Manila Socialism Conference PDF Print E-mail
Written by Partido Lakas ng Masa   
Friday, 02 December 2011 22:38

Opening Talk on Manila Socialism Conference

 

Guests, delegates and observers of today’s conference,

 

Welcome once again to the Manila Socialism Conference. This is already the fourth of the Socialism conferences we already held in Manila. I have forgotten about the three previous ones, because the Socialism Conference today is definitely the most successful one. This conference has attracted more participants than the three previous ones. Not only the most participants, but the most youthful ones; this is a conference where there are more young people around.

The increased participation, I guess, tells us something about the situation that we are in today. In the previous conferences, we only talked about socialism as a vision, as a perspective… as an alternative that is not yet here although it’s looming on the horizon.

But now, we are holding a Socialism Conference in the backdrop of an ongoing upsurge, the global uprisings that many others are also calling as a global revolution against the worsening and deepening global crises.

In times like these, the opening description by Charles Dickens on the era of the French Revolution in his novel A Tale of Two Cities comes to mind: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” This was like talking about our situation today. Welcome to the 2011, welcome to the 21st century, welcome to the new age of revolution.

We are fortunate that we are now again in the threshold of a new age of revolution.  As we speak, there is the second stage of revolution going on strong in Egypt, in the now famous Tahrir Square where tens of thousands of young people are sacrificing their lives to overthrow military rule under the so-called Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. They are holding an election today, but we are not sure whether it may stop or it may even escalate the uprisings in Egypt.

There is also the upsurge in Qatif, Saudi Arabia where thousands of protesters have come out in the streets chanting “Death to the House of the Saud” (or “Death to the Royal Family in Saudi”)! This has never happened before in the Middle East, and the fact that the revolution is raging in this region means that the old regime is now about to collapse in that part of the world.

Our description of the advance of the uprisings from the Arab Spring to the Occupy movements in the advanced capitalist nations projects the spread of the world revolution – from the periphery of the imperialist powers to its central headquarters, from the claws of the monsters to the “belly of the beasts.” Never before has a massive uprising reached the shores of the United States, and now we have the Occupy Wall Street Movement which has spread like wildfire in many parts of the United States and in 900 cities of the world.

We should also mention that the Occupy movements have been energized by the earlier protests launched by the indignados in Spain which took over the Madrid squares to protest the unfair and unequal political and economic systems that could not guarantee basic rights such as dignified jobs, free education, housing, healthcare and more inclusion and participation in politics and government. Bail out the people, not the banks have also been the cries of the indignados rising up in many parts of Europe, especially in Greece, Italy, and Portugal.

And before all these, our period has been characterized by people’s uprisings that scored electoral victories in that other region, the region of Latin America.  The Caracazo revolt in Venezuela has led to the arrest of then Army Captain Hugo Chavez and later on, his release and his eventual election to the presidency of that country. Hugo Chavez has waged what he called the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela under the helm of his presidency; he has also called the direction of this revolution as the struggle to put in place Socialism in the 21st century.

The uprising in La Paz and other cities in Bolivia also led to the election of socialist leader Evo Morales as the president of that country.  With Venezuela and Bolivia leading the revolution, the change has swept other parts of Latin America. It now included the election of Rafael Correa as president of Ecuador; Correa launched the Citizen’s Revolution which refused to pay the erroneous debt to foreign creditors and cut off links from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These actions have revived Ecuador’s economy and transformed Ecuador into a sovereign, dignified nation.

Now, you may ask, if this is a world revolution, why is this not happening in Asia?  There are many reasons for this, but not one of it refers to the insulation of Asia, and of the Philippines, from the global crises of capitalism.

We too are experiencing the economic crisis brought about by corporate greed, by the greed of the 1% of our population lording it over the 99% of the people of our land.

For those who want to know if the revolution will erupt in the Philippines, what we need to think about is whether we shall have the time to heal the wounds and mend the rifts and divisions in society before another people’s power uprising breaks up.

