Works of Lagman
Philippine society, according to Sison, is semicolonial and semifeudal. But the question arises: What precisely is the prevailing mode of production in Philippine society? Is it capitalist or feudal? Is it a combination of both? Or neither of the two? Meaning, the "semicolonial, semifeudal" characterization itself is the subject of our analysis of the prevailing mode of production in Philippine society.
There is no dispute, insofar as this "semicolonial and semifeudal" characterization is but a description, an expression of the peculiar features of the socio-economic evolution of Philippine society. It is an expedient formulation that highlights the immediate political tasks of the people’s struggle, the elimination of all feudal remnants and the struggle for national self-determination, all within the bourgeois bounds of the democratic revolution.
We can even describe our society as a mongrel economy – for it is a mixture of the worst features of two opposing modes of production. Or we can diagnose it as a mongoloid economy, afflicted by an abnormality in its fetal stage of development.
But whatever description we make, still, we must classify this "semicolonial, semifeudal" social specimen according to whatever social order it properly belongs, attach its correct scientific name, identify its mode of existence, its mode of production. Political expediency must not in any way become an excuse to obscure or evade the necessity for a theoretically precise definition and understanding of the basic process of our social and economic evolution. Nor must this analysis become simply an alibi for a preconceived strategy of revolution.
Although claiming to be a faithful follower of Marxist political economy, Sison prefers however, to replace the precise and clear Marxist categorization of a mode of production by the vague and diffuse term "semicolonial and semifeudal" and hence surreptitiously evades and disguises the basic process in the economic development of the Philippines, keeping incognito its real mode of existence.
Lenin, more than once, described Russian society as semifeudal, and even barbaric, because of the widespread survivals of serfdom and the autocratic rule of Tsarism. But these peculiar features of Russian society did not prevent him from going deeper and penetrating into the very core of the question in an attempt to understand the basic process determining the socio-economic evolution of Russian society. And his essential conclusion was, the mode of production of Russian society was basically bourgeois and capitalist, despite, and through all, its medieval features and stages of transition.
But for Sison, he is fully contented, and very proud of himself, with his "semicolonial and semifeudal" sketch of Philippine society, emphasizing every line and feature in bold strokes , and for the past 25 years, has vehemently insisted that this is the only way Philippine society should be drawn.
He has given his semicolonial and semifeudal "analysis" of Philippine society a life of its own, its own theoretical rationalization. He makes the impression that he has concatenated it into a distinct mode of production, into an economic category, even raised it to the level of a "basic principle" of Marxism-Leninism that should be "reaffirmed" in the decade of the 1990’s up to the new century by every Filipino proletarian revolutionary.
Ask any comrade "faithful" to the Party line what the prevailing mode of production in the country is, and his ready reply will be: "Philippine society is neither feudal nor capitalist but semicolonial and semifeudal." This is our prevai-ling understanding of the mode of production dominant in Philippine society. But is this the "official Party line"?
Let us review the "Party Bible" – Sison’s Philippine Society and Revolution – to ascertain what truly is his analysis of the prevailing mode of production.
Semifeudalism: A Mode of Expression Not a Mode of Production
In the PSR, Sison completely evades a categorical presentation of the question. However, by an integral analysis of all his "theoretical" assertions, one can get a clear picture of how Sison defines the mode of production in Philippine society.
Sison begins with the assertion that Philippine society is semicolonial and semifeudal. And "this status is determined by US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism."
These are three "determining" factors of what Sison calls the "status" of Philippine society. If by the word "status" Sison is referring to the "mode of production", he does not clarify. But this word has no status in Marxist terminology unless qualified.
He then explains first why Philippine society is semicolonial and then proceeds to explain why it is semifeudal. In both explanation, he pinpoints US imperialism as the principal determinant.
In discussing Philippine mode of production, we will put aside the "semicolonial" characterization. No Marxist in his right mind will insist that this "semicolonial" status of the Philippines is a categorization of a mode of production. The "semi-colonial" question is not a socio-economic category but a political-democratic question. It does not refer to relations of production or a mode of production but to a relationship between imperialism and political democracy.
Thus if we delete or ignore this "semicolonial" aspect, what is left of Sison’s description of the mode of production dominant in Philippine society?
The prevailing mode of production in the Philippines is semifeudal! Hence, Metro Manila, the national industrial center, is semifeudal? The urban centers of the Philippines where more than 48% of the population reside is semifeudal?
Sison’s fanatics might protest: semifeudalism refers primarily to the countryside. If that is so, then how do they describe the economy in the cities – semicolonial? The countryside as semifeudal, the cities as semicolonial! Stupid.
But of course this is ridiculous. Even Sison cannot deny (though he obscures and evades it) that Metro Manila and the urban centers are basically capitalist in their mode of production. The point, however, is not to dichotomize Philippine society into "town and country" but to understand its socio-economic evolution, its basic process of development in its integral whole, in its internal relations, in its dialectical inner movement.
Here lies precisely, the inadequacy of the "semifeudal and semicolonial" explanation of the Philippine mode of production and the absurdity of evading the bourgeois, capitalist basic process undergoing and unfolding in Philippine society despite all the distortions, all the obstacles, all the complexities, all the abnormalities in its development due primarily to non-economic means and factors.
But we are running ahead of Sison. Let us see how Sison defines and explains Philippine society, its mode of production and its basic process vis-a-vis his "semifeudal" analysis.
According to Sison: "The semifeudal character of Philippine society is principally determined by the impingement of US monopoly capitalism on the old feudal mode of production and the subordination of the latter to the former."
So from feudal, the Philippines becomes semifeudal through an imperialist "impingement"! And feudalism becomes a "subordinate" of monopoly capitalism, a "concubine" of Uncle Sam. "East" meets "West", and their offspring is "semifeudalism" – a new mode of production in the era of monopoly capitalism, the product of the imperialist sperm being embedded in the feudal womb.
For Sison, the principal determinant of the "semifeudal" mode of production in Philippine society (if he considers it a "mode of production") is US monopoly capitalism!
So, imperialism is a carrier of a new form of production relations called "semifeudalism"! (It appears that Sison is either ignorant or innocent of what determines a mode of production based on Marxist historical materialism and political economy, or he just doesn’t care.)
So what is this "impingement of US monopoly capitalism on the old feudal mode of production" and "the subordination of the latter to the former"?
How did he explain this "impingement" and "subordination" resulting in the "semifeudal character of Philippine society"?
According to Sison: "The concrete result of the intertwining of foreign monopoly capitalism and domestic feudalism is the erosion and dissolution of a natural economy of self-sufficiency in favor of a commodity economy"
From "impingement" to "intertwining". Sison is really a "master of words". No wonder, he is a consummate revolutionary phrase-monger! But then again, what is the "concrete result" of this "intertwining" of imperialism and feudalism? In his exact words: "the erosion and dissolution of a natural economy of self-sufficiency in favor of a commodity economy."
But this is the destruction, the elimination, the abolition of feudalism (self-sufficient natural economy) and the establishment, the laying of the foundation, the dawning of capitalism (commodity economy). So it is imperialism that is liquidating feudalism! So this imperialist "impingement" and its "intertwining" with feudalism erodes and dissolves feudal natural economy in favor of capitalist commodity economy.
Is this what Sison implies? Definitely not! This is not so, because, being dictated by foreign monopoly capitalism,"this commodity economy is used to restrict the growth of national capitalism and force owner-cultivators and handicraftsmen into bankruptcy." And he adds that this commodity economy dictated by imperialism is "used to keep large masses of people in feudal bondage and at the same time create a relative surplus of population, a huge reserve army of labor, that keeps the labor market cheap."
So this commodity economy is used – by imperialism – to (1) restrict the growth of national capitalism, (2) force owner-cultivators and handicraftsmen into bankruptcy, (3) keep large masses of people in feudal bondage, and (4) create a surplus population and a huge reserve labor army that keeps the labor market cheap.
After saying that through imperialist "impingement" and its "intertwining" with feudalism, natural economy, i.e., feudalism, is eroded and dissolved, and commodity economy, i.e., capitalism, is established – he is now saying, that on the contrary, this is not so!Sison should be dragged by the ears and told to review his political economy.
What is this rubbish about imperialism using "commodity economy to restrict the growth of national capitalism?" Commodity economy is the vehicle of capitalism and it cannot grow and develop other than through commodity economy. How then can commodity economy be used to restrict the growth of local capitalism when in fact, (1) it objectively destroys feudal natural economy which is the actual obstacle to capitalist development and, (2) it is the vehicle, the impetus for capitalist growth and the undermining of feudalism as a system. It is monopoly capitalism as imperialism, not commodity economy, that restricts or is being "used" to restrict the growth of local capitalism. Obviously, Sison is not only ignorant of the internal laws of development of capitalism. He also does not understand imperialism and how it restricts local capi-talism.
Sison’s ignorance of capitalist laws is fully exposed by his second point – by the way he laments the fact that commodity economy is being used to "force owner-cultivators and handicraftsmen into bankruptcy"! What does Sison expects from capitalism, from commodity economy? Prosperity for the owner-cultivators? Prosperity for the handicraftsmen? Sison is an overt imperialist-hater but a covert capitalist-lover. Commodity economy – "dictated" or not by imperialism – will result and must result in the growing bankruptcy of the mass of owner-cultivators and handicraftsmen, and this bankruptcy is the surest indication of the dominance of commodity economy, and it just cannot be otherwise.
And Sison’s fourth point – commodity economy being used to "create a relative surplus of population, a huge reserve army of labor, that keeps the local labor market cheap" confirms Sison’s "innocence" of capitalist laws but he, nevertheless, stands "convicted" before the bar of Marxism-Leninism. Again, what should we expect from commodity economy, except Marx’s forecast of "the growth of the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation" of the toiling people, the growth of a "huge army of reserve labor" used and maintained by the bourgeoisie "like a whip" against the proletariat.
