Recent documents from the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) have shown that the heroic struggle of the Filipino people against the comprador capitalist Duterte regime is advancing despite the efforts by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and their U.S. sponsors to crush the Protracted People’s War and destroy the New People’s Army (NPA). The Party has also shared important theoretical insights for revolutionaries around the world. For example, they stated that, “unless they undergo progressive political education and revolutionary ideological remolding, the intelligentsia and the rest of the urban petty bourgeoisie tend to be the passive transmission belt of imperialist and reactionary ideas although they may easily complain against the degree of exploitation which they suffer.”1 Such statements and analysis provide key summations of general lessons of the revolutionary movement in the Philippines which are very relevant for Maoists around the world. This is especially true given that, in the U.S., the urban petty bourgeoisie’s propagation of bourgeois and imperialist ideology is a key obstacle to building the revolutionary movement.

The CPP’s 2016 Constitution and Program contains many correct ideas and important insights. However it also advances positions in line with thepolitics of the CPP’s founding Chairperson Jose Maria Sison. As will be shown below, Sison’s stands and statements strongly indicate that he is a revisionist. These stands should analyzed and criticized. Of particular concern is Sison’s history of supporting revisionist parties and social imperialist countries. Hopefully this criticism can contribute to larger political struggles in the International Communist Movement (ICM) on the question of revisionism and the historical lessons of past revolutionary struggles.

In the 1980’s Sison sought support for the CPP from both the social-imperialist Soviet Union, various Eastern Bloc countries, and the revisionist Chinese Communist Party (CCP) led by Deng Xiaoping. As Sison put it, “my political writings from 1986 to 1988...reflected an optimism that there could be broad anti-imperialist solidarity between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the forces in China and the Soviet-bloc countries.”2 He did not explain how anti-imperialist solidarity was possible with an imperialist country like the USSR.

More recently, Sison has equivocated on when capitalism was restored in the USSR. He has also repeatedly stated that capitalism was not fully restored until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Sison has used this claim to portray the Soviet Revisionists as a less-bad form of imperialism, and apologize for bourgeois rule in the country. This contradicts the Maoist analysis that capitalism was restored by 1955 and that Khrushchev’s rise to power restored the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie in the USSR. It also covers over the reality that the Soviet Union developed into an imperialist country. These lines are related to Sison’s repeated efforts to paint contemporary Chinese social imperialism in rosy colors, discredit Lenin’s analysis of capitalist imperialism, and promote the view that Chinese imperialism is a “lesser evil” compared to U.S. imperialism. Sison has repeatedly put forward a wide variety of revisionist theses and worked to reverse many key verdicts. If followed to its logical conclusion, his political line leads to the betrayal of the revolution in favor of cozying up to a new imperialist master.

Clarity on the reactionary nature of Chinese imperialism is essential for revolutionaries around the world, lest they be deceived into believing that Chinese imperialists can be a friend to the oppressed and exploited people of the world. Sison’s praise of Chinese imperialism, and his prior support for Soviet imperialism raise real questions about what path he wants the Filipino revolutionary movement to take. His equivocal support for the Chinese state and his praise of state capitalist and revisionist regimes around the world have also been disorienting to supporters of the Filipino revolution. Clarity on these matters is essential.

1. Sison’s Overtures to Soviet Social Imperialism and Deng Xiaoping’s China

In the 1980’s Sison promoted the idea of “broad anti-imperialist solidarity between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the forces in China and the Soviet-bloc countries.”3 As part of this effort, the organ of the CPP in charge of international relations even claimed that the CPSU was “proletarian internationalist rather than social-imperialist” because it had “supported third world liberation movements.”4 In making this claim the CPP was apologizing for Brezhnev’s social-imperialism and portraying his foreign policy of imperialist invasions and economic domination of oppressed nations as “proletarian internationalism.”

This conception is in contradiction with the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM). As Mao and the Central Committee of the CCP outlined in the polemic On Khrushchov’s Phoney Communism and Its Historical Lessons for the World,5 capitalism had already been restored under Khrushchev’s leadership of the USSR. Mao and others in China also concluded that the Soviet Union had developed into a social imperialist power. This meant that the country was socialist in name only, and was in actuality a capitalist-imperialist power practicing fascist dictatorship over the people.6 As Mao put it in 1964: “The Soviet Union today is under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, a dictatorship of the big bourgeoisie, a dictatorship of the German fascist type, a dictatorship of the Hitler type.”7

As early as the 1960s and 1970s, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was invading other countries like Czechoslovakia, threatening to invade and nuke socialist China, and supporting neocolonial governments such as India in their repression of revolutionary forces like the erstwhile Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), which was one of the precursors to the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The CPSU’s foreign policy during this period reflected the underlying social and economic situation in the USSR, where capitalism had been restored, a state capitalist bourgeoisie in the party was exporting capital abroad to facilitate neocolonial relations through the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), and brutal fascist repression was practiced against almost every form of political dissent internal to the USSR.

As one anonymous article in a 1974 edition of Peking Review highlighted:

The Brezhnev clique also makes use of “mental hospitals” to torture those opposed to the dark rule of the Soviet revisionists. Those who show discontent with Soviet revisionist fascist rule and dare to rebel against it are arbitrarily declared “lunatics,” “mentally disordered,” “schizophrenic” and “mental patients” and thrown into “mental hospitals” controlled by the “state security committee” and the “ministry of the interior.” One report says several thousand people are imprisoned in one “mental hospital” alone. The internees in these places are subjected to cruel beatings and forced to submit to drastic treatment, including poisonous drugs, in an effort to make them change their political views. Some of them have been bodily and mentally injured and have become incurable wrecks.

