By Irina Malenko
March 28, 2021
Dear Ka Joma, dear Ka Julie, dear comrades,
Thank you so much for your invitation and for this great honour, to review Prof. Sison’s new (and likely most voluminous) book, “Upsurge of People’s Resistance in the Philippines and the World”. It contains all his works completed under the conditions of COVID-19 lockdown. While so many people around the world are suffering from depression caused by such harsh conditions, Prof. Sison has shown us a great example how we, as communists, should avail of this time as of opportunity for working even harder towards our socialist goals. His fighting spirit, his commitment, perseverance and dedication are a true inspiration for all of us during these challenging times.
In fact, few of articles and statements included into this book were already familiar to me, because I had the honour to translate them into Russian language in 2020 and to introduce them to the Russian-reading audiences in Eastern Europe where these works were met with great interest of our comrades who are fighting for the restoration of socialism. They were so impressed with these works and their validity for our mutual international struggle that our comrades in Russia and the Ukraine have asked Professor Sison to become Editor Emeritus of our international theoretical Marxist magazine, “Marxism i Sovremennost” (“Marxism In Modern Times”). Here I can mention such works as “Imperialism in Food and Agriculture and the Emergence of Deadly Pathogens”, “Lenin at 150: Lenin Lives” and several others.
But most of this book’s contents were indeed new for me. The publication of this book is undoubtedly a great event of deep significance for the world’s Marxist Leninist Maoist parties and activists, for all the progressive anti-imperialist forces. This significance and importance has several various aspects.
In the first place, this book provides excellent analysis of the current situation in the world, of the continuous and deepening capitalist crisis, of deepening and sharpening of all the capitalist contradictions and of the possibilities that this situation creates for our struggle for social justice, true democracy, for workers and peoples rights and for our mutual socialist future.
There is an expression in English that is claimed to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times”. You all probably know this ironic expression.
We live indeed “in interesting times” – times of the extremes, of seemingly sheer madness and of what sometimes seems as absurd events. It is important not to become feeling overwhelmed by them, but to subject this environment to a meticulous and calm Marxist analysis. And this is exactly what Prof. Sison is doing in this book. He correctly identifies our time as the period “of the transition to a new era of unprecedented anti-imperialist resistance by the peoples of the world and the resurgence of the world proletarian revolution”. And his analysis and conclusions allow us to see these “interesting times” not just as dark, reactionary times of great upheavals, trials and tribulations, but also as times of great opportunities for enhancing and widening of our struggle and for its ultimate success.
Those of us who have lived through the tragedy of destruction of socialist achievements and of a temporarily triumph of capitalist resurrection in the late 1980s-1990s are in fact, very happy and upbeat to realize that we are now definitely in transition to a great resurgence of anti-imperialist struggles and the world proletarian revolution! Finally! I remember that in my teens, although USSR where I lived, was formally still socialist, many things didn’t feel right. I was too young and my knowledge of Marxism was too limited at that time, to realize that we were living in a declining society ruined by years of opportunists in power. But I instinctively felt this, and my biggest dream was to fight for the socialist future of the mankind. Now I’m in my 50s, and this time has surely come!
While reading the book, I couldn’t help but marking for myself which articles and other works I’d like to translate into Russian language as soon as possible, so that as many of our Russian reading comrades as possible will also realize all the opportunities but also the great responsibility that the demands of this time are providing us with and are putting upon our shoulders. For instance, I’d like to translate “In Transition to the Resurgence of the World Proletarian Revolution”, “An Update on the International Situation” , “On the International Situation, Covid-19 Pandemic and the People’s Response” and several other works.
Prof. Sison excellently exposes the failings and the crimes of capitalism in its dealings with COVID pandemic. As he rightly pointed out, “As a result of the pandemic, the vile character and failings of the world capitalist system are exposed “. We are witnessing these failings every day, and unfortunately many of us, our friends and our loved ones have become victims of these crimes. In my family and friends circle, 3 people have passed away as a result of failings of the capitalist medical system. While in Soviet Union there was a special dedicated system of specialized infection diseases’ hospitals that coped with such situations brilliantly, in capitalist Russia this system was virtually abolished as many beds there were vacant while there were no infection outbreaks, and capitalist government declared it to be “inefficient”. Now the Russian people are paying the deadly price for this “capitalist efficiency”. And the same situation we also see in other countries – just to give you an example, in Curacao where some of my relatives reside, for 160.000 inhabitants there are just 17 intensive care beds with ventilators! As Prof. Sison rightly points out, “Repressive measures are easily adopted but the requirements for medical testing and treatment and providing cash and other forms of economic relief for those deprived of livelihood are grossly lacking.”. The ruling classes are demonstrating astonishing depths of greed and corruption throughout this pandemic. In fact, using Prof. Sison’s words, they are “enjoying the Protraction of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Duterte made it indubitably clear that he could not reopen the economy soon to pre-COVID-19 levels because the supposed gains he had made against the pandemic would be quickly wasted. He admitted the continuing rise of infections but not his own culpability for spreading the pandemic, lack of plan, incompetence, and obsession with using the pandemic to grab more power and more public funds and in the process deprive the people of medical testing, treatment and economic assistance. He has taken advantage of the pandemic to grab emergency power, enact the law of state terrorism, curtail press freedom and rechannel hundreds of billions of pesos of public funds to private accounts”. This is exactly the same what we are witnessing in other capitalist countries, including the main imperialist ones.
