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Letters to Jose Maria Sison




November 28, 1999

By Jose Maria Sison
Chairman, Center for Social Studies

I wish to congratulate the People's Assembly Committee and the Sentenaryo ng Bayan for successfully planning and convening the People's Assembly and March-Rally to expose and oppose the World Trade Organization. I stand in solidarity with all the participants and join them in condemning and combating the WTO, the Agreement on Agriculture and all the other schemes of imperialist globalization.

I am glad that you are carrying forward the people's resistance that was initiated in 1996 in Manila by the People's Conference Against Imperialist Globalization and the People's Caravan Against APEC and followed up in Vancouver in 1997 by the conference organized by the Network Opposed to APEC and further in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 by the Asia Pacific People's Assembly with the theme " Confronting Globalization: Reasserting People’s Rights."

It is of high significance and urgent necessity that you confront the World Trade Organization on the occasion of its Third Ministerial Meeting in Seattle. Under the guise of "free trade", monopoly capitalism has wrought havoc on the lives of the working class and the rest of the people of the world. This ministerial meeting aims to push further ultranational depredations by the multinational firms.

It is supposed to launch a new round of multilateral trade negotiations and issue a declaration. It conjures the illusion that 134 contracting states enjoy equality and decide matters on the basis of consensus. But in fact the US and other imperialist states make the most crucial decisions on trade issues inside and outside the WTO.

For a keynote, I am tasked to speak on the need for advancing the people's resistance. To define such a need, I shall present a comprehensive critique of imperialist globalization, the suffering of the proletariat and the people of the world, the current status and prospects of the people's resistance.

Globalization is imperialism

Globalization is a slick and shallow term. It glosses over the reality of modern imperialism or monopoly capitalism, i.e., capitalism beyond the stage of free competition, the capitalism of a few gigantic MNCs monopolizing investment, production, sales, trade and profits.

Corporate executives, bureaucrats, bourgeois academic pedants and imperialist-funded NGOs have circulated the term globalization as if it meant a new shiny and amazing thing. They try to pass off monopoly capitalism as an irresistible fact of life. In fact, they recycle the old jargon of the laissez faire doctrine to misrepresent monopoly capitalism as free enterprise, free market and free trade.

We are still in the era of monopoly capitalism and proletarian revolution, especially because of the betrayal of socialism by revisionists in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and subsequently in China. Now, that the traditional imperialist powers are lording over the world without challenge from any powerful socialist country, you can see the escalating levels of oppression and exploitation and the rapid degradation of the human condition. These circumstances generate the people's resistance.

It is in the nature of the imperialist states, acting as the instrument of their respective monopoly firms, to compete with each other. The contradictions increase upon the aggravation of the crisis of overproduction in the world capitalist system. You can observe the conflicting interests of the US, Japan and the European Union on major issues in any gathering of their representatives. They quarrel about the trade of their industrial and agricultural surpluses, about steel and cars and about beef and bananas.

But they always strive to override their contradictions by taking common positions against the working class and people of the world and by shifting the burden of crisis to them. The US-led alliance of imperialist countries is still holding under a common policy of neocolonialism, involving the political use of client states and economic and financial control through bilateral and multilateral agreements, to the detriment of the working people.

The imperialist states and client states act in the interest of the multinational firms and the big comprador firms (principal local trading and financial agents), respectively. A handful of imperialist states, headed by the US, and concentrated in the Group of Seven, control and use an array of the most powerful multilateral agencies, like the IMF, World Bank and WTO, to determine the pattern of investments and trade in the client states and thereby dominate the world, economically and consequently in all other respects.

The IMF is the instrument for dictating financial and monetary policy on client states, requiring them to "liberalize" investments and trade in favor of the foreign monopoly firms and give free rein to profit remittances, especially through transfer-pricing (overpricing imports and underpricing exports). It pushes the client states to sink ever deeper into foreign indebtedness as a result of the ever-growing deficits in the balance of payments. Client states that do not comply with the recurrent structural adjustment and stabilization programs are deprived of foreign direct investments and credit to which they have become addicted.

The World Bank is the instrument for dictating fiscal policy on client states, requiring them to shun the use of public resources for industrialization and to direct these towards programs and projects other than industrial development. Generally, infrastructure projects for the benefit of the multinational firms, the big compradors and landlords are passed off as development. Official "development aid" is used to facilitate imports from the donor countries and to allow the ruling reactionaries to have more funds for military and other forms of wasteful spending.

The WTO is the instrument for dictating trade policy on client states, requiring them to drastically reduce or eliminate tariff barriers and other forms of support and protection to domestic industry and agriculture and open up to the unrestricted importation of goods and services from the imperialist countries. Noncompliance with so-called trade liberalization in favor of the overdeveloped countries means trade sanctions.

