Critical Asian Studies 53, no. 2 (2021), forthcoming.

The Geopolitical Alignments of Diverging Social Interests

The Sino-Soviet Split and the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, 1966-67

In April 1967 the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) broke in two. This article examines how a contradiction at the heart of the party’s program, which sought to retain both leadership over a mass movement and an alliance with a section of the elite, under the pressure of social unrest fragmented the party along the lines of the Sino-Soviet dispute.

The ideological expression of the rival national interests of the bureaucracies in Moscow and Beijing found congruent alignment with the diverging social forces that comprised the party.

The Soviet bureaucracy offered attractive terms of trade to countries of belated capitalist development. Sections of Filipino capitalists, represented in the Marcos administration, saw these as a means of developing national industry. Leading layers of the PKP allied themselves with Marcos in support of these ends. The line of cultural revolution and protracted people’s war expressed the geopolitically imperiled position of Beijing.

A social crisis gripped the Philippines by the middle of the decade, initially manifested in growing hostility to the Vietnam War. The representatives of urban, university-based youth in the party were drawn to the line of Beijing. Over the course of 1966, the rival social interests in the party diverged sharply, driven by the objective logic of events and largely outside the control of the party’s leaders.

The PKP was torn apart along the fault-lines of the Sino-Soviet split, not by external machinations but because the global ideological dispute gave political form to the diverging social interests within the party.