August 7, 1971
MESSAGE OF JOSE MARIA SISON, KABATAANG MAKABAYAN FOUNDING CHAIRMAN
TO PAKSA ON THE TASKS OF CADRES IN THE
(Read at the First National Congress of Panulat para sa Kaunlaran ng
Sambayanan, PAKSA, December 18-19, 1971, Gonzales Hall, University of the
Philippines, Quezon City)
THE CONFERENCE THEME, "Literature and the Mass Line", is well chosen. It
manifest the distinctive character of PAKSA as a progressive and patriotic
organization of writers, critics, teachers and students of literature,
truly determined to serve the people.
To Serve the People is the Single Most Important Task
The single most important task of cadres in the cultural field is to serve
the people. As the great Lu Hsun put it in a couplet:
Fierce-browed, I cooly defy a thousand pointing fingers, Head-bowed, like
a willing ox I serve the children.
To serve the people now is to perform a definite role on the revolutionary
struggle for national democracy against U.S. imperialism, feudalism and
bureaucrat capitalism. The cultural revolution is a distinct yet integral
part of the revolutionary mass movement. Without the preparation of public
opinion, there can be no revolution. In the course of the national
democratic revolution, cultural work is always necessary to heighten the
fighting spirit of the revolutionary masses.
Chairman Mao teaches us, "Revolutionary culture is a powerful
revolutionary weapon for the broad masses of the people. It prepares the
ground ideologically before the revolution comes and is an important,
indeed essential, fighting front in the general revolutionary front during
Chairman Mao points out, "All our literature and art are for the masses of
the people, and in the first place for the workers, peasants and soldiers;
they are created for the workers, peasants and soldiers and are for their
Cadres in the cultural field are like commanders who lead cultural
battalions - the masses in their thousands, tens of thousands and
millions. The audience for revolutionary literary and art work is
incalculable. A stage performance or an exhibit can be repeated so many
times that it is extremely difficult to keep count of the audience. The
printing capacity of a press may be limited but a good literary work
nevertheless gets passed from hand to hand and discussed without end. If
our cultural work truly serves the people, our readers and audience are
inevitably aroused and become a tremendous force for the revolution. The
theme of this congress thereby becomes a material force in the same manner
that a battlecry does in the field of combat.
We must always remember that the people will not be aroused and mobilized
unless the literary and artistic work is drawn from their lives,
particularly from their needs and aspirations. We bring to a higher plane
the actions and thinking of the revolutionary masses so as to inspire them
further to destroy and triumph over the enemy. The heroes that emerge from
our work should be the people themselves and their superlative
representatives who are tempered in the crucible of the revolution. The
revolutionary struggle should be the essence of the organic unity of a
literary or artistic work.
Chairman Mao teaches us, "(Our purpose is) to ensure that literature and
art fit well into the whole revolutionary machine as a component part,
that they operate as powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people
and for attacking and destroying the enemy, and that they help the people
fight the enemy with one heart and one mind".
Inasmuch as culture is the reflection of economics and politics,
literature and art are the finest and most sensitive ideological forms for
summing up social reality. We can create revolutionary literature and art
only by carefully and meticulously keeping to the revolutionary stand,
viewpoint and method of that class which leads the broad masses of the
people in the life-and-death struggle between progress and reaction.
It is a bounden duty for revolutionary men of culture to be partisan to
the leading revolutionary class, the proletariat, and to oppose the
reactionary classes, the big bourgeoisie and the landlord class. Chairman
Mao teaches us, "In the world today all culture, all literature and art
belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines.
There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands
above classes, art that is detached from or independent of politics.
Proletarian literature and art are part of the whole proletarian
revolutionary cause; they are, as Lenin said, cogs and wheels in the whole
Remould your Class Outlook and Give Full Play to Criticism
We live in a society that is semi-colonial and semi-feudal. It is
inevitable that practically all our cadres in the cultural field have at
one time or another been deeply influenced by bourgeois and feudal culture
and they continue to be so influenced in varying degrees. The dominant
frame of mind among those educated in the present cultural system is
bourgeois. In the era of imperialism, particularly in this era when
imperialism is heading for total collapse and socialism is marching toward
world victory, the bourgeois mind becomes so fantastic, regressive and
desperate that it resorts to feudal mysticism in order to reinforce the
most decadent influence of imperial culture and art.
