THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT AND THE POLITICAL ACTIVIST


(Speech delivered before the Third Annual Conference of the
National Students’ League, at Iloilo City Colleges, Iloilo City
on December 26, 1966.)

NATIONAL DEMOCRACY is a political cause. It is a vigorous
movement of human and material forces challenging the old
Establishment. It is born of the historical struggle of our
people against Spanish colonialism and U.S. imperialism. One can
become a patriot only by being imbued with the spirit of national
democracy and by acting according to the interests of the driving
forces behind it. Since the forces on our side and those on the
opposite side are larger and more powerful than any individual,
the true patriot is necessarily a partisan-he is a partisan for
national freedom and democracy.

National democracy is the set of political ideas gained from
concrete historical experience and from the profound analysis of
the real problems that an entire people, such as the Filipino
people, suffers at this historical stage. The term national
democracy sums up the people’s view of their interests and
aspirations, particularly at this stage of our history when as a
people we suffer from the dictates of U.S. imperialism and the
persistence of feudalism.

The true patriot is a militant. His militance goes by the
interests of his entire people. Within the national territory and
among his own people, he can never be validly described as an
extremist so long as he is fighting the local tyranny of the
compradors, landlords and corrupt bureaucrats. He who accuses the
militant advocate of national democracy as an “extremist” is an
illogical fool who wishes to obscure the real extremists, the
callous exploiters of the broad masses of the people. He who
makes the accusation under the guise of moderation, that the
patriot of today is an extremist, is a traitor and partisan, at
the least of foolish compromiser on the side of those who have
extremely oppressed and exploited the people.

What is bound to prevail in the long-run is the national
democratic movement participated in actively by tens of millions
of Filipinos. As a political activist, I call upon the youth and
the masses of our people to join the national democratic movement
so that we can effectively overcome those who wish to keep us
suffering in silence. So long as we are still short of organized
men and women conscious of the necessity of national democratic
struggle and so long as we run short of the necessary organized
strength to overcome imperialism and feudalism, we the militant
activists of national democracy cannot be accused of extremism,
rudeness, intolerance or any other insult the philistine can
think of to discredit our movement and preserve imperialist power
and the concomitant feudal conditions in this hapless country.
The patriotism and reasonableness of our movement can be measured
only by our ability to assert our national sovereign will and
democratic rights. So long as U.S. imperialist power and its
domestic allies, the compradors, landlords and corrupt
bureaucrats can maintain their present predominance, our present
efforts and achievements is still modest-we must intensify the
ideological, political and organizational work of our crusade so
that we can draw the strong forces of national democracy from the
vast reserves of our oppressed people and march forward to
destroy the ramparts of imperialist and feudal power in our
country.

The Development of National Democracy

The struggle for national democracy is progressive and creative
because it is critical of and antagonistic to the exploitative
over-extension of the ultra-national power of the United States
and the vicious puppetry of the local reactionaries.

The national democratic movement arouses the people to mobilize
them in order not only to remove the root causes of national
exploitation but also to develop the mass strength to engage in
nation-building. National democracy must be understood as a
historical phenomenon, the commitment and practice of an entire
people, which attacks the foreign and feudal exploiter but which
necessarily builds up the forces of national progress.

The Filipino nation as a political entity is a recent historical
development. It was born out of struggle. It rapidly took form
only during the last decade of the 19th century when the
Propaganda Movement agitated for reforms and for national
sentiments and when, after this was repressed, the Katipunan was
organized in secrecy and ultimately the Cry of Pugad Lawin had to
be made as a resolute revolutionary step calling for separation
from colonial Spain.

The Philippine revolution became the ultimate process by which
the Filipino nation took shape. It developed as a climax of all
the sporadic struggles made by our people in scattered places and
at separated times through the more than 350 years that Spanish
colonial power succeeded in dividing and ruling our people while
at the same time developing an administrative system and a system
of feudal mentality for the essential purpose of colonial
exploitation.

