The following is the text of an initial interview conducted by the National Democratic Online School with Jose Maria Sison, Emeritus Chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, on Marx’s popular pamphlet “Value, Price and Profit”. The interview was posted online and further discussed by Prof. Sison on 24 May 2020, as Episode 2 of the “Marx and Labour Serye [Series] with Tito Jo”. The Marx and Labour Series, organized by Anakbayan Europa, is conducted as an online event broadcast and recorded on Facebook Live. Click here to watch Episode 2.Read more
This is an interview with Jose Ma. Sison by Jerry D. Imbong, on Sison’s views about the Frankfurt School of social theory and the Critical Theory so-called. PRISM’s source of the original text is a post on Jose Ma. Sison’s Facebook page, dated 26 April 2020. (See the link to the FB post at the bottom of this page.)Read more
Jose Maria Sison posted this short philosophical commentary on his website on 13 April 2020. We are reposting it as part of PRISM’s special focus on questions of Marxist philosophy and current debates in the philosophical field, especially those that have major impacts on the broad anti-imperialist struggles and practical movements of the toiling masses.Read more
The editors of PRISM are posting this paper by Prof. Jose Ma. Sison about V.I. Lenin’s 150th birth anniversary, one week before the actual birthday of the great Marxist revolutionary thinker, leader and author. We offer it to all our readers as part of our contribution to the expected worldwide commemoration of his birth, life and work and historic legacy. Many socialist and anti-imperialist parties and groups are likewise marking that date with their own activities, which might be reduced in terms of physical scale because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic but certainly maintaining high levels of militance and confidence about the forward movement of the struggles of the proletariat and peoples throughout the world.Read more
On 9 April 2020, Prof. Joma Sison held a forum via Facebook Live to an online audience of nearly 300 people. Here he gave a concise summary of the current international situation replete with major earth-shaking events unfolding before our eyes, including the Covid-19 pandemic and what is shaping out as the beginnings of a new Great Recession equal to or even worse than the Great Depression of 1929 onwards to the 1930s. Sison explained that “the world capitalist system was already in trouble even before the Covid-19 pandemic arose. And the pandemic has unmasked and aggravated the crisis of global capitalism. It is of urgent importance to know how the people are affected and how they are responding.”
The full text of Sison’s paper follows. Please note links to Pages 2 and 3 at the bottom.Read more
PRISM editors are posting below the full text of a major response by Andy Belisario to the simmering debate on the “universality of people’s war”.Read more
By Antonio Tujan Jr.
Crosscurrents 30 |7 March 2019
That the US should warn the Duterte government to be wary over concluding treaties with China just shows that the world is no longer under a single hegemonic global power. Before, the US would not simply countenance a former colony of brown Americans to welcome the Chinese. Nor would it allow any president before Duterte to make overtures to everyone, most specially the communist regime of China.
The rise of China as the strongest economy overall puts the US at a disadvantage even though the dollar still reigns supreme as a global currency standard. It would be stupid for anyone, must less the government, not to recognize that opportunity to develop friendly relations along with the benefits of economic cooperation. Not to mention the geopolitics of the West Philippine Sea dispute.
Of course, we assume that the Duterte government is wary of the pros and cons in dealing with China, of its economic and geopolitical interests on the Philippines. But Trump is playing big brother politics to even warn the Philippines or the Duterte government as if the latter does not know its business. This warning smacks of US imperialism, on the decline, especially after China has overtaken it.
Russia has emerged from the ashes of the collapse of the Soviet Union and recovered its military might, still not as strong as that of the US but sufficient enough to challenge the US. Russian official claims that US and Russia nuclear parity has been broken with a new generation of Russian nuclear military technology. This lead Trump to break off its agreement on intermediate range missiles in Europe.
The parity in economic and military strength with emergence of China and Russia translates to the tremendous weakening of US political hegemony overall. This phenomenon has reported by many diplomatic quarters especially from intergovernmental organizations like the UN as early as 2015 when several agreements and treaties could no longer be concluded easily with objections from China and India and the realignments in the UN such as the emergence of G77+China.
