Corruption is build-in in a capitalist system
It becomes a political comedy to hear from some leaders of the progressive left that Pres. Noynoy Aquino can eradicate corruption and poverty in the Philippines without overthrowing the capitalist system. This shows the very low level of theoretical understanding of Marxism-Leninism, if not being eaten by opportunism and reformism.
When everything is a commodity, why wouldn’t power be up for sale?
It is very basic in the study of Marxism that when everything is a commodity not only in the economic spheres, so with the political life of the country, and therefore, political power is also for sale. This can be reflected on the huge money spent before, during and after election to bribe the people and in return, the politicians regained their spending and profited more through their pork barrel, maintenance and other operating expenses (MOE) and other means as revealed by Sen. Miriam Defensor.
Each senator gets P150 million in pork every year; there are 24 senators. Each congressman gets P70 million a year; there are 250 of them. Chairmen and members of the Senate and House committees on Finance and Appropriations get much, much more. So go do the arithmetic and you will have an idea of how many billions of pesos of the people’s taxes are lost to the pork barrel system alone, money that should have been spent instead for services to the people and alleviate poverty, money that should have been funneled back in services to the people who slaved for and paid them.
It is so easy to end the pork barrel system. It is the Executive Department that prepares the annual budget and sends it to Congress. The legislature cannot appropriate funds for projects not in the President’s original budget proposal. So all the President has to do is not include in his budget proposal funds for pork. But year in and year out, Malacañang includes lump sums for such innocent-sounding appropriations as Priority Development Assistance Fund and Countrywide Development Fund. That is only the principal pork barrel fund. There are still congressional insertions in the budgets of most departments. The insertions provide that hundreds of millions of pesos of the budget are set aside for the projects of certain legislators. The pork barrel is the President’s way of bribing legislators to do what he wants.
One of the principal causes of corruption is the pork barrel, that part of the people’s money surreptitiously set aside for their projects, half of which they steal. During GMA administration she got P800 million pork barrel every year and now, Pres. Noynoy Aquino got P1 billion pork barrel every year. The mayors, all councilors from municipal to City to provincial, congressmen, senators and the President have their own pork barrels, one of the major sources of corruption. They capitalized certain amount during campaign period and when seated in power, they regained their capital expenses and profited more (bureaucrat capitalism).
Major political corruption scandals have recently made headlines in tri-media around the country. The increased attention to the issue raises important questions: Are politics getting more corrupt? Or have such scandals existed throughout all era of politics in the Philippines? Is it a matter of an individual abused or built-in in the system itself?
Political corruption is institutional
Political corruption has existed in every era of Philippine political life. Even when a few “bad apples” are punished for their crimes, legions of lobbyists for some of the biggest and most powerful corporations still dominate nearly every aspect of Philippine politics.
Bad apples in a basket of rotten fruit
Clearly, the source of the corruption is not in the individual perpetrators found guilty of a crime, but rather the nature of the system itself (capitalism itself). With such interconnection existing between private corporations and the government, how could one not expect the interests of “national security” and profit-making to become one and the same?
Politics, like all else under capitalism, becomes commodities. Those with political power and influence sell their favors to the highest bidders. Most corruption is sanctified by law: campaign contributions, corporate lobbyism, coveted corporate positions doled out to former and present state officials. The rest is swept under the rug—the not-so-secret stuff everyone in the ruling circles knows but no one talks about, until something becomes too big to hide.
As long as the banks (like World Banks, International Monetary Fund) and big corporations hold the keys to power in all the major institutions of the Philippine government, these same relationships between politics and private business and the associated corruption will continue unabated. Social classes begets social privileges for those who haves in life and deprives those who have not in life and social privileges for those who are in power begets corruption.
Class analysis and class ideology
President Noynoy Aquino and his members of the cabinet (Executive Branch) together with the vast of senators and congressmen (Legislative Branch) along with the Courts (Judicial Branch) falls under the category of the ruling class- they all represents the bourgeoisie and Pres. Noynoy as the chief executive of the ruling class. Pres. Noynoy cannot betray his very own class and the class interest of the bourgeoisie he represents otherwise he sides with the interest of the working class because there are only two great classes that are opposing, in contradiction antagonistically and no remedy for reconciliation as what Marx said that history is a history of class struggle.
“Marx said: Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — bourgeoisie and proletariat.”
Lenin also said that there is no third ideology that mankind has ever created and that there are only two opposing ideologies: the bourgeois ideology versus the working class ideology, the reactionary and the revolutionary. Now, where does Pres. Noynoy stands for? As the chief executive of the current government, the State does not stand in neutrality neither act as mediator. The state is a product of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms, special bodies of armed men, prisons, etc and an instrument for the exploitation of the oppressed class.
In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole? The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mold the proletarian movement. The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only:
(1) In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality.
(2) In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.
The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the lines of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.