The Soviet revisionist renegades have time and again dispatched police and military forces, including tanks and armoured units and paratroops, to carry out bloody suppression of the Soviet people who have risen in rebellion.8

Given this reality, and the capitalist restoration in China which followed the coup in 1976,9 it would have been impossible for the CPP to practice “anti-imperialist solidarity” with countries such as the social-fascist USSR and the post 1976 pro-imperialist and state capitalist China. Sison’s efforts to practice “solidarity” with these countries represented a departure from proletarian internationalism, in favor of an opportunist pragmatism of the Deng Xiaoping “black cat white cat” type.10

By his own admission, Sison and others in the CPP leadership worked to orchestrate meetings with the CPSU and Eastern Bloc parties in the hopes of securing arms deals to accelerate the revolution in the Philippines.11 In At Home in the World, Sison admitted that he “was aware that the representatives of the CPP occasionally met with representatives of the Soviet CP.”12 However, the CPSU wanted the CPP to merge with the Soviet-backed Lava revisionist electoral party.13 While, the CPP did not acquiesce to these demands, Sison and others in the leadership were willing to apologize for Soviet social imperialism, reverse their verdict on the capitalist nature of the USSR, and claim that the CPSU and Eastern-bloc parties were genuine Marxist-Leninists.

Although Sison and others claimed that such efforts to secure arms deals and develop “solidarity” with such parties were in line with the principle of self-reliance,14 it is hard to see how this was the case, especially when efforts to establish bilateral relations with parties like the CPSU required the CPP to reverse its verdict on revisionism and Soviet social imperialism.15 In the CPP’s 1968 Founding Congress it concluded that the CPSU was a revisionist party leading a social imperialist state. In 1987, when asked about the CPP’s efforts to develop fraternal relations with revisionist parties around the world, Sison stated, “since a few years ago, the CPP has voluntarily ceased to apply certain terms or labels [such as revisionist] to other parties.”16 Sison went on to state that “The CPP considers as matters belonging to history those differences in the past arising from disputes between certain parties.”17

In this comment Sison was not only referring to the prior dispute between the CPP and the CPSU, but also the dispute between Mao and Soviet Revisionists. The question of revisionism cannot be considered as a matter “belonging to history” as it concerns the very nature of Marxism itself and historically has been key in determining whether or not a communist party will stay on the road to revolution and communism. As Mao put it, “the rise to power of revisionism means the rise to power of the bourgeoisie.”18

Sison would later justify this reversal by claiming that the CPP’s previous conclusions that the CPSU was revisionist, and that capitalism was restored in the USSR “were not the result of any direct investigation of the Soviet economy and society by Filipino revolutionaries and social researchers, but were based on secondary sources since 1963—when the great ideological debate was raging—from parties with which we had been aligned.”19 In line with this reversal of verdicts, in 1986, the Executive Committee of the CPP concluded that the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries were “socialist because their economies were still dominated by state-owned enterprises.”20

This represented a sharp departure from the Maoist understanding of revisionism and capitalist restoration. The transformations in the USSR that took place under the oversight of Khrushchev and Brezhnev resulted in the means of production—which formerly belonged to the Soviet people—being “owned by and at the service of a new bureaucratic monopoly bourgeoisie.”21 To ignore the actual relations of production in the USSR because of state ownership of the means of production—as Sison and the CPP have in the past—is disingenuous and in contradiction with an MLM understanding of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In light of similar erroneous arguments made in the 1960s, revolutionaries in China referred to the Soviet Union as social imperialism, based on the analysis that state monopoly capitalism existed there.22 Grasping this basic point is essential for Maoist revolutionaries today.

What Sison did not mention in the above remarks is that these “secondary sources” which the CPP drew on in its Founding Congress were articles written by Mao and others in the CCP in the Polemic on the General Line of the International Communist Movement. In thus dismissing Mao and the CCP’s analysis of the development of capitalism in the USSR, Sison was revising the lessons of revolutionary history, and opportunistically apologizing for the imperialist policies of the USSR in the hopes that they would provide the CPP with arms and funding.23 Sison even went so far as to imply that those who were critical of the CPP’s overtures to the CPSU and CCP were “dogmatists who keep on debating, splitting and liquidating their parties or groups over theoretical and international questions, divorced from revolutionary practice in their respective countries.”24 In doing so, he effectively dismissed the revolutionary efforts of Maoists who were critical of his efforts to cozy up to revisionist parties around the world.

Instead of adopting a principled line based on the revolutionary lessons of the ICM, Sison pushed the CPP to cozy up with revisionist parties such as the post-1976 CCP and the social-imperialist CPSU. While there is a need for revolutionaries to take advantage of contradictions between competing imperialist powers and other reactionary forces to advance the revolution, it is quite a different thing to claim that imperialist powers can be part of an “anti-imperialist” united front. The latter is the logic of the Second International as well as modern revisionists and social-chauvinists.25

2. Sison’s Equivocation on the Restoration of Capitalism in the USSR

As we have already shown, Sison and the leadership of the CPP were willing to reverse their earlier verdict from their Founding Congress that capitalism had been restored in the USSR. This was part of a larger effort in the 1980’s to secure arms deals and support from revisionist parties around the world. However, even after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Sison has continued to equivocate on the question of when capitalism was restored in the Soviet Union. On numerous occasions he has stated that capitalism was not fully restored in the USSR until its collapse. This is related to a larger trend in the CPP which, even as recently as in its 2016 Constitution and Program, has been ambiguous on the question of capitalist restoration in various countries around the world.

In 1992, under the pseudonym of Armando Liwanag, Sison published the text Stand for Socialism Against Modern Revisionism. In this text he worked to justify his earlier reversals of the CPP’s original verdict that the USSR was a social imperialist country. As part of this effort, he claimed that the Soviet Union went through “stages of camouflaged counterrevolution in a period of 38 years, 1953 to 1991,”26 and that Gorbachev “completed the process of capitalist restoration started by Khrushchev and presided over the destruction of the Soviet Union.”27

In recent documents, such as his 2012 Development, Current Status and Prospects of Maoist Theory and Practice in the Philippines, Sison has continued to support similar views. For example, he repeatedly refers to “the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the full restoration of capitalism in revisionist-ruled countries in the period of 1989-91.”28 Sison even had the gall to state that this “vindicated Mao’s position on the crucial importance and necessity of the struggle against revisionism and the theory of continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship.”29 What he did not state, was that Mao’s view was that capitalism was restored in the Soviet Union by 1955. Thus, it was not necessary to wait until the collapse of the USSR in 1991 to claim that Mao’s position had been “vindicated.” In fact, in doing so, Sison is distorting the actual history of capitalist restoration in the USSR, and providing cover for the CPP’s earlier rapprochement with Soviet revisionism.

