PRISM editors are posting below the full text of a response by Petra P. Enduco to the controversial lecture on 26 August 2020 by Trotskyite academic Joseph Scalice on the supposed role of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its founding chairman, Jose Maria Sison, in the fascist rule of the Rodrigo Duterte regime. We will post other reactions on Scalice’s lecture and his other Trotskyite writings and pronounements on the basis of Marxism and from nationalist-democratic viewpoints as well, as these become available to us.
COMMENTS ON SCALICE’S SPEECH
By Petra P. Enduco
6 September 2020
1. SCALICE SAYS: In the process, I discovered that I could not begin with the founding of the CPP, but had to go earlier, examining in detail why it split from the PKP, and the role played by its earliest members prior to the split. At the same time, I discovered that I could not possibly continue my writing up to the present. There was far too much ground to cover. Thus, in the end, my scholarship became about how there were two Communist Parties, who were antithetical to each other, and how both had a role to play in the imposition of martial law in 1972.
The written record is diverse: it is leaflets, it is fliers, pamphlets, manifestos and newsletters. Many of these are one-sheet ephemera, which were produced by various organizations in the broad milieu known as the National Democratic movement. I digitized nearly 10,000 pages from various archives, attempted, through painstaking work, to reconstruct what day each document was written, and then to situate it into a broader narrative, which I reconstructed on the basis of reading the contemporary newspaper record. I read through every issue of eight different daily papers over the course of six to seven years, as well as the newsweeklies. This is why my research took so long to complete.
COMMENT: It appears Scalice is grossly unfamiliar with the anti-revisionist literature of the young CPP, as he doesn’t cite books as part of “the written record”. Specifically, he doesn’t cite Amado Guerrero’s major works Omnibus Reply and Pomeroy’s Portrait: Revisionist Renegade. Come to think of it, “Rectify Errors and Rebuild the Party”, the main rectification document of the newly reestablished CPP, is itself a masterful critique of Lavaite revisionism and subjectivism.
2. SCALICE SAYS: We do know, however, that there is a broad mass movement in the Philippines, which is organized into a number of groups, the majority of which share a common political perspective and orientation. I am not alleging that these organizations are secretly controlled by the Communist Party. I am not red-tagging them. I am claiming, rather, that they share with the party a common political line. I will examine the nature of that political line in considerable detail, but, in the final analysis, it consists of a quest to locate the progressive section of the national bourgeoisie and ally with it.
THEN TOWARDS THE END, HE SAYS: Those who are interested in defending human rights need to look elsewhere. This is not that I don’t defend the human rights of the CPP and its front organizations. I read an explicit defense of them against the violence of the state at the beginning of this lecture. My point is otherwise. If you are interested in defending democracy, preventing the rise of dictatorship and defending human rights, these are not the social forces that you should be looking to.
COMMENT: Scalice is doing service to the Duterte regime and the AFP by employing wordplay: transforming his phrase “the CPP and its allied groupings” in the first part of his speech, even here denying he is saying that “these organizations are secretly controlled by the Communist Party” but later endorses Duterte’s red-tagging by employing the Philippine military’s exact terminology of “the CPP and its front organizations” at his speech’s conclusion!
3. SCALICE SAYS: The response of the National Democratic movement was not opposition. Luz Ilagan, a congresswoman with Gabriela, part of the National Democratic movement, in a statement published in the Manila Times in 2009 appraised the mayoral role of Duterte thus: “The Mayor deserves our support. Those from outside the city cannot appreciate what the Mayor has done to maintain the order that we enjoy. Duterte’s brand of leadership has kept us safe and secure.”
COMMENT: A single widely-published statement by a single leader affiliated with BAYAN does not constitute a “response of the National Democratic movement was not opposition”. Clearly evident in Ilagan’s lifted quote was a personal opinion persuading others to consider it.