Class struggle: Concerted , Collective and Conscious Class Struggle
According to Marx: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
What is this forcible overthrow means? Some reformists say that it could mean election or any peaceful form of overthrowing the government. Is this true? To answer this question, Let us go back to what Lenin said:
“Outbreaks— demonstrations—street fighting—units of a revolutionary army—such are the stages in the development of the popular uprising. Now at last we have reached the final stage. This does not mean, of course, that the movement in its entirety has advanced to this new and higher stage. No, there is still a good deal of backwardness in the movement; in the Odessa events there are unmistakable signs of old-time rioting. But it does mean that the advance waves of the elemental flood have already reached the very threshold of the absolutist “stronghold”. It does mean that the advanced representatives of the popular masses have themselves arrived, not as a result of theoretical reasoning, but under the impact of the growing movement, at new and higher tasks of the struggle, the final struggle against the enemy of the Russian people. The autocracy has done everything to prepare this struggle. For years it has provoked the people to an armed struggle with its troops, and now it is reaping what it sowed. The units of the revolutionary army are springing up out of the army itself. The task of these units is to proclaim the insurrection, to give the masses military leadership, as essential in civil war as in any other war; to create strong points for the open mass struggle; to spread the uprising to neighboring districts; to establish complete political freedom, if only at first in a small part of the country; to embark on the revolutionary transformation of the decayed absolutist system; and to give full scope to the revolutionary creative activity of the masses, who participate but little in this activity in time of peace, but who come to the forefront in revolutionary epochs. Only by clearly understanding these new tasks, only by posing them boldly and broadly, can the units of the revolutionary army win complete victory and become the strong points of a revolutionary government. And a revolutionary government is as vitally essential at the present stage of the popular uprising as a revolutionary army. The revolutionary army is needed for military struggle and for military leadership of the masses against the remnants of the military forces of the autocracy. The revolutionary army is needed because great historical issues can be re solved only by force, and, in modern struggle, the organization of force means military organization. Besides the remnants of the autocracy’s military forces there are the military forces of the neighboring states for whose support the tottering Russian Government is already begging, of which later ( Lenin: The Revolutionary Army and the Revolutionary Government).
The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: Formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat. In all these movements they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.
No Marxist in his right mind will tell the Filipino people that Pres. Noynoy can improve the standard of living of the working class by helping Pres. Noynoy pushing his agenda or slogan “kung wlang corrupt walang mahirap”. Class struggle is the prime mover of social development and only through a concerted, collective and conscious class struggle of the working class can turn the system upside down. This is very important and basic to Marxism-Leninism. Red letter activities (rallies) does not fall under class struggle in its essense. It does not make the working class politically conscious. Such activities (red calendar) are superficial. The kind of revolution the working class must fight for until their last breath is socialist revolution and therefore, it will be a working class struggle (the class line). Unlike the CPP-NPA that wages bourgeois democratic revolution (people’s struggle) which is populace line with no class imprint. Class struggle is the key prime mover for system change and social development.
The importance of class struggle: it defines the ideology of the class, its form of organization and its class complete independence, it defines the class enemy and the direction (strategy) of the struggle. One of the major reasons why Edsa people power 1,2,3 did not result into working class positioning in governance was because they integrated with the other faction of the ruling class and forgot their complete class independence and their mission in capturing political power and establishing their class rule. The history of working class movement has proven this error in many countries.
The policy of class complete independence and the working class movement
Marx and Engels mercilessly unmasked the cowardly, counter-revolutionary role of the bourgeoisie, and emphasized the need for the workers to maintain a “policy of complete class independence”, not only from the bourgeois liberals, but also from the vacillating petty bourgeois democrats.
“…The practical task of the class-conscious elements in the working-class movement is to point out to the proletariat its mistake, and to explain to it how risky is the game called armed uprising. We must value the support of the non-proletarian opposition parties, and not repel them by tactless actions” (Lenin on Insurrection).
Many times Lenin criticized Plekhanov for his idea that the working class must not antagonize the other section of the ruling class-the opposition faction and that tactical alliance with the opposition was beneficial to the working class. This idea of Plekhanov is denounced many times by Lenin.
Stalinist bureaucracy instead of pursuing a revolutionary policy based on class independence, as Lenin had always advocated, they proposed an alliance of the Communist Parties with the “national progressive bourgeoisie” (and if there was not one easily at hand, they were quite prepared to invent it) to carry through the democratic revolution, and afterwards, later on, in the far distant future, when the country had developed a fully fledged capitalist economy, fight for socialism. This policy on non-complete independence of the working class and alliance with the liberal bourgeoisie and the national progressive bourgeoisie that the Stalinist bureaucracy made according to Lenin was a complete break with Leninism and a return to the old discredited position of Menshevism. The same error committed by the Menscheviks is what is happening now in the Philippine Left movement both the RA camp and the RJ.
