Message of Solidarity to CONTEND on the occasion of its 16th Anniversary
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
UP Alumnus and Teacher
23 August 2010
I wish to convey warmest greetings of solidarity to all my academic colleagues in the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) on the occasion of its celebration of the 16th anniversary of its founding on July 22, 1994. I am proud to give you a message of unity as I did in 1998 during your anti-imperialist conference in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Philippine-American War.
I salute CONTEND as a combination of the associations of militant teachers and educators from public and private schools, colleges, and universities from all over the Philippines, who are fully aware of the semicolonial and semifeudal character of Philippine society and accept the role as agents of social change and who are ever committed to raising the social and political consciousness of teachers, the defense of their democratic rights, and sharpening of their skills for the purpose of promoting a progressive, nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented education and culture.
I congratulate you for all your efforts and achievements in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the teachers to serve not only their distinctive sectoral interest but also the entire Filipino people in the struggle for national liberation and democracy against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes. You have excelled at upholding, defending and promoting the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal line against the semi-colonial and semi-feudal conditions.
You have attained outstanding and resounding success at the political work of clarifying the national democratic line and applying it on important issues affecting the academic community and the people on a national and international scale. You have persevered in struggle not only against barefaced adversaries who perpetuate pro-imperialist and anti-people lines of thought, especially in the curriculum, but also against pseudo-progressives who stir up supposedly fashionable anti-Marxist trends like postmodernism, neoliberal economics and bourgeois feminism masquerading as socialist.
You have manifested your position in so many conferences and forums. You have issued so many enlightening books,pamphlets and statements. Academics and non-academics are gratified to read the books that you have published: Serve the People, ang Radikal na Kasaysayan ng UP, Mula Tore, Tungong Palengke against neoliberal education, three books of poetry and three anthologies of poetry on various themes, including the Hacienda Luisita massacre in 2004 and other grievous human rights violations and the people’s demand to oust Arroyo from power.
To foster transformative education, you have undertaken film screening of local and international films and documentaries. You have engaged in mass actions on every campus of tertiary education where your association exists and, as part of the wider frame of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, you have participated in its activities. You have joined and even spearheaded broad formations in the University of the Philippines on issues with regard to good governance, electoral fraud, human rights and the ouster of Arroyo. You have played an important role in mass campaigns to oust Estrada and Arroyo, against the Hacienda Luisita massacre and other human rights violations and against US military intervention in the Philippines and US wars of aggression abroad, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
I appreciate the extent of recruitment that has been done by CONTEND. I measure my appreciation in relation to your perseverance in struggle over the years and also in relation to the total number of teachers on the campus where your association exists. I believe that the national democratic line is so appealing to the broad masses of teacher that a substantial number of them can be recruited from year to year to become members of CONTEND. As regards those who do not join CONTEND, the policy of the united front can be applied in order to cooperate with them. The possibility of alliance on issues is always possible with teachers who are either active or not active in the traditional faculty association or union and of course with the association of non-academic employees.
I have read the Constitution of CONTEND promulgated in 1994. It envisions some kind of a federation of associations in various schools, colleges and universities. And it is quite elaborate in seeking to combine such associations and providing them with the organs of leadership at various levels. But it does not make clear the basic rule of recruitment, the basic tasks and basic rights and duties of individual members per association. It is advisable that in this regard the Constitution is amended or a provision of the By-Laws or a set of guidelines is made.
As it is, your Constitution is good in terms of its preambular description of CONTEND, its enumeration of principles and objectives and its conceptualization of so many associations to combine and to be governed by leading organs at various levels. But it is necessary to have clear provisions about the recruitment, basic rights and duties of individual members. Thus, the task of recruiting more members is made simple and easy through compliance with the provisions of the Constitution.
I urge you to intensify your efforts at solid mass organizing and thereby increase your political strength. You need to pay close attention to the recruitment of the individual members of every existing association of CONTEND as well as the recruitment of the initial members of an association that is in the process of being established or reestablished. I do not know how much has been the adverse effect of not having clear provisions on the recruitment of individual members. But I am certain that it does no harm to have such provisions.
Aside from the need to make clear the basic requirements for recruitment and membership of individuals, there is also a need to examine what are possibly the subjective tendencies that can prevent or slow down the growth of an association. These tendencies or factors may include the petty bourgeois small group mentality, contempt for mass organizing, unwitting conceit towards non-members and towards new members, plain neglect of the task of recruitment and failure to keep and develop those already recruited as members.
