By Zely Ariane*
The never ending traffic jams of Quezon City, Philippines, found its ‘compensation’ in the second Asian Global Justice School on August 2-21.
Representing the Political Committee of the Poor-People’s Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD), along with 10 other left activists from Taiwan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Japan and Pakistan, I participated in a three-week school in Manila organised by International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE)-Manila.
The participants came from a variety of revolutionary organisations and parties with different traditions, engaging in different areas of national struggle. Some were peasant organisers, labour and women's activists while others worked on rural issues or conflict areas.
Covering 16 key topics, the school was inspiring and rich in content, consolidating revolutionary ideas and putting the pieces of world’s problems together into a revolutionary Marxist perspective and posing socialist solutions.
No other phase in this civilised world where discussing Marxism and Socialism find its exactness in the ongoing world crisis under capitalism and imperialism. Fukuyama ‘end of history’ analysis has also paralysed in the presence of ‘the beginning of new history’ presented by ongoing people’s resistance in Latin America, especially in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador against imperialism and, at the same time, struggling to create something new: socialism in 21st century.
The topics at the school were broken into three categories: the context of the struggle which is Asian in the context of the global political and economic situation, the movement of struggle and organising for change.
The first category covered: the Asia and world economic crisis -- which concentrated on the China phenomenon; the impact of imperialism and globalisation in the past and present; international migration -- characterised by the history of migration in relation to the development of capitalism and the impact of the current crisis; religion and religious movements -- how to differentiate reactionary and progressive religious movements in the context of national struggles; class composition in Asia -- who are the working class in a planet of slums?
In the second category covered six topics: the rural question and the role of the peasantry -- which described the present conjuncture of agriculture, and what is peasantry today and its movements; the opportunities for NGOs – looking at their role in civil society and the question of political power; feminism -- the specifics and class oppression of women; trade union struggles in Asia -- the state of labour struggle in Asia and the possibilities of moving forward; nationalism and national liberation – differentiating between the two and the role of the working class poor and other popular and oppressed sectors in the struggle for national liberation; Marxism and ecology -- how to link the two and unfolding ecological crisis as a direct impact of capitalism.
The final category consisted of five topics on revolutionary strategies with Latin America examples – the strategy of struggle for socialism with examples; internationalism and the global justice movement – looking at the state of the international movement today and the need for international cooperation; movements and the dialectic of reform and revolution on how to win revolutionary programs by reaching out as many as possible people in the movements, as well as the relationship between the party and the movements; revolutionary parties and the international on the context of building revolutionary parties and the need for international collaboration; 21st century socialism -- how to build socialism and learn from the mistakes of socialism in the 20th century, and the importance elements will be in creating it. There was also an additional and importance discussions were about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues related to capitalism and an exchange of country experiences.
Also participating in the school were left speakers from a variety of backgrounds such as Peter Wang from the Association for the Advancement of Research in Marxism in Hong Kong, Kenji Kunitomi from the Japan Revolutionary Communist League (JRCL), Jakob Wedemeijer and Alex de Jong from the Netherlands Socialist Alternative Politics (SAP), Pierre Rousset from the New Anti Capitalist Party in France, Philippines left-leaders Ricardo Reyes and Frank Pascual, Philippines women's activists Yennah Torres, Walden Bello Ph. D representing the Akbayan Party List from the Philippines, Wilson Fortalesa from the Philippines Partido ng Manggagawa and Richard Solis from IIRE Manila.
The warm and comradely discussion between participants was enhanced by placing the topics in the context of Asian countries, or the semi-colonial countries, where we are conducting our day-to-day struggle. The topics such as Religion & Religious Movement, Rural Question, NGO’s, Women and LGBT issues, Nationalism & National Liberation, Strategy and Latin America Examples, Party and The Movement, and 21st Century Socialism were the most interesting discussed. Asian countries have the largest number of poor in the world (and the most small-farmers and peasants) with the biggest number of NGO’s intervening, with some of the most backward cultures and dynamic people’s movements and left organisations. Much of the discussion related to how organise these into the movement of revolt.
There were however many issues that needed to be discussed further, particularly with regard to economic relations and class, imperialism, the oppression of women and LGBT, and revolutionary strategy. And this need became clear over the discussion during the school. It was also an occasion to recharge and challenge ones understanding of both theory and practice and essential for the future of revolutionary socialist struggle.
There are many new and young left activists joining the movement and revolutionary organisations, often without really understanding the history of their own left traditions, or in countries with no specific left tradition. The school was an excellent opportunity to put forward different approaches and views but did not attempt to create a uniformity of perspectives. Rather, it was a tool for learning from each other and bringing these lessons into the national context of struggle and challenging them in the national discussions.
It was also an opportunity to learn and discuss historical revolutionary lessons in order to build the revolutionary party and the movement for today that is democratic, broad but at the same time radical.
[*Zely Ariane is the national spokesperson for the Political Committee of the Poor-Peoples Democratic Party; member of Free Women organization.]