The left: why its political parties fail

leftist million people rappler

A million leftists and friends . . . more or less . . . [Photo source: Rappler]

Thanks to reader Pinoyputi who directed me down this track when he wrote: I wish that the leftists would grow up, use their brains and start a real Social Democratic Party of importance here.”

A LITTLE MATTER OF PRESENTATION

The first thing you notice about leftist parties is that they like exclamation points. It is not Akbayan. It is AKBAYAN!. Bayan Muna does not mean “The people first.” It means “The people first!”

There is a statement of defiance in those exclamation points, a statement of certitude. The Communist Party of the Philippines is actually spelled “!!!!!!!!!!”.

I personally find this “in your face” style to be off-putting. It says “my way or the highway!” I suspect it is one reason the left gets little traction. The exclamation point is a statement of insistence and autocratic bearing.

The second thing you notice is that the leftist parties love the masses. They are of, by, and for the masses, which suggests an agenda of “down with the middle class and the socially elite and the rich!” While they are generally inclusive of women, and raise that voice loud and clear, they are not . . . by definition – – – inclusive of ALL the people. No matter how frequently they claim they are.

Indeed, they are divisive.

They are for a large segment of the entire population. But they are against a lot of productive, well-meaning, and valuable institutions and people.

So the leftist parties fail from the getgo for not being able to figure out how to include people from all walks of life. They determine that some walks of life ought to be illegitimate. They declare so many walks of life bad that they can gain little traction during elections. They declare those of wealth and influence as illegitimate. So they get little funding and little backing from opinion-makers.

They are pragmatically bankrupt.

There are other problems, too. But before getting to those, let’s define our universe of leftist parties, and provide a brief profile on each. There are only four.

THE PHILIPPINE LEFTIST PARTIES (NATIONAL)

I’ll align these from the most extreme, or most leftist, to the more moderate parties.

Communist Party of the Philippines

This group is so far left that it has negative traction. Members are being hunted down by the army. They are the destructionists, the people chanting Mao slogans and blowing up electricity towers and buses. They cannot even agree within their own ranks, and are always splitting up in violent argument. How are they supposed to appeal to Filipinos of intelligence and moderation when they can’t unite among themselves? Indeed, they are irrelevant to our discussion. But just to help you recognize them by their language, here is why they say they exist.

So long as it resolutely, militantly and thoroughly carries out its ideological, political and organizational building, the Communist Party of the Philippines is certain to lead the broad masses of the Filipino people of various nationalities and ethno-linguistic communities to total victory in the national democratic revolution against US imperialism and the local reactionaries; and bring about the start of the socialist revolution.” [Armando Liwanag, Chairman, Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines]

Bayan Muna

Bayan Muna means “The people first!” It has succeeded in gaining a little traction with two House representatives in today’s Congress: Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate. Here is the party’s entire statement of being so that you can see their rebelliousness (“our battlecry”), the clinging to history and the emotions of heroes and martyrs, anti-foreigner stance (which, by their deeds means rabid anti-Americanism), and the sense that people across the Philippines are “oppressed”.

OUR COMMITMENT AND VISION

Bayan Muna-the people first. This is our battlecry. A society where true freedom, democracy, justice and peace prevail. This is our vision.

We, the members of Bayan Muna, pledge this commitment as we draw inspiration and lessons from the historic struggle of our heroes and martyrs.

We stand on a platform of change and social transformation that addresses the basic problems that have plagued our country –foreign domination, feudal bondage and a graft-ridden government.

We embody the yearnings and aspirations of the most oppressed and the least heard, the “common tao” – workers, peasants, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, urban poor and other downtrodden. We also give voice to the concerns of the middle social strata and the cause of women and youth as well as other various pressing issues.

We believe that the test of an authentic democracy lies in the empowerment of the people, particularly the toiling majority. We believe that this can be realized by harnessing their collective creativity and strength, guaranteeing the full exercise of their basic rights and ensuring their representation and participation at all levels of government decision-making.

Upon this stated purpose and vision, we stand one and indivisible.

This is a very negative charter when you think about it. The closing line, “we stand one and indivisible” clearly means WITHIN THE PARTY. Because Bayan Muna comdemns so many aspects of our society, and the people whose well-being is tied to those aspects, it is impossible for the party to represent many people at all. Frankly, the “most oppressed” of our society are not capable of running government. So we must conclude that the Bayan Muna leadership is highly self-righteous to believe they are the correct leaders of the poor. It suggests a level of self-promotion that is little different from what motivates current leaders.

I’d put Bayan Muna so far left as to be irrelevant, too. The party is noisy and good at getting press coverage. But it is unlikely to go anywhere as long as it condemns the institutions upon which so many depend.

They can dial us back up when they decide to compete in the framework of existing institutions rather than tear them down.

Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino” or “Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino” or “Lapian ng Masang Pilipino “ or, most accurately, “Estrada and Friends”

This political cast of characters is considered “leftist” solely on the basis of its various names over the years signifying an affinity for the masses. And a widespread popularity that draws singularly from Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada’ acting fame. Not competence. I could not find any documentation as to what the collective’s platform might be. It merged into UNA’s campaign for the 2013 election and UNA also has no platform.

This party is basically personalities and its members latch onto any expedient REAL party to get a ride, or to help boost someone. It changes names and allegiances often, depending on the circumstances. Principle means nothing. The party is not completely irrelevant as a political force, but it ought to be.

Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party

This is the one left-leaning party that tries to compete in a pragmatic way. The party has two House representatives in Waldon Bello and Barry Gutierrez. Bello is becoming the wise patriarch of leftist thinking and is featured on the party’s web site. He does columns in the Inquirer and is often quoted by other media. His last major splash was when he criticized President Aquino a number of weeks ago for not firing several of his cabinet members stained by accusations of corruption. The President acerbically shot back that if Bello thought he could run the presidential office better, he should get himself elected president in 2016.

The Akbayan Party, by the way, had joined Team Pinoy for the 2013 election. Fine way to pay back the guy you asked to pull you into power . . .

Former representative Risa Hontiveros ran for senate but did not make the cut.

Akbayan has a Constitution, or set of bi-laws, and a platform. The Constitution seems to speak to the party’s ruling elite because no fisherfolk are going to read the thing. It has political views and principles and rules in a loooooong list of subjects from party colors to membership to dues to organization. Still, one can glean some ideas from the document. Here are some of excerpts I found meaningful, one way or another:

Vision and Mission of the Party. AKBAYAN! envisions a Participatory Democracy and Participatory Socialism where the State upholds and exercises authentic processes of participatory governance, with a citizenry that exercises power and constantly engages the State. AKBAYAN! shall pursue and complete the struggle for democracy and equity by aspiring to become the nation’s governing party rooted in the ideals of socialism, humanism, internationalism, feminism, and environmentalism in solidarity with mass movements. 

I would suspect the term “socialism” freaks many people out. It freaks me out because it basically suggests “failed socio/political/economic model”.

AKBAYAN! is mass-based, democratic and pluralist party. . . . It draws its membership and base from the masses. . . . It takes masses’ standpoint in the tactical and long-term fights for full democracy, social justice, gender equality, and the promotion of socialism. 

These ideas are ideologically pure but pragmatically destined to fail. To the extent that capitalism is founded on wealth-generation, and to the extent that the masses seek distribution of that wealth unattached to productive effort (or the EARNING it), then the party can gain no traction among those who are productive and earning it.