Under the rubric of protecting intellectual property rights, the multinational firms prevent the client countries from availing of world scientific and technological advances for their own development and yet appropriate for themselves the genetic property of the client countries and the results of local researches funded by them with paltry amounts.

The imperialist states and the multinational firms rail against protectionism. But they are the most rabid practitioners of protectionism. In fact, the monopoly firms strengthen themselves by using the state and public funds, to protect themselves from foreign competition and to wage their own trade offensives. In undertaking state monopoly capitalism to complement private monopoly capitalism, the imperialist states use tax money to have equity in strategic firms, to fund research and development, to make purchase contracts with private firms, to bail out financially ailing monopoly firms and to provide all kinds of direct and indirect subsidies for the production and export of goods and services.

The worst kind of protectionism in the world is the use by the US and other imperialist states of political, military, economic and financial power to prevent the economic development of client countries as well as to engage in the most blatant forms of intervention and aggression. Thus, the imperialist powers come to acquire foreign markets, sources of raw materials, fields of investment and spheres of influence and reduce other countries to a level of development that make them captive customers of the multinational firms and perennial beggars of foreign loans.

The imperialist states, especially the US, deck themselves out as champions of "free trade" when it comes to goods and services that they are in a priorly superior position to produce and export. Look at how they push their high-tech products, genetically manipulated seeds, livestock and food, agricultural surpluses and financial services. The overwhelming majority of countries are reduced to being producers of raw materials and a small number of them, to semimanufacturers of low value-added consumer goods (like semiconductors, garments, shoes and toys) for the imperialist countries.

After inducing these countries to overproduce their types of goods, the imperialist states use the most blatant instruments of protectionism against them. They continue to arbitrarily impose tariff duties and other restrictions on the exports of the client countries. They dump on these countries surplus goods as well as surplus capital for facilitating trade in favor of the monopoly firms.

The imperialist states, acting as the class instrument of their multinational firms, are the masterminds of the "flexible labor" policy, the chief instigators of human rights violations by client states and the biggest plunderers and polluters of the environment. Two-handedly, the monopoly bourgeoisie has always used the imperialist and client states and the multinational firms to oppress and exploit the people. But the imperialist states and the monopoly firms sometimes shed crocodile tears and invoke labor standards in social and environmental clauses in order to extract further investment and trade privileges from the client countries or to justify the application of trade sanctions on client states that turn recalcitrant.

The US is, of course, the most notorious practitioner of protectionism. It uses its so-called Super 301 to club any other country, including its imperialist allies into submission. Its Department of Commerce can arbitrarily make "antidumping" rulings and impose exorbitant tariffs. Japan and key states in the European Union are increasingly resentful of the US over a wide range of trade issues because of US penchant for acting unilaterally, bilaterally or through regional trading arrangements and disregarding the WTO framework whenever it suits the US to do so.

A number of important negotiations will be done in Seattle. The review of the Agreement on Agriculture, the trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS) and the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) which are built in into the Seattle Agenda will be subject to tough negotiations among imperialist powers. It is important to campaign against the imperialist scheme to open a Millennium Round of negotiations, which aims to expand imperialist exploitation through so-called investment liberalization (the grant of national treatment to multinational firms and the punishment of noncompliant client-states) in furtherance of the failed MAI. Other important issues in the Millennium Round negotiations are liberalization of government procurement, e-commerce and competition policy.

We support the call of peasant movements, including Via Campesina and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, to take agriculture out of the WTO. It is necessary to denounce the imperialist policy on investments and trade as detrimental to food security, land reform and comprehensive development. Demands must be raised in line with the call for condemning the WTO.

In coordination with the IMF and World Bank, the WTO is an instrument of the imperialist states for ravaging the economies of the client countries and making them susceptible to fluctuating doses of foreign direct and indirect investments. Look how far these three agencies of monopoly capitalism have pushed the Philippine economy to the most desperate straits and the Manila authorities to the most shameless position of betraying the national sovereignty and auctioning off the national patrimony.

The US-Estrada regime is offering to foreign investors unlimited ownership of Philippine land and other natural resources, public utilities, banks, educational institutions, mass media, retail trade and all conceivable kinds of enterprises. The absurd logic of the regime is to bargain away one's national assets to be able to compete globally. Turning everything upside-down, the traitorous regime call the protection of national patrimony an act of treason.

Let me say something about the admission of China to the WTO. The US and other imperialist states are beside themselves celebrating it because China has agreed to make new laws allowing foreign investors to have majority equity in enterprises, especially telecommunications and financial services, and yet the predominantly sweatshop-type export products of China to the US remain subject to antisurge or antidumping laws.

