The World Socialist Web Site yesterday published a Chinese translation of Professor Joseph Scalice’s important lecture, “First as Tragedy, Second as Farce: Marcos, Duterte and the Communist Parties of the Philippines.” The original English text and video of the lecture, delivered on August 26 at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, are available here. Translations into other languages will be published in coming days.
The lecture is a devastating exposure of the reactionary Stalinist politics of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its founder Jose Maria Sison. Dr. Scalice documents the party’s support for the fascistic Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential campaign in 2016, and the role played by the CPP and the rival Stalinist PKP in supporting bourgeois leaders throughout the 20th century, including Ferdinand Marcos who imposed martial law in 1972.
Dr. Scalice explains that the CPP’s repeated betrayals of the Filipino workers and rural masses were not simply the product of treacherous leaders, but were rooted in the Maoist variant of Stalinism adopted by the party leadership. Based on the anti-Marxist theories of “socialism in one country” and a two-stage revolution, Sison has insisted for more than 50 years that socialist revolution is off the agenda in the Philippines. Instead, the CPP calls on Filipino workers and youth to support the so-called progressive wing of the national bourgeoisie to carry out a democratic revolution, with the explicit aim of developing capitalism in the Philippines.
The exposure of Maoism, from the standpoint of genuine socialism, has profound international significance, including for workers and young people in China, where its legacy needs to be overcome. Readers will gain a greater understanding of the reactionary role of Maoism in the defeats and betrayals of the working class in Asia and internationally throughout the twentieth century.
The roots of Sison’s perspective stem from the crushing of the 1925–27 Revolution in China at the hands of Stalin who subordinated the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to the bourgeois nationalist Kuomintang (KMT), justifying this as the expression of the “bloc of four classes”—the peasantry, working class, petty bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie—against imperialism and the comprador capitalists. As Trotsky warned at the time, as revolutionary struggles sharpened, the bourgeoisie would inevitably drop its anti-imperialist pretensions and attack the working class. The result was a series of devastating defeats for the CCP and the working class. But Sison, following Stalin, still holds to the bloc of four classes.
The 1949 Chinese Revolution involved a huge upsurge of the masses after decades of war, brutal rule at the hands of Japanese imperialism and the KMT and immense poverty and want. However, it was deformed at the outset due to the domination of Mao’s nationalist bureaucracy, the rejection of internationalism and the dictatorial suppression of the Chinese working class. In little more than two decades, Mao had begun preparations for capitalist restoration by establishing relations with US imperialism and its allies, including the Marcos regime in the Philippines (see also: “70 years after the Chinese Revolution: How the struggle for socialism was betrayed”).
Today, Chinese workers and youth confront the consequences of these betrayals. China is integrated into the global capitalist system, with a vast working class that is ruthlessly exploited by multinational corporations. The Stalinist bureaucracy has liquidated the social gains of the revolution and transformed itself into a new super-rich bourgeois layer.
Workers will once again be driven into revolutionary struggle, not only by the unprecedented levels of social inequality, but also the imminent threat of war, as US imperialism seeks to assert its dominance over China and the rest of Asia. In this context, the historical facts and questions of political perspective examined by Dr. Scalice have a burning contemporary relevance.
Crucially, Dr. Scalice points to the revolutionary alternative to Stalinism: the perspective which guided the Russian Revolution in October 1917 and was elaborated in Leon Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution. Trotsky explained that in countries of belated capitalist development, such as Russia, China and the Philippines, there could be no alliance with any section of the national bourgeoisie, which was universally hostile to the aspirations of workers and peasants. The basic democratic tasks could only be accomplished in a socialist revolution, led by the working class and supported by the peasantry, as part of the fight for world socialism. This political program is upheld today only by the International Committee of the Fourth International, which publishes the WSWS.
Dr. Scalice’s lecture has been viewed thousands of times and attracted strong appreciation and support from young people and workers in the Philippines and throughout the world who are looking for a genuine socialist solution to the intensifying crisis of capitalism—which has produced record levels of social inequality, the criminally negligent response to the pandemic, and the imminent dangers of dictatorship and war.
The lecture also triggered an enraged response from Sison, who has repeatedly lashed out at Dr. Scalice with threats and slanders, including libelous claims that he is collaborating with the Duterte regime and US imperialism.
The WSWS has responded to Sison’s statements, including his regurgitation of Stalinist lies about Trotskyism. We have also published statements in support of Dr. Scalice. We urge our readers to circulate his lecture widely and to send us letters defending Dr. Scalice’s academic freedom and free speech.