In contrast to Sison’s view, Maoists in China were clear that, “whether it is capitalist imperialism or social imperialism, they are identical in their basic economic characteristics. Their main economic basis is monopoly capitalism.”30 Sison’s writings obfuscate this reality, and paint Soviet revisionism—which was a form of capitalist imperialism—as something “less bad” than the capitalist imperialism of an openly capitalist country. However, Mao and others in the CCP were clear that Soviet social imperialists were socialist in name only, and imperialist in deed, and as Marx put it, “The name of a thing is entirely external to its nature.”31

In Fundamentals of Political Economy, the Maoist leadership in Shanghai summed up some key insights on the nature of Soviet social imperialism, and its underlying capitalist nature:

In socialist society, the state-operated economy based on socialist state ownership is a leading element in the national economy. Once the revisionist renegade clique usurps the leadership of the socialist economy, it is naturally transformed into a state monopoly capitalist economy. This is because the more productive forces the new bureaucratic monopoly bourgeoisie puts under state ownership representing its interests, the more it can control the whole society’s wealth in the name of the “state.” This way, it not only can continue using the state label to deceive the laboring people, but through state capitalism can also tightly control the national economy. Therefore, the outstanding characteristic of the Soviet Union’s capitalist economy is that state monopoly capitalism controls and commands everything.32

From this it should be clear, that not only was capitalism restored in the Soviet Union by 1955, but it was a capitalist-imperialist power by this point. Thus, while the USSR maintained a legal form of state ownership, this was in no way an obstacle to the restoration of capitalism. On the contrary, it represented the particular form of capitalism and monopoly ownership which existed in the USSR. State ownership also provided a convenient cover for the bourgeoisie to deceive the people by claiming that their efforts to further monopolize every aspect of the economy were actually for the benefit of the people.

By proclaiming that capitalism was not “fully restored” in the USSR until 1991, Sison plays into the lies and deception of the capitalist-roaders and revisionists of China and the USSR. He covers over the important differences between the system of socialist state ownership and state capitalism under the direction of a revisionist party. This is part of a disturbing distortion of the differences between the dictatorship of the proletariat and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Such distortions can lead to the erroneous belief that a social imperialist country is perhaps, “less bad” than a capitalist imperialist country. However, from the perspective of MLM, social imperialism is just another form of capitalist imperialism. While one particular imperialist power may be less powerful than another, every imperialist power is run for and by monopoly capitalists who seek to expand their control of the world’s markets, territory, and people.

Given the role that Sison played in the Founding Congress of the CPP, it is clear that he understood this to some degree at one point. However, over the past three decades he has consistently put forward revisionist and renegade positions on the question of capitalist restoration in the USSR, and the capitalist nature of various former Soviet satellites, such as Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Even more concerning is that similar ideas are, at times, put forward in official statements from the CPP. For example, in their 2016 Constitution and Program, the CPP referred to “the blatant and full restoration of capitalism in certain countries and disintegration of revisionist parties and regimes.” Not only does the emphasis on the “blatant and full restoration of capitalism” resonate with Sison’s analysis of capitalist restoration in the USSR, the CPP also states that this has only happened in “certain countries” without specifying which.

From a Maoist perspective, today there is not a single socialist country in the world. However, Sison has, on numerous occasions, stated or implied that various revisionist regimes, state capitalist countries, and other such governments are actually socialist. For example, in 2013, he issued a statement through the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS), in which he stated “We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, will always be inspired by the revolutionary example and deeds of Comrade Hugo Chavez in fighting for national and social liberation and in advocating the cause of socialism.”33 However, Hugo Chavez was not a socialist, and the regime he led did not advance socialism in theory or practice. Venezuela is not, was not, and has never been a socialist country. While Chavez did speak of socialism, in practice Venezuela has been a largely state-capitalist country. Sison’s related claim that Chavez, “advocated socialism as the banner of the 21st century” raises many questions about what sort of “socialism” Sison envisions in the Philippines. In addition to such glowing appraisals of representatives of the state capitalism of the Bolivarian “revolution,” Sison has made similar statements in support of the DPRK and other countries.34

While it is not clear that the CPP shares all the same views as Sison, it is concerning that they use ambiguous language when discussing the restoration of capitalism in former socialist states around the world. It is also concerning that they have published a number of statements supporting revisionist parties around the work, including the Freedom Road Socialist Organization,35 Kim Jong Un’s leadership of the Worker’s Party of Korea,36 the Communist Party of Cuba,37 and others. This sort of ambiguity and support for revisionist parties and state capitalist governments leaves open the door to a foreign policy which supports one imperialist power’s struggle against another on the grounds that the former is “the lesser of two evils.” This sort of approach was pursued by Deng Xiaoping and other rightists during the late Cultural Revolution. They pushed for a strategic alliance with the U.S. imperialists as opposed to the tactical opening favored by the Maoists. The rightists in China claimed that the U.S. was a lesser threat and less dominantly globally than Soviet imperialist counterparts. These efforts were directly related to the two-line struggle in China, and efforts by rightists to restore capitalism in China.38

3. Sison’s Support for Chinese Social Imperialism

After Mao’s death in the fall of 1976, the rightists in the CCP led a counter-revolutionary coup and restored capitalism in China. With the bourgeoisie in the dominant position in society, they began the process of destroying collective industry and agriculture and facilitating various forms of private accumulation. This process has led to the development of a bureaucratic monopoly capitalist class in China. By at least the mid-2000s, China had developed into a capitalist imperialist state, and was increasingly exporting capital abroad and pursuing foreign policies in line with this.39

More recently, China has begun setting up international military bases, deploying thousands of its troops abroad in UN “peace keeping” forces to get them combat experience, and sending military advisers to places like Syria. Chinese imperialists have also worked to develop military, political, and monetary institutions outside of the control of the traditional U.S.-run Breton Woods institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and related security organizations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). As part of this effort, they have created projects and organizations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, and the One Belt One Road Initiative.

