ON PROLETARIAN STAND AND OUTLOOK
Episode 2 of Introduction to Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought under the auspices of the ND Online School of Anakbayan-Europa
Questions by Anghelo Godino
Answers by Jose Maria Sison
January 17, 2021
- Why is studying Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought (MLMZT) a basic task of a Communist?
JMS: At the outset, let me state that the Communist Party of the Philippines originally used the phrase Mao Zedong Thought like the Chinese Communist Party to signify all the major contributions of the great Mao to the development of Marxist-Leninist philosophy, political economy and social science and his own signal contributions such as the rectification movement in Party building, protracted people’s war and the theory and practice of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. For the purpose of symmetry, the CPP has used the word Maoism to align it with Marxism and Leninism.
It is the basic task of a communist as proletarian revolutionary to study Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as the universal theory of the revolutionary proletariat. Marxism is the stage when Marx and Engels laid the fundamental principles of the theory in the era of free competititon capitalism. Leninism is the stage when Lenin developed Marxism in the era of modern imperialism and the world proletarian revolution. Mao Zedong Thought or Maoism is the stage when Mao put forward the theory and practice of continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship through cultural revolution in order to combat modern revisionism, prevent capitalist restoration and consolidate socialism.
Every communist must understand the three stages of development of the universal theory of proletarian revolution: Marxism, Leninism and Maoism; and learn the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in materialist philosophy, political economy, social science, party building, strategy and tactics and opposing revisionism in socialist society. Such basic principles ought to be learned soonest by Party members after comprehending the Constitution and Program of the Party. For the purpose, I wrote the Basic Principles of Marxism-Leninism in 1981 in which I described Mao Zedong Thought as the third stage in the development of Marxism as I had done since 1966.
- Why is MLM only truly upheld by applying this universal theory to the concrete practice of Philippine revolution?
JMS: This universal theory has been developed on the basis of previous studies of nature and society, various forms of societies and the transformations of one form of society to another. It shows the similarities and differences of the international and Philippine history and situation and the impact of such world phenomena as colonialism, imperialism and neocolonialism on Philippine history and situation. It has therefore significance and relevance to the semicolonial and semifeudal Philippine society and can be applied in the concrete study and analysis of concrete conditions of Philippine society and also upon the concrete practice of the Philippine revolution.
Such basic problems of the Filipino people as imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism are interrelated and interconnected with the history and development of capitalism on a world scale. Spanish colonialism came to the Philippines to impose colonial and feudal rule in connection with mercantile capitalism. US imperialism came on the crest of monopoly capitalism. It is necessary to relate world history with Philippine history and concrete conditions with the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as the universal theory of proletarian revolution.
- How do Communists develop the correct stand and outlook in studying MLM?
JMS: Communists must consciously take the proletarian stand and outlook in studying Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. They must accept that the industrial proletariat is now the most progressive productive and political force that can lead the Filipino people to victory in the new democratic revolution and to advance further in socialist revolution.
They develop the correct proletarian and stand by studying MLM because this provides the most comprehensive and most profound integration of the most advanced scientific knowledge and practice in the service of the proletariat and the proletarian revolutiopn. MLM integrates philosophy, political economy, social science, party building, the strategy and tactics and the proletarian cultural revolution against the bourgeoisie.
- What is revisionism and opportunism? Why do we have to oppose them resolutely?
JMS: Revisionism involves the systematic departure from and violation of the fundamental principles of MLM. It misrepresents bourgeois ideas as proletarian and socialist ideas. It is the adoption of the bourgeois class stand against the proletarian class stand. The classical revisionism of the social democrats in the Second International involved socialist phrase-mongering to dress up petty bourgeois liberalism. Modern revisionism, which started in the Soviet Union, involved the abandonment of the proletarian class stand in favor of the bourgeois stand by Party and state bureaucrats and intelligentsia.
