WORKERS AND PEOPLES:
Unite for a World of Social Justice against Monopolies and Imperialism!
Statement of Solidarity from PAGGAWA (Philippines)
on the historic occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the WFTU (World Federation of Trade Unions)
(Pagkakaisa ng Uring Manggagawa / Unity of the Working Class)
Quezon City, Philippines
October 3, 2020
Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), the oldest international trade union organization in the world. On this highly historic occasion, the WFTU significantly commemorates its enduring and consistent global leadership of the militant international working-class movement under radically changing conditions worldwide. Indeed, seventy-five years after October 3, 1945, the WFTU continues to struggle and dares to win! Yes, the WFTU does so to resolutely advance the line of the class-oriented trade union movement and its struggles against capitalist exploitation, imperialist oppression and fascist repression all across the globe.
Thus, on this very momentous date, the militant proletarian forces of the Philippine working class movement—led by the Pagkakaisa ng Uring Manggagawa (PAGGAWA/Unity of the Working Class)—extend their warmest revolutionary socialist greetings of internationalist solidarity to all of our fraternal trade union member-organizations and worker comrades in the WFTU!
The PAGGAWA is a Philippine-wide socialist alliance of national labor centers, labor federations, trade unions, and workers’ mass organizations. Presently, three (3) of PAGGAWA’s leading formations are Philippine-based affiliates of the WFTU: Pambansang Katipunan ng Manggagawa (KATIPUNAN/National Congress of Workers), Katipunan ng mga Samahang Manggagawa (KASAMA/Association of Workers’ Organizations) and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP/Solidarity of Filipino Workers). As of now, PAGGAWA continues to be recognized within the broad Philippine labor movement as an independently distinct pole of attraction that wages a combined unity of economic-political mass struggles to both defend and advance the basic interests of the Filipino working masses in the revolutionary battle for socialism. Toward this end, PAGGAWA carries out its working-class struggles on the basis of a clear anti-capitalist/imperialist/neoliberal/fascist orientation.
THE PROLETARIAN STANDPOINT ON THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION
Therefore, PAGGAWA is principally guided by the general line of the class-oriented proletarian internationalist movement. From this principled standpoint, we assert that the worldwide imperialist system continues to manifest four (4) fundamental contradictions arising from the historic conflict between the imperialist and socialist camps at the international level. These global contradictions are principally: a) between imperialism and socialism; b) the class struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeois classes in the capitalist countries; c) the working masses and oppressed nations and peoples versus the imperialist powers; and d) rivalry amongst the imperialist blocs themselves.
As the highest stage of capitalist development, imperialism is currently in a state of moribund decay as the working-class forces persistently intensify their revolutionary struggles on the eve of the world socialist revolution. Nonetheless, global capitalism’s generalized state of permanent crisis compels the system to aggressively defend its inherent need to permanently seek and accumulate massive super-profits on a worldwide scale. Capitalism pursues this by continually accelerating its imperialist-neoliberal-fascist offensives against the international working-class movement and the oppressed nations and peoples in order to perennially redivide the international division of labor in favor of imperialism’s core.
Imperialism is largely able to do so through its globally hegemonic position within the international system, particularly due to its dominant control over its spheres of influence and domination. The latter domains are based upon imperialism’s rule over the countries of the semi-periphery and periphery; as such, the Philippines remains in the latter ring. Thus, the world imperialist system can expect to last beyond a post-pandemic global regime due to its powerful hegemony over the vast regions and countries of the world and, by taking advantage of the nature of the international order’s uneven development and relations of unequal exchange.
As the international capitalist system rapidly deteriorates due to the exacerbating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the global economy that has already been clearly hit by a rapidly worsening downturn and which, has only gravely affected the daily plight of the workers of the world. This global capitalist crisis is now far worse in its outcome than that of the aftermath from the crash of Wall Street in September 2008. As such, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported last June that an estimated 400 million workers throughout the world have already lost their jobs since mid-March this year. But because there is yet no global cure or treatment for the Coronavirus disease, we should expect to see a continuing universal rise in the victims of the pandemic.