Spanish colonialism could easily dominate us because of the lack
of national consciousness according to Dr. Jose Rizal. First,
there was the selfishness of the old native ruling class, the
rajahs and datus, and their compromising attitude towards the
foreign rulers. From the old ruling native elite evolved the
principalia in every pueblo. Such a body of property owners
shared with the white colonial elite some limited amount of class
freedom. Second, the people themselves had yet to raise their
collective consciousness from the level and pattern of thinking
developed in the barangay. Colonialism took advantage of this
given state of mind and geared it towards acceptance of feudal
exploitation as a religious virtue. Third, all the indios,
including the old indigenous nobility were brutally suppressed by
the sword of the conquistadores, and by the suasive approach of
the ostensibly humble and kind missionaries.

In due time, as a result of the consistent system of
exploitation, the sporadic armed struggles against armed
oppression grew in scope easily. Ultimately, the revolutionary
imagination of an entire people was inflamed against a common
enemy and against the entire system. It was the role of first
national democratic activists to lead and clarify the situation
for the people. They were the ones who led the people to fight-
and the people easily joined the Philippine revolution because of
its patriotic and democratic content.

When U.S. imperialism came to snatch away our freedom at the time
that Filipino revolutionary forces were already closing in on
Manila for the final blow, our new-born nation found itself in
greater stress, in conflict with another nation whose military-
industrial capacity made it an enemy superior to the decrepit
Spanish colonial regime, as had been proven in Latin America.

Using superior military means and using liberal language to
deceive the ilustrado who had gained the class leadership of the
revolution, the United States subdued the Philippine
revolutionary government and army, and, in pursuance of its
imperialists interests couched in such bombast as “manifest
destiny” and “benevolent assimilation” murdered more than 250,000
Filipinos, using $600 million and 126,468 U.S. troops in a war
waged in he fashion of the present Vietnam war.

There has as yet been no effective national democratic redemption
of the Filipino blood that the American aggressors made to flow.
But history in its zigzag and spiralling fashion always brings
justice to the oppressed. The Spaniards were able to quell every
localized resistance through a period of more than three
centuries. But when the national revolution of 1896 developed,
combining the correct forces, demands and ideas, Spanish
colonialism was doomed. The masses rallied to the Philippine
revolution because of the common need to free themselves from the
feudal oppression and forced labor imposed by the colonialists.

The so-called political stability of the Philippines is largely
an illusion today. There is a top-level stability but there is
unrest among the masses. This is because the United States is
employing more effective techniques and tools to effect control
of our country than Spanish colonialism, which had lower
technology and which represented a lower form of political
development. But if imperialism has better technology (including
the public school system and the mass media and other tools of
the present day) it does not necessarily mean that the ruling
class can perpetuate its power for a long period of time. The
more effective and rapid technology actually accelerates and
sharpens exploitation. It can very well be the same means by
which U.S. imperialism could be weakened.

The national democratic movement has really never been totally
quelled by U.S. imperialism. Any honest student of history will
see that since the imposition of imperialist power in the
Philippines there has been no decade in which the imperialist
regime did not face serious opposition from this movement. What
U.S. imperialism does in reaction is to resort to the suppression
of democratic liberties, even as it deceptively calls itself the
defender or even the source of freedom and democracy.

Recall the continued resistance of Macario Sakay which lasted up
to the end of the first decade of this century. Recall the armed
struggle of the masses in the south which lasted up to 1916.
Recall the continued direct and brutal suppression of democratic
liberties, particularly the expression of patriotism that
followed the outright military conquest of the Filipino people in
the Filipino-American War of 1899. Even after the pacification of
the towns and cities, U.S. imperialism in this area swiftly
suppressed any sign of the Philippine Revolution. For a full
decade, it was considered subversive and seditious to have and to
show in public the Filipino flag. The first Filipino labor
federation, Union Obrera Democratica, led by Isabelo de los
Reyes, was crushed by the imperialist regime because of its
militant nationalism and its ideological line that only the
workers can emancipate themselves. Isabelo de los Reyes was
imprisoned and so was his successor, Dr. Dominador Gomez; the
democratic rights were grossly violated. Remember the suppression
of Filipino press freedom in the suppression of El Renacimiento
and other publications and the onslaught of the Hearst type of
American newspapers in the Philippines. In cultural
presentations, particularly in the drama, American censors were
quicker, like the sharp-eyed eagles, to see the seditious. They
were, therefore, more smart and alert then the Spanish censors or
the board of judges who gave the gold medal to Francisco Balagtas
for writing Florante at Laura, which was actually a critical
presentation of Spanish tyranny over the Filipino people in the
form of poetic allegory.