As the revolutionary mass movement becomes stronger and stronger the
reactionaries also deliberately allow the spread of social- democratic or
revisionist literature in an attempt to infect our cadres with fears of
revolutionary wars and nuclear weapons and with the philosophy of survival
It is the task of our cadres in the cultural field to keep on remoulding
their class outlook. They must firmly combat all erroneous ideas and their
own selfish tendencies with the lucid ideology of the proletariat,
Marxism-Leninism, and integrate themselves with the masses in the
practical revolutionary movement. Chairman Mao teaches us, "Our literature
and art workers must accomplish this task and shift their stand; they must
gradually move their feet over to the side of the workers, peasants and
soldiers, to the side of the proletariat, through the process of going
into their very midst and into the thick of practical struggles and
through the process of studying Marxism and society.
Only in this way can we have a literature and art that are truly for the
workers, peasants and soldiers, a truly proletarian literature and art."
It is an important task to undertake study sessions and seminars.
Thoroughly study Chairman Mao's "Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature
and Art" as a comprehensive programme; his three great works on the
rectification movement which precede all other articles in the Philippine
selection entitled On Party Building; and, of course, the_________
Philippine selection entitled On Culture. Get hold of literary models in
the great proletarian revolutionary tradition of Gorky and Lu Hsun and
those literary models popularized in the course of China's Great
Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Find out how past and contemporary
literary and art works stand in the light of the world achievements of
proletarian literature and art.
It is an important task to be in the midst of the revolutionary mass
movement. In the course of participating in the revolutionary struggles of
the workers and peasants, our cadres in the cultural field will gain
knowledge that they can never gain from textbooks alone. To conduct social
investigation in the course of practical struggles is to gather the best
material for a truly significant literature and art. One cannot write of
the workers, peasants and soldiers without knowing them intimately.
Among the cultural workers, there is always enough practical and concrete
basis for study and for criticism and self-criticism. The literary and
artistic work that are created by them are subject to analysis and
criticism. These are always subject to improvement. While the most
advanced should be good at uniting with the less advanced cultural
workers, who are willing to unite with us on the general line of the
national democratic revolution, it should always be the task of the former
to persuade the latter to further remould their outlook. Persuasion is our
principal method of struggle with them.
We have no fear of criticism because our end is always to serve the people
and therefore we must always be ready to give them the best that we can.
Among our comrades and our friends we must have that ox-like modesty that
Lu Hsun found appropriate to picture in his couplet. To the enemy,
however, we are fierce and we must not show the least sign of
Chairman Mao teaches us:
"In literary and art criticism there are two criteria, the political and
There is the political criterion and there is the artistic criterion; what
is the relationship between the two? Politics cannot be equated with art,
nor can a general world outlook be equated with a method of artistic
creation and criticism. We deny not only that there is an abstract and
absolutely unchangeable political criterion, but also that there is an
abstract and absolutely unchangeable artistic criterion; each class in
every class society has its own political and artistic criteria. But all
classes in all class societies invariably put the political criterion
first and the artistic criterion second... What we demand is the unity of
politics and arts, the unity of content and form, the unity of
revolutionary political content and the highest possible perfection in
artistic form. Works of art which lack artistic quality have no force,
however progressive they are politically. Therefore, we oppose both works
of art with a wrong political viewpoint and the tendency towards the
"poster and slogan style" which is correct in political viewpoint but
lacking in artistic power. On questions of literature and art we must
carry on a struggle on two fronts."
It is not enough to undertake criticism and self-criticism only among
fellow craftsmen. Though it is necessary for those who have an interest in
the same field of work to have a union, cultural workers should avoid
restricting themselves to the guild mentality of the petty bourgeoisie in
medieval times. We should make it a task to encourage criticism of our
works by the masses. After a cultural performance or art exhibit, we
should invite the audience to submit their critical remarks and
suggestions for improvement. In our publications, we should also regularly
call for these. Even before a piece of literary or artistic work is put
out, certain efforts can be made to consult the masses or their
To provide an example of self-criticism, I wish to take this opportunity
to criticize and repudiate before this group of writers as well as before
the general public (since this article is to be mimeographed at least) the
entire collection, Brothers with the exception of only five or six poems.
The bulk of the poems cannot pass the test of proletarian revolutionary
criticism. Though the collection was compiled in 1961 as properly
indicated, it is bound to create erroneous influence without this
repudiation. I hope that with this repudiation I shall be able to write
Infuse Revolutionary Class Content into Various Forms of Literature
It is appropriate to refer to the various forms of literature inasmuch as
this article is presented before a group of writers, critics, teachers and
students of literature. In this regard, we must be conscious of the task
of infusing revolutionary class content into the various forms of
literature: the essay, fiction, drama and poetry.