I am not referring to the rifts between the pro-Gloria Arroyo factions and the pro-Noynoy Aquino factions of the elite. This division will not produce any revolution. Probably there will be a coup d’etat, here and there, but this elite division and in-fighting will not be able to rally around tens of thousands or millions of people to street actions. Ten days have passed since the order of arrest against ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and yet, it seems like it’s been business as usual once again in the Philippines.

But I am referring to the impact of the increasing destitution of the Filipino people as evidenced by the rise in number of those who said they considered themselves poorer than before. They have reached some 52% of the total family households in the Philippines; this is around 10 million people overall.

I am also referring to the growing number of people who are losing faith in the government and in the system as a whole because they have not seen any substantial reforms in society. While we may have more than 6,000 tenants and farmers of Hacienda Luisita who are rejoicing over the Supreme Court’s decision to immediately redistribute around 5,000 hectares of the hacienda to them – we have 2,600 workers laid off in Philippine Airlines who are still fighting for their rights to be reinstituted. Justice denied to the Philippine Airlines workers (through their union Palea) would mean justice denied to millions of Filipino workers who also suffer the brunt of labor contractualization that Lucio Tan wants to fully implement in Philippine Airlines. And how about the 20 million small coconut farmers who are denied the right to have a portion of their own coco levy funds which have been unjustly awarded by the Supreme Court to Marcos’ crony Danding Cojuangco?

This combination of intense poverty and the court’s injustice is already an explosive mix. But what is more terrifying is not that the people would rise up against poverty and injustice – for this would be a good thing – but that sections of the elite desperately trying to protect their loots and privileges may try to adopt strong-arm tactics, or they may revert to undemocratic and even fascistic form of rule to stop the explosion of people’s resistance. For how would we explain for instance the replacement of elected ministers of government in Italy and Greece by unelected former technocrats, bankers and investment executives backed up by big banks and corporations in these countries?  In the Philippines, the resort to dictatorship has happened before and might happen again.

There is a solution, there is an alternative, however, to all of these. And this conference is also about a search for solution and alternative to these crises and madness. This conference will lay down the issues before us, and also lay down the remaining options that we as concerned citizens, social activists, people of the world, and inhabitants of the planet have to choose from in order to build a just, democratic, prosperous, gender-sensitive, and sustainable society.

Finally, as we welcome everyone to this Conference, I also would like to particularly welcome my comrades from PLM (Partido Lakas ng Masa) who have sent representatives to this Conference which they consider a prelude to the 2nd Congress of PLM which will also be held in this venue tomorrow. For the PLM, today’s conference is considered as an educational one that contributes to the Congress’ discussions tomorrow.  Tomorrow’s discussion will highlight the PLM’s Plataporma ng Masa which will be reviewed and amended by the Congress in order to come out with an immediate alternative to the present economic and political crises.

While socialism is the goal and vision of the PLM and all its activists, the Plataporma ng Masa is an attempt to put forward the immediate alternative to the neoliberal system that characterizes today’s capitalist rule.  Suffice it to say at this stage that this alternative to neoliberal system is the formation of a welfare state system with people’s control and participation. Such urgent alternative carries with it the hallmarks of the previous welfare state system that include expansion of social welfare benefits, job security and unemployment assistance, mass housing, universal health care, free education, and expansion of public services in electricity, water, transportation and other basic necessities of the people.

This is the welfare state system that is now being destroyed in advanced capitalist countries to make way for the neoliberal capitalist paradigm. But we are not only calling for the institution or reinstitution of the welfare state system, we are calling for the strengthening and deepening of the welfare state system by the institution of direct democracy through people’s control and participation in the state system.

We just want to say that we are joining the clamor of the Arab Spring revolutionary fighters, the Spanish indignados, the Greek and other European protesters, the Latin American Bolivarianos, the Occupiers in the United States and other capitalist countries, and the 99% of the population of the world in making another world possible. If it takes a generation to change the world, we say start now, bring down the neoliberal capitalist regime, rebuild the welfare state system with people’s control and participation, and onwards to the building of the new socialism of the 21st century!

Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat!

Sonny Melencio

Chair, PLM (Partido Lakas ng Masa)

November 28, 2011

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 December 2011 13:27
 

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