So why do you wear jeans, use a laptop and a camera?

So, you believe in socialism, why do you use Facebook, your phone and laptop, why do you wear branded jeans or shoes or eat at fastfood chains, all “products of capitalism”?

This is a typical rhetoric, and a stupid one at that, I get many times from those who are just eager to try and discredit activists and leftists but refuse to engage in ideological tussle.

The first answer is, most often, necessity. So, what do you expect us to wear, loincloths? Second, just so they realize, “capitalism” did not manufacture those products. Industries and the labor of many workers in socialized production did in assembly lines across the globe. We do not owe our shoes, clothes, computers and cars to “capitalism.” Capital did not manufacture them, labor did. In fact, capitalists barely have any participation in production, it is simply by virtue of control and ownership that they appropriate the wealth created by production, and leave the rest scrounging for trickled down salaries and wages.

In a very basic sense, socialism is merely the rightful correction in the contradiction between socialized production and private appropriation of the wealth. Instead of the creation of the “wealth of the few through the labor of the many”, it should be the “wealth of all through the labor of all”. Since products are produced in socialized production, why shouldn’t the appropriation of the wealth be likewise? The struggle for socialism, in the economic sense, is the struggle for the people’s rightful share in the wealth they create.

Third, to demand that leftists reject all products of commercial enterprises when all consumer goods today are produced in private enterprises is nothing but a ploy corner leftists to capitulate their struggle. Which is preposterous, because the entire point of being a leftist and an activist is to continue engaging the status quo, exploit available technologies and everything they need, and change society, not recluse from it. In other words, you cannot demand leftists to live by socialism when it has not yet been won.

Labor Day in Manila 2012

This is the Power I referred to earlier – a living, communal constellation of complex, intelligent, fair-minded civic interests most days rendered indecipherable and at times inaccessible by mass media’s atomizing officiating of hegemony passed off as reality. As if only mobilization and manifestation of struggle were, for the moment at least, really capable of displacing the reactionary capture and expropriation of peoples’ collective will. – Jonathan Beller, Labor Day Manifestation

An estimated 20,000 Filipinos trooped to the streets of Manila on Labor Day to demand a nationwide wage hike and to protest against government inaction on massive unemployment and poverty. Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines
Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines
Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

Labor Day 2012 Manila, Philippines

On China and Filipino leftists

Those who maliciously link present Chinese government to Filipino leftists are being dishonest. They should know very well that China abandoned its socialist project after the Cultural Revolution in the late 70’s and how the Chinese government has disowned and condemned local communists and persecuted leftists and activists in their own backyard.

If they’re looking for counterparts of Chinese leaders now, they only need to look among the revisionists and roaders and right-wingers among their colleagues. Chinese “communists” even claimed maintaining good relations with the trapo mainstream parties in the Philippines such as the Liberal Party of the Aquino administration.

These people should likewise make up their minds. In same breath they challenge us to follow China’s capitalist reforms and yet accuse us of being on the payroll of the Chinese “communists.” Nothing but malicious bullshit from those out to malign the persistent relevance of the Philippine Left.

LINKS:
* BAYAN: Assert Philippine sovereignty against China’s incursions and US intervention!
* ‘ZERO’ TIES WITH CPP: Chinese communist party says it has disowned local rebels
* Philippine Left condemns China incursions in Scarborough Shoal, says China capitalist country
* Ang China, US, Scarborough at Balikatan

On the laziness of many poor Filipinos

April 19, 2012. There is this prevalent and misguided notion among several sectors of the ‘educated class’ that the cause of a person’s or a family’s poverty and want is a function of one’s lack of “diskarte” as they call it, or even more insulting, a function of one’s indolence (echoing Spanish colonial friars), or worse, a function of the number of children in the family.

If that were the case, then they should agree with the idea that the primary solution, then, to the persistent poverty that cripples majority of Filipinos is a nationwide psychological self-help and motivation seminar and the mass castration and ligation of couples nationwide. But clearly, that is absurd as it is naive.

