The uninterrupted revolution in the Philippines
Reihana Mohideen was, at the time of writing, a member of the Executive Council of the SPP and of the Links Editorial Board.
- A. The character of capitalism in the Philippines
- B. The 'two stage uninterrupted revolution' in the Philippines
- Lenin's theory of 'two-stage, uninterrupted revolution'
- Trotsky's theory of 'permanent revolution'
- Stalin's interpretation of Lenin's two-stage theory
- The revolutionary-democratic stage of the Philippine revolution
- The party's agrarian policy
The founding congress of the Philippines Sosyalistang Partido ng Paggawa (Socialist Party of Labour-SPP) was held on June 18-20. The congress brought together delegates from various traditions in the left: those who left the formerly Moscow-aligned Philippine Communist Party (PKP), the pro-Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and the left wing of the Philippine Democratic Socialist Party. Socialists from the two main national liberation movements in the Philippines also attended, including delegates from the Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) and from movements struggling for the self-determination of the Moro nation.
The congress had a strong internationalist theme. Representatives from Indonesia's People's Democratic Party, Australia's Democratic Socialist Party and Italy's Party of Communist Refoundation gave solidarity greetings. The struggle in Indonesia was of particular interest to delegates, and video presentations of the struggle were shown several times during the congress, which voted to give priority to solidarity with the struggles in Indonesia and East Timor.
Messages of solidarity were also received from the Labour Party Pakistan, the South African Communist Party, the New Zealand Alliance and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which welcomed the establishment of relations between the two organisations.
A report on the SPP's work reaffirmed its commitment to international work and support for initiatives that facilitate the discussion and collaboration of revolutionary socialist parties around the world. It formalised its participation in strengthening the international socialist journal Links.
The congress deliberated on two main documents: the SPP's draft program and constitution. One of the highlights was the discussion on a thesis entitled "The Russian Revolution and its degeneration", which contained an analysis of the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet workers state.
The thesis argued that while bureaucratic deformations of a revolution under backward economic and social conditions were inevitable, the bureaucratic degeneration of the revolution itself could have been prevented if a successful political struggle had been waged against Stalin's faction in the party. It pointed to Cuba as an example of a healthy party and revolution where such a struggle was waged.
The thesis was presented on behalf of the SPP leadership but was not put to a vote; its purpose is to open discussion on this question in the party.
The section of the SPP's program on the nature of Philippine capitalism refuted the Maoist thesis that it is "semi-feudal and semi-colonial", instead characterising it as "underdeveloped" or "backward" capitalism. It pointed out that there is a "revolutionary democratic" transitional stage after the overthrow of capitalist state power before the revolution enters its openly socialist phase.
The section of the program supporting the right of oppressed nations to self-determination, including to a separate state, was adopted. The congress decided to draft a separate thesis recognising the Cordillera and Moro peoples as oppressed national minorities and supporting their struggle for self-determination.
The CPLA and the Moro movements are currently involved in negotiations with the government, and there was a lively discussion about the problems presented by this process. A Moro delegate argued for extreme caution, saying that such a process contains "many traps" for liberation movements.
He argued strongly against any agreement to integrate the military wing of the liberation movements into the Philippine state, pointing to the experience of the Moro National Liberation Front, for whom such a deal had virtually destroyed its cadre base. MNLF members integrated into the armed forces are now being used against their own people in "counterinsurgency" operations.
He argued for an alternative strategy based on the education and mobilisation of the masses and said he had joined the SPP in the hope that the party could assist in this process. An SPP branch has already been set up in Zamboanga, one of the main cities in the south.
The SPP's agrarian policy revolves around intensifying the class struggle in the countryside, with agricultural workers leading the struggle.
The SPP program put forward a range of agrarian demands and actions covering land nationalisation, a "land to the tillers" program, expropriation by the people of idle government land, seizure of "crony" land, and community access and control of land and marine resources.
There was a lively discussion about the party's role in electoral alliances and its right to exert its discipline over elected party candidates' financial benefits. Eventually, the congress voted overwhelmingly for the party's active support for progressive electoral alliances and individual candidates with a proven record in the mass movements, and for the party's right to "nationalise" what remains of elected candidates' financial benefits after they have taken care of their daily expenses.
The congress also adopted a Marxist analysis of the oppression of women: that it flows from the development of class society and that the family is a class institution which plays a fundamental role in this oppression. A proposal to develop a more detailed thesis on women's oppression in the Philippine context was also adopted.
