Struggle for national democracy


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The problems that the Filipinos faced in the backwash of the last world war, particularly after regaining their political independence on 4 July 1946, have persisted to this day with little or no prospect of being solved within the immediate future. These problems, mostly economic and social in nature, have been discussed rather timidly by some public officials and by the academic community. In the context of present-day society, in which conformism is the supreme virtue, any critical exposition of those problems, especially as they affect Philippine-American relations, is labeled communistic and, therefore, subversive of the established order. Only a few courageous souls, led by the late Senators Claro M. Recto and Jose P. Laurel, ventured into forbidden ground. Today, less than ten years after the death of Recto and Laurel, the youths and not their elders have taken issue with the defenders of the status quo and have, as a consequence, suffered harassment and insults from the professional anti-communists and witchhunters. Jose Maria Sison is the most harassed and maligned youth today, but he refuses to be cowed into silence by those who, having power in their hands and heads, have chosen to play the roles of Capitan Tiago and Senor Pasta of Rizal’s novels.
Jose Maria Sison’s collection of essays and speeches, Struggle for National Democracy, boldly delineates the crucial problems of Filipinos today. These problems are seen as historical problems which have evolved from the national experience that has its roots deep in colonialism and feudalism. The thread that runs through the essays and speeches takes the form of a demand for national liberation and democracy—a painful admission that the Philippines is still very much a colony wrapped in a veneer of democracy. As such, the book is both a criticism and a plea: a grave criticism of inadequacy in all lines of endeavor and a passionate plea for the establishment of a real and working democracy in which the people, the masses of the people and not only the privileged few, would enjoy the blessings of a free and abundant life. Consequently, Sison is starting what may be termed the Second Propaganda Movement. He states clearly the basic strategy and tactics to be employed by the Filipino people in their struggle to destroy the traditional evils of feudalism and neocolonialism, the two institutions which have given the poverty-stricken masses in Philippine history the reason to resort to arms in the fulfillment of their dream to live like human beings. To Sison, as to all Filipino nationalists, the prerequisite to the success of those strategy and tactics is the development of a robust nationalism.
Much of Sison’s effectiveness derives not only from his broad, progressive outlook, but also from his analytical method, his grasp of the historical significance of events and movements, and more importantly, from his direct involvement in political mass actions. He is General Secretary of the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN), today the most advanced and sophisticated assemblage of nationalists from all segments of Filipino society; the National Chairman of Kabataang Makabayan, the most progres- sive and militant youth organization; and the Vice President of the Lapiang Manggagawa, the only political organization of the working class and its sympathizers.

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