YOUTH ON THE MARCH


(Published in the Philippines Free Press, November 2, 1968)

A NATION that does not continuously renew itself through
progressive-minded and militant youth cannot possibly advance. A
world of timid and apathetic youth will merely feed all the
regimes of injustice and exploitation with a constant flow of
manpower for exploited labor and cannon fodder for unjust wars.
Even a revolutionary society, say, a socialist one, would
stagnate and be thereafter corrupted if the process of renewal
and of continuous revolution is neglected or deliberately held
back.

It is in the very nature of the world and of history that while
there are youth who question and fight the outdated order,
striving to build a new system or reach a new stage of
development in which they stand to gain.

The problem of succession through the youth is common to both
reactionaries and revolutionaries. The reactionaries strive to
preserve an educational and cultural system that molds the
thinking and behavior patterns of the youth in a conservative
way. The true revolutionaries work to make all parts of their
superstructure correspond to the mode of existence of their
society. Just as reactionaries zealously try to preserve a
heritage of exploitation, the true revolutionaries look after
their successors in the march towards greater social progress.

The youth are divisible into two conflicting sides of history,
each side trying to influence the apathetics in the middle
sections of the political spectrum. It is necessary to recognize
that the youth, more than their elders, are more receptive to
what is new and progressive.

This receptiveness is sharply seen in crises, when the old ruling
classes and the old authorities no longer can rule the old way
and resist change. As the crisis ripens, a youthful movement and
leadership inevitably emerges with the new ideology, the new
political program and the new course of action. No matter what
social class ascends to replace the old ruling class, it relies
on the ever expanding adherence of the youth to what is new and
progressive. Even the youth in self-satisfied centers of learning
in the Establishment raise the banner of change.

We are living today in a world of crises, marked by rapid
emergence of the new and rabid resistance of the old. Never has
the world been so shaken as now. The forces of socialism and
national liberation are striking down the ramparts of imperialism
and local reactionary power with global sweep. We are in the
midst of radical choice.

We are in a world where old verities and old structures are the
target of angry yet positive, critical but constructive, mass
actions of the youth and the people.

“To rebel is justified!” is the battle cry of the youth of China.
There the youth came to be known the world over as the Red
Guards. Millions mobilized all over China and, because of our
proximity to China, we could almost hear the sound of their
marches. Supported by the masses, they brought down the bourgeois
academic authorities (reactionary teachers and administrators)
and demanded a change in the educational system. Again, together
with the masses, the Red Guards gathered enough strength to
topple down degenerate government and party officials taking the
capitalist road.

Where but in their own schools did the Red Guards start their
great proletarian cultural revolution? They saw their schools
reflecting society incorrectly. They acted to rectify the
irresponsiveness of schools and school authorities to the needs
and demands of workers and peasants. At the University of Peking,
the whole earth-shaking phenomenon called the great proletarian
cultural revolution started with big posters denouncing the
highly-placed miscreants.

From the confines of academic walls, the youth took to the
streets to muster support from the masses of the people. Soon,
because of the relationship between school and society, the
masses saw the point of the ReD Guards. The Chinese youth became,
in the May 4th Movement, a vanguard force of enlightenment,
arousing not only their own new generation but the broad masses
of the people. They could have been easily pushed back by the
reactionaries but for the overwhelming support of the masses who
themselves fully participated in the most extensive democracy and
mass learning ever witnessed by mankind.

What the Red Guards did in China also transpired in France,
United States, West Germany, Italy, Brazil, Uruguay, and Mexico.
The youth form a progressive force and subsequently strive to
merge with the masses on the basis of basic popular demands
against U.S. imperialism and the various stripes of local
reactionaries.

The seizure of entire universities as Columbia University, the
Sorbonne and many others in Latin America and Western Europe is
similar to the seizure of Chinese universities by the Chinese
youth.

In France, the youth seized the university and then took the
streets in the Latin Quarter. All this was followed by something
more extensive and more profound as the general strike of French
workers and farmers which still haunts De Gaulle’s regime. A few
tens of thousands of youth started what subsequently embraced
more than ten millions workers and farmers, frightening the
reactionaries and compelling them to unleash the violence of the
state. The French youth became truly strong politically with the
support given them by the masses of workers and farmers.

Let us compare the progressive actions of militant youth with
those much ballyhooed in the Western press as exemplary models of
youth rebellion.

In Eastern Europe, particularly in Czechoslovakia and Poland, the
ultra-revisionist youth press for rapid liberalization, which
means a faster return of capitalism and collaborative relation
with the United States and West Germany.