The principle of EQUITY: which upholds the right of the working peoples against economic exploitation towards an equitable share in the fruits of their labor, asserts the autonomy of the free association of toilers, takes the stand, and relies on the teeming strength of the working peoples to end feudal vestiges and the most repugnant forms of capitalist exploitation.

Well, boy howdy, that sends shivers up my spine. Who determines “equitable” if it is not on the basis of earned in the competitive marketplace of ideas and skills?

The principle of INTERNATIONALISM: which painstakingly works to end violent conflicts among nation-states all over the globe; promotes various forms of international cooperation towards peace, development, and justice; underscores solidarity among the world’s peoples especially the working peoples, social movements and toilers’ parties; and actively partakes in broad actions to end all forms of colonial and imperial adventures of the most powerful nation-states.

Here’s where we come into a conflict between ideology and pragmatism. Akbayan is opposed to any defense alliance with the United States and would have the Philippines fight China alone. Rep. Bello has proposed this, saying the Philippines has an advantage because China would be fighting 800 miles from home base.

Other principles feature feminism and environmentalism. They seem fundamentally reasonable to me, and unique for how assertively they are spelled out.

Here is the heart of the Akbayan Constitution, it seems to me:

Section 4. Political Objectives. As a national political party adhering to Participatory Democracy and Participatory Socialism, AKBAYAN! shall endeavor to achieve the following

a) To position AKBAYAN! in direct opposition to traditional elite rule challenging the socio-political and economic order that traditional politics seek to entrench and  perpetuate.

b) To gain political mandate within the institutions of governance both in elective and appointive positions at the national and local levels; and work for the expansion and accumulation of such footholds of power towards catapulting the party into a position of meaningful influence in national governance. 

c) To encourage and promote the culture and praxis of active citizenship where people actively participate in the affairs of their communities in particular and the whole nation in general and in exacting accountability from their government; and to provide appropriate venues for people to practice direct democracy in governance and decision-making processes and other community affairs. 

d) To maintain the closest possible cooperation and launch joint undertakings with the working class, peasants’ and other toilers’ mass, and other social movements including those of overseas Filipinos (OF). 

e) To coordinate with various civil society organizations on the local, intermediate, and national levels for development, democratization women’s empowerment, and other purposes for the betterment of the peoples’ welfare. 

f) To engage in solidarity work with the various peoples’ movement and organizations abroad, while giving premium to toilers’ parties and organizations.

It all rings soooo, soooo . . . idealistic, or academic, or contradictory. If the nation is a basketball team, Akbayan is going to dribble the other direction and try to get the rest of the team to go their way. The players will be farmers and fisherfolk, none of whom can dunk. They will not follow the directions of the coach, but will get together and decide by committee rule what plays to run. They will coordinate with like minded people around the world and dance around the May pole celebrating their sweaty toils.

But I fear I’ve become a tad cynical.

Let’s move to the platform.

The preamble to Akbayan’s platform is very good:

We, Filipinos, guided by the principles of democracy, justice, freedom, human rights, gender equality, respect for diversity, and environmentalism, Seeking an end to the old politics of patronage, elitism, exploitation, patriarchy, and people’s disempowerment, Committed to promote a new politics of principles, platform, accountability, women’s and people’s empowerment, Convinced that these ideals may be peacefully and effectively realized through a progressive political party, by and for our people, in active solidarity with all like-minded and like-spirited, national, and global parties and organizations and peoples movements, do ordain and promulgate Constitution.

The platform itself has three components:

  • Employment
  • Education
  • Health

Those are very admirable areas to focus on, but what about defense? Infrastructure? Manufacturing? Government processes? Economy? Furthermore, the platform has the flaw of speaking in mind-numbing generalities that don’t really saying much. For example, the statement on education:

AKBAYAN’s critique of the current Philippine model of education is that it addresses only the required scientific and technological capacities of the market, thus producing skilled labor power and managerial skills. AKBAYAN sees the urgent need for reform in our educational system if we are to obtain accessible, quality and relevant education, and emphasizes the need to take into account the specific concerns of various education sectors and stakeholders.

What, really, does this mean to the broad population that the party seeks to represent?

POLITICAL GROUPS OTHER THAN PARTIES

We also have social groups that try to unify the various leftist voices in one powerful advocacy. The most notable of these is Bayan which admits to Marxist-Leninist-Maoist principles. Specifically, here is the group’s stance:

  • The Philippines is rich of natural resources but the Filipino people are deprived of it;
  • The history of the Philippines is the history of class struggle;
  • Imperialism, Feudalism and Bureaucratic Capitalism is the root of poverty; and
  • A National-Democratic Revolution is the solution to end the roots of poverty

However, unlike underground revolutionary organizations such as the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed wing the New People’s Army and its legal front the National Democratic Front, members of Bayan do not take arms. They participate in the urban mass movement, which are the dual tactics of the revolution, and participate in the revolution through mass mobilizations.

Rather than debate socialism versus capitalism, I’d say this group gets no traction because the Philippines is a well educated nation and its people know the smell of dead rats.

HOW THE LEFT CAN WIN

I’d say it needs to reconfigure its language and principles to be less bound by ancient ideologies of Marx and Mao and more attuned to giving its constituency real opportunities. It can’t do this if the party is locked out of established institutions or if confrontation and derision are the methods of argument.

Leftist parties have to figure out how their leadership can both represent the people and be skilled at management. Either leaders are fisherfolk and incompetent or capable managers that agreeably participate in mainstream political processes. Leftist leaders must have the same skills as successful politicians and managers. They can’t be truly of the masses. They can work for the benefit of masses, yes. But it is time to get off the boat and into diplomatic, leadership clothes which include ideas like compromise and pragmatism in the language.

And just like LP or other parties that hope to add steak to their sizzle, a  successful, vibrant leftist party would need to end the bland “mom and apple pie” babble couched in 1950’s terminology and define itself sharply by proposed deeds. It needs to attend to modern needs.

If the Party indeed proposes that the Philippines fight its wars alone, without allies, then it will win or lose at the voting booth based on how well that position resonates with its constituency.

Elections are marvelous ways of imposing pragmatism.

Right now, voters are saying to leftist parties:

“You don’t make much sense to me!”

 

Comments
66 Responses to “The left: why its political parties fail”
  1. Pastor Ernie says:

    And worst of all, the leftist-communists are atheists. To go against the creator is the ultimate sin and this is why they will fail and burn in hell forever and ever, amen.

    • Joe America says:

      Good of you to return to drop off a view, Pastor. Always good to hear from the creator’s various agents.

    • josephivo says:

      What is worse, an atheist doing what the Creator wants or a believer doing the opposite of what the Creator wants?

      • David Webb says:

        I can already hear the reply.

        “The atheist. God loves me no matter what I do.God will forgive no matter how grave my sins are. I can kills cats for fun, but God will give me a gate pass to heaven, as long as I ask for forgiveness before everything ends.”

        Kinda off topic my post is. But at least this pastor guy showed what an extreme rightist is.

  2. i7sharp says:

    Joe,

    Have you heard of Richard Wurmbrand?
    (He was at one time a Lutheran pastor.)

    In any case, may I suggest a googling for
    “leftists marxists Wurmbrand”?