Poor millions of Filipinos are but lazy they are certainly not. They are neither a class of irresponsible offspring-makers as some insultingly try to portray them to be. God knows how many Filipinos work tirelessly in the fields and in the factories and workplaces in the country and overseas from sun-up to sundown and yet their lives do not improve. (For if you are looking for the laziest people in the planet, you need not look further than the corner offices of men and women who take no part in production but acquire the wealth of collective labor). Certainly, the hand to mouth existence of millions is not a mere consequence of individualized and separate circumstances of their God-forsaken lives, as some religious conservatives insist (and thus the solution is simply–prayer). The poverty of any one Filipino family is a condition that they share with millions of others across the archipelago, not because of some common trait of indolence or libido, but because we are all subject to the same political and economic rules of the status quo. Indeed, larger political and economic forces are behind their shared misery.

So, to my idealistic friends, who remain hopeful but misguided by the onslaught of a cacophony of bourgeois solutions to poverty: perpetual charity work, seminars, scholarship drives, outreach missions, “fun runs” just won’t do. The challenge is to unite with the different sectors of society to collectively confront the political and economic roots of this centuries-long calamity.

LINKS:
* Charity is a virtue?

On internet activism and protests

You’re a famous blogger, and you frequently write about your advocacies in your blog and in social networking sites. Some people, particularly “moderates,” look at the Internet as their preferred mode of activism (sometimes only mode), and shun out street protests. Why do you continue to take to the streets despite already having other venues for protest?

The Internet is a potent and alternative tool for campaigns and advocacies, no doubt, especially among the youth.

We have to remember, however, that majority of Filipinos still do not have access to the world wide web. Ordinary minimum-wage earners, farmers, out-of-school youth, even many among the middle class are not Internet users. We cannot win any nationwide campaign or struggle without them.

Long-lasting social change is not possible without the fundamental and primary participation of the masses. The Internet is not the medium to engage them in, and whenever we try to achieve fundamental changes in government and society, we cannot rely on the Internet alone. It’s naivete to believe that changes can be won on the electronic front.

Street protests are among the most accommodating and reliable forms of protests. It does not exclude anyone from participating. It accommodates anyone regardless of computer literacy, economic or social stature.

History has also proven its potency in advancing the struggle of citizens for changes and reforms around the world. There’s nothing wrong when ordinary university students use the Internet as a venue of protest, and I personally don’t take that against anyone. But, we have to be conscious that it is not the only mode of expressing support for an advocacy or expressing dissent against government policies and actions. There are times, like today, when more is demanded from us, and we cannot afford to be complacent with the kinds of actions we are willing to take.

Tayo ang pagbabago

Someone from Ateneo de Manila’s Matanglawin (student publication) interviewed me this afternoon after my class. It was about my opinion on Ako Mismo. I simply reiterated what I had expressed in my blog entry about the campaign. I’m not, at all, against individual efforts for personal growth and development. I’m not, at all, against individuals obeying traffic rules, being proud to be Filipino, paying taxes or participating in the electoral process by registering and voting, or volunteering for non-government organizations. In fact, I do them too. But let us not foster the illusion that these convenient actions are enough to change Philippine society, suffering from a tragic status quo caused by a ruling order.

What I’m against is the mentality of blaming individuals alone, and just ourselves for the country’s social ills, totally absolving the government that causes such conditions–and worse, branding such acts of holding politicians and administrators accountable as mere pagrereklamo and mindless blaming and finger-pointing. As long as the government is robbing us blind and is tragically failing to deliver social services to the vast majority of Filipinos who need education, health care and economic support, among others, no amount of charity work and volunteerism will be enough to sustain a long-term solution for our people. Besides, you pay for these services with your taxes. We all do. We have the right and the duty to demand what is due us. You do not turn a blind eye when you pay for a donut and you get a munchkin–or worse, nothing at all, and worse, dinukutan ka pa.

Yes, true enough, nasa sarili nga ang pagbabago. I’m not taking that against anyone. Pero may mas malaking sistema tayong kailangang baguhin. Let me post an excerpt from Kabataan Rep. Mong Palatino‘s speech at the national convention of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines.

Tayo ang pagbabago

May iba’t ibang inisyatiba upang pukawin ang makabayang damdamin ng kabataan. Positibo ito. Napapansin ko lang na ang binibigyang diin ay may kinalaman sa mga indibidwal na pagkilos ng mga kabataan.

Hindi na ito bago. Noon pa man marami na ang nanawagan ng pagbabago batay sa inisyatiba ng bawat isa. Kahit ang Malakanyang, nananawagan na ang pagbabago ay dapat magsimula sa sarili. Ang mga nasa kapangyarihan ay nananawagan rin ng pagbabago — pagbabago sa gawi, sa puso’t isipan.