All of these efforts and institutions represent efforts by China, a rising imperialist power, to redivide the world’s markets, territory, and spheres of influence; they are part of a coordinated effort by Chinese imperialists to dominate oppressed nations politically, economically, and militarily. Therefore, while they are competing with the U.S. ruling class and their imperialist allies, these efforts by the Chinese monopoly capitalist class are not pro-people, but rather represent the logic of capital, and are fundamentally and antagonistically in contradiction with the interests of the proletariat and the oppressed nations of the world.

In line with this reality, the two leading Maoist Parties in the world, CPI (Maoist)40 and the CPP41 have condemned Chinese social imperialism. The CPP has issued a strong condemnation of Chinese imperialist efforts to dominate other countries economically and its related build up of military forces:

China is pushing for “economic integration” of ASEAN and APEC countries under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Like the US, China aims to push for all-out liberalization under its “one belt, one road” project to tighten the integration of these countries into its Factory Asia “global value chain” to take advantage of cheapest available labor. To facilitate rapid transportation of capital goods and consumption commodities, China aims to construct a network of rails and ports. This infrastructure binge, in turn, will help absorb its surplus steel.

There is rivalry and intense contradictions between the leading capitalist powers especially amid the protracted crisis of the global capitalist system. While the US imperialists remain the biggest military power, China continues to strengthen its armed capability and is fast developing its capability to project power overseas.42

This analysis clearly grasps the dialectical relationship between an imperialist power’s economic and military domination of oppressed nations. The CPP’s analysis also shows how sharpening competition between imperialist powers is related to military build ups in preparation for an inter-imperialist war. While Sison has followed the new line of the CPP in correctly identifying China as a capitalist imperialist country, he has repeatedly equivocated about what this actually means, often implying that China perhaps practices a “less bad” form of imperialism. For example, in a 2014 interview, he stated that:

China has not yet engaged in a war of aggression to acquire a colony, a semicolony, protectorate or dependent country. It is not yet very violent in the struggle for a redivision of the world among the big capitalist powers, like the US, Japan, Germany and Italy behaved in joining the ranks of imperialist powers. It is with respect to China’s contention with more aggressive and plunderous imperialist powers that may be somehow helpful to revolutionary movements in an objective and indirect way. China is playing an outstanding role in the economic bloc BRICS and in the security organization Shanghai Cooperation Organization beyond US control.43

Such statements reveal that Sison does not grasp the dialectical relationship between the economic and military aspects of imperialism. In line with this, Sison has made some statements which draw into question the continuing validity of Lenin’s analysis of capitalist imperialism. For example, in the same interview he stated that, “by Lenin’s economic definition of modern imperialism, China may qualify as imperialist.” This leaves open to the door by implying that by a separate “military definition” of imperialism, China may still be “in the clear.” Sison either does not understand the most basic lessons of Lenin’s analysis or he willfully distorts these lessons to justify his praise for Chinese imperialism. By framing Lenin’s writing on imperialism as an “economic definition,” Sison negates this analysis and seeks to paint imperialism in rosy colors. In contrast to Sison’s views, in Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism Lenin demonstrated how, in the economic and political struggle between imperialist powers to redivide the world and its markets, war is a continuation of politics by other means, and peace between imperialist powers prepares the grounds for war.

Lenin’s analysis shows that the struggle between imperialist powers first happens in the economic sphere, but when rival imperialist powers can no longer secure their aims through economic competition they inevitably resort to military means to attempt to take control of markets, territory, and resources from their rivals. Thus, in the age of capitalist-imperialism, when the world is completely divided up between rival imperialist blocs, “peace” is but the appearance form of preparations for wars of re-division and conquest. As Lenin put it, “peaceful alliances prepare the ground for wars, and in their turn grow out of wars; the one conditions the other, producing alternating forms of peaceful and non-peaceful struggle on one and the same basis of imperialist connections and relations within world economics and world politics.”44 So while China has yet to wage a war of aggression to dominate an oppressed nation—or seize a territory or market from an imperialist rival45—the economic and political policies that they are currently pursuing are preparing the basis for war. This could be a war effort against an oppressed nation, or even a world war between rival imperialist blocs.

A basic investigation of the Chinese state’s military policies reveals that the ruling class is clearly preparing for a large-scale inter-imperialist war. This is evident in their militarization of the South China Sea—including seizing islands in the territorial waters of the Philippines—their construction of military bases abroad, their development of a sixth generation air superiority fighter, their various military exercises simulating inter-imperialist warfare, and more. These underlying realities are in line with Lenin’s correct conclusion that “peaceful” competition46 between imperialist powers leads to warfare between them, and that such struggle is conducted on “one and the same basis of imperialist connections and relations within world economics and world politics.” By ignoring Lenin’s key insights, Sison venerates Chinese social-imperialism as less aggressive than U.S. imperialism and portrays it as a potential ally to the oppressed people of the world. In reality, Chinese imperialism is no such thing.

Sison’s revisions to the MLM understanding of capitalist-imperialism lead him to conclude that Chinese imperialism is “less bad” than its competitors, simply because China has not yet needed to launch a war of aggression to ensure its imperialist domination of oppressed nations. Even more disturbing is Sison’s praise of China’s role in BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In praising such efforts as “outstanding” he is endorsing the efforts of Chinese imperialists to further control, oppress, and dominate oppressed nations throughout the world. This is revisionism, through and through. Sison’s views on imperialism are not in line with MLM, but rather represent a revisionist view which justifies cooperation with the monopoly capitalist class of one country on the grounds that they are less bad than another. If followed to its logical conclusion it will lead to a betrayal of the revolution in favor of cozying up to new imperialist masters.