4. SCALICE SAYS: (1) In January 2015, Duterte staged a press conference, in front of a hammer and sickle flag that was hoisted for him by the CPP-NPA, and announced that if he were elected, he would abolish Congress, privatize government assets, including social security, and form a coalition government with the CPP. He promised that Joma Sison would be made head of the newly privatized social welfare bureau. Sison, the founder of the Communist Party, responded on Facebook, “Mayor Duterte should become president.”
(2) In July 2015, there was a wake staged for one of the leaders of the armed wing of the CPP, the New People’s Army, a man named Leoncio Pitao, known as Ka Parago. The wake was staged in Davao. There were no attempts to hide the event, there were no concerns over security. The CPP bused in an immense crowd to honor this “revolutionary leader.” The stage carried the banners of the party, “Long live the United Front! Long live the Communist Party of the Philippines!” In the center of the stage are the images of the hammer and sickle and of the armalite. Doubtless they sang the Internationale, and then the party brought Rodrigo Duterte forward as their guest speaker. The head of death squads, who had publicly proclaimed a month earlier that he would oversee the murder 100,000 people, was given the stage by the Communist Party to honor one of their leaders.
COMMENT: Scalice uses these incidents to dispute Sisonʼs consistent assertion that the CPP did not enter into an alliance with Duterte. Even if it was true that Joma issued such a statement, it obviously cannot be construed as outright support at all. Besides, these incidents were in January and July 2015, at least seven months before the official start of the 2016 electoral campaign! Scalice obviously employs conflating and putting erroneous ideas one on top of another to bolster his actual point here that “the CPP is lying; it actually supported Duterte”.
5. SCALICE SAYS: Sison delivered a particularly vile speech on June 10, 2016, in an address to assembled youth leaders drawn from a wide range of organizations. He claimed, “While Mayor of Davao City, Duterte has recognized and appreciated the role of women in public life, has created facilities for women and children in need, and has demonstrated his abhorrence of violence to women.” This is a staggering lie. Xxx Duterte is notorious for making rape “jokes;” jokes along the line of, having visited men who carried out rape, accosting them for not letting him go first. He wolf-whistles female reporters during his press conferences. When the CPP finally had a falling out with Duterte, he made a speech in which he called upon the military to attack female members of the CPP by shooting them in the vagina. This is not a man who has “demonstrated his abhorrence of violence against women.”
COMMENT: Scalice slyly splices two clearly historically contextualized points to falsely claim Joma’s consent to Duterte’s demonstration of “abhorrence of violence against women.” All the things described by Scalice in the 2nd quoted paragraph were well afterDuterte was completely exposed and condemned by Joma and BAYAN-affiliated forces for his utter misogyny and macho shit.
6. SCALICE SAYS: Now he didn’t answer this question, but he did propose what precisely would happen to the New People’s Army in the event of a coalition government with Duterte. “Revolutionary armed units can become guards of the environment and the industries under conditions of peace and development. Integration of armed forces is permissible.” … Sison was declaring that the armed wing of the party, including the idealistic and self-sacrificing youth who have joined ranks, would be transformed into security guards in industry. Bear in mind that Sison is proposing this transition take place under national democracy, not socialism. These are private capitalist firms to which the NPA would be made security guards. He further argued that the cadre of the NPA could be integrated into the Armed Forces of the Philippines, a force that has been responsible for the suppression, brutal torture, and murder of the cadre of the party over the course of decades.
COMMENT: Scalice has maliciously distorted Joma’s projection of a possible arrangement under a coalition government (that “Revolutionary armed units can become guards of the environment and the industries”) to mean something else: that Joma is okay to “transform [the NPA] into security guards in industry”! So is this serious scholarship? Or a dishonest distortion of a particular talking point in a peace negotiation?
7. SCALICE SAYS: The party has a long and bloody history of “revolutionary justice” and “people’s courts.” In the 1980s, the party launched a series of internal purges targetting its own ranks, as they hunted out what they claimed were deep penetration military agents. On the basis of “witness” testimonies, extracted under torture, the CPP murdered nearly 1,000 of its own cadre.
