(This document was written by Filemon “Ka Popoy” Lagman when he was then secretary-general of the Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino [PMP], an underground revolutionary political party of the Filipino working class established January 30, 1999. It was published as a paid advertisement in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on January 30, 2000.)
A specter is haunting labor—the specter of Globalization.
Wage-workers in industrial and developing countries, skilled and unskilled laborers, manual and mental workers, urban and rural proletarians—all are ravaged by this global scourge with lost jobs and low pay, wage freeze and wage cuts, downsized and diminished benefits, factory closures and run-away shops, contractualization and casualization of labor, strike-breaking and union-busting.
As the sun rises on year 2000, labor cannot but ask: What does the future hold for the working class in the new millennium?
The prophets of Globalization talk of “free markets” and “free trade”. But how about freeing labor from wage-slavery?
Progress, they say, will ultimately trickle down. The point, however, is when? In every decade since the 1950’s, the working people produced more wealth than the total output of mankind since the dawn of civilization some 12,000 years ago. But the gap between the rich and the poor is wider and deeper than ever in history. Even in America, the richest of all nations, only one percent of its wealth is shared by 80 percent of its population.
Despite all the advances in social production, billions today still have no food on their tables, clothes on their backs and roofs over their heads. If this is the meaning of capitalist progress and civilization, how does it differ from a cannibal who has learned to use knife and fork? The last 100 years of capitalism has been a century of over-abundance for the owners of capital and utter deprivation for those who live only by the sale of their labor.
Using the yardstick of history, four centuries of capitalism is short compared to earlier social systems. But as soon as it emerged, its every progress has sparked epic class struggles. The last hundred years of capitalism eminently has been a history of wars and revolutions, of liberation struggles of oppressed nations against imperialist countries, and of class battles between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
Anti-capitalist revolutions broke out even as the rule of capital has yet to conquer the entire globe. At its peak, socialist states covered a quarter of the world’s area and a third of the human population.
The collapse of socialism in the last decades of the 20th century has emboldened the bourgeois elements of society to vilify it as a utopian dream. But what they pass off as the vindication of capitalism is merely their class bias showing. That communism inspired hundreds of millions to life and death struggle and Marxist revolutions were victorious in scores of countries is incontrovertible proof of their firm roots in material conditions and social realities.
The period of the two world wars ushered in the first wave of socialist revolutions. With hindsight and foresight, it was only a dress rehearsal for the real revolution that can now begin with the advent of the third world war—the global offensive of capital versus labor. The revolutionary proletariat will arise, like the phoenix from the ashes, stronger and wiser.
Globalization has inaugurated not a post-industrial society but the unadorned class rule of the international bourgeoisie and the insatiable pursuit of profit by monopoly capital. Class antagonisms have not been attenuated but on the contrary are heightened.
Proletarianization of the population proceeds as never before. Unarguably, the working class is the absolute majority in the world. The so-called services are being industrialized, that is put under the regime of mechanized production and social labor. The modern office is little different from the automated factory. In both, low pay, long hours and insecure jobs are the norm. Professions are transformed from independent livelihood into wage-labor. Mental workers are joining manual laborers in organizing unions to protect their interests as wage-slaves.
Globalization has unleashed not so much the creative power of capital as its destructive forces. The genie of finance capital has been liberated by the liberalization of trade and investment and has left a path of destruction in its wake. Intensified global competition is the anarchy of production multiplied and the crisis of overproduction internationalized.
Capitalism in the age of Globalization is hopelessly bound up in its innate contradictions brought to their peak. And the proletariat is inevitably impelled to revolt by the vicious attacks against their living standards and social rights.
Globalization by its very nature transforms the economic turmoil in one nation into a world crisis. It obliges the workers struggle in one country to become an international fight.
The world is witnessing the rebellion of the advanced forces of production against outmoded capitalist relations, the contradiction between the socialized forms of production and bourgeois private property exploding into crisis and revolution.
It is Marxism rather than capitalism that is passé. Marx was a visionary who saw far ahead of his time. What he described applies more to the Globalization of our era than the capitalism of his age. And what he foretold will only now truly come to be.
No doubt revolutionary movements which predict the fall of capitalism will be likened to religious sects which prophesize the end of the world. Let these conceited bourgeois pundits beware the lesson of history. The lords of capital will be no different from the slaveholders and landlords of yore who thought they would rule forever until the rising of the former working classes brought their delusions crashing upon their heads.
Let the capitalists celebrate the coming millennium with pomp and pretense for it will be their last. The bourgeois reich will not last a thousand years. Pax capitalista will not even survive the new century.
The first decade of the new millennium will be the eve of the socialist revolution in the era of Globalization.
The Battle in Seattle is the sign of the times. It comes on the heels of historic general strikes in France and South Korea, and in other advanced and backward countries. They are a portent of the brewing storm of working class revolution that will sweep imperialist Globalization to its grave.
The new millennium will see the titanic last battle between the forces of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The day of judgment is at hand and the armageddon of capitalism is near.
The workers have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the world, unite!