morality. It is also an accumulation of assumptions, customs, traditions, and the like that may date back to ancient times and remain in the present as long as someone carries them. They constitute all the social psychology of the people.
Culture is a superstructure with a material basis. Ideas, institutions and all cultural patterns are based on the material method of existence of a society. It is ever-changing, as is all society undergoing change. Culture is a reflection of economics and politics. Dominant forces and emerging forces in economics and politics are also dominant forces and emerging forces in culture. These conflicting forces and their essential contradictions take on ideological forms and definite machinery in the field of culture.
The aim of today’s discussion is to 1) Understand the importance and role of revolutionary cultural work in the general advancement of the People’s Democratic Revolution; 2) 1. Understand the role, place and current level of the enrichment of our revolutionary art and literature; and the role and importance of launching mass education and healthcare in the continuous building and consolidation of our mass bases; 3) Understand and grasp the future, challenges and current duties of revolutionary cultural work in the continuous intensification and raising of the level of our people’s war.
- What kind of culture exists today? What are examples of feudal, bourgeois, and imperialist culture? What is the dominant force in Philippine culture today?
JMS: Philippine culture may be called semicolonial and semifeudal because culture reflects the economic and political aspects of society. Pre-colonial and and pre-feudal, colonial and feudal, semicolonial, semifeudal, liberal bourgeois and imperialist cultures co-exist and interweave with each other as the traditional and reactionary cultural forces.
b. Feudal culture is best exemplified by the ideas, laws,customs and habits generated by the Roman Catholic church since Spanish colonial times. Bourgeois culture ranges from liberal democracy to conservative liberalism generated by the state and the educational system. Imperialist culture uses bourgeois liberalism of the conservative type as sugarcoating for monopoly capitalist ideology and hegemony.
c. US imperialism is the most dominant force in its combination wish such major cultural forces as the puppet state and the Catholic Church. Altogether, the three generate cultural policies, interests and influences that reflect and favor the dominance of foreign monopoly capitalism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords.
- What are the main instruments in the colonial, neocolonial, and feudal cultural oppression of the Filipino people?
JMS: In the colonial and feudal society under Spanish colonialism, the colonial state and the Roman Catholic Church were the main instruments of colonial oppression. The former required obedience to the colonial and feudal laws. And the latter required belief in their feudal religious preachings.
US imperialism and the Philippine puppet state have generated a neocolonial and bourgeois culture through the enactment and enforcement of laws in their favor, through the bourgeois political parties and campaigns, through cultural institutions, through the public educational system and the mass media.
- Why is a cultural revolution necessary?
JMS: A cultural revolution is necessary to breach and disable the cultural dominance of US imperialism and the local exploitation, to prepare public opinion for carrying out the national democratic revolution and develop a portion of the existing superstructure in favor of that revolution. Without cultural revolution, the national democratic revolution as a socio-economic and political revolution cannot succeed. The people must first be aroused and enlightened before they can be organized and mobilized to carry pout the national democratic revolution.
- Why is a cultural revolution longer lasting than a political or economic revolution?
JMS: The cultural revolution as a process of changing fundamentally the thinking and behavior of the people comes ahead of the actual political and economic revolution. When the political and economic revolution succeeds, so does the cultural revolution succeed concurrently.
If the political and economic revolution ascends to a higher level, so does the cultural revolution. If the political and economic revolution retrogresses and is defeated at some time, the cultural revolution can still be continued by its advocates in the leading progressive class.
- Why does the NDR call for a national, scientific, and mass-oriented culture? What is a national, scientific, and mass-oriented culture?
JMS: The NDR calls for a national, scientific and mass-oriented culture in order to fight and defeat the colonial and pro-imperialist mentality, the anti-science obscurantism of the dominant church and the ideas, laws, practices, customs and habits in favor of the exploiting classes and at the expense of the people.
Culture is national by being based on national sovereignty, being patriotic, having a national language, uniting various ethno-linguistic communities into one nation and learning from other countries to serve the needs of the nation. It is scientific by availing of science and technology to achieve all-round progress in the economy, politics and culture and being free from feudal culture. It is mass-oriented by serving the broad masses of the people, especially the oppressed and exploited classes.