The congress adopted a position against discrimination against lesbians and gays, recognising the right of individuals to decide their sexual preferences.
A prominent theme was the centrality of uniting revolutionary socialists in the Philippines. Thus, the constitution that was adopted allows the national leadership to coopt members onto the party's Central Council by a two-thirds vote of the council. A warm message of solidarity was presented to the congress on behalf of Makabayan, a trade union federation affiliated to the Movement for National Democracy, whose forces recently left the CPP.
The congress also discussed the party's youth work. It decided to recognise the Liga ng Sosyalistang Kabataan (Young Socialist League-LSK) as an independent revolutionary socialist youth organisation in political solidarity with the SPP, and to give the party's fullest support to building the LSK.
A new national SPP leadership was elected with special consideration given to women, youth and the comrades from the Cordillera and Moro struggles. According to SPP chairperson Sonny Melencio, "The congress marked an important first step in grappling with past ghosts that still haunt us, but also in moving ahead with the process of building a revolutionary socialist party—a genuinely Leninist party—in the Philippines".
[Reprinted below is an abridged version of the section of the SPP program analysing the nature of Philippine capitalism.]
The mode of production in the Philippines is basically capitalist. However, there are vestiges of the old modes or forms of exploitation which continue to exist in many areas of the countryside. This, in the main, characterises the existence of an underdeveloped, deformed and backward type of capitalism.
Generalised commodity economy has gained complete sway and prevalence. The self-sufficient natural economy (production for consumption), a hallmark of feudalism and pre-capitalist modes of production, has long been eroded and dissolved in Philippine society. It has been replaced by a generalised commodity economy.
Philippine agriculture has become a commodity-producing branch of the economy, a distinct and highly commercialised industry integrated with the local and even the international economy. The peasant produces not for her/himself but for the market and has become totally dependent on the market. The industrial centres both here and abroad provide the machinery and the consumer goods of the agricultural sector while the latter provides the raw materials for industry and the consumable products needed by towns and cities.
The [trend is the] growth of the urban, industrial population and the decline of the rural, agricultural population. Today, more than 40% of the entire population of the Philippines reside in urban areas, and this does not include areas classified by the government as "economic zones". There is an increasing migration of agricultural population to the urban centres. The growing impoverishment of the peasantry due to their separation from the land and other means of production creates the compelling economic, material conditions for their movement from the countryside to the cities.
Wage workers include both the regular and the seasonal workers. A few of them have small plots of land that either produce less than they need for survival or are rented out to rich peasants.
As of 1985, the rural labour force numbered 10 million (45% of the total labour force of 22 million). The breakdown is: farm workers, 5 million (50%); share and leasehold tenants, 2 million (20%); owner cultivators with titles, 1.5 million (15%); and farmers in public lands without titles, 1.5 million (15%).
In 1991, the national statistics office reported that 47% of agricultural workers are landless hired labourers. The majority (67%) of wage and salaried rural workers are in rice and corn farming.
There has been a perceptible change of the tenancy system from sharecropping to the leasehold system, especially in the rice and corn areas. Those that maintain the tenancy system usually make use of the tenant more as overseer (katiwala) rather than as sharecropper (kasama). This means a decline of the traditional feudal relationship between landlords and tenants, giving way to a more impersonal money-oriented contractual relationship.
Tenancy rates have been declining because of increasing impoverishment of tenant farmers, who are losing their rights to the land, and their consequent transformation into landless workers, the encroachment of large capitalist farms, migration to the cities, the growth of overseas contract employment, and the marginalisation of small farms. With the decline in tenancy, agricultural workers have become the dominant sector of the rural labour force.
The rural elite is now made up of the old and the new rich—landlords, rural bankers, handicraft industrialists, farm input dealers, appliance dealers, tractor lenders, rice dealers, warehouse owners, millers, etc. Then there are the owners of domestic agribusiness firms and the big importers and distributors of agricultural inputs. Finally and occupying the commanding heights of the agricultural economy are the TNCs [transnational corporations].
For the rural elite, land rent has now become a secondary form of surplus extraction. The majority of the landlord class today are small absentee landowners who derive a part of their income from non-farm sources. To evade the land transfer program of the government in the rice and corn industry, most of the landlords parcel out the land to their heirs. Evasion is more rampant in the seven to twenty-four hectare category of farms.