In Asia, we are witness to youth movements which helped overthrow
certain regimes, Syngman Rhee’s in South Korea and Sukarno’s in
Indonesia. These youth actions differ radically from what
transpired in China. In the former, the existing corrupt state
was retained and the old problems of exploitation and
bureaucratic corruption aggravated. The change was not actually
made by the youth, together with the masses, but by the
reactionary army which always tries to preserve the old state. In
Korea, General Park Chung Hee merely took advantage of youth
unrest against Syngman Rhee and seized power by coup d’ etat over
the heads of the masses. In Indonesia, the same thing happened
with Generals Nasution and Suharto replacing Sukarno. The
previous character of the state did not change.

Summarizing all these phenomena, we can state that the youth can
be revolutionary only if supported by the masses in effecting a
basic transformation of the state. Separated from the struggle of
the masses, the youth only lead themselves into spasms of
anarchy, a situation easily taken advantage of by reactionary
army officers and other kinds of palace revolutionists.

It is worthwhile to differentiate revolutionary youth from
counter-revolutionary youth. If there were youth attracted to the
swastika of Hitler’s Jungen, there were also youth who joined
partisan movements all over Europe, who fought fascism and
triumphed in the end over the German war machine. If there are
youth enlisted in the armed forces of the United States on
missions of genocide in Vietnam, there are more American youth in
the anti-imperialist, anti-war and anti-draft movement. There are
also the rebellious black youth in the ghettoes. The young
hoodlums backstopped by the reactionary armies of Indonesia,
South Korea and other client states of the U.S. who go into
rampages against progressives and democrats of their own
countries, are counterpointed by the revolutionary youth who join
the masses fighting against established system of exploitation
and suppression.

We see the revolutionary courage and heroism of Vietnamese youth
fighting American aggression in their country. The People’s
Liberation Armed Forces of South Vietnam are youthful faces.

The Filipino youth have had their own share of revolutionary
struggles – against the Spanish colonialists, against the
American imperialists, against the Japanese fascists. A
revolutionary civil war has once occurred within the living
memory of many of today’s youth; constantly threatening
imperialists and landlords, it pins its hopes on the youth.

Youth is the best fighting age. This is not meant to exclude
progressive adults from the ranks of revolutionaries: after all,
no matter how old they may be, they are still young in spirit
because of revolutionary experience and continuing revolutionary
commitment.

Both old and young are subsumed by classes, drawn into the
contention of classes and nations, with the young grasping
earliest the new and progressive.

It is the youth in the tradition of the Philippine revolution, of
Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto and Gregorio del Pilar we are
most concerned with. They shed their blood on the battle field
against foreign tyrants and their local minions. With the
Philippines increasingly in crisis, we expect more youth to take
the uncompromising road of revolt against social injustices.
After a long lull in the countryside and in the cities, we can
observe the stirrings of a resurgent national democratic movement
in the womb of a mis-shapen semi-colonial and semi-feudal
society. The youth of the city, especially students and young
workers, are rising in dissent. Young peasants are goading their
elders; the youth are astir in Cotabato, Negros, Quezon,
Pampanga, in many places. The youth are the vanguard of national
reawakening.

It is in this respect that Kabataang Makabayan, the national
democratic youth organization with the most profoundly articulate
program and the most widespread membership in the Philippines
today, has called itself the Second Propaganda Movement, apart
from the connotation and the denotation that it is striving to
solve old problems. It is a movement that prepares public opinion
for the advance and triumph of working people under the radiant
banner of proletarian leadership. It seeks to arouse and mobilize
the masses towards the achievement of a national democracy that
is new and progressive within the context of the most radical
advances made by mankind and the working class. It seeks to
project the ideological and political principles that can provide
scientific direction to social revolution.

With Kabataang Makabayan in the vanguard, the Filipino youth are
striving for progress and social justice. They have demonstrated
a militance comparable to the youth of other lands and those in
previous stages of our national history. They have manifested a
profound understanding of basic problems and of the day’s issues.

With Kabataang Makabayan in the vanguard, there have been
demonstrations of such depth and magnitude never before
witnessed, protesting iniquities in our social and political
system. There have been demonstrations spearheaded by KM on the
murder of Filipinos in U.S. military bases, the Parity Amendment
and the Laurel-Langley Agreement, the Vietnam war, the Retail
Trade Nationalization Law and many others.

The historic actions of October 23rd and 24th of 1966 are still
fresh in the minds of the youth; these exposed the Manila Summit
and caught the U.S. President and a big complement of Asian
puppets together. There have been workers’, students’ and
teachers’ strikes participated in by Kabataang Makabayan. All the
time the character of the bourgeois state is displayed before the
unarmed protestants.

