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Mar 7 2008 02:45

Inter-Classist Movement: A Trap for the Filipino Proletariat

Last February 29, an inter-faith rally was held in Makati by the bourgeois opposition, leftists and religious groups. Based on estimate of the organizers themselves, that was the biggest rally (80,000 participants) ever held since Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada Jr.[i] exposed the corruption of the ZTE Broadband deal.[ii] Organizers promised to have bigger mobilizations in coming days or months to bring down Gloria Arroyo as president.

February 29 mobilization was a trying hard copy-cat of Edsa 1 and Edsa 2:[iii] an inter-classist movement led by an anti-Gloria Arroyo bourgeoisie in alliance with different leftist organizations. The main aim of these inter-classist movements as what happened in two Edsas is to convince the top brass or the junior officers of the AFP and PNP together with their “obedient” soldiers to withdraw their support from the Arroyo government. For the leftists, only the withdrawal of support of the AFP/PNP or the offensive of the leftist guerillas could topple down a “corrupt president”. But since the latter is still in its “strategic defensive”, the former is now decisive to oust Gloria Arroyo as President. This is the line of Jose Ma. Sison[iv], founder of the maoist Communist Party of the Philippines.

Two Edsas: A Movement Led by the Bourgeoisie and Petty-Bourgeoisie

The so-called “People Power” Revolutions of 1986 and 2001 were led by the anti-ruling faction reactionaries and the middle classes.

In 1986, the anti-Marcos (anti-fascist) line dominated the popular movement. Inevitably, it led to the ascension of Corazon Aquino, a capitalist landlord. Whether the maoist CPP and its front organizations participated[v] in the 1986 snap election called by Marcos, it would not change the class leadership of that movement. Without the withdrawal of support of then Chief of Staff Gen. Fidel Ramos and Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile and the intervention of US imperialism, Marcos would not fled the country and certainly would fight to the death.

In 2001, the maoist CPP and its front organizations rectified their “blunder” in 1986. They actively participated in the anti-Estrada movement up to the point of having a tactical alliance with the Gloria Arroyo faction. But still, the decisive factors were the withdrawal of support of then Chief of Staff Gen. Angelo Reyes and other Generals from then President Joseph Estrada.

Inter-classist movement: Not a Class Terrain of the Proletariat

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, 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 weaken 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[vi]. Both the Right and Left of the bourgeoisie have the same task: DERAIL THE DEVELOPMENT OF PROLETARIAN CLASS CONCIOUSNESS.

Filipino workers affected by the decomposition of capitalism

Prior to 1986 “People Power”, the working class was combative. Although mystified and led by the Maoists and the unions, they tried to struggle based on its class demands. Unfortunately, these were all sabotaged and redirected to anti-fascism, nationalism and guerilla warfare. In forms, we witness the widespread strike movement of the workers since 1975. But in 2001, nowhere can we saw any combativeness of the Filipino working class. They were atomized into simple citizens completely tailing the anti-Estrada bourgeoisie.

Internationally, the collapsed of imperialist USSR and its satellites in Eastern Europe further weaken the militancy of the Filipino workers. This happened because of the strong mystification within the class that USSR is a “socialist” country. As what the ICC said, “The collapse of the Berlin wall, and the subsequent tidal wave of bourgeois propaganda about the “death of communism”, caused a profound ebb in workers’ struggles internationally, characterised essentially by the proletariat’s loss of its own class identity. The effects of this ebb were all the more damaging for the proletariat in the peripheral countries, such as in Latin America, inasmuch as the development of the crisis and social decomposition thrust the wretched, oppressed and pauperised masses into inter-classist revolts, making it even more difficult for the workers to assert their own class autonomy and to keep their distance from “people power” and popular revolts.” (’Popular revolts’ in Latin America: Its class autonomy is vital to the proletariat)

Since 1990s the answer of the weaken Filipino proletariat to the attacks of the bourgeoisie is “every man for himself”. This is the disastrous effect of the decomposition of capitalism. Thanks to the anti-proletarian maneuvers of the leftists and unions, the workers in the Philippines were further weaken and momentarily loss their class confidence.

But it is not only the Filipino workers that are affected by these germs. Other countries in the periphery like Latin America are also affected. Nucleo Comunista Internacional, a left-communist group in Argentina correctly analyses this situation: “It is fundamental to say this, because in this period of capitalism’s decadence, the proletariat runs the risk of losing its class identity and its confidence as the subject of history and the decisive force of social transformation. This is due to the downturn of proletarian consciousness as a consequence of the explosion of the Stalinist bloc and the impression on workers’ thinking of capitalist propaganda about the failure of the class struggle. In addition to this the bourgeoisie has been inculcating the idea that class antagonisms no longer exist, rather people are united or divided according to whether they have been inserted into the market or excluded from it. It thus tries to erase the river of blood that separates the proletariat from the bourgeoisie”. (“Concerning the proletarian struggle in Argentina” Comunismo 49). As in the Philippines experience, “the bourgeoisie has been inculcating the idea that class antagonisms no longer exist, rather people are united or divided according” to partial struggles (like corruption) or what faction of the bourgeoisie is in power.

