THE SOCIALIST VISION
(Drafted in 1987)
This document is a preliminary attept to conceptualize the principles and guide-post of a Philippine socialism that is not a mere copy of foreign models but one that is based on a critique of existing socialist states and a creative application of the socialist ideology to Philippine reality. Our people’s struggle to bring about a fundamental restructuring of our society must be fueled by a clear vision of the society we desire. The crystallization of this vision, however, must take place within the struggle itself in order that it can serve as a primary instrument for mobilizing people to participate in the process of transformation. This document is a contribution to this search. It aims to catalyze thought and action, and put the socialist alternative on the agenda of political discourse in our country. While being the result of study and collective discussions, it does not pretend to be the final word on Philippine socialism. It is, as earlier said, a preliminary vision rather than a finished blueprint. It is intended to grow and develop in praxis, as the working people subject it to criticism and contribute new ideas drawn from their concrete experience in struggle. It constitutes but a beginning of a process whereby the future may be reached through collective and democratic struggle.
The Socialist Alternative
Clearly, the Filipino working class and peasantry must seize political power in order to place the national economy on the path to development. The Filipino capitalist class has demonstrated its weakness and incapacity to challenge imperialist interests. It has failed to take the lead in developing the national economy, unlike the bourgeoisie during the early days of capitalism in Europe. Instead, it has subordinated itself to the encompassing logic of global-monopoly capitalism which directs the accumulation of capital from the imperialist centers, and, to a limited extent, in a few peripheral countries like South Korea and Taiwan, while condemning the rest of the countries of the Third World to a fate of hunger, poverty and underdevelopment.For the Filipino working class and peasantry to win political power, however, they must be organized. For them to be organized, they must overcome the culture of servility, ignorance and dependence which feeds the authoritarian tendencies of the Filipino elite. But this debilitating culture can only be overcome in the process of the struggle for socialism. The struggle for socialism must be led by a core group of committed socialists whose principal task will be to capitalize on the self organization of the toiling classes towards the realization of the power and intelligence that is truly theirs. The genuine democratization and national liberation of Philippine society can only be attained through socialist transformation. In an earlier epoch, the democratization of society was made possible through the spread of capitalism. Because capitalism wore a national face, it was not inconsistent with the aspiration of national independence. In the present period, however, we confront a type of capitalism (monopoly capitalism or imperialism) that flourishes by cooperating with domestic tyrants and authoritarian regimes in the Third World. Because of this, it shows great intolerance for the assertion of national sovereignty by Third World peoples. This new type of capitalism works together with a variety of domestic classes, whether capitalist of pre-capitalist. Its operation exhibits no tendency to dismantle economic formations that are pre-capitalist in nature In the past, it was realistic to expect that under the banner of capitalist industrialization, capitalism would eventually spell the end of landlordism. Consequently, a democratic anti-feudal alliance between the capitalist and the working class was politically conceivable. In like manner, when capitalism had a largely national character, an anti-imperialist alliance between the nationalist sector of the national bourgeoisie and the working classes was also possible. Since then, circumstances have radically changed. Today, in many Third World societies, imperialism finds it more expedient to work with existing domestic classes instead of dismantling their pre-capitalist social organizations. Simultaneously, it has made possible the enrichment of the domestic capitalist class by integrating their operations within the larger capitalist framework of the entire global economy. As a result, the national bourgeoisie has become the sentinel of a transnational economy rather than a source of nationalist initiatives. It has embraced imperial capital, viewing this as only the source of opportunity rather than of competition. The centrality of transnational capital in Third World societies is precisely what has prevented the development of their economies. This is exactly the reverse of the popular perceptions of an earlier epoch that capitalism has no choice but to usher in economic development wherever it goes. This new type of capitalism inevitably alters the conduct of political struggles in the Third World. In the past, imperialism was contraposed only to national sovereignty. Today, imperialism is contraposed to democracy and genuine development. Significantly, it is no longer possible to speak meaningfully of the struggle against imperialism without, at the same time, bringing in the necessity for socialism.
A VISION OF THE SOCIALIST FUTURE
The socialist alternative is pre-supposed to undergird the programs of different ideological groups in the Philippines. But nowhere is the vision of Filipino socialism fully articulated. Behind the reluctance to spell out the contours of a socialist ideology is the conviction commonly shared by many in the Left that socialism is not yet in the agenda on Philippine social change. Some claim that the persistence of a semi-feudal and semi-colonial economy makes it necessary to go through the national democratic stage of the struggle. They identify the principal targets as imperialism (which explains the nationalist content of the struggle) and feudalism (which accounts for its democratic content). The Philippine economy may well be characterized by the preponderance of feudal over capitalist relations. But to use this as a reason for shelving the socialist alternative is to fall into the mechanistic trap of assuming that capitalism will play a progressive role of dismantling the vestiges of feudalism and of advancing the productive forces. The truth of the matter, however, is that while feudal relations may exist in some parts of the country, they operate mostly under the logic of a dominant capitalist mode of production. This is why the Philippines is not semi-feudal but capitalist. Moreover, the social question is not merely the democratic anti-feudal question but the socialist anti-capitalist question itself. Neither is it justified to conceal the socialist option in the hope of marshalling a broad anti-feudal and anti-imperialist coalition. Any coalition united front must be built on a clear articulation of the immediate as well as long range plans of each party. To deny or to conceal the socialist perspective of any group is to succumb to pragmatic opportunism and to undermine any real basis for unity. More importantly, the absence of an articulation on behalf of socialism makes it difficult for those advocating change to explain exactly the kind of society that they envision should replace the present.