IBON International has monitored developments over the decade and reported in its International Situation Briefings in 2013 the emergence of this new phenomenon. This has become known internationally in 2015 as the new multipolar world order – the US is no longer the sole global hegemon after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. US hegemonic power is starting to crumble in a multipolar world full of conflict.
Does this phenomenon mean the emergence of other hegemonic powers such as China and Russia? Not necessarily. There are several economic, political and military factors that can operate one way or the other to create new hegemons. Several aspects and factors than can decide this include investment, trade, conflicts, military build up, diplomacy and alliances, etc.
The US continues to use what is left of its political, economic and military strength and existing agreements to preserve what is left of the framework of its hegemonic power to prevent what can be a catastrophic collapse of the capitalist system. Its stranglehold on the international monetary system through the IMF and the worldwide currency peg to the dollar is under tremendous challenge whether from the strength of the yuan/Chinese economy or the euro transactions as pragmatic solutions to address unreasonable economic sanctions on several countries like Venezuela, Iran or North Korea under US political economic attack.
US unilateralism under Trump is politically, economically and diplomatically dangerous for the US. Trade wars with the European Union, China or Canada easily backfires when the US is on the defensive in the first place. These actions weaken the international neoliberal agenda and leaves the WTO and similar agreements severely frayed. These reflect the severe contradictions faced by monopoly capital in the face of a full decade of no growth since the collapse of 2008. Since 2011 when the world emerged from the worst depression since the 1930s, it still faces depressionary features of a stagnant world economy overall.
Behind the US-initiated trade wars is its intention to revive its flagging industry but China has long overtaken the US industrial development and high technology. The irony of it all is that China is so far ahead in the game that it produces and exports robots to run the new factories the US wants to build. (More in Part 2)##
By JOSE MARIA SISON
Communist Party of the Philippines
(Reestablished in 1968)
We joyously celebrate this year the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Third International or the Communist International (Comintern) by its First Congress in Moscow on 2-6 March 1919. The Comintern succeeded in encouraging the formation and development of Communist Parties in many countries and in advancing the world proletarian revolution. It has had far-reaching revolutionary influence and consequences beyond its 1943 dissolution.
The Comintern was the logical and necessary outcome of the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, which made Russia the center of the world proletarian revolution. It was in clear repudiation of the bankrupt opportunist and revisionist line of the Second International, which had turned the social democrats into social-chauvinist and social-pacifist subalterns of imperialism in capitalist exploitation, colonialism and waging aggressive war.
Even as the Bolsheviks were under the pressure of the Civil War and the foreign interventionist war of the Entente powers, Lenin saw the necessity of founding the Communist International in order to promote the proletarian revolution, especially in Germany and other European countries exhausted by World War I and disgusted with their rulers. He was motivated by the spirit of proletarian internationalism and he calculated that further revolutions in Europe would be helpful to the survival of the Soviet Union.
Concurrently, he recognized the revolutionary potential of the working peoples in the colonies in the East as the imperialist system was breaking down. It was the duty of the Soviet people to themselves and to other peoples to advance the world proletarian revolution. When the revolutionary flow in Europe ebbed, the revolutions of the East were bursting out, especially in neighboring China.
I. The Communist International vis-à-vis the Colonies like the Philippines
The program of the Comintern optimistically declared that the imperialist system was breaking down and that there was ferment in the colonies, among the former dependent small nations, insurrections of the proletariat, victorious proletarian revolutions in some countries, dissolution of imperialist armies, complete incapacity of the ruling classes to guide the destinies of the people. The program expected the working class to create genuine order–a communist order–by destroying the rule of capital, making war impossible, abolishing state frontiers, changing the entire world into one cooperative community, and realizing the brotherhood and freedom of the peoples.
The great Lenin challenged the delegates to the Congress of Communist Organizations of the Peoples of the East in Baku on November 22, 1919: “You are representatives of communist organizations and communist parties of various Eastern peoples. I must say that the Russian Bolsheviks succeeded in forcing a breach in the old imperialism, in undertaking the exceedingly difficult, but also exceedingly noble, task of blazing new paths of revolution,whereas you the representatives of the working people of the East have before you a task that is still greater and newer. … The period of awakening of the East in the contemporary revolution is being succeeded by a period in which all the Eastern peoples will participate in deciding the destiny of the whole world, so as not to be simply an object of the enrichment of others. The peoples of the East are becoming alive to the need for practical action, for every nation to take part in shaping the destiny of all mankind.”
