Miyerkules, Enero 21, 2009

Popoy, Joma, and the Left - by Nonoy Oplas

Contributed by karl (Edited by karl)
Thursday, February 08, 2001 @ 10:52:11 AM

Now, Popoy Lagman is gone.

I was in that Ayala rally (with monching) sometime in October or Nov. last year when Popoy asked, "Anong gagawin natin kapag hindi bumaba si Estrada? REBOLUSYON!", and his cadres in the crowd chanted, "revolusyon! rebolusyon!..." Earlier though, he admitted, "Ngayong hapon, hindi po uusok ang mikropono ng pagbatikos natin sa kapitalismo at sa mga kapitalista. Kaalyado natin sila sa isang kagyat na kilusan para ibagsak si Estrada!" You can imagine how the Ayala businessmen and employees who were in that rally reacted.

Just what does Popoy Lagman represents?
For me, Popoy represents the largest organization with a definite ideology in calling for a socialist Philippines. When he and his group splintered from Joma Sison's CPP-NPA-NDF in 1993, Popoy had at least 3 reasons for doing so:
1. They reject the "semi-feudal, semi-colonial" mode of production analysis of Joma and the CPP. 2. Hence, they also reject the "national democracy" goal.
3. They reject the Maoist formulation that "the peasants (not workers) are the main army to change society" and that of "encircling the city from the countrysides", and
4. Corollarily, reject that "armed struggle is the primary form of struggle".

Instead, when Popoy and his team of underground people from the Metro Manila-Rizal Regional CPP Command, the explicit formulations are as follows:
1. The Philippines' mode of production is "predominantly capitalist".
2. Hence, the goal should be socialism, not "national democracy" ("national" meaning anti-colonial, "democracy" meaning anti-feudal).
3. The workers (don't own means of production, whether capital, factories, land, technology) are the main army to change things, and urban insurrection is the way to capture state power, and
4. Other forms of struggle should be tapped to complement the armed urban struggle (Hence, Popoy and his group then advocated to participate in the 1986 snap elections, whereas Joma and the CPP called for its boycott).

Between the two, I will definitely say that Popoy is more sophisticated ideologically than Joma Sison. I would even add that Popoy read and understand classic Marxism and Leninism literature better than Joma and his followers.

The ideological debate and organizational rivalry between the 2 largest factions of the Philippine left has somehow worked for their mutual advantage and the workers in general. Just like big corporations benefitting from having fellow big competitors because they all strive to be more dynamic and innovative.

How? I don't have the figures, but I assume that organized workers have more options where they be organizationally and ideologically affiliated. Before, it was only between the moderate TUCP and the radical KMU, plus other smaller independent labor federations. Popoy's BMP (bukluran ng manggagawang pilipino) represented a 3rd or 4th option for the workers. Just like businessmen and capitalists have options whether they'll be more active with PCCI or MBC or FPI or Rotary, etc.

Second, workers should be given the opportunity to be educated of the socialist alternative, and not just the nat-dem goal. I myself have learned the nat-dem line, then socialist alternative (college days, and few years after that), now I don't subscribe to both, but it pays to understand these things well. The capitalists and politicians of this country for many years have veered away from the Adam Smith and David Ricardo type of capitalism, so they (the capitalists) gave workers a really bad kind and experience of capitalism. Perhaps approximating the capitalism of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. At the time when Marx called religion "the heart of the heartless world, the soul of the soulless conditions, it is the opium of the people." (though rabid anti-Marxists only quote the last line and omitted the first 2 lines).

So, where to, Philippine Left? Before I forget, there's another big left coalition organized under the party-list "Akbayan" (citizens' action party). It is composed of other ex-nat-dems, socialists, NGO people, some pop-dems (popular democrats). There are also the social democrats (soc-dems), but their number and ideological presence in major public debates (cha-cha, Oilex, wage hikes, globalization, etc.) are not bigf and prominent. It is these 3 organizations - the nat-dems' BAYAN, Popoy's SANLAKAS, and other left coalition's AKBAYAN which dominate the leftist sentiment on major economic and political issues of the country.

Where to, Philippine left? Despite my sympathy and admiration for their hard dedication to politicize and mobilize people, especially the really poorer sectors of our society, I still cannot subscribe to their sentiment that we should immune or delink our economy from globalization and the world economy, that we should keep the protectionist veil and continue regula subsidiy-dependent state corporations, etc.

Thus, since I believe that economic liberalization and not protectionism and regulation is the way, and the Philippine left (& the left elsewhere in the world) believe otherwise, I'm inclined to believe that the Philippine left will remain as a significant political voice in our society, but there's no way that it can seize state power to implement its protectionist advocacies.

Meanwhile, my hats off and respect to Popoy Lagman. His death is a big loss to the Filipino workers' continued quest to have bigger bargaining power over some greedy sectors of Philippine business.

originally posted at the Pilipinas Forum

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