It was only after the forces of the Philippine revolution were
completely militarily suppressed towards the end of the first
decade that Filipino renegades such as the weak-hearted and weak-
minded ilustrados grouping themselves into the Federalista Party,
that the U.S. imperialists succeeded in putting up a stable top-
level Filipino-American collaboration.

Throughout the subsequent period of the Jones Law, U.S.
imperialists studiedly cultivated the bourgeois type of Filipino
politician who was brainwashed into thinking that he was being
taught for “self-government” while forgetting that the Filipino
people in the course of the Philippine revolution, a moment of
national self-assertion, had already proven to themselves that
they were capable of self-government and that our national heroes
had learned and propagated the principles of national democracy.

Even as the bourgeois type of Filipino politician had already
been developed by the U.S. imperialists during the twenties, the
popular demand for independence continued to surge. The peasant
masses in many areas were again agitated by their poverty and
many of them realized fully that they had been cheated of the
democratic content of the revolution upon its betrayal by a few
pro-U.S. collaborators. But the Filipino leaders who had been
placed in their high government positions and who were being
backstopped by a bureaucracy already acculturized to a neo-
colonial mentality disarmed the people to a great extent by
taking up the popular cry of “immediate, complete and full
independence” but carefully and compromisingly accepting the
imperialist-imposed proposition of begging for independence in
Washington instead of asserting and fighting for it. At any rate,
the peasant and labor unrest in the twenties developed into the
turbulence and violence of the thirties with the brutal
suppression of militant peasant and labor organizations,
including the Communist Party of the Philippines and the
desperate anarchistic localized revolts of the Sakdalistas.

U.S. imperialism developed a state machinery which could
withstand and outlast a piece of agreement like the Tydings-
McDuffie Act. While this act formally scheduled the “granting” of
independence to the Philippines, the U.S. government was careful
in maintaining its influence and control over the local
reactionary armed forces and in requiring that it should maintain
naval stations and military bases even after the formal grant of
independence.

After the shameful evacuation of U.S. forces and the leaders of
the Commonwealth government from the Philippines, the shameless
defeat of U.S. forces in Bataan and the surrender of Wainright at
Corregidor, the Japanese imperialists took their cue from the
U.S. imperialists and “granted” independence on October 14, 1943
ahead of the promised independence in the Tydings-McDuffie Act.
While the U.S. imperialist government ensconced their own
Philippine government leaders in Washington, the Japanese
imperialist set up their own set of puppet leaders in Manila. One
could see that the Japanese and U.S. imperialists have similar
tactics in meeting the popular demand for independence.

When McArthur succeeded in hopping back to the Philippines with
his own bag of Filipino leaders, the Japanese imperialist brought
back their own to Tokyo. Do you see the similarity in tactics?

Although it was the Filipino guerrilla fighters themselves who
broke the backbone of the Japanese occupation, U.S. imperialism
returned in the guise of the liberator and was clever enough to
propagandize and made many Filipinos believe that were it not for
MacArthur the entire Philippines would have all been gone. U.S.
propaganda deliberately attempted to make the people forget that
throughout the Japanese occupation they learned to fight alone
and be self-reliant without the U.S. imperialists. The fact that
the U.S. forces in their advance deliberately bombed Filipino
homes and property, in the same manner that the Japanese
committed pillage in their retreat, was forgotten.

The systematic destruction of Philippine property by the U.S. air
force was obviously a part of the imperialist plan to make the
Philippines weak and subject to blackmail-such as the withholding
of war damage payments if the Bell Trade Agreement would not be
approved.