In his “Draft Theses on the National and Colonial Questions” for the Second Congress of the Comintern on June 5, 1920, Lenin declared: “…the Communist International’s entire policy on the national and colonial questions should rest primarily on a closer union of the proletarians and the working masses of all nations and countries for a joint revolutionary struggle to overthrow the landowners and the bourgeoisie. This union alone will guarantee victory over capitalism, without which the abolition of national oppression and inequality is impossible.”
Lenin further wrote, “With regard to the more backward states and nations, in which feudal or patriarchal-peasant relations predominate, it is particularly important to bear in mind: first, that all Communist parties must assist the bourgeois-democratic liberation movement in these countries, and that the duty of rendering the most active assistance rests primarily with the workers of the country the backward nation is colonially or financially dependent on”.
In the “Theses on the National and Colonial Questions” it adopted in July 1920 during its Second Congress, the Comintern proclaimed: “All communist parties must support by action the national-revolutionary movements in colonial countries. The form which this support should take should be discussed with the communist party of the country in question, if there is one. This obligation refers in the first place to the active support of the workers in that country on which the backward nation is financially, or as a colony, dependent.” The Program of the Comintern would subsequently include the following: “The Communist Parties in the imperialist countries must render systematic aid to the colonial revolutionary movement, and to the movement of oppressed nationalities generally.”
In its 5th Plenum in April 1925, the Comintern approved its first resolution on the Philippines. This urged the American communists to support the national liberation movement in the Philippines and to encourage the formation of a Communist Party from the revolutionized trade union and peasant movement as well as that of a national-revolutionary mass party from all groups actively campaigning for national independence. Through the Communist Party of the USA (then known as the Workers Communist Party up to 1930), the Comintern would take the task of encouraging and assisting the organization of the communist party in the Philippines.
The Filipino workers themselves would have to organize their own party, taking into account objective conditions and subjective capabilities. Since its Second Congress in 1920, the Comintern had adopted the terms of admission which required that all decisions of the Comintern are binding on all affiliated parties but at the same time enjoined itself and its Executive Committee to take into account the diversity of conditions in which the various parties have to fight and work and to adopt decisions binding only on matters in which such decisions were possible.
II. Initial Contacts with the Comintern and American Communists
The Comintern established a number of revolutionary organizations of working people. These included the Red International of Labor Unions (or RILU or its Russian abbreviation Profintern) which was organized in 1921 and the Peasants’ International (or Krestintern) in 1923. Subsequently, subsidiary offices of these were established in China in order to cover 3the Far East and Pacific area.
Under the auspices of the RILU, the Conference of the Pacific (Oriental) Transport Workers was held in Canton, China on June 18-24, 1924. Five Filipino delegates were able to attend. To enable them to attend, the American Communist named Alfred Wagenknecht (otherwise known by his alternate names as William Elliot or Mateus Girunas) brought the invitation to the Philippines, made a survey of the labor organizations and arranged the trip of the chosen delegates who accompanied him to Canton.
The delegates came from various Philippine trade unions. They were able to meet and discuss with labor leaders from China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Australia, USA, England, France and USSR. They were also able to bring home a resolution of the conference calling for the immediate independence of the Philippines from US colonial rule and another resolution urging the Asian workers and peasants to organize unions and struggle against imperialism and the local exploiters. Upon their return home, they were enthusiastic and formed a “Bolshevik secretariat” to issue a secret periodical.
The communication links with Comintern organizations, the flow of publications from the Communist International and consultations with visiting American, Chinese and Indonesian communists had begun and eventually helped to stimulate a leftward trend in the Philippine labor movement, amidst the worsening social conditions and upsurge of anti- imperialist and class struggles.
From 1924 to 1928, cadres of the CPUSA (known up to 1925 as the Workers Party of America and then as the Workers Communist Party), who were linked to the China-based RILU Pan-Pacific branch, visited the Philippines and interacted with Filipino labor leaders. They included Harrison George (who represented the union of the US railroad workers) and Earl Browder before he became the secretary of the Pan-Pacific Trade Union Secretariat (PPTUS). They represented the CPUSA-led US Trade Union Educational League (TUEL) in the RILU’s Pan-Pacific branch, located at different times in Canton, Hankow and Shanghai.
