Spratly Conflict: Workers of the Philippines and China, Unite!

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Fred
Spratly Conflict: Workers of the Philippines and China, Unite!
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Spratly Conflict: Workers of the Philippines and China, Unite!. The discussion was initiated by Fred.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Fred
It's interesting and unusual

It's interesting and unusual too to get a take on the conflict between bourgeoisie and proletariat from the other end of the world, which is what Internasyonalismo gives us in this article, about the disputes over the resource-rich Spratly islands, covetously dribbled over by a variety of bourgeois contenders. But it's exactly the same conflict of course, only the weather is different. "National bourgeoisie of disputing countries extremely exploits and oppresses the workers. Hundreds of thousands of workers in China launched wildcat strikes or demonstrations almost every day against their state and capitalists. Strikes are happening in Vietnam because of low-wages and absence of benefits. Filipino workers face and experience the same issues. The hardships of the proletarians facing the "third world" are nothing different from the hardships of their brothers/sisters in the "first world” countries, particularly the USA." We could also add strikes in Indonesia to the list, and insist that it's one world one struggle.

As the article wisely observes with regard to the Spratleys: "Whoever wins over the current standoff it will not be the toiling masses of China or the Philippines." And goes on to point out that: " History has taught us that sovereignty, patriotism, and the state serve only the interest of the bourgeoisie.". Whether the fact that the Philippines, and even more so nearby Indonesia, which have suffered for centuries from an amazing variety of colonizing exploiters, makes it easier or just more difficult to see through the bourgeoisie and the ideologies of patriotism and nationalism they drag along behind them, might be a point to be debated.

But as Internasyonalismo conclude; our task as workers is the same everywhere: to free ourselves from poverty ( rapidly increasing now even in capital's power houses) to free ourselves from the chains of wage slavery, and to build tbe communist society.

Fred
This is from an article"The

This is from an article"The nature of Communism" which the ICC has made available as part of today's reading menu. The question is:what does it mean for South East Asia, particularly the Philippines - "Workers of the Philippines and China unite" - but also for Indonesia and the other widely spread out nations of this region?

"-- The proletariat, denied all economic power within society, exploited at the point of production, can only look to itself for its own liberation. It can oppose capitalism only with its own solidarity and its own consciousness: two weapons which themselves embody the principle character istic of the future society."

The most exciting part of thinking about the revolution is the idea of "consciousness". Because it's a completely new idea, which, up till now, humanity has largely had to manage without - and look at the consequent mess! Without consciousness the revolution is impossible, because unthinkable. If we don't know what we're doing, then we can't do it. It's as simple as that. When most of us know, or even only some of us, then, with the essential help of the Party, the idea can catch on and spread, and Solidarity will become the order of the day.

But how will this work in huge countries, with huge populations spread across thousands of islands, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, not to mention "stretched out" countries like Malaysia and Thailand. And these are places too where workers are very much small minorities, where the development of consciousness is probaly even more difficult than in the "first world", and where any solidarity is likely to be watered down by gallons of ocean.

Do we have to rely on workers in China or India to show the way and/or come to our help? What about Japan - even further away! What about the vastness of the huge peasantry here, with it's obsessions for land, and uneducated and superstitious outlook on life? Real "rural idiocy" as Marx called it, though I don't think he had this area in mind. What might happen here if a revolution took hold in Europe and it's ideas began to spread to the planet's farther reaches? Wouldn't there be an appalling bloodbath and free-for-all, as happened in Indonesia with the arrival of Suharto; when "communists" were slaughtered by the thousands in the streets of Bali and elsewhere, and revenge was the dominant ideological force, a result of centuries of repression?

It's easy to ask questions and feel smart, but have no answers. And only history will show. But I worry for Internasyonalista, and all the other beautiful people of S.E. Asia, and indeed everywhere else. We must prepare as much as possible for what could prove a deadly business. We have to think about all of this, and consider how the revolution is to be managed with only small forces, and small amounts of consciousness, though this might quickly grow. And we are sick of our poverty.

Crisanto
Focus of the article

I think the article focus on the issue of Philippine-China conflict in Spratly from an internationalist perspective.

