(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 militancy 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.
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.