    Perhaps we can gain much insight from him.

    i7sharp

    • Joe America says:

      A strong man, in his faith, I find the Voice of the Martyrs does not exactly ring my bell, I suppose because I have a hard time with organizations that are so certain in their path. Also I note the use of the term “martyrs” which leftists use a lot, meaning those who sacrifice for us. I don’t want anybody to presume that position, to sacrifice for me. It suggests I owe them something.

      • i7sharp says:

        Joe,

        I was hoping that by using the search criteria (“leftists marxists Wurmbrand”), I had suggested, you would find much more relevant articles (about the man himself – who is now dead, btw – and his thoughts – rather than about the organization).

        Anyways, what do you think of this?:
        x-
        Richard Wurmbrand’s book about Karl Marx (1818 – 1883), a German “revolutionary socialist,” begins with a rebuttal to this misconception: that Marx himself was a compassionate visionary who truly cared for the poor. In reality, both Marx and Engels grew up in wealthy families, far removed from the life of poverty. Together they pursued an anti-Christian utopia that — from the beginning — focused on political power, not on meeting the needs of the poor. Like today’s seductive vision of change, their socialist/communist transformation required a “crisis” and a “purpose” that would capture public attention and provide the needed momentum.
        -x
        Source:
        http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/communism/marx.htm

        i7sharp

        • Joe America says:

          I believe that Mr. Wurmbrand’s observation very clearly expresses the point that I had trouble expressing, that the leadership of leftist organizations are frauds when they pretend to be of the masses. They are leadership, participating in national government as professionals with certain expectations of dignity and reason. That they deny these qualities out of fear of being themselves shunned by the masses makes them both frauds and lousy leaders. But the “masses” have figured them out, so not to worry.

          Thanks for bringing this clear point to my attention. Indeed, I got diverted by the organization and did not look for the meaning. Bring in further meanings as well, if you choose, as I am rather lazy about reading anything but escapist fiction. I’m adapting well to the Philippines, don’t you think? 🙂

          • i7sharp says:

            Thank you, Joe.

            Let me respond this way.

            “Serendipity.”
            (Having said the word, let me leave it alone … for now.)

            “Social Democracy” (because of “Social Democratic Party”) had brought to mind Marx.
            Looking it up on Wikipedia,
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_democracy
            I found more than a hundred occurrences of words containing “Marx” in the article.

            Knowing Wurmbrand had mentioned Marx many times in his writings, I thought it opportune now to “introduce” him in this current topic involving the leftists.

            “Marx & Satan” is one of about two dozen books that Wurmbrand had written – “Tortured for Christ” being the best known of them.

            Perhaps it is too much to even imply that Wurmbrand had helped in the Fall of Communism.
            But, IMO, the more one learns of him, the more one will tend to agree.
            Some have considered him as Enemy #1 of Communism.

            I personally knew Wurmbrand (who was old enough to be my father) and his wife, Sabina. I first met him just over twenty years ago and had visitrd with them at their home about half a dozen times.

            Trivia:
            There were two Filipinos among the people at his interment:
            His last caregiver and myself.
            (We happened to have gone to the same high school: Pampanga High.)

            Here is Wurmbrand recalling of his solitary confinement – 3 years, 30 feet underground:

            “Uploaded on Feb 23, 2009
            Rev. Richard Wurmbrand talks of his time spent in solitary confinement in prison. This is an excerpt of a much larger video entitled “Voice of the Martyrs”, recorded in the late 1960s.”

            In my follow up to this, I plan to present, fwiw, a suggestion which even Richard Wurmbrand had probably not thought of.
            (For all I know he would frown on it.)

            i7sharp

            • Joe America says:

              I look forward to the follow-up. Anybody who can do what he did, then crawl out of that hole and resume preaching, is one strong, strong character. He would impress about anybody, I suspect . . . though not all would follow his path.

              • i7sharp says:

                Thank you, Joe.

                The following is not quite the follow-up I hinted about; it is more of a reply to you about Wurmbrand.

                The Telegraph did a report on him in February 2001 (almost 14 years ago):
                http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1323729/Richard-Wurmbrand.html
                Excerpts:

                1
                During his years in jail, Wurmbrand was beaten on his body and and on the soles of his feet, given mind-altering drugs and forced to watch the humiliation of fellow prisoners. Through everything, he refused to recant. For three years he was held in solitary confinement in a cell some 35 ft underground; he kept sane by preaching himself a sermon every night, fixing more than 300 of them in his brain with mnemonics and rhymes. After his release, he published 22 as a book, Sermons in Solitary Confinement (1969).

                2
                Wurmbrand was a fiery, almost explosive man who never fought shy of controversy. Although he always spoke about his oppressors with understanding, he was passionate in his belief that “Communism is the greatest crime in humanity” and was highly critical of those who sought dialogue with Communist regimes.

                3
                He also attacked organisations such as the British and Foreign Bible Society which believed that the way to advance Christianity behind the Iron Curtain was to conclude agreements for official imports of Bibles. Wurmbrand argued that such an approach would only benefit the official churches and that Bibles should be smuggled to those in the underground churches who were really keeping Christianity alive.

                (If I recall well, he once mentioned he played chess (against himself) during his solitary confinement.
                And he was proud to point out … that he always won!)

                i7sharp

              • Joe America says:

                Ha, and he won, in the end, too. I’m amazed at such strength of character. He was never really a helpless victim, in his own mind.

          • i7sharp says:

            Joe.

            [I could not find a :Reply” button at the end of your https://joeam.com/2014/11/23/the-left-why-its-political-parties-fail/comment-page-1/#comment-101894 ]
            x-
            Ha, and he won, in the end, too.
            -x
            to which I had wanted add this reply.]

            Anyway, here I am and …
            I am glad that you see it that way – that, despite his sufferings, Richard Wurmbrand had won!

            And, the Philippines, despite her diverse sufferings [due to leftists, etc.], can win, too.
            And I think I can see how she can win – “easily.” at that. 🙂

            But before I go farther, can you please give me an idea on how to proceed to reply when I don’t see the Reply button (immediately following the end of a message)?

            Salamat.

            i7sharp

            • Joe America says:

              I’m glad he won, too, and sets an example of strength for so many.

              When discussions get complicated, the nesting or layering runs out, so the reply button no longer attaches to the comment. Two ways to deal with it: (1) scroll up to the first reply button you see and use it; your comment will fall to the end of the dialogue. (2) Start a new dialogue by going to the reply button at the bottom of the page, and if you are addressing a specific person, use the @person convention as header.

  3. josephivo says:

    Just from the hip,

    Socialism as solidarity. Not all got the same physical and/or mental strength by genes or by education. Should those who inherit most prosper most? Or do we have to create safety nets too?

    Socialism as keeping a leveled playing field. A free market only functions within a set of rules. A strong state is needed to guarantee the implementation of strong rules, especially for the main production factors, (people) education, banks, infrastructure, energy…

    Socialism as the motor of change in the late 19e and early 20e century. What the workers and middle class has today on working hours, lack of child labor, yearly vacation, education…. is not a gift of the wealthy but the result of many painful strikes of previous generations. Improvements for the poor tomorrow will not come a gift of the wealthy tomorrow,

    More of the same results in more of the same. Where are the new policy makers in the Philippines? The Binay dynasty? The Paquiao dynasty? Is a poor left as pressure group not better than nothing at all?

