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The Philippines left and Corazon Aquino

Corazon Aquino (far right) in 1986.

By Reihana Mohideen

August 14, 2009 – Former president of the Philippines Corazon Aquino died on August 1. Following the 1983 assassination of Benigno Aquino, her husband, Cory Aquino became the Philippine’s leading bourgeois opposition figure to the US-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos. She stood against Marcos in the 1986 presidential election. After Marcos was proclaimed the winner of the blatantly rigged election, a mass uprising – dubbed the ``people power revolution’’ -- overthrew Marcos and Aquino became president. She was in office from 1986 to 1992.

The Philippines left’s reaction to the death of Corazon Aquino has been intriguing. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) did a complete about-turn, recanting its previous position that Cory Aquino was a representative of the reactionary classes.

The CPP-influenced National Democratic Front statement laid the blame for the massacre of unarmed peasants at Mendiola during the Aquino administration (one of the most tragic episodes in the history of the left in the Philippines) at the feet of the “military and police [who] caused the termination of the ceasefire agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the NDFP when they indiscriminately fired on the peasants and their urban supporters marching for land reform on January 22, 1987.” Thus a massacre became an “indiscriminate firing” and the Aquino administration was relieved of all responsibility in a stunningly hypocritical rewriting of history.

As for Cory Aquino’s active support to keep the US military bases in the Philippines in opposition to moves by the Philippines Senate to remove the bases, the NDF statement had only this to say: “She was openly critical of the long-running support of the US for the Marcos dictatorship in exchange for the aggrandizement of US economic interests and the continuance of the US military bases.” Not a word on her pro-US bases stance after she came to power.
Even those of us now well-accustomed to the CPP’s unashamed pragmatism swallowed hard while reading the NDF statement signed by top CPP leaders including Jose Maria Sison. However, this is not the first time that history has been rewritten, especially by the CPP, to suit the various twists and turns in its political line.

Partido Lakas ng Masa

The Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses), on the other hand, issued a statement by its chairperson Sonny Melencio outlining its assessment of the main characteristics of the Cory Aquino regime. It read in part: “Cory Aquino was the icon of the revival of pre-dictatorial ‘elite democracy’ in the country. She was the symbol of a ‘people power revolution’ which deposed the dictator Marcos but failed to institute a people’s power government. The governmental alliance that she established under her ‘revolutionary government’ quickly transformed into a government headed by elite groups previously persecuted by the Marcos dictatorship.”

Most importantly the PLM statement implied that what was really posed was the possibility of the left leading the anti-dictatorship movement and taking political power. “While Aquino was seen as leading the downfall of the much-hated Marcos dictatorship, it is classes and not individuals that make history. There were various factors and players at work who made the ouster of Marcos a reality. Edsa 1 [the 1986 people power uprising] itself was a confluence of a military mutiny and a people’s uprising. The build-up to Edsa 1 was a series of protests, sacrifices and small-scale rebellion led by the Left and other progressive forces. It is unfortunate, however, that the Left which has sacrificed the most during the period of the dictatorship, ended up ‘politically isolated’ due errors related to its strategy and tactics.”

It concluded by arguing that the current crisis facing the people under the rotting carcass of the current regime of President Gloria Macapagal is a part of Cory’s legacy: “In a sense, Gloria Macapagal’s rise to power was a product of the limited and distorted character of Cory’s ‘revolution’”.

Akbayan

The left electoral party Akbayan did not release a formal statement, but some of its individual leaders attempted to expose the real record of the Aquino administration, such as its active opposition to the removal of US bases and the burdensome legacy of debt left to the future generations, enshrined in what became known as the ``Cory constitution’’, which made the annual repayment of the foriegn debt mandatory. One of the leaders of Akbayan argued that the problem was bad advisors who surrounded Cory Aquino. Others argued that despite its anti-people record, the Aquino administration was still seen by the people as a representative of the ideal of freedom and democracy.