In the Philippines today, because of this conflict, nationalist ideology once again gaining ground even within the militant section of the working class (influence by different leftist ideologies). Thus, the internationalist elements in the Philippines should draw the proletarian line on how to see and analyse this inter-imperialist rivalry.

Concerning the advancement and victory of the communist revolution, I think the "spark" will happened in the area where the working class is the strongest in terms of organization and consciousness against its class enemy. This happened in the past: Paris Commune and Russian revolution.

However, to advance the movement world-wide (since socialism cannot be built in one country), communist organizations should firmly consider the world-wide balance of class forces. And the "spark" should be expanded as soon as possible to other countries or else it will suffer as what happened in Russia after the defeat of Germany in 1919.

With this point of reference, I think Western Europe is the key for the generalization and advancement of the world revolution, even if the "spark" will not begin there. (http://en.internationalism.org/ir/1982/31/critique-of-the-weak-link-theory)

We should learn the lessons in Poland 80-81. Why at the end the Polish proletariat was defeated.

Last point. Generally the working class movement in South-east Asia is very weak today. Though there are many wildcat strikes happening in China and in Vietnam but the other parts are not like that: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar. South Korean workers showed militancy in the past but not able to sustain it because of strong influence of unionism (particularly KCTU) which openly capitulated now to the "democratic" regime.

Yes India is promising also as far as workers' struggles are concern. But they have still a long way to go.

Of course, the political landscape would be different IF there are strong workers movement (independetly organized from unionism) in China and India. But still, Western Europe is decisive far as hammering heavy blows to world capitalism.

Anyhow, let's see if American workers can act independently from unionism. But as what the Wisconsin showed, unions are still very strong influence among the American workers despite the fact that their banckruptcy been openly exposed.

baboon
imperialism

I support the internationalist position of the article defending the one interest of the proletariat. And I support Fred's point about the importance of this half of the globe for the coming struggles. While strikes have hit China and Vietnam, there's been quite large social movements and protests in the rest of east Asia. And it's not only in this region that nationalism can be whipped up and we can see the role of the unions in this in Germany/Greece. In the latter the unions, the stalinists and neo-fascists have come together to blame the "greedy" Germans, reviving old tensions. In the meantime the workers in Germany gave the best answer by engaging in more strikes to refute the myth of the "cushioned" German workers.

Over the Sprateleys, all sides are saying that they want a "peaceful" settlement and the Chinese have withdrawn some warships. The Phillipine government has invoked treaties with the United States and it will not be backward in coming forward. China's push outwards has necessitated a US response which has recently seen even closer cooperation with the Australian state with the sending of thousands more marines and B52's clearly aimed at China. Part of this big push has been the attempt by the US and Britain to bring Burma back into the "international community", which is a considerable blow to Chiinese imperialism. A couple of weeks ago Cameron made a last minute visit to reaffirm British links with the National Freedom Party and on return, at the behest of the US (and its own interests), Britain lobbied hard in Europe to get sanctions lifted on Burma.

Peter Pan
philippines are imperialist as well

The article of the Philippine section of the ICC is clearly internationalist, denouncing all propaganda aimed at dividing the worldwide working class through nationalism. It also clearly states that:

"The dispute over the Spratly islands is not exclusive between China and the Philippines. Other countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia squabbled with them, and Brunei joined-in claiming for the resource rich island. The basis of each country is there long history of colonial aggression and not their "national sovereignty."

There is however a great weakness in this article. It is not clear enough about imperialism, it still is ambiguous. This is clearly observed in the ending slogan: "Down with imperialist China and and America!" Why this slogan? Why doesn't the article pose that ALL countries in the world today are imperialist, that China, the USA and also the Philippines are imperialist? Why this slogan? It is in contradiction with the other 4 slogans! Why stress that China and the USA are imperialist and that especially these 2 have "to go down"? Better would be: "ALL countries are imperialist!" and then: "Down with the world imperialist system!"

 

Crisanto
Yes all countries are imperialistic

Peter Pan wrote:

The article of the Philippine section of the ICC is clearly internationalist, denouncing all propaganda aimed at dividing the worldwide working class through nationalism. It also clearly states that:

"The dispute over the Spratly islands is not exclusive between China and the Philippines. Other countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia squabbled with them, and Brunei joined-in claiming for the resource rich island. The basis of each country is there long history of colonial aggression and not their "national sovereignty."