4. Sison’s Influence on the CPP’s Views on the Foreign Policy of a Socialist State

While the CPP has been much more critical of Chinese social imperialism than Sison, on other issues the party has adopted policies and views more in line with Sison’s revisionism. This tendency is particularly evident in the field of foreign policy. As we have shown, Sison has a long-standing history of revisionist politics and support for reactionary regimes around the world that are opposed, to one degree or another, to U.S. imperialism. This sort of politics covers over the difference between a proletarian and bourgeois opposition to U.S. imperialism. While the CPP does not openly support these politics, its views on foreign policy lead it to endorse similar positions at times.

For example, in the 2016 Constitution and Program, the CPP, referring to its future foreign policy after a successful revolution, states:

The People's Democratic Republic of the Philippines shall develop the closest relations with the anti-imperialist and socialist countries, the neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and the Pacific and all the third world and other oppressed and exploited countries.47

There is a real need for new democratic and socialist countries to develop close relations with other such countries and to support people’s struggles around the world. However, there are no socialist countries in the world today, and it is concerning that the CPP has repeatedly ambiguously referred to “the restoration of capitalism in certain countries” without explicitly stating that capitalism has been restored in every country which was once socialist.

There is also a need to be clear on the difference between a country that is resolutely anti-imperialist in principle and practice, and countries which merely oppose particular instances of imperialist aggression. A country which is opposed to one imperialist power, but a lackey for another is not anti-imperialist. Likewise, countries which allow the super-exploitation of their people by imperialist firms are not anti-imperialist. Therefore it is very concerning that the CPP considers countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador to be anti-imperialist.48 This analysis is in line with Sison’s views about these countries, which he has made publicly known through a series of statements as Chairperson of ILPS.

Cuba is a state-capitalist regime which was for a long time a Soviet neocolony as part of COMECON. Since the collapse of the USSR, Cuba has opened up to investment from other foreign capitalists, including those from Brazil, Canada, and the EU. Under Hugo Chavez, Venezuela nationalized the oil industry and was able to ride the wave of rising oil prices which increased from $10 per barrel in 1998 to over $100 per barrel by the mid-2000s. As of 2012, 96% of Venezuela’s export revenue came from oil sales, with the majority going to the U.S. While the Venezuelan government used some of these profits to provide social welfare programs, the extreme dependence of these programs on the profits from oil sales to imperialist powers means that Venezuela is entirely caught up in the capitalist imperialist system, and remains anti-imperialist in name only. What’s more, Venezuela’s social welfare programs were limited in scope and the state collaborated closely with firms to put down (often violently) organized workers movements that threatened the profitability of these operations. As one scholar put it, referring to Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador:

Venezuela, Bolivia and the entire spectrum of social movements, trade union confederations, parties and fractions of parties do not call for the abolition of capitalism, the repudiation of the debt, the complete expropriation of U.S. or EEC banks or multinational corporations, or any rupture in relations with the U.S. For example, in Venezuela, private national and foreign banks earned over 30% rate of return in 2005-2006, foreign-owned oil companies reaped record profits between 2004-2006 and less than 1% of the biggest landed estates were fully expropriated and titles turned over to landless peasants.

Capital-labor relations still operate in a framework heavily weighted on behalf of business and labor contractors who rely on subcontractors who continue to dominate hiring and firing in more than one half of the large enterprises. The Venezuelan military and police continue to arrest suspected Colombian guerrillas and turn them over to the Colombian police. Venezuela and U.S.-client President Uribe of Colombia have signed several high-level security and economic co-operation agreements.49

This helps to clarify the degree of dependence of these countries on foreign capital and imperialist powers. More recently, China has been gaining a major foothold in South America and the Caribbean.50 Even before the 2008 financial crisis, Venezuela faced a major economic crisis of its own. Starting in 2007, China provided the government with over $50 billion in various loans over a number of years, and followed this up with a $20 billion investment in 2015 after oil prices again fell below $50 per barrel.51 In 2016, Ecuador hosted over 100 Chinese capitalists in an effort to encourage Chinese investment in the country.52 At present, Chinese capitalists control around 90% of Ecuador’s oil reserves.53 This is part of the overall consolidation of the Ecuadorian state to the status of a Chinese neocolony. All of this should demonstrate that these countries are not in fact anti-imperialist, but rather neocolonies run by reactionary compradors and feudal despots at the behest of imperialist masters. Without clarity on this matter, the CPP, in the name of anti-imperialism, will end up supporting reactionary regimes that oppress their people and do the bidding of foreign monopoly capitalists. Ultimately such support leads to collaboration with one imperialist power against another, in the name of “anti-imperialism.” Similar mistakes have led to disastrous setbacks throughout the history of the ICM.

There can, of course, be a basis for a degree of cooperation with various reactionary governments, especially as a tactic to take advantage of contradictions between imperialist powers. However, such an approach requires a clear understanding that the countries in question are not, in fact, anti-imperialist in essence. Otherwise, in the name of anti-imperialism, a socialist state or revolutionary party will end up supporting a reactionary regime and betraying the peoples’ movements locally and internationally.

Of related concern is the CPP’s statement that it wants to “develop close relations of the Communist Party of the Philippines with fraternal proletarian parties and other friendly parties in other countries.”54 By itself, this statement is not concerning. It is absolutely necessary for Communist Parties, in the spirit of proletarian internationalism, to develop close relations with other proletarian parties, and even to support and collaborate with non-proletarian parties in united front efforts. However, in practice the CPP has repeatedly praised revisionist parties around the world. There is a big difference between working with a progressive but non-proletarian party in a revolutionary united front, and showering the ruling party of a state-capitalist regime with false praise by calling it pro-socialist or anti-imperialist.