Indeed, Sison is advocating a "new" theory that run against the grain of the basic ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin. And this is conclusively confirmed by his third point: imperialist dictated commodity economy "is used to keep large masses of people in feudal bondage"! The "master of rhetoric" is now engaged in paradox.
Commodity production for feudal bondage, using the vehicle of capitalism for the preservation of the old feudal mode – this is Sison’s "semifeudal theory". This is how Sison rendered more profound Mao’s "semifeudal" description of China, and even Lenin’s description of Russia, for the latter preceded the former in the use of this term in describing their respective societies.
How does imperialism use "commodity production" to "keep large masses of people in feudal bondage"? Sison has no direct, categorical explanation. He just insinuates. In his immediately succeeding sentences, he says: "In Philippine agriculture, the old feudal mode persists side by side with capitalist farming chiefly for the production of a few export crops needed by the United States and other capitalist countries. As a matter of fact, the old feudal mode of production still covers more extensive areas than capitalist farms."
But where is the connection? How is commodity economy, which has replaced feudal natural economy, used to preserve feudal bondage? If this seems to be a contradiction in doctrine, at least, it should be proven that this is contradiction in real life. But for Sison, to exist "side by side" is a profound connection! One’s living "side by side" with another is already a connection!
From his theories of "impingement" and "intertwining", he now introduces his "side by side" theory which is less glamorous rhetorically. But he will promptly recover his technocratic elegance by the theory of "interactive and symbiotic relationship".
At least, Sison has clarified what he refers to as "commodity economy" being dictated and used by US imperialism. But what he is actually referring to is only the actual production of particular commodities, i.e., export crops needed by the US and other capitalist countries. He is not really speaking of commodity economy as an economic system but only of the actual planting of bananas, of particular crops for export!
This "production of a few export crops" is actually the one being referred to by Sison as the factor restricting the growth of national capitalism. But because of his penchant for fancy formulations, plus the fact that he does not know what he is saying, he recklessly calls it "commodity economy" being used to "restrict" local capitalism, etc.
Sison will not and can not explain how "commodity economy" as a system of production "restricts" capitalism and "preserves" feudalism because he is simply describing how imperialism "restricts" capitalist farming to the production of a few export crops while existing "side by side" with the old feudal mode of production.
Just read his next sentences: "Feudalism has been encouraged and retained by US imperialism to perpetuate the poverty of the broad masses of the people, subjugate the most numerous class which is the peasantry and manipulate local backwardness for the purpose of having cheap labor and cheap raw materials from the country. It is in this sense that domestic feudalism is the social base of US imperialism."
See, no more "commodity economy" being used to "restrict" local capitalism and "preserve" domestic feudalism. Instead, he just distracts us with his prattle and chatter and surprises us with another profound assertion: "feudalism is the social base of US imperialism"!
But before we tackle this "social base" theory, let us pause and reflect on all that had been said, what then is "semifeudalism" or where is "semifeudalism"?
Sison began his explanation of "semifeudalism" with his theories of impingement and intertwining which resulted in the "erosion and dissolution of natural economy in favor of commodity production."
From here, one is tempted to interpret Sison’s "semifeudalism" as the growth of capitalism in agriculture from the old feudal mode, but an abnormal, artificial growth, not following the usual process, because
(1) it is the result of imperialist "impingement", hence, a local capitalism dependent on and distorted by the domination of monopoly capital, and
(2) this intertwining of imperialism and feudalism will result in the preservation of feudal remnants, hence, the slower, agonizing growth of local capitalism.
But when Sison suddenly unleashed his sensational assertion that this "commodity economy" that replaced "natural economy" is being used by imperialism to "restrict" local capitalism and "preserve" domestic feudalism – his "semifeudalism" decisively assumes a different meaning, or to be more precise, becomes meaningless.
This is proven by his subsequent statements whose crowning glory is his most "profound" theory of "feudalism as the social base of imperialism." He had "sown dragon’s teeth but harvested fleas."
Sison’s "semifeudalism" is a "negation of the negation" but not of the spiral type. First, feudal natural economy is negated by capitalist commodity economy as a result of Sison’s process of impingement and intertwining But for Sison, what is negated is not feudalism but only its "natural economy" – only! – its soul but not its body. This is the first negation. Then, this commodity economy is further negated, again by this impingement and intertwining. In this second negation, "commodity economy" is disowned and castrated as an illegitimate product of the marriage of imperialism and feudalism, and what they consider as their very own is what Sison has nicknamed, with fondness, as "semifeudalism".
Actually, the outcome of this marriage are twins. According to Sison: "The interactive and symbiotic relationship between US imperialism and feudalism has made Philippine society semicolonial and semifeudal." Feudalism, therefore, is a co-determinant of imperialism not only in the "semifeudal" status of the Philippines but also in its "semicolonial" character! Feudalism has attained complete conjugal rights as a concubine of imperialism!
In the light of all these discussions, what then, is "semifeudalism", what is the prevailing mode of production in the Philippines?
Sison has categorically stated that "feudalism has been encouraged and retained by US imperialism" and, in fact, has been promoted as "the social base of US imperialism". Feudalism is clearly a mode of production which, according to Sison in 1968, "still covers more extensive areas than capitalist farms."
If feudalism is the prevailing mode of production in the Philippines, what then is "semifeudalism"? Based on all that Sison had said, "semifeudalism" is nothing but a nickname, a pseudonym, an alias of the old, moribund feudalism "encouraged and retained" by US imperialism. It does not have a life of its own outside the old feudal mode.
Sison is confused by his own creation, because the truth is, he is not really sure of what he is talking about. This is the reason why he evaded and even ignored in PSR a categorical explanation of what the mode of production prevailing in the country really is and his "semicolonial and semifeudal" description of the "status" of Philippine society is his manner of deliberately obscuring and confusing the question.
However, even Sison has begun to believe that "semifeudalism" has its own mode of existence distinct from feudalism. Under PSR's section on feudalism, there is this subsection 4 entitled The Extent of Feudal and Semifeudal Exploitation. So he believes that there are distinct forms of semifeudal exploitation different from feudal forms of exploitation.
But what does he identify as a "semifeudal" form of exploitation? Letter b. (Basic Forms of Exploitation in the Countryside) of this subsection 4, is divided into two categories. The first is (1) Land Rent, Usury and Other Feudal Evils. And the second one is (2) Wage Slavery on Farms. The first obviously refers to "feudal forms of exploitation". Is the second one, "Wage Slavery on Farms" the specific form of "semifeudal exploitation"?
Wage-slavery on farms is a capitalist form of exploitation-- it is capitalism. But Sison insinuates that this is semi-feudalism. If this is what is referred to as "semifeudalism", if this is the meaning of "semifeudalism" – then Philippine mode of production is basically capitalist because Sison described the "status" of Philippine society as basically "semifeudal". Everything that Sison has said will burst asunder if this is the meaning of "semi-feudalism". But no, Sison does not categorically say that "wage slavery on farms" is the form of semifeudal exploitation in the countryside.* But neither is he able to identify a single form of semifeudal exploitation!
But this proves just how confused Sison is on his "semifeudalism". Again, according to Sison, US imperialism "enhanced semifeudalism in the countryside by further encouraging capitalist farming, corporate ownership of land and merchant usury."here, Sison speaks of enhancing capitalism in agriculture.
In his class analysis of the rich peasants, he says: "It must be recognized as a general rule that the rich-peasant form of production is useful for a definite period. A premature policy of liquidating it should strictly be avoided." Now, what is this rich-peasant form of production that is "useful for a definite period"?
After describing the rich peasants as the "rural bourgeoisie" and the rich-peasant economy, i.e., "hiring farm labor or letting part of their land to poor peasants" (although they themselves work) – he declares that the rich peasants "represent semi-feudalism in the barrios" and his view of the rich peasants is that "they can remain neutral in the agrarian revolution against the landlords." This is how confused Sison is with this mess of contradictory statements!
On the one hand, he says that the rich peasants are the rural bourgeoisie but on the other hand, he says "they can remain neutral in the agrarian revolution". What is this?!? A rural bourgeoisie that is neutral in the antifeudal struggle! What kind of rural bourgeoisie is this! Yet he says "the rich peasants can be of help to the anti-imperialist struggle of the peasants masses"!! What is this?!? A rural bourgeoisie that is more anti-imperialist than antifeudal!!!
On the one hand, he says that the semifeudal system in the Philippines should be overthrown because this is the product of imperialist-feudal collusion. But on other hand, speaking of the rich peasant form of production which according to him is semifeudalism, this "semifeudalism" is "useful for a definite period", and "a premature policy of liquidating it should be strictly avoided"!!
This is what he gets for equating and confusing capitalism with semifeudalism, for equating and confusing capitalist agriculture with semifeudalism. The rich peasants as the rural bourgeoisie are the carrier, the harbinger of capitalism not of semifeudalism, not only at the barrio level but in the entire countryside. The rich peasantry as the rural bourgeoisie will not only remain neutral but are basically antifeudal. But they may remain neutral and even reactionary in the armed struggle of the proletarian forces as they are conservative and suspicious of revolutionary forms of struggle as dictated by their class position in society. The problem is, Sison also equates the antifeudal struggle with the armed struggle, and makes the latter the principal criterion. Hence, his view of the rich peasants as basically neutral in the antifeudal struggle plus his view that this peasant sector is the carrier of semifeudalism in the barrio, a semifeudalism that is useful and should not be liquidated for a definite period !!
Even on the question of capitalist development, Sison’s formulations are a confused mess of contradictions. On the one hand, he says: "US imperialism exports its surplus capital to its colonies and semicolonies not to raise the economy of these to the level of capitalist development..." On the other hand, he says after only a few sentences: "...although US imperialism has introduced a certain degree of capitalist development..." Which is which?