INTER-IMPERIALIST RIVALRIES FOR WORLD HEGEMONY
Unsurprisingly, and from within this same global context, we are also witnessing an intensification of rivalries inside the imperialist camp itself. The two main imperialist blocs—US imperialism and Chinese social-imperialism—are escalating their direct competition with each other to widen their respective control and domination over key regions of the globe. In fact, the ‘Neo-US-Sino Cold War’ is now essentially an escalating international conflict aimed at securing regional markets to protect the profit-accumulation agenda of both Washington and Beijing, while seeking immense amounts of strategic mineral resources to ensure and maintain the power requirements of their respective capitalist economies. In the pursuit of this imperialist schema, both America and China are also exporting huge amounts of capital as direct investments while also, transferring abroad more modern production processes based on advanced technological designs by monopoly capital firms located in the imperialist core. It is these imperialist contradictions and dynamics which are forcing the international system into manifesting a global situation that now sharply reflects regional tensions and conflicts around the world—and thus, another potential inter-imperialist world war in the 21st Century.
Nevertheless, these thrusts are still fundamentally aimed at greatly exploiting the working classes based inside the contending imperialist spheres of influence and domination. By extracting huge amounts of super-profits from within the semi-peripheral and peripheral countries aligned to both imperialist blocs, the multi-national corporations (MNCs) and other private monopoly capital groups will continue to guarantee accumulated surplus for the great powers of the imperialist core. As a result of this heightened international capitalist offensive against the global economy, particularly the poor countries of the world, many reactionary national governments and rightwing regimes holding state power are now compelled to openly assault—economically and politically—their own working-class masses to coerce them into submission. This is all directed at assuring the continued survival of the capitalist regimes in collaboration with their own bourgeois-ruling class factions, while keeping their tight alliances with either imperialist bloc (or both at the same time).
Due to the changing international dynamics, the capitalist regimes are constrained to choose between which imperialist bloc to align their own national interests with. This pattern is remarkably true given the material conditions underpinning the structures and processes of the imperialist-imposed neoliberal globalization project. It is largely this external factor which is driving many bourgeois governments to pursue severely aggressive policies and measures to warrant their hold onto state power as a prerequisite for foreign support—and all in the name of national security.
As a consequence, it is first and foremost the exploited and oppressed working-class masses who always become the main country-wide targets of repression by the bourgeois states. Their governments employ all sorts of reactionary machinations under the guise of pursuing ‘stable governance’ in order to maintain coercive state-control over their rotten capitalist societies that are now being internally threatened by sharply rising class conflict and revolutionary mass struggles led by the working class. And so, it is within this general context that the Philippine working class movement presently faces its own stark challenges ahead.
FASCIST STATE-TERRORISM IN THE PHILIPPINES
At the Philippine-level, the Filipino masses are urgently confronted with a wide range of adversely intersecting issues and concerns affecting their overall wellbeing. First of all, the country is geographically trapped on the frontlines of a regional cold war battle zone of the spiraling US-China conflict. As American imperialism strongly forces its sway across the vast Asia-Indo-Pacific area to deny Chinese social-imperialism’s expanding power and influence over the many countries of this extensive zone, Manila is now caught in a geopolitical dilemma. While the Philippines has essentially remained a longtime puppet-state of US imperialist rule across the Asia-Pacific region since 1946, the current pro-imperialist and neoliberal-fascist regime of President Rodrigo Duterte has generally been accommodating towards Beijing since mid-2016 for obvious regional security reasons (particularly over the Southeast Asian Sea question).
And secondly, our country’s backward and underdeveloped capitalist society persists in perpetuating the failed neoliberal macroeconomic policy framework amid systemic mass poverty, structural inequality and pervasive social injustices, while upholding elite-based class rule. These totally destructive national conditions are further reinforced throughout Philippine society on the basis of a narrow capacity for national wealth and income distribution, highly stagnant and critically low incomes based on regressive wage-based mechanisms, widely prevalent State-based corruption led by traditional political elites and entrenched political dynasties, a very weak delivery system of essential services by the national and local governments due to the privatization of such amenities, and a continual rise of prices on basic commodities due to liberalization measures, together with a deregulated national oil industry susceptible to fluctuating global oil-price changes.
Likewise, millions of our ordinary workers remain absolutely vulnerable at their workplaces resulting from the widespread practice of labor contractualization (or flexibilization of labor) by the capitalist bosses for maximum profits. Incidentally, our national economic situation recently got aggravated by a pandemic-induced spike of very high unemployment rates that reached a record 17.7 percent (7.3 million jobless workers) last April. Between January and April 2020, workers in the Service Sector lost 5.7 million jobs, Industrial Sector workers lost 2.3 million jobs and workers in the Agricultural Sector lost over one million jobs. Deplorably, a significant number of them endured their harsh difficulties without any effective and sustained economic assistance from the Philippine State according to various reports.
