General Secretary’s report to the Fourth International Assembly of the ILPS

By MALCOLM GUY
General Secretary
International Coordinating Committee

Comrades, fellow delegates and honoured guests, please accept our warmest revolutionary greetings from the ILPS general secretariat and staff wishing you all a very successful Assembly. Today as we look around the room we see hundreds of anti-imperialist delegates, observers and friends from around the world, In fact we constitute the biggest International Assembly of the ILPS to date! What a way to celebrate our tenth anniversary. Happy 10th anniversary ILPS. Congratulations to us all for being here on this historic occasion!

Let us all thank the secretariat, the host country committee, the staff, and all others that have volunteered their efforts, for their excellent preparations and hard work in fulfilling the decisions of the ICC to assure the successful holding of the Fourth International Assembly of the ILPS at this wonderful venue here in the Philippines. I think they all deserve a warm round of applause!

The chairman’s report outlined the general situation including the intensification of the general crisis of the imperialist system, the rising militancy and capacity of the people’s movements around the globe and the current political and organizational state of the ILPS as we gather under the theme “Build a bright future! Mobilize the people to resist exploitation and oppression amidst the protracted global depression, state terrorism and wars of aggression!

It has been a wonderful if very steep learning curve for me these last two years since I was elected Secretary General during the elections in the ICC in 2009 that the Chair so clearly reviewed in his report. I took over from Arman Riazi from the Democratic Anti-imperialist Organization of Iranians in Great Britain.

I would like to remind you that at present the ICG is made up of Chairperson, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, chairperson of International Network of Philippine Studies, Netherlands; Vice Chairperson, Len Cooper from the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union in Australia; as Deputy Chairperson for Internal Affairs, Dr. Carol P. Araullo, chairperson of BAYAN, Philippines; as Deputy Chairperson for External Affairs, Wahu Kaara of KENDEREN in Kenya; myself, Malcolm Guy, from the Immigrant Workers Centre in Canada as General Secretary; First Deputy General Secretary, Elmer Labog, chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno of the Philippines; Second Deputy General Secretary, Harry Prabowo of Front Mahasiswa Nasional in Indonesia; Treasurer Theo Droog from Nederlands-Filippijnse Solidariteitsbeweging of The Netherlands; and Auditor, Chito Quijano, from the New Patriotic Alliance-USA in the USA.

My election as ILPS General Secretary was both an honour and a challenge. It is an honour to work as Gen Sec in an organization which has a strong history of struggle and a very bright future. But it has also been a challenge since I had to learn my way quickly around new tasks as the ICC went through some turmoil and to get to know the history and fully grasp the needs and possibilities of our global organization.

In this period, I have been very privileged to work with and learn much from a strong group of comrades, all of them volunteers, in the Office of the Secretariat. They include the wonderfully capable Ruth De Leon, Dan Borjal, Treasurer Theo Droog, and webmaster Boyen Baleva. I would also like to salute my vice Sec Gen and good friend Elmer Labog. I apologize for not making more use of your skills over the past couple of years, Elmer.

I have also been very privileged to have the occasion to work closely with the ILPS Chair, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, whose dedication to the struggles of the people of the world combined with an amazing analytical capacity and wise words of advice have made my job as Sec Gen enjoyable and useful experience.

I should mention that besides my new duties as the Sec Gen of ILPS I have also been involved in the founding, with other comrades in this room, of a new ILPS Chapter in Canada. Twenty-one member organizations from across Canada attended its founding Assembly in Toronto in May this year.

As an activist filmmaker and member of ILPS commission 14, I have also been involved as one of the initiators of the international conference of progressive cultural workers, entitled People’s Art: Shaping the Society of the Future, that was successfully held this past July 4-6 at UP Diliman.

As noted in the Chair’s address the recent period has been marked by a certain amount of struggle within the ICC, and a lack of cooperation from certain ICC members, including the former Sec Gen. For example, when we decided to close down the old website and start a new improved website and e-mail list serve, there was no cooperation and the old website remains on the web, along with the e-mail list serve, resulting in a kind of parallel ILPS which has led to some confusion. But we have set up the new ilps.info website and e-mail server and it is working very well. It provides a strong base on which to build and strengthen our Web presence, which is at present basically in place but underutilized. More on that later.

I agree with the Chair’s presentation that the ILPS has made important gains over the past 10 years since the First International Assembly with its 240 participants from 30 countries ratified the founding documents, finalised resolutions for each concern and elected members to the first International coordinating committee in May 2001 in the Netherlands.