Capitalism thrives on exploitation. Its logic is that of profit. Its morality is that of self-interest. Socialism, on the other hand, stresses the cooperative rather than the selfish nature of human beings by eliminating the conditions that promote the self-centered thirst for property.The primary contradiction of any capitalist order is between the social character of production and the private appropriation of surplus. Socialism resolves this contradiction through the socialization of the ownership of the means of production. Its thrust is the development of the productive forces so as to accomplish the eradication of both poverty and inequality.
Public Ownership of the Means of Social Production.
Since private ownership of property produces inequality and feeds on the exploitation of the majority, a socialist society must be based on social ownership of the means of a type of productive property, the operation of which required collective labor power. Hence, under the regime of private ownership, it serves as a means for exploiting others. This concept may also be extended to land and natural resources, the private appropriation of which deprive others of their means to life. Social ownership of the means of social production does not mean absolutely no form of private property or having to borrow each other’s toothbrush. Objects of consumption properly belong to the personal and private sphere. Also, tools of production such as fishing rods and carpentry tools, which are not used to exploit or deprive others, are retained as individual possessions. Personal property is respected, but not ownership of property that is used to exploit others and to create wealth only for personal consumption. There will therefore be no confiscation of personal property in a Philippine socialist society. In the process of building a socialist Philippines, a large amount of redistribution will have to be undertaken. This includes, for example, the redistribution of private property that has been used, not for personal enjoyment, but for the oppression and exploitation of the majority. The goal of socialism is to enable everyone to have access to more personal property such as food, housing, clothing, books and leisure. But to accomplish this, the ownership and control by a few over the means of production must be eliminated. Poverty has been the lot of the majority in the Philippines. They cannot be any poorer. The few who are wealthy will have to accept certain restraints on their accustomed lifestyles. Consumer goods that are provided through exploitation, luxuries that are available to those who own property – these clearly have to be forgone.Democratic Economic Planning. Philippine socialism means the creation of a society where the people, not a few property owners, own and manage the affairs of the country. In such a society, production would be basically oriented to need, not to market demand. This can only be accomplished through rational social planning. A planned economy requires the identification of basic need that must be met, and an efficient distribution system. These can only be achieved through the effective participation of people in the determination of national goals. It is crucial, therefore, that a planned economy be the result of decisions popularly participated in by all sectors of society. This is the only way through which real needs can be arrived at, people motivated to act collectively and sacrifices made based on rational choices. A planned economy must also ensure a wide and even dispersal of industries in the countryside in order to create work opportunities for a vast number of our people and avoid centralization of development only in selected areas. Democratic social planning is thus in complete contrast to the anarchy of capitalism where surplus is expropriated from those who produce by the social classes the own the means of production.
Economic planning, if it is not to degenerate into control by bureaucracy, must be based on the direct producers’ control over decision making. Under capitalism, control is purely in the hands of the owners of the means of social production. Philippine socialism, on the other hand, must emphasize the need for producers to get the greatest share on the surplus. Thus, social profit must not be expropriated by the State. While a percentage of the social profits must be contributed to the State in the form of taxes, the rest must be placed at the disposal of the workers. These funds can then be used either to modernize the tool of production of as a social fund for collective services or individual bonuses. Workers must also have control over both the organization and technology of production to avoid becoming slaves to these. It is important to strike a viable balance between nationalization and private property especially during the bondage of social reconstruction. All monopolies must be nationalized. However, in the case of individual enterprises, the informal business sector, and petty commodity producers, the State must encourage cooperatives rather than resort to the imposition of socialized systems. People should understand and accept the socialist system because it responds to their own aspirations and not because the state decrees it. Philippine socialism also seeks to avoid the over-centralized system of some present-day socialist states. Instead, it strives towards a system where the means of production and social services are owned and managed by communities of direct producers within the broad guidelines provided by the State. In addition, to ensure a vibrant, self-propelling economy, a market system may be retained as long as no monopolies arise. In this regard, the economy should encourage healthy competition between production units and factories in order to improve the product, create new product lines, and provide incentives to innovate. Since the Philippines is basically and agricultural country, the same principle of workers’ control should also govern the agricultural sector. Rather than a “land to the tiller” policy which contradicts the socialist principle of public ownership of the means of social production, land must be viewed as a common heritage of the Filipino people. Ultimate control over the wealth it produces should therefore rest in the hands of the actual cultivators. Thus the thrust must be towards setting up appropriate forms of peasants’ and rural workers’ cooperatives based on the nature of crop production. Autonomous rural organizations can contribute immensely towards this effort.