China's admission to the WTO further tightens the hold of the foreign monopoly capitalists and the domestic comprador bourgeoisie on the Chinese economy and other aspects of Chinese society. The dismantling of the state-owned enterprises and the debilitation of the national industry are expected to accelerate. While foreign monopoly capitalists anticipate greater superprofits, the Chinese people are bound to suffer increased unemployment and further impoverishment. Such is the destiny of any country that falls into the trap of neocolonialism.

Need for advancing the people's resistance

Imperialist globalization, with its neocolonial and neoliberal thrust, has accelerated the concentration and centralization of capital in the three global centers of capitalism ( the US, the European Union and Japan) and the extraction of superprofits from the underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America and the retrogressive former revisionist-ruled countries. The new depths into which the chronic crisis of overproduction has plunged, lay bare the exceedingly exploitative character of the relationship of the imperialist and client countries.

The oversupply of all types of goods and services, relative to market demand, has led to widespread bankruptcies and closure of enterprises and therefore mass unemployment of unprecedented proportions. This destruction of productive forces means the further contraction of the global market.

The average growth rate of the industrial capitalist countries in the (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) OECD continues to stagnate. Most important to observe is the rapid upward accumulation of industrial and finance capital in the hands of the monopoly bourgeoisie in a few imperialist countries and mostly in the US. The inflation of assets in the hands of the monopoly bourgeoisie accounts for a high proportion of the statistical economic growth rates.

The US takes advantage of its lead in high technology and its well entrenched economic, financial, political and military power. It has an economic growth rate above the average of OECD growth at the expense of its own imperialist allies, Japan and the European Union, and at the greatest expense of the proletariat and the people of the world.

Under the neoliberal policy, the monopoly bourgeoisie constantly drums up the fear of inflation and blames labor as well as any social spending by the bourgeois state as the cause of inflation. It accumulates capital in its hands as it pushes down wage levels, attacks job security, trade union and other democratic rights of the workers, privatize public assets, gets tax exemptions and subsidies and cuts back on social spending by its government.

The attack on the workers, even while intended to counter the falling rate of profits, actually tends to reduce the market in the imperialist countries. The workers are compelled to fight back. Thus, the resistance of the workers and the rest of the people is growing in imperialist countries.

The few economies like that of South Korea, that the imperialists allowed to industrialize in order to serve as showcases and frontliners in the anticommunist crusade, find their industrial exports increasingly squeezed by the overproduction of similar products by the imperialist countries. The organizations and movements of workers and the rest of the people are therefore developing in response to the growing economic crisis.

The full restoration of capitalism in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China has meant the expansion of the economic territory for the imperialist powers to exploit. For a while and to some extent, these new client countries seemed to relieve the imperialist countries of the crisis of overproduction by serving as a dumping ground for surplus goods and surplus capital.

But the process of compradorization and de-industrialization in these former revisionist-ruled countries has meant the unprecedented large-scale destruction of productive forces and consequently the constriction of the market for imperialist goods and capital. These new client countries also contribute to the oversupply of certain goods, such as the sweatshop products of China and some amount of oil, steel and other products from Russia and Eastern Europe.

The widescale destruction of industries, mass unemployment, the unbridled corruption of the new bourgeoisie and the deterioration of all social conditions have made the former revisionist-ruled countries hotbeds of mass discontent and wars. Amidst the dire circumstances, revolutionary organizations and movements are arising. Marxist-Leninist parties can be built to lead the people's resistance in these countries as they reassert their revolutionary legacy and thoroughly criticize and repudiate the revisionist ideas and policies of the past that led to the restoration of capitalism.

The peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America continue to suffer the most appalling conditions of neocolonialism, aggravated by the neoliberal policy stress that unleashes the so-called free market and rejects state-led or state assisted industrial development. Most of these countries have been depressed since the late 70s because of the global overproduction of raw materials. Those few countries, including China and those of Southeast Asia, which have gone into the production and overproduction of low value-added semimanufactures for export, have also drastically fallen into depression since 1997.

They were touted as the new "emergent markets" as they received large doses of foreign funds for upscale private construction and luxury imports and for covering the ever-growing current accounts deficits. The bubble had to burst because the income from their kind of exports kept on falling far below the payments for imports and debt service, especially because other client countries had gone into their kind of exports.

The protracted depression of the raw-material exporting countries have generated people's resistance. However, more prominently in the meantime, military coups and civil wars have burst out, often involving the most senseless massacres. In cases where the control of oil resources and other strategic interests of imperialism are at stake, the US and other imperialist powers have intervened and carried out wars of aggression, as those against Iraq and Yugoslavia.

In the countries like those of Southeast Asia and China, which have abruptly dropped into depression as a result of the global glut in export-oriented semimanufactures and the abuse of finance capital, conditions are fertile for the resurgence of revolutionary movements. In one outstanding example, the Indonesian people have succeeded in overthrowing the long-running Suharto regime and are desirous of carrying forward the revolutionary movement.