``Who could forget the Aquino governments pro-US military bases stance? Who could not recall her government’s US-backed low intensity conflict and total war policy against `insurgents’ which in truth harmed the masses more than its perceived enemies?” , asked Emanuel Hizon, an Akbayan leader, in another article. He went onto explain the mass support for Cory “… this woman despite her regime’s numerous social and economic transgressions is so loved and cherished by a people representing three generations of Edsas. Its not so much because she is religious, a mother-like figure to many, a glorified widow or simply a martyr; beyond the labels, our ideological flexing and the comfortable branding of pundits, Cory has been duly recognized by the people as an icon in their transition from despotism to rule of law, their struggle from tyranny towards a sense of freedom and democracy. Cory is first and foremost the representation of that ideal, of that difficult journey towards democratization, of that collective national experience.”
And it did not stop there. ``She will also be remembered as a defender of that particular form of democracy, flawed and wanting it may be in so many ways, not measuring up to our Marxist concept of a democratic archetype. From people power 2 which removed an incompetent and corrupt regime up to her participation in the fight to throw out the illegitimate Arroyo regime and its sinister plan to amend the constitution, Cory will be remembered and respected as a person who despite her privileged status joined the people in their most trying and important political junctures.”

No lessons reviewed

What struck me most about the left analysis of Cory Aquino and her years, however, was the lack of any serious assessment of the lessons that this critical period in history holds for left strategy today. In this sense the analysis has been ahistorical. In most cases it hasn’t gone beyond the role of Cory Aquino as an individual or the reviewing of some facts of her administration’s record, instead of analysing and attempting to understand the lessons they hold for left strategy today.

Does this mean that the left has nothing to learn from the revolution that overthrew Marcos and stabilised the system of elite rule? Or is this a form of denial, a refusal to collectively look at the period head on and draw the relevant lessons for today?

After all, the Aquino years were a traumatic period for the revolutionary left, having to come to terms with it's own failure in losing the leadership of the political revolution, as well as having to suffer ongoing repression with the massacre of farmers in Mendiola, as well as the assassination of leaders of the movement, Rolando Olalia and Lean Alejandro.
The people power revolution was a double-edged sword for the revolutionary left: a partial victory in building a mass movement that overthrew the dictatorship, but also a defeat of the left’s strategy. Most importantly, today, we continue to live with the legacy of all this.
I think that the left has only made a partial assessment of the 1986 revolution and its aftermath. I have always believed that a more comprehensive assessment is necessary, because it is of the utmost importance that we learn the lessons for today.

As historical materialists our starting point should be, as the Partido Lakas ng Masa statement correctly points out, “it is classes and not individuals that make history”. 

We should also internalise that Napoleonic dictum that ``Defeated armies learn well’’. This is something that the Cuban revolutionaries managed to do in the aftermath of the defeat of the Moncada rebellion on July 26, 1953, and then went on a few years later to lead a successful insurrection resulting in the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
I think that the Philippines left is still grappling with this and is an army that has not, as yet, learned its lessons well.

Some lessons and more questions

Some lessons have been drawn by sections of the left and its important that these are summarised. While these positions are differently nuanced amongst the various political parties or blocs, the main lessons can be identified as follows: (i) The importance of the left intervening in the electoral arena, and (ii) the rejection or questioning of the Maoist strategy of protracted people’s war. Others have also pointed to the important role that the military plays in an insurrection or political revolution.

The transitional demand for a ``Transitional Revolutionary Government’’ put forward by Laban ng Masa during the height of the struggle to oust the Gloria Macapagal regime was also partially referenced by the government of Cory Aquino which was then referred to as a ``revolutionary government’’.