Development of the Domestic Economy.
Under capitalism, especially when it is dependent, the economy always responds to the logic of the world capitalist market. Since Filipino capitalists do not have to rely on the local market, they are under no pressure to increase the buying capacity of workers. In fact, any attempt to control capital generally leads to its flight because capital recognizes no nationality.In contrast, a socialist system, being under the control of the people, produces the strongest pressure to develop the domestic economy because production would be sensitive to local needs rather than to global market demands. The very survival of the economy therefore heavily depends upon the improvement of the purchasing capacity of the local consumers which also necessarily entails the improvement of the standard of living of the masses.
Development of Science and Technology.
Socialism is not luddism or the worship of the primitive. Considering the 19th century level of our productive forces which resulted from inefficient and dependent capitalism, Philippine socialism must put special emphasis on the development of science and technology. Economic progress and improvement of the people’s standard of living are largely dependent upon the capacity to produce our own means of production. To develop our science and technology, however, it is not necessary to pass through the different stages of technological growth that other developed nations have taken. What is important is to identify needs that must be met and to develop appropriate technologies to realize these. One possible strategy is to “leap-frog” over some stages (i.e. venture into the area of knowledge-intensive high technology in food production, energy, manufacturing, and information instead of going through the stage of capital-intensive industrial technologies now controlled by the advanced capitalist nations). A socialist state must also guard against the uncritical adoption of capitalist technology. While the instruments might be neutral, these are parts of a technological system designed for the exploitation and control of workers. Furthermore, technology that leads to the wanton destruction of natural resources must be avoided. A socialist science and technology must always be conscious of the need for technology that does not alienate, but rather enhances the humanity of the worker. Such a technology must therefore be in the control of the people.
Preservation of the Environment.
Economic development in a socialist society can be sustained only through a stable and adequate resource base. Hence the conservation of natural resources and the maintenance of ecological balance must be integral principles of a Philippine socialism. Our natural resources, whether organic or inorganic, are not infinitive. They will not last unless necessary policies and measures are undertaken to preserve them. This task is both immediate and long-range. It is urgent because of the continued depletion and deterioration of our natural biosphere due mainly to the intensive, wide-scale agricultural and industrial activities of foreign corporations in partnership with local capitalists. The result has been widespread poverty amont the masses, especially in the countryside. Among others, this task entails a transition process involving: the phasing out of unecological capitalist production technology (i.e., pollutive, disruptive and inappropriate); the regeneration of ruined and weakened ecosystems (i.e., upland areas, inland and coastal waters, agricultural soil and air) towards a new balance, and the establishment of an optimum equilibrium between human population and nature’s limits (i.e., the capacity to provide space, food an other raw materials). The initial foundations of this transition process, in the form of preliminary solutions guided by scientific study, must be laid down as the masses are organized for political and economic empowerment.
The illusion of democracy peddled by the exponents of the capitalist authoritarian order hinged on the existence of political pluralism which allowed the masses to choose their leaders. Socialism does not negate pluralism. But it goes further by creating the conditions for people to indeed exercise their right to determine not only their leaders but the oath towards the future. Under capitalism, politics is limited to the elite who have the resources to engage in politics. While elections allow the masses a token right to choose their leaders, the choice is actually only between members of the ruling class. While recognizing the limitations of democracy in a capitalist order, we must also deplore the depolitization that has taken place in many other socialist countries, where a small bureaucracy had effectively paralyzed the masses and simply rules in their name.