Sison will not accept these formulations as contradictory, but will insist that both are correct in the sense that imperialism introduces a certain degree of capitalist development but not to the level of real capitalist development. According to Sison: "US monopoly capital has assimilated the seed of capitalism that is within the womb of domestic feudalism but at the same time it has prevented the full growth of this seed into a national capitalism."
What is this "capitalist seed within the womb of feudalism" that all-powerful imperialism has "assimilated" and whose full growth it will prevent with all the means that it can muster? Again, Sison does not specify. But if we take Sison’s word for it, the growth of local capitalism in the Philippines is hopeless since its "seed" – the basis of its development" has already been "assimilated" by the imperialist monster.
We will return to this most important "assimilation" theory of Sison plus his "social base" theory. For now, what is important is to understand the implications of all of Sison’s "theoretical" formulations or obscurantism in defining his view on what really is the prevailing mode of production in the Philippines.
One thing though is very clear: Sison’s "semifeudalism" is not a mode of production but a mode of description of what is basically to him is a feudal system of economy maintained and preserved through an interactive and symbiotic relationship with imperialism. Even his concept of "semicolonialism" is nothing but a pseudonym of what is virtually a colonial status of the Philippines, because, in Sison’s view of imperialism, it is really an omnipotent superpower that puts everything under its will.
We have established – despite the maze of "semifeudal" obscurantism, eclecticism and sophistry – that in Sison’s view, the Philippines is basically feudal in its mode of production. But, what is his understanding of feudalism as a mode of production and how it persists in the Philippines?
Here is how Sison explains feudalism: "Feudalism is a mode of production in which the principal forces of production are the peasants and the land which they till and the relations of production are basically characterized by landlord oppression and exploitation of the peasantry. The most immediate manifestation of feudalism is the possession of vast areas of cultivable land by a few landlords who themselves do not till the land and who compel a big number of tenants to do the tilling. Feudal relations between the parasitic landlord class and the productive peasantry essentially involve the extortion of exorbitant land rent in cash or kind from the latter by the former."
In his definition, Sison identifies the feudal forces of production (peasants and the land) and relations of production (landlord oppression). He pinpoints its immediate manifestation (the possession of vast areas of land by a few landlords) and its essential relations (extortion of exorbitant land rent).
This is how Sison understands feudalism. This is how he defines a mode of production. No wonder Sison concludes that Philippine society is basically feudal because in 1968 this is how the Philippine landscape appears to be – at "first glance". You can "sketch" the countryside just by glancing at the greenery even from a moving train. But you cannot analyze society just by taking a superficial glance.
For Sison, if you see peasants tilling the land, idle landlords oppressing and exploiting them – this is feudalism! If you see vast areas of land owned by a few landlords who compel a big number of tenants to do the tilling – this is feudalism! If you see parasitic landlords extorting exorbitant rent from the peasants – this is feudalism!
Is Sison’s description of feudalism adequate for the purpose of correctly distinguishing it as a mode of production? Is Sison’s conception of a mode of production adequate to correctly analyze the prevailing mode of production in Philippine society?
Compare Sison’s definition of feudalism with Marx’s description of this particular mode of production: "The direct producer... is to be found here in the possession of his means of production, the necessary material labor conditions required for the realization of his labor and the production of his means of subsistence. He conducts his agricultural activity and the rural home industries connected with it independently... Under such conditions the surplus-labor for the nominal owners of the land can only be extorted from them by other than economic pressure, whatever the form assumed may be... Thus conditions of personal dependence are requisite, a lack of personal freedom, no matter to what extent, and being tied to the soil as its accessory, bondage in the true sense of the word."
This is also how Lenin described the economic system which prevailed in Russia in the epoch of serfdom. According to Lenin: "Its prevalence obviously presumes the following necessary conditions: firstly, the predominance of natural economy. The feudal estate had to constitute a self-sufficing, self-contained entity, in very slight contact with the outside world... Secondly, such an economy required that the direct producer be allotted the means of production in general, and land in particular; and more over that he be tied to the land, since otherwise the landlord is not assured of hands... Thirdly, a condition for such a system of economy was the personal dependence of the peasant on the landlord... Hence "other than economic pressure," as Marx says in describing this economic regime, "was necessary... Fourthly, and finally, a condition and a consequence of the system of economy described was the extremely low and stagnant condition of technique, for farming was in the hands of small peasants, crushed by poverty and degraded by personal dependence and by ignorance. "
So both Marx and Lenin, in defining and distinguishing feudalism as a mode of production, spoke of (1) the direct producer in possession of means of production necessary for his subsistence; (2) the predominance of self-sufficient natural economy; (3) surplus-labor appropriated by the landlord class by non-economic means; (4) the peasantry tied to the soil as its accessory, their personal dependence to the landlord class, i.e., feudal bondage in its real sense.
These four identifying features of feudalism comprise its very character as a mode of production and are precisely the ones undermined and negated by the development of capitalism. Under capitalism:
(1) the direct producer is expropriated, deprived of the possession of his means of production. According to Lenin, the methods of obtaining the surplus product under feudal and under capitalist economy are diametrically opposed: "the former is based on the producer being provided with land, the latter on the producer being dispossessed of the land."
(2) self-sufficient natural economy is eroded, dissolved and replaced by commodity, cash, market economy; According to Lenin: "The production of grain by the landlords for sale, which developed particularly in the latter period of the existence of serfdom, was already a harbinger of the collapse of the old regime."
(3) surplus-labor is appropriated through economic mechanisms, through the exchange of equivalents but resulting in surplus-value. According to Lenin, in elaborating Marx’s "other than economic pressure" description of feudal appropriation: "If the landlord had not possessed direct power over the person of the peasant, he could not have compelled a man who had a plot of land and ran his own farm to work for him."
(4) the "peasantry" is liberated from the soil, transformed into a "free man", becomes a proletariat. According to Lenin, "the separation of the direct producer from the means of production, i.e., his expropriation" signifies the transition from simple commodity production to capitalist production (and constitutes the necessary condition for this transition).
Now, how come Sison, in his definition of feudalism, mentions not even one of the four basic features of feudalism of which Marx and Lenin are one in describing – basic features which constitute the main foundations of feudalism as a system?
Why is Sison’s characterization of feudalism different with that of Marx and Lenin? Has moribund feudalism changed so much from the time of Marx and Lenin that it has survived the 20th century even though it has "lost" its original, historical nature? This is not a generational but an ideological gap, a deep chasm between the political economy of Maoism and that of Marxism-Leninism. But for Sison, this is not simply an ideological gap, but a question of intellectual honesty.
Sison failed to mention any of the four basic features and foundations of feudalism as a mode of production because they no longer exist and have already been undermined in Philippine reality. Sison arbitrarily defines feudalism the way he wants it, minus its essential character as an independent, historical mode of production.
(1) Natural economy, the self-contained and the self-sufficient character of the feudal estate, has been eroded, dissolved and replaced by commodity economy. (2) An economy that required "the direct producer be allotted the means of production in general, and land in particular," no longer prevails. (3) A system of economy that requires "the personal dependence of the peasant on the landlord" so the latter can appropriate the surplus product of the former through "non-economic means" no longer predominates. (4) Feudal bondage, in the true and original sense of the word – the peasant as being tied to the land, is not a reality in our countryside.
Commodity production, cash and market economy, has conquered the entire countryside, even the most remote villages. The overwhelming majority of the toiling people in the countryside have been dispossessed of the land and the means of production. The landlord is not obliged to provide land to the peasant to till. Feudal bondage, in the true sense of the word – the peasant as being tied to the soil – no longer exist. The peasant, if he wants, is free to leave the land that he tills and to venture to other means of livelihood. The overwhelming majority of the tillers have been transformed into "free agents", into proletarians and semiproletarians in the open market of a commodity economy.
Even present-day "tenancy" is no longer "feudal bondage in the true sense of the word" . The peasant as being tied to the soil, his personal dependence on the landlord, his lack of personal freedom, the landlord’s direct power over the person of the peasant – no longer prevails. The peasant’s surplus product is no longer appropriated by means "other than economic pressure" but precisely through economic pressure – his uprootment from the means of subsistence, his economic dependence on the landlord who controls the means of productions. Personal dependence on the landlord on the basis of natural economy has been replaced by economic dependence on the landlord, "the renting of land because of dire need" on the basis of commodity production.
The main foundations of feudalism as a mode of production have been substantially undermined in the Philippines in its socio-economic evolution. Yet, Sison insists that feudalism as an economic system persists and predominate in Philippine society because he has reduced feudalism as a mode of production into "landlordism" and "tenancy".
But this is not feudalism – as an independent, historical mode of production – but the survivals, the vestiges, the remnants of its forms, i.e., landlordism, tenancy, etc., under present-day society. And no matter how rampant, how prevalent, how pervasive are these feudal forms, they are nevertheless but the survivals of feudalism, not the feudal mode of production itself.
The mode of describing this persistence and pervasiveness of old feudal forms under present-day Philippine society which is essentially bourgeois and capitalistic in character, and in the context of present-day world capitalist system dominated by imperialism, is what should properly be called "semifeudalism".
This is semifeudalism. Meaning, the basic economic process of a bourgeois, capitalist system has taken over and ousted the old feudal process, and is now the underlying economic law beneath all the vestiges, all the survivals, all the remnants of the old feudal mode. There would not be any dispute if Sison defined semifeudalism as such – a basically capitalist, bourgeois mode of production hampered and distorted by feudal survivals and imperialist impositions. But instead of bringing into the forefront and emphasizing more strongly this basic economic process, Sison attempts to insist that the old feudal mode persists, ignores the bourgeois economic process in Philippine society, and even goes to the extent of promoting feudalism as the "social base of imperialism".
