≡ Menu

This site is named after the two recurring and interacting themes that dominate my academic work — revolution and history. I have found the interplay between the revolutionary struggles of competing layers of society, on the one hand, and the vast historical forces which they confront, on the other, to be an immensely fertile field for scholarly inquiry.

I am a doctoral candidate in the department of South and Southeast Asian Studies at UC Berkeley, specializing in Philippine history and literature.

My family moved to Manila when I was five years old and I have now spent over have my life in the Philippines. My childhood in the midst of shantytowns, and several years as an adult spent in rural Central Luzon, for me imbue the Philippines with a powerful sense of home. Tagalog is a language in which I think and dream; I am as fluent in it as I am in English.

I wrote an extended critique of Reynaldo Ileto’s classic 1979 work, Pasyon and Revolution, for my masters thesis in 2009, which was entitled Pasyon, Awit, Legend: Reynaldo Ileto’s Pasyon and Revolution revisited, a critique. In my thesis, I argued that

Ileto’s attempt to reconstruct the categories of perception of “the masses” using the pasyon as source material was deeply flawed. Ileto treated the pasyon as a literary text, ignoring the significance of its performance and treating it in an ahistorical manner. An attentiveness to performance reveals that the pasyon was a cross-class and linguistically specific phenomenon. This insight dramatically attenuates the argumentative force of Ileto’s claim to provide insight into the consciousness of the masses and their participation in revolution. Paying heed to the historical specificity of performance allows us to use other sources, such as the Bernardo Carpio legend and references to Tapusi to explore working class and peasant perceptions of revolution while avoiding the errors of Ileto’s earlier attempt.

Since 2010 I have been researching and writing my dissertation, a history of the split within the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) [Philippine Communist Party] and of the founding of the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The dissertation covers the explosive political period from 1957-1972 which culminated in Marcos declaration of martial law.

In my dissertation, entitled Crisis of Revolutionary Leadership: The Communist Parties of the Philippines, 1959-1974, I argued

In 1967 the PKP split in two. Within two years a second party — the CPP — had been founded. In this work, I argue that it was the political program of Stalinism, embodied in both parties through three basic principles — socialism in one country, the two-stage theory of revolution, and the bloc of four classes — that determined the fate of political struggles in the Philippines in the late 1960s and early 1970s and facilitated Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law in September 1972.

I argue that the split in the Communist Party of the Philippines was the direct expression of the Sino-Soviet split in global Stalinism. The impact of this geopolitical split arrived late in the Philippines because it was initially refracted through Jakarta. It was in the wake of the massacre of the Indonesian Communist Party in 1965-66 that the PKP sought out new contacts with International Communism and in so doing were compelled to take sides in the raging dispute between Moscow and Beijing.

On the basis of their common program of Stalinism, both parties in the wake of their split sought to form alliances with sections of the ruling class. The pro-Moscow party allied with Marcos, who was pursuing ties with Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. They facilitated and supported his declaration of Martial Law, murdering the members of the party who opposed this position. The pro-Beijing party responded by channeling the massive social unrest of this period behind the leadership of Marcos’ political rivals. When Marcos declared martial law and arrested his rivals, the movement which had been subordinated to them died. The CPP channeled all residual mass opposition into the armed struggle in the countryside.

I based my analysis on the copious documentary record produced by the CPP, PKP and their front organizations at the time, which I correlated carefully with contemporary newspaper accounts. Using this material, I have been able to trace the day-to-day vicissitudes in the political line of the party and the rhetoric used to justify it. On this basis I document that the one unaltered thread woven throughout the entire immense tangle of shifting political tactics and alliances was the program of Stalinism.

In all of my work, I have taken a regional and global perspective, situating Philippine history and literature within the broader discourses and disputes which were at play throughout the Southeast Asian region and beyond.

I am dedicated to expanding the use of digital technologies within the humanities. In my own work I use Mendeley to archive my digital references, JabRef to manage citations, Zim for notetaking, Vim for editing, and LaTeX for document production. My 945 page dissertation was written entirely in LaTeX. I conduct all of my work in Debian.

Joseph Scalice
jscalice {at} berkeley {dot} edu