A permanent Pan Pacific Trade Union Secretariat (PPTUS) was established. On behalf of American workers, Harrison George pushed a resolution expressing solidarity with the workers and peasants in the Philippines and support for their struggles for national freedom and emancipation from exploitation. In its 15th convention on June 30 to July 1, 1927, the Congreso Obrero de Filipinas declared its adherence to the PPTUS and pledged efforts towards the realization of the Program adopted in the Hankow conference. The COF and the Kalipunang Pambansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KPMP, National Federation of Peasants of the Philippines) affiliated with the PPTUS. The KPMP also started to communicate with the Peasants’ International (Krestintern).
III. Evangelista Visit to Moscow and Filipino Workers as Students
In March 1928 the RILU invited Crisanto Evangelista and Cirilo Bognot of the COF to attend the 4th congress of RILU in Moscow. At the same time, the Peasant International also invited Jacinto Manahan of the KPMP to attend its conference. They passed through Shanghai in February to consult with Earl Browder and other PPTUS cadres. Evangelista and Manahan stayed for three months in Moscow. They had lengthy discussions with the Political Secretariat of the Comintern on the question of organizing the vanguard working class party in the Philippines.
The Secretariat adopted a resolution on April 20, 1928, “The Main Tasks of the Communists in the Philippines”. It put forward the following: “the primary and necessary condition for the establishment of a communist party is the formation of an initiating communist group that has educated itself in the revolutionary spirit of Marxism-Leninism, that has studied the principal lessons of the experiences of the international communist movement, that has learned how to apply that experience to the particular conditions of the working class movement in the Philippines, and that can undertake to transform gradually the Labor Party (Partido Obrero) into a party of the masses, into an effective communist party.”
Evangelista proposed the sending of Filipino workers to study in Moscow in April 1928. He visited the Communist University of the Toilers of the East and talked with the director and educational coordinators of the Profintern and Krestintern. Earlier in October 1927, after his visit to the Philippines in September, Harrison George had already recommended that the Comintern invite six Filipinos every year to study in Moscow at the communist university.
Upon his return to the Philippines, Evangelista arranged for three young workers to study in Moscow. They studied at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East. This was a special secondary school for students from Asia, preliminary to admission to the higher institute Lenin School. The schoolmates of the Filipinos were from China, Indochina, Mongolia, Korea, India, Indonesia and the autonomous Soviet Asian republics in the Caucasus and Siberia. The biggest number of non-Soviet students were the Chinese.
The subjects in the university included dialectical and historical materialism, political economy, world history, history of the labor movement, natural sciences, physics and mathematics. They had rudimentary military training and educational tours. Their teachers were English speaking Soviet professors and an American communist cadre in the Comintern, Eugene Dennis, who gave lectures on trade unionism. He would later travel to the Philippines under the name of Tim Ryan.
One of the young Filipino workers finished the full course of three years and joined the KOMSOMOL or Young Communist League of the USSR. The American communist cadre Sam Darcy assigned to the Comintern gave him briefings on Party work. Upon his return to the Philippines in November 1931, he became active in the work of Party education. Another young Filipino worker who finished only two years of the course, returned earlier to the Philippines and became a delegate to the First Congress of the CPP on May 30, 1931.
In June 1929 two more Filipino workers were sent to Moscow to study at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East. One of them, Emilio Maclang, finished the three-year course and stayed on for one more year to translate texts and documents into the Philippine national language. Upon return to the Philippines in 1933, he was chosen as the head of the second line of leadership. He became the underground secretary of the CPP as soon as the open leaders of the CPP were imprisoned and banished in 1931.
American communist cadres appeared prominently as the most helpful to the Filipino cadres in the formation of the CPPI. But comrades of other nationalities, especially the Chinese were also helpful, especially because they had their own labor and youth organizations in the Philippines. The Philippine branch of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was established in the early 1920s, much ahead of the establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippine Islands (CPPI). “Comrade C” who led the aforesaid branch was a longtime close comrade of Crisanto Evangelista in the trade union movement. .