Political economy, according to Engels is "is the science of the laws governing the production and exchange of the material means of subsistence in human society." Now, if indeed, feudalism is the prevailing mode in Philippine society, Sison must prove that production and exchange in our economic system is basically feudal.
What is a feudal system of production and exchange? It is essentially and by nature a self-sufficient and self-contained natural economy, and it cannot be otherwise for feudalism has its own historical specificity.
Now, will Sison ever dare to assert and prove that even in 1968, the prevailing system of production and exchange of the means of subsistence of Philippine society was in the form of a self-sufficient and self-contained natural economy? Of course, he won’t, for he admits the fact that this type of production and exchange has already been eroded and dissolved in favor of commodity economy.
Why insist, then, that Philippine society is feudal? Sison so insists because he has reduced feudalism to landlordism and tenancy which is prevalent in Philippine society.
But even assuming that Sison’s definition of feudalism – reducing it to landlordism and tenancy – can stand on these two feudal limbs as a definition, still it cannot pass the simple test of a "concrete analysis of concrete conditions" of Philippine society. Reducing feudalism to landlordism and tenancy essentially means reducing feudal relations to a question of land rent, whatever its form.
Actually, he formulates it as such – "feudal relations between the parasitic landlord class and the productive peasantry essentially involve the extortion of exorbitant land rent in cash or kind from the latter by the former." What is decisive for Sison, in a feudal set-up, is the existence of this feudal mode of appropriation of the surplus product – land rent.
Indeed, different modes of production have different modes of appropriation of the surplus social product. And "land rent" is a typical form of feudal appropriation, although it does not belong exclusively to feudalism. There is feudal "land rent" and capitalist "land rent". But let us set aside for the moment this difference, and assume that the prevailing form of land rent in the Philippines is "feudal". The question is: Was the prevailing, the predominant mode of appropriation of the surplus social product in Philippine society, even in 1968, in the form of "land rent"?
Sison won’t dare assert that the principal mode of appropriation in Philippine society in 1968 was in the form of "land rent" for hard facts and statistics can easily prove that social wealth and the surplus social product in the Philippines, even then, was the output mainly of wage-labor and in the form of capitalist surplus-value.
If the predominant mode of production, exchange and appropriation in Philippine society is not feudal, what is left of Sison’s "feudalism"? Will Sison, or his fanatics, stoop so low as to argue that Philippine society is feudal in the sense that the majority of our people are peasants oppressed and exploited by landlordism and tenancy?
Determining a mode of production is not a numerical question of how many peasants are tenants of the landlord class. This is the task of statistics not of political economy. According to Lenin: "It is not with ‘production’ that political economy deals, but with the social relations of men in production, with the social system of production. Once these social relations have been ascertained and thoroughly analyzed, the place in production of every class, and, consequently, the share they get of the national consumption, are thereby defined."
The only fallback available to Sison is to retreat to his "semifeudal" obscuranticism and eclecticism, deny that Philippine society is feudal, deny that he ever asserted, at least categorically, even in PSR that the dominant mode is feudal, and insist that what he had categorically stated is Philippine society is "semicolonial and semifeudal."
Indeed, Sison has never categorically declared or formulated that Philippine mode of production is feudal, and in fact, he evaded and obscured such a categorical posing of the question. But it is clear as daylight, in the entire PSR, that his essential analysis of Philippine society is feudal although he preferred to characterize it as "semifeudal".
But let us grant Sison his refuge. Let us return to where we started – to his "semifeudalism".
If "semifeudalism" is not "feudalism", what kind of social specie is it? There are only two choices left for Sison. One, classify it under the capitalist domain with widespread "feudal" enclaves. Or obscure it again by classifying it as "anonymous", neither capitalist nor feudal but with a sprinkling of both, hence a distinct type of social system.
The first is anathema to Sison, and so we proceed to his "anonymous" social order, neither feudal nor capitalist but "semifeudal". And we again repeat the basic question: Is there such a social system called semifeudal? Can "semifeudalism" independently stand as a distinct mode of production?
Lenin speaks of a "transitional system of economy". It is a historical situation "wherein capitalist economy can not emerge at once, and feudal economy can not disappear at once." The only possible system of economy is, accordingly, a transitional one, a system combining the features both of feudal and capitalist systems. These two systems are actually interwoven in the most varied and fantastic fashion. Sometimes the feudal forms pass into the capitalist forms and merge with the latter to such extent that it becomes almost impossible to distinguish one from the other.
According to Lenin: "Life creates forms that unite in themselves with remarkable gradualness systems of economy whose basic features constitute opposites." It becomes impossible to say where "feudalism" ends and where "capitalism" begins. And he adds: "It is quite natural that the combination of such dissimilar and even opposite systems of economy leads in practice to a whole number of most profound and complicated conflicts and contradictions, and that the pressure of these contradictions results in a number of farmers going bankrupt, etc. All these are phenomena characteristics of every transitional period."
Having established the fact that it is possible that two opposing systems are "merged" in a historical situation of transition, what then is the task of political economy? The task is not to formulate reality in suspended animation but to capture the dynamism of this transition for it is precisely a period not of static anonymity but of an intense inner struggle for identity.
More specifically, the imperative is to determine which of the two systems is eliminating the other under the influence of the whole course of economic evolution. The task is not just to merely declare it a transitional period for it is something obvious and apparent, static and meaningless, but to understand its laws of development and its inevitable evolution. Marx, Engels and Lenin witnessed these transitional periods of history. But never with false pride did they simply announce that the world is in transition. They declared outright how it would transform.
Is Sison’s "semifeudalism" a transitional system of economy? The way it was presented and formulated by Sison, it is definitely not a transitional system but a "type" of economy determined by imperialism in symbiotic, interactive relationship with feudalism.
Lenin’s "transitional system of economy" is not something deliberate but objective, arising from historical conditions. Sison’s semifeudalism is deliberate, predetermined, schematic – an imperialist design in collusion with feudalism. This is Sison’s brand of historical materialism and political economy.
Again we quote Sison’s "social base" theory: "As a matter of fact, the old feudal mode of production still covers more extensive areas than capitalist farms. Feudalism has been encouraged and retained by US imperialism to perpetuate the poverty of the broad masses of the people, subjugate the most numerous class which is the peasantry and manipulate local backwardness for the purpose of having cheap labor and cheap raw materials from the country. It is in this sense that domestic feudalism is the social base of US imperialism."
There is nothing transitional in this. Sison is not saying that "capitalism cannot emerge at once" or that, "feudalism cannot disappear at once". Nothing of this sort but the reverse. Feudalism is deliberately encouraged and retained, and capitalism deliberately aborted in its growth, its seed assimilated and prevented from growing.
Semifeudalism, for Sison, is nothing but a type of feudalism dictated and designed by imperialism – monopoly capitalism impinging on, intertwining and existing side by side with feudalism, in interactive and symbiotic relationship with feudalism as its social base. And this is all there is to it.
Feudalism is the instrument of imperialism to perpetuate the poverty of the broad masses of the people. Feudalism is the instrument of imperialism to subjugate the most numerous class which is the peasantry. Feudalism is the instrument of imperialism to manipulate local backwardness for the purpose of having cheap labor and cheap raw materials from the country. Hence, feudalism is the social base of imperialism.
And according to Sison, "if landlord power were to be overthrown in the countryside, US imperialism will have nothing to stand on". He should have said: Imperialism is nothing without feudalism – this is the meaning of feudalism as the social base of imperialism!
This is Sison’s "semifeudalism", a flimsy subterfuge of feudalism. Scratch the surface of this "semifeudalism" just a little bit and you will find hidden this hideous, moribund feudal mode.
Sison is like a Narodnik – those Russian muzhik lovers – but inverted inside out. He wants to obliterate capitalism by ignoring it. He wants to reach socialism other than through capitalism and reach it by using the peasantry as its revolutionary vehicle.
Here is a Communist who does not want to talk about capitalism, who is not interested in capitalist developments, who will indict anything and everything for the people’s miseries except the capitalist system as if it is not the very root, in the final analysis, of all the sufferings of all toiling people in present-day society.
He makes a lot of noise about the working class as the revolutionary leader of the Philippine revolution but is tongue-tied about capitalism – the social system that creates and tempers the proletariat and the material and spiritual conditions for the leading role of the proletariat in the revolution.
It’s as if his entire schema for a "people’s revolution" will collapse once he brings into the forefront and emphasizes more strongly the capitalist developments in society. In PSR, capitalist developments in the socio-economic evolution of Philippine society were completely ignored, evaded, obscured and distorted as if his "semicolonial and semifeudal" characterization will be undermined, annulled and negated once he acknowledge the basic bourgeois economic process underlying the peculiar features of Philippine society.
For Sison, these are not objective realities worth his attention. What is real for him is the imperialist will and consciousness to encourage and retain feudalism in the Philippines as its "social base". For Sison, this is how a mode of production is "determined" – not by the internal laws inherent to its development but by the imperial will and mandate of a foreign power standing over and above society.
We cannot even praise Sison for this "excessive" anti-imperialism for it does not even hit the class essence of imperialism – its capitalist nature. Sison’s anti-imperialism is basically bourgeois-democratic patriotism and nationalism, driven by self-determinism and the desire for political democracy.
What are these capitalist developments, these objective bourgeois economic processes which Sison failed to analyze and interrelate in their totality but which are vital and decisive in defining the mode of production evolving and prevailing in Philippine society?