A key lesson of the 1986 revolution is the importance of the electoral tactic in the mobilisation of the masses and the capture of government and political power. The CPP’s ultraleft, electoral boycott tactic was a fatal error leading to the isolation of the left and the victory of the elite in the anti-dictatorship upsurge. If the CPP had fully participated in the election campaign and used the electoral tactic to the fullest extent possible to mobilise the masses, the outcome of the revolution would have been different. Aquino’s and the elite forces’ victory in February could have been followed by a revolutionary October, as the CPP chair Sison then promised. This never came to pass and instead we experienced a period of decline of the revolutionary movement.
The left learned this lesson hard and through the 1990s started to run its own candidates and participate in the electoral arena. However, the overall character of the left electoral intervention has been to play the electoral card in an extremely conventional way, within the boundaries set by traditional bourgeois politics, that it has become impossible to differentiate the left’s electoral campaigns from those of the trapo [traditional elite] candidates. ``We have to play the game’’ was the justification given. And the left certainly did ``play the game’’. So much so that the CPP’s electoral organisations were the de facto party list of choice of the Gloria Macapagal regime in the 2001 and 2004 elections. The mobilisation of the masses has not been the aim, but the winning of seats by any means necessary.
The revolutionary movement in Latin America has once again placed the electoral tactic on the agenda. In Venezuela and Bolivia the revolutionary movement used the electoral tactic to capture government and then proceed to extend and consolidate revolutionary political and state power. This lesson and experience is now being extended to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Uruguay and Ecuador.
The lesson for us in the Philippines is that the electoral tactic, under certain conditions, such as during an extreme crisis of elite rule and a sharp rise in the class struggle (as was the case in the period leading to the collapse of the Marcos dictatorship), can be used to mobilise the masses to create a major breach in the system of elite/bourgeois rule. This is a key lesson of the 1986 revolution and a lesson from the advances being made by the revolutionary movements in Latin America today. However, as long as we use the electoral tactic purely within the boundaries set by trapo politicians, our political gains will be extremely limited and our movement will suffer the problems of opportunism, that so marks the left’s electoral interventions today.

We also need to start by asking ourselves the right questions in the process of trying to draw useful lessons. Why is it that sections of the elite have time and again been able to use populist rhetoric, to mobilise and lead the masses  to serve their own interests, including in winning leadership from the left? For me this is a key question, or maybe even the key question, that needs to be posed over and over again, especially during periods of crisis such as the one we face in the Philippines today.

[Reihana Mohideen is head of Partido Lakas ng Masa’s international department. This article first appeared at Socialista Feminista.]

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Walden Bello: Cory and the creditors

By Walden Bello

August 8, 2009 -- In its obituary on President Corazon Aquino, the Economist asserts that she attained greatness in leading the fight to oust the dictator Ferdinand Marcos but disappointed when it came to governing. “Her greatest achievement,” says the magazine, “was to survive seven attempted coups and hand over [power] peacefully at the end of her six-year term.”

Among the key reasons it cites was Cory’s failure to “break the grip of the aristocrats” through land reform. It is not surprising, however, that this pro-business magazine fails to mention an equally, if not more decisive reason for the dismal economic record of her administration: the priority that it gave to repaying the massive $26 billion it inherited from Marcos.

A few months before she came to power, the University of the Philippines School of Economics, in its famous White Paper, had warned: “The search for a recovery program that is consistent with a debt repayment schedule determined by our creditors is a futile one and should therefore be abandoned.” The issue of debt repayment shot to the forefront soon after her assumption of office in early 1986. Without even giving it breathing space, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, at the urging of the country’s commercial creditors, put debt servicing at the top of the new administration’s agenda. Fairly quickly, Aquino faced the choice of devoting the country’s scarce financial resources to development or to debt repayment.

Within the government, the first position was espoused by Professor Solita Monsod, then director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). Opposing her was Central Bank Governor Jose “Jobo” Fernandez, a Marcos holdover, who warned of the risk of “economic retaliation against the country” should it take unilateral actions in defiance of its creditors. Trade credit lines could be withheld, paralyzing foreign trade, and foreign aid could be suspended. According to one account, Citibank president John Reed visited the Philippines and warned that unilateral action on debt “would produce immense suffering and difficulty for the people.”

The so-called “model debtor strategy” won out, partly because its opponents within the government did not put up more than token opposition. This was a mistake, according to economist Jim Boyce, because the “credibility of these threats is open to question.” In any event, President Aquino issued Proclamation 50, which committed the government to honoring the original terms of the Philippines’ enormous debt, including odious ones like those contracted to build the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. The model debtor approach was institutionalized with Executive Order 292, which affirmed the “automatic appropriation” of the full amount to service the debt coming due each year from the budget of the national government that was originally mandated by Marcos’ Presidential Decree 1177.