The Chinese communists organized the Philippine Chinese Labor Federation (PCLF). This had close ties with the COF and the Partido Obrero. In October 1929 the Chinese Communist Party and its Young Communist League decided that the Chinese communists should assist the efforts of Partido Obrero in forming the Communist Party of the Philippine Islands (PCCI). At the same time, the contacts of the PCLF with the Profintern were coursed through the leadership of the Partido Obrero. When the PPTUS transferred from China to Vladivostok, the PCLF continued to receive Chinese language publications through Partido Obrero.
IV. The Foundation of the Communist Party of the Philippine Islands
In the year before the establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippine Islands (CPPI), the Great Depression engulfed the world capitalist system. The economic and social conditions deteriorated rapidly. The toiling masses of workers and peasants were restive. Workers’ strikes and peasant uprisings spread. There was widespread clamor for national independence against the US colonial regime and class struggle intensified against the local comprador big bourgeois and the landlord classes. The objective conditions were rife for establishing the CPPI.
Twenty-seven out of the 35 labor federations and associations in the COF broke away to form the Katipunan ng mga Anakpawis ng Pilipinas (KAP, Proletarian Labor Congress of the Philippines). The KAP and the Kalipunang Pambansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KPMP, National Federation of Peasants in the Philippines) became the organized mass base of the prospective CPPI. The PPTUS recognized the KAP as the legitimate representative of the organized workers in the Philippines. The CPUSA-led Trade Union Unity League (TUUL) reserved a seat in its National Executive Committee for a KAP representative by way of honoring the KAP.
After the formation of the KAP, the Committee for a Vanguard Workers’ Party was set up in order to recruit the initial communist members. By June 1930, there were 96 of them. Fifty per cent were industrial workers, 25% peasants and 25% handicraft workers and office clerks. Most were recruited from the KAP unions. At about this time, 60 Chinese communists from the PCLF and YCL were ready to join the CPPI but retained their autonomous all-Chinese nuclei.
A convention organized the party on August 26, 1930 and elected the First Central Committee, with 35 members. The Political Bureau was composed of Crisanto Evangelista, Antonino D. Ora, Jacinto G. Manahan, Juan N. Feleo, Felix Caguin Urbano Arcega and the Chinese “Comrade C”. It elected Evangelista as general secretary and Antonino D. Ora as chairman. Subsequently, the party was formally launched at a public rally on November 7, 1930, to mark the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. During the rally, 3000 of the 6000 attending masses of workers and peasants filled up the forms to apply for party membership.
Among the aims of the CPP were the following: to struggle for the immediate, complete and absolute independence of the Philippines, to fight for the overthrow of American imperialism that dominates the Philippines, to struggle against the exploitation of the masses and to defend their liberties, to struggle for the overthrow of the capitalist system, to strengthen the unity of the labor movement and in particular the unity of the workers and peasants; to struggle against reformism and opportunism in the labor movement, to establish a Soviet or communist form of government under the authority and direction of the masses; and to unite with the revolutionary movement internationally, including the Soviet Union and liberation movements in the colonies.
Unlike other communist parties in East Asia, the CPPI was established legally and openly, despite its proclaimed aim of overthrowing US imperialism and the capitalist system. It was therefore vulnerable to illegalization a few months after its establishment. The US colonial authorities conducted close surveillance on and disrupted the legal mass actions of the newly-founded party in 1931. They made a mass arrest of the leaders of the CPPI and the delegates to the First Congress of the Party. They filed charges of sedition and illegal association against the party leaders, who were subsequently sentenced to imprisonment and exile in 1933 after a series of court appeals.
V. First Congress of the Newly-Founded Party
Soon after the founding of the CPPI, the Comintern sent the American communist Eugene Dennis (Tim Ryan) to the Philippines in order to inquire into and report on the Party’s situation and make recommendations. He reported that the CPPI had considerably broad influence and that its crystallization was of tremendous significance to the workers and peasants and to the revolutionary movement as a whole and laid the basis for the rapid development of the national liberation movement under proletarian class leadership. But he also found out that the party was lagging far seriously behind in the development of the strike movement among the workers (with only a few of the strikes led by the CPPI) and in organizing the growing mass discontent of the peasantry.