First, the growing social division of labor and the commodity production which it engenders and has become generalized in Philippine society even in 1968. Second, the growth of the urban population at the expense of the rural and its necessary connection with commodity production and the development of capitalism. Third, the ruin of the peasantry, its differentiation as a class, the increasing proletarianization of the working people, and their necessary connection with the growth of commodity economy. Fourth, the landlords’ transition from feudal to capitalist economy as a result of commodity production and on the basis of the development and predominance of wage-slavery in the entire economy.
In discussing these basic economic laws in the development of capitalism, we will concentrate our critique on theoretical political economy since an empirical presentation and analysis will require an entire book given the welter of data and statistics now available. However, we will attach the most basic data and statistics, that by themselves can indict Sison’s erroneous analysis of the socio-economic evolution of Philippine society.
But before we proceed with the discussion of these points, it should be asked: Why the prevalence of the "anticapitalist" analysis among Party comrades? There are many reasons, paramount of which is the low theoretical level of the Party, specially on the basic or "classic" theoretical propositions of Marx, Engels and Lenin. But there is one very irritating "standard" and "common sense" argument supporting this "anticapitalist" analysis of society that contains not an iota of Marxism, betraying a complete ignorance of Marxism.
The argument runs like this: "The share of the industrial proletariat in the population is very small, while the great majority are peasants, so how can the prevailing mode of production in the Philippines be considered capitalist? How can this be capitalism when it is very slow in increasing the number of factory workers, its number very low in proportion to the entire population?"
In 1894, the factory workers in Russia were only about 1% of the entire population. Yet Lenin declared the "indisputable domination and development of capitalism in all branches of national labor" in Russia! But here in the Philippines, what Sison considers the Filipino industrial proletariat include, in 1968, about 15% of the total manpower in the country or 1.8-2 million out of a population of 37 million.
Even in England and Wales in 1861, according to Lenin (based on Marx’s figures in Capital ), there were only 1.6 million employed in the main branches of factory industry, a mere 8% of a population of 20 million. And there were 1.2 million servants – representing a dead loss of "national labor" – whose number was growing more rapidly than the number of factory workers! Yet this country was the most advanced capitalist country at that time!!
Lenin criticizes those who reduce the working class to factory workers. "This is repeating (and even aggravating)", according to Lenin, "the error of the Russian petty-bourgeois economists who make large-scale machine industry the very beginning of capitalism. Are not the millions of Russian handicraftsmen who work for merchants, with the latter’s material and for ordinary wages, engaged in capitalist production? Do the regular farm laborers and day laborers in agriculture not receive wages from their employers, and do they not surrender surplus-value to them? Are not the workers in the building industry (which has rapidly developed in our country since the Reform) subjected to capitalist exploitation? And so on."
In PSR, Sison classifies the farm workers (mainly in large sugar, coconut, fiber-growing, citrus, pineapple, banana and vegetable farms) as part of the proletariat although he makes a qualification: they are referred to as part of the proletariat only "secondarily" and the industrial proletariat as "principally".
And since they are referred to only as part of the proletariat "secondarily", he allots only one short paragraph to the farm workers in his class analysis and does not even bother to compute their numbers and add them to the total number of the working class in the Philippines in 1968. The farm workers deserve only one short paragraph in Sison’s class analysis. But the fact is, they are the fastest growing sector of the working people, and by the 1970’s up to the present, became the biggest sector of the working population! If this was not yet apparent in 1968, Sison should have foreseen this development through a theoretical understanding of political economy.
And to further "undermine" the Filipino working class, Sison classifies those people in towns and urban areas "who cannot be accommodated as regular wage-earners in industrial enterprises nor as regular tenants in the countryside" as part of the semiproletariat and does not even bother to explain theoretically, from the point of view of political economy, the existence of this "semiproletariat". He just declares that this is normal in a "semicolonial and semifeudal society! Sison is obviously committing the error of petty-bourgeois economists who make machine industry the beginning of capitalism and this developed stage of capitalism the criterion of its development.
The point is, according to Lenin: "Why judge the ‘mission of capitalism’ by the number of factory workers, when the ‘mission’ is fulfilled by the development of capitalism and the socialization of labor in general, by the development of a proletariat in general, in relation to which the factory workers play the role only of front-rankers, the vanguard. There is of course, no doubt that the revolutionary movement of the proletariat depends on the number of these workers, on their concentration, on the degree of their development, etc.; but all these does not give us the slightest right to equate the ‘unifying significance’ of capitalism with the number of factory workers. To do so would be to narrow down Marx’s idea impossibly."
What is this "mission of capitalism", this "unifying significance" of capitalism to which the question of the "number of factory workers" should not be equated? Lenin is referring to the historic role of capitalism in the socialization of labor and concentration of the means of production, and according to him, "these criteria have nothing in common with the ‘number of factory workers’."
According to Lenin: "The socialization of labor by capitalist production does not at all consist in people working under one roof (that is only a small part of the process), but in the concentration of capital being accompanied by the specialization of social labor, by a decrease in the number of capitalists in each given branch of industry and an increase in the number of separate branches of industry – in many separate production processes being merged into one social production process."
Lenin made a concrete illustration of this socialization of labor: "When in the days of handicraft weaving, for example, the small producers themselves spun the yarn and made it into cloth, we had a few branches of industry (spinning and weaving were merged). But when production becomes socialized by capitalism, the number of separate branches of industry increases: cotton spinning is done separately and so is weaving; this very division and the concentration of production give rise to new branches – machine building, coal mining, and so forth. In each branch of industry, which has now become more specialized, the number of capitalists steadily decreases. This means that the social tie between the producers becomes increasingly stronger, the producers become welded into a single whole."
According to Lenin, the socialization of labor by capitalism is manifested in the following processes: (1) The growth of commodity production destroys the scattered condition of small economic units characteristic of natural economy and draws together the small local markets into an enormous market. (2) Capitalism replaces the former scattered production by an unprecedented concentration both in agriculture and industry. (3) Capitalism eliminates the forms of personal dependence that constituted an inalienable component of preceding systems of economy. (4) Capitalism necessarily creates mobility of the population, something not required by previous systems of social economy and impossible under them on a large scale. (5) Capitalism constantly reduces the proportion of its population engaged in agriculture and increases the number of large industrial centers. (6) Capitalist society increases the population’s need for association, for organizations, and lend these organizations a character distinct from those of former times. (7) All the above-mentioned changes effected in the old economic system by capitalism inevitably lead to a change in the mentality of the population.
This socialization of labor and concentration of the means of production are the historic roles of capitalism, the hallmarks of capitalism. This is capitalism. The beginning of this economic process is the beginning of capitalism. From here, we start with our first point – the growing social division of labor and the commodity economy which it engenders and which has become generalized in Philippine society even in 1968.
Sison accepts the obvious reality that self-sufficient natural economy has long been eroded and dissolved in Philippine society and has been replaced by commodity economy. Commodity economy has gained complete sway and prevalence in our society and theoretical political economy teaches that it can only do so under a capitalist mode of production.
Sison speaks of the predominance of commodity economy but is silent on the growing social division of labor in Philippine society. Can one speak of a generalized commodity economy without a generalized social division of labor? Only people like Sison can gloss over the social division of labor, belittle its significance, and in fact, completely evade and ignore this question as if it does not exist or is irrelevant to the subject at hand. Yet he talks of a commodity economy replacing natural economy. Either he simply does not understand what he is talking about, what this commodity economy means or he is deliberately deceiving his readers.
In PSR, he attributes the "erosion and dissolution of natural economy in favor of commodity economy" to the "intertwining of foreign monopoly capitalism and domestic feudalism". See, he does not know what he is talking about!
This "intertwining" is a "new" theory for commodity economy, a "new" explanation for the emergence and predominance of commodity economy, explaining it not on the basis of the growth and deepening of the social division of labor.
But we have already revealed earlier that what Sison refers to directly as commodity economy is not the economic system of production itself but simply the actual planting of bananas, etc., i.e., export crops! And this is simply embarrassing !! This "intertwining" is nothing but the persistence of the old feudal mode "side by side" with the planting of bananas, etc.! This is how Sison "explains" commodity economy by his "intertwining" theory – the elaborate weaving of absurdities designed to bewilder his unknowing readers.
The basis of commodity economy, "the very foundation of all commodity economy", according to Lenin, is the social division of labor and commodity economy cannot be explained other than through the social division of labor. There can be no generalized commodity production without a generalized social division of labor. And a generalized social division of labor can never materialize in a feudal mode of production and can only be accomplished in a capitalist system of economy for this is the distinct character and role of capitalism, its historic mission – the socialization of labor. This, actually, is self-explanatory, if we know our historical materialism.
Simple commodity production has long existed in society even during the last stages of primitive society – and its basis and corollary, ever since, is the simple division of labor. Simple commodity production which evolved into a generalized commodity production, into a commodity-producing system of economy presupposes a generalized social division of labor, a socialization of labor whose absolute form is capitalist production.
This is how Lenin explained the social division of labor as the basis of commodity economy: "Manufacturing industry separates from the raw materials industry, and each of these subdivides into small varieties and subvarieties which produce specific products as commodities, and exchange them for the products of all the others. Thus the development of commodity economy leads to an increase in the number of separate and independent branches of industry; the tendency of this development is to transform into a special branch of industry the making of a product – and not only the making of a product, but even the separate operations of preparing the product for consumption."
Is this not how Philippine society operates today, and even in 1968? An integrated commodity economy developing with the growth and deepening of the social division of labor. Can one imagine a commodity economy emerging and predominating not on the basis of such a mode of production characterized by a deepening social division of labor?
And according to Lenin: "It goes without saying that the above-mentioned separation of the manufacturing from the raw materials industry, of manufacture from agriculture, transform agriculture itself to an industry, into a commodity-producing branch of economy. The process of specialization that separates from each other the diverse varieties of the manufacture of products, creating an ever-growing number of branches of industry, also manifests itself in agriculture, creating specialized agricultural districts (and systems of farming) and giving rise to exchange not only between the products of agriculture and industry but also between the various products of agriculture."