There should be no problem about recruiting an ever increasing number of individual members and building the member-associations of CONTEND. The national democratic line responds to the demands of the workers, peasants, urban petty bourgeoisie and even the middle bourgeoisie and upholds their rights and interests. We must trust and rely on the mass of teachers as being capable of understanding the principles and objectives of CONTEND and the national democratic movement, willing to be recruited and to recruit others and ever ready to participate in various campaigns launched by CONTEND.
I am pleased to know that by way of celebrating the founding anniversary of CONTEND you are holding a forum with the theme, BACK TO CLASS: O Kung Bakit Hindi Kadiri ang Makauring Pagsusuri and with an array of distinguished speakers to discuss topics related to the concept and reality of social classes. I presume that the discussion of the subject is meant to deepen and heighten your understanding of who are the friends and who are the enemies of the national democratic revolution in class terms. I cannot help but contribute my share in the discussion.
We may define classes as divisions of society defined by ownership of the means of production and the relations of production, role in the process of production, share in the distribution of the social product and the mode of thinking on the social issues. To know best the character of a society, it is necessary to make a class analysis and know the class composition. The class analysis starts with looking at the material base or mode of production and proceeds to the political and cultural superstructure. But to avoid the pitfalls of economic determinism or reductionism, we must grasp the dialectical interaction of the economic, political and cultural aspects of society.
In an exploitative society, there are basic exploiting and exploited classes and there are intermediate classes often called the middle class, usually the petty and middle bourgeoisie. In an industrial capitalist society, the capitalist class and working class are the basic opposite classes. In a semicolonial and semifeudal society, there are the comprador bourgeoisie and landlord class on one hand and the working class and peasantry on the other hand.
The ruling exploitative class controls the economic base by owning the means of production and determining the relations of production and division of labor and the distribution of the social product. It uses the political and cultural superstructure to maintain its class rule. The legal system upholds the property rights of the ruling class and the coercive apparatuses of the state are used to enforce the laws favoring the ruling class. Cultural institutions and practices are used to make the ruling class look good and acceptable, indoctrinate the people and to entertain and divert them from resisting the exploitative and oppressive ruling system.
To fight the ruling class and overthrow the ruling system, the exploited and oppressed classes have to wage a class struggle in the socio-economic, political and cultural fields. The class struggle of the working class arises in the socio-economic field and develops from the spontaneous actions of the class in itself to the more conscious better-organized trade union and political actions of the class for itself. The socio-economic struggles give rise to political struggles which require the leadership of the party of the working class as a revolutionary class. Cultural class struggles also arise and develop. The all-round class struggle enables the revolutionary class to strengthen itself together with the rest of the people and to develop further until they can overthrow the old social system and establish an entirely new one.
There is no other category more significant and effective than social class in the process of maintaining, reforming or radically transforming a social system. But we must also be mindful of categories smaller than the class and subsumable by the class. There may be elite groups of the ruling class which are distinguished by some outstanding competency or representation of a new dominant section of the class or rising type of economic activity. There may be groups or sections in any class that are identifiable by certain industries, occupations, clans and regions and by racial, ethnic, religious and other cultural characteristics.
Other than class, there are important social categories that seem to transcend class category such as individuals, families, clans, tribes, associations, nations, nation-states and associations of states. Such categories are even used to obscure and deny the existence of classes and class struggle. But there is no category more important than classes in the consideration and realization of revolutionary change in any country even when the sense of national unity is also of decisive importance in the people’s struggle for national liberation against imperialism.
A reactionary ruling class is always definitely conscious of and acts according to its own class interests and it always seeks to limit, undermine and diverte the class consciousness of the exploited and oppressed people and prevent them from acting concertedly in their interest. It is afraid of the toiling masses of workers and peasants becoming conscious of their classes and becoming militated against the handful of exploiters and the conditions of exploitation
Whatever is the level of class consciousness and militancy of the exploited classes, the exploiting classes always engage in class struggle against them. They do so in various ways in order to preempt and prevent the rise of the class consciousness among the exploited as well as to counter and combat an already conscious and militant class struggle of the exploited against the exploiters.
Like the Philippine reactionary state, the University of the Philippines carries as official ideology a pro-imperialist kind of liberalism. It considers individual rights in the abstract as the most important aspect of democracy, glosses over the existence of classes and class struggle and pays lip service to national and public interest. It is a hotbed of self-serving individualism and subjectivism, variegated and yet all are in the mould of petty bourgeois thinking that is servile to the foreign monopoly capitalists and local exploiting classes. Its main purpose is to teach and train the professionals and bureaucrats for the semi-colonial and semifeudal ruling system.
