Sunday, December 5, 2010

Joma Sison longs for home

Jose Maria Sison longs for home, and who will not? Every Filipino born in these beautiful lands, would always think of home. Like what they always say, home is where the heart is. Mountains and mangoes, he says, are all he misses, plus of course, the company of friends.

I think it is best for Joma to really come home and see the countrysides. The countrysides have improved a lot in terms of "look" and "feel", so much different from those he saw during the 70's. Real incomes, however, according to the NSCB, are still far from ideal. Fact is, only three of the fourteen regions, have positive average family incomes. 

Yet, progress is slowly creeping in, I admit. I always go out of Metro Manila every single week, to see for myself how things are doing in provinces near the metro. People are still poor, yes, but the means which they derive their incomes have changed, drastically. Only a few people derive their incomes from the fruits of the land, and most are now workers. 

Consider this stats from the NSO and the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB). There are about 1.4 million families right now earning under 40,000 a month incomes, while those earning 249,999 monthly incomes have reached 3.264 million, signifying a horizontal growth in the past few years. Entrepreneurship? Not really. 43% gets their monthly income from wages and salaries.

Sources of Income
Income Category
Entrepreneurial activities
other sources of income
Under 40,000
Total Average

All Income
Under 40k

Now the "other sources of income" category here might be overseas remittances. The under 40k category gets most of their income from these other sources. Meaning, their wages and salaries are not really enough to support their lives.  They are the largest beneficiaries of overseas remittances which account for about US$12-14 billion every year.

Obviously, there are now more workers, possibly industrial, now than in the 70's when Jose Maria Sison wrote the Philippine Society and Revolution (PSR), a classic. From his analysis of Philippine society, the Left movement derived its conclusion on how best to correct the centuries-old injustices in the country.

When Joma analyzed that society is still "semi-colonial and semi-feudal", he then postulated that the correct approach to the problem was the protracted people's war.

For him, the protracted people's war follows the Maoist example of establishing mass bases in the countrysides and slowly building the force leading to the conquest so to speak of the cities, and thereafter, the seat of power. 

He did'nt say however, how protracted or how long this people's war should be, but by the looks of it, this war could go on for centuries. The Party has just celebrated its 40 years plus existence, and by the way things are going, the war could last up to another 40 and by that time, Joma's age would probably be 121.

The problem with a protracted people's war is sustenance. Sustaining an army, in logistical terms, is extremely hard. You need to feed them and sustain their morale and train them always in fighting form.

Now, when fighters turn into political officers (as what some rationalize it), the army loses its edge. Fighters are fighters and you can't transform them into farmers or workers overnight. When you train someone to fight and kill for a cause, it's quite hard for them to revert to their old statuses as farmers, workers or laborers. Being a political officer is different from a guerilla fighter, it involves two differing thought processes. 

When large areas of your bases are domiciled, you lose a sizeable portion of your combatants. Why? Again, when you train ordinary people and make them soldiers and warriors, they will always expect a fight or at least occasions where they'll be able to show their mettle. When you slow down your engagements, you then risk losing or weakening their will to fight the enemy. 

Admittedly, the movement is age-ing. The army is also age-ing real fast. The problem of every organization like that of the Party and of its army is succession. Your original cadres are either fading due to old age or weakening both physically and mentally. Imagine the thought of every single day, living in the mountains or hiding in the cities, these activities are exhausting. More than having the ideological toughness, you need a strong body to sustain yourself in armed struggle.

This leads us to one suggestion--maybe the Party, especially the Tiamson couple, would consider changing the strategies and tactics of the revolution? Maybe, it is time for them to consider mixing insurrectionary activities with that of building bases in the countrysides? Why?

As the movement ages and weakens, the State becomes stronger and bolder. Both organizations, if you compare, are not in equal footing. The State has an army of willing successors while the movement still lacks cadres as good as the "originals". 

While the movement spreads its revolutionary message in the countrysides, cadres here in the cities could, maybe, institute both political and military work to re-establish presence and image-building initiatives. People are slowly forgetting the "cause" and it would not really harm those in the movement if they start re-igniting the passions of the People in support of the revolution. 

Maybe it is also time for the Left to re-assess the situation and look for other models, like the one in Bolivia and Venezuela? Or even, review the successes of the Cuban revolution of 1959 where Che Guevarra and Fidel Castro successfully mixed both Leninist and Maoist theories into one highly successful strategy?

This is an opportune time to re-consider, since, the landscape has changed a lot since the 70's. Since Luis Jalandoni is here, maybe, he begins re-assessing the landscape by travelling a lot, especially in the Northern and Central Luzon provinces and maybe even Mindanao. And when he goes back to the Netherland, maybe, start discussing with Joma how best to approach the People's War.