Philippine agriculture, even in 1968, started to become, and today has totally become, a commodity-producing branch of the economy, a distinct industry, a highly commercialized, commodity-producing industry integrated with the total economy. The peasant produces not for himself but for the market and has become totally dependent on the market. The industrial centers provide the means of production and the means of consumption of the agricultural sector while the latter provides the raw materials needed by industry and the agricultural consumable products needed by the towns and urban areas.
The rice farmers produce primarily and almost exclusively for the market, and even buys the grain their family consumes from the market. In Central Luzon and other densely-populated and highly-commercialized provinces, even the firewood that the peasants need must be procured from the market. Even the vegetables farmers grow have become so very specialized that their other vegetable requirements needed for subsistence they must now be bought from the market.
Before the advent of commodity economy, the saying "Every man for himself, and God for all" was justified. But under the regime of commodity economy, "every man for himself" is quite inapplicable. According to Lenin: "Here each works for all and all for each (and no room is left for God – either as a supermundane fantasy or a mundane ‘golden calf’)."
How can Sison close his eyes and ignore this social division of labor that explains the emergence and dominance of commodity economy, and in its place, invent his "intertwining" theory to explain the dissolution of natural economy in favor of commo-dity economy?
Because, like an ostrich, he prefers to bury his head in his "semicolonial and semifeudal" sand rather than face the social facts that point to the inevitable capitalist development and transformation of Philippine society on the basis of this social division of labor and its corollary, commodity production. His "semifeudal" fetish has completely alienated him from social reality.
The development of the social division of labor and the supremacy of commodity economy in the entire society inevitably leads to our second point – the growth of the urban, industrial population at the expense of the rural, agricultural population.
The past three decades saw the continuous separation of an ever-growing part of the population from agriculture. This is a law governing all developing commodity economies, and more so, capitalist economies in which, according to Lenin, "the industrial (i.e., non-agricultural) population grows faster than the agricultural and diverts an ever-growing part of the population from agriculture to manufacturing industry." Today, more than 40% of the entire population reside in the urban areas, and this does not include those in what the government classifies as "economic zones".
If in 1968, this phenomenon was not yet apparent, Sison should have anticipated this development on the basis of theoretical political economy, specifically, the law of motion of commodity economy.
What is the economic explanation and implication of this migration from the countryside to the cities? Can Sison’s feudalism as a mode of production explain such a phenomenon? Under a feudal set-up, this could never occur, not only because of feudal bondage, i.e., the tiller tied to the land, but because there is no compelling economic, material condition for an ever-increasing part of the agricultural population to migrate to the towns and cities in a situation of undeveloped commodity production.
Only the growing impoverishment of the peasantry and their separation from the means of production due to the growth of commodity economy would create the compelling economic, material conditions for their movement from the countryside to the cities. And this could only mean the break-up of feudal natural economy as a mode of production and the emergence of a capitalist commodity economy gaining complete sway and universal prevalence though hampered and aggravated by feudal vestiges and imperialist dictations.
This is how Marx explained this phenomenon: "It is in the nature of capitalist production to continually reduce the agricultural population as compared with the non-agricultural, because in industry (in the strict sense) the increase of constant capital at the expense of variable capital goes hand in hand with an absolute increase in variable capital despite its relative decrease; on the other hand, in agriculture the variable capital required for the exploitation of a certain plot of land decreases absolutely; it can thus only increase to the extent that new land is taken into cultivation, but this again requires as a prerequisite a still greater growth of the non-agricultural population."
The ever-growing increase in the commercial and industrial population at the expense of the agricultural population is inconceivable under a feudal mode of production, and conceivable only under a capitalist economic system. According to Lenin: "the formation of industrial centers, their numerical growth, and the attraction of the population by them cannot but exert a most profound influence on the whole rural system, and cannot but give rise to a growth of commercial and capitalist agriculture." And just like a Narodnik, Sison overlooks this development as a mere trifle – this diversion of the population from agriculture to industry, and the influence exerted by this fact on agriculture.
The most decisive and most "devastating" impact in agriculture of this growth, the deepening of the social division of labor, of this prevalence of commodity economy, and the formation and numerical growth of industrial and commercial centers is the ruin of the small producers in the countryside – the peasantry. We now proceed to our third point: the differentiation of the peasantry as a class and the growing proletarianization of the working people in the countryside.
In Sison’s class analysis, he differentiates the peasantry into rich, middle and poor peasants, and even includes them in the basic categories of rural bourgeoisie, rural petty bourgeoisie and semi-proletariat, respectively. But he does not explain the socio-economic phenomenon of the differentiation of the peasantry, its inherent connection with the socio-economic evolution of society, and its significance and direction of development in the transition and transformation of the mode of production.
He completely obscures and evades a socio-economic explanation of this phenomenon either because he simply does not understand theoretical political economy or is afraid where this socio-economic analysis will lead to on the basis of theoretical political economy and its implication on his "semifeudal" fetish and preconceived notion.
The socio-economic situation in which the Filipino peasantry find themselves is that of commodity economy and Sison is aware of this reality. Put simply, the Filipino peasant is completely subordinated to the market, on which he is dependent as regards both his personal consumption and his farming.
Inherent in every commodity economy are all those contradictions that are now manifesting in the socio-economic relations among the peasantry: competition, the struggle for economic independence, the purchase and renting of land, the concentration of production in the hands of a minority, the forcing of the majority into the ranks of the proletariat, their exploitation by a minority through the medium of merchant’s capital and the hiring of farm laborers, the technical progress of farming. (Refer to attached data.)
According to Lenin: "There is not a single economic phenomenon among the peasantry that does not bear this contradictory form, one specifically peculiar to the capitalist system, i.e., that does not express a struggle and antagonism of interests, that does not imply advantage for some and disadvantage for others. It is the case with the renting of land, the purchase of land, and with ‘industries’ in their diametrically opposite types; it is also the case with the technical progress of farming."
What is the relevance of all these contradictions with the subject at hand – the differentiation of the peasantry? According to Lenin: "The sum-total of all the economic contradictions among the peasantry constitutes what we call the differentiation of the peasantry. The peasants themselves very aptly and strikingly characterize this process with the term ‘depeasantising’. This process signifies the utter dissolution of the old, patriarchal peasantry and the creation of new types of rural inhabitants."
Who are these new types of rural inhabitants?
They are the rural bourgeoisie, the rural petty bourgeoisie, the proletarians and semiproletarians whom we commonly call the rich peasants, the middle peasants, the poor peasants and the farm workers.
They are social forces no longer belonging to the old feudal mode and epoch but existing and operating under a new mode of production. But a new mode of production that has not completely freed itself from the vestiges of the old feudal forms and, instead, has been entrapped in a world imperialist system hampering, distorting and weighing down its growth.
The problem with Sison is that he copied Mao’s equating the rich peasants with the "rural bourgeoisie", etc., but he did not understand its socio-economic basis and implications. He did not deal with this question as the historical disintegration of the peasantry as a class but as "simple differentiation", not its split and break-up as a class as both a basis and a consequence of a developing new mode of production but simply as the emergence of "property inequality" but still under the old mode of feudal production.
According to Lenin: "Undoubtedly, the emergence of property inequality is the starting point of the whole process, but the process is not at all confined to property ‘differentiation’. The old peasantry is not only ‘differentiating’, it is being completely dissolved, it is ceasing to exist, it is being ousted by absolutely new types of rural inhabitants – types that are the basis of a society in which commodity economy and capitalist production prevail. These types are the rural bourgeoisie (chiefly petty bourgeoisie) and the rural proletariat – a class of commodity producers in agriculture and a class of agricultural wage-workers."
This differentiation and disintegration of the peasantry is an important factor in the process of the formation of agricultural capitalism and this can be affirmed even by a purely theoretical analysis of this process as Marx did, according to Lenin, in Vol. III of Capital, chapter 47 ("Genesis of Capitalist Ground Rent").
According to Lenin: "The differentiation of the peasantry, which develops the latter’s extreme groups at the expense of the middle ‘peasantry,’ creates two new types of rural inhabitants. The feature common to both types is the commodity, money character of their economy. The first new type is the rural bourgeoisie or the well-to-do peasantry. These include the independent farmers who carry on commercial agriculture in all its varied forms..., then comes the owners of commercial and industrial establishments, the proprietors of commercial enterprises, etc. ... The other new type is the rural proletariat, the class of allotment-holding wage-workers. This covers the poor peasants, including those that are completely landless; but the most typical representative of the Russian rural proletariat is the allotment-holding farm laborer, day laborer, unskilled laborer, building worker or other allotment-holding worker."
The path of capitalist development in Philippine agriculture, indeed, is the old, beaten road described by Lenin in 1897. The polar differentiation of the Filipino peasantry is proceeding as described by Lenin but with a peculiar difference. The rural bourgeoisie cannot seem to take-off from the simple reproduction of capital or are stuck at its quantitative development Many of them cannot decisively leap into the actual accumulation of capital, with not a few going bankrupt.
This is due not only to the vestiges of feudalism in the countryside but also to monopoly capitalism which stunts the growth of national capitalism in the Philippines. But the failure of the rural bourgeoisie to decisively accumulate capital in a continuing way does not mean that they are still within the bounds of a feudal mode or a pre-capitalist stage of deve-lopment just as it is ridiculous to conclude that the Philippines is still pre-capitalist or non-capitalist, basically feudal in mode, because it cannot reach the more advanced stage of capitalism -- its national industrialization.
When Lenin declared Russian society as basically capitalist in 1897, Russian capitalism was still at the stage of capitalist manufacture and its factory system, its large-scale machine industry was still at its rudimentary stage. Philippine capitalism of 1968 was much more developed than Russian capitalism of 1897.
