The Place of Literary Criticism in the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Praxis of the Philippine National Democratic Movement

Lance Espejo



For Marx, “The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism of the weapon, material force must be overthrown by material force” (“A Contribution To The Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”). Marx also says, “theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.” It is this materialization of critical thought as theory which this paper expounds on. Marx says that this materialization happens in man himself, hence theory—or thought—is embodied. This paper, first, strives to expose the underlying class struggle which helps shape the discourse, which in this case, is literary criticism. Second, it aims to zero in on how literary theory and criticism places itself in a movement according to the theory and practice of Marx-Lenin-Mao, and see how these principles were initially theorized and practiced in the context of the Philippine National Democratic Movement until the present in broad strokes. From the writings of Marx-Lenin-Mao, to the workshop guides by ARMAS, to the polemical attacks of Edel E. Garcellano against reactionary “literary shitheads,” and the many organizations and persons who have followed, this paper seeks to emphasize that the place and method of critique parallels the class line and development of the revolutionary struggle.


Class struggle, literary criticism, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, movement, national democracy, theory

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

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Regenia Gagnier
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Inderpal Grewal
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Peter Horn
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Anette Horn
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Bienvenido Lumbera
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Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
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University of Washington (US)

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Temario Rivera
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Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

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Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
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Barnard College (US)
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Columbia University (US)

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Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)