Hundreds of thousands of youth were stepping into activist ranks, “turning the whole country,” as Sison put it, into one gigantic classroom.”14 The overwhelming need of the moment was for an educational tool which would channel this crackling energy into the correct theory and practice of the national-democratic revolution. Philippine Society and Revolution, by Amado Guerrero, Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, appeared in July 1970 to fill this need.
PSR, as the book came to be called, was immediately recognized for what
it was: a work that culminated the cultural revolution which had been sweeping
Philippine society and thinking since the mid-sixties. Though Guerrero
cautioned that it was only a first step in the application of historical-materialist
analysis to Philippine history, PSR was a bold, brilliant, and sweeping
theoretical enterprise which drew out the concrete dynamics of the laws
of contradiction in Philippine social and national development from the
pre-Hispanic period to the present. Deepening the ideas first presented
by Sison’s Struggle for National Democracy, Guerrero showed how the laws
of autonomous social development had been disrupted and distorted in the
Philippines by the intrusion, first of Spanish colonialism, then of U.S.
imperialism. The engine of historical motion thus became the contradiction
between the people and imperialism and the parasitic domestic classes that
constituted its social base. Revolt and rebellion against colonialism
and imperialism, Guerrero demonstrated, was a constant in Philippine history.
But until the masses appropriated the science of social liberation,
Marxism-Leninism, and followed the leadership of the most advanced social
class in the era of imperialist and capitalist decline, the working class,
no effort at genuine national liberation could succeed. From the
perspective of historical materialism, then, the present revolutionary
movement is simply the subjective, conscious, and scientific expression
of the objective laws of development which were pushing the Filipino nation
up to a higher level of social development ¾ national democracy.
PSR, however, was not written to be principally an academic work (nor was its circulation confined to the salons frequented by the limousine radicals that Guerrero despised so much). It was, first and foremost, a popular educational tool, a basic primer for national-democratic activists. Mass-distributed in mimeographed form and coming out in both English and Pilipino, PSR immediately became the indispensable workbook of thousands of “dg’s” (discussion groups) conducted among students, professionals, workers, peasants, and urban poor in the feverish two years before martial law. As such, its role in recruiting and consolidating thousands of national-democratic activists was immense.
PSR was written in a period of deepening crisis of the system of bourgeois political control. It in fact warned that sooner or later the ruling class would be forced to shift its class dictatorship from the parliamentary, formal democratic form to the openly repressive fascist type. Two years later, on September 22, 1972, Marcos imposed martial law, with the aim, as he put it, of “saving the Republic from the Communist Rebellion.”
While the fascist dictator undoubtedly exaggerated the immediate threat
posed by the national-democratic movement to the system of imperialist
control, it was nevertheless significant that by 1972, the Left had already
reemerged as a principal actor in Philippine politics and was already recognized
as the most critical long-term threat to the neocolonial machinery.
Led by a party equipped with a correct political line, uncompromising revolutionary
commitment and creative methods of organizing, it had taken the Left merely
eight years since the founding of Kabataang Makabayan in 1964 to
purge itself of revisionist influence and emerge once again a viable
alternative for the Filipino masses to rally around.
With the destruction of most forms of legal, bourgeois-democratic opposition, the CPP and the NPA emerged as the only organizations capable of organizing a nationwide resistance to martial law. This was not easy. In the cities, national-democratic mass organizations like KM and the Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP) were in disarray, with thousands of activists either jailed or in hiding. In the countryside, the reactionary army launched fierce encirclement-and-suppression campaigns against NPA bases in the far northern Cagayan Valley and in the Bicol region, uprooting some 50,000 peasants in an effort to drain these areas of the masses and convert them into free-fire zones in the Vietnam manner.
Supported by the firm but resilient organizational structures of the
Party and the NPA, the movement survived the regime’s hammer blows in the
period 1972-73. In order to advance, however, political practice
needed to be guided by theoretical and political understandings which matched
the new conditions of struggle. To this challenge, Amado Guerrero
and the leadership of the Party responded swiftly and evolved a bold political
and military strategy to propel the national-democratic revolution forward
in the context of all-out fascist and imperialist repression. This
strategy, the product of deep knowledge of the experience of people’s war,
was synthesized in Amado Guerrero’s Specific Characteristics of Our
People’s War, which appeared on December 1, 1974.