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Imperialism, Wars of Aggression and People's Resistance
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines

Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines
1 May 2003 Meeting
Groningen, Netherlands
1 May 2003

I am deeply pleased to be invited by the NCPN and NCPN Youth to speak on a topic of urgent importance on such a meaningful and happy occasion as the international day of the working class.

Let me present my understanding of imperialism, why and how it is the cause of wars of aggression such as those that have been unleashed since 1991 and the current US military intervention in the Philippines, and the people’s resistance to imperialism worldwide, especially in the Philippines.

I. Monopoly Capitalism or Modern Imperialism

In most of the 19th century, free competition capitalism flourished among so many small and medium capitalists in various fields of industrial activity. It coincided with the industrial revolution. In the last quarter of the 19th century, it developed into monopoly capitalism.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the world definitely entered the era of modern imperialism or monopoly capitalism. This is the highest and final stage of capitalism. It has the following five features:

1. In several capitalist countries, monopoly capital had become dominant. The monopoly bourgeoisie became the dominant class on top of whatever remained of the owners of the small and medium types of industrial enterprises.

2. Industrial capital and bank capital merged to produce finance capital and a finance oligarchy. With the use of finance capital, the monopoly bourgeoisie could increase its assets by expanding production or by sheer manipulation of bank credit and the securities market.

3. The export of surplus capital gained importance over the export of surplus goods. The monopoly bourgeoisie made direct and indirect investments in other countries in order to extract superprofits on its investments even as it drew maximum profits on its sale of surplus goods.

4. Monopoly firms competed with each other and engaged in such combines as cartels, syndicates, trusts, mergers and alliances. Some imperialist countries aligned against other imperialist countries in rough correspondence to the competition of their respective monopoly firms.

5. The world had been completely divided among the imperialist and colonial powers since the end of 19th century. Beyond the national borders of said powers, there was no longer a part of the world that was not either a colony, semi-colony or dependent country. These were regarded as economic territory: sources of materials, markets, fields of investment and spheres of influence.

No imperialist power can greatly and abruptly increase its economic territory without upsetting the balance of power among the imperialists, intensifying the struggle for a redivision of the world and causing wars. By its nature, monopoly capitalism or imperialism is greedy and aggressive.

In the world capitalist system, the monopoly bourgeoisie is always trying to maximize profits by exploiting the workers and oppressed peoples. But by cutting down the incomes of the real producers of wealth, it shrinks the market and brings about a crisis of overproduction. Subsequently, such political monsters as chauvinism, racism and fascism arise to drive imperialist countries to war.

Humanity has witnessed the economic crisis of 1900 and the wars from 1898 to 1905 that introduced the era of modern imperialism, the two inter-imperialist wars, World War I from 1914 to 1918 and World II from 1939 to 1945 and the Cold War from 1948 to 1991.

World War I exacted a heavy toll on human lives and property. But the first socialist country emerged from the weakest link in the chain of imperialist powers. World War II was even more destructive than World War I. But it provided the conditions for several socialist countries and for a great number of national liberation movements to arise.

US imperialism waged the Cold War in order to fight the socialist countries and the national liberation movements by all means, including wars of aggression, intervention, military encirclement, subversion, trade embargoes, puppet regimes of open terror and massacres.

The people in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Indochina, Cuba and other parts of the world won great revolutionary victories. But the currents of modern revisionism undermined the socialist countries and so did neocolonialism the newly liberated countries. By the period of 1989 to 1991 the Cold War would be definitively won by the US upon the disintegration of the revisionist regimes, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the full and open restoration of capitalism in the former Soviet bloc countries.

II. Wars of Aggression and Intervention

It would seem as if the US won the Cold War due to superior economic and political power over the Soviet Union in the period of 1989 to 1991. But in fact the US, like Japan, Germany and the Soviet Union, was in deep economic trouble. In the particular case of the US, it was reeling from the global capitalist crisis of overproduction, aggravated by the accumulated long-term economic and military costs of winning the Cold War and by the recent military overspending by Reagan.

To get the support of its imperialist allies against the Soviet Union from 1948 onwards, the US accommodated them in the American market and neglected its own manufacturing for export. It supported the reconstruction of the imperialist countries defeated in World War II and some industrialization of certain small areas (Taiwan, South Korea and the like) frontlining for the US against its enemies. It also spent heavily to maintain overseas military troops and bases.

Since the 1970s, the US had been in the process of an economic decline. When it started to drum up "free market" globalization in the early 1980s, the US was attracting foreign funds from abroad with high bank interest rates and high profit rates in military and military-related production. It borrowed heavily from Japan, Western Europe and the oil-producing countries by selling US bonds and stocks to them. It covered its bankruptcy, its budgetary and trade deficits, with foreign debt and became the biggest debtor in the world

In most of the 1980s, Reagan spent heavily on high-tech military production and did not revive manufacturing for export. During his own presidential term, Bush the senior tried to undertake a trade offensive but failed. He followed the advice of his strategic planners that the US might as well ignite a war in the Gulf, use its military power and start to tighten control over the main oil producers in OPEC.

