QUESTION EVERYTHING / The problem with Jose Maria Sison

Photo by JonB

Introduction to the book “Strengthen the People’s Struggle against Imperialism and Reaction” read last February 8, 2019 at UP Diliman, Solair

Mong Palatino is a Filipino activist and former legislator

By Mong Palatino |
14 February 2019

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that he has set a high standard on how to analyze the political conditions in the country. After reading his works, his comprehensive and sharp grasp of politics will be impressed upon you. As activists, we read and evaluate what many people, including what we call intellectuals and political analysts, say. Many of them can weave events intelligently, armed with diverse data, and advance interesting discourses. But the message seems lacking, it does not directly hit the totality nor emphasize what is to be done. In other words, unlike how Jose Maria Sison through his writings, breaks the dominant narrative and as importantly offers the progressive alternative.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that he shows it is possible to be a theorist without being complicated. Some critics say that Jose Maria Sison’s formulations are simplistic. Perhaps simple, yes; but simplistic, no. The pull of his thinking is deep and the view he puts forward are based on theory. But his articulation of points is easily understood even by ordinary readers who are not familiar with the language of the academe. Thus, we can say that his method is effective. It is now fashionable to let go of needless things or what is called decluttering which was made trendy by one called #KonMari. But it is not #KonMari but the example of #Jose Mari which can be our guide. That in writing we should discard too much flowery words and avoid analyses that create confusion instead of clarifying the issues. We write to arouse, organize and mobilize.  #KonMari says spark joy. #JoseMari says, spark a revolution.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that his teaching is consistent since 1960s to the present. According to his critics, the writings of Jose Maria Sison are repetitive. True, the flow of his fundamental arguments does not change. But the essence of things does not change. Our situation then holds true in the present. Even some scholars just added garnishing to their writings and incorporated postmodern views but the content is just hot air. It is easy for Jose Maria Sison to do what politicians and other apologists of the system do who constantly change and waver on their understanding of events in the country; but if the books of Jose Maria Sison are the basis, he chose to focus on the truth and divulge the rottenness of the system. It is also not true that his writings are repetitive. His arguments are anchored on particular and concrete situation, on the revolving and turning of situations, on the possibility of acceleration or remolding of the people struggling. He continues to condemn the imperialism he analyzed during 1960s but is focused on the particular political objective which is different then and now. Perhaps in the past, the analysis of imperialism was in the framework of how to serve the rectification campaign; today, it is on how to further strengthen the mass movement and create resurgence.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that his voice and intervention are being sought as a counter to the attacks of Rodrigo Duterte. Aside from Duterte being his former student, his blows are thrashings and are effective antidote to the poison spread by the president and Malacanang (presidential palace). Therefore, he is able to expose the posturing and lies of the regime. He easily connects the current crisis to the widespread scandals and how these should be challenged by the movement for liberation.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is he clarified the correctness of the struggle even in times when there was no open threat of a dictatorship in the country. Duterte had no pretension that he is a dictator, pro-Marcos and a criminal. But his predecessor pretended to be democratic and respectful of human rights. Is the national democratic line of struggle still reasonable in times when there is supposedly space for progressive forces in molding democracy in the country?

In this book which contains the articles he wrote in 2014 and 2015, Jose Maria Sison referred to the continuing existence of a system that is anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-poor. As chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, Jose Maria Sison studied the relation of countries, the contradictions in a capitalist system, and the effect on the country’s politics.  That is why it is a good guide to further understand the events today in Venezuela, the pivot to Asia of the United States, the rise of China as a superpower, the peace process, a summary of the history of the country’s protracted struggle, and other manifestation of the economic crisis.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that now more than ever his works are weapons of the people against reaction and a guide to the continuing revolution in the country.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that he will continue to be hated by the ruling class. And this book, together with the other books being launched today, is a testimony to why to date and even at the age of 80, he continues to be a pillar and an essential voice of the revolution in the Philippines.

Categorized as Books