The bigger and wealthier landlords are becoming the new emerging class of rural capitalists—the big millers, rice and fertiliser dealers, warehouse owners, rural bankers, tractor lenders, export-import traders, land speculators or developers—and allies of big foreign capitalists in the countryside. Most of them succeed in becoming rural industrialists or businessmen because they have a bigger working capital. Even the land-transfer program under the Land Bank allows them to receive higher land payments. Most of the big and medium-scale landowners have been shifting to commercial middlemen activities where the risks are low and large profits are assured.
The rural capitalists are also composed of those in the big agribusiness firms. Most of the companies they represent are giant TNCs. They control the modern farming technology through the marketing of agricultural chemicals (Bayer, Dow, Shell, Union Carbide, Hoechst), fertilisers (Planters Products, Atlas, Union-Hikari, BASF), tractors and power tillers (Kubota, Honda, John Deere, International Harvester), irrigation pumps (Cooper, Kawasaki, Mitsubishi) and others.
The small commodity producers or the peasantry are no less multi-stratified. They have been divided into three general categories of the rich, middle and poor farmers. There are also new categories reflecting their ties to the land: (1) owner-cultivators, (2) lessees and amortising tenants, and (3) sharecroppers.
The owner-cultivators are those who own small pieces of land and manage the farming themselves. Newly added to this sector is the small group of farmer-beneficiaries who have already received their certificates of land transfer (CLT). [The CLTs are land titles given by the government to tenants through its various land reform programs, starting with the Marcos period. Land provided through CLTs cannot be sold for ten years after its full amortisation by the peasant. Since the government's programs do not provide technical and financial support to the beneficiaries, the majority of those who have received the CLTs are forced to sell their right to the titles or have their lands foreclosed by the banks due to unsettled debts.]
The owner-cultivators usually belong to the rich farmer sector in the countryside. They are economically better off than the latter two sectors of commodity producers because they have no land rent or amortisation to pay. They are able to employ the most modern methods of farming and usually employ wage labour in their operation. Many have managed to send their children to universities and accumulate large amounts of savings and invest them in profitable non-farm undertakings such as a tricycle or a jeepney [van] for hire.
The lessees are those who pay a fixed rent on land, and are a little better off than the peasants who still have to amortise the payment for the land. Both, however, are independent farm operators and have become a sizeable class of small entrepreneurs. They increasingly apply modern farming technology as their production is virtually for the market (only a small portion of the rice yield is enough to satisfy the rice consumption needs of their families).
The owner-cultivators and some lessees and amortising farmers constitute the emerging bourgeoisie from among the peasantry.
The share tenants, on the other hand, are those who have not shaken off the feudal yoke. The sharecropping system has been officially outlawed, but the arrangement appears to be still holding out in many remote areas of the countryside. Many sharecropping relations have gone unreported or unchanged because of successful evasion by the landlords of the land reform program or because of the sheer ignorance of the tenants.
There has been an increasing proletarianisation of the poor peasantry. There has been a rapid and phenomenal expansion of the landless rural poor, who continue to beef up the ranks of the rural proletariat. Many of them take on all sorts of jobs that come their way, whether agricultural or not, such as masonry, carpentry, hawking, etc. Those who work in the fields are generally hired by the rich and middle peasants on a seasonal basis, i.e., during periods of transplanting, weeding, harvesting, threshing and so on. The government's land reform programs also tend to increase the ranks of the poor peasants and the rural proletariat.
The [trend is the increasing] stratification or "differentiation" of the peasantry and growing proletarianisation in the countryside. This is not at all confined to property "differentiation" (between the rich, middle and poor). The old peasantry is not only "differentiating"; it is being completely dissolved; it is ceasing to exist; it is being ousted by new types of rural inhabitants-types that are the basis of a society in which commodity economy and capitalist production prevail. These are the rural bourgeoisie (chiefly petty bourgeoisie) and the rural proletariat-a class of commodity producers in agriculture and a class of agricultural wage workers.
"Semi-colonialism and semi-feudalism" is not a distinct mode of production. It refers to specific relations of production characteristic of the old feudal mode still persisting within the emerging capitalist mode (tenancy and sharecropping for instance).
Lenin describes its persistence as a product of a historical situation wherein "capitalist economy could not emerge at once, and corvee economy could not disappear at once". Hence, for Lenin, it becomes impossible to say where "feudalism" ends and where "capitalism" begins.