The inter-classist movement in the Philippines is initiated by the leftist Maoist movement. This is one of their “three magic weapons” for their bourgeois national-democratic revolution. Its concept of revolution is the Stalinist “bloc of four classes” (i.e., alliance of workers, peasants, and petty-bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie). That’s why it is part of its basic principles the tactical alliance with the faction of the ruling class. But this Maoist strategy is also practice by the anti-Maoist leftists in the Philippines. This only means that frontism of whatever type is inherent to all leftist currents to derail the proletariat to achieve its own class consciousness.
When the proletarian movement integrates itself to the struggle of the non-proletarian classes especially with the faction of the capitalist class, it weakens itself as a class. In 1986, the relatively strong militant workers movement was weaken due to the united front policy and armed guerilla actions of the Maoist CPP. In 2001, the already weak proletarian movement was further weakened by the inter-classist “People Power” to oust Joseph Estrada. Now, once again, all factions of the bourgeoisie and the unions are calling the atomized and demoralized workers to participate in the struggles led by its class enemy.
What happened in Latin America is also what happened in 1986 and 2001 in the Philippines: “The fact that significant parts of the proletariat have been sucked into these revolts is of the greatest importance, because it marks a profound loss of class autonomy. Instead of seeing themselves as proletarians with their own interests, workers in Bolivia and Argentina saw themselves as citizens sharing common interests with the petty-bourgeois and non-exploiting strata.” (ICC, ‘Popular revolts’ in Latin America: Its class autonomy is vital to the proletariat)
If we do not seek social revolution then independent political organization of the working class is not required, which is why those that seek only the reform of capitalism or believe capitalism can be turned into socialism through piecemeal change inevitably enter into deals and coalitions with capitalist parties. To those that believe revolution is not required or at least not on the historical agenda we will limit ourselves to one remark. Reforms of capitalism, no matter how extensive, (and leaving out how they might be won without actually threatening revolution), leave workers as wage-slaves, as producers of profit for capitalists; inevitably leaving them political slaves as well. Anyone with the remotest interest in socialism will not find it hard to appreciate that a class that leaves itself economically exploited, that has its daily life under the supervision and control of the capitalist class, and of the capitalist state, will never have the power to remove inequality and insecurity or their causes. It is for this reason that Marx also said that ‘The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing.’
The liberal bourgeoisie grant reforms with one hand, and with the other always take them back, reduce them to nought, use them to enslave the workers, to divide them into separate groups and perpetuate wage-slavery. For that reason reformism, even when quite sincere, in practice becomes a weapon by means of which the bourgeoisie corrupt and weaken the workers. The experience of all countries shows that the workers who put their trust in the reformists are always fooled.
And conversely, workers who have assimilated Marx’s theory, i.e., realized the inevitability of wage-slavery so long as capitalist rule remains, will not be fooled by any bourgeois reforms. Understanding that where capitalism continued to exist reforms cannot be either enduring or far-reaching, the workers fight for better conditions and use them to intensify the fight against wage-slavery. The reformists try to divide and deceive the workers, to divert them from the class struggle by petty concessions. But the workers, having seen through the falsity of reformism, utilize reforms to develop and broaden their class struggle.
The stronger reformist influence is among the workers the weaker they are, the greater their dependence on the bourgeoisie, and the easier it is for the bourgeoisie to nullify reforms by various subterfuges. The more independent the working-class movement, the deeper and broader its aims, and the freer it is from reformist narrowness the easier it is for the workers to retain and utilize improvements.
This reformist will derail the political consciousness of the working class and divert the struggle from revolution to reformism. They will deceive the masses with their promises that their so-called tactical allies in bureaucracy can bring change or better life and that what the working class can do is just “support and go with the program” of the reactionary government instead of class struggle. Mass movement for reformist became a game, a source of money making at the expense of the masses in the streets, a red letter calendar activities and at the end, the working class become tired until they will lost their faith in the revolution.
Resourcing: Alliance building or expropriation?
As many times said that politically, organizationally and ideologically, the working class has no allies vis-a-vis struggle for seizure of political power onward building socialism. Only in a bourgeois democratic revolution such alliances between some section of national bourgeoisie, liberal democrats, peasants and working class can be done.
The resources the revolutionary working class can get from the bourgeoisie and their big corporations (monetary or any kind) must not fall under the category of alliance building but expropriation. During the time of Lenin he organized an armed group to carry the task of expropriation for funding sourcing of the revolutionary activities of the Bolshevik. The working class cannot and must not be used as instruments to suppress the other poor sectors for the interest of the bourgeoisie. This is betrayal of working class nature and mission.
So what was the alternative? I have argued that any alternative should have been informed by the task of advancing the independent organization of the working class with the understanding that ‘the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves’ (Marx Provisional rules of the First International).
Let us not be eaten by reformism and opportunism tendencies. Straight to the point: Reformism or revolution? There is only one road for social development and that is class struggle. The reformist might argued that “the present objective condition does not warrant a direct confrontation between the capitalist-run state and the working class”, again, much more that the revolutionary working class must engage into more intensive and aggressive agitation and propaganda against the state.