The important point is, from among the rich peasants, a class of capitalist farmers has been created, since the renting or buying of land for commercial purposes plays a significant part of the rich-peasant economy. The size of a rich peasant’s farm and the technology that it requires, in the majority of cases, need a labor force outside of his household. Thus, a necessary condition for the existence of the rich peasant, is the emergence of farm laborers and part-time workers from the poor peasants. According to Lenin, "the spare cash obtained by these peasants in the shape of net income is either directed towards commercial operations and usury, which are so excessively developed in our rural districts, or under favorable conditions, is invested in the purchase of land, farm improvements, etc." Is this not how the Filipino rural borgeoisie operate?
In 1968, according to Sison, the rich peasants comprise only 5% of the rural population, a very small minority of the peasantry. But according to Lenin, "but as to their weight in the sum-total of peasant farming, in the total quantity of the means of production belonging to the peasantry, in the total amount of produce raised by the peasantry, the peasant bourgeoisie are undoubtedly predominant." Speaking only in terms of the internal system of economic relationships among the peasantry, the rural bourgeoisie are "the masters of contemporary countryside." (See attached data)
Regarding the poor peasants, this is how Lenin described their condition: "Insignificant farming on a patch of land, with the farm in a state of ruin (particularly evidenced by the leasing out of land), inability to exist without the sale of labor power (=‘industries’ of the indigent peasants), an extremely low standard of living (probably lower than that of the worker without an allotment) – such are the distinguishing feature of this type." We should add, as in our case in the Philippines. (See attached data)
The most significant point is why Lenin advanced the theoretical proposition that this considerable proportion of the peasantry, the majority of the peasantry, already properly belongs to the rural proletariat. According to Lenin: "It should be added that our literature frequently contains too stereotyped an understanding of the theoretical proposition that capitalism requires the free, landless worker. This proposition is quite correct as indicating the main trend, but capitalism penetrates into agriculture particularly slowly and in extremely varied forms. The allotment of land to the rural worker is very often to the interests of the rural employers themselves, and that is why the allotment holding rural worker is a type to be found in all capitalist countries. This type assumes different forms in different countries... Each of these bears traces of an specific agrarian system, of a specific history of agrarian relations – but this does not prevent the economist from classifying them all as one type of agricultural proletarian."
And Lenin continued: "Whether the land is his full property (as a small-holding peasant) or whether he is only allowed to use it by the landlord... makes no difference at all. In assigning the indigent peasants to the rural proletariat, we are saying nothing new... the mass of the ‘peasantry’ have already taken a quite definite place in the general system of capitalist production, namely, as agricultural and industrial wage-workers."
The middle peasants are what Lenin calls the "intermediary link" between the new types of "peasantry," between the new types of "rural inhabitants" – the rural bourgeoisie and the rural proletariat. They are the ones being left behind by the advance of commodity production, "they are distinguished", according to Lenin, "by the least development of commodity production". They are economically incapable of taking advantage of the new form of production – wage labor – while at the same time, they do everything economically possible to avert their falling completely into wage-labor.
According to Lenin: "In its social relation this group fluctuates between the top group, towards which it gravitates but which only a small minority of lucky ones succeed in entering, and the bottom group, into which it is pushed by the whole course of social evolution. We have seen that the peasant bourgeoisie oust not only the bottom group, but also the middle group, of the peasantry. Thus a process specifically characteristic of capitalist economy takes place, the middle members are swept away and the extremes are reinforced –the process of ‘de-peasantising’". (See attached data)
It is actually the middle peasants who are being pushed into the ranks of the rural proletariat not the poor peasants because they are already basically part of the proletariat by virtue of their status as poor "peasants". In Lenin’s analysis, it was actually the peasants in medium circumstances, i.e., the middle peasants, who are leaving the areas of emigration and mainly the extreme groups who are remaining at home.
A study of the class origin of our factory workers should be made to verify whether it is true in the Philippines. But among the "semiproletarian" elements in the urban slum areas, it is observable that many came from the poor "peasants" or farm wor-kers.
If capitalist commodity economy on the basis of generalized social division of labor intensifies the differentiation of the peasantry, what are the factors that retard this process? One factor is the independent development of merchant’s and usurer’s capital. Another is the persistence of the survivals of feudalism.
The independent development of merchant and usurer capital means that it is not being transformed into industrial capital, meaning, this capital is being used only for trade and usury and not used as capital invested in production, whether agricultural or industrial. But it is a fact that in the countryside capital is invested by the rich peasants in farm production. They put their money in the improvement of their farm, into purchase and renting of land, in the acquisition of modern implements and farm inputs, the hiring of workers, etc. But it is also true, that there are many factors in the economic situation of the country, and particularly of agriculture, that deter them from doing so.
However, if indeed, merchant and usurer capital is not being transformed into industrial capital, into capital for production, (and we refer to all aspects of the national economy) the differentiation of the peasantry will not occur in real life. The formation of a rural bourgeoisie and a rural proletariat will not prosper, and according to Lenin, "the whole of the peasantry would represent a fairly even type of poverty-stricken cultivators, among whom only usurers would standout, and then only to the extent of money owned and not to the extent and organization of agricultural production."
With regard to the vestiges of feudalism, this is a fundamental factor retarding not only the differentiation of the peasantry but also the development of capitalism in the Philippines.
Feudal remnants are still quite prevalent and pervasive in the Philippine countryside. But this is only one side of the picture. The other side is the continuous inroad of capitalism in Philippine agriculture in varied forms and scale, despite the survivals of feudalism.
From here, we proceed to our fourth point: the landlords’ transition from feudal to capitalist economy as a result of commodity production and the predominance of wage-slavery in the entire economy.
Under commodity economy, landlord economy can not but evolve and adapt to changing economic laws for it to become economically viable. First of all, the growth of commodity economy conflicts with the feudal mode of landlord economy since the latter is based on unchanging technique, on inseparable ties between the landlord and the peasant.
With the intensified development of agri-business (agricultural chemicals, fertilizers, farm machineries, new varieties of crops, etc.) and with the peasant "free" to look for more viable sources of income, the landlord class can no longer rely exclusively or even primarily on "non-economic" means of appropriating the surplus labor of the peasantry.
According to Lenin, "this system is totally impracticable in its complete form, and every advance in the development of commodity economy and commercial agriculture undermines the conditions of its practicability."
If we are to correctly understand the persistence of landlord economy, whatever its form, we have to analyze it through the economic background on which it operates. And if we are to assume that capitalism is the dominant mode of production in Philippine society, we must learn to understand the power of capital, not only its capacity to penetrate every cell of the social organism and subordinate all existing forms of socio-economic relations but also its capacity to absorb ancient forms and give them capitalist content, and thus conjure up dead spirits in the service of capitalism.
Landlord monopoly of the land persists in Philippine society. But land tenure does not by itself define a mode of production. However, since landlord monopoly of the land is an immediate manifestation of the old feudal mode, it is correct to state that its persistence is a survival of old feudal forms of property relations.
The more basic question, however, is how the landlord class appropriates the surplus product of the peasant as the owner of the means of production. Landlord appropriation can be classified into two basic forms: through land rent and through wage-labor.
It is indisputable than the former is on the decline while the latter continues to grow in scope. Today, tenants rank only third among the rural population in terms of numbers. The biggest are the landless rural poor who subsist by selling labor-power. Second are the owner-cultivators.
Even in the grain sector, the bastion of feudal tenancy, and according to Lenin, "the last and the slowest to be drawn into commodity circulation" – big landlord ownership has been effectively undermined, throughout the years, by land reform measures of the reactionary government. (See attached data)
If land rent is the immediate manifestation of feudal agriculture, the employment of hired labor is the principal manifestation of agricultural capitalism. Today, the "chief occupation" of the biggest sector of our agricultural population is that of wage-labor for rich peasants and landlords. And because of the technological improvements in our agricultural economy, even tenanted lands now require a considerable degree of hired labor.
We still have to establish reliable data on how many landlords are now employing hired labor on a regular basis and what sectors of the agricultural economy are run mainly along capitalist lines. But one thing is certain: the millions and millions of agricultural laborers in the countryside will definitely starve to death if they can not find employment even on a daily basis. But the fact that they are still subsisting proves that landlords, rich peasant and merchant capital are buying-up their labor power in various ways.
However, despite the widespread emergence and development of wage-labor in agriculture, despite the growth of the social division of labor, the supremacy of capitalist commodity economy and the sharp differentiation of the peasantry – still, tenancy persists on a wide scale in the countryside.
What is the nature of this landlord-tenant relation, whatever its form, under generalized capitalist commodity production? Under a feudal mode, this landlord-tenant relation is forged and maintained by "non-economic pressure". Under present-day Philippine society, it is determined primarily by economic factors.
Generally, peasants enter into such a relation or retain such a relation not because of feudal bondage but because of "dire economic need" as Lenin puts it. If a peasant can find a more feasible source of income than being a tenant, there is no social force that can prevent him from doing so or compel him to remain a tenant against his will.
Likewise, a landlord is not obliged to retain such a relation with his tenant. He abrogates or preserves such a relationship for purely economic consideration. No law can actually bind a landlord to retain a tenant if he believes he can extract more value from his land by other means.
Filipino landlords are no longer like their ancestors of classic feudal times. This is now, literally, a new generation of landlords, schooled in bourgeois ways. Commodity economy has broken their feudal habits and they are now extremely bourgeoisified by their luxurious lives in the cities. In fact, aside from extracting land rent, almost all big landlords have other businesses which are generally capitalist in form. They are now astute businessmen who make decisions with a view to maximizing profit or what they perceive as good "business sense".