In the critical period 1986 to 1993, an amount coming to some 8 to 10 percent of the Philippines GDP left the country yearly in debt-service payments, adding up to a total of nearly $30 billion – an appalling sum, especially considering that the Philippines’ total external debt in 1986 was only $21.5 billion. Furthermore, the onerous repayment terms, subject to variable interest rates, forced the government to adopt the practice of incurring new debt to pay off the old, so that instead of showing a reduction, the foreign debt by 1993 had gone up to $29 billion.

Gutting government investment

Interest payments as a percentage of total government expenditure went from 7 percent in 1980 to 28 percent in 1994. Capital expenditures, on the other hand, plunged from 26 to 16 percent. Debt servicing, in short, became, alongside wages and salaries, the number one priority of the national budget, with capital expenditures being starved of outlays. Since government is the biggest investor in the Philippines—indeed, in any country—the radical stripping away of capital expenditures goes a long way toward explaining the stagnant 1 percent average yearly GDP growth rate in the 1980s and the 2.3 percent rate in the first half of the 1990s.

The radical reduction of government spending so that resources could be channeled to debt service was consistent with the policies of IMF- and World Bank-backed structural adjustment that the Aquino administration inherited from the Marcos regime. Instead of encouraging private investment to step into the breach created by the retreat of government investment, as predicted by free-market ideology, the latter discouraged or “crowded out” private investment. This was especially clear when it came to Japanese investment, which was the main factor behind the explosive growth of our neighboring economies in the late eighties and early nineties. While Japanese capital flowed in large volumes to our neighboring economies during the great explosion of Japanese investment in Southeast Asia in 1985-1995 owing to “endaka” or the revaluation of the yen, it bypassed the Philippines, which was wallowing in stagnation owing to the double punch of structural adjustment and debt repayment. Japanese investors were not about to pour their money into a depressed economy that contained no promise of profits.

It is estimated that between 1987 and 1991, the Philippines received a paltry amount of $797 million in Japanese investment, Thailand received $12 billion. Including investment from Taiwan and Hong Kong that followed in the Japanese wake, the difference was even more marked: Thailand received $24 billion in investment during the same period, or 15 times the amount invested in the Philippines, which came to $1.6 billion. “This difference in the flow of foreign investment from the three countries,” economist Kunio Yoshihara noted, “produced a significant disparity in growth performance of the two countries during the period.” Indeed, it was during the Aquino presidency that the Philippine economy was definitively left behind by our neighbors, who were registering impressive 6-10 per cent growth rates per annum while we barely inched forward.

The road not taken

Had the Aquino administration displayed more spine, a scenario like that which transpired in Argentina earlier this decade was not out of the question. With his country bankrupted by massive debt repayments, newly elected President Nestor Kirchner told Argentina’s creditors in 2002 that he was going to pay only 25 cents for every dollar that Argentina owed foreign bondholders. When the bondholders protested, Kirchner told them they had better take the offer or he would lower his offer to 10 cents for every dollar. The bondholders capitulated. The outcome: owing to the channeling into domestic investment of the financial resources which would have otherwise hemorrhaged as debt repayments, Argentina grew by an average of 10 per cent between 2003 and 2008.

Political will spelled prosperity in Argentina. Lack of it during the Aquino administration condemned the Philippines to stagnation.

Cory Aquino was instinctively a democrat, which is the reason she was so determined in her battle to bring back democracy to the Philippines. But she was also instinctively a conservative when it came to economic matters such as land reform and foreign debt policy. Glorious figures are also often tragic figures. And the tragedy of Cory Aquino is that the democratic institutions she restored or established are now threatened by the troubled legacy of her conservative and failed economic policies.

* Published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer by Akbayan! Representative Walden Bello
.

* Walden Bello is a member of the House of Representatives representing the political party Akbayan!. He is also president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition and senior analyst at the Bangkok-based research and advocacy institute Focus on the Global South. He is the author or co-author of 15 books, including the Marcos era classic Development Debacle: the World Bank in the Philippines (1982) and the bestselling The Anti-Developmental State: the Political Economy of Permanent Crisis in the Philippines (2004).