Opportunism has essentially the same meaning as revisionism but has the nuance of being of a less systematic and less blatant kind of violating the fundamental principles of MLM. A Right opportunist professes to be a communist but he adopts a line of capitulating to the bourgeoisie. A “Left” opportunist thinks that he is more communist than others and adopts the language of ultra-Leftism and the line of acting in the extreme, isolating the communist party and bringing about disaster to the revolutionary process. Opportunism of the Right or “Left” sort is often cited as political error within the Communist Pary in the reckoning of ideological, political and organizational errors.
- Why does the duty of Communists to uphold Marxism and combat revisionism not cease for as long as there are classes and class struggle?
JMS: It is the duty of communists to uphold Marxism and combat revisionism so long as classes and class struggle do not cease. In the Second International, revisionism arose when Bernstein systematically promoted the line that capitalism could peacefully evolve into socialism and thereafter when Kautsky made the socialist parties support the war budgets and aggressive actions of bourgeois states in the name of social chauvinism and social pacifism.
In socialist society, the ground for revisionism was laid when Stalin made the mistake of prematurely declaring the end of classes and class struggle in 1935. This tended to obfuscate the persistent old ideas, culture customs and habits of the vestigial members and representatives of the exploiting classes as well as unhealthy petty bourgeos and bourgeois currents among the bureaucrats and intelligentsia who wish to enlarge their privileges against the class interests of the proletariat and other working people.
- What is the meaning of total and complete service to the people?
JMS: Total and complete service of communists to the people means being ready to sacrifice one’s life, being tortured and imprisoned and killed in the course of the revolutionary struggle. Under conditions of armed revolutionary struggle or otherwise, communists do not expect and are not promised by the Party any compensation other than what is reasonably set and honestly earned. To wage and advance the struggle, every cent is well-spent and accounted for.
Chasing after high positions, fame or fortune is frowned upon among communists. Recognition, honors and promotions are decided on the basis of merit and bestowed by collective organs and assemblies in order to inspire comrades and the people. The highest honors are accorded to the revolutionary martyrs and heroes. Outstanding thinkers and leaders are recognized on the basis of their works.
- What is the meaning of boundlessly valuing one’s task?
JMS: Whatever your task is, whether small or big at a given time, you must perform it seriously because it is interrelated and interconnected with the tasks of other communist party members. If you fail to do your assigned task, you can prejudice or foul up the collective effort of all party members.
You can prejudice even the life of your entire collective, if you sleep while on guard duty and you fail to sound off the alarm when the enemy is approaching or creeping on the position of your camp. You must be vigilant and diligent for the love of your comrades and the people.
- What is the correct outlook of a Communist towards hardship, sacrifice, difficulty and death?
JMS: The correct outlook of a Communist towards hardship, sacrifice, difficulty and death is to understand that they arise as the price for making advances and achieving victories against an enemy that can still cause or inflict these and to adopt all measures of being vigilant, being more effective and avoiding unnecessary sacrifices.
Even when communists win victories, there can be certain costs in the course of fighting or as a result of certain errors. In any case, communists must honor and be inspired by the revolutionary martyrs and heroes. They must be encouraged to fight even harder and more effectively when sacrifices occur. Errors must be corrected promptly through criticism and self-criticism and adoption of the correct measures.
- What is the mass line, and the correct basic attitude towards the masses?
JMS: The mass line is to learn from the masses their conditions, needs, demands and aspirations through social investigation and class analysis. Thus, we know how to arouse, organize and mobilize the masses more effectively than ever before in accordance with the general line and program of the party.
What we can learn from the masses can improve our work and style of work and further enrich and substantiate the existing program and the party’s stock of knowledge in order to advance revolutionary practice. Revolution is a mass undertaking. It is impossible without the masses rising up and overthrowing the enemy state.
- Why must a Communist become better in uniting with the broad majority of cadres and members of the Party?
JMS: A Communist becomes better in uniting with the broad majority of cadres and members of the Party because it is the democratic thing to do and because it is the way to strengthen the entire Party and the entire revolutionary movement. If a party member of whatever rank acts in a selfish or arrogant way, timely comradely advice and criticism must be made in order to preserve and strengthen unity. Criticisms and proposals must be motivated by a desire for unity and must result in a higher level of unity and strength.