- What is the program of the CPP and the NDFP in regards to culture?
JMS: The program of the CPP and NDFP in culture is to oppose anti-national, anti-scientific and anti-people culture and to uphold, defend and advance a national, scientific and mass culture. This is within the framework of the new democratic revolution under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and in the direction of the socialist revolution.
- How can the new democratic culture be established, propagated, and deepened?
JMS: The new democratic culture can be established, propagated and deepened by employing it to build, educate and inspire the revolutionary party of the proletariat, the mass organizations of the exploited classes and sectors and the organs of political power as well as spreading the principles and policies of new democratic culture among the unorganized masses and within the reactionary institutions.
- What are the instruments of the revolution in regard to cultural work?
JMS: As the advanced detachment of the proletariat and leader of the new democratic revolution, the Communist Party of the Philippines has formed organs at the central and lower levels for leading and developing cultural work among the masses.
These are organs for publishing informative and educational materials, for conducting study courses and propaganda, for promoting revolutionary art and literature, for directing cultural work by the people’s army, mass organizations and distinctly cultural groups and for facilitating the cultural campaigns of the organs of political power.
- Why are the revolutionary bases in the countryside the stronghold of the cultural revolution?
JMS: The revolutionary bases in the countryside are called the stronghold of the cultural revolution because the revolutionary cultural work and achievements flourish most here and are well-consolidated in a comprehensive way by the Party, the people’s army, the mass organizations, the distinct cultural groups and local organs of political power.
- Why is the proletariat, through its party, the leading force in the cultural revolution? How does the party lead this?
JMS: The proletariat, through its party, is the leading force in the cultural revolution because it is the class that is the most progressive productive and political force and that has the ideological, political and organizational ability to bring about the defeat of US imperialism and local reaction and the victory of the new democratic revolution and the further advance to socialist revolution.
- What is the role of revolutionary intellectuals?
JMS: The revolutionary intellectuals with the the proletarian class stand, viewpoint and method play a decisive role in the revolution because they understand the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, they can do theoretical work and they apply it in policy-making and implementation.
These proletarian revolutionary intellectuals may originate from nonproletarian classes like Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao who took sides with the proletariat and remolded themselves. But there are always a far greater number of proletarian revolutionary intellectuals from the proletariat and other toiling classes who succeed at raising their intellectual level through diligent study and practice.
- Why is it important to have a united front in the cultural revolution?
JMS: It is important to have a united front in the cultural revolution because it is the way to accelerate the expansion and advance of the cultural revolution. The cultural cadres of the Party can develop cultural workers among the workers and peasants and win over the cultural activists belonging to the intelligentsia and to major cultural institutions in order to isolate, weaken and defeat the dominant semicolonial and semifeudal culture.
- What is the role of the following in the cultural revolution?
b. Mass media
c. Health workers
JMS: a. The teachers can be recruited as Party members in their schools, they can propagate openly the national, scientific and mass culture and promote the discreet study of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. They can stay in the revolutionary bases to do cultural work on a temporary or permanent basis.
b. The proletarian revolutionary journalists in the revolutionary, alternative or corporate media play an important role in gathering, analyzing and disseminating the facts that concern the national and democratic rights and interests of the people in order to guide decision-making by the revolutionary force and inspire the people to act accordingly.
c. The proletarian revolutionary health workers are always urgently needed, especially during pandemics, to take care of the health of the people who are deprived of health and other social services by the reactionary government. This government allows the superprofit-taking by foreign companies, bureaucrat corruption and military overspending and emigration of health professions, instead of looking after the health of the people.
- Why is free and universal health care the goal of the people’s democratic revolution? How can this be assured?
JMS: Free and universal health care is the goal of the people’s democratic revolution because it is a basic human right and is feasible.
It can be assured if the means of production are owned by the people and the social wealth that they create is not appropriated by a few private owners of the means of production. The increase of social wealth should expand production for the social needs of the people, eliminate poverty and unemployment, raise the income and living standard of the working people, expand the educational, health and other social services and provide for adequate administration and defense.###