Dear New Left Review:

The inconsistencies which Jonathan Fast says, in his reply to my letter in nlr 81, that he finds between certain statements in writings of mine now and those of a decade or two ago have a simple explanation. A decade and more ago, because of court cases, political prisoner appeal cases, and security and tactical considerations affecting an underground movement, it was not possible to write very freely of intimate pkp-Huk policy matters and orientations without conceivable prejudice to individuals and to organizations. As a member of an illegal movement, whose statements are noted in the Philippines, I have always had to be guided by these factors in what I write. For example, in efforts to intensify repression the neo-colonial regime sought to discredit the pkp-Huk movement as being only interested in ‘violent solutions’, using this to outlaw the movement and to imprison its members for long periods; hence my emphasis then on the movement’s efforts to obtain democratic peace and to exhaust legal and non-violent means. As I have said, it is always difficult for an outsider to make proper assessments of underground movements, even from its published statements; one needs an inside access or view for this. Changes in circumstances have made it possible today to write more freely of intimate questions, and in the future assessments of greater range and depth will be made, including, I am sure, by Fast.

To get to central issues: Fast and I seem to differ mainly over what constitutes a revolutionary programme and revolutionary tactics. In his view, since the Huk movement did not call for socialism and armed insurrection from the outset in 1945, therefore it was not pursuing a revolutionary line. What did the pkp-Huk programme call for? For abrogating us neo-colonial agreements, for basic land reform, nationalist industrialization, and genuine democratic rights. Under Philippine conditions, attainment of these could only mean a national-democratic revolution. How to attain this programme was quite another question. The pkp-Huk movement, aware of its initial shortcomings, responsibly tried every means of winning support and allies, through negotiations, manoeuvres, alliances electoral and otherwise, and direct action. When it was felt timely to call for armed overthrow of the existing regime, this was done. Such a call did not change the programme itself, but the means of attaining it and of putting it into effect.

Fast also seems to have difficulty in grasping the processes involved in a stage of strategic defensive and its conversion to strategic offensive. The strategic defensive is marked by many forms of aggressive tactical initiatives and in fact it is only when these become predominant in relations of forces that the strategic offensive can be proclaimed. This is what happened between 1947 and 1950 in the Philippines. There may not have been any formal call for the overthrow of the government up to 1950, but Fast can hardly brush aside the fact that armed struggle on a mounting scale was being organized by the pkp-Huk movement during those years.

Finally, I must object to Fast’s reiteration of a claim that a pkp statement urging armed overthrow of the present Marcos regime appeared in a sheet called the People’s Tribune. The People’s Tribune was published anonymously and in it there was no mention of or reference to the pkp.

I am grateful to New Left Review, as well as to Jonathan Fast, for providing the opportunity to discuss these issues, and I hope that it will lead to further discussion in depth on such questions.

Yours fraternally,