- Why is it only on the basis of MLM that it is possible to forge a genuine and steady unity of proletarian revolutionaries?
JMS: MLM is the only basis existent to forge a genuine and steady unity of proletarian revolutionaries because it is the most comprehensive and profound source of knowledge and guidance for carrying out the people’s democratic revolution with a socialist perspective. By availing of this theory, it is possible to make new contributions to enrich it and further develop it. There is a wave-like advance in the dialectical relationship of theory and practice, as Mao demonstrated in his theory of knowledge and practice.
- What is the correct attitude towards comrades who have an outlook different from ours, those who are relatively backward, or if not, those who have erred?
JMS: The correct attitude is to cure the patient who is sick and help him become a healthy and stronger part of the party and the revolutionary movement. It is a matter of comradely sharing of knowledge and persuasive reasoning to overcome any backward attitude and to correct wrong ideas and actions or any shortcoming. It is the task of more advanced members to educate further those who are relatively backward. Errors and and shortcomings can be criticized in a timely manner on the spot and these can also be taken up in timely and periodic sessions of criticism and self-criticism.
- Why is active ideological struggle most important? What is liberalism and what harm does it bring the Party and the revolution? How do we combat it?
JMS: Active ideological struggle is important because it is the way to raise the level of revolutionary consciousness and militancy of party members and the entire party. It must always be characterized by comradely discussion, persuasive reasoning and avoidance of the bureaucratic and bullying style. A stern attitude and stern measures may be adopted only in relation to serious errors that have resulted in serious damage. A full rectification campaign or movement is needed if certain errors have resulted in serious damage on a wide scale for a considerable period of time.
In a previous episode, we discussed Comrade Mao’s “Combat Liberalism”. He pointed out as many as eleven examples of liberalism. These are generally characterized by individualism, selfishness and disregard for collective interest. Sometimes, we do not criticize a friend or someone in a higher position for fear of earning his personal ire. A criticism is well-done when it is fact-based and the constructive proposal is made to correct it. Someone properly criticized can appreciate the criticism if correctly done. In the first place, a good communist must criticize himself upon recognition of his own error for the purpose of instructing or educating others.
- What is subjectivism? What harm does it bring the Party and the revolution? How do we combat this?
JMS: Subjectivism means depending only on one’s fixed ideas or narrow personal experience. It is dogmatism when one depends on one’s fixed ideas and denies or obfuscates objective reality and social practice. It is empiricism when one depends on one’s own sense-data and personal experience and denies or fails to take into account the social practice and knowledge of collectives and other people. Subjectivism in the form of either dogmatism or empiricism is often cited as a major ideological error within the Communist Party in the reckoning of ideological, political and organizational errors.
- Why is the Communist an internationalist?
JMS: The Communist is an internationalist because he is for the unity of the workers of all countries in order to ultimately defeat the bourgeoisie completely on a world scale and realize communism as a classless society. Communism is impossible so long as imperialism continues to exist and has the strength to oppose socialism. The Communist is for the people’s democratic revolutions and socialist countries to arise, develop and win victories in various countries until imperialism is finally defeated, the proletarian class dictatorship can wither away and communism is realized as a classless society.
- What is the outlook of a Communist towards nationalism?
JMS: The Communist outlook and view on nationalism is that it is a bourgeois political ideology reflective of the phenomenon of nation-states that have arisen as a result of bourgeois-democratic revolutions. At the same time, Communists and socialist states recognize the principles of people’s national sovereignty and independence of nation-states against colonialism, imperialism and neocolonialism.
Bourgeois nationalism goes astray when it is used to oppose and attack communist parties and proletarian internationalism and to generate chauvinism, xenophobia and fascism. Socialist states cannot wither away so long as imperialism, revisionism and reaction persist. It is their duty to strengthen the proletarian class dictatorship until all the anti-democratic, anti-socialist and anti-communist forces are defeated and the classless communist society become realizable.