U.S. Military Power in the Philippines

But even before the question of the Bell Trade Act and Parity
Amendments was raised, the U.S. government was clever to exempt
from the cession of territory to Philippine government its
military bases and have its property rights in the Philippines
retained under the U.S.-R.P. Treaty of General Relations.

The return of U.S. military forces and the re-establishment of
military bases meant the return and the re-establishment of U.S.
military power in the Philippines. The Military Bases Agreement
of 1947 would later extend the scope of the mere exemption of
U.S. military bases in the cession of territory. The agreement
grants not only the extra-territorial rights to U.S. military
forces at more than 20 strategic points in the Philippines, but
more dangerously, extraterritorial rights, the purported right of
U.S. troops to go to any point in the country without coming
under Philippine jurisdiction so long as they are on military
duty. This legal presumption exacted by the U.S. on us actually
means total U.S. occupation of the Philippines even today.
Moreover, U.S. military bases in reality are militarily superior
to our armed forces. But through the Military Assistance Pact,
the Pentagon has actually developed a built-in U.S. control of
the Philippine armed forces by controlling its staff planning,
intelligence, higher personnel training and logistics under the
guise of “advice”.

The Mutual Defense Pact extends further the imperialist
prerogatives in the Military Bases Agreement and Military
Assistance Pact by formal agreement to U.S. military intervention
in the Philippines and at any time under the guise of mutual
defense. This right of foreign intervention in Philippine affairs
is further extended to other governments under the Manila Pact.

But what is the main purpose of the U.S. in supposedly
“protecting” the Philippines or making the Philippines,
therefore, a protectorate? The main purpose is economic. Why
should U.S. imperialism make heavy military expenditures and
investments, it is easily seen that the military shield is used
to protect investments of U.S. monopolists against the
protectorates’ own people who, if they should raise their
national democratic demands, can be described as “internal
aggressors”, “subversives” or “agent of another foreign power”,
and therefore subject to punitive measures.

As it pursues its imperialist objectives of economic
exploitation, the United States has always encountered strong
opposition from the Filipino people. When it rammed through the
Bell Trade Act and the Parity Amendment, it had to subvert and
destroy democratic processes and cause the malicious expulsion
from Congress of duly-elected representatives of the people
belonging to the Democratic Alliance, who opposed these
imperialist impositions. In order to advance their economic
interests, the imperialists and their local agents deliberately
provoked and started civil strife, and an anti-feudal and anti-
imperialist rebellion which has lasted for so long and whose
magnitude certainly makes it a shattering preparation for a
greater upheaval. It has become necessary on all occasions to
cite the “Huk problem” as the source of instability for landlord
and imperialist power.

The imposition of the Parity Amendment and the Bell Trade Act,
now in its revised version as the Laurel-Langley Agreement, has
meant the re-established internal control of our economy and the
perpetuation of a colonial form of economy which provides raw
materials to the United States and other capitalist countries and
which serves as the dumping ground of finished products from
abroad.

This kind of economy means the exploitation of cheap labor in our
country, perpetuation of land monopolization by the few and the
accumulation of political power in the hands of the landlords and
compradors who are the reliable agents of U.S. imperialism in the
export-import business. This requires mainly the deepening
exploitation of our peasantry and workers – our entire nation in
fact.

Since the continuity of the exploitation of the Filipino masses
depends upon the forces of U.S. imperialism, because of its
present military power in the Philippines, and because of its
leading role in the exploitation of the masses, the main blow of
the national democratic revolution should be thrown in its
direction. As evident from the reality and the pronouncements of
the local reactionaries, U.S. military power is their strongest
weapon for the protection of their class interests.

The Meaning of National Democracy

National Democracy is necessary in the struggle of our people for
social justice, whereby the freedom of the entire nation is first
secured so that the nation-state that has been secured would
allow within its framework the masses of the Filipino people to
enjoy the democratic rights to achieve their social emancipation.