    What the Bible tells and what e.g. some priest-child-molesters do is not aligned. The lofty socialist principles you cite and e.g. the translation into action is not aligned too.

    • Joe America says:

      So many good ideas here to bounce off of. Have you ever considered enumeration, for ease of reference? ahahaha

      That second paragraph – that a free market only functions well according to rules under a strong state that can enforce them – cuts right to the quick of why the Philippines suffers so. It’s free markets operate within rules that do not promote productivity that benefits the nation, but productivity that benefits the favored. The oligarchs, by permitting that aberration, set the nation up for relentless attack by socialist organizations. In the US, socialists have no traction, but the rules are under relentless attack from those seeking advantage. So there, the question is, how strong, really, is the US state? There are certainly a lot of demagogues emerging there.

  4. Micha says:

    There’s a whole lot of romanticism in leftist ideology – quixotic rescue of the poor and the oppressed from greedy capital owning overlords.. It was said that the first communist in Russia was not Lenin but Tolstoy.

    The Philippines has its share of romantics that fit this mold, sons of feudal families who grew a conscience. They all seem to have converged in Ateneo, mostly reactionaries of Marcos martial law.

    Now that communism is passe’ (I don’t understand why you’re making a prescription for it to win) and capitalism is unfolding as equally vicious, humanity hungers for a synthesis of a viable economic system before plutocracy unhinged burns us all.

    • Joe America says:

      Romantics, indeed. Communists and Filipinos are rather a natural fit, eh? I’m advocating the creation of a functioning left, under a prescription to win, to balance the vicious capitalist hounds that lead the other parties. Advocates for the poor ought not be arguing for an ideologically pure state where we can celebrate our martyrs, but for more thoughtful investment in projects that create jobs. I think they advocate farm to market roads which have a recapture of investment in about 60 years, versus building of packaging centers that can take easily grown Philippine goods and get them into international pipelines to generate revenue and expansion and jobs. Recapture of investment: 5 years.

  5. macspeed says:

    @Joe Am

    First thing first>>Law of God is complete Freedom<< This alone cracks down Bayan Muna and CPP to mere powdered scrap metal for recycling to saleable product like cars etc…

    Communism is not allowed in America, nor in any Democratic base country, even in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Communism is the religion against God Freedom gift to mankind. What the hell they are fighting for?

    They need to work as others, if they don't have work they will not eat, why ask money to the rich whom before were poor who just worked hard for what they are now…see Bill Gates or Pangilinan of Smart PLDT?

    Well, all I can say, these Communism will never ever succeed till the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ whom the Muslims also are waiting….and Jesus will re-teach from A-Z that God is only one and no other God but He, See? In communism the leader are god like, they will be burn in Hell…

    All people must WORK per Gods rule, anyone should eat base on his work done and his perspiration, the communist leader does not work, they are like god collecting payments of one has work and earned.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, indeed. Well put. The idea that we share the wealth equally, when some are better at generating it than others, is essentially the negative energy that resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union and has driven China to capitalism. The socialists here argue that the Philippines should “reset to failed state”.

  6. manuel buencamino says:

    Because of the huge gap in wealth, (a phenomenon that now exists even in the most affluent countries) one would think pushing the “leftist” platforms would be a cake walk. But it’s not. So something must be wrong with the messaging.

    Better for them to campaign for free universal health care, free universal education to begin with. Then go for free nationwide land and wireless broadband (or whatever you call free internet) that would eliminate the “rent” advantage of a few telecom firms over the information highway. Let telecoms go into the business of making and selling phones, computers etc. but use of the highway should be provided by the government for free.

    Mass transpo should be also be owned and operated by the government, by local govts and the national govt as the case may be. Fares would be just enough to covering operating, maintainenance, and replacement. Same thing for electricity and water.

    Housing, up to a certain cost, should be subsidized. Anything beyond a certain amount is at the owner’s expense.

    There is a whole world of business out there for private enterpreneurs but certain areas or businesses should not be run for private profit. It takes time and capital for the government to move into those areas but that should be the goal. PPPs can act as transition mechanisms.

    As a whole, private business should be out of those areas as soon as possible because all those businesses, specially the ones that enjoy government franchises, are, at bottom, nothing more than the dreaded rent economy. And where the rent economy exists, you have corruption and monopoly and all the evils that go with it. Rent cannot be completely eliminated because there will always be government contracts. But I’m talking about continuous or virtually permanent rent based on 25-50 year franchises.

    A case can be made for government ownership and management of those areas. The only argument against it is the old refrain that government runs business poorly, business does business better.

    But that argument rests on a belief that the profit motive is the magic formula for efficient management. It’s a self serving argument. There is no difference, whether govt or the private sector runs those areas, unless one believes that an invisble hand is present in business and absent in government.

    There is no invisible hand. The hand is visble, it is the consumers and voters. Businesses are held accountable by consumers, governments are held accountable by voters. The same person is both a consumer and a voter. The invisible hand is rent. It not only tips the playing field in favor of some, it also dictates who can play in the game.

  7. manuel buencamino says:

    (To continue a rather lengthy comment) For example you have Metro Pacific buy out PLDT and related businesses. It’s a cash cow. They earn more than they can spend. So they buy the electric company. Another cash cow. And because there is no wall separating power producers and power distributors, they go into power production. From there they have the money to buy media companies, land banking, tollways, hospitals as well. The big companies like San Miguel, Ayala, Lucio Tan, SM are not going to be left out. SM and Lucio Tan have been buying up universities. In effect, those companies have a virtual lock on selling basic needs. Wealth inequality is one of the by products on this lock on rent. Providing basic needs are what governments should be doing. Basic needs are what we pay taxes for. Let entrepeneurs go into manufacturing, real estate, tourism, financial service, outsourcing, etc but keep them out of the basic needs business.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, let them compete for their profits.

    • David Webb says:

      What a good point, MB! Genuine moderate leftist parties, for example, want a living wage– to satisfy BASIC NEEDS– for blue-collar workers, but not as high as doctors, managers and other pros’ wages.

      They also want gov’t-funded universal healthcare with limits. In addition, some leftists provide temporary shelters for the homeless and allowance to disabled people. University education is much more affordable in Europe compared to U.S..

      Even U.S. Democrats have leftist-inspired beliefs such as Medicare, food stamps and temporary unemployment allowance.

      In short, genuine moderate leftist parties CAN HELP the MIDDLE CLASS.

      Of course, determining the minimum level of SAFETY NET involves using math, economics, science and management skills. Our leftists are confined to public shouting …err.. “public speaking.”

      You’re right, Joe. Leftists need to use more brains over brawn and skills over strength to be more appealing to the middle class.

  8. Pinoyputi says:

    When I left my wishes for a more mature left in the Philippines in the comments I had the modern social democracies countries in North and Western Europe in mind. As an inhabitant of one of these countries I know they are by no means perfect. As a matter of fact they are under siege since the wall with Eastern Europe went down. From that day on multinationals started to get grip on governments. An important reason why unrest in Europe is growing is because politicians are pushing a multinational corporate Europe through the throat while people don’t want a United States Of Europe. We want to work together and maintain the quality of life we worked for.
    In both Europe and the US the middle class, backbone of society, is under attack. Not only by cheap labor countries like China, that don’t have the environment and security cost as the US and Europe but increasingly by automatizing and robotizing of the work-spot.