As a matter of fact, the neoliberal-fascist Duterte Regime conducted a highly militarized approach in its national attempts at minimizing and managing the pandemic’s spread inside the country. In this manner, the Philippine Government generally failed in providing a more equitable share of national economic and financial support for the social majority—the poor working masses who lost their jobs earlier this year. The Philippine State also lacked the proper national and local-level health-systems infrastructure for an effective response to the COVID-19 disease. Likewise, the government had a very slow response in effecting a systematic mass-testing for the general public. And still, the Duterte Regime continues to show a weak understanding of the need to integrate evidence-informed data into an appropriate counter-pandemic policy framework in combination with other social-determinants of health. The resulting outcome of this botched approach has been the deaths of 5,448 people (data as of September 30, 2020) since before the start of the Philippine-lockdown in mid-March.
President Duterte and his family members come from a bourgeois-class background and this class bias is evidently reflected in both the class composition of his Cabinet and in his government’s policy thrusts. In fact, soon after coming to power, Duterte publicly announced that he will leave national economic policymaking in the hands of known neoliberal economists whom he trusts. On the other hand, his main policy focus is concentrated in political-security matters of the State. Therefore, it is not surprising at all that close to half of his Cabinet members are former military and police generals and colonels, while many government agencies are headed by ex-military and police officers. This snapshot alone exposes and reveals the true class character and direction of the Philippine State under the current regime in power.
Upon the installation of the Duterte Regime on June 30, 2016, his government fundamentally created a policy environment that can generally be characterized as: ‘Deepening the Philippine neoliberal economy via State terrorism’. Thus, the Philippine Government launched its grand infrastructure program of ‘Build, build, build’ through mainly foreign loan concessions; but, as of July this year only 2 of the flagship projects (out of 75) were completed and, due mainly to a lack of counterpart domestic funds. Thus, our people are now economically threatened with future foreign debts.
Moreover, the government merely allowed the anti-labor practice of contractualization to become more rampant across the workplace instead of ending this pernicious routine, while effectively legalizing ‘third-party’ work arrangements by modernizing new methods of contractualization through wealthy labor service contractors. Thus, the general workforce remains endangered and precarious in the long run as the workers are clearly denied any regularity of employment with the necessary non-wage packages due to them. At the same time, a set of pro-corporation tax laws plus an increase on excise taxes on fuel and other consumption items were passed, while basic wages (that remain absurdly too low) were increased just once by an additional half-a-dollar in late 2018. Thus, the ordinary workers and poor masses are now at the mercy of constantly rising prices of basic commodities which they can ill afford at current wage rates. Likewise, a ‘Rice trade liberalization’ (RTL) law was passed early last year to maintain low prices for commercial rice by importing foreign-produced rice, while severely harming the appalling economic conditions of our own country’s poor rice farmers. Thus, the latter sector is unjustly compelled to needlessly compete with the rich rice importers who colluded with senior government officials to impose the RTL in the first place.
However, the Duterte Regime’s gory reign is infamously known throughout the Philippines and around the world for its blood-soaked State terrorism. From Day-1 of his fascist rule, Duterte instantly plunged his government into executing his so-called ‘Kill, kill, kill’ policy through the use of uncompromising and violent means, including State-sanctioned assassinations. In his single-minded desire to achieve his own policy objectives, Duterte blatantly and publicly ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other State-security forces to openly ignore and disregard the Philippine State’s obligations to uphold and protect all of our people’s human rights at all times. He has effectively commanded them to consistently violate constitutional laws and principles in order to kill as many drug lords, drug dealers and drug users as possible (his so-called ‘threats to society’) so as to, “dump corpses into Manila Bay for the fish to eat.” And so, more than four years later, Philippine human rights organizations now claim that more than 20,000 people (a great majority of them were poor) have already been killed in the name of Duterte’s unrelenting ‘War on Drugs’.