COMMENT: While Scalice pronounces just a bit later, after he mentioned this paragraph, that “If you only take away one thing from of this talk it should be a passionate appeal for historical truth,” he commits this very same crime of shooting down historical truth by denying any mention of the 2nd Great Rectification Movement mounted by the CPP beginning in 1992 to dispel subjectivism and opportunism that had destroyed the CPP and misled the revolution.
8. SCALICE SAYS: The roots of our story begin with the founding of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP), an earlier Stalinist party. I will explain precisely what I mean by Stalinism in a moment. The PKP was founded in the 1930s, it established a large peasant wing, it oversaw a peasant rebellion, known as the Huk Rebellion, that fought against the Japanese occupation and subsequently against the newly independent state, and largely went underground in the 1950s. I cannot cover this history here.
COMMENT: In Scalice’s rush to get to his penchant anti-Stalinism, he betrays his own shallow scholarship by doing grossly distorted shorthand—by describing the established neocolonial puppet republic of the Philippines as a “newly independent state”!! And here lies a root of Scalice’s deceit: going along with U.S. imperialist deceit in its benevolence in granting independence to its colonies, but harshly condemning strategic or tactical—hey, ANY TYPE OF—alliance with the local national bourgeoisie!
9. SCALICE SAYS: Recto shaped the ideas of an entire social layer in the late 1950s and early 1960s with his speeches calling for “nationalist capitalism.” He was addressing a fundamental problem that confronted the Philippine economy, as it did the economies of countries of belated capitalist development around the world.
COMMENT: Scalice slips and gives away his pro-imperialist slant here by describing the U.S. exploitation of colonies and neocolonies as merely a matter of “belated capitalist development around the world”!
10. SCALICE SAYS: This was Recto’s fundamental concern—the development of Filipino capitalism. Measures were taken along these lines through the Filipino First policy of the Garcia administration. The privileges of American capital in the Philippines had been legally enshrined by Washington into the laws of its former colony. As a result, the targets of Filipino First were overwhelmingly the Chinese business community. They were scapegoated and their assets were stripped from them.
COMMENT: It smacks of subjectivist historical scholarship to emphasize during Garcia’s presidency that it attacked the Chinese business community, but fiercely refuse to mention the first serious threat of a coup d’etat by a eminently U.S.-trained military establishment against an incumbent postwar presidency.
11. SCALICE FIRST QUOTES SISON: “To tilt the balance for the purpose of isolating the right wing composed of the enemies of progress and democracy, it is necessary therefore for the main and massive forces of the workers and peasants to unite with the intelligentsia, small property owners and independent handicraftsmen, win over the nationalist entrepreneurs and at least, neutralize the right middle forces. The resulting unity is what we call nationalist or anti-imperialist and anti-feudal unity.”
Then Scalice rephrases the quote: The fundamental task for workers and peasants, the overwhelming majority of the population, was not to fight for their own independent interests but to win over the “middle middle”—the nationalist bourgeoisie.
COMMENT: Scalice is embroiled in his own convoluted assertions at this point. How can he even dare say that winning over “the ‘middle middle’” for an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal unity is not fighting for the independent interests of the workers and peasants?
12. SCALICE SAYS: The claim of Recto, however, and in Sison’s early articulations it took the same form, was that if you improve Filipino capitalism you will improve the lot in life for everyone, including the working class. Let’s be honest, telling a worker, “support your boss, it will be good for you,” is not an effective slogan on which to build a mass movement.
COMMENT: Scalice is putting his words into the mouths of Joma’s and Recto’s. Neither ever wrote remotely akin to the idea that “if you improve Filipino capitalism you will improve the lot in life for everyone, including the working class.” Neither Joma nor Recto was into “improving Filipino capitalism”. They were into ejecting foreign monopoly capitalism!