Lumang ideolohiya na ito. Sinisisi ko ang dominanteng ideolohiya kung bakit popular ang ganitong mensahe. Di ba ito ang turo sa atin — na basta’t maging mabuting tao ka o mamamayan ay sapat na upang guminhawa ang lipunan. Huwag nang makialam sa pulitika; asikasuhin na lamang ang sarili at pamilya. Huwag nang magrali; huwag nang labanan ang dambuhalang sistema. Magsimula sa sarili. Ako mismo. Magpayaman, mamigay ng limos, magvolunteer, magpintura ng mga bahay. Sapat na ang mga ito.

Samantala, sila mismo — silang mga buwaya na nasa gobyerno — ay patuloy na nangangmkam ng yaman ng lipunan. Habang abala tayo sa ating mga sarili, sila mismo ay patuloy na nagkakalat ng lagim dun mismo sa ating mga komunidad.

Kaya ang sagot ay hindi ako mismo kundi tayo mismo ang magpapalayas sa mga masasamang elemento ng lipunan. Tayo mismo, sa ating sama-samang pagkilos ang lilikha ng pagbabago sa bansa.

Hindi simple ang manawagan ng pagbabago. Hindi ito nadadaan sa pag-iimbento ng mga makukulay na palamuti sa katawan. May sakripisyong kailangang ibigay ang bawat isa kung nais natin ng tunay na pagbabago. May interes tayong babanggain kung seryoso tayong kikilos para sa pagbabago. Makapangyarihan ang interes na ito. Mabagsik silang kaaway. Mapanganib na laban. Kaya hindi uubra kung nag-iisa lang tayong sisigaw ng pagbabgo. Ikaw mismo ay mabibigo. Dapat kolektibo, dapat sama-samang manawagan ng pagbabago. Dapat pagtulungan natin sa ating mga organisasyon kung anong mga mainam na paraan upang isulong ang pulitika ng pag-asa, pagbabago at pakikibaka.

On “Ako Mismo”

Ako Mismo

I signed up for this, with all the buzz it has created this weekend. But I was quite disappointed by the things people have been committing themselves to doing. Sure, by all means, let us pay our taxes, register to vote, obey traffic rules, sweep the floor, pray, smile at others, be nice, be proud to be pinoy! Aba, dapat lang. Isn’t that what one is supposed to do regardless of any campaign for social change? Isn’t that what we are already doing? Let’s not stop doing it, fine. But please, it reeks of great naivete to think that doing things we are already doing will change Philippine society.

I don’t wish to offend anyone. I have friends from many advocacy campaigns of this type. But let me explain my reservations whenever I’m invited into these campaigns. My problem with “Ako Mismo” and the dozens of other “I” campaigns that have been initiated (and have flopped) these past years, is that it fosters an illusion that mundane individual efforts to do good, and nothing more, is enough to change society. These are well meaning campaigns, but I don’t think they actually call for positive action or call for change. These are calls for neutral action–to do things we’re supposed to be doing anyway.

What I think is dangerous about campaigning for this is that it neutralizes a person’s capacity to do more than what one is supposed to do in the first place. It’s like, fine, just pay your taxes, smile at people, sweep your backyard, do things within your comfort zone and that’s enough to change society. It’s not. Let us not justify the laziness or the inability of the middle class to get out of their comfort zone to change society.

These are the types of campaigns, believe it or not, that people in power or in government and big businesses employ to maintain the status quo, simply because doing ‘simple everyday good things’ do just that and nothing more. It effectively cloaks their part in the equation as to why we are where we sadly are. It makes you forget their role in sustaining the rotten order of society. It makes you think of questioning their policies or their authority as simple pagrereklamo. And worse, it demonizes those who do that. “Forget about the corruption and the repression we commit, just do your own little nice things!” And even worse, it blames the individual Filipino for all the problems he is experiencing!

If the campaign was “Tayo Mismo”, I would’ve considered it worthwhile. Pero hindi talaga, this is all about the individual, the me, the I, the ako. Notice how it’s become a trend these days–all these campaigns that begin with “I”. Its always about the individual. It’s never about the collective. It’s never the “We”. Collective action is too dangerous for the status quo. It’s all about pacifying the individual to be content with the things he already does and to buy a dog tag, a t-shirt, or a bracelet to show it off.