Recently, along with the new Canadian Chapter, Hong Kong & Macao united to form a new ILPS Chapter in Hong Kong and Macau. These new Chapters join Chapters in the Philippines, Australia, and Indonesia. I would personally like to thank comrades from ILPS Australia for providing documents and encouragement that assisted the formation of our Chapter in Canada.

We have also established a regional coordinating committee in East Asia and Oceania. Obviously a good start but clearly (far from enough)there is a lot more world out there. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

I fully agree with the Chair’s analysis that the League has been stunted in its growth, particularly in Europe and Latin America, by a certain narrowness of vision and definite sectarian tendencies among certain former leading elements. Recently some of you received letters from such small group publicly airing accusations against the Chair and certain ICC members. This last minute move was clearly an attempt to sabotage and disrupt the 4th Assembly. But it has not worked. As the Chair clarified in his speech, it is important that we take decisions that benefit the overwhelming majority of ILPS members, and not a small group of saboteurs. Although many of these people have done good work in the past, they are presently acting to seriously hinder and undermine the development of the League and no longer deserve the status of ILPS member.

As we have seen with the recent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and beyond there are a growing number of pro people and anti-imperialist forces around the world and we must reach out and bring as many as possible within our fold. That is the only way we can counter the imperialist offensive and its immensely destructive “war of terror” and criminalization of resistance. That is the way to expand the anti-imperialist united front to push forward the struggle to bring about genuine democracy, to bring an end to exploitation and oppression and create a world without aggressive imperialist wars by ensuring peace with justice.

Of course as we reach out we must stand up for our anti-imperialist principles and ensure respect and adherence to the ILPS Charter. But it is clear that if an organization agrees with at least one of our 18 concerns and agrees to respect the ILPS charter and pay its dues it can become a member of our organization. In fact such groups must be warmly welcomed since they can only help to raise the peoples’ struggle globally to another level and give the ILPS greater reach and stronger impact.

In light of that, I think it could be useful to worth looking back at previous ILPS 3-year development plans. We should consider discussing, updating and putting into action a new three-year plan as well as a ten-year plan during this assembly.

In previous plans we proposed to do the following:

Political education

We proposed to increase anti-imperialist political education in the League, in large part by propagating the declarations, tasks and resolutions of the study commissions and related entities. We said we must push the study commissions and related entities to do further work on the 18 concerns in terms of research and publications. We must consolidate and expand our use of study meetings, seminars and conferences such as the RESIST conference which has just taken place. We also need to continue to assure the dissemination in electronic and print media the educational materials of the ILPS, including documents in full, position papers, primers, statements and the like.

Organization

We must encourage the building of country chapters of the ILPS along the anti-imperialist and democratic united front line. This means boldly inviting even more participating organizations, especially from countries and global regions, like Africa, Latin America, Central Asia, South Asia and Europe, both East and West. We need to build the coordinating committees at the level of the global regions — Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America like the coordinating committee already existing in East Asia Oceania. The North American coordinating committee should be set up shortly.

We need to complete and strengthen the organization of the commissions, which could include reducing and combining some of the 18 commissions to assure their better functioning. We will discuss a proposal on that issue during this Assembly. We also need to strengthen the self-reliant financial standing of the ILPS by collecting participating dues and undertaking fundraising activities through cultural activities, sale of publications, t-shirts, paraphernalia and the like. We will hear a proposal from the Treasurer shortly to revise the present dues structure, which has not been functioning properly. It would reduce dues for member organizations in the Global South to $50 US.

Mass Mobilization

Under the guidance of the international united front policy, we need to increase the initiation or joining in mass campaigns or activities of mass mobilization and broad international conferences along the anti-imperialist and democratic line of struggle. We must build and strengthen the ILPS committees for initiating or joining the aforesaid mass mobilizations and conferences. This includes charting a calendar of the campaigns and activities of mass mobilization and international conferences. We must more actively seek the cooperation of national liberation movements, campaign committees, organizations, institutions and alliances for the purpose of mass mobilizations. And we need to strengthen the ILPS by availing of the mass mobilizations and broad international conferences to subsequently increase the participating organizations in ILPS.

With these plans in mind, we must set out in our second decade of activity to boldly expand and widen the anti-imperialist united front into a truly global force capable of organizing against imperialism on all fronts.

To this end we must boldly consolidate, strengthen the ILPS by doubling its forces within the next three years; paying particular attention to expanding in Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

If our experience in Canada is anything to go by, I believe that we can in fact more than double our forces. The enemy may be strong, but at this time the people’s movements are growing in strength and numbers and the toiling people are hungry for a global organization that represents their interests.