After introducing such forms of State terrorism, the Duterte Regime soon commenced its ‘War, war, war’ policy agenda in 2017. This time around, the Philippine Government’s primary targets were now publicly identified as ‘threats to national security’: namely, the Philippine communist movement and Islamist rebel groups operating in the southern Philippines. Nonetheless, the scope of this categorization was flexibly broadened to also include other Philippine Left organizations, the liberal democratic opposition and the broad democratic mass movement who have all been politically resisting Philippine State terrorism for over four years now. Since then, the government unleashed a wide-ranging arsenal of repressive measures targeting the so-called threats to national security. These include police harassment and violent dispersals of mass protest actions, warrantless arrests and detentions of political activists, libel cases against journalists, enforced disappearances, and State-sanctioned assassinations.
Furthermore, the Duterte Regime established in late 2018 a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) under Executive Order No. 70. This national government agency essentially acts to develop, plan, coordinate, implement and evaluate nationwide efforts to target and destroy the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), its allied mass organizations and other Left formations. One aspect of this ultimately repressive activity is the government’s stepped-up pattern of directly denying the working-class movement its democratic and constitutional right to initiate and conduct strike actions in defense against anti-labor practices of the capitalist bosses. For the past few years now, the Philippine State aggressively countered these legally recognized collective labor actions with violent dispersals and warrantless arrests, while putting certain union leaders and labor organizers under police, military and State-security surveillance operations.
Yet still, in a show of utter arrogance and insensitivity while hiding behind the pandemic justification, the Duterte Regime openly maneuvered to swiftly pass the Philippine Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 in early July. By doing so, the real fascist character of the Philippine State was further exposed before the Filipino people and masses and, to the world at large. Instead of fully concentrating the Philippine Government’s resources and efforts at trying to urgently defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, the Duterte Regime focused its national energies on guaranteeing the passage of a totally draconian piece of legislation aimed at defeating our people’s democratic, constitutional and human rights.
OUR INTERNATIONALIST TASKS AHEAD
Lastly, and all around the world today, the imperialist camp is now fully relying upon its alliances with a broad range of authoritarian and fascist-type national leaderships to further enhance the former’s great power hegemonic designs over various parts and regions of the globe. In a practical sense, such transactional relationships between rightwing national regimes and the imperialist blocs are quickly being developed at this time in order for them to gain a more advantageous economic-political-security balance once the global pandemic is successfully overcome in the near future. Conversely, these imperialist-fascist plots and schemes can only mean a future intensification of the global offensive of capital against the international working-class movement and its proletarian interests.
In gearing up for their parallel worldwide offensives, both American imperialism and Chinese social-imperialism are desperately seeking out new national partners—while enhancing their existing partnerships—from among the ruling bourgeois factions throughout the world at this time. Truly, the world stage is overcrowded with many pro-imperialist and far-right/authoritarian and fascist leaders to choose from, such as: Duterte of the Philippines, Cambodia’s Hun Sen, India’s Narendra Modi, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad bin Salman, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Chad’s Idriss Deby, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Colombia’s Ivan Duque Marquez, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, among many, many others.
In this shifting world order, fresh partnerships, modern relationships and newfound alliances are now being created. The composition of the imperialist spheres of influence and domination are once more being altered to accommodate the new capitalist maneuvers and realities. The international redivision of labor along these changing global lines of production may alter the so-called ‘global value chains’ but, they just basically reflect the altered spheres of influence that will still be ruled by monopoly capital and their principal imperialist blocs. Such manifestations merely show the perpetual contradictions and tensions intrinsic to the capitalist world system itself and, therefore, can only threaten to provide the material basis for any possible geopolitical conflict in the future. And so, unless there is a systemic rupture, then we should continue to see a revitalized form of capitalist-imperialist exploitation and oppression of the principal productive forces under newly reproducing capitalist conditions.
For this agonizing reason alone, all of the workers of the world—principally the class-conscious sections of the global working-class movement—and, led by the WFTU, must now be battle-ready and prepared to combat the expected and imminent anti-worker onslaught worldwide. We cannot and must not allow the ravenous capitalists and rapacious imperialists to further dominate and control the international order through their fascist minions at the nation-state level. In the near future, all proletarian partisans for democracy, all anti-imperialist fighters and all revolutionary combatants for socialism should greatly organize and prime themselves in a global united front for the proletarian internationalist war ahead. Hence, PAGGAWA now urgently calls upon the working-class forces of the world to directly unite to fight, resist and destroy imperialism and fascism in the historic period of struggles before us! There can be no other option but to victoriously march onward to achieve the historic mission of the proletariat—Socialism!
WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!