Behind the scenes the US imperialists encouraged Iraq to invade Kuwait in 1990. Subsequently, the US headed a war coalition against Iraq under the name of the UN in early 1991. The US made huge gains from its war of aggression in Iraq. Aside from making various allies pay for the military equipment and operations, the US was able to establish military bases and grab the lion’s share of the oil income of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the emirates by imposing on them extremely expensive military contracts. Iraq was devastated by US bombings and by US-supported uprisings.

Palestine lost the material support of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the emirates. And Iraq could not provide to Palestine any support in kind to make up for what had been lost. Thus, soon after the end of the first war against Iraq, the US went into a frenzy of efforts to bend the Palestinian people as well as the Arab peoples to the will of the US imperialists and Israeli Zionists..

The next target of US was Yugoslavia. In collaboration with its NATO allies, the US was able to engineer the separation of Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia from Yugoslavia by stirring up ethnic and religious differences. Ultimately, it waged a full-scale US-NATO war of aggression to break up what remained of Yugoslavia after stirring up contradictions between Kosovo and Serbia. It used high-tech military weaponry to attack civilian communities, government buildings, hospitals, schools, electric plants, fuel storage tanks, bridges, railways and other public utilities.

In the process of weakening and bringing down the Milosevic government, the US succeeded with its objectives to accelerate the military expansion of the US and NATO to the southern flank of Russia, establish military basing and access rights in the whole of Eastern Europe, consolidate bilateral US military relations with the anti-communist East European governments, and ensure the flow of oil from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia to the Mediterranean and to prevent any short cut to Germany via Chechnya or the Danube-Rhine connection.

Taking advantage of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the US launched in October 2001 the war of aggression against Afghanistan under the pretext of hunting down Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda. Again high-tech military weaponry made short shrift of the decrepit Taliban government. The US failed to catch or kill Osama bin Laden but made far bigger gains for US monopoly capitalism.

Aggression against Afghanistan gained for the US imperialists a military basing and access rights in former Soviet republics (Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) in Central Asia, a tighter hold on the sources of oil and gas in the Caspian Sea region and Central Asia, a way for pipelines from those regions to Afghanistan and Pakistan for bringing oil to the Arabian coast and Indian ocean, and thereby a stranglehold on the energy requirements of East Asia.

In violation of the UN Charter and the UN Security Council resolution 1441, the US unleashed the second war of aggression against Iraq. It made the false claim that the Iraqi government had nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction that could be used for the purpose of terrorism, particularly for attacking the US. It invoked preemptive war for self-defense. Then, it admitted to be an aggressor even more blatantly by proclaiming to liberate the sovereign Iraqi people.

The US has succeeded in conquering and occupying Iraq by using its high-tech military weaponry in the most cowardly and brutal manner. Now, it has set up a colonial administration under a rabidly pro-Israel general and is choosing puppets to carry out a divide and rule policy. It has gained direct control over the oil resources of Iraq and intends to privatise and put these under the complete or controlling ownership of US oil companies. Other US firms are poised to rake in profits from new military production contracts, building military bases in Iraq, reconstruction projects and humanitarian aid, all to be paid for by Iraqi oil.

By controlling the second largest oil reserve in the world, the US seeks to dominate and make the OPEC impotent, to put the squeeze on Syria and Iran and turn the entire Middle East into a US domain, to keep Germany and Japan dependent on US oil supply and to put China and North Korea under oil blackmail as these are now by significant degrees dependent on oil imports from the Middle East.

As the US mass media saturate the global audience with propaganda about a US war of aggression in one country, the US imperialists and their puppets in other countries engage in vile actions to trample upon the national independence of countries and to attack national liberation movements and social revolutions. Time constraints limit me to referring to such vile actions only in the Philippines.

While it waged its war of aggression against Afghanistan in 2001, the US described the Philippines as the "second front" in the "war on terrorism". It deployed US combat troops in Basilan and elsewhere in the Philippines under the pretext of fighting the Abu Sayyaf, a small bandit gang which the CIA organized in the early 1990s but which the US now claims to be linked to Al Qaeda.

In August 2002, both the US and Arroyo puppet regime claimed to have decimated the Abu Sayyaf. But when it recently launched its second full-scale war of aggression on Iraq, the US again declared the Philippines as the "second front" in the "war on terrorism" under the pretext of gunning after the Abu Sayyaf. It has deployed US combat troops in several regions of the Philippines.