At the same time we must ask what can be done to help consolidate, activate and ensure the full participation of our more than 350 ILPS members, particularly in the Global South.

I think it is mostly through our coordinated actions and campaigns that we will strengthen our member organizations as well as attracting new members looking for a truly anti-imperialist global organization.

One step in this direction is the building of regional coordinating committees in North America and elsewhere and the strengthening of those committees already existing, like East Asia & Oceania.

This regional committee was formally constituted in 11 December 2006, when the First ILPS East Asia and Oceania Consultative Conference held in Cebu, Philippines. There were 86 delegates from 57 ILPS member organizations in East Asia and Oceania, 43 observers from 37 prospective ILPS member organizations from 8 countries in the region and current member organizations in other global regions, and 15 guests from 8 ILPS organizations from Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas and from non-ILPS organizations.

It is important to take up similar initiatives elsewhere, including Europe.

While maintaining our principles and respecting the goals and charter of the ILPS, boldly do away with sectarianism and narrowness of vision in reaching out to new anti-imperialist member organizations. We have no time to lose.

Establishment of ILPS Chapters

We salute the recent establishment of a new ILPS Chapter in Hong Kong – Macao, along with the new Chapter in Canada I mentioned earlier.

It is perhaps worth mentioning the criteria to build country chapters. I prefer to use the term country chapter and not “national” chapter since most countries are made up of several nations, including indigenous nations.

  1. In a country where there are at least three member organizations, their leaders or representatives can take the initiative to form the national organizing committee in order to prepare and hold a national assembly for the purpose of establishing the national chapter. They shall inform and seek the approval of the ICC accordingly.

  2. Alternatively, the ICC can instruct member organizations in a country to form the aforesaid national organizing committee. In a country where there are members and alternate members of the ICC, they are expected to take the lead in forming the national organizing committee and establishing the national chapter.

  3. The national organizing committee shall prepare the holding of the national assembly by deciding its theme, program of activities, venue and date and by drafting the rules or statutes of the national chapter, the rules for the nomination and election of the officers, the program of action and resolutions and by inviting.

  4. The national organizing committee can invite mass organizations to become ILPS member organizations and to participate in the national assembly. It shall submit the application of such organizations for ILPS membership to the ICC for approval.

  5. After its establishment, the national chapter is authorized to process and approve within its national jurisdiction the application of organizations for ILPS membership. To become ILPS member organizations, such organizations must accept the ILPS charter and pursue the anti-imperialist and democratic line of the people’ struggle.

  6. The national chapter shall adopt and practice the policy of the united front and its leadership shall act as a coordinating center for ILPS member organizations in the country concerned.

Organizational improvements necessary

As we consolidate and build the League, we must improve communication between members of the ICC and between global regions.

This requires that we strengthen and assist the General Secretariat based in Utrecht, Netherlands; that we set up an office for the new Sec Gen in that person’s place of residence; and that we develop Regional Secretariats.

The General Secretariat based in Utrecht should be made up of the following positions: the General Secretary; 1st and 2nd assistant Gen Sec; Treasurer – Theo Droog, Chief of staff—at this time Dan Borjal and Assistant to chief of staff; the Permanent secretariat – very ably filled at this time by Ruth de Leon and the Assistant to permanent secretariat.

Regional coordinators

We also need to consolidate and strengthen regional coordination. This has been tried in the past but has not functioned correctly. That must now be corrected. The following regional coordinators can be co-opted from the ICC and will be attached to the office of the general secretariat:

  • Europe
  • North America
  • Latin Amercia
  • South Asia
  • S.E. Asia and East Asia -Oceania – Carol P. Araullo (Philippines – ILPS Philippines chapter) presently occupies this position
  • Africa
  • Middle East

Even though we do not have many members from Africa and the Middle East, and even Europe for that matter, regional coordinators should be set up to assure expansion in these regions. I am particularly pleased to announce that we have a large number of people attending the Fourth Assembly from Latin America, that is a wonderful development and I ask that they stand… and we give them a big round of applause!

Increase web presence of ILPS and use of social media

Since the last international Assembly we have increased the use of web tools such as Skype to improve communications and attendance at ICC and ICG meetings when it is absolutely impossible for participants to attend meetings personally. This initiative can be expanded to regional and other meetings, but only when in-person attendance is not possible. It has proven to be a very valuable tool.

At present our web tools are underutilized. These include the website and bulletin boards. Member groups need to provide material to post on the sites and to become pro-active in their utilization.