Having said this, Lenin stressed that the task of political economy is not to formulate reality in suspended animation but to capture the dynamism of the transition, for it is precisely a period not of static anonymity but of an intense struggle for identity. The imperative is to determine which of the two systems is eliminating the other under the influence of the whole course of economic evolution.
Every mode of production is characterised by a totality of relations of production. Every mode of production constitutes the types of labour and the means of production and subsistence required to keep the economy and the society going. One cannot speak of a mode of production without relations of production, for that would mean a country without inhabitants.
A stabilised mode of production is a totality of relations of production which are reproduced more or less automatically by the actual functioning of the economy, by the normal pattern of reproduction of the productive forces, with a correlative role (more or less important) of certain factors of the social superstructure. This was the case for centuries in many countries of the Asiatic, slave, feudal, and capitalist modes of production.
But every totality of social relations of production does not necessary imply the existence of a stabilised mode of production, nor the homogeneity of these relations of production.
In periods of profound historical social upheaval, one can experience a sum total of relations of production which do not have the nature of a stabilised mode of production. In all these societies in a transitional phase, the hybrid relations of production are not structures which reproduce themselves more or less automatically. They can lead either to the restoration of the old society or to the arrival of a new mode of production. This historic alternative is governed by a number of factors, mainly the sufficient or insufficient growth of the productive forces, the result of the class struggle in a given country and on an international scale, the play of political and subjective elements (role of the state, of the party, level of combativity and consciousness of the revolutionary class, etc.).
On the other hand, even when a stabilised mode of production exists, the relations of production are not necessarily homogeneous. They hardly ever are. In every concrete social formation, there is always a combination between the predominant relations of production of the existing mode of production and the not entirely absorbed vestiges of previous relations of production which were historically transcended long ago. For example, practically all the imperialist countries still contain some vestiges of petty commodity production in agriculture (small peasant owners, working without wage-earning labour) and even vestiges of semi-feudal relations of production (sharecropping).
In these cases, it is correct to talk of a stabilised mode of production when the predominance of the relations of production characteristic of it is such that it assures their automatic reproduction and their domination over the whole of economic life through their internal logic and laws of development.
A characteristic example of hybrid relations of production dominated by a hegemonic mode of production is that of the so-called "Third World" social formation. Here pre-capitalist, semi-capitalist and capitalist relations of production exist side by side, combined in a determined manner under the pressure of the international economy's imperialist structure.
In spite of the predominance of capital, and in spite of insertion into the imperialist system, capitalist relations of production (above all, the "wage labour-capital" relation) do not become generalised, although they exist and slowly extend.
But this fact hardly justifies the characterisation of these social formations as "feudal countries", nor the contention that feudal or semi-feudal relations of production predominate within them, a theoretical error committed by many Maoist theoreticians. Based on these explanations, it appears that the CPP's "semi-feudalism" line is a deliberate, predetermined, and schematic line devoid of any scientific underpinnings.
The basic bourgeois, capitalist economic process has emerged in the Philippines, and has gained ascendancy in almost a century of socioeconomic evolution since the unfinished revolution of 1896. But capitalism in the Philippines remains extremely underdeveloped, backward, deformed and stagnant.
Imperialist domination and the persistence of feudal survivals in Philippine society are the causes of this underdevelopment. Imperialism perpetuates this underdeveloped and distorted form of capitalism in order to maintain unequal exchange based on a huge disparity in the productivity of labour between Third World and imperialist countries. Unequal exchange is the basis of imperialist superprofits generated through its exploitative relations with the Third World.
It is in this sense that the "neo-colonial" status of the Philippines should be understood. "Neo-colonialism" refers not merely to the political domination of imperialism but to an economically undeveloped society. It refers to the precise state of underdevelopment and the distorted type of capitalism that imperialism brings into the economy of the exploited nation. Imperialist domination and the persistence of feudal survivals are impediments to the development of the productive forces and the development of the class struggle in the Philippines towards socialism.
We emphasise the underdeveloped and distorted type of capitalism in the Philippines—brought about by imperialism and the survivals of feudal, semi-feudal and pre-capitalist forms of exploitation—to bring to the fore the necessity for a national democratic revolution. The immediate task of the Filipino workers is the completion of the national democratic revolution, a bourgeois revolution with the proletariat assuming the leading role.
