BMP on the anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan:
To be resilient is to fight back
A year ago today, Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan forcefully reminded us that our people can take no shelter from the storm for as long as we have a government for the elites rather than a government for our people; that we are at the mercy of the forces of nature for as long as our society remains organized to pursue profits rather than to care for each other.
We watched in horror as the Aquino government took its sweet time to attend to those who were left dying, cold, and starving in the aftermath of the super-typhoon.
We saw with our own disbelieving eyes how the state effectively abandoned our people to fend for themselves; how our officials utterly failed to mobilize the resources that we had empowered them to mobilize for these kinds of situations; how they refused to order privately-owned ships, buses, and other businesses to provide immediate relief to the desperate; how they would rather let people die of hunger than violate sacrosanct property rights.
Since then, the nightmare has refused to end: Over the past year, we saw how the government effectively prioritized the interests of large corporations, who have effectively been given free rein over the reconstruction process, over the needs of calamity victims. We saw how, instead of taking charge of providing direct services to our people, the government has instead chosen to turn relief and reconstruction into a profit-making or a tongpats-making opportunity, thereby allowing businesses and politicians to make money out of this terrible tragedy.
More horrifying than the super-typhoon itself has been the response of our own government to the super-typhoon; our people suffered not just from the disaster but from our disastrous government.
This criminal neglect, this apparent lack of compassion, could not just be attributed to some congenital ineptitude, to an innate cold-heartedness, or to some other personality trait of those who run our government. It reflects, rather, the class basis of our society: For under an inherently exploitative system such as ours — a system that forces people to prioritize profits over human welfare and needs, the bourgeois and other dominant classes who run our government could only see our people primarily as slaves who run the factories or who plow the fields, and who therefore keep the profits and the taxes coming — rather than as fellow human beings.
That we be better prepared, that we streamline the relief distribution processes and systems, that we increase the budget for disasters, and most, importantly, that we hold accountable and punish all those who were remiss in their duties, including President Aquino: all these would go a long way in lessening people’s suffering and building people’s resilience in the face of continuing disasters.
But only by overturning existing class relations, only by reorganizing our society so that we put people’s welfare over profits, only by establishing a government of, by, and for the people rather than a government of, by, and for elites — in short, only by fighting back and struggling against our ruling classes can we count on our government and on each other in the face of the most terrifying of storms.
This is not a pipe dream. The massive, spontaneous, and inspiring outpouring of solidarity that people from all walks of life extended to the victims of Haiyan and of our government after the typhoon proves one thing: that despite the inhumane conditions that many are forced to live in under capitalism, many of us are still capable of human compassion, and it is this compassion that fuels our resilience and drives our struggle for a better world. #