    The comment of Josephivo is by far the most balanced of the lot. Yes, social democracy is about solidarity, a free market within the rules of the community, decency, freedom, responsibility. Social democracy had a great great grandfather in socialism but grew up to be a decent child. It is funny/sad to read the comment of “Pastor Ernie” who believes a. that every leftist is a communist and b. not a christian. The titles political left or right are so subjective. By his comment he might have given the the exact problem of the left side of politics in the Philippines.

    Very early on in my life I learned that Darwin’s ” Adapt to Survive” is an important lesson. It is about time Bello, Colmenares and the likes sit down, realize what was (not) achieved, cut off the extremes and set out a strategy for the Philippines with the social democracy in mind. If you need a boxer or actor to get the votes, select the right one. If you need to go to church to get votes, go to church every Sunday. Here in the Philippines you need both the middle class and the poor. You don’t get anything done if you don’t change.

    If you don’t change you end up like the NPA, that celebrate a burned tractor or a killed cop in a country that is slowly taken over by multinationals, corrupt politicians, government and judiciary.

    • Joe America says:

      I see where you are coming from and I’m glad that we agreed as to what the solution is. The leftist leadership needs a sober self-assessment and programs that work within established institutions. The whacko revolutionary approach is not working and they are failing their constituency.

  9. gerverg1885 says:

    The organizers/leaders of this organizations do not have any idea about how to make the people, the masa, to follow them because they do not know about leadership.

    Lasting changes could have happened even then if anybody knew how to change the action steps when they could not muster enough votes to win in an honest election, like in the case of Teddy Casino and Risa Hontiveros. Something is utterly wrong with the way they expect the B, C, D and E voting public and they just do not want to acknowledge it.

    And to think that they had been there for so many years and still could not make a dent in the political system that they desperately want to change?

    Pathetic!

  10. “Take the “other” to lunch when you catch yourself “otherizing.” ” ~ Elizabeth Lesser

    • Joe America says:

      My reaction, before looking at the video (poor internet connection here prohibits that), is that it is easy to write criticisms if we don’t have to deliver them face to face.

      • Cornball says:

        Here’s a link Joe for the transcript http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_lesser_take_the_other_to_lunch/transcript?language=en. Thank you for sharing Juana.

      • Yes. the gist is that it is easy fall into generalization or stereotype of “others.” The best way to understand people is to ask, listen, empathize and reflect. It is something profound that I want to share here because I believe a lot of writers/commenters here are mystic warriors.

        Here is the transcript:
        0:15
        This room may appear to be holding 600 people, but there’s actually so many more, because in each one of us there is a multitude of personalities. I have two primary personalities that have been in conflict and conversation within me since I was a little girl. I call them “the mystic” and “the warrior.” I was born into a family of politically active, intellectual atheists. There was this equation in my family that went something like this: if you are intelligent, you therefore are not spiritual. I was the freak of the family. I was this weird little kid who wanted to have deep talks about the worlds that might exist beyond the ones that we perceive with our senses. I wanted to know if what we human beings see and hear and think is a full and accurate picture of reality. So, looking for answers, I went to Catholic mass. I tagged along with my neighbors. I read Sartre and Socrates. And then a wonderful thing happened when I was in high school: Gurus from the East started washing up on the shores of America. And I said to myself, “I wanna get me one of them.”
        1:35
        And ever since, I’ve been walking the mystic path, trying to peer beyond what Albert Einstein called “the optical delusion of everyday consciousness.” So what did he mean by this? I’ll show you. Take a breath right now of this clear air in this room. Now, see this strange, underwater, coral reef-looking thing? It’s actually a person’s trachea, and those colored globs are microbes that are actually swimming around in this room right now, all around us. If we’re blind to this simple biology, imagine what we’re missing at the smallest subatomic level right now and at the grandest cosmic levels. My years as a mystic have made me question almost all my assumptions. They’ve made me a proud I-don’t-know-it-all.
        2:41
        Now when the mystic part of me jabbers on and on like this, the warrior rolls her eyes. She’s concerned about what’s happening in this world right now. She’s worried. She says, “Excuse me, I’m pissed off, and I know a few things, and we better get busy about them right now.” I’ve spent my life as a warrior, working for women’s issues, working on political campaigns, being an activist for the environment. And it can be sort of crazy-making, housing both the mystic and the warrior in one body. I’ve always been attracted to those rare people who pull that off, who devote their lives to humanity with the grit of the warrior and the grace of the mystic — people like Martin Luther King, Jr., who wrote, “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This,” he wrote, “is the interrelated structure of reality.” Then Mother Teresa, another mystic warrior, who said, “The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small.” And Nelson Mandela, who lives by the African concept of “ubuntu,” which means “I need you in order to be me, and you need me in order to be you.” Now we all love to trot out these three mystic warriors as if they were born with the saint gene. But we all actually have the same capacity that they do, and we need to do their work now.
        4:32
        I’m deeply disturbed by the ways in which all of our cultures are demonizing “the Other” by the voice we’re giving to the most divisive among us. Listen to these titles of some of the bestselling books from both sides of the political divide here in the U.S. “Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder,” “Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot,” “Pinheads and Patriots,” “Arguing With Idiots.” They’re supposedly tongue-in-cheek, but they’re actually dangerous. Now here’s a title that may sound familiar, but whose author may surprise you: “Four-and-a-Half-Years of Struggle Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice.” Who wrote that? That was Adolf Hitler’s first title for “Mein Kampf” — “My Struggle” — the book that launched the Nazi party. The worst eras in human history, whether in Cambodia or Germany or Rwanda, they start like this, with negative other-izing. And then they morph into violent extremism.
        5:44
        This is why I’m launching a new initiative. And it’s to help all of us, myself included, to counteract the tendency to “otherize.” And I realize we’re all busy people, so don’t worry, you can do this on a lunch break. I’m calling my initiative, “Take the Other to Lunch.” If you are a Republican, you can take a Democrat to lunch, or if you’re a Democrat, think of it as taking a Republican to lunch. Now if the idea of taking any of these people to lunch makes you lose your appetite, I suggest you start more local, because there is no shortage of the Other right in your own neighborhood. Maybe that person who worships at the mosque, or the church or the synagogue, down the street. Or someone from the other side of the abortion conflict. Or maybe your brother-in-law who doesn’t believe in global warming. Anyone whose lifestyle may frighten you, or whose point of view makes smoke come out of your ears.
        7:04
        A couple of weeks ago, I took a Conservative Tea Party woman to lunch. Now on paper, she passed my smoking ears test. She’s an activist from the Right, and I’m an activist from the Left. And we used some guidelines to keep our conversation elevated, and you can use them too, because I know you’re all going to take an Other to lunch. So first of all, decide on a goal: to get to know one person from a group you may have negatively stereotyped. And then, before you get together, agree on some ground rules. My Tea Party lunchmate and I came up with these: don’t persuade, defend or interrupt. Be curious; be conversational; be real. And listen.
        8:00
        From there, we dove in. And we used these questions: Share some of your life experiences with me. What issues deeply concern you? And what have you always wanted to ask someone from the other side? My lunch partner and I came away with some really important insights, and I’m going to share just one with you. I think it has relevance to any problem between people anywhere. I asked her why her side makes such outrageous allegations and lies about my side. “What?” she wanted to know. “Like we’re a bunch of elitist, morally-corrupt terrorist-lovers.” Well, she was shocked. She thought my side beat up on her side way more often, that we called them brainless, gun-toting racists, and we both marveled at the labels that fit none of the people we actually know. And since we had established some trust, we believed in each other’s sincerity.
        9:11
        We agreed we’d speak up in our own communities when we witnessed the kind of “otherizing” talk that can wound and fester into paranoia and then be used by those on the fringes to incite. By the end of our lunch, we acknowledged each other’s openness. Neither of us had tried to change the other. But we also hadn’t pretended that our differences were just going to melt away after a lunch. Instead, we had taken first steps together, past our knee-jerk reactions, to the ubuntu place, which is the only place where solutions to our most intractable-seeming problems will be found.
        10:03
        Who should you invite to lunch? Next time you catch yourself in the act of otherizing, that will be your clue. And what might happen at your lunch? Will the heavens open and “We Are the World” play over the restaurant sound system? Probably not. Because ubuntu work is slow, and it’s difficult. It’s two people dropping the pretense of being know-it-alls. It’s two people, two warriors, dropping their weapons and reaching toward each other. Here’s how the great Persian poet Rumi put it: “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
        10:55
        (Applause)