In the era of imperialism, the bourgeoisie in the colonial and semi-colonial countries has become increasingly unable and unwilling to lead the struggle against imperialism and various forms of feudal survival. It is only through the leadership of the working class, in alliance with the peasantry, that the bourgeois-democratic struggle can find completion. And it is only through the leadership of the working class, in alliance with the poor peasantry, that the struggle can go beyond bourgeois boundaries towards a decisive break with imperialism and the establishment of a world socialist order.
Both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks—two currents in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party—were in agreement that the immediate task facing the working people in Russia at that time was to carry through a bourgeois-democratic revolution to bring down the tsarist autocracy, abolish semi-feudal landlordism and secure political liberties. However, they drew fundamentally opposing conclusion about what strategic line the Russian working class and its political vanguard should pursue to achieve this task.
The Mensheviks believed that the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia had to consolidate first the political rule of the industrial capitalists to bring about a developed industrial society. They therefore sought to forge a strategic alliance between the working class and the anti-tsarist, "enlightened liberal", elements of the bourgeoisie. The aim of this alliance would be to replace the autocratic, semi-feudal tsarist regime with a capitalist-dominated democratic republic. In the Mensheviks' view, a proletarian revolution would become possible in Russia only after many decades of capitalist development had transformed the country into a developed industrial society.
The Mensheviks were inclined to view the bourgeoisie as the motive force and determinant of the scope of the bourgeois revolution. The proletariat cannot lead the bourgeois revolution, but must fulfil only the role of the extreme opposition, and not strive to win power. The Mensheviks rejected the idea of a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. Since the tasks of the impending revolution were bourgeois-democratic, the Mensheviks argued that "the proletariat must not go beyond what is acceptable to the bourgeoisie and must pursue a policy of compromise with it".
Lenin considered this a "bourgeois-liberal theory". The bourgeoisie were trying to bring about the reform of the (tsarist) state on bourgeois, reformist, not revolutionary, lines, while preserving the monarchy, the landlord system, etc., as far as possible. The proletariat must carry through the bourgeois democratic revolution to the end, not allowing itself to be "bound" by the reformism of the bourgeoisie.
The alignment of class forces in the bourgeois revolution is as follows: the proletariat, winning over the peasants, will neutralise the liberal bourgeoisie and utterly destroy medievalism and the landlord system. It is the alliance between the proletariat and the peasants in general that reveals the bourgeois character of the revolution, for the peasants in general are small producers who exist on the basis of commodity production.
Having carried through the bourgeois revolution to its conclusion in alliance with the peasantry as a whole, the proletariat will win over the entire semi-proletariat (all the working and exploited people), will neutralise the middle peasants and overthrow the bourgeoisie; this will be a socialist revolution, as distinct from a bourgeois-democratic revolution.
The role of the proletariat is the role of leader in the bourgeois revolution; joint actions of the proletariat and the peasantry are essential to carry it through to victory; unless political power is won by the revolutionary classes, victory is impossible. Lenin said, "From the democratic revolution we shall at once, and precisely in accordance with the measure of our strength, the strength of the class conscious and organised proletariat, begin to pass to the socialist revolution. We stand for uninterrupted revolution. We shall not stop half-way."
While Trotsky rejected the Mensheviks' petty-bourgeois reformist policy of a strategic alliance between the working class and the liberal bourgeoisie, he shared the Mensheviks' assessment of the peasantry, i.e., that it was too backward, dispersed and passive to play the role of a strategic ally (and be the major social force) in the democratic revolution.
Trotsky rejected as unrealisable the Bolshevik policy of a transitional alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry as a whole. This tended to give his perspective an ultra-left character (such as not allowing the peasants to divide up the large estates of the landed nobility but to reorganise them at once as collective or state farms).
The ultra-left theory of permanent revolution that Trotsky counterposed to the Bolsheviks' policy of a two-stage, uninterrupted revolution was based upon a mechanical-fatalistic conception of the class struggle.
In a polemic with Kautsky (November 1918), Lenin said: "With the peasantry to the end of the bourgeois-democratic revolution; with the poor, the proletarian and the semi-proletarian section of the peasantry, forward to the socialist revolution!" Lenin had pointed out that the Bolshevik proletariat had allied itself to the peasantry as a whole in the period from November 1917 until the middle of 1918 in order to complete the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and had then allied itself with the poor peasants against the peasant bourgeoisie after June-July 1918 to carry out the socialist revolution.
