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Book review: Philippine revolutionary speaks to the world
by Deirdre Griswold

"Jose Maria Sison: At Home in the World, Portrait of a Revolutionary," Conversations with Ninotchka Rosca. Open Hand Publishing, Greensboro, NC, 2004. 272 pp. Cloth $32, paperback $16.

This book appears at a time when the class struggle in the Philippines and resistance to relentless U.S. efforts to reimpose colonial rule are escalating.

On Nov. 16, at least seven striking sugar workers were killed by the Philippine army and police. The government is under pressure from Washington to send troops to Iraq and participate in Bush's "war on terror" by repressing guerrilla struggles of both Muslim separatists and the Communist New People's Army. The Pentagon also wants to reestablish the huge bases it once had in the islands.

Bringing pressure from the other side are the Philippine masses, whose long history of revolutionary activity began more than a century ago when their rebellion against Spanish colonial rule quickly turned into a war of resistance against the new colonizers from North America.

Jose Maria Sison is credited with reviving the Communist Party of the Philippines after its decline in the 1950s. He has been a student organizer, a guerrilla fighter in a people's war, a political prisoner, a theoretician and leader of the CPP. In this book, he tells of his history, his political views, and his struggle to maintain his freedom while living in exile in The Netherlands.

Since 9/11, Washington has attempted to equate any revolutionary activity anywhere with terrorism. Under their new rules, those who opposed British rule in the 13 colonies would be categorized as terrorists, as would Sison and all who have sought to throw off the yoke of foreign imperialist oppression.

Sison says that "It is not the CPP and NPA but the U.S. imperialists and their puppets that are responsible for terrorism," and reminds the reader that 1.5 million Filipinos were killed by the U.S. in the first 14 years after it invaded in 1899.

This charge of terrorism is rejected by most of the Filipino people. Many millions have participated in mass organizations of the left that fight every day against the deep poverty and miserable conditions suffered by the majority of the people--the heritage of having been looted and exploited for many generations.

Sison's message to the people of the world at the end of the book is valid for Marxists anywhere: "Persevere in the broad anti-imperialist movement. This is the democratic base of the world proletarian revolution. Monopoly capitalism has become more rapacious and violent. We must combat imperialism until its global defeat, build socialism and aim at the attainment of communism."

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