Hence, if they decide to retain tenancy relations, it is not out of any sense of feudal tradition but of purely economic, bourgeois calculation. According to one progressive writer: "What therefore appears to be feudal relations of production is actually a profit-maximizing response of landlords drawn into a distinctive type of backward capitalism that is subordinated to imperialism."
However, this does not mean that landlordism and tenancy are not vestiges of feudalism. They are survivals of feudalism expropriated by capital to further intensify the exploitation of the working people. According to Lenin: "The relics of medieval, semifeudal institutions... are such an oppressive yoke upon the proletariat and the people... And he further declared: "Undoubtedly, they must definitely be abolished – and the quicker and more radically, the better – in order, by ridding bourgeois society of its inherited semifeudal fetters, to untie the hands of the working class, to facilitate the struggle against the bourgeoisie."
In studying the development of capitalism, the greatest importance should be attached to the extent to which wage-labor is employed by a given society. For capitalism is that stage of development of commodity production in which labor-power itself has become a commodity. All those macro-micro twaddle of assorted armchair political economists of the Left cannot obscure the fact that this is the touchstone of capitalist development. For a Party engaged in revolution, what is needed is not a textbook analysis of society for the consumption of intellectuals engaged in incessant academic debates but to bring into the forefront and emphasize more strongly the material and spiritual conditions for the class struggle of the proletariat.
From the ranks of the country’s toiling people producing the materials values of society, arise the multitude of sellers of labor-power, their number increasing on a daily basis. They now constitute more than one half of the total manpower of Philippine society, they are the biggest working sector in both town and country, and their wage-labor accounts for the biggest portion of the total material values produced in society. They include the farm workers – the plantation workers in large-scale agricultural production, the landless day-laborers moving from one farm to another selling their labor-power, and the land-renting or land-amortizing poor peasants who now rely mainly or significantly on the sale of their labor-power. In the urban areas, they include not only the factory workers but those we simply classify as "semiproletarians" – the day-laborers of the cities, those that have no regular jobs but in the main subsist by selling their labor-power in various forms to owners of the means of production and subsistence, the growing number of sub-contracting "work force" of capital engaged in home industries. (See attached data)
It is important to note the significance of Lenin’s conclusion regarding the relative surplus-population or the huge reserve army of unemployed which Sison ascribes to the deliberate design of "imperialist-feudal intertwining" rather than to the objective laws of development of capitalism.
Lenin’s opponents tried to ignore capitalist growth in Russia by pointing out the negligible number of "factory workers" in relation to the multitude of unemployed both in town and country.
According to Lenin: "By means of paltry phrases and curious calculations as to the number of ‘factory workers’, they have transformed one of the basic conditions for the development of capitalism into proof that capitalism is impossible, is an error, is devoid of foundation, etc. Actually, however, Russian capitalism could never have developed to its present level, could not have survived a single year, had the expropriation of the small producers not created an army of many millions of wage workers ready at the first call to satisfy the maximum demand of the employers in agriculture, lumbering, building,commerce and in the manufacturing, mining, and transport industries, etc."
Is this not what Sison did – he used as proof of the non-capitalist character of Philippine society the existence of a relative "surplus-population" and huge "army of unemployed" to bolster his claim that its mode of existence is basically feudal under the auspices of imperialism?
What is this "maximum demand" referred to by Lenin? According to him: "We say the maximum demand, because capitalism can only develop spasmodically, and consequently, the number of producers who need to sell their labor-power must always exceed capitalism’s average demand for workers. We have now estimated the total number of the various categories of wage workers*, but in doing so do not wish to say that capitalism is in a position to give regular employment to them all. There is not, nor can there be, such regularity of employment in capitalist society, whichever ca-tegory of wage-worker we take."
Because he was fixated in the specific forms of wage labor, Sison failed to identify the real class nature and the actual position in the social system of production of the multitude of working people he simply classified as "semiproletarians", including the huge army of unemployed, devoid of its historical and class meaning.
According to Lenin: "As for the forms of wage-labor, they are extremely diverse in a capitalist society still everywhere enmeshed in survivals and institutions of the precapitalist regime. It is a profound error to ignore this diversity of forms, and that is the error of those who, like Mr. V.V., argue that capitalism has ‘fenced-off a corner for itself with some one to one-half million workers and never emerges from it’".
Is this not how Sison arbitrarily and artificially "fenced-off" the less than two million Filipino industrial proletariat into a few small, urban corners of the country surrounded by a feudal countryside and are "supposedly in no way connected with the remaining spheres of wage-labor"?
For Lenin, it was sufficient to mention two basic features of developing capitalism to characterize the very close connection of this "fenced off" small corner of the industrial proletariat with the remaining spheres of wage labor.
First, this system is based on money economy. The "power of money" manifests itself in full force in both industry and agriculture, in both town and country. But this money economy reaches its full development, completely eliminates the remnants of feudalism, becomes concentrated in a few giant banks, and is directly connected with large-scale social production only in the sphere of large-scale machine industry.
Second, this economy is based on the sale and purchase of labor-power. Among the small producers both in agriculture and industry, those who do not hire themselves out, or themselves hire others, are the exception. But again, these relationships reach full development and become completely separated from previous forms of economy only in large-scale machine industries.
"Hence", says Lenin, "the ‘corner’ which seems so small to some Narodnik actually embodies the quintessence of modern social relationships, and the population in this ‘corner’, i.e., the proletariat, is, in the literal sense of the word, the vanguard of the whole mass of toilers and exploited."
"Therefore," according to Lenin, "only by examining the whole of the present economic system from the angle of the relationship that have grown up in this ‘corner’ can one become clear about the main relations between the various groups of persons taking part in production, and consequently, trace the system’s main trend of development. On the other hand, whoever turns his back on this ‘corner’ and examines economic phenomena from the angle of petty patriarchal production, is turned by the march of history into either an innocent dreamer or an ideologist of the petty bourgeoisie and the agrarians." This is the correct meaning and application of Marxist political economy in analyzing present-day Philippine society.
Lenin seems very familiar with people like Sison, for in this statement, he seems to be referring exactly to Sison’s approach in analyzing Philippine society. Sison never examined "the whole of the present economic system" of the country "from the angle" of the relationships that have grown up in our small "proletarian urban corners" but actually "turned his back" on this "corner" and examined economic phenomena from the angle of the feudal mode of production which he reduced to landlordism and tenancy and from the angle of the imperialist domination of the country. Instead of studying Philippine society from " the cities to the countrysides", he began with the "countryside" and just "encircled the cities".
We have discussed how Sison analyzed Philippine society from his "feudal" mode of thinking. Let us now proceed to Sison’s conception of imperia-lism. Never should we underestimate imperialism and the system it represents as the main and real enemy of the Filipino proletariat and the broad masses of our people, as the basic cause of their miseries and sufferings in society. But neither should we attribute to it powers that contradict established practices of the historical materialist method and theoretical political economy.
It is not imperialism that precisely determines the Philippine mode of production, however it is indeed imperialism that determines its mode of development – or to be exact, its underdevelopment, its semicolonial and semifeudal underdevelopment, its semicolonial and semifeudal peculiar features.
The preconditions for capitalist development in Philippine society have long been established in its socio-economic evolution even during the latter stages of Spanish colonialism. If this was not the case, how come there was a Philippine revolution in 1896 which was bourgeois democratic in nature? It was a defeated, uncompleted revolution due primarily to US imperialism.
Nevertheless, the country cannot but continue to evolve because the new productive forces and the relations of productions are already embedded in society. Political revolutions do not by themselves create new social relations. It is the growth of these new social relations embodied in the character of its productive forces conflicting with the old mode of production that gives rise to revolutions.
The basic bourgeois, capitalist economic process has emerged and has gained ascendancy in almost a century of socio-economic evolution since the unfinished revolution of 1896. But capitalism in the Philippines remains extremely undeveloped, backward, deformed, stagnant, etc. We do not have any illusions that if it develops, advances and gets rid of its deformities and stagnancy, the sufferings of the proletariat and the toiling masses will be solved.
But it is precisely because of its backwardness, underdevelopment,deformities,stagnancy, incompleteness, that these sufferings are aggravated and prolonged, and the real nature of capitalism muddled and deflected, obscured and concealed from the proletariat and from the semiproletarian and petty bourgeois elements of society who entertain illusions of prosperity other than through socialism.
Imperialist domination not only in the country but in the entire world economy, and the persistence of feudal survivals not only in the economic but in the political life of society are the causes of this underdevelopment. It is in this sense – and only in this sense – that the "semicolonial and semifeudal" status of the Philippines should be understood. Imperialist domination in the country and the persistence of feudal survivals in society are the impediments to social and bourgeois progress and the development of the class struggle in the Philippines towards socialism.
After bringing into the forefront and emphasizing more strongly the bourgeois, capitalist basic economic process in the socio-economic evolution of Philippine society, does it mean that the necessity for a people’s democratic revolution is henceforth undermined, bypassed and sublimated, and a socialist revolution proposed as the immediate historical task? Nothing of this sort. Lenin analyzed Russian society as basically capitalist in its mode of production. But did he push into the forefront and emphasize more strongly that the immediate political task is a socialist revolution? Never. It was Lenin, based on his analysis of Russian society and application of the fundamental theories of Marxism, who insisted that the immediate task of the proletariat is the completion of the bourgeois revolution, and who first formulated a democratic revolution of a new type, a democratic revolution with the proletariat assuming the leading role.
What then is the significance of a correct analysis of Philippine society? It is not only a question of consistency in theory but a question of correct tactics. We will come to this when we discuss the "war revolution" strategy of Sison. Suffice it to say, up to this point, that this dogmatic and absolute fixation on his "semicolonial and semifeudal" analysis is but an alibi of Sison to justify his protracted war strategy of revolution.