        • Joe America says:

          “we both marveled at the labels that fit none of the people we actually know” That is the line that means the most to me from this entire (abridged) treatise on relating to one another. It suggests that the problem is within us, not the other, and that is her point in deciding who to invite to lunch. I also agree that the US is on a fast track to totalitarianism as the ultimate end of what the strident politicization of the American dream means.

          Drop our weapons.

          What I don’t know is how one does that when we have a character like VP Binay who is held in high esteem across the land, regardless of what the facts say. If we drop our weapons, we get stabbed, because he manipulates the media as one of his weapons. Same with China. I don’t see Binay laying down his weapons. I don’t see China doing that. So we have a gap between concept and application.

          Thanks so much for the excerpts. A very sharp lady. Much to think about.

          • Cornball says:

            Maybe we can watch each others back?

          • Juana Pilipinas says:

            There could only be a “lunch” if both parties are willing to drop their weapons and come together. In case of Binay who snubbed the SBRC invitations and withdrew from a debate he himself asked for, it might not be possible. China might be more amenable if its “fears” are known and assuaged.

            “…the US is on a fast track to totalitarianism as the ultimate end of what the strident politicization of the American dream means.”

            Please explain. Did I miss that point in her speech?

            • Joe America says:

              at 4:32 where she says “I’m deeply disturbed by the ways in which all of our cultures are demonizing “the Other” by the voice we’re giving to the most divisive among us.” The harsh political invective in the US is simply overboard. The two lead hounds are Reid of the democrats and Boehner of the republicans. I do worry about the republicans, and what they are willing to do to achieve their political ends. They aren’t operating with the values I hold dear as to what America ought to stand for.

              • Juana Pilipinas says:

                Ahhh… There are extremists in both camps. The noisiest and outrageous get all the media mileage. Be rest assured that both parties have a large moderate constituency that will always fight for what America stands for. It will take a lot to enslave people who love their freedom.

            • edgar lores says:

              *******
              Juana,

              So… when do we do lunch?
              *****

              • Why, Mr. Lores, I am not aware that you think of me as “other.” I am saddened. Arrange it and I’ll block off my calendar.

              • edgar lores says:

                ******
                Juana,

                Don’t be saddened. What Liz failed to mention was that you can take anybody to lunch – the other, the significant other, the insignificant other, the “other” other. Lunching with friends can be more broadening than lunching with unfriendly others. Beyond the ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there are ideas that lift the human spirit – art, economics, literature, music, politics, cuisine, humor. Sometimes there is no need for ideas; there can be the sharing of comfortable silence — and irrepressible giggles. Sometimes communion can occur as if by telepathy. The field is wide.
                *****

          • edgar lores says:

            *******
            JoeAm,

            The line you quoted is one interpretation of Krishnamurti’s “The observer is the observed.”
            *****

  11. cha says:

    Not an expert here on leftist organizations in the country but as far as I know, even way back Martial Law days, there have always been the two factions, representing two diiferent political orientations, among those on Left side of the political spectrum in the Philippines, the NDs and the SDs. The NDs (National Democrats) have had a long association with the Communist Party of the Philippines, while the SDs, to put it simply, were anti-communist. I understand that presently, Bayan Muna is ND, while Akbayan is SD.

    Most of my friends from university days who were politically active then were SDs, seduced by the idea of being catalysts for change at a time when oppression was something one can so clearly see and feel as soon as one opened their eyes and other senses to what was going on around them. Some of these friends have seen the walls of detention cells, some have gone underground to as far as other countries to escape the agents of Martial Law pursuing them; all of them with their own share of ‘war’ stories in the struggle against the Marcos regime. Thankfully, they have all survived and outlived the dictator they fought valiantly against. Now, they are mostly leading quiet, private and productive lives , albeit still doing what they can for the cause of justice and equality wherever they may be. Theirs is the brand of leftist thinking that I can respect, even emulate.

    While I know of and have even met some prominent NDs of our time, the current crop of leaders like Renato Reyes and Tinio just fail to impress. I miss the humility, depth and levelheadedness of Lean Alejandro, who was respected and looked up to by both NDs and SDs during his day. The current ND leadership has got nothing, nothing at all on the likes of Lean. This side of the left has been seriously let down by their own front-runners.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I rather think so, too. I had not known of Lean Alejandro (was it him that Lady Gaga sings to? maybe there are political hidden messages there). Sometimes I am extraordinarily impressed with Bello, and then a day later singularly unimpressed. He seems to be flying solo though.

      • cha says:

        Not sure which Lady Gaga song you’re referring to, I only know ‘Bad aromance’. 🙂

        On Lean Alejandro:

        “Lean was a slippers-wearing student activist who helped create (in the late 1970s at the height of Martial Law) and rode (until a year after the EDSA People’s Revolt) the tumultuous waves of protests of the era that defined his generation.

        Tall and thin, Lean was a heavyweight in his time, sparring in political and philosophical debates—or chess—with the best of them: Senators Jose “Pepe” Diokno and Lorenzo “Ka Tanny” Tanada, Profs. Alex Magno and Randy David, and UP President Dodong Nemenzo.

        He was gone too soon, at 27, the age when the best rock stars die. Fellow student leader of his era Raffy Aquino waxes nostalgic about the “meteor that, for a brief moment, (marked) the dark heavens and (made) the night memorable. By his luminescence, he (gave) us a rare glimpse of dawn. He was a thunderbolt rebelling against the darkness, a spark that denied night monopoly over our collective sensibility.

        “In life, Lean gave us a fine example of humanity: of commitment to grand principles, of selflessness in its heroic proportion, of courage in such surfeit it becomes contagious. He gave us a standard of passion and enthusiasm to live by; taught us how to love a cause so deeply, and feel do much for so many, that even death could not eradicate the afterglow of such love and such feeling…A meteor of great intensity has passed,” he says in a past tribute to Lean.”

        http://www.interaksyon.com/article/43561/lean-alejandro–10-things-that-made-him-an-iconic-leader-of-his-generation

        • Joe America says:

          A joke that misses the mark is one where no one understands the punch line.

          27 is too young. Rock star indeed. Sounds a bit like Rizal. Passionate, brilliant.