The propaganda against socialist states has always been that the party would dictate policy. Socialism in the Philippines will encourage the presence of multiple parties, each one with its own perspective on the correct path towards socialim. After all, an agreement on the basic goal does not automatically mean total agreement on the process on attaining such goals. Unlike the mush misunderstood and sometimes abused concept of the vanguard party, socialism in the Philippines will encourage the interplay of forces and perspectives on socialism, each aspiring for the vanguard role. The vanguard role, therefore, is not one that is bestowed on any party or political force. It is a role that is dependent upon the support of the majority for a party’s policies and programs. With each of the parties vying and aspiring for vanguard role, it is then necessary to have regular elections to validate the policies and programs and to feel the real pulse of the people. It must be made clear, however, that while no single party can automatically lay claim to possess the correct road to socialism, all parties and forces must agree on basic socialist goals. The main task of competing socialist parties should then be to further politicize and organize the people on order to help the masses wield effective political power. The existence of competing socialist parties also guarantees that criticism can be aired in the open, rather that only internally, as is the case on a single-party system. However, while one of the competing socialist parties may even openly espouse some non-socialist perspectives, this will be allowed only for as long as there is neither foreign nor armed intervention. Finally, if as in the case of some socialist countries, only one party exists because of the fusion of the default of political forces, a system, must be designed so that membership in the party is based on the recommendation of people in the sectors who will be armed with the right to recall. In this manner, the party ensures democracy and constant circulation and avoids dictation and bureaucratization. Another source of fear with regard to the absence of democracy in socialist societies is the image of the police state. Under the Marcos regime, the Philippines was effectively one. We must learn from our experience in order to avoid the possibility of an overly powerful military that can spell the end of democracy. The power of the military is nor a logical extension of socialism. But we must still guard against its possibility. The only antidote to any form of dictation, whether by the military of by the bureaucracy, is a politicized, well-informed, organized and armed citizenry. Communities and sectors must be organized into popular and autonomous bodies, not into front organizations that are controlled by either a political party or the State. This will ensure that power resides in the hands of the majority. The experience in some countries has been the depoliticization of the masses after the attainment of socialist victory. Philippine socialism must not only politicize and organize the people in the process of struggle, but must deepen and provide greater meaning to collective action after the socialism victory. Political organizing, even a present, must therefore emphasize the importance of the collective will in the struggle for and building and sustaining of a socialist future. Every attempt must be made to encourage the formation on independent people’s organizations. Every occasion must be used to demonstrate the viability and potency of organized collective action.
Equal Rights and Freedoms.
In a capitalist order, the inequalities in the economic sphere, spawns inequalities in the enjoyment of human rights and freedoms. The capitalist class that wields economic and political power, the professional sector and others, which live in relative material comfort, comprise a small segment of the population, which can enjoy the rights, and freedoms of citizens under a capitalist democracy. But the exploited majority who are consigned to poverty know no freedom and suffer violation of their human rights. In a socialist society, the absence of the force of private property, which determines inequality, is what provides the basis for the equal enjoyment of rights and freedoms. Contrary to the usual attacks against it, socialism does not substitute material welfare for human rights. The socialist vision, in fact, is not meant to negate the rights enjoyed by only a few in a capitalist society, but to expand these rights and make them available to all.
The experience of some socialist states has shown that a socialist system does not automatically result in greater respect for human rights. Philippine socialism must therefore ensure the full flowering of equal rights and freedoms. One of the basic requirements is the full guarantee of the right to dissent. The freedom to criticize must be guaranteed not only on the law but in fact. The right to free speech, to assembly, to demonstrate against the government, must be protected at all times. But the actual guarantee of these rights can only come from an organized and politicized people and from the existence of a multi-party system.
Central to the right to dissent is equal access to information. The control of information is a tremendous source of power. Without this, the ability to analyze and criticize effectively is severely hampered. To guarantee equal access to information, state-owned media must not be government controlled. In addition, access to the use of media must be democratized so as to prevent the degeneration of state-owned media into a propaganda arm of the existing government. This would mean, in practical terms, the apportionment of time and space to all political forces, communities and sectors may run their own newspapers, radio and TV stations for as long as these are not owned by individuals or use as venues for foreign intervention.The right to equal access to information, however, cannot be fully enjoyed if majority of the Filipinos are not literate. A massive nationwide and community-based literacy campaign is therefore one of the urgent tasks a socialist society must undertake. Media (i.e., television, radio, print), must be extensively and effectively utilized for this purpose. As a powerful educational tool, it must also serve as a venue for non-formal education as well as a channel in promoting the cultural creations of the people.
Like media, education must be supported but not controlled by the government. In the primary and secondary levels, emphasis must be given to the teaching of basic skills and knowledge, and in the inculcation of socialist values such as collective good not selfishness, sense of community, not ruthless competition. Because of the continued dominance of colonial and imperialist culture in our educational system, a socialist education must immediately begin the decolonization of minds even at the early levels. The curricula must therefore be reoriented to provide a basic knowledge and understanding of Philippine culture and history from a Filipino socialist perspective. In line with this, the medium of instruction can only be the national and Philippine languages. Apart from guidelines that make for basic commonality across schools, the specific curriculum should be determined by educators in consultation with the communities that the school services. The school must be intimately linked to the environment it operates in, thus making for differences between schools. In addition, while education must be subsidized by the state, the administration of schools need not be totally in the hands of the State. A socialist society will lay the bases for the creation and maintenance of equal standards in all schools primarily because access to quality education will cease to be the exclusive right of those who can afford to pay for it. Free education in all levels will be a right guaranteed to all. Unlike the present system where primary and secondary schooling are mainly viewed as preparations for college, thus resulting in the relegation of much tertiary education to skills training, a socialist education must provide for distinct levels, each geared not only to the next level, but to larger national goals as well. While the primary grades should be devoted to the learning of skills, knowledge and socialist values, the secondary level must already prepare graduates for productive work so that those who wish to engage in the production process would already be equipped with the necessary skills. The tertiary levels on the other hand, should be geared to those who would wish to either devote themselves to the production of new ideas and knowledge or train those who would handle more sophisticated technical jobs. Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies in many present socialist states is the decline of ideological debate, thus stifling the dynamism of the mind and theoretical growth. The school system must not be a conduit for state ideology, as it is under capitalism. Education must be bound by no dogma except by the vision of the socialist order. College education must be an occasion, not for the creation of new knowledge and ideas. The universities must be areas of freedom and ideological debate must not only be tolerated, it must be encouraged. The curriculum must be at the disposal of the faculty who then ensures that the proper venues are created for criticism and proposals from other sectors – students, academic and non-academic personnel, workers, etc. Teachers and other constituents must also be organized in order to guarantee the dynamism of learning and the full exchange of contending ideas.