Millions of Filipinos are poor not because you don’t smile at others, or you don’t obey traffic rules. Millions of Filipino farmers don’t own the land they till not because you buy imported products. Millions of Filipinos are jobless not because they are lazy or they are not proud to be Pinoy. Millions of Filipinos are uneducated not because you refuse to become a teacher. It’s not about the individual you! Hence, you smiling, obeying traffic rules, buying Filipino, being proud to be Pinoy, though they are nice little actions, will not change the prevailing order maintained by the same people employing these “I am change” campaigns.

Really, there is no net effect if you commit to doing something you’ve already been doing, or you should be doing in the first place regardless of any social problem. It’s a neutral force. We stay where we are. Do something more. Do something out of your comfort zones. Social change is never comfortable. Do something collectively. Do something with other sectors of society. Social change is never about the individual doing things for personal growth and expecting the rest of the process to fall into place. Ang mali-mali lang talaga ng pagsisi sa problema ng bansa sa individual Filipino. We are not just challenging the individualistic problems of hopelessness or apathy. We are challenging a systemic order that maintains the sad state of affairs we all find ourselves in.

Kabataan, tayo and pagbabago!

Message of Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino to the Filipino youth on the historical event of seating the first youth representative in Congress

Five years in the making for the country’s sole youth sectoral party-list, but better late than never and victory is still sweet for all Filipino youth. Kabataan Party-list, the largest youth party in the country, represented the youth sector in the 2007 elections.

It was the second time for our organization to run in the party-list elections. In 2004, we ran under our previous name, Anak ng Bayan, and were among the top choices for party-list based on pre-election surveys. Anak ng Bayan, however, fell prey to massive cheating. A significant number of our votes were anomalously counted in favor of another party-list group, thus our change of name in the 2007 party-list elections.

Despite not winning, we went on with our advocacies and continued to carry on with our principles and general program of action with the help of our founding organizations, such as the National Union of Students of the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, League of Filipino Students and Anakbayan and other supporters nationwide and abroad.

Now, five years after our first electoral bid, Kabataan Party-list has finally secured a seat in the House of Representatives per SC GR No. 179271, promulgated April 29, 2009. Now, we are happy to convey the message to all Filipino youth that the SC Resolution, in effect, has once again marked the youth’s rightful place in history by granting the first ever youth sectoral representation in the House of Representatives.

This is truly a historical event and we share this resounding victory to all Filipino youth who voted for and supported Kabataan Party-list. We are overwhelmed but more than ready to take on the task and challenge of being the sole voice of the youth in Congress.

We are youth from different walks of life. We have long-ago advocated for the youth to devote its intellect, energy and courage to building a better society devoid of corruption, inequality and social injustice. We are youth that foster active participation in nation-building, good governance and change. In this junction in history in light of our recent victory, we, the youth, are change. Kabataan, tayo ang pagbabago. Continue reading

Kabataang Pinoy, Tayo ang Pagbabago!

Kabataang Pinoy aspires for a Filipino youth that devotes its intellect, energy and courage to building a better future.

Kabataang Pinoy envisions a new society devoid of corruption, inequality and social injustice.

Kabataang Pinoy encourages the youth to work collectively with other sectors to build a bright future. It upholds, promotes and defends the interest of the youth to be able to harness its fullest potential as a sector. It works to unite the Filipino youth to campaign for social, political, economic, cultural and environmental justice in the Philippines, and enjoins youth from all walks of life to foster active participation in good governance, nation-building, and social change.

PROGRAM OF ACTION

  1. Empower the youth to take on active participation in good governance, nation-building and social change.
  2. Uphold the youth’s fundamental rights and democratic interests such as accessible education, decent employment and job security, accessible health care, environment, sports, among others.
  3. Assert the youth’s right to decent living, equal opportunities and humane living conditions.
  4. Assert and safeguard national independence, respect for national patrimony, love and loyalty to the country.
  5. Guarantee the participation and representation of the youth in all affairs governance and decision-making bodies of government.

Collective action for social change

Those who profess the futility of collective action know nothing of their history. For the tide and ebb of world events are determined precisely by collective action. As one revolutionary put it, “The history of the world is the history of class struggle.”