The US is escalating its military intervention in the Philippines in preparation for US military campaigns against such revolutionary forces of the Filipino people as the CPP, NPA and NDFP. US strategists are reported to be eager to test high-tech weaponry once more in a physical and social terrain similar to that of Vietnam. It has gotten the prerogative to command the reactionary armed forces under the guise of "interoperability". It has military access rights and wants to have outright military basing rights in the Philippines.

At any rate, the US considers the Philippines important as its strategic base for controlling the oil and other natural resources of Southeast Asia, for guarding the trade routes to several regions and encircling China, North Korea and Indochina. The stakes are high enough for the US to employ the most violent and most vicious methods of suppression against the Filipino people and revolutionary forces.

III. People’s Resistance to Imperialism

The crisis of the world capitalist system has rapidly worsened due to the unbridled greed of the monopoly bourgeoisie under the policy of "free market globalization" and has generated a series of imperialist wars of aggression and spread state terrorism since 1991. It has inflicted intolerable oppression and exploitation on the broad masses of the people and pushed them to wage resistance against imperialism, chiefly the sole superpower the US.

From the first war of aggression against Iraq in early 1991 to the second one in 2003, the people’s resistance to imperialism and war has risen to a new and higher level worldwide. The mass protest actions within the first four months of the year are comparable to those against the US war of aggression in Vietnam in terms of global scope and great numbers of participants. In many key cities, they have sometimes surpassed those in 1960s and 1970s.

The people are so outraged by crisis and war that they have readily responded to the general calls to act from ad hoc coordinating committees formed by representatives of progressive mass organizations. The spontaneous masses outnumber by far the number of organized masses brought into protest marches and rallies by the mass organizations, religious groups and political parties.

Generally, the spontaneous masses follow the example of the organized masses and often outnumber them in mass mobilizations effected through sweeping mass propaganda and agitation. In this regard, it is of great importance that the organized forces pay attention to maintaining the enthusiasm of the spontaneous masses and recruiting from their ranks the activists that are most progressive and militant at every given time. Otherwise the big sudden storms of mass uprisings subside, with little or nothing added to the previous strength of the organized forces.

When I refer to progressive organized forces, I mean the revolutionary party of the working class, the mass organizations of workers, peasants, women, youth and the like that such a party has organized, and the allied organizations of all types, which do not follow the leadership of such party but are against imperialism and war by a certain degree and in certain ways.

In the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution, it is absolutely necessary to have a communist or workers’ party to serve as the advanced detachment of the revolutionary leading class, the proletariat. Such a party should be able to comprehend and fight imperialism most consistently and should be determined to lead the masses to overthrow the monopoly bourgeoisie ultimately and bring about socialism.

It must be committed to the science and practice of Marxism-Leninism. It must be able to arouse, organise and mobilize the people directly and through various types of mass organizations. From the revolutionary mass movement that arises, it must be able to recruit the most advanced and the most active revolutionaries to become party members.

To develop the mass movement against imperialism, the communist or workers’ party and the mass organizations it leads must serve as the core of an anti-imperialist united front. This united front must include all those organized forces of various ideological, political and religious tendencies so long as they agree on fighting imperialism as the common enemy. The anti-imperialist united front in various countries must be developed according to the concrete circumstances.

The class composition and proportions of classes vary from one society to another. In the imperialist countries, it is possible to build the alliance of workers organizations under various ideological and political influences and the alliance of the workers and the petty bourgeoisie. In a semicolonial and semifeudal country like the Philippines, it is possible and necessary to build the basic alliance of the workers and peasants, the progressive alliance of the toiling masses and the urban petty bourgeois and the patriotic alliance of the progressive forces and the middle bourgeois.

On a global scale, there must be a unity of the communist and workers’ parties under the principle of proletarian internationalism. This is steadily developing even as there are various international gatherings of communist and workers’ parties. They are trying to raise the level of their common understanding and practical revolutionary activity against imperialism and all reaction.

At the same time, there must be a broad anti-imperialist solidarity of peoples and an international united front of all anti-imperialist forces, irrespective of ideological, political, national or ethnic and religious differences. There are various international conferences and coordinating committees promoting international solidarity against imperialism and all reaction.

When an imperialist war of aggression is going on in one country, the leadership of the mass movement must pay attention to it and take action accordingly. But progressive forces must also exercise vigilance and militancy with regard to the unjust and hostile actions of the imperialists and their puppets elsewhere. Thus, they must ensure that there are solidarity movements in support of various countries struggling for national independence, nations for national liberation and peoples for revolution.

Certainly, the crisis of the world capitalist system will further worsen. It is intensifying oppression and exploitation. It is generating racism, gender inequality, environmental destruction, state terrorism and imperialist wars of aggression. The proletariat and people of the world must be resolute and militant in carrying forward the broad anti-imperialist solidarity of the peoples of the world and the world proletarian revolution. ###

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