Earlier socialists debunked the institutionalized church as a bastion of reaction. The antagonism between the church and socialists derives from the role religion, especially in the past, was made to play – that of the source of conservatism because people were taught to entrust their destinies to a supernatural being. But in recent years, a section of the Church has eloquently spoken of a slice of heaven that must be aspired for in the temporal world and must be actively sought in the here and now. Philippine socialism recognizes that religion can be a potent force for progress. Being a predominantly Christian country, a growing minority in the Church seeks to recover the gospel of liberation that was central to early Christianity. This essence was not when Christianity came to terms with and provide legitimation for the existing order, starting with Constantine. This gave rise to triumphalism and, later, a highly personalized salvation ethic. Christians in both institutional and para-church structures point to the social dimension of sin. They denounce the capitalist order as alienating, dehumanizing and, therefore, sinful at its core. Filipino socialists, while negating the alienated concept of a god who emphasizes powerlessness and justifies exploitation, recognize the efforts to free the gospel from its class fetters by Christians at the base who seek to link life and faith. The freedom to worship as well as the freedom not to worship, therefore, must be upheld. To ensure this right, the struggle towards socialism should actively encourage church people to get involved not only because of the pivotal role they play in the lives of many Filipinos, but because their involvement in the socialist project is one way of tempering dogmatism and ensuring humanism.
The stereotyped image of the transition to socialism has been the unregulated use of violence specially during that period between the death of the old order and the birth of the new one. While capitalist propaganda has indeed exaggerated certain events that this transition is well planned, abuse will occur – looting, vengeance, spontaneous class reprisals – from either undisciplined cadres or the upsurges of mass anger. This can be minimized in a number of ways: First, an organized people will effectively avoid the breakdown produced by the entry of a socialist order. Communities that actively participate in making socialism a reality will necessarily have structures that can keep order. Thus, it is important to stress not only the necessity of organizing people for the seizure of power, but also because such organizations must provide the backbone for popular cooperation, especially at the start of a socialist order. Second, an effective shadow government, at all levels of society, must already be in place before the socialist transition. Third, a socialist judicial system must be prepared, even in draft form, before victory is achieved. Since transformation is structural, the laws of a capitalist order, which are based on property ownership, will not apply. People must have a clear understanding of the laws under a socialist order so that the chaos that is usually associated with change is avoided. Fourth, the fear of indiscriminate extermination of all those who do not belong to the working class, because of class anger, is a reality that must be faced instead of lightly dismissed. The open involvement of the non-capitalist professionals in the struggle towards socialism is one deterrent. Those of the middle class whose class position lies in contradictory position between the two main forces of society must be politicized and must take an active role in the socialist struggle. Their involvement allows the masses to distinguish between the stereotyped images of oppressors. With a deeper appreciation of the meaning of class, indiscriminate looting and physical harm can be avoided. Finally, considering that not everyone in the capitalist and professional sectors will be convinced of the socialist alternative, the problem is how the people will deal with them. A strict division must be made between those who committed direct crimes against the people and those who, while working for capitalism, were only beneficiaries of the system. The former must be tried under socialist law. The latter, though unconvinced of the socialist alternative, must not be harmed. They must not be forced to stay in the country. In fact, all those who choose not to support the revolution will be allowed to leave, should they so desire, but only with their personal belongings. The capacity to create a relatively orderly transition from capitalism to socialism does not automatically result in democracy. In the experience of some socialist countries, the birth of socialism also brought with it the rule of the military and secret police. For Filipinos, the image of a garrison state, especially after our experience under the Marcos regime, is a future that must be shunned at all costs. The military should be converted into a small but highly professional corps without an infantry. Rather, people’s militias must be formed and must be large enough to deter the professional army. To do this, the State must democratize access to arms while socializing defense and security. An organized and armed people is the best deterrent to any local of foreign attempt to undermine socialism. Security, then, ceases to be a commodity accessible only to those who can pay for it because it is democratized for all. Finally, as par of the defense establishment, the socialist state needs an intelligence network. This network must be kept small and should have absolutely no police power or the right to arrest.