13. SCALICE SAYS: Stalinism is first and foremost a political program. The historical record bears this out in spades. …Stalinism was a political program that articulated the interests of the ruling bureaucracies, first in Moscow and subsequently in Beijing. These social layers, of whom Stalin was the foremost representative, came to feel that their interests were best served not by promoting world socialist revolution but by the development of the national economy of the USSR. It was this national economy that funded and stabilized their privileges. In service to this end they put forward a political line that was fundamentally antithetical to all prior Marxism, something that Lenin had never dreamed of—socialism in one country. They argued that you could build socialism within the borders of a single country. … The idea of Marxism was that socialism had to be a step beyond capitalism and thus had to build on the highest achievements of capitalism and that among these achievements was creation of the world market. Socialism could thus only be achieved on a global scale. This was no longer a perspective being put forward by the leadership of the Soviet Union under Stalin. This was the programmatic core of Stalinism: socialism in one country.
COMMENT: Here, Scalice so earnestly betrays not only his shallow understanding of the historical significance of Stalin’s work—which we know all fascist and imperialist apologists brand as Stalinism. In the first place, the theory and practice of “building socialism in one country” was not originated by Stalin, but by Lenin. It is also false to claim that Marx set down Ten-Commandment style that “socialism could only be achieved on a global scale.” Scalice thus betrays here his intimate ideological affinity to Trotsky’s virulent and eventually anti-Marxist, if not outrightly counterrevolutionary, opposition to “building socialism in one country”.
14. SCALICE SAYS: The international interests of Stalinism, in service to the program of socialism in a single country, were above all to secure trade ties and diplomatic relations with capitalist powers. It needed markets for goods, a source of supplies for creating heavy industry, and stability on its borders. How could they secure such things, what weight could they bring to negotiations?
The success of the Russian Revolution and the heritage of Marxism, which the party claimed as its own, gave Stalin and the bureaucracy an immense political capital: the cadre of Communist Parties around the globe. They instructed these cadre to ally with a section of the capitalist class. In this way they could negotiate with the ruling class around the globe by bartering with the support of a mass movement. The Stalinists created the theoretical justification for supporting a section of the capitalist class by rehabilitating an old theory, originally put forward by an opponent of the Bolsheviks, the Mensheviks—the idea of a two-stage revolution.
COMMENT: Scalice is once again betraying his shallow scholarship and understanding of the basic idea of class struggle, by conflating and obfuscating three clearly distinct revolutionary concepts: (1) building socialism in one country; (2) tactics in engaging the enemy, in this case the international monopoly bourgeoisie, specially as fascism surged in the run-up to World War II; and (3) the two-stage revolution.
15. SCALICE SAYS (PARAPHRASING SISON/CPP): The tasks of the revolution were not yet socialist. It was first necessary to carry out national and democratic measures, and among these was land reform. These were immensely important tasks. The two-stage theory argued that it was impossible to attempt to carry out socialist measures until these national democratic tasks had been completed. The tasks were thus not yet socialist but capitalist in character, and as a result, the Stalinists argued that a section of the capitalist class would necessarily play a progressive role—these layers they referred to as “the progressive section of the national bourgeoisie.”
COMMENT: Scalice is just mouthing words but not understanding really and deeply what he is talking about. Securing the nation-state against imperialist plunder for the democratic empowerment of the toiling classes in the colonies and neocolonies is objectively a bourgeois-democratic demand. But the historical lesson of the 20th century is that the local national bourgeoisie cannot anymore take the lead in advancing this key bourgeois-democratic demand in the time of imperialism. The banner of leadership in advancing full bourgeois democracy in the oppressed countries has transferred already to the proletariat, so as not only to ensure the full accomplishment of this vital bourgeois-democratic measure, but that the socialist perspective is likewise assured and secured.
16. SCALICE SAYS: This then was the fundamental program of Stalinism: socialism in one country, a two-stage revolution and the bloc of four classes, which required an alliance with the capitalist class.
COMMENT: Again, Scalice proudly displays his utter ignorance here. The two-stage revolution was not Stalin’s idea, but Lenin’s! And he ignores the masterful elucidation on the matter of the national bourgeoisie in the oppressed countries by both Lenin and Mao (who, to be honest, cannot both be categorized as “Stalinists”).
17. SCALICE SAYS: Trotsky and the Left Opposition, which organized itself into the Fourth International, opposed this program and argued that in countries of belated capitalist development the capitalist class was fundamentally incapable of carrying out national and democratic measures.