Starting immediately we need to ensure a strong presence of the ILPS, its actions, member groups and positions on the Web. To this must expand use of Twitter, Facebook and other already existing or to be discovered Web social media and internet tools to the maximum.

Increase number of languages used in ILPS

The ILPS must expand the number of languages used within the ILPS, in its publications and on the Web to insure better communication among members and to illustrate the multi-language realities of ILPS members. To this end we need to develop and enlist translators and revisers.

Assist in writing of position papers and statements

ILPS member groups, commissions, and regional coordinators should assist the Chair in the writing of position papers and statements. Commissions must also supply timely position papers and statements on issues relevant to their Commission.

Vibrant Commissions

As mentioned earlier, it has become apparent that we need to reduce the number of existing Commissions in order to better ensure the functioning of the Commissions and their leading bodies. A proposal to that end will be presented and discussed during the Assembly.

We need to assist Commission #1 to assure expansion and consolidation of its work between Assemblies.

We can follow the example of certain ILPS commissions that have remained active between Assemblies and even worked to expand the reach of the ILPS by setting up related organizations. To this end we salute Commission 2 for setting up RESIST!, as well as Commission 16 that initiated the formation of the International Migrants’ Alliance and Commission #7 that initiated the formation of the International Women’s Alliance. Commission #14 has just organized the conference for cultural workers, thus laying the basis for a global organization of progressive artists in the near future. And Commission 4 has been very strong in organizing around the question of military bases, and Commission 5 around Jobs and Justice.

Reach out to other anti-imperialist organizations

We can task the Deputy Chair for External Affairs to boldly reach out and ally with other anti-imperialist organizations such as Ramsey Clark’s International Action Center as well as strengthening our links with ICOR and other such organizations. Working together we are all stronger.

The Urgent Tasks Ahead

In the face of intensifying exploitation and oppression, crisis and mass unemployment, growing repression and fascism and increasing wars of aggression and military intervention instigated and carried out mainly by US imperialism, the League must carry out the following urgent tasks, so ably outlined by our first Chair, Crispin Beltran:

  1. The League must support the important anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of the people for national and social liberation. Priority must be given to the peoples and nations that are being subjected to the worst forms of oppression and exploitation and where the people are waging the most effective forms of resistance against US imperialism and its puppets.

  2. We must establish more national chapters. The formation of the national chapters should lead eventually to the establishment of coordinating committees in global regions. For this to be realized, the policy of the broad united front of patriotic and progressive forces must be adopted and put into practice. Such a policy should also guide the coordinating committees to be formed in various global regions. The ILPS should not be sectarian as to lose the broad masses and positive forces. But neither should it be ultra-liberal as to lose sight of the anti-imperialist and democratic purpose of the movement.

  3. The League must take the political initiative in all the 18 concerns in order to promote the anti-imperialist and democratic line through information and educational campaigns, through seminars and conferences and through militant forms of mass action. The League can attract many existing mass formations through educational and political activities around the 18 concerns. It must be able to seize initiative from the many “social forums”, conferences and seminars funded by the agencies and conduits of the imperialists.

  4. The League is a framework for the coordination of anti-imperialist and democratic mass formations on an international scale, in global regions and in specific countries. The coordinating committee, including its secretariat, at any level can perform well its tasks and functions within its scope only if it gets political and organizational support from the mass formations and expert study commissions on the various concerns. Between assemblies, it is best for the coordinating committee to consult and seek drafts from the participating organizations and study commissions that are most interested in and knowledgeable about an issue before ILPS position is formulated and issued.

  5. The ILPS international coordinating committee or its general secretariat often feels obliged to draft and publish a statement on a very important issue or about a mass struggle in a particular country because it cannot ask any participating organizations or study commission to provide a draft. The participating organizations from the various global regions and countries in which the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of the people are intense should be encouraged to help in drafting statements. Generally, such organizations know better than outsiders the circumstances and issues in their own areas.

  6. As it is, the ILPS is a large and significant combination of hundreds of mass organizations, still very unevenly distributed geographically. In the meantime, it must work hard to realize the potential of becoming the largest and well-spread international united front of anti-imperialist mass organizations. But it must always be ready and willing to cooperate with other anti-imperialist coordinating centers and frameworks and thereby gain access to and cooperation with so many mass formations that are not yet within the ILPS. The anti-imperialist united front must always grow, with the ILPS enlarging itself and cooperating with other forces.

Malcolm Guy,
7 July 2011

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