Philippine Left

They just did it again -- with Satur Ocampo stating publicly that Sen. Manny Villar, the riches man in the Philippine Congress, has "no record of exploitative labor practices..." This was because they were all joining the Villar political party. The very next day, Villar sold them out, by signing an alliance with the Marcos party and including Bongbong Marcos in its slate. At this point, of course, the alleged Left couldn't say anything any more except pretend to some moral self-righteousness.

AKBAYAN AND ALAB KATIPUNAN: THE NEW MENSHEVIKS?

The 2010 national election where AKBAYAN and ALAB KATIPUNAN actively and visibly supported Noynoy Aquino makes them part and parcel of the new regime in terms of responsibilities and accountabilities to the Filipino people and whatever happen in the administration of Pnoy, AKBAYAN and ALAB KATIPUNAN shares the major burden of accountability.

IDEOLOGICAL BANKRUPTCY AND OPPORTUNISM

Ideologically, AKBAYAN and ALAB KATIPUNAN are supposed to take the role as open-legal vanguard, catalyst for genuine change and as conscious organizations to guide the masses towards seizure of bourgeois political power as the primary aim of the working class under a capitalist state. But can they seize power by making their leaders part of the capitalist system? The key leaders of AKBAYAN and ALAB KATIPUNAN are appointed by the Pnoy reactionary government to take part in the executive branch and it logically follows that they will implement the will of the chief executive and it is elementary to those who studied Lenin (State and Revolution) that the president of the country under a capitalist state becomes the chief executive of the ruling class and therefore, the members of the cabinet and every national government agencies under the office of the president serves as the implementing arms of the chief executive (implementing arms of the ruling class). Nobody from the office of president including the president himself and all national government agencies under his office can go beyond and contrary to the 1987 Philippine Constitution and this Constitution as the fundamental law of the country is by nature is the “legal and fundamental” expression of the rule of the capitalist class. It means, the key leaders of AKBAYAN and ALAB KATIPUNAN who are now part of the capitalist system has no power to change the system but instead, they become instruments and agents of the system to carry the interest of the ruling class.

Shall we say they are inside the bureaucracy to facilitate the release of basic social services to the people and expand their influence among the masses. Again, it is basic to the teaching of Leninism that genuine social services can never happen in a capitalist state and that Engels said that the question of delivering social services cannot be achieved through a policy of reform.

Engels said:

“As long as the capitalist mode of production continues to exist, it is folly to hope for an isolated solution of the housing question or of any other social question affecting the fate of the workers. The solution lies in the abolition of the capitalist mode of production and the appropriation of all the means of life and labor by the working class itself”.

Engels’ central point was that the revolutionary class policy of the proletariat cannot be replaced by a policy of reforms- because “it is not that the solution of the housing question simultaneously solves the social question, but that only by the solution of the social question, that is, by the abolition of the capitalist mode of production, is the solution of the housing question made possible.”

Engels boldly emphasized the necessity to capture political power as the immediate aim and the building of socialism as ultimate aim of the working class. This so-called facilitating the delivery of social services will only develop further the state of illusion (deceive the masses) among the masses that under capitalism their lives will be better and this socio-economic projects will develop the culture of economism and in the long run will further derail the political consciousness of the masses. The “economic struggle” does not promise palpable results, because it produces little that is ‘positive” and because economic struggle is merely trade unionism. What can awaken the working class from slumber is comprehensive political exposure. There is a need therefore for propaganda, agitation, and education.

Lenin said:

“A basic condition for the necessary expansion of political agitation is the organization of comprehensive political exposures”. “Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without, that is, only from outside the economic struggles, from outside the sphere of relations between workers and employers. The sphere from which alone it is possible to obtain this knowledge is the sphere of relationships of all classes and strata to the state and the government, the sphere of the interrelations between all classes” (Lenin, What Is To be Done?).