The constructive development of a national democracy necessarily
entails the elimination of imperialist and feudal control over
our people. U.S. imperialism has reduced our nation to a
protectorate. We need to break this foreign domination for so
long as U.S. imperialism decides our basic economic, political,
cultural and security policies, the masses of our people,
particularly the peasantry, will remain reduced to their agrarian
poverty – the result of land monopolization in the hands of the
few.

If we are geared to fighting for national democracy, what are our
main tasks in the simplest terms? One, to assert our national
sovereignty against imperialist power in all fields, and two, to
effect basic agrarian reform as the main content of our
democratic struggle at the present stage.

A close study of our present semi-colonial and semi-feudal
conditions will show that it is the masses of the people, the
workers and peasants, who are suffering most.

Knowledge of the Objective Forces

It is easy to say that for the national democratic movement to
succeed there should be the support of the people. But, there is
the need to clarify what we meant by the term people. The term
people has been much abused through populist sloganeering
employed seasonally and professionally by bourgeois politicians
and bourgeois publicists in the same manner that the term
democracy is abused to make rhetoric instead of the clarification
of the forces at work in our society. Oftentimes, the term people
is deliberately used to include certain classes in our society
which mercilessly exploit the masses of our people.

Let us, therefore, clarify what are the popular forces of
national democracy.

We have the workers and peasants in our society comprising more
than 90 per cent of our people.

By workers, we mean the Filipino working people who receive wages
to make their living. They include the industrial and farm
workers. Their social character is determined by whatever extent
the capitalist mode of production has affected Philippine
society.

By peasants, we mean those who work on land as tenants and those
who till their own land. They can be divided into three strata:
the poor peasants who have no land or too little land so that
they have to work as tenants on the land of others, usually the
landlords, pay land rent ranging from 50 to 80 per cent of their
crops and are in a state of perennial indebtedness; the middle
peasants or self-sufficient farmers who as a rule till their own
land producing enough or a little more than enough for their
household needs; and the rich peasants who have more than enough
land for their household needs, to enable them to market their
extra-produce, who themselves work their land but who hire extra
hands or have a few tenants and who may have extra farm animals
and implements to rent out to other peasants. The majority are
the poor peasants who are the most exploited and who are the
closest ally of the workers from within the ranks of the
peasantry. The entire peasantry comprises at least 70 per cent of
the people.

The workers and the peasants by virtue of the fact that they
compose the vast majority of our people and, more essentially, by
virtue of the fact that they suffer most from the status quo
provide the strongest and widest bases for a militant national
democratic movement. National democracy cannot be asserted
effectively without the mass mobilization of the workers and
peasants and without the heightening of their level of anti-
imperialist and anti-feudal consciousness. The working class,
being the historically advanced class, is the leading force and
the peasantry is the main force of the national democratic
movement against imperialism and feudalism.

However, Filipino businessmen even if they are only a few – could
also be an important force in the national democratic movement so
long as they fight for national industrialization and
nationalization of the present economy. The nationalist
businessmen and their workers could actually welcome each other
in a movement which opposes the impositions of foreign monopolies
because these foreign monopolies depress local industries, cut
employment opportunities, misdirect financing, remit super-profit
and cause the rise of the cost of living as well as the cost of
local production. In the case of peasants, it should be normal
for nationalist businessmen to agree with them on a basic land
reform that eventually raises the purchasing power of the
benefitted peasants; this would mean the expansion of the local
market for locally produced commodities.

If businessmen could join the national democratic movement, even
if their interests are selfish, there should certainly be more
willingness on the part of the intelligentsia to participate in
the national democratic movement.

There is the common notion that as businessmen are selfish, the
intellectuals are relatively selfless because they are chiefly
interested in the search for truth and its realization. But,
indeed, to be honest about the intelligentsia, we say that they
are also susceptible to selfish considerations like the
businessmen. In this present situation, the intellectual
inclination of the general run of students, professionals and
intellectuals are conditioned by their varied class origins and
the kind of schooling and press put up and tolerated by the
ruling class. Because of lesser material interests, though the
intelligentsia as a social group is more ready to participate in
the national democratic movement than the businessmen who worry
about their credit and market tie-ups with a pro-imperialist
government and partially or indirectly with American financiers
one way or the other.