Human and Personal Development.
Philippine socialism must be directod towards the ultimate fulfillment of the total potential of every Filipino. There must be a constant check to ensure that material welfare is not substituted for human development. The subordination of the individual to the State, regimentation of life, the loss of a sense of humor, the imposition of a puritanical lifestyle, of a “proletarian” culture, the death of affection and romantic love. The break-up of the family are not outcomes of socialism. And they ought not to be. In fact, socialism is aimed at the fullest development if each individual. In the final analysis, the process towards full socialism requires a parallel growth of human and economic development.
As the basic unit of society, the family plays a crucial role in the socialist order. Economic progress and political freedom under socialism will allow each family to develop mutually enriching relations unencumbered by the pressures of poverty and oppression. Special emphasis will be placed on maintaining and enhancing the strength of family ties since it is through the experience of the beauty of shared privileges and responsibilities that socialism can be born, nurtured and developed.
While socialism as a politico-economic system does not directly confront the issue of gender oppression, a socialist structure is better able to handle this reality. The elimination of private ownership of the means of social production and democratic economic planning create the bases for gender equality in both economic and political spheres. Socialist, however, must confront the private/public contradiction that relegates women to the domestic sphere, reduces their work to a biological and therefore insignificant category (as against the economic and significant category) and subordinates her being and her activity at work in a society at large. The double burden of home and work lies at the core of female oppression. Unless Filipino socialists confront this issue, women’s liberation will remain the partial vision and piecemeal reality that it has largely been in existing socialist societies. The logic of female degradation is manifested in sexual discrimination, prostitution and the exploitation of women. Socialist must seek to end these forms of female oppression. As the feminist struggle conjoins with the socialist struggle, women can move from a position of weakness to a position of equality and strength – not in theory but in the concrete – by acting and struggling. Socialist must support socialist feminists as they confront their class and gender oppression together and as they call for transformed structures at home and in the workplace for the full liberation of women.
Socialism in the Philippines must train its sights to the welfare and total development of the next generation. This is not only because the children of today are the inheritors of tomorrow, but more importantly, because the future of socialism depends upon the seriousness with which it is developed. The present generation, those who struggle for a new order, has a stake in ensuring that socialism develops in accordance with our visions. But as in the case of some socialist states, the succeeding generations who inherit a system they had no hand in creating, may not exhibit the same zealousness with which their parents fought. Children must therefore clearly appreciate not only the sacrifices made to ensure their future, but the gains brought by socialism so that they have an equal stake in maintaining and developing a socialist Philippines. Finally, a child-oriented socialism also increases the motivation with which adults strive to develop the system since one of the greatest rewards of parents is the ability to offer the best opportunities to their children. Unlike in capitalism, to strive to better the society for one’s child, in particular, redounds to benefits for children in general.
Under capitalism, the aged are cruelly consigned to a fate of uselessness. After years of exploitation and decades of oppression, the old are unceremoniously shoved aside because they have outlived their usefulness. A socialist society must make sufficient provisions to ensure not only care for the aged but an opportunity to prolong the meaning of life so that retirement would be an occasion to look to rather than be feared. Communities must take charge of this function and provide the opportunities for the old to pass on skills and cultural heritage. Regular venue for the old and young to share and care for each other would make life more meaningful for the old and would allow the young to gain an early sense of responsibility.
For centuries, Philippine cultural minorities have insisted upon retaining their own culture and traditions. They have confronted a variety of oppressors: foreign, Filipino Christians, as well as their own indigenous elites. But they have struggled for the right to their ancestral lands and to determine their own future. Their quest for self-determination is an articulation of the aspiration to liberate themselves from their oppressors. A socialist society must therefore honor the right of ethnic communities to retain their cultural identity and to insist on self-determination as an articulation to liberate themselves from their oppressors. A socialist society must therefore honor and retain their cultural identity and to insist on self-determination. It must take the necessary steps to encourage the development of their culture as legacies to the nation.
In the development of every individual art – the symbolic expression of thoughts and emotions, works of creative imagination – is a basic necessity. Under capitalism, art is largely the preserve of the rich. The masses, on the other hand, are consigned to the role of consumers of commodified or commercialized art. Socialism must rescue art from the market and make it available to all as an important component in the development of the whole person.To ensure that art becomes the property of the people, instead of the preserve of a few gifted people and those who can afford these creations, the emergence of popular and accessible forms of art must be encouraged. Cultural groups at the community level must also be organized so that art can be use for the people’s own purposes (i.e. as a means of understanding and recording their own lives and as a way of expressing their own thoughts, feelings and aspirations). Furthermore, there should be no state censorship of art. Rather, artists as a community and people in communities must have full control over art. There must be no impositions as to the “correct aesthetic line” and no straight-jacketing of culture under the guise of proletarianization. Socialism must emphasize the creation of a truly Filipino culture that emerges from the marriages of indigenous and experimental forms.