The revisionist parties that the CPP has praised are at best obstacles to developing a revolutionary movement in their country, and at worst outright compradors and state-capitalists. For example, the CPP has congratulated and praised Kim Jong-un and his government on a number of occasions. For example in 2017, they stated “Unlike Kim’s government which has provided all out support to scientific and technological development to modernize North Korean society, the Philippine government under Duterte is perpetuating the country’s state of non-industrial and agrarian backwardness.”55 While Duterte’s government is a corrupt comprador regime waging a war on the Filipino people, the Korean Worker’s Party has not “provided all out support” to the scientific and technological development of North Korean society. Only under the dictatorship of the proletariat is such support possible, and the Worker’s Party of Korea abandoned the road to communism long ago. This and other statements from the CPP distort the essence of the WPK, which through its form of state-capitalist rule has actually retarded the development of productive forces and the transformation of social relations in contrast to what is possible under socialism.56

It should also be noted that the effort of U.S. imperialists—together with other imperialist powers—have also played a key role in oppressing people of North Korea. During their genocidal war on North Korea they bombed nearly every piece of infrastructure in the country, from buildings to dams and irrigation works. They also used chemical and biological weapons to slaughter the Korean people and the Chinese People’s Volunteers who were helping in the war effort. Since this point they have used sanctions, espionage, and embargoes to hamper to economy of North Korea. They have also repeatedly and continuously threatened the country with invasion and even nuclear strikes. The actions of U.S. imperialists must be unequivocally opposed. However, the WPK does not represent a revolutionary opposition to U.S. imperialism.

After the death of Fidel Castro in 2016, the CPP issued a statement of support to Fidel and the Communist Party of Cuba (CPC).57 The statement, titled Red Salute to Comrade Fidel Castro! included claims that Fidel and the CPC “established one the most enduring anti-imperialist and democratic government [sic] in the world.” The CPP made no mention of the CPC’s consolidation to the status of a Soviet neocolony under COMECON, nor did they mention Castro’s revisionist criticism of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and his opposition to the need to continue the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.

They also erroneously claim that the Cuban government “carried out widespread land reform and collectivization” after the revolution. The reality is that, after the revolution, the Cuban government took over the U.S. sugar latifundias and replaced them by state-owned farms. These farms were not in the democratic control of the masses, but rather were run by a small number of state bureaucrats and produced sugar that was sold to the Soviet Union through COMECON. Thus, this was not a true collectivization of agriculture, but rather a form of state-capitalism in which the masses were exploited for the profit of domestic compradors and foreign imperialists.

All of this draws into question the CPP’s conclusion that the Cuban masses continue to “relentlessly push their Revolution forward.”58 While the anti-imperialist revolution against the U.S.-backed Batista regime was a huge victory for the Cuban people, it was subsequently betrayed by Castro and the leadership of the CPC when they agreed to become a Soviet neocolony.59 All of this shows that the CPP’s recent overtures to the CPC are deeply concerning, especially because they cover over the two-line struggle in the ICM between the Maoist road to Communism and the line of revisionism and capitulation to imperialism.

The CPP has also issued a number of congratulatory statements to the U.S.-based revisionist group Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO).60 There are two FRSO groups in the U.S. and both trace their origins to a 1978 split with the Revolutionary Communist Party. The CPP’s statement is in support of FRSO/Fight Back! which held its 8th Congress earlier this year. In their statement of congratulations the CPP erroneously claims that:

By helping lead the struggles against the right-wing policies of the Trump regime, you [FRSO/Fight Back!] are striking deep roots among the toiling masses of workers and other oppressed and exploited groups. In doing so, you [FRSO/Fight Back!] are making Marxism-Leninism a truly vibrant and effective instrument of the proletariat for their class liberation.61

What they do not mention is that FRSO/Fight Back!—much like the other FRSO group—is a revisionist political party which claims that countries like Cuba, China, Vietnam, and the DPRK are socialist. These politics are reflected in FRSO’s work in the U.S. which is aimed at rallying people around a revisionist politics of toadying Chinese imperialism. What’s more FRSO is not “striking deep roots among the toiling masses of workers and other oppressed and exploited groups” but rather primarily organizing among petty-bourgeois students. In addition, the leadership of FRSO has been repeatedly accused of covering-up sexual abuse within its ranks.62 Overall, it is difficult to see how developing relations with an anti-people and revisionist organization like FRSO/Fight Back! can help the Filipino revolutionary movement, especially when there are genuine Maoist forces here in the U.S. organizing among the working class and oppressed masses.

These views have concerning implications for the future direction of the revolution in the Philippines and relate to the larger question of the foreign policy of a socialist state which the CPP raises in their 2016 Constitution and Program. There is an underlying contradiction between the national interests of the socialist state and the interests of the international proletarian revolution. While this contradiction can be resolved through a principled revolutionary line, if handled incorrectly it can lead to the betrayal of revolutionary movements at home and abroad. There is also an intrinsic link between the foreign policy of a socialist state, the state’s domestic policy, and the two-line struggle to stay on the road to communism.

For example, during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) in China, the Maoist leadership correctly decided to develop a tactical alliance with the U.S., known as the “Opening to the West.” This was part of an effort to sharpen the contradictions between the U.S. and USSR and to decrease the likelihood of a Soviet invasion and/or nuclear attack.63 However, this policy also created an opening for rightists such as Deng Xiaoping, Qiao Guanhua, and Zhou Enlai64 to push for a strategic alliance with the U.S. instead of a tactical one. Such a push entailed withdrawing support for revolutionary movements around the world—especially in U.S. neocolonies such as the Philippines where the CPP had recently been founded and launched the start of the People’s War which continues to this day—and supporting reactionary regimes like Pakistan in policies like their brutal bombing campaign to suppress the independence movement in what is now Bangladesh (at the time known as East Pakistan). Qiao even went as far as to support Israel and oppose the repatriation of Palestinians on the grounds that “a new problem of Israeli refugees might be created as a result.”65 In doing so, these rightists were subordinating the interests of the international proletarian revolution to the interest of the Chinese state.

Such policies were justified on the grounds that the Soviet Union was the principal enemy of the people of the world, and that therefore supporting reactionary U.S.-backed regimes and comprador movements was the lesser of two evils. These maneuvers were part of a concerted effort by capitalist roaders in the party leadership to take China off the road to communism.