The intelligentsia, combined with self-reliant small property
owners, comprise the petty bourgeoisie. The petty bourgeoisie is
the most progressive stratum of the local bourgeoisie.

The workers, peasants, the petty bourgeoisie and patriotic
businessmen can be united in a broad national democratic
movement. But such united movement should always be based on the
basic alliance of the working class and the peasantry for the
obvious reason that they are the most steadfast anti-imperialist
and anti-feudal fighters as could be seen from our history and as
it is made necessary by their most exploited conditions.

A broad unity of national democratic forces, under the leadership
of the working class, is urgently needed against the imperialist
front based domestically on the exploitative collaboration
between the compradors, the landlords and the bureaucrat-
capitalists.

Let us now look into the principal forces opposed to national
democracy. These forces can be divided into four basic
categories.

The chief enemy force consists of the U.S. governmental agencies
and the branches or subsidiaries of U.S. monopolies in the
Philippines. The presence of all these is obvious if one goes to
the port areas, the industrial complex of Makati, Forbes Park,
mines, modern plantations and the military bases.

The second enemy force is composed of Filipino-American and some
notable mestizo businessmen (chiefly of Spanish and Chinese
extraction) who perform the role of local agents and maintainers
of the colonial pattern of trade, between raw materials from the
Philippines and finished products from abroad. They are
collectively called the comprador class. They are financially
dependent on the foreign monopolies. Among the Filipinos they are
the most wealthy and they come next only to the U.S. imperialists
themselves in directing and subsidizing reactionary pro-
imperialist and pro-landlord politics. They comprise the local
big bourgeoisie. They are responsible for making the government a
mere counter for their transactions and for its lack of will in
pursuing a policy of national industrialization.

In fact, government officials who follow the dictates of the U.S.
imperialists and their compradors are themselves performing the
role of compradors. Higher government officials oftentimes make
use of their offices to perform the role of compradors for their
personal gain. In this role they comprise the third enemy force
which may be called the bureaucrat comprador.

The landlords, particularly those producing export crops like
sugar, coconut, abaca and others, comprise the fourth force
antagonistic to the national democratic movement. Like the
compradors, whose function they may be performing concurrently,
they are interested in the perpetuation of the colonial economy,
parity rights and preferential trade. At the present moment, they
are the staunchest defenders of the Parity Amendment and the
Laurel-Langley Agreement.

The old type of landlords, the rice and corn landlords is not as
directly as economic agent of imperialism as the agricultural
exporters previously mentioned. But it is the traditional
political ultra-conservatism of the old type of landlords that
the imperialists are directly manipulating. In a wider objective
sense, the old type of landlords is a part of the scheme of
things by which extremely cheap Filipino labor is made available
to the imperialists in transportation and communication, in
mining camps, in commerce and other areas and to the mechanized
plantation owners because of the depressed condition of the
peasant masses. Landlordism acts or serves as the main prop of
imperialist domination from one end of the archipelago to the
other.

By defining clearly and objectively the forces of national
democracy and its adversary forces, the activist is in a position
to adopt policies, and to conduct activities correctly. He knows
the alignment of his forces and those of the enemy. Furthermore,
he can determine the balance of forces obtaining at a particular
period. In any political struggle, the activist, must know the
balance of forces in order to know how much and what to do in
order to tip the balance further in favor of his movement.

Grasp the Balance of Forces

Let us draw a scale of the present reality from left through the
center to the right. We use the terms left and right in their
standard European sense- that the left wing is change,
progressive and radical; and that the right wing is for the
status quo and, therefore, conservative and reactionary. What is
center or middle wing should not be understood as impartiality or
superiority or always going forward, never moving sideways. It
denotes the dual character and vacillations of members of the
middle social strata who, by their relatively limited material
interests (in comparison to the big bourgeoisie and big
landlords) are historically opportunistic.