While the Philippines under Marcos and under the previous neo-colonial governments posed as a sovereign player in international affairs, Philippine foreign policy has never been truly independent. It promotes and depends upon the interests of US imperialism even at the expense of the Filipino people. This is necessarily so because the foreign policy of a State reflects its social base. Under capitalism, political power effectively resides in the capitalist class. In a neo-colonial capitalist society, the ruling classes perceive their immediate interests as corresponding to the strategic interests of capitalism. Insofar as it is based on the power of the working people rather than on the whims of the capitalist calss of the caprices of bureaucracy, socialism ordains a foreign policy that best serves the interests of majority of our people. Philippine socialism will abrogate all unequal treaties with the United States and negotiate new treaties not with the posture of a mendicant, but from the proud and principled standpoint of a people who have won their freedom. While upholding our people’s interests as the primordial basis of foreign policy, Philippine socialism also adheres to the principles of international working class solidarity. Just as capitalism has become a world system, the workers of all countries must join hands to destroy it. Isolated from the socialist community, the international working class, and the liberation movements in other oppressed countries, a triumphant socialism in the Philippines will be easy prey to an imperialist sponsored counter-revolution. On our part, morally and politically, all progressive trends throughout the world. This includes the worldwide movement to end the nuclear arms race to destroy all nuclear weapons and to promote global peace based on justice.
Independent and Principled Foreign Policy.
Socialist internationalism should never degenerate into flunkeyism, that is, the tendency to follow blindly the leadership of another socialist state. For we must recognize, no matter how disconcerting, the fact that bureaucratic socialist states tend to pursue narrow and short-term state interests towards such subservient attitude toward such states, is under certain circumstances, a betrayal of our own people. We will support them only in and when our interests as a nation coincide with theirs. Finally, we must reserve our right to criticize their foreign and domestic policies from the standpoint of the international socialist movement as a whole. Consistent with this, no foreign military bases must be allowed on Philippine territory. The US Bases Agreement must be unilaterally abrogated. If the United States government refuses to respect the wishes of our people, the United States must be declared a belligerent nation whose continued occupation of our land is an act of transgression against our national sovereignty. Concrete steps must therefore be taken to isolate these bases by denying them services, access and even basic necessities. By doing so, we make it extremely expensive for the US to stay on and even more expensive to use the base facilities as a springboard for intervention.
Economic Relations Based on the National Interest.
The tragedy of Third World nations under the grip of capitalism is that foreign aid, investment and loans are determined on the basis of the interest of the few who own the means of production. But the effect of and responsibility for these are passed onto the large majority of people who neither had a say in decision-making nor were beneficiaries of such arrangements. A socialist Philippines does not mean autarky or isolation from the world economy. Rather, it is participation in the basis of a conscious recognition of the national interest and not that of a specific class. The necessity for foreign investment and aid must therefore be assessed based on the minimum that we cannot do without rather than the maximum we can get. Considering the staggering size of our foreign debt under the present system, no State can afford to overlook this problem. A socialist Philippines must start out from the premise that the responsibility for Third World debts rests on both the creditors and debtors. Thus the resolution of the problem of foreign debts must be a joint undertaking. Specifically, a socialist Philippines will honor foreign debts under the following conditions: first, in no way shall we make the masses pay for these debts through high taxes, depressed wages, high prices, and unabated extraction of our natural resources; second, the end users of these loans must be made to pay for these through the expropriation of their hidden and ill-gotten wealth; third, creditor banks and agencies must help collect from the end users; and fourth, the terms of repayment must be renegotiated with the country sacrificing the entire country just to meet our obligations. Lastly, a socialist Philippines will participate in any Third World collective effort to have these debts paid, partly by diverting the huge defense budget of the big countries like the United States, to the servicing if these debts.
