The current imperialist crisis and the people’s struggles: Tasks of Filipino workers in concert with the workers of the world
Keynote Address to the 10th National Congress of Kilusang Mayo Uno
Teachers’ Camp, Baguio City
16 March 2011
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
On behalf of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, I convey warmest greetings of solidarity to the Kilusang Mayo Uno on the occasion of its 10th National Congress. We congratulate you for having achieved great victories and standing forth as the genuine and most progressive labor center in the Philippines.
We welcome your resolve to hold fast to the lessons of KMU’s three decades, to boldly expand and consolidate your ranks and to advance the struggle for genuine land reform and national industrialization to a new and higher level.
We are confident that by reviewing your work in the last three years you can evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and formulate a General Plan and Program for 2011-2013. You can also study collectively the various issues affecting workers nationwide and worldwide.
We join you in paying special tribute to the late KMU Chairperson Emeritus and Anakpawis Representative Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, KMU Secretary-General Wilson Baldonaza, KMU Federation Affairs Officer Douglas Dumanon, and PISTON-KMU President Emeritus Medardo Roda. Their exemplary lives of service to the proletariat and the people continue to inspire us.
I thank you for inviting me as the keynote speaker at so important a milestone as your 10th National Congress. It is my honor and privilege to discuss the present crisis of imperialism and the struggles of the people in various countries and clarify the tasks of Filipino workers in solidarity with the international working class movement
Present Crisis of Imperialism
In the course of more than three decades, the imperialist powers headed by the US and their puppet regimes have carried out the US-dictated neoliberal policy of globalization in order to attack the democratic rights of the working class, press down the wage level, erode the hard-won social benefits and cut back on government spending for social services.
They have claimed that so-called wage inflation and social spending by government caused the phenomenon of stagflation in the 1970s by reducing the amount of capital available for expanding production and employment. Thus, they have devised the neoliberal policy to put more capital and profit opportunities in the hands of the monopoly bourgeoisie and the financial oligarchy through tax cuts, trade and investment liberalization, privatization of public resources, deregulation and the denationalization of client economies.
They have obscured the real causes of the growing crisis of overproduction and recurrent recessions in the 1970s, such as the reconstruction and growth of the economies devastated by World War II and the demand-pull inflation due to the runaway US government spending for the arms and space race, overseas military bases and wars of aggression in Korea and Indochina.
In the system of imperialism, the monopoly bourgeoisie is always striving to maximize its profits by raising its constant capital for equipment and raw materials and reducing the wage fund for buying the labor power. The fall in the income of the workers lessens their ability to buy their own products. Thus, the crisis of relative overproduction arises. To counter this and the tendency of the profit rate to fall in the real economy, the monopoly bourgeoisie tries to make bigger profits and accumulate capital more rapidly in the financial markets through speculation and overvaluation of assets with the use of fictitious capital.
In their homegrounds, the US and other imperialists have also drawn sections of the working class into borrowing sprees for consumption, for buying shares of stocks in the period of the high tech bubble of 1995 to 2000 and acquiring houses on mortgage at eventually unaffordable interest rates in the period of the housing bubble of 2002 to 2006, leading to the economic and financial crisis that broke out in 2008. In some of the underdeveloped countries, which export cheap raw materials and some semi-manufactures, an ever mounting level of foreign debt has been used to finance booms in private construction, import-dependent consumerism and widening trade and budgetary deficits.
The neoliberal policy of globalization has resulted in the gravest economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression. Public money has been used to bail out the very malefactors that have caused the crisis, such as the financial oligarchy and the corporations in the military industrial complex in the US and elsewhere. There is no economic recovery in terms of expanding production and employment. The recovery is in the books of the banks, in certain major corporations and in the financial markets.
The International Labor Organization reports, even if with understated figures, that real wages have plunged, while global unemployment has stood at an all-time high, with little hope of returning to pre-crisis levels in the near future. In contrast, American and European corporations appear to have bounced back and are logging record-high profits this soon since the crisis. For instance, in the third quarter of 2010, American business collectively reported a record-high of $1.66 trillion in profits.
Even public money that is supposed to generate production and employment must pass through the hands of private corporations which make book profits by cutting labor costs in line with the neoliberal policy which shuns the Keynesian policy of mass employment under the direct auspices of the state and gives all the leeway to the private corporations to acquire more assets and make profits in the so-called free market. The persistence of the neoliberal policy is protracting the conditions of global depression.
The recent turn of events in the global crisis is the adoption of austerity measures by imperialist and puppet governments in the face of the rapidly growing public deficits and public debt to bail out the crisis makers and maintain government operations at higher cost. Government employees are being laid off in great numbers and their salaries and pensions are being eroded. Education, health and other public services are deteriorating while becoming expensive to the people.
Since last year, governments across Europe have announced upwards of $200 billion in public spending cuts over the next two to four years—cuts that amount to public sector layoffs, pay cuts, and caps on benefits—alongside draconian labor reforms that aim to curtail workers’ collective bargaining rights. We see the same policy running in state- and local governments in the United States. Wealth and power are being further redistributed upwards.