Given this history, it is very important for Maoist parties and organizations around the world to closely study the struggles over foreign policy in socialist China and the USSR before the restoration of capitalism. Only through such study will it be possible to accurately sum up the successes and failures of the Maoist leadership and avoid repeating key mistakes which played a crucial role in the defeat of the GPCR. The CPP should reassess its views on the “anti-imperialist” nature of countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, among other matters and study how the rightists in the CCP were able to undermine the proletarian internationalist foreign policy of the Maoist leadership in China. It is our hope that these remarks are helpful in advancing the heroic struggles of the Filipino people in their efforts to overthrow the reactionary U.S.-backed comprador state, establish a New Democratic State, and continue on the road to communism.

  1. Communist Party of the Philippines, Constitution and Program, 2016, p. 61. 

  2. Jose Maria Sison, At Home in the World, p. 150. 

  3. Ibid., p. 150. 

  4. Jose Maria Sison: From Marxist-Leninist to Revisionist, p. 12. 

  5. “On Khrushchov’s Phoney Communism and Its Historical Lessons for the World: Ninth Comment on the Open Letter of the Central Committee of the CPSU,” The Polemic on the General Line of the International Communist Movement (Peking: Foreign Language Press, 1965). p. 423-424. 

  6. For example, see “Diabolical Social-Imperialist Face of the Soviet Revisionist Renegade Clique—Soviet Revisionists Cooked Up Treaty for Long-Term Military Occupation of Czechoslovakia”, in Peking Review, Vol. 11, Issue #43, Oct. 25, 1968, pp. 8-10. “Soviet Revisionists’ Fascist Dictatorship”, Peking Review, Issue #4, Jan. 25, 1974, pp. 12-14. “Intensified Fascist Dictatorship in the Soviet Union”, Peking Review, Vol. 19, Issue #32-33, Aug. 9, 1976, pp. 15-18. 

  7. A talk of Chairman Mao’s on May 11, 1964. Cited in, Editorial Staff of Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily), Hongqi (Red Flag), and Jiefangjun Bao (People’s Liberation Army Daily), “Leninism or Social Imperialism? A Commentary on the Centenary of the Birth of the Great Lenin,” Peking Review, Vol. 13, Issue #17, April 24, 1970, p. 7. 

  8. “Soviet Revisionists’ Fascist Dictatorship”, Peking Review, Issue #4, Jan. 25, 1974, pp. 12-14.

  9. This coup, led Deng Xiaoping, included the arrest of the Maoist leadership of the Four: Zhang Chunqiao, Wang Hongwen, Yao Wenyuan, and Jiang Ching. The Four were Mao’s closest allies during the GPCR, and were increasingly leading the life-and-death-struggle against the the capitalist roaders in the CCP as Mao’s health declined in the last few years of his life. After Mao’s death, the Four were labeled as “The Gang of Four” by Deng Xiaoping and other capitalist-roaders and thrown in prison. 

  10. In 1962 Deng first publicly stated his theory that “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” During the GPCR this theory was intensely criticized as a “pragmatist” justification for restoring capitalism on the grounds that it “catches mice,” meaning that it promotes production. Deng and other capitalist-roaders were advocates of a form productive forces determinism that justified the promotion of capitalist social relations (in the name of developing production) on the grounds that the principal contradiction in Chinese society was the contradiction between the advanced socialist social system and the backwards productive forces. More broadly the “black cat, white cat” statement has been used to justify all sorts of opportunism. 

  11. Jose Maria Sison: At Home in the World, Portrait of a Revolutionary, Conversations With Ninotchka Rosca (Greensboro, North Carolina: Open House Publishing LLC, 2004), p. 151. 

  12. Ibid. 

  13. The Lava-revisionists are the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas-1930 (PKP-1930). While the party started as a revolutionary party, it eventually degenerated into a largely an electoral party, and it has a long-standing history of selling out the Filipino people’s revolutionary struggles to one imperialist master or another. The CPP was founded after Sison and others led a rectification movement, struggled against various revisionist tendencies in the PKP, and eventually split from the revisionist party. In his 1970 document Philippine Society and Revolution Sison describes the Lava-revisionists leadership of the PKP as “counterrevolutionary leadership of the bourgeois reactionary gang.” In our view this is an accurate description which remains valid to this day. 

  14. “On Soviet Aid and Relations with the Soviet Union,” Selected Writings of Jose Marie Sison 1968-1991: Detention and Defiance against Dictatorship (1977-1986), p. 571-573. 

  15. Additionally, we can see how, in the history of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the move to secure advanced weaponry to accelerate the pace of the war against U.S. imperialism was part of a larger movement away from proletarian internationalism and a consolidation to revisionism. 

  16. Armando Liwanag, “On the International Relations of the Communist Porty of the Philippines,” Ang Bayan, July 1987. Excerpted in, “Reply to Liwang: The CPP and False Friends of the Filipino Revolution,” A World to Win, Issue 12 (1988), p. 10-11. 

  17. Ibid. 

  18. A talk of Chairman Mao’s in August 1964. Cited in, Editorial Staff of Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily), Hongqi (Red Flag), and Jiefangjun Bao (People’s Liberation Army Daily), “Leninism or Social Imperialism? A Commentary on the Centenary of the Birth of the Great Lenin,” Peking Review, Vol. 13, Issue #17, April 24, 1970, p. 7. 

  19. Jose Maria Sison, The Philippine Revolution: The Leader’s View, 1989, p. 183 

  20. Stand for Socialism Against Modern Revisionism, 1992, p. 6. 

  21. Fundamentals of Political Economy Writing Group, Fundamentals of Political Economy, ed. and trans. George C. Wang (New York: M.E Sharpe Inc, 1997), p. 201. This text, commonly referred to as “The Shanghai Textbook” was put together by Maoist leadership in Shanghai. 

  22. The history of the USSR and China has shown that once revisionists come to power in the party, the state system of ownership is not an obstacle to running factories and enterprises in a capitalist manner aimed at profit-maximization. 

  23. Needless to say, had Sison succeeded in securing such “aid” it would have resulted in the betrayal of the Filipino Revolution. 