In terms of class tendencies, material interests and ideology,
the left wing should be occupied by the working class and the
peasantry. The middle wing embraces three strata of the so-called
middle class and these strata can themselves be described as
left, middle, and right. Within the middle wing, the left middle
wing is occupied by the intelligentsia and self-reliant small
property owners whom we may call petty bourgeoisie; the middle
middle, the nationalist entrepreneurs, whom we may call the
national or middle bourgeoisie; and the right middle, the
merchants who are partially investors in local industry and who
are also partially compradors. The right wing is composed of the
most reactionary forces in our society such as the compradors,
the landlords, and their rabid intellectual and political agents.
The middle forces, however, may be pushed to the left or to the
right according to the political situation decided by the
struggle between the left wing and the right wing.

In explaining the basic balance of political force in the
country, it has become convenient to make use of such terms as
left, middle and right.

It is a matter of strategy for the activist of national democracy
to know the basic forces to be aligned and concentrated against
the rightist forces. It is a matter of tactics for him to put
into concrete application the strategy, for him to know the
concrete conditions and the concrete forms of organizations and
methods of struggle to be used, for him to determine through
analysis the internal divisions within the right wing and middle
wing so that by a knowledge of such weaknesses of other forces,
he can adopt the correct forms of organization and short-run
political lines and thereby consolidate his main forces and
derive supplementary allies directly or indirectly and so that
occasions can arise or be made by which the strength of the main
forces of the left could be supplemented.

In order for the left wing to triumph politically, it is
necessary for it to win over most of the middle forces. The same
rule applies to the right wing. If the left wing wins over the
middle wing, it results into the isolation of the right wing.

To tilt the balance for the purpose of isolating the right wing
composed of the enemies of progress and democracy, it is
necessary therefore for the main and massive forces of the
workers and peasants to unite with the intelligentsia, small
property owners and independent handicrafts men, win over the
nationalist entrepreneurs and at least, neutralize the right
middle forces. The resulting unity is what we call the national
democratic or anti-imperialist and anti-feudal unity.

At present, what is politically the balance of forces in our
country? The right wing, defensive of U.S. imperialist interests
and domestic feudal interests, is under heavy fire from the
middle and left wings uniting on the basis of national democracy.
The questions which have aroused the peasants, workers,
intelligentsia, particularly students and Filipino entrepreneurs
during these sixties are the Parity Amendment, Laurel-Langley
Agreement, the question of land reform, AID, foreign military
bases and military assistance, the Vietnam Bill and the like.
Although there has been a unity of policy in many cases between
the left wing and middle wing, there is much of a need to
organize their internal forces and achieve an inter-class unity.

Without organizational consolidation and expansion, the national
democratic movement cannot effectively challenge the overwhelming
political, economic, cultural and military authority of the
United States within the Philippines. With or without any formal
united front organization, a united front of patriotic classes
can exist even as they fight independently for the same common
objective of achieving national freedom and democracy. With the
increase of organized political strength of the national
democratic movement, the NP or LP or other conservative party is
bound to weaken unless it adjusts to the newly developing
political situation; the adjustments, however, are no permanent
guarantee for the ruling class to perpetuate its political power.
Nevertheless, while we see now a rosy picture of things to come
for the national democratic movement, we are assuming that the
right wing will always respect our civil liberties. While we seem
to face happy prospects, let us always be alert to the
desperation of the right wing and the imperialist and landlord
ringleaders who have never failed, if one were to study our
history closely, to attack the national democratic movement at
critical junctures. In other words, we must be alert to the
threats and acts of fascism from the right. The October 24th
Movement and the Kabataang Makabayan have experienced and are
aware of these.

The balance of forces in this country will be determined
primarily by internal developments. The exploited masses and the
various elements of the middle class are beginning to be
politically conscious of their exploited condition in a
fundamental or radical way. They are more ready now to be
organized and to act than during the last decade which was
attended by the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and the
successful suppression of mass movements, aggravated by the
political errors of those who were supposed to be at the helm of
the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal movement.

