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The irrelevant and relevant Philippine Left and the Nationalist Revolution

This is the flag of the relevant Philippine Left
Susan Quimpo published on an essay "Why we dismiss the Left" that has generated a quick response from the New Philippine Revolution on 'Why the Left remains relevant". The thing is that both points of view are correct!

The Left is both relevant and irrelevant. That depends on what Left you are looking at. Quimpo who lived through the PH Communist Left's self destruction in the 1980s has the right to say that the this Left has become ideologically petrified. Just look at the social media reactions to Jose Maria Sison's latest internet broadcast!

The other Left is willing to advance its political fortunes within the space provided by the 1987 post EDSA Constitution. In a sense they have been successful but not yet successful enough to capture national power.

There is another Left (which has been largely ignored by 21st century mainstream and social media) that has its incubator in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). My father who always believed that the Nationalist Revolution will eventually become triumphant, had an interest in studying the dynamics and ideology of this Left. My father and I had a lot of animated ideological discussions on this right after the ascendancy of the Cory Aquino regime in 1987.  Over dinner at some Chinese restos in Binondo, Dad and I had our ideological discussions.  My father was right in predicting what would happen in 20 years time. Too bad he isn't here anymore to see it. But perhaps that is his grace. He has been spared the future of years of ineptness and corruption leading to a defenseless Philippine Republic.

 The Aquino regime by restoring oligarchic privileges and the  Communists by rejecting participation in the 1986 Snap Election set back the Nationalist Revolution by several decades and betrayed the Filipino people.

If Cory Aquino had read more books on how to effectively seize (the easy part) and wield (the hard part) power, she would have not proclaimed a revolutionary regime whose only revolutionary act was not to use any revolutionary power at all!  A revolution is iconoclastic and in my opinion,  one can achieve the iconoclasm by retaining Parliament under the 1973 Constitution and since she is the magnanimous President in Parliament, she could have all the powers without removing continuity. She could have packed this Parliament with her people, completely achieving what is needed to be done in a raft of progressive legislation and initiatives. This is the Doy Laurel suggestion. The writing of a more democratic constitution could wait a few years. We know what Cory did to Doy!

I am sure Apolinario Mabini would agree. The Revolution should be secured first before we concern about constitutional form. A Revolution's main goal is social regeneration made possible by overthrowing of the old order.

The betrayal of the EDSA Revolution can be summed up by the failure of de Marcosification  and that no redistribution of wealth and opportunity ever was made. Towards the end of the 1990s came the Erap Cinematocracy (a liberation by illusion). The ironic thing is that the Cinematocracy was made possible by the masses that the Communists idolized.

The problem was the petrified ideologues cannot stomach going into coalition and never will. Even in the student politics of the Federal Empire of Diliman, they can't.

And so we lay down the irrelevance of the Left at this point. Nothing shows the irrelevance of the Left as in the ascent of the Cinematocracy. Of course the Cinematrocracy was eventually demolished by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Church and an constructive Supreme Court as reactionary elements. However Erap was no Hugo Chavez. Trapped in his own class he betrayed the masses.

But how do we assess relevance or irrelevance of the PH Left?. It is not in economic indices of the neoliberals and their ideas of trickle down economics or by sticking to Marxist or Maoist orthodoxy but by making sure that the Nationalist Revolution is triumphant.

But how do we make the Nationalist Revolution triumphant is the big question! Who will lead it?

I listened to National Artist Frankie Sionil Jose "incite" revolution at the Faculty Center of the UP in November 23, 2004. Here Sionil Jose as an agent of the Word (sensu Steinbeck!) that the central core of the Revolution is in our history and not in foreign intellectual idols like Marx. Lenin or Mao. In fact according to Sionil Jose,  the Communists idolatry of Mao and Maoism doomed the Communist attempt at revolution. The anti Chinese sentiment is always at the surface of PH society and one reason why CPP-NDF-NPA has no credibility among the majority of Filipinos  for it represents a foreign socialist ideology that is Chinese in its origin and praxis. Jose Maria Sison ignored the objective reality of vehement anti Chinese sentiment among the masses. And so 44 years later the Maoist revolution sputters on!

Again we have to look into our history. The leaders of the Nationalist Revolution were from the middle classes, educated and who were pragmatic enough to accept new ideas.

Sionil Jose believes that the fulcrum of the Nationalist Revolution would be the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In his essays, he notes that the majority of the officer corps of the Armed Forces comes from the lower classes. I attended the Left's tribute to Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution at the UP.  But Hugo Chavez isn't a Communist even he used Marxist analysis to critique Venezuelan society. But certainly he was nationalist.  He was more than willing to allow the oligarchy to exist only if they will support the nationalist Bolivarian ideology. He was  willing to deal with the USA on an equal footing if that will advance the nationalist ideology. In fact he did. Also Chavez had to go on coalition with a spectrum of Leftist parties.   Thus the singing of the "Internationale" at the gathering was very oxymoronic.  It would have been better if the Leftists sang our  first national anthem the Katipunan's "Marangal na Dalit"!

Also the Bolivarian Revolution started out in Venezuela's Armed Forces. The CPP-NPA would go into  knots of the Nationalist Revolution's ideology starts out from the AFP. And indeed it could for a nationalist ideology is always in the Armed Forces.

The Katipunan's ideology can be reflected in the Bolivarian ideology. The central tenets of Bolivarianism would easily fit in with the Katipunan's ideology.

  1. Economic and political sovereignty
  2. Grassroots political participation
  3. A national ethic of patriotic service
  4. Redistribution of wealth and opportunity
  5. Eliminating corruption

Bolivarian ideas obviously is rooted in Simon Bolivar's ideas and not in Marx, Lenin or Mao.  The Left at the gathering in focusing too much on Chavez' anti Americanism largely missed the point. For the irrelevance of the PH Left is that it is almost exclusively identified as anti American! I have had debated with LFS students who cannot get the idea and sense why if they claim to be nationalist they should like their detested rival partylister Akbayan, rage against Beijing's Imperialism!

 The Nationalist Revolution's main ideologue Apolinario Mabini had a political ideology but barely started on the economic side of it. Mabini admitted his limitations as he was not an economist but a political theorist and lawyer. The American imperialists defeated the nascent Republica Filipina. It would be interesting what economic ideology would have developed in a republic which had secured the Revolution. American imperialism made the Ilustrado class compromise but if the Revolution had been secured, I think there would have been massive redistribution of large landholdings. Mabini recognized that land was the problem, for the whole basis of Spanish domination rested on it and the Roman Church's domination too. It is still the problem and will be until the Revolution is victorious. In a sense the Mabini ideology was preserved by the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. A historian can look into how the ideology was preserved and perhaps our Aglipayan brethren can help us.

A Lefty partylist group in Congress has filed a bill making a college course in Andres Bonifacio required as a counterpart to the Rizal Law instituted Rizal course. The problem is that Andres Bonifacio was not the ideologue. Any Bonifacio course would descend into personality stereotypes comparing him with Rizal. A better proposal would be to study the ideology of the Katipunan and their main protagonists. Perhaps this would make any idea of Revolution more relevant to the young.

The New Philippine Revolution says that revolution is inevitable and we will crave for it. I agree and social media will make it easier. But in our lectures on the Arab Spring revolutions  in UP Diliman's Science, Technology and Society classes, you still have to be on the streets but have to be more imaginative than defacing CHED's gates!


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