Follow-up Note: On the Question of Protracted People’s War
in Industrial Capitalist Countries
By Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
Waging protracted people’s war in any industrial capitalist country is not a matter of dogmatically asserting it or putting every part of my article out of its clear context.
For many decades already, I have heard of the notion or threat to wage a protracted people’s war in imperialist countries but to this day I have not seen any Maoist party proclaiming and actually starting it in any imperialist country.
In fact, I am not aware of any Maoist party in an industrially developed capitalist country strong enough to lead any armed revolution with the participation of any sizable proletarian masses in the industrial and service sectors of the economy. Nowhere in the industrial capitalist countries is there any Maoist party as formidable as the Bolshevik party in the trade unions and workers’ cooperatives in the run up to the October revolution of 1917.
There is no protracted people’s war of any kind going on in any industrial capitalist country. What has been protracted is merely idle talk or hot air about the possibility of waging protracted people’s war. No serious preparations for it are being made. There can never be such a people’s war without preparations for a certain period of time, depending on the subjective factors and the objective conditions. It will take at least some years to prepare and to realize the start of such armed revolution of the people.
A people’s war of whatever duration and scale is possible in the industrial capitalist country country only after a period of preparations of ideological work, political education and mass work, party and mass organizing, clandestine accumulation of arms, politico-military training and Bolshevik style penetration of the reactionary armed forces. Such preparations or suggestions thereof should not be disdained or begrudged.
These preparations ought to take advantage of the imperialist crises and wars, splits among the imperialist powers, violent contradictions among reactionary factions in the imperialist countries, the revolutionary advances being made in the underdeveloped countries, the desire of the proletariat and the people for revolutionary change and the strength of the revolutionary party to lead the armed revolution of the people in their millions.
It is only a “Left” opportunist, a fake Maoist or even an agent provocateur who has disdain for the lasting admonition of the Communist Manifesto to win the battle for democracy against the bourgeois class dictatorship and who clamors for proclaiming and starting a people’s war in an industrial capitalist country without the necessary preparations of the subjective forces and the favorable objective conditions that I have mentioned.
Winning the battle for democracy does not mean merely competing with the bourgeoisie within the confines of its class dictatorship but fighting in every possible and necessary way the attempt of the monopoly bourgeoisie to misrepresent itself as the center of moderation and to use reformism or social democracy and fascism as its two arms to stave off the proletarian revolution by debilitating or destroying it.
In any kind of country, the serious Maoist party makes concrete plans and preparations for armed revolution. The Filipino proletarian revolutionaries had to study the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, put forward the general line of people’s democratic revolution and the strategic line of protracted people’s war, conduct social investigation and mass work in the effort to develop the party, the people’s army and the united front as the weapons of the people’s revolutionary struggle against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes.
To prepare for the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, 1968 and the New People’s Army on March 29, 1969, the Filipino proletarian revolutionaries used a full decade of ideological, political and organizational work and some five years of politico-military training and linking up with remnants of the old people’s army whose main force had been decimated from 1950 to 1952.
Communists proclaim their ideological position and political program and never conceal their ultimate goal of overthrowing the class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and replacing it with that of the proletariat. But they are smart enough to use both the open and legal as well as the clandestine and nonlegal forms of struggle and methods of developing the revolutionary mass movement towards the proletarian-socialist revolution. And they are prudent enough not to go into the pitfalls of “Left” and Right opportunist, the fake Maoist or the Agent.