Stalin offered a radically different interpretation of the meaning of Lenin's words: "With the peasantry as a whole against the tsar and the landlords—that is the bourgeois revolution; with the poor peasants against the bourgeoisie—that is the October Revolution". Stalin also declared that, in writing the April Theses of 1917, Lenin "recognised two stages in our revolution: the first stage was the bourgeois-democratic revolution, with the agrarian movement as its main axis; the second stage was the October Revolution, with the seizure of power by the proletariat as its main axis".
Stalin used this interpretation of Lenin's two-stage policy to justify the neo-Menshevik policy of a "bloc of four classes" that the Stalinised Comintern had imposed on the Chinese Communist Party in 1927. Stalin argued that a bourgeois revolution like the February 1917 revolution (i.e., the transfer of power to a bloc of the nationalist bourgeoisie, the urban petty-bourgeoisie, the peasantry and the proletariat) had to be carried out before there could be a proletarian revolution in China, i.e., before the workers and poor peasants could carry out their "October Revolution".
We reaffirm the Leninist concept of the "two-stage, uninterrupted revolution" in the Philippines. We reaffirm the bourgeois-democratic character of the Philippine revolution today.
For us revolutionary socialists, it is more apt to call the bourgeois-democratic revolution (BDR) in the Philippines revolutionary-democratic. Firstly, because we can only assure the completion of the bourgeois-democratic tasks through revolutionary means. Secondly, the leadership of the working class in the BDR provides the continuity of the revolution towards a socialist one.
The BDR has the characteristic of a democratic revolution of the masses, not in the Maoist sense, which is founded on a protracted people's war schema, but in the Marxist sense founded on the fact that the revolution will be carried out by the masses of workers and peasants who comprise the great majority of the population. In this sense, the demands of the majority of the masses will constitute the central problems to be resolved by the revolutionary-democratic revolution.
The central objective of the agrarian policy of the party of the proletariat is to intensify the class struggle in the countryside: between the old and new type of landlords and the emerging rural bourgeoisie on the one hand, and the rural proletariat and the vast mass of poor peasants on the other. Only the rural proletariat can take the lead in this struggle in firm unity with the broad mass of poor peasantry and in cooperation with middle peasantry.
The agrarian policy based on such a class line aims to thoroughly eradicate all forms of feudal remnants, demarcate from and isolate capitalist farmers from the poor and middle peasantry and win over the broad sections of the toiling peasantry from the influence of the bourgeoisie and various shades of its political forces, confront the bourgeoisie and its state with a policy of development of small and middle farmers on a wide range of issues covering the entire gamut of the agrarian question, carry out a policy of thoroughgoing land reforms and agrarian reforms and completely break up the landlord-rural bourgeois economy. Without this the democratic revolution would not be complete.
The introduction of capitalism in agriculture has given rise to a trend of steady marginalisation and proletarianisation of an overwhelming majority of peasantry. Small-scale farming, however, remains the predominant character of Philippine agriculture.
Though commercialisation in Philippine agriculture is now more or less generalised, there are still a big number of the poor and middle peasants who are still trapped in subsistence or near-subsistence farming, including those who take a part or all of their produce to the market for the sake of exchanging it for consumption goods.
Hence, despite the developing capitalist relations and growing importance of related issues and demands for the peasant movement, the struggle against feudal remnants remains one of the main thrusts of peasant struggles. The struggle against feudal remnants is directed not only against old-type landlords and rich peasants but is also targeted against the new capitalist landlords and rural bourgeoisie. The movements of poor and landless peasants on a whole range of demands thrown up by the distorted capitalist development should be combined with the struggle against feudal remnants in an integral movement.
Our agrarian policy should take into consideration the various types of struggles that develop around the concerns of the peasantry.
One of the main demands advanced by the poor and landless peasants has been the right to land ("land to the tiller"), much more than the demand for wages as farm workers. Unemployment in the countryside tends to a struggle for land even in a number of Third World countries exhibiting the same capitalist development in agriculture as the Philippines. In this sense, the land question will remain a centrepiece of our radical agrarian reforms and the "land to the tiller" slogan will still be central in our mobilisation of the poor peasants.
There are also the struggles by those peasants who have land and are trying to defend it against the power of the bigger capitalist forces in the countryside. They can be mobilised through basic economic demands, such as increases in farm prices, better rates of insurance, credit or changes in agricultural legislation. Peasant struggles along this line can also focus on demands against the capitalist state. These take on the form of struggles for changing the conditions of production, of marketing, credit, subsidies and distribution of agricultural products.