Of course, also of great importance are Prof. Sison’s works on Marxist theory, his scientific development of Marxist theory under the current conditions of our time and the educational value of his works and his participation in webinars for the young communists around the world. Here I’d like to mention such works as “A Comment on Dialectical Materialism, Idealism and Mechanical Materialism”, “General View of Lenin’s Theory on Modern Imperialism as Indispensable Integral Part of his Revolutionary Legacy”, “Some Questions on Dialectical Materialism”, On Dialectical Materialism”, “On Historical Materialism”, “On Scientific Socialism”, “On the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State- Q&A in the Engels Series”? “Discussion on Anti-Dühring by Friedrich Engels”, Discussion on Political Economy: Part III of Anti-Dühring By Friedrich Engels”, “On Socialism: Part III of Anti-Dühring by Friedrich Engels”, “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific”.
In particular I’d like to mention Prof. Sison’s analysis of comrade Mao’s works, such as “On Practice and On Contradiction In First Episode of Mao Series” and “On the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”. The reason is that in Eastern Europe, in Russia in particular, there is still a lot of prejudges towards Maoism and comrade’s Mao theoretical legacy, stemming from Khrushchev’s times and, frankly, almost complete lack of knowledge of Mao’s works. Many our communists are still suffering from this, and I hope that Prof. Sison’s works will encourage them to read comrade Mao’s books and to properly study his legacy in order to make a proper, informed judgement on Maoist revolutionary theory.
As for the educational input, I think it is very important that prof. Sison finds time and opportunity to give lectures to young comrades on such topics as “On the Land Problem, Peasant Class and Agrarian Revolution in Special Course on the Peasant Movement” and “Special Mass Course on the Youth Movement”.
Finally, this book allows comrades in various countries to gain deeper knowledge and insight into the heroic struggle of the Filipino people and of the current conditions they are facing. We can rarely if at all find such information in the mainstream capitalist media in our respective countries! Here I’d like to mention such works as “On the Current Character of the Philippine Economy”, On the Current Character of Philippine Society”, “The Anti-Terrorism Act in the Philippines in Relation to The CPP and The Revolutionary Movement”, “Semifeudalism in the Philippines – The semifeudal mode of production in the Philippines in the light of international and national developments in the past three decades”, “Cultural Imperialism in the Philippines”, The Filipino People Must Rely on Themselves In the Struggle for National and Social Liberation” and others. Getting to know more about this struggle helps us to deeper appreciate the role of our Filipino comrades as those who have persevered throughout the darkest days and who continue to persevere as a true torch bearer of struggle for socialism. Having witnessed collapse of some armed struggle movements caused by its leadership’s opportunism (Ireland as an example), we can all learn so much from our Filipino comrades, from their staunch perseverance.
Reading this excellent and very timely book brought up in my mind not just many memories, but also many parallels between the conditions of the current crisis and the ways of the struggle of our respective comrades in various countries, as well as between the treacherous nature and repulsive repressive actions of the imperialist forces and the comprador bourgeoisie around the globe. For instance, reading about Duterte’s continuous roaming between the US and China reminded me instantly of the ruling clique in the Russian Federation: just this week, Russian FM Lavrov during his visit to China was complaining to his Chinese counterpart that the relations between RF and Western European countries “became virtually non-existent” because the latter “have ripped them into smithereens” and assuring him that the relations between RF and China are a top priority for the Russian diplomats. Western countries are continuously imposing new sanctions on RF, as you all probably know. Yet, just after Lavrov’s return to Moscow Russian space agency launched… 36 (!) British communication satellites into space (it might well include their use for military purposes and thus unfriendly to PRC). Moreover, this year Russian space agency is planning 8-10 more such launches of British satellites, while Britain continues its harshest anti Russian and anti Chinese policies!
The last part of the book contains Messages and Letters. Two of them caught my special attention, “In Honor of Ka Fidel Agcaoili: A Great Filipino Patriot and Communist Fighter” and “Highest Respects to Comrade Nina Alexandrovna Andreeva and Profound Condolences to Her Family and the Bolshevik Party”, – because I knew both these comrades personally and I fully share Ka Joma’s deep feelings and thoughts about them… You know, I have a habit: when any of my comrades pass away, I can never delete their email addresses or phone numbers… And every time when I use my mail or my phone and come across their names there, it makes me feel that they are still with us and gives me a boost of energy to continue this work for our mutual cause.
I could say a lot more about the broad scope of subjects and issues raised by the respected author of this book, but my time is, of course, limited. All I can add here, is that the list of Prof. Sison’s works on my planned translations’ list is constantly growing! Perhaps, Ka Joma and Ka Julie, you could help me to make a good selection for the Russian edition of your most important works? That would be really great.
I would like to finish my review with the words from this book that became ingrained in my memory after reading it: “Oppressors tell people to bow their heads. Now they are raising their fists!” This is precisely what we are witnessing today, all around the planet!
Capitalism leaves us with no choice, but to raise our fists!
Thank you for your attention.