THE ROAD AHEAD
The collapse of the Marcos dictatorship restored the system of elitist competition, which passed for democracy before martial law. The present government manifests a new type of authoritarian rule. Thus, the culture of servility must first be broken. The hegemony of the people in the field of culture must likewise be established to ensure that the triumph of the anti-dictatorship and anti-imperialist movement will indeed be a step toward genuine democracy and socialism. Socialism presupposes the possession and actual exercise of power by the working people, not the monopoly of power by a bureaucracy in the name of the working class. Helping to prepare the workers discharge their historic mission involves a long arduous and extremely complex process. To contribute to this, our primary task is to propagate of socialist consciousness that will propel and give direction to the popular organizations. We have to help dismantle the ideological framework that keeps the masses submissive and indifferent, or conversely, transform their spontaneous anger and activity into conscious and organized aspects of the social revolution. Such a task must be undertaken regardless of the political climate. In a relatively free and peaceful climate, we would feel much safer performing this task. Ironically, however, under a reformist-liberal government, political education and organization also tend to appear less urgent. What is clearly important is that we do not allow ourselves, even for a moment, to lose sight of the longer-range goal of transforming the political culture itself by instituting a Filipino social order that would put an end to the marginalization of the vast masses of our people. Socialist education among unorganized individuals is a futile project unless combined with vigorous organizing work. Political ideas become a material force only if they capture the imagination of a significant number of people and only if the latter act on their social milieu in an organized fashion. It is therefore the duty of socialists to propagate socialism in the organization to which they belong and incessantly strive to raise their political militancy. Where no organization exist, our duty is to create them. But, given the premises laid down in the earlier sections of this document, BISIG does not aim to set up a network of manipulable groups that will sheepishly toe its line. Socialist organizations should embody our concept of the role of the masses in a socialist society, which is not that of a rubber stamp, but a source of popular initiative and a structure for self-activity from below. Socialist organizations must be autonomous in the sense of being able to run their own dynamics. We must develop proper relations with other popular organizations representing other ideological tendencies. This task entails clarifying and enlarging the area of consensus with the view of realizing our concept if a broad united front. This concept recognizes that in the Philippines today, there exist not only a single force but several forces which adhere to an anti-imperialist and democratic platform. To bring us together in one umbrella organization that will also serve as the nucleus for an alternative government, all forces should learn to respect each other and relate to one another as equals rather than try to subdue smaller ones by means of numerical superiority. In dealing with prospective allies in this broad movement, we must not conceal our socialist principles for the sake of unity. Unity based on deception is artificial and fragile. The only form of unity that can withstand the twists and turns of this long and complex struggle is one based on mutual recognition of what we are and what we want to achieve. Then debate, rather than manipulation, becomes a way of resolving differences. In the course of our struggle, we shall endeavor to clarify, concretize, refine and elaborate our vision of socialism. As stated at the outset, this document does not profess to be a finished blueprint, but a catalyst for discussion and debate on the type of society we desire. Hence, at every stage in the struggle against imperialism and exploitation, we also spread and deepen socialist consciousness so that when capitalism ultimately faces its fate, bureaucratic and authoritarian tendencies will be averted. Only then will it be possible to visualize a system that is not only socialist but also genuinely democratic. The struggle is long. Impatience is understandable. But impetuousness can be costly. We should not forget that our people have gone through four centuries of Spanish, American and Japanese colonization, twenty-six years of deception and thirteen years of outright dictatorship. Negating the ethos of servility, which evolved from that experience and establishing popular working class consciousness is, of necessity, a protracted, difficult and complicated process.
The Socialist Vision sets the long-term goals of a new socialist trend and provides the theoretical framework for BISIG’s positions on the day-to-day issues confronting our country at this historical juncture. While purporting to represent a distinct ideological trend in Philippine politics, the Socialist Vision makes no claim to absolute originality. Quite the contrary, it is a conscious effort to bring together in a coherent program the values, principles and aspirations of diverse trends in the broader radical movement. This document has drawn from the practical experiences of older groups which, oftentimes, they are too busy to sum up and criticize. BISIG is best able to undertake this necessary task of synthesis because many of us had our initial involvement in organizations identified with other trends. Independent of each but for remarkably similar reasons, we detach ourselves from them while remaining true to the liberation struggle to which all are committed. Our claim to novelty is borne out by the confusion we have caused to those who prefer to superimpose a simple political spectrum on a complex political reality. They do not know where to locate BISIG in the maps they love to sketch. Some suspect us of being doctrinaire for our explicit advocacy of a grossly maligned ideology; but we have also been charged of pragmatism for giving critical support to the liberal democratic tendencies in the Aquino government. What really distinguishes us from the pragmatists from the yellow crowd and the dogmatists in the red crowd is the revolutionary-scientific perspective exemplified in the Socialist Vision and our policy statements. We pursue a political line oriented towards the socialist future; at the same time, we base our choice of concrete policies on a cold-blooded analysis of objective reality. We are conscious of the gap between what ought to be and what exists, and of the need to start from what exists to achieve what ought to be. Acting on a case-to-case basis without sense of purpose is just as pointless as pursuing a goal without regard for the obstacles and pitfalls along the way. Availing of opportunities at the expense of principles is opportunism, but repudiating opportunities, which do not conform to principles is our definition of political stupidity. In this document, we offer BISIG’s long-range vision, analysis of the current situation, and policy statements on the burning issues and events in our first year of existence as an alternative approach to the liberation process, which is neither doctrinaire nor pragmatic.