The need for having something to say, a clear ideology and political line,
is most obvious in the essay form. There is daily a big pile of articles
that may be subsumed under this form. The sheer weight of these in terms
of newsprint is truly oppressive, mostly testaments as they are to the
false virtues of the enemy. It is in the essay form, however, that the
revolutionary mass movement has most expressed itself. It is inevitable
that this form will always serve as the most explicit weapon for
assaulting the enemy and defending the people.
In fiction, the short story has for quite a long time been the most
popular form among Filipino creative writers. The novel form is quite
neglected obviously because it requires sustained writing, something that
our writers seem not to be able to cope with because they have to
copywrite for an advertising firm, clerk in a government office or
commercial house, work in a metropolitan newspaper or magazine or teach in
a university. Short or long, fiction should be employed by revolutionary
writers to serve the people.
Of the various literary forms, drama is the most in demand in the
revolutionary mass movement today. The demand is stressed by the scarce
quantity and low quality of the plays written for so long a period of
time, and, more importantly, by the effectiveness of the drama in arousing
and mobilizing the masses. This is a literary form that can be perceived
and comprehended by the literate and non-literate masses when it is
already staged. It is also a form by which local cultural groups can be
most easily organized and by which local acting talents can be coordinated
in great numbers. It is an exceedingly important task to write and produce
revolutionary drama, one-act or full-length plays.
The zarzuela and comedia or moro-moro are traditional forms of drama that
may be adopted by our revolutionary writers. Replace the mawkishness and
class reconciliation in the zarzuela with the revolutionary spirit and
proletarian standpoint; and foolish love songs with revolutionary songs.
Replace the Christian chauvinism and the anti-Muslim line in the comedia
or moro-moro with the tenets and values of a people's war waged by a
people's army led by the proletarian part; and the thunder and lightning
of the medieval crusade with the thunder and lightning of people's war. Of
course, it is necessary to give these traditional forms of drama the
compactness of modern drama.
There are other indigenous forms which can be as effective as the drama in
promoting revolution. These are the balagtasan, the duplo and that
indigenous and yet so universal form, poetry that lends itself to singing.
These can be performed to precede or serve as intermission numbers when a
dramatic presentation is done. These can also be presented exclusively on
their own account.
It is worthwhile to go into script-writing for the movies, radio- -TV
drama and the comics. It is difficullt to get a revolutionary movie script
filmed at the moment because of the technical and financial requirements.
But it is relatively easier to turn out comics and to produce drama over
the radio. The movies, radio drama and the comics can be turned into our
It is the overriding task of revolutionary writers to infuse revolutionary
class content into the various forms of literature and to make the
workers, peasants and revolutionary soldiers the heroes under the red flag
of the proletariat.
There should be no more debate concerning what national language to use.
We are all committed to using the language of the masses, the language
that can be understood throughout the country. It is Pilipino. Enrich this
developing language with proletarian revolutionary literature. We must
recognize at the same time that the local languages are also the language
of the masses and these must also be enriched with proletarian
revolutionary literature rather than put aside in our thinking. Instead of
ignoring or scorning regional writers for their inability to write in
Pilipino, we should encourage them to write proletarian revolutionary
literature in the languages they are used to writing in and also persuade
them to learn Pilipino so that they can learn not only the language but
also the proletarian revolutionary literature already achieved in it.
Popularize Literary Models and Thereby Promote the Upsurge of
The national democratic cultural revolution, under the leadership of the
proletariat, has advanced brilliantly. So many writers have come to the
forefront in the revolutionary struggle in the cultural field. They have
come forward with works into which they have infused revolutionary class
content as best as they could.
It is of basic importance to analyze and sum up the concrete situation in
the field of literature from one stage to another. The purpose is to
improve current literary stock, choose the exemplary works for
popularization and set the tasks for raising the quantity and quality of
further literary output.
At this stage, it is important for revolutionary writers to band together
and make a conscious effort to create and promote literary models. These
models should prove that revolutionary class content can be heightened and
at the same time aesthetic standards can be raised. We must debunk all
arguments of the bourgeoisie that only its ideas and motions can satisfy
the demands of the various forms of literature. The best way to do the
debunking is to create and promote brilliant proletarian revolutionary
It is our task to make these literary models reach the factories, farms,
schools and everywhere else in the country. By doing this, we promote the
upsurge of revolutionary literature in our country.
JOSE MA. SISON