Nationalisation of land is the most consistent and thoroughgoing means for redistribution of land and realising the slogan of "land to the tiller". This radical bourgeois measure is all the more relevant under conditions of distorted and downright farcical implementation of land reform and the rise of new landlordism. Land nationalisation remains our basic slogan and one of the cornerstones of our agrarian policy. However, this has to be raised as an immediate, propaganda and agitational slogan at certain stages and in certain provinces depending upon the level of development of the agrarian movement and under specific political conditions.
Our agrarian policy upholds a revolutionary approach in land struggle in contrast to the bureaucratic, legalistic and reformist approach. Land nationalisation, direct onslaught upon landlordism, and direct struggle for land seizure—whether localised or relatively more generalised, depending upon the balance of forces—should continue to remain the hallmark of our land struggles. However, we can advance several minimum or intermediate demands to facilitate this struggle and to confront the state policy of land reform. For instance, demands like reductions in ceilings (to provide more land to the landless), total abolition of sharecropping and tenancy, or more thoroughgoing implementation of existing policies on land reforms etc. may be raised.
Seizure of all former crony land, community land, government land, land held by religious trusts and endowments, and the lands of corporate agribusiness houses and big capitalist farms, restoration of the traditional rights over forest land and produce, restoration of the tribal lands grabbed by non-tribal landlords and rich peasants, establishing the control of the landless and poor peasants over wastelands and social forestry lands as well as these schemes, opposing land alienation among peasants and fisher folk in coastal areas due to land grabbing by business houses engaged in marine farming etc. are among the immediate tasks of our peasant movement.
In large-scale farm units which have increasingly socialised production while remaining in private hands, the agenda is not land redistribution but the socialisation of the big agro-industrial sector. To redistribute the land here is to revert to an earlier form of organisation of production, which undermines the development of productive forces. However, the path of freest and broad-based development of capitalism in the countryside—the path of democracy—is possible only based on the demands of the mass of impoverished peasantry in the countryside.
Our agrarian policy cannot talk in terms of general agricultural development, for it is not the business of the proletariat to devise an agrarian policy encompassing the agrarian bourgeoisie. Rather, the entire thrust of the agrarian policy, in this context, would be the intensification of the class struggle in the countryside between the poor and landless peasants on the one hand and the agrarian-rural bourgeoisie and the state, which channels all the resources into their hands, on the other.
We should raise a whole set of specific, development-related demands of the poor and landless peasantry only from the point of view of demarcating their interests from those of the rural bourgeoisie and to intensify their struggles against the rural bourgeoisie. Due care should be taken that the movements on these demands are also conducted in a revolutionary manner and do not slip into the mire of reformism.
Merchant capital speedily brings about commodification and monetisation without, however, having a stake in destroying pre-capitalist production relations or increasing productivity. Appropriating semi-feudal forms-often landlords themselves are the merchants-like usurious advances, it siphons off a huge share of surplus value from peasants and farmers. The specific demands against merchant capital can be: 1) Struggle against usurious practices of merchants; 2) State support to farmers against distress sale; 3) Remunerative support prices well above the open market prices; 4) State support to producers' cooperatives; 5) Curbing speculative trade practices of big capital; 6) More cold-storage facilities; 7) Enhanced credit facilities/crop and storage loans; and 8) State-aided marketing cooperatives.
Due to the development of capitalist relations in agriculture, a huge class of agricultural workers has emerged in the Philippine countryside as an independent class. They constitute half of the rural working population. It is necessary to organise them as an independent class in an independent organisation. The general demands relating to agricultural workers include: trade union rights for agricultural workers, setting up of a competent authority for the registration of all agricultural labourers, security of employment and employment guarantee schemes, revamping of the minimum wage formula and more effective implementation machinery, equal wages for men and women, land redistribution, an end to child labour and so on.
Wage-related demands are not the sole demands of agricultural workers. The demand for land and other productive assets, for self-employment, "capital" to purchase "means of production" or inputs to production (like seedlings), or access to village common resources—like fishing, forest land etc.—may sometimes be their priority items. By being agricultural workers, they have not ceased to be landless peasants in many cases. Sometimes they are galvanised more in land struggles than in wage struggles.
Sharecropping, wages in kind (often as usurious advance), feudal tenancy etc. are feudal forms of tied labour which are resorted to by capitalist landlords and farmers for the extraction of absolute surplus value. It is necessary to wage a resolute struggle against such forms.