Throughout the world, regimes and tyrants have been toppled down, and democracies established by the strength of collective action. The wheels of history from feudalism, capitalism to socialism, from monarchies to parliaments to peoples’ governments, were concrete conclusions of class struggle. Examples of which are the anti-colonization movement in Africa and Latin Amercia, the Liberation movement in Southeast Asia and Indo-China, the Religious Tolerance and Womem’s Rights Movement in most parts of the world, the anti-apartheid movement in Africa, and the establishment of the International League of People’s Struggle against Imperialism. And even individual heroes are propelled by the thousands of men and women who clamor, hand in hand, for a common aspiration.

History itself reveals that there is no stronger mark of popular sentiment than mass actions, making collective demonstrations indispensable in the realization of our common goals. In the Philippine setting, the stirrings of collective dissent began in the aftermath of the Spanish conquest. For instance, the Katipunan was borne out of the unity of the peasants and artisans against the colonizers. From the Spanish to the American regime, a common sentiment for national sovereignty fueled radical movements for freedom. Corrupt and authoritarian regimes were crushed when confronted by the ferocity of widespread mass demonstrations. In fact, the mere existence of repression attests to the potency of collective action — why suppress mass demonstrations if it does not instigate fear in the most hardened of dictators?

Thus, our stance remains — collective action is still our most potent weapon for social change. For only by participating in a coordinated action of thousands of people can individuals pursue both their personal and social liberties. As long as there are forces and establishments that conspire against the democratic rights of the people, individuals have to unite to register their shared will.

The sharpest position is to stand for collective action, which is comprised of all arenas of struggle, whether in the parliamentary or in the streets. Indeed, claiming that collective action is passé succeeds only in exposing the crass ignorance of the groups doing the claiming.

The history of UP alone is rich with instances that illustrate the potency of concerted action. During the 1950 witch hunts, when calls for nationalism were vilified as communism, our shared efforts were crucial in the struggle for academic and press freedom. In the 1970s, at the height of political repression during Martial Law, our united dissent contributed to the struggle for democracy, with hundreds of student leaders heeding the call of history, whether in cities or in the countryside. The social ferment generated by the Diliman Commune and the First Quarter Storm pierced the core of national affairs. Student institutions, publications, and formations were reestablished in the 1980s through adamant and tireless collective action. The list goes on, from the closure of US military bases in the country, the ouster of Erap in 2001, the retraction of the largest budget cut in 2000, and the removal of Provision 444 of the University Code, which unduly prohibits religious and provincial organizations.

Despite the machinations of the state and administration, the student movement persists because it has forged an inextricable link with all sectors in the call for social change. After all, the aims of collective action are collective victories — a gain enjoyed by the broadest and the most democratic.

At present, we are facing the blatant implementation of neoliberal policies, which direct the state to fully abandon state universities and colleges. The manifestations of commercialization are increasing, from corporatization to the endless proposals to increase tuition and other fees.

As students reject this overall scheme through protest actions and other peaceful activities, the state and administration have responded with crushing repression, through direct attacks against student formations and institutions. All over the nation, there is a systemic effort to entrench an education that is colonial, commercialized and fascist. Meanwhile, in the political arena, the state continues to commit grave sins against the people — intensified suppression and repression, political killings, the neglect of social services, high unemployment, lack of genuine land reform, increasing hunger, and continuing plunder — while aiming to extend its term through Cha-Cha. Now, more than ever, we need the force of collective action.

The fact of the matter is, those who say that collective action is “illusory” are themselves in delusion — they do not understand history nor do they know their place in history. The challenge for us, iskolars ng bayan, is to participate in the struggle for social change. We must fight for an education that is nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented. Because we cannot spur change in isolation, we must therefore link arms with the broadest masses in our struggle for a better society, where there is genuine land reform, national industrialization, genuine freedom, and social justice. For the broadest collective is also the strongest. Ultimately, we must recognize that our collective is our people and our nation.

VOTE STRAIGHT STAND-UP!

Scrap all proposed fees! Rollback the tuition!
No to commercialization!
Struggle against state abandonment of UP education!
Fight for a nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education!
Strengthen our unity! Advance our struggle for greater victories!

THE LEAGUE OF FILIPINO STUDENTS-UP DILIMAN