COMMENT: Scalice insists on using the phrase “countries of belated capitalist development” to gloss over the utter national oppression being inflicted by imperialism on colonies and neocolonies!
18. SCALICE SAYS: In 1962, on returning from Indonesia, Sison was brought into a newly-formed, five-member executive committee of the PKP. Among the other members of the committee was the trade union leader, Ignacio Lacsina. Working through the confidential papers of the US embassy, I discovered that Lacsina was not only a member of the executive committee of the party but he was also a regular informant for a representative of the CIA housed at the US embassy. Lacsina met with his embassy handler regularly to inform him of developments within the party.
COMMENT: Scalice tries to impress his audience here with the discovery of a previously-unknown fact. What he inadvertently reveals is that he decks himself as an objective scholar of the Left but has the full trust of the C.I.A. ensconced in the U.S. embassy!
19. SCALICE SAYS: This was the logic they presented to the working class: Macapagal was carrying out reforms and the forces opposed to reform had banded together in the political rival of the LP, the Nacionalista Party. On this basis Sison and Lacsina merged the independent workers’ party with Macapagal’s LP.
COMMENT: The indisputable historical facts of this episode will bear out the utter lie, among others, of the statement that “Sison and Lacsina merged the independent workers’ party with Macapagal’s LP”. In the first place, it wrongly assumes that any decision by Lacsina for the Lapiang Manggagawa was automatically also a decision by Sison, or automatically supported by Sison. This is a typical Scalice trick of dressing up a victim in dirty villain’s clothes he found nearby so he could characterize the victim as a dirty villain. In the second place, it disregards the historical fact that the Lapiang Manggagawa was then undergoing a gradual change of political color and would soon be rejected as a reactionary yellow party by genuine trade unionists and proletarian revolutionaries alike. Scalice is not a conscientious historian but a shameless hack.
20. SCALICE SAYS: When Suharto oversaw the crushing of the PKI, murdering over a million Indonesian communists, workers and peasants, and took power, the Indonesian army had been operating, to a certain extent, with arms that had been sold to them by the Soviet Union.
COMMENT: Again, Scalice in this segment fiercely ignores the preeminent role of U.S. imperialism in the 1960s genocide in Indonesia.
21. SCALICE SAYS: In an attempt to diffuse the threat of US imperialism from its borders in 1965, Lin Biao put forward the line of “protracted people’s war”: armed guerilla movements throughout the countryside of the world. This was still in service to the program of support for the progressive section of the national bourgeoisie, but it was not to the ruling dictators. It was to, as I like to call them, the conspiring understudies in the drama of dictatorship: those forces in the Philippines like Ninoy Aquino, who sought to displace Marcos, but did not do so, in the end, in defense of democracy. They did so to ensure that they themselves would be in the position of power.
COMMENT: Scalice is grossly mistaken to imply here that somehow Ninoy Aquino represented the “progressive section of the national bourgeoisie”. Nothing in the literature of the national democratic movement describes him as such!
22. SCALICE SAYS: This was Sison’s response to martial law: it was good for revolution; workers would take up arms; capitalists would give the party money; the party would instruct the armed workers to defend the interests of the capitalists.
COMMENT: Only a scholar on the full pay of US imperialism can unrelentingly choose to distort this way Joma’s statements re martial law and the Marcos fascist dictatorship!
23. SCALICE SAYS: It is impossible to defend human rights, not simply within these organizations, but on the basis of their political line. The CPP and its allied organizations do not represent a force defending democracy. That is my historical summation.
COMMENT: Wow, Scalice still has the gall at this point to make brazenly laughable generalizations that “(t)he CPP and its allied organizations do not represent a force defending democracy” on the basis of their political line about the two-stage revolution and standpoint on the national bourgeoisie?? How profound!