Following the recommendations of Dennis in his “The Present Situation in the Philippines and the Immediate Tasks of the Communist Party,” the Comintern advised the CPPI to hold the First Party Congress within six months and to make intensive preparations for it at lower levels of the party, including discussion of a draft program. The party was warned that its legal existence would be of short duration because US finance capital was preparing to suppress the party. It was therefore advised to build an underground apparatus that was not isolated from the masses but still linked to them through mass organizations and mass struggles.
The CPPI took the Comintern advice and held its First Congress on May 30, 1931. The 400 delegates were very representative of the toiling masses. The resolutions tackled the political and organizational problems in line with Comintern recommendations. The spirit of proletarian internationalism was manifested by resolutions in solidarity with the Chinese workers and in support of the Soviet Union and by decisions strengthening ties between KAP and the PPTUS as well as with the Trade Union Unity League led by the CPUSA. The Congress passed a resolution formally applying for affiliation to the Comintern. The CPPI received a reply dated September 7, 1931, with the following content:
“The Executive Committee of the Communist International greets the formation of the CPPI and approves the decision of the 1st Congress of the CPPI in May 1931 to request affiliation to the CI. This decision will be presented to the 7th World Congress of the CI for confirmation.
“The establishment of a new sector of the CI in the Philippines reflects the rapid growth of the national revolutionary movement in the colonial countries. Moreover, it marks an historical turning point in the development of the Philippine revolution away from the treacherous path of national reformism and on to the road of organized revolutionary struggle under the banner of the Communist Party, the vanguard of the working class. It indicates the developing revolutionary upsurge in the Philippines and the political awakening of the Filipino proletariat and peasant masses. It expresses their determination to fight for a revolutionary way out of the capitalist crisis, for the complete and immediate emancipation of the Philippines from the rule of American imperialism and its native lackeys, and for the establishment of a workers’ and peasants’ government.
The organized crystallization of the Communist movement in the Philippine Islands and its affiliation to the CI—the leader of the world organized revolution—further signifies coordination of the national liberation movement in the Philippines with the revolutionary struggle in other colonial and semi-colonial countries and with the proletarian movement in the Soviet Union and in the capitalist countries, particularly in the United States; and represents the surest guarantee for the victorious carrying through of the anti-imperialist and agrarian revolution in the Philippines. Simultaneously, it strengthens the international fighting front of the workers and peasants and colonial slaves the world over, and expresses their growing confidence to struggle under the leadership of the CI which alone is able to help and guide them to victory in their fight for final liberation from the yoke of imperialism.”
VI. Underground Years of the CPPI, 1933 to 1937
Immediately after the US colonial authorities cracked down on it in 1931, the CPPI membership of 2000 abruptly shrank to only a few hundreds. It was a membership with a generally low level of ideological and political consciousness and with no experience and organizational preparation against repression. The CPPI leadership had not yet applied Marxism-Leninism comprehensively and profoundly on Philippine history and circumstances in order to define the character of Philippine society and the corresponding stage of the Philippine revolution, the friends and enemies of the revolution, the strategy and tactics, basic tasks and perspective of the revolution.
After serving their prison sentences, the CPPI leaders were banished to different provinces in the Philippines. They could have easily escaped their banishment and pursued the line of anti-imperialist and agrarian revolution. But they did not. They preferred to be where they were banished, although they continued their links with the CPPI underground.
As second line leader, Emilio Maclang who had studied in Moscow under the auspices of the Comintern took the place of Evangelista from 1933 to 1935. He could not stem the weakening of the CPPI organization. Rufino Tumanda replaced him as general secretary from 1935 to 1938. He had been a Filipino member of the CPUSA and had founded the Filipino Anti-Imperialist League in Brooklyn. He carried the endorsement of the CPUSA on a bilateral basis and within the Comintern framework. He could not stop the shrinkage of the CPPI membership to only 197 in 1938.