  24. Armando Liwanag, “On the International Relations of the Communist Porty of the Philippines,” Ang Bayan, July 1987. Excerpted in, “Reply to Liwang: The CPP and False Friends of the Filipino Revolution,” A World to Win, Issue 12 (1988), p. 11. 

  25. Social-chauvinists refer to those who place the interests of their nation or their nationality above the interests of the world proletarian revolution. This was the case when many of the parties in the Second International supported their country’s bourgeoisie in World War I. Another form of social chauvinism can be seen in groups like the Progressive Labor Party in the U.S. who have advocated that all nationalism is reactionary and thereby deny the basis for the national liberation struggles of oppressed nations. 

  26. Stand for Socialism Against Modern Revisionism, 1992, p. 18. 

  27. Ibid., p. 37. 

  28. Jose Maria Sison, Development, Current Status and Prospects of Maoist Theory and Practice in the Philippines, 2012,

  29. Ibid. 

  30. Fundamentals of Political Economy Writing Group, Fundamentals of Political Economy, ed. and trans. George C. Wang (New York: M.E Sharpe Inc, 1997), p. 200. 

  31. Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume 1, trans. Ben Fowkes (New York: Penguin Books, 1976), p. 195. 

  32. Fundamentals of Political Economy Writing Group, Fundamentals of Political Economy, ed. and trans. George C. Wang (New York: M.E Sharpe Inc, 1997), p. 202. 

  33. Jose Maria Sison, ILPS conveys most heartfelt condolences over the demise of Comrade Hugo Chavez, 2013,

  34. For example Sison stated that “President Kim Il Sung has bequeathed to us a glorious legacy of resolute struggle for national independence, democracy and socialism against Imperialism and all reaction.” 


  36. and 


  38. This topic is discussed further in the conclusion of this essay. See also, The Late Cultural Revolution, available at:

  39. For more on this topic, including a detailed MLM analysis of the development of Chinese social imperialism, see Is China an Imperialist Country?, by N.B. Turner. Available online at: 

  40. For example, see CPI (Maoist)’s Pamphlet on Chinese Social Imperialism (in Telugu): 

  41. For example, see the CPP’s statement: Resist imperialist collusion for all-out liberalization! Resist imperialist rivalries and rising threats of war! Available online:

  42. CPP Information Bureau, Resist imperialist collusion for all-out liberalization! Resist imperialist rivalries and rising threats of war!,

  43. Jose Maria Sison, The Communist Party Of The Philippines On Maoism, New Democratic Revolution, China & The Current World, January 19, 2014,\

  44. Vladimir Lenin, “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. A Popular Outline,” Lenin Collected Works: Volume 22, P. 295. Available online here: 

  45. Thus far, they have been fairly successful at maneuvering politically and economically to establish neocolonial relations with countries around the world, especially in Africa. This is part of the their larger efforts within the world imperialist system to establish Chinese dominance of markets, countries, and peoples. In these efforts the Chinese ruling class often makes use, to one degree or another, of the U.S. imperialist institutions (like the IMF and World Bank) and even U.S. wars, like the invasion of Iraq. While the U.S. led the invasion of Iraq and spent at least a trillion dollars on the war effort and “regime building,” many Chinese companies have been able to secure significant market shares in Iraq, especially in the oil markets. 

  46. Even the term peaceful competition between imperialist rivals is, in some senses, a misnomer. As Lenin pointed out, the imperialists “peacefully” cooperated in China to put down the Boxer Rebellion and partition the country at the turn of the 20th century. Relatedly, the contemporary Chinese imperialist are “peacefully” competing with other imperialists in Myanmar by setting up Special Economic Zones on the Rohingya’s land and helping Myanmar’s government commit genocide to clear the way for factories that will generate super-profits for the Chinese ruling class. 

  47. Communist Party of the Philippines, Constitution and Program, 2016, p. 85. 


  49. James Petras, U.S.-Latin American Relations: Measuring the Rise or Fall of U.S. Power, November 1, 2006,

  50. For a fairly comprehensive breakdown of Chinese investment in Latin America and the Caribbean see: 




  54. Communist Party of the Philippines, Constitution and Program, 2016, p. 95. 

  55. CPP, Duterte is a US foreign aggression tool for condemning North Korea, August 3, 2017,

  56. The political ideology of the WKP has a relatively unique way of justifying the country’s state capitalist regime. This is primarily through promoting the idea of Juche, a contradictory and metaphysical ideology which cloaks their class character of their nationalist dictatorship in terms of self-reliance. 

  57. CPP, Red Salute to Comrade Fidel Castro!, November 27, 2016,

  58. CPP, Red Salute to Comrade Fidel Castro!, November 27, 2016,

  59. This turn away from revolutionary politics and towards Soviet social imperialism was mirrored in various domestic policies. For example in 1975 Cuba adopted the “Profitability Criterion” in which workers were paid based on how profitable their managers deemed their work to be. Relatedly, in a speech in 1959, Castro explicitly assured white Cubans that they would not have to socialize with black Cubans and created unofficially segregated housing on the island. In fact, the racism on the island was so bad that Robert Williams—the Black American who had fled to Cuba after being targeted by the U.S. government for advocating armed self-defense for Black people—left the country and stated that “power in Cuba is in the hands of the white petty-bourgeoisie.” 

  60. CPP, Message of solidarity to the Freedom Road Socialist Organization on the occasion of its 8th Congress, May 25, 2018,

  61. Ibid. 

  62. For example, see,, and

  63. At this point the USSR had amassed over a million troops on the border with China, was constantly engaging in border skirmishes, and had even telephoned Washington, seeking approval for a preemptive nuclear strike on Beijing. C.f. 

  64. While Zhou Enlai was not always a rightist, by the late Cultural Revolution he had moved in this direction, and pushed for such things as acknowledging the existence of the state of Israel, the rehabilitation of Deng Xiaoping, Chinese support for Pakistan’s military aggression and bombing of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), and more. For more on this see The Late Cultural Revolution, available at:

  65. Yitzhak Shicor, The Middle East in China’s Foreign Policy 1979, pp. 180, 247.