Political exposures and training in revolutionary activity in no way except by means of such political exposures can the masses be trained in political consciousness and revolutionary activity. Hence, activity of this kind is one of the most important functions of the revolutionary party. For even political freedom does not in any way eliminate exposures; it merely shifts somewhat their sphere of direction. The working class consciousness cannot be genuinely political consciousness unless the workers are trained to respond to all tyranny, oppression, violence and abuse, no matter what class is affected-unless they are trained, moreover, to respond from a revolutionary point of view and no other, says Lenin. Now, are the working class trained to respond to ALL tyranny, oppression, violence and abuse, no matter WHAT class is affected? Seldom we can find them now in the different Left movement in the Philippines except among the groups led by the CPP-NPA. Most if not all of the political rallies against the state are financed and sponsored by the other faction of the ruling class, the very reason why it is not serious of taking political power in the hands of the working class. Many people joining the political rallies are paid and therefore, political consciousness of the masses has diminished and it is now hard to hold political demonstrations if no money is involved. This is the worst style and method of the Left movement in the Philippines that needs immediate rectification.

Lenin said:

“Political exposures are as much a declaration of war against the government as economic exposures are a declaration of war against the factory owners… political exposures in themselves serve as a powerful instrument for disintegrating the system we oppose, as a means for diverting from the enemy his casual or temporary allies, as a means for spreading hostility and distrust among the permanent partners of the autocracy”

POLITICAL INSIGNIFICANT

Politically, it is therefore impossible for those key leaders of AKBAYAN and ALAB KATIPUNAN who are under the executive branch to conduct political exposures neither their organizations because if they will do that, the reactionary government that appointed them will terminate their services in the bureaucracy. To make the long story short, the masses cannot expect that AKBAYAN and ALAB KATIPUNAN to be more militant under President Noynoy administration. If this will be the case, politically, they become insignificant and this will again further intensify the rule of the ruling class and weaken the class struggle.

THE STALINIST AND MENSHEVIKS ERROR: THE SAME BLUNDER OF THE LEFT IN THE PHILIPPINES

Marx and Engels mercilessly unmasked the cowardly, counter-revolutionary role of the bourgeoisie, and emphasized the need for the workers to maintain a “policy of complete class independence”, not only from the bourgeois liberals, but also from the vacillating petty bourgeois democrats.

Stalinist bureaucracy instead of pursuing a revolutionary policy based on class independence, as Lenin had always advocated, they proposed an alliance of the Communist Parties with the “national progressive bourgeoisie” (and if there was not one easily at hand, they were quite prepared to invent it) to carry through the democratic revolution, and afterwards, later on, in the far distant future, when the country had developed a fully fledged capitalist economy, fight for socialism. This policy on non-complete independence of the working class and alliance with the liberal bourgeoisie and the national progressive bourgeoisie that the Stalinist bureaucracy made according to Lenin was a complete break with Leninism and a return to the old discredited position of Menshevism. The same error committed by the Menscheviks is what is happening now in the Philippine Left movement both the RA camp and the RJ.

The inter-classist movement in the Philippines is initiated by the leftist Maoist movement. This is one of their “three magic weapons” for their bourgeois national-democratic revolution. Its concept of revolution is the Stalinist “bloc of four classes” (i.e., alliance of workers, peasants, and petty-bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie). That’s why it is part of its basic principles the tactical alliance with the faction of the ruling class. But this Maoist strategy is also practice by the anti-Maoist leftists in the Philippines. This only means that frontism of whatever type is inherent to all leftist currents to derail the proletariat to achieve its own class consciousness.

When the proletarian movement integrates itself to the struggle of the non-proletarian classes especially with the faction of the capitalist class, it weakens itself as a class. In 1986, the relatively strong militant workers movement was weaken due to the united front policy and armed guerilla actions of the Maoist CPP. In 2001, the already weak proletarian movement was further weakened by the inter-classist “People Power” to oust Joseph Estrada. Now, once again, all factions of the bourgeoisie and the unions are calling the atomized and demoralized workers to participate in the struggles led by its class enemy.