Although the party membership remained small, the active party members within the KAP and the KPMP had wide influence in Manila factories and certain Central Luzon towns, respectively. Also, the CPPI-led League for the Defense of Democracy had increasing influence among the urban petty bourgeois, especially the intelligentsia. Its core included a few university-based intellectuals as well as Filipino members of the CPUSA (Dr. Vicente Lava was a prominent example) who returned to the Philippines. The Popular Front was formed in 1936 as an anti-fascist united front. It gave the underground CPPI a relatively wider room for maneuver.
Despite being underground, the CPPI could dispatch a three-man delegation to the exceedingly important 7th World Congress of the Comintern in 1934, with the assistance of the CPUSA. Because the congress was postponed to 1935, they had the opportunity to study for a year at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East.
The 7th Comintern Congress of 1935 laid stress on developing a broad anti-fascist and anti-war united front of communist and non-communist forces and targeting fascist powers as the gravest dangers to humanity. The congress also approved the 1931 CPPI application for Comintern membership although conditionally due to the inability of the CPPI to station a leading cadre in the Moscow headquarters.
A batch of five Filipino young communists went to Moscow in 1935 via China and the Trans-Siberian Railway. They were escorted by CPUSA cadre Isabelle Auerbach, wife of the writer Sol Auerbach, otherwise well-known by his pen-name James S. Allen. The Filipinos were able to return in 1937 and 1938 via Western Europe and the United States. Further attempts of the CPPI to send Filipinos to Moscow through China and the Trans- Siberian Railway failed in 1936 and 1937 because of the full-scale war of aggression of Japan against China.
The CPPI had a highly creditable record of proletarian internationalism from the beginning. It supported the revolutionary movements of the Indonesian, Chinese, Indochinese, Malayan, Indian and other peoples against the colonial powers and their puppets. Filipino- Chinese communists belonging to the CPPI either supported the Chinese revolution from the Philippines or went to China to join the CCP and the people’s army. Filipino members of both the CPPI and the CPUSA joined the Abraham Lincoln Battalion to fight on the side of the Spanish republicans against the fascist forces of Franco in the Spanish civil war.
VII. Legalization of the CPPI and Merger Party of the CP and SP
The CPUSA directed James S. Allen (Sol Auerbach) in 1936 to go to the Philippines to promote among the Filipino communists the implementation of the anti-fascist popular front line of the 7th World Congress of the Comintern. It also mandated him to work for the release of the imprisoned and exiled CPPI leaders and the legalization of the CPPI and explore the merger of the CPPI and the Socialist Party led by Pedro Abad Santos. Allen traveled to the Philippines as a correspondent of the prestigious liberal US magazine, The Nation. He and his wife Isabelle Auerbach stayed in the country from August to November 1936.
They knew very well the underground CPPI general secretary Rufino Tumanda, who had been a CPUSA member in New York City. He arranged their meetings with Crisanto Evangelista, Guillermo Capadocia and Mariano Balgos in their places of exile. He eventually organized a conference of 25 central cadres for briefing James S. Allen and consulting with him about the situation, views and plans of the CPPI. He was also able to consult and develop close relations with Pedro Abad Santos, chairman of the Socialist Party, the Supreme Bishop Gregorio Aglipay of the Philippine Independent Church and personalities in intellectual circles.
On September 20, 1936 the CPPI Central Committee issued a manifesto entitled, “Forward for the Formation of the Popular Front”. It called for an alliance of all labor, peasant and middle class organizations and political and social groups who were in opposition to the policies of the Commonwealth government, particularly the Quezon-Osmeña coalition and were willing to work for better social conditions and absolute national independence. It announced as the aim of the Popular Front “to save the Filipino people from the danger of imperialist war, dictatorship and fascism, to improve the conditions of the masses and obtain independence”.
On New Year’s Day of 1937, Quezon used his presidential powers to release the exiled CPPI leaders through conditional pardon. At first, they refused to accept the terms of release. But on October 16, 1937, they agreed to be released. Upon the request of the CPUSA, Quezon permitted Crisanto Evangelista to get medical treatment for tuberculosis in the Soviet Union, where he stayed for more than a year.
