A Generation’s Dirge, Part 2

Patricio N. Abinales
A Generation’s Dirge, Part 2
'If we go beyond the factional debates and how cadres and ex-cadres interpreted them and justified their respective sides, we can discern a couple of interesting things'

This is the second part of an attempt to explore where to locate the FQS generation and its progenies, the “martial law babies,” in post-Marcos politics in the attempt of figuring out, among other things, the puzzle of the communists’ conjugal ties with President Duterte.

Read Part 1: Requiem for a Generation

The assassination of Filemon “Popoy” Lagman allegedly by a special NPA team sent by the Politburo to eliminate top Party cadres who disagreed with and defied the edicts of the Filipino Ayatollah, Jose Ma. Sison was followed by other similar extra-judicial killings: Rolando Kintanar, in January 2003, and Arturo Tabara in September 2004. The NPA also killed several other cadres but no one as high as Kintanar, Lagman, and Tabara.

The standard and now generally accepted communist explanation today was that these formerly leading cadres (Kintanar was jefe of the NPA, while Tabara headed the Visayas regional command) had to be killed before they could poison further the revolutionary well with their renegade illusions. All three were charged with engaging in politically incorrect tactics (compromising with the dreaded burgis), defying democratic centralism (i.e., going against the authoritarian tenets of the Leninist vanguard), and entertaining the prospects of winning power not through a guerilla-led resistance but via and EDSA 1-type of an overthrow of the state.

In short, they violated the fundamental principles of the CPP’s Mao Tse Tung-inspired revolution as laid out by Jose Ma. Sison in his Philippine Society and Revolution (a text former Manila-Rizal cadre Rigoberto Tiglao claims the Ayatollah plagiarized from Indonesian Communist party leader D.N. Aidit).

Later reflections noted that these three cadres were playing too fast and loose with revolutionary strategy and tactics – exploring urban guerrilla warfare and even urban terrorism here (Kintanar), tactical alliances with even landlord and capitalists there  (Tabara), and, the most heretical of them all, looking at “parliamentary struggle” as a way to seize power (Lagman).

There have been already discussions over whether these former cadres were right after all when we look back to what happened in the last thirty years or so. Alternately, Sisonites have also been quick to note that by disposing of these renegades Sison was able to save the Party from dying. What was that famous Lenin statement again when the revolution was at its nadir –  “Better fewer, but better”?

If we go beyond the factional debates and how cadres and ex-cadres interpreted them and justified their respective sides, we can discern a couple of interesting things.

The most obvious are that no matter how much Sisonists and anti-Sisonist claim that the revolution or the “Broad Left”  has recovered from the tragedy of 1986, the fact is that the Left has essentially lost the war against its rivals.

File photo by Edwin Espejo/Rappler

The anti-Sisonites have made their piece with certain segments of the oligarch, playing junior partner to the clans and their complicated agenda vis-à-vis governing. At the very least they are honest about their strategic shifts. Joel Rocamora admitted that Akbayan is losing and indirectly suggests that the best way to go is to work out the system in the hope of finding flaws in it for progressives to insert themselves (Joel Rocamora, “People power is alive and well”). The jury is still out on this “termite approach” to undermining the reactionary state. It was a communist and Joma loyalist who ironically invented the term. The CPP’s first secretary-general Nilo Tayag was one of the first cadres imprisoned before Marcos turn diktador. He languished in jail for 11 years and released in 1981. Tayag became an avid defender of Marcos’ Filipino ideology, justifying this compromise as his way of burrowing into the state and slowly destroying its ramparts like a termite does to a wooden architecture. EDSA 1 disrupted his political digging, and Tayag turned to religion, becoming a theologian of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.

Sison and his acolytes were more disingenuous in their approach. The former’s reaffirmation of Maoist dogmatism helped bring back doubting Thomases inside the revolution many of whom felt lost after the Party faltered in the late 1980s. Sison’s “reaffirmation” document was a classic for its selective use of Party data to show the rightness of his position and the error of his rivals.

What made this crude review of the CPP’s history under the Marcos dictatorship uplifting to many was that Sison’s “voice” was what they first heard when they were still student radical upstarts or NPA neophytes. The moralism that Mao Tse Tung Thought-articulated-via-Aidit-and-plagiarized by Joema and the black-and-white conveyed, and the simplification of battle lines – all acted like Linus’ comfort blanket to many. After all the confusion brought about by that damn class enemy Cory, and the erosion of Party unity by those heretics, it felt good that the Ayatollah had once again shown them the way. Just listen to Lualhati Abreu talk about she brought herself back to the fold after a long period of working with Kintanar.

This was what Sison did in the late 1960s when the fledgling CPP had to show the correctness of its position as against that of the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas and the Jesuit-supported social democrats. He showed us the correct “political line, ” and the revolution moved forward after dumping to Lavaite muck and detritus of the social-fascists. He has done it again, giving us the light that would guide us out of this dark post-authoritarian wasteland we are immersed for some time. Hence the Ayatollah’s new nom de’ plume – Amado Liwanag, the lover of Light. The Maoist Jesus,  spreading the good news from far away.

After that it was easy to explain away why it was alright to be involved in bourgeois-dominated elections, join forces with the Marcoses (the image of Satur Ocampo and Lisa Maza standing on the platform with Bongbong Marcos under the banner of presidential candidate Manuel Villar is seared in many of the FQS generation’s minds), and, to date, even drink blood wine with President Digong. These are all “tactics,” done to take advantage of either (a) the split within the ruling classes; or (b) a chance to reach out to the large audience that Villar, Bongbong, and Digong could mobilize, and thus making it easier to evangelize.

Machiavellians have lavished praise on these different opportunist approaches to keep oneself politically relevant, but if we detach ourselves further and look at these about this generation’s confrontation with authoritarianism, the larger portrait does not show political adjustment nor a return to the safety of one’s ideological roots.

It shows political defeat. – Rappler.com

(to be continued)

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