Perspective of proletarian struggles in the Philippines

Filipino workers are part of an international class. Its struggles and objectives are international in character. Moreover, the proletariat is the only revolutionary class. At the moment that the Filipino proletariat is very much weaken, we should remember what Marx said as quoted by the ICC: “The working class is the only revolutionary class. It alone bears a perspective for humanity as a whole. Today, when the proletariat is surrounded on every side by the increasing decomposition of a moribund capitalism, when it has great difficulty in imposing its own autonomous class struggle with its own interests to defend, it is more than ever necessary to remember the words of Marx in The Holy Family: “The question is not what goal is envisaged for the time being by this or that member of the proletariat, or even by the proletariat as a whole. The question is what is the proletariat and what course of action will it be forced historically to take in conformity with its own nature”. (’Popular revolts’ in Latin America: Its class autonomy is vital to the proletariat)

At present the proletariat in the Philippines does not trust anybody even to himself. It does not trust the administration, opposition, leftist organizations and the unions. It does not yet trust its own solidarity and unity. That is why both the administration and the different forces of opposition have difficulty to mobilize the workers in accordance to their own agenda.

Thus, the very tiny revolutionary minority in the Philippines has the gargantuan task to appropriate the lessons of the past struggles of the class through discussions with proletarian elements searching for the correct perspectives of the situation and struggles of their class. The class must understand the nature of the unions, parliamentarism, nationalism, leftism and frontism. Through these, the workers in the Philippines can prepare themselves in the future struggles.

The historic course today is CLASS CONFRONTATIONS. Sooner or later the Filipino workers will confront its class enemy because their situation would push them to defend themselves against the attacks of capital as what their brothers did in other countries since 2003. To advance the workers’ struggles to revolution the class must understand that “The autonomy of the proletariat in the face of all the other classes of society is the first precondition for the extension of its struggle towards the revolution. All alliances with other classes or strata and especially those with fractions of the bourgeoisie can only lead to the disarming of the class in the face of its enemy, because these alliances make the working class abandon the only terrain on which it can temper its strength: its own class terrain” (Point 9, Platform of the ICC).


[i] Jun Lozada is now the “people’s hero” because he exposed the anomalies of the ZTE-National Broadband Deal. He was the former president of Philippine Forest Corp. and former consultant of the National Economic and Development Authority on the ZTE contract,

[ii] ZTE Broadband Deal – an anomalous $329 million contract between the Philippine government and the Chinese company, the ZTE Corp. Although this contract was already cancelled by Gloria Arroyo because of the popular pressure, the opposition Philippine Senate continues its investigation because the First Couple were involved in this anomaly together with their close allies. The real objective of the opposition senators is to further isolate the Arroyo faction through public opinion and present themselves as alternatives to her as president. Senators like Manny Villar, Manuel Roxas, Panfilo Lacson. Loren Legarda are as greedy as Gloria Arroyo for power.

[iii] Edsa 1 was the inter-classist movement in 1986 mainly concentrated in Metro Manila that toppled down the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Edsa 2 in 2001 was the same in character of Edsa 1 but it toppled the corrupt president Joseph Estrada. It was called “Edsa Revolution” because it is in the street of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (Edsa) that thousands of people massed up.

[iv] Jose Ma. Sison said, “It is possible to remove the Arroyo ruling clique from power mainly through the people’s exercise of their democratic right to speak and assemble, as in 1986 and 2001. The issuance of statements, indoor meetings and localized rallies against the regime can generate the gigantic mass actions. The peaceful uprising of the people in great numbers can encourage the bureaucracy and military to withdraw support and can thus cause the Arroyo regime to implode.
According to reliable information, the patriotic military and police officers and the overwhelming majority of enlisted personnel will manifest their withdrawal of support from the regime as soon as 100,000 people converge in any of the protest rallies either in Manila or Edsa in the coming days, weeks and months. Such level of mass participation is expected to ignite the peaceful uprising of the people in their millions nationwide.” (February 23, 2008, “The Broad United Front of Patriotic Forces is Determined to Mobilize the People Nationwide Against Arroyo Regime”)
[v] In 1986 the maoist Communist Party of the Philippines and its front organizations boycotted the snap presidential elections called by Marcos. In its own assessment, the “national-democratic” forces were isolated in the 1986 “People Power” because of the boycott policy. The maoist admitted that the said policy was a “tactical blunder”.
[vi] The Philippine Daily Inquirer on its March 1, 2008 issue quoted Executive Director Alberto Lim of the prestigious organization of businessmen of the financial capital of the Philippines, the Makati Business Club (MBC) and Renato Reyes, the national secretary-general of New Patriotic Alliance, a front organization of CPP on their reactions of the February 29 mobilization.

Alberto Lim: “This is an inter-faith gathering; there is no shouting slogans against imperialism, etc, which turn off many people, “this rally is peaceful”.

Renato Reyes: “the strongest rejection yet of the administration in three years”, “an encouraging sign of political maturity”, “the President made this possible. She provided the urgency for everyone to set aside their differences and struggle together for truth and justice.”

Joined: 15-04-06
Mar 23 2008 14:28

I'd be interested to hear some more on the ground reporting by the Internasyonalista group. Basically like what's going on within the working class and the left in general. I recognize the specific ICC viewpoint of your group, but I think the observations would be useful.