Whatever meager incomes workers are left with are being eaten away by spiraling energy and food prices. Recently, these have climbed dangerously close to the peaks they reached during the shock of 2008. Crude oil is again trading over $100 per barrel, while the price of internationally traded cereals is at its highest since July 2008. Surging prices of basic commodities are mercilessly battering the workers even before they can recover from the previous round of mass layoff and inflation and the previous fuel and food crisis.
The Resistance of the People
The neoliberal policy has impoverished the toiling masses of workers and peasants through the worst forms of exploitation enforced by state terrorism. The resultant global crisis involves high rates of employment and soaring prices of oil, food and other basic commodities. It is wreaking havoc on the lives of the people all over the world in an unprecedented way. Thus, the suffering people are rising up on a wide scale against their oppressors and exploiters in various developed and underdeveloped countries and entire global regions, such as currently in Latin America, South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.
The mass uprisings of unarmed people are releasing a tremendous amount of revolutionary energy for the formation and strengthening of revolutionary parties of the proletariat, people’s organizations, mass movements and armed revolutions for national liberation, democracy and socialism. The long running mass movements of the toiling masses and the armed revolutionary movements for national liberation and democracy can expect to grow in strength and advance as the global crisis protracts, worsens and deepens.
The proletariat and people in the imperialist countries have been victimized by the neoliberal policy of globalization. They have launched mass protest and general strikes against the worsening conditions of unemployment, homelessness and loss of social benefits. The monopoly bourgeoisie has increasing difficulties in obscuring the root causes of the crisis in the capitalist system and trying to deceive and divide the people with the reactionary currents of chauvinism, racism, fascism and war hysteria.
In one summit after another from year to year, the rulers of the imperialist countries and major less developed countries have exposed their inability to solve the grave economic, social and political problems spawned by the neoliberal policy of globalization. In endless series of conferences, the IMF, World Bank, WTO and other multilateral agencies have failed to offer any solution to the crisis.
By and large, the imperialist powers are still united against the oppressed people and nations and vent their aggressiveness on national liberation movements and countries assertive of independence. But they are increasingly competing and contending for a redivision of the world. The protracted crisis carries the threat of fascism and further wars instigated by the imperialists. At the same time, it is inciting the people to engage in militant mass actions and in revolutionary struggles for national and social liberation.
The Role of the KMU
It is the task of the KMU to carry forward the struggle of the working class and the broad masses of the people for national liberation and democracy in the Philippines against the US-Aquino regime and the entire ruling system. We must confront and oppose the continuing subservience of the reactionary government under Aquino to the US and its policy dictates.
The so-called development plan of the regime is governed by the US policy of neoliberal globalization. The so-called internal peace and security plan, Oplan Bayanihan, is a continuation of Oplan Bantay Laya and is guided by the US Counterinsurgency Guide and the US global war of terror. You must be resolved to oppose all these policies and plans which are aimed at exploiting and oppressing the working class and theentire Filipino people.
You must do everything possible to arouse, organize and mobilize the people in order to assert their national sovereignty, expand democracy, promote economic development through land reform and national industrialization, raise employment and improve the people’s livelihood, make science and technology serve development and the people, realize social justice and achieve a just and lasting peace.
We are deeply pleased that KMU is prepared to take on the challenge of our time. It is correct that you call for bolder expansion and the steady consolidation of your mass membership and for the relentless mobilization of the Filipino workers and people for the cause of national and social liberation. Your victories in the Philippines constitute a contribution to the struggle of the people of the world for a new, just and better world.
By becoming strong, you are in a position to take initiatives or participate in international activities in which you cooperate with the workers and people of other countries in opposing the neoliberal economic policy, the attacks on workers’ rights, the cheapening of labor, widespread unemployment and austerity measures and demanding what needs to be done in order to fight exploitation and oppression and achieve social justice and fundamental social change.
We are aware of how much KMU has succeeded in developing fraternal relations with other labor organizations abroad and how much effort it has exerted in maintaining and promoting the International Solidarity Affair. We urge you to consider how to revitalize and expand this. You must give priority to communicating and cooperating with the labor unions and other worker organizations that are active abroad in waging anti-imperialist and democratic mass struggles.
We have always highly appreciated the role of the KMU within the frame of the ILPS. We are happy to know that the 10th National Congress is a preparation for the 4th International Assembly of the ILPS. We hope that you can contribute greatly to the success of the assembly and the work of the commission concerned with labor.
In concluding, we are confident that your Congress will be a resounding success. We congratulate in advance the new set of KMU national officers to be elected by the congress. We wish all the delegations, the member-unions and allied unions of Kilusang Mayo Uno to win ever greater victories in all the years to come.
Long live the Kilusang Mayo Uno!
Long live the class leadership of the working class!
Long live the broad masses of the Filipino people!
Carry forward the national democratic movement!
Strengthen solidarity with the workers and peoples of the world!