There is however a great weakness in this article. It is not clear enough about imperialism, it still is ambiguous. This is clearly observed in the ending slogan: "Down with imperialist China and and America!" Why this slogan? Why doesn't the article pose that ALL countries in the world today are imperialist, that China, the USA and also the Philippines are imperialist? Why this slogan? It is in contradiction with the other 4 slogans! Why stress that China and the USA are imperialist and that especially these 2 have "to go down"? Better would be: "ALL countries are imperialist!" and then: "Down with the world imperialist system!"

This is a valid criticism of the article. On the other hand, slogans at the end of the article in my opinion tried to stress and counter the widespread propaganda in the Philippines both by many leftist organizations and the state that China is the bully as far as Philippine territorial integrity is concern and USA is an ally and defender of Philippine sovereignty. Philippine maoists on the other hand stress that China is the secondary enemy (thus open to a possibility of an alliance) and USA is the principal one.

Besides, the article is in a leaflet format (2 pages).

Philippines has also an imperialist appetite. Sabah in 1970s was claimed by Philippines as her against Malaysia. Indonesia also with East Timor (before the latter's "independence"). Each nation tend to control the weaker ones. However, imperialistic appetite is basically not the same as imperialist in deeds. That's why the weaker nations tend to depend on the stronger ones which interests coincide with the local bourgeoisie of the former and at the same time bullying or controlling the relatively weakest.

As Peter Pan said, despite the weakness of the article on the question of sharpness in elaborating internationalist position in this part of the globe where nationalism is very much strong and the workers' movement is weak, the article boldly establish the demarcation line between bourgeois and proletarian analysis on the on-going conflict in Spratly islands between national capitals in the region.

The ICC and its sections in Asia (despite our many limitations) are closely monitoring and analysing the imperialist tension in the region (China, India, USA, Japan, Australia, etc). In other words, between China and USA (since other countries except North Korea are all align with the latter at the moment). The tension here has implications in the world level and vice-versa.

Other internationalist organizations and elements could help us in this task because in understanding what is happening in Asia is for the interest of the world proletariat.

Peter Pan
didnt know

Thanx for the clarifications Internasyonalista. I don't know a lot about the imperialist situation in S.E. Asia. If the local propaganda (be it "official" state propaganda or maoist propaganda) is indeed orientated on creating a one-sided hate towards China or the USA, it is right to stress that they BOTH are imperialist and BOTH oppress workers struggle. Still, if we see the slogans, without reading the article, it leaves a gate towards philippine nationalism. But if you read the whole article, this is excluded:

"Comrades, Filipino and Chinese workers, let us not be persuaded by these sweet talks and smooth speeches, and by poisonous propaganda of our "own" governments! Let us continue our struggle against all attacks of capital upon our ranks within our countries. Let us continue to expose the oppressive and exploitative nature of the capitalist class, local or foreign. We need to strengthen our unity as a class!"

and:

"National bourgeoisie of disputing countries extremely exploits and oppresses the workers. Hundreds of thousands of workers in China launched wildcat strikes or demonstrations almost every day against their state and capitalists. Strikes are happening in Vietnam because of low-wages and absence of benefits. Filipino workers face and experience the same issues. The hardships of the proletarians facing the "third world" are nothing different from the hardships of their brothers/sisters in the "first world” countries, particularly the USA."

 

baboon
tensions

While any article or leaflet can be improved upon once it's gone to print I don't see much wrong with Inter's piece above. It talks about "our bourgeoisie", "national sovereignty" and "Filipino imperialism" as well as the class enemy being the Filipino government.

As the response to Peter says above, there are different levels and nuances to imperialism. The Chinese move is ongoing but specifically in response to joint US/Filipino war games currently going on in the region. At the same time, in the last couple of days, the Phillipines Foreign Minister has been to Washington and clearly laid out the inadequacy of his country's navy (faced with the Chinese threat). And again yesterday, to confirm the US push, the leader of the US Seventh Fleet was in Cambodia for talks with the government - and no doubt China was high on the agenda.