24. TO THE QUESTION, “In light of the ongoing crisis and the fragmentation of the left, not just here in the Philippines but worldwide, can you provide a sketch on how to deal with the ongoing demise of the liberal state and the surge in populist tides, with both bearings from the left and the right?” THIS IS SCALICE’S REPLY: … I’m going to give you bullet points. The first is this: Duterte is a political type. He has his political siblings around the world: Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, political parties such as the AfD in Germany and so on. What we’re dealing with is a global problem. And so the first point for those who are concerned with the rise of authoritarianism is: this is not a national problem. Our solutions cannot be national solutions. This requires a global political perspective, a profound interaction between people around the globe, workers, scholars, etc., in defence of truth and in opposition to the rise of authoritarianism.
COMMENT: Scalice once again betrays his utter ignorance of basic class analysis by faltering in pointing out how the failures of so-called “liberal regimes” breed the rise of “authoritarianism”, the bourgeois-acceptable term for the word which must not be said by Scalice in this Q&A: namely, fascism by the big bourgeoisie. Even his “solution” is simplistic and mechanical, by pompously but vaguely calling for a “profound interaction between people around the globe, workers, scholars, etc.” while making a flat-out rejection of “national solutions.”
25. SCALICE FOLLOWS UP: Second, you spoke of the “fragmentation of the left.” I understand the concern, but my paramount concern is the fragmentation of the working class, the fragmentation of the social force that can put an end to the danger of dictatorship and can defend democracy. And the defense of democracy is fundamentally a question of the unity of the working class. And if my historical assessment of the history of the Philippines is correct, it’s a question of the independence of the working class, its own interests, not the interests of allying with this or that section of the capitalist class.
Now, that’s a very clear political conclusion that I’m drawing from this historical record. But in the end the fragmentation of the left, I think, is less a concern than the fragmentation of the working class along national lines.
COMMENT: Scalice plays ever loyal to his imperialist funder by being aloof to the “fragmentation of the left”, which in his “scholarly mind” could mean wiping out the revolutionary forces themselves.
He claims to be concerned on the fragmentation of the working class, but never says one word about the relentless attacks on worker’s unions in the age of neoliberalism! One would think that by fragmentation of the working class, he would also refer to the divisive influence of imperialist monopolies on blue-collar and white-collar workers, on industrial and service workers, on regular-unionized and temp workers, etc. But no, what he meant was the historically created “fragmentation of the working class along national lines”. For genuine Marxists-Leninists, the solution is for the working class of all countries to unite, both within each nation and in proletarian internationalism. But no, for Scalice, the “true solution” is to be found only in Trotskyism, which rejects national solutions and dreams only of one purely global workers’ revolution. That’s Trotskyite working-class solidarity for you!
26. TO THE QUESTION, “Based on the tenets of Marxism and Leninism, is Joma Sison a true blue communist? If yes, how come? If not, then why call their party the Communist Party of the Philippines when in fact he’s a Maoist? Is this not a case of misrepresentation?” SCALICE REPLIES: … Historically speaking, both. Is Joma Sison a communist in the sense of the Communist Manifesto or in the sense of the Communist Party that took power in October 1917? No, he is not. He does not bear that legacy. But it was the betrayal of Stalinism that allowed it to assume the mantle of this legacy and present itself as the continuation of Marxism. This betrayal allows him to be the leader of the Communist Party, purporting to be the continuator of Marxism. This in fact is his greatest political capital: that he can point to this history and say this is his. It is not. The history that is his is the history that I have outlined in my lecture. And so no, he does not represent the continuation of Marxism. But he does represent the continuation of Stalinism.
COMMENT: Clearly, Scalice is all agog in destroying “Stalinism” and pushing his own definition of “the legacy of Marxism,” which for him is Trotskyism. What he is really about is emasculating Marrxism and Leninism into an academic (and a dishonest Trotskyite academic at that) concern, away from the real fights against imperialism and fascism. This, while he idolizes Trotsky as the “co-leader of the Russian revolution” with Lenin, and while destroying and distorting the legacy of two revolutionary leaders (Mao and Stalin) who dealt the biggest blows to 20th-century fascism, and likewise doing the same to the finest fighters of Fascist Empire in the 21st century! #