        • Cornball says:

          One of the few times I saw Lean back in the early or mid 80’s, I don’t know if it was a habit of his; but if there were kids around, he’ll stop a few paces in front of a kid, straighten up and give them a snappy military salute which always drew smiles from the people who witness it. This is how I would like to remember him.

          • cha says:

            Had a chance to interview him for the newsletter of a student organization I was a part of. Articulate, down to earth and unassuming, that’s how he came across at the time. I also remember the slightly nasal voice.

      • cha says:

        Walden Bello is SD and as I understand is well regarded even amongst international social democratic circles.

  12. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. To me, the extreme Left offers no solutions except a discarded ideology. They are flat earthers and are mainly proficient in terrorizing the countryside.
    1.1. They define themselves mainly by being anti-this and anti-that, and they deceive by hiding what they are truly pro-for: the gaining of supreme political power to implement their discarded ideology.

    2. To become relevant the Left must shift to the right and be closer to left-of-center in the political spectrum. As I understand it from what reader Pinoyputi says, this would be the band of social democracy.

    3. The premise of the Left and of social democracy parties is of a class system and the existence of an under-privileged class within that system. That under-privileged class is their raison d’être. The goal of social democracy is to uplift that class through solidarity and collective bargaining. The goal of the Left is to broaden that class to include everyone through collectivization and repression.

    ***

    4. Some of the gains of the left for the under-privileged in other countries have been mentioned and these are worthy gains. In this country, can any gain for the under-privileged be attributed to the Left?

    4.1. Teddy Casino is credited for (from Wikipedia):
    o Public Attorneys Act (2007) – provides free legal services to poor litigants
    o Tax Relief Act of (2009) – exempts minimum wage earners from withholding taxes
    o Rent Control Act of (2009) – puts a cap on rent for low-income earners
    o Anti-Torture Act (2009) – penalizes torture.

    4.2. Risa Hontiveros
    o Cheaper Medicines Law – lowers cost of essential medicines thru parallel importation and compulsory licensing
    o CARP Extension – extends old Agrarian Reform law and provides a better program for the needs of farmers
    o RH Law – co-authored with Pia Cayetano and Miriam Santiago

    4.3. Neri Colmenares
    o Anti-Torture Act – co-author

    4.4. Crispin Beltran
    o Bill granting P125 minimum wage increase – not passed into law?

    4.5. Liza Maza
    o Rent Control Act – co-author
    o Anti-Torture Law – co-author
    o Juvenile and Justice Act
    o Magna Carta of Women
    o Philippine Nursing Act
    o Anti-Violence in Women and Children

    4.6. Satur Ocampo, Luzviminda Ilagan, Raymond Palatino, Joel Virador, Rafael Mariano, Antonio Tinio
    o None cited

    5. As one can see, the Left has made some concrete contributions to uplift the under-privileged. Is the sum total a sterling contribution? I leave it to the reader.

    5.1. I find it ironic that Colmenares, a co-author of FOI, is one of three who voted against the bill being passed on to the plenary. The voting was 10-3.
    Source: http://www.rappler.com/nation/75958-freedom-information-moves-house-plenary
    5.2. Palatino is the representative who drafted the Anti-God Bill and then withdrew it and apologized. God did not gift him with cojones.

    ***

    6. Dependable statistics are hard to come by and these are ballpark demographic figures:

    o Total population: 100M
    o Work force: 40M
    —– Agricultural: 13M
    —– Industrial: 5.7M
    —– Services: 20.4M
    o Voting population: 52M

    6.1. From the above statistics, let me make some assumptions, speculations and conclusions:

    6.1.1. OFWs number 10.5M. I assume they form part of the Services Sector.

    6.1.2. The under-privileged class of Social Democracy are usually laborers who form solidarity through labor unions. This would mainly consist of the Industrial Sector of 5.7M and one-half of the Services Sector. This would total 15.6M, and represent
    39% of the work force, and 30% of the voting population.

    6.1.3. The Agricultural Sector – of farmers and fishermen – is not a viable target for political organization by the Left or Social Democrats. Farmers and fishermen are solitary workers unless they work with large fishing fleets or haciendas. (I am aware that Hacienda Luisita farmers have been radicalized.)

    6.1.4. Workers in both the Industrial and Services Sectors may not be open to the enticements of the Left because (a) they do not usually work under abusive labor conditions and (b) they have middle-class and upper-class aspirations.

    6.1.5. In sum, the Left has no true traction in the Agricultural Sector. It may have some traction with the poorest in the Industrial and Services Sectors. Their potential base would be a fraction of 15.6M workers (6.1.2). Due to 6.1.4, this small fraction has been largely augmented by students and the disaffected youth.

    6.1.6. The Left’s poor showing in elections may be due to observations made in 6.1.3, 6.1.4 and 6.1.5.

    6.1.7. As noted in 6.1.2, the most viable base for Social Democracy would be the Industrial and Services Sectors that total 26.1M (including OFWs). This would represent ONE-FOURTH of the total population and ONE-HALF of the voting population. A formidable force. If a Social Democratic party can be formed that can craft programs that encourage the aspirations of inland and overseas workers — as suggested by Manuel and David — Pinoyputi’s wishes could be realized.

    This would also contribute to the much-needed maturity of political parties.
    *****

    • Joe America says:

      Your 6.1.7 is an absolutely brilliant read-out from your statistics. Before getting to that section, I had concluded as an answer to your question, no, the programs passed by all the leftists are not sterling contributions; they are band aids and have little to do with the disease. Your 6.1.2 gets right to the point. They are rioting for farmers and fisherfolk whilst missing where the jobs are potentially abundant.

      You have also established a potential platform plank for any half alert presidential candidate.

  13. mk03 says:

    Hello, I have been reading your blog for a while, and I’m quite interested that, though you’re a full-blooded American, you understand the plights of the Philippines more than even many Filipinos.

    I submitted a letter to PDI earlier this month about the left (the link is http://opinion.inquirer.net/80023/selective-activism), and I’ll reiterate some of the points of that letter here. The leftists have become rather notorious for being against every single administration since time immemorial, which is a good thing sometimes (Marcos, Arroyo), but bad in others (Ramos, both Aquinos). Honestly, I feel that most Filipinos have just become tired of their rallies, which give them inconveniences. Many (particularly the middle class) cannot relate as to why the left are so mad at the Aquino administration despite all the improvements that have been made. The left has a point that more inclusive growth is needed in the country, growth which will benefit all classes and not just the upper echelons of society. But no matter what positive news comes out of the Philippines, the left either ignores it or goes on complaining some more. I can’t help but feel that Filipinos, being an optimistic race even in times of need (just look at Yolanda/Haiyan), frown upon “excessive” complaining.