What happened in Latin America is also what happened in 1986 and 2001 in the Philippines: “The fact that significant parts of the proletariat have been sucked into these revolts is of the greatest importance, because it marks a profound loss of class autonomy. Instead of seeing themselves as proletarians with their own interests, workers in Bolivia and Argentina saw themselves as citizens sharing common interests with the petty-bourgeois and non-exploiting strata.” (ICC, ‘Popular revolts’ in Latin America: Its class autonomy is vital to the proletariat)

Thus it is not surprising that the Right and Left of capital expressed the same sentiment on the outcome of the inter-classist movement last February 29. Both the Right and Left of the bourgeoisie have the same task: DERAIL THE DEVELOPMENT OF PROLETARIAN CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS.

The masses will have more frustrations in Pnoy administration as the saying goes: “With great expectancy so with great frustration” because for sure the system (capitalism) cannot and will never bring about real progress and worker’s emancipation and no Marxist in his right mind will have an illusion of good governance and progress under capitalism. The current Left movement in the Philippines is divided and is continuously dividing and can no longer lead tens of thousands of masses in the streets without the power of money or money from other faction of the ruling class. The Left is losing their integrity and independence. The masses saw the Left how they supported the trapo politicians from Cory Aquino regime until Noynoy coming into power and nothing has changed. Under Pnoy administration, some of the key leaders of the Left are now holding key positions in executive departments. Are they going to destroy the chief executive representative of the ruling class inside the bourgeois state apparatus or become part of the state machinery in strengthening and protecting its rule? The Left movement under Pnoy will further lose their strength!

CAPITALISM: IT CANNOT BE REFORMED

We must clearly understands that the system (capitalism) can’t be reformed, that it must be replaced. Or, as one of the priests interviewed in the film puts it, “capitalism is evil, and you cannot regulate evil; you have to eliminate it.” However, it seems that Moore is still unwilling to draw the necessary conclusions – or at least he is unwilling to state this openly. The entire whole world is under the period of counter-reform and no policy reform can reform capitalism, even President Noynoy and his appointed key leaders of AKBAYAN and ALAB KATIPUNAN. No laws on earth can abolish exploitation as long as there is the rule of capital. Therefore, any hope for social change in the “relation of production and forces of production” is an illusion and to convince the masses that there is hope and better life under capitalism is a big deception.

In truth, the role of democracy is not to let us ‘have a say’ in how society is run. Rather it is to disguise the dictatorship of the capitalist class. It is this class and this class only that ‘has a say’ and it organizes its rule through the power of the state. Democracy simply serves to present this state power to the working class with an egalitarian gloss. But whoever is elected to manage the state has to defend the national capital, increase profits and improve competitiveness on the world market. It can only do this by the continued ruthless application of state control over all areas of the economy, whether this is overt (as in the case of Stalinism and Fascism) or concealed but just as extensive (as in the case of neo-liberalism).

In a period where the economic crisis is the driving force in the development of society, this state will have no choice but to attack the working class. The attacks that are carried out against the working class by the bourgeoisie and its state are not the product of bad leadership, or the wrong party being in power. They are the products of the inexorable economic crisis which has no solution within the capitalist framework. In other words, whoever the workers elect will immediately exercise state power to defend the economy – and it will be the working class that has to pay.

Neither can this fundamental reality be altered by reforming the existing state apparatus with schemes to make it more responsive to the popular will. This is why Marx said, concerning the Paris Commune: “I say that the next attempt of the French revolution will be no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it, and this is essential for every real people’s revolution on the Continent.” (Marx to Dr Kugelmann, “Concerning the Paris Commune”, 1871.)

What is to be done?

The working class conscious organizations must rectify this major error if it still wants to pursue the glorious mission of the working class. Under a capitalist socio-economic formation, the working class has no political ally. It must rely on their strength alone under the guidance of the working class vanguard. The CPP-NPA entered into an alliance with national bourgeoisie, peasants and other marginalized sectors because they viewed Philippine society as semi-feudal and therefore, it is consistent in their strategy and tactics to wage a bourgeoisie national democratic struggle and ultimately building a coalition government but for those who viewed the Philippines as capitalist, there is only one road and that is socialist revolution (socialism) and the working class has no other political ally and that they should and must rely on their own class consciousness and their class strength because Lenin made it clear that to make the revolution successful, it must not rely on conspiracy, it must not rely on the party vanguard but it must solely rely on the class consciousness and class struggle of the working class and the development of objective conditions and the subjective forces.

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