Against the reality of US colonial rule, the CPPI Central Executive Committee issued a statement on September 7, 1937 declaring that the immediate recognition of Philippine independence would save the Philippines from possible invasion by Japan. The statement prompted James S. Allen to write a long letter to Socialist Party chairman Pedro Abad Santos to explain that the demand for immediate independence or US agreement to such a demand would be precisely the invitation to invasion by Japan. The letter served clear notice to the CPPI to direct its fire against the threat from Japanese fascism. Much earlier in 1936, in view of the impending Japanese attack on Indochina, the Communist Party of Indochina had withdrawn the demand for independence from France upon the advice of the French Communist Party within the Comintern frame.
On August 18, 1938 James S. Allen was back in the Philippines to be present for consultations in the preparation and holding of important gatherings of the CPPI. The CPPI Central Committee held a meeting on August 28-30, 1938 to discuss and approve the two documents, “Memorandum on the Chief Tasks of the CPPI” and “Independence, Democracy and Peace”. The memorandum declared that the central task of the CPPI was to organize a national democratic front against Japanese militarist fascism as the main obstacle to the establishment of an independent democratic Republic of the Philippines and to ensure its security.
On October 29-31, 1938 the Third Congress of the CPPI was held, with the theme: For a National Democratic Front Against Reaction and Japanese Aggression, For Security, Democracy, Peace and Freedom! It marked the surfacing of the CPI from the underground to legality. The CPPI accepted the Commonwealth government, its constitution and the US promise of independence to be granted in 1946. The congress also served to merge the CPPI and the Socialist Party to become the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). It approved a new party constitution and elected a new Central Committee, which in turn elected the Political Bureau. The highest party officials were Crisanto Evangelista as Chairman, Pedro Abad Santos as Vice Chairman and Guillermo Capadocia as General Secretary.
The threat of Japanese invasion was strongly discerned in the Philippines from 1938 onward. Japanese economic interests and pro-Japanese politicians, businessmen and organizations had become exceedingly conspicuous and alarming. Japanese aggression in China and against Indochina served as a forewarning to all Asian peoples. The Chinese residents in the Philippines were active in campaigning for support for China against Japanese fascism. The Spanish Civil War was also strongly felt in the Philippines as the Spanish superrich (Roxas, Soriano, Ayala, Zobel and Ortigas families) and the Spanish- dominated Dominican and other religious orders provocatively sided with the Franco falangistas and as the progressive forces and the people opposed them.
VIII. Founding of the People’s Army Against Japan and Dissolution of the Comintern
In less than two months before the Japanese invasion on December 8, 1941, the CPPI Central Committee called on its organized masses to prepare for armed resistance and appointed a second line of leadership headed by Dr. Vicente Lava to assume the leadership in case the first line of leadership would be eliminated by the Japanese invaders. Indeed, Chairman Evangelista, Vice Chairman Pedro Abad Santos and General Secretary Capadocia were soon captured in Manila by the Japanese fascists.
The People’s Army Against Japan (Hukbalahap) was founded only on March 29, 1942 and the plan for building the Barrio United Defense Corps was also laid out belatedly. The principal leaders of the CPPI did not heed much earlier the urging of “Comrade C” and other Chinese comrades in the Philippines to build the people’s army and incorporate the Chinese fighters, whose units would come to be known as the Wa Chi. It would be in the course of fighting the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945 that the CPP would be able to develop armed revolutionary strength, carry out land reform, expand the mass base and establish local organs of political power.
The CPUSA disaffiliated from the Comintern in 1940 after the Voorhis Act was adopted by the US government, requiring the CPUSA to register with the office of the US Attorney General as a foreign agent of the Soviet Union seeking to overthrow the US government. The CPPI thereby lost its connection with the Comintern. On May 15, 1943, the Comintern adopted a resolution to dissolve itself because of the raging war conditions.
The final words of the resolution are the following: The Presidium of the Executive Committee of the Communist International being unable in the conditions of the world war to call a congress of the Communist International:
- The Communist International, as the directing centre of the international working class movement, is to be dissolved.
- The sections of the Communist International are to be freed from the obligations of its rules and regulations and from the decisions of the congresses of the Communist International.
- The Presidium calls on all supporters of the Communist International to concentrate their energies on whole-hearted support for and active participation in the war of liberation waged by the peoples and states of the anti-Hitlerite coalition for the speediest defeat of the enemy of the working class—German fascism and its associates and vassals.“
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