    Another theory I have as to why the left just can’t gain traction here, which is the gist of my aforementioned letter, is their apparent selective activism on certain issues. Whether we like it or not, whether it is warranted or not, it is a fact that most Filipinos have a favorable look on the United States. Which is why anything against them is frequently frowned upon. This is especially relevant today, with the Spratlys and Scarborough issues. Many people have wondered why the leftists hate the Americans so much, that the mere announcement of Obama’s visit was enough to lead them to Mendiola, and yet despite the various actions of China in the Spratlys, except for Akbayan, none of these groups appear to have ever rallied against China, or if they have, not with the same intensity as those against the US. There is also the Laude case, where it is apparently enough for the left to conclude that the VFA and the EDCA should be abolished. One thing that I can’t help but ponder on is that they are very much focused on this Laude case, where the suspect is an American, but there have been other murders of transgenders in the country, including one in the province of Quezon where a transgender was murdered, apparently by a fellow Filipino, and yet these other cases are being left in the dust. I am a student of UP Manila, which is next door to the Supreme Court, and just the other day I passed by a rally of Gabriela seeking justice for Laude (a commendable cause), but the abrogation of the VFA and EDCA (which I feel has nothing to do with the Laude case and instead should be judged on its own merits), and again, no mention of the other transgender murder cases. Somehow I feel that Laude would have been quickly forgotten if the suspect was a Filipino, a Chinese, a Malaysian, or any nationality other than American. Even a few other LGBT groups not associated with Gabriela felt that the Laude case is being hijacked by others who have their own agenda (see http://opinion.inquirer.net/79832/militants-ride-lgbt-issue-to-advance-own-agenda).

    Finally, perhaps the biggest pressing issue the Philippines is facing right now is the Binay issue. With all that has been said about Binay and his overpriced projects, haciendas, lots and condo units, many are wondering, perhaps even worried, about why these leftists have not made any trips to Makati and have not held any rallies. I know that a few leftists have spoken out against Binay (such as Teddy Casino, see his WordPress blog for the statement), but in the latter’s case I cannot help but feel that it’s rather half-hearted, as if he’s reluctant. And it doesn’t matter anyway, since it still segways into it somehow being Aquino’s fault. Because of the growing discontent against the vice president, and the left’s apparent silence, many cannot help but feel that the left may be allied with Binay. Their selective rallying (being anti-PDAF, anti-DAP to the point of having rallies all the time on them, and yet not doing the same for Binay and his antics) is probably doing them more harm than good. It’s already showing: the anti-pork rally held last August was, to what we would say in Filipino, “nilangaw”, likely because unlike the fist anti-pork rally held last year, which was politically neutral and was not sponsored by any interest group, that one was clearly sponsored by anti-government groups, many of whom probably aren’t trusted by the people anymore given their affiliations (links to known corrupt officials like Marcos, Arroyo, Corona, etc.)

    I’m not afraid to admit that I am pro-Aquino. Perhaps, deep inside, that’s the biggest reason why I have become disillusioned with the left. But unlike most pro-Aquino people, I know that he’s not perfect. I accept that he has made many dumb mistakes, and that he isn’t the best president the Philippines have had (that title would go to either Magsaysay or to Ramos). I feel that the DAP, while laudable on paper, was a hot potato that clearly skirted constitutional lines and should have never left the drawing board. I was also against his poor handling of the Manila hostage crisis. I felt that he should have visited the Laude wake. If he could go to the wake of AJ Perez (a teen actor who was killed in a car accident a few years ago), what made Laude different? And despite political differences with the Romualdez clan, I felt that he should have at least made a brief visit to Tacloban. I feel that he should have fired Roxas, Abaya, and Abad a long time ago and appointed more competent people, not just his shooting buddies. In many cases, I actually agree with the stances of the left (no commercialization of education, higher wages for the masses, agrarian reform), and to some extent I consider myself a democratic socialist, or at least, a person who would support the Democrat party if I were an American. Despite these, Aquino has made many great contributions to the country, and although he has made mistakes, he is putting the Philippines on the right path, much like Ramos during the 90’s.

    As for these left, I guess they would gain more support if they were more consistent with their stances, leaving no sacred cows and criticizing everyone when necessary, with proper basic of course, if they had more realistic goals, and that they would give credit when credit is due. Also, many Filipinos are already aware of the the Makabayan bloc (the most visible leftist bloc)’s link to Communism (anecdote: I was asked to attend the One Billion Rising event earlier this year that was organized by Gabriela, and I noticed that many of them wore shirts that had quotes by Lenin and Mao). Given that many Filipinos are aware of the terrible things that happened in communist countries (the Great Purge, the Cultural Revolution, the labor camps in North Korea, suppression of freedom of speech, etc.), they wouldn’t want their freedom to be suppressed even further. Perhaps, for the left to gain a foothold, they may have to take a bitter pill and cease espousing communism, and instead turn to other socialist ideologists, those that are more peaceful and would not resort to a proletariat revolution. They might also have to stop or at least lessen their rallies, as this gives them a bad reputation by not only the upper classes, but even by the lower classes as well. It’s quite damning that the left claim to represent the masses, but surveys consistently show that support for the government is actually higher among lower classes. It’s a bad sign if even the masses don’t believe in their ideologies anymore.

    I’m sorry for this very long comment, but as this is my first comment to this site, I feel that all my thoughts should be expressed somewhere.

    • Joe America says:

      Hi, MK. Thanks for the comment. I think you characterize the left extraordinarily well, and bring up some points I missed, like their lack of strong opposition to Chinese incursions and Binay’s shenanigans. The left is hyper-political for sure, and weak of principle once one gets past the rhetoric. They are not “in it strictly for the poor”. I agree with you about President Aquino as well.

      • The ironic, if sad thing, is that these groups have names such as Makabayan (for the country) and Bayan Muna (country first), and yet their actions are essentially anything but nationalistic, in the context of Philippines’ sovereignty being threatened actively by China. I’m an anti-imperalist and I don’t want the United States to colonize us again nor to establish bases here, but compared to China actively asserting its force and annexing Philippine land, knowing that the US, even if they still want some control over our economy (which is a bad thing), knowing that never again will they actually try to annex the Philippines, the US is the lesser evil. If these groups were to live up to their name, they would have rallied to bring down all forms of “imperialism”, whether it be the US or China. But I guess the adage “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” is true in this case. At least Akbayan speaks out against both the US and China. The silence from their Bayan Muna counterparts is deafening.

        Just a question though: from what you know, is it true that the League of Filipino Students (a group of student activists mostly active in UP and PUP) was founded by known communists?

        • Joe America says:

          I don’t know about the League of Filipino Students. I am very suspicious of groups that project public service or harmony because, like the bayan crowd, they are usually the opposite. Ironic and sad it is . . .

  14. By the way, you really need to read the columns of Valeriano “Bobit” Avila of the Philippine Star. His columns are so full of hate and illogical thoughts that they should be moved to the Entertainment section. Did I forget to mention that he is a known ally of GMA and used to be on the board of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority? He’s against automated elections, possibly because his bet in the 2010 polls Gibo Teodoro lost (although I presume that he would be singing a different tune had Gibo won), claiming that the elections can easily be automated, (possibly intentionally) forgetting that automated elections were proposed under GMA. Some have joked that he wants the country to return to manual elections so that cheating may become more widespread once more. He’s also part of the National Transformation Council (NTC), a group mostly composed of pro-Arroyo people who want P-Noy ousted for reasons that ironically would better apply to Arroyo than to Aquino. Just read his columns. They’re so much full of nonsense that you don’t know if you should laugh or cringe.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, MK, I get discouraged when I read such insane positions, as if the well-being of the Philippines would be better if we were all crooks. The yearning for the good old days of coups and personal cabals, like mafia families. Thanks for warning me off. I generally don’t read the Star because I don’t like tabloid news that uses such an approach to stoke anger and readership.

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