A major method of the bourgeoisie for obfuscating or laying aside the theory and practice of class struggle is to play up individualism, narrow family interest, ethno-centrism, religious sectarianism, chauvinism and a pro-imperialist sense of globalization against the national and class rights and interests of the working people. Let us do the opposite. Let us uphold the class struggle of the working people as the key link and harmonize their class rights with our legitimate rights and interests as individuals, as family, as group, as an ethnic community, as a nation and as internationalists against imperialism and all reaction.
The theory of classes and class struggle was originated by bourgeois thinkers, who were then revolutionary democrats against the feudal order, and was an important element in the advance of social science in France in the 18th century. Marx himself said that he did not originate such theory but he pointed out as his unique achievement the extension and development of such theory to the theory of the proletarian revolution and class dictatorship of the proletariat against the class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
It is of crucial importance that we deepen, widen and heighten our knowledge of the reality of social classes and the theory and practice of class struggle up to proletarian revolution and class dictatorship of the proletariat. Why so strong a term as class dictatorship? It refers in the first place to the bourgeois state as organized violence against the proletariat and consequently the proletariat must smash the bureaucratic and military machinery of the bourgeois state in order to liberate the proletariat and the rest of the exploited people. You may use the scientifically frank term of class dictatorship but also say in a more gentle way, people’s democratic or socialist state or democratic rule of the working people, depending on the actual conditions.
It is of urgent necessity to study and apply the theory of classes and class struggle up to proletarian revolution and proletarian class dictatorship in view of fact that the financial oligarchy and monopoly bourgeoisie have systematically and effectively propagandized that the working people of the world must forget about class struggle. And yet they have waged the most rapacious and violent class struggle against the working people in the last three decades under the policy regime of “neoliberal globalization” and unceasing state terrorism, foreign military intervention and wars of aggression unleashed by the US unilaterally or multilaterally in collaboration with other imperialist powers.
Take note that “neoliberalism” or “free market” is a petty bourgeois expression meant to appeal to the middle class and camouflage the big bourgeois interest in the policy. Under such a policy, the imperialist powers and their agents all over the world have blamed any rise of the wage level of workers and government social spending for the recurrent and worsening economic crises and have adopted and implemented a wide variety of cruel measures against the working class and the entire people.
They have brought down the levels of income of the toiling masses and most of the middle class, attacked their hard-won social rights and cut back government social spending. They have accelerated the accumulation of capital in the hands of the monopoly bourgeoisie through tax cuts, privatization of public resources, liberalization of trade and investments, deregulation against public interest, the working people, women, children and the environment and the denationalization of the economies of the client-states like the Philippines.
It is high time that academics of the UP and all other schools strive to take the standpoint of the anti-imperialist progressive and optimally that of the proletarian revolutionary and contribute to raising the level of class consciousness and class struggle of the working people against the biggest financial and industrial bourgeoisie in the imperialist countries and the big comprador bourgeoisie and landlord class in the Philippines. We must aim for for victory in the people’s democratic revolution and advance to socialism.
The crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling system is worsening rapidly. It is now characterized by prolonged global depression and wars aggression. The epochal struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat is once more conspicuous in the imperialist countries and the rest of the world. In the Philippines, the people’s democratic revolution is intensifying. The struggle for national liberation against foreign monopoly capitalism is necessarily linked to and interactive with the class struggle for social liberation against the comprador big bourgeoisie and the landlord class.
I hope that the current generation of academics carry on the work to which we in my generation have committed ourselves. Take the stand, viewpoint and method of materialist dialectics and use class analysis in order to rip apart and debunk any attempt of the big bourgeoisie and its political and intellectual agents (mostly recruited from the ranks of the university-educated and unremoulded petty bourgeois) to misrepresent capitalism and liberalism as the end of history, ridicule proletarian class struggle and revolution as obsolete and irrelevant and misrepresent the latest petty bourgeois intellectual spin as new and therefore correct.
I have always told the petty bourgeois faddists among the intellectuals on and off campus and the NGO entrepreneurs who brag about their new ideas and new language that all the newly-minted terms of petty bourgeois subjectivism the imperialist-directed think tanks, universities, institutions, business corporations and mass media can never make Adam Smith younger than Karl Marx.
It is capitalism, especially monopoly capitalism and finance monopoly capitalism, that is obsolete and moribund. We are in the midst of an unprecedentedly severe crisis of global capitalism and we are now on the eve of an unprecedently great rebound of the anti-imperialist and socialist movement to a new and higher level of revolutionary struggle from the deep trough caused by revisionist betrayal of socialism, capitalist restoration and neocolonialism. ###