In schools all over the country, especially in the University of
the Philippines, there is a growing ferment manifested often by
student action. In the working class movement, the young workers
are reassuming leadership.  In the countryside, the youth are
more articulate and critical of the old problem of feudalism than
the officials of the barrio council and community development
projects of the reactionaries.

Alone, demonstrations, speeches and leaflets cannot bring about
the fundamental change of basic governmental policies but they
certainly arouse the masses and even goad certain sections of the
urban petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie to question
the basic tenets of the neo-colonial regime. They also discourage
blatant abuses by the reactionaries.

Whatever its detractors say, the Kabataang Makabayan on the basis
of present objective conditions has become a milestone in the
long march of national democratic revolution. Is there any
Philippine youth organization now, comparable in strength and
achievement in the national democratic movement? The KM has made
certain achievements that can no longer be disregarded by
history. Prof. Teodoro A. Agoncillo has taken note of these in
his History of the Filipino People. Its merits lie not only in
its acts of democratic protest, in militating the people, but
also in its more quiet acts of spreading the tenets of national
democracy in urban and rural areas.

A whole range of challenges to the Filipino youth are contained
in the national democratic program of action of the Kabataang
Makabayan. This program defines the conditions and tasks of the
Filipino youth. As we protest, we affirm the direction we are
taking.

In the political field, we want to arouse and mobilize the
Filipino youth as a powerful coordinate of the masses led by the
working class in the great movement to realize the national
democratic revolution. We are committed to assisting the
development of a powerful mass movement and a working class
leadership that can transform the character of the present state
and rid ourselves of the malignant rule of the comprador
bourgeoisie, the landlords and the corrupt government officials.

In the economic field, we seek national industrialization
independent of the foreign monopolies on the basis of an agrarian
revolution that liberates the peasants from feudal and semi-
feudal oppression. We envision a just and prosperous society that
is made possible only by the most intense and most effective
political struggles of workers and peasants. We do not seek
crumbs from the well-laden table of the almighty few but we seek
general economic conditions that will not foster class
exploitation.

In the cultural field, we demand the national democratic re-
orientation of our educational system, mass media and other parts
of the social superstructure. We reject the colonial-feudal and
bourgeois-imperialist culture that restrain the advance of the
exploited masses and all other progressive sectors of the
population. At a time when the youth are corrupted by a backward
and decadent culture, we urge the rising Filipino youth, a fresh
force,to overthrow such regressive and anti-popular culture and
make possible a new and progressive one responsive to the
aspirations of the nation and the masses.

In the field of social welfare and mass work, we seek the
improvement of the working and living conditions of the masses of
workers, peasants, fishermen and all semi-proletariat. The youth
must help them develop the political strength that can guarantee
whatever economic gains have been made. They must take the mass
line, that is, rouse them on the basis of their own concrete
demands and rely on their massive efforts to contend with the
exploiters. They must help heighten the political consciousness
of the masses in the course of participating in their economic
struggle.

In the field of national security, we demand the abolition of the
country’s dependence on foreign military bases and dictation. We
base our concept of national security on the sovereign democratic
powers of the masses. If the masses can succeed in freeing
themselves from U.S. imperialist control and from their local
exploiters, it will be impossible for another foreign power to
subject them to another successful aggression. The mythical
possibility of another foreign aggression is no justification for
the reality of a perpetuated aggression against the nation and
the masses by U.S. imperialism and local exploiting classes. Our
well-entrenched enemy keeps saying our friends are our enemies in
order to present himself as our friend.

In the field of foreign policy, we seek an independent diplomacy
and trade, a broadening of the present state of our foreign
relations and a rejection of the stultifying “special relations”
with the U.S. government, U.S. imperialism has so much control
over our national life that the simpletons and deliberate liars
in our midst keep spreading that we rally merely on foreign
policy issues when the fact is that there are perfectly domestic
issues even as a foreign power is the target of our opposition.
That is because such a foreign power is well-entrenched in our
politics, economy, culture and security system; this is all-round
domination by the imperialists on the basis of the semi-feudal
debility of the country.

The tasks of the national-democratic movement, the entire
Filipino youth, and the Kabataang Makabayan are clear. In
schools, farms, factories and communities, new cells of change
are multiplying before the sweep of the Second Propaganda
Movement.

The unfulfilled aspirations of the nation and the masses throb in
the hearts and minds of the young. This generation strives to
recoup the failures of the past and girds for the triumphs of the
future. As the progressive youth movement and the Kabataang
Makabayan struggle for fundamental changes, they will be defamed
by the overt and covert enemies of national democracy but they
will triumph in the end.

Only through militant struggle can the best in youth shall
emerge. Only through the struggle can become more evident the
constant replenishment of the fighting forces by the ceaseless
flow of new blood.


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