Because our economy, politics, culture and security are
controlled by a foreign power, it is to be expected that
international developments can help in the development of
internal national democratic forces. The United States, after
overextending itself to so many parts of the world for the last
seven decades, is now facing the resistance of so many peoples.
Since after World War II, the U.S. has had to contend with
socialist states and a series of irrepressible national
independence movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The
growth of movements for national liberation has been much favored
with the political consolidation, rapid economic growth and the
scientific and technological advances made by socialist
countries. The oppressed peoples have increasingly waged peoples’
war to liberate themselves from foreign domination. They have
also found in the broadening of their international relations,
especially with genuine socialist countries, as effective means
of breaking the monopoly hold of a single foreign power on their
national life.

The Correct Approach

It is important for the activist to comprehend the full range of
left, middle, and right forces in order to be able to always take
a clear and effective policy at every step of the national
democratic struggle. It has been stated that the activist should
foster the national democratic unity of the left wing and the
middle wing in order to isolate the right. The activist must be
aware of some pitfalls he may encounter along the way. These
pitfalls are adventurism and opportunism against which he must
always struggle and be alert to.

Adventurism is the political disease of overestimating one’s own
forces and resorting to actions which take the form of infantile
radicalism. While it is true that the main force of the national
democratic movement is the alliance of the working class and the
peasantry on the left, it is still necessary to consider the
broad political influence that the middle forces have and to
adopt the policies that would bring them to the movement. In this
regard, the activist must know both the minimum and the maximum
demands of all patriotic classes at every stage of the struggle
in order to arouse and mobilize the masses and to achieve
cooperation with the middle wing without losing or compromising
principles. He must always stick correctly to the general line of
national democracy under the leadership of the proletariat.

For an activist to rely too much on cooperation with the middle
forces as the only road to the victory of this movement would
lead him to opportunism. His activities would not advance the
cause of the oppressed masses. His unprincipled tactics or
tactics without the strategy in favor of the left will only
result in his personal aggrandizement as has happened to so many
so-called progressives absorbed by pro-imperialist
administrations in the Philippines.

These opportunists become what we might call “revolutionaries by
limousine”. Their opportunism results from a failure or a lack of
desire to organize and politicize the masses as the main force of
the national democratic movement. Such opportunism is usually the
political disease of unremoulded petty bourgeois elements and
intellectuals who think that they can achieve the victory of the
national democratic movement by virtue of their personal
brilliance and wit alone. They bear the political disease of the
ilustrados who betrayed the Philippine revolution at the
beginning of the century when they collaborated with their
American rulers.

In order to maintain one’s correct bearing one should always
think and act to foster the alliance of the working class and the
peasantry as the mass base of the national democratic movement
and this alliance must be supplemented by the support of the
middle forces, especially the intelligentsia and the petty
property-owners. After adopting this basic policy, one can
correctly estimate the real strength of the national democratic
movement in the short and the long run.

In the long run, the national democratic movement will be strong
if the masses are conscious of the anti-imperialist and anti-
feudal struggle, pursue their democratic ends militantly both in
urban and rural areas, and are highly organized. The activist
must be able to observe carefully the vacillations and zig-zags
of the middle forces. He must ensure that the adoption and
implementation of the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal policy by
the middle forces are converted into advantage for the main force
of the movement. If the middle middle wing or the right middle
wing should betray the Philippine revolution, it is not
surprising, and the activist must never be caught by surprise
because, after all, he has prepared the masses well for a
protracted struggle, with its tactical ups and downs.

The activist must never be carried away by emotion when he views
the political situation. Scientific analysis of the situation by
full comprehension of the objective forces and elements is always
demanded. Of course, commitment to a cause involves compassion
for one’s countrymen but it must be thoroughly guided by the
correct ideology, the correct political decisions and must be
concretely expressed through organized actions.


One Comment on “THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT AND THE POLITICAL ACTIVIST”

  1. […] national democratic (ND) line is, according to him, “strangely out of time”, but he also acknowledges that the national […]


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