As the 20th century draws to a close, all the basic contradictions are intensifying, that between the imperialists and the people of the world, that among the imperialist powers and that between the monopoly bourgeoisie and the proletariat in the imperialist countries. The new world disorder that has followed the end of the bipolar cold war is the prelude to the resurgence of the anti-imperialist and socialist movements.

The broad masses of the people wage various forms of anti-imperialist and democratic struggle against the exploitation and oppression that they suffer. At the same time, reactionary forces have the propensity to engage in violent conflicts in an increasing number of countries over the division of spoils that are fast dwindling. The revolutionary forces of the people can take advantage of the contradictions among the reactionary forces and among the imperialists.

The danger of interimperialist war still appears remote. But a review of history shows that the crisis of overproduction can lead to polarization of revolutionary and counterrevolutionary forces in imperialist countries and the imperialist powers are driven to redivide the world. Interimperialist contradictions can sharpen as a result of interventions in client states. Learning from history, the people can be vigilant and mobilize themselves to overcome the danger of fascism and world war and to transform an imperialist war, if it cannot be stopped, into a revolutionary civil war.

The main contradiction in the world today is still between imperialism on one side and the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America and, in addition, of the rapidly retrogressive former revisionist-ruled countries, on the other side. The spread and intensification of revolutionary struggle in these client countries can ultimately create a situation in which the proletariat in imperialist countries can surge forward to overthrow the monopoly bourgeoisie in its heartland.

Amidst the new world disorder, Marxist-Leninist parties in at least six countries are leading the proletariat and the people in waging protracted people's war along the line of new-democratic revolution. Farther afield are other armed revolutionary movements, with a significant measure of anti-imperialist and democratic character. It can be expected that as the crisis of the world capitalist system continues to worsen, all forms of people's resistance are going to spread and intensify.

Your anti-imperialist stand is correct and admirable. You distinguish yourselves from those reformist organizations that are heavily funded by the imperialists and are playing the role of loyal opposition to imperialism and reaction. They pretend to be for the people and spread the lie that only under the sway of imperialism can the people enjoy "civil society" and the "culture of peace".

You must be alert to an entrapment of the people's demands within the trilateral framework of collaboration among imperialist-lining entities posing as civic representatives of the people, imperialist and client states and the multinational and big comprador firms. You must ensure that your struggle for reforms serves to advance the strategic aim of combating and defeating imperialism.

You must also be alert to those who pose as representatives of labor but who in fact collude with imperialism in spreading the chauvinist myth that client states and labor in the client countries take away industries and jobs from the imperialist countries. The truth is that monopoly capitalism is responsible for destroying jobs and pressing down labor and social standards in both imperialist and client countries. Therefore, the workers of the world must unite and prevent imperialism from dividing them.

The multinational firms adopt higher technology in their bid to maximize profits and in the process destroy jobs in the imperialist countries. They also impose on the client countries the policy of cheapening labor and take the lead in violating labor and social standards all for the purpose of maximizing profits. The end result is a global glut in low value-added products and further underdevelopment, which together kill jobs in the client countries.

There is an urgent need to advance the people’s resistance to imperialism and reaction because of the rising level of oppression and exploitation throughout the world and the ceaseless worsening of the chronic crisis of overproduction in the world capitalist system. The broad masses of the people cannot tolerate the system, policies and methods that have impoverished them and made their lives miserable and have enriched the imperialist countries and the exploiting classes.

Your people's assembly and march-rally are a significant contribution to advancing the people's resistance. I wish you the utmost success in attaining your objectives, such as making the people aware of the disastrous effects of the WTO and all the schemes of imperialist globalization, promoting linkages, common resolve and cooperation in anti-imperialist campaigns and paying attention to building the people's resistance in the belly of the beast--the No. 1 imperialist power and No.1 enemy of the people of the world.

In this regard, I take the opportunity of inviting all the participants in your people's assembly and march rally to join in the founding of the International League of People's Struggle within the last quarter of next year, 2000.

The League shall promote and develop the anti-imperialist and democratic struggle of the workers and oppressed people against the inhuman policies and acts of the multinational companies, their governments and international instruments such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO and military alliances.

The League shall act to realize the unity, cooperation and coordination of the following forces: workers, unions and organizations of women, youth, peasants, teachers, health workers, journalists, writers, scientists, and technologists, lawyers and other professionals, and movements for national and social liberation, gender equality, world peace and solidarity, environmental protection and against fascism, militarism and other social ills.

The League has ten major concerns for which it is ready to stand and fight.

1. National and social liberation from imperialism and all reaction;

2. Human rights in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural fields;

3. The cause of peace against wars of aggression and against nuclear and other genocidal weapons;

4. Workers' rights and reduction of working hours at full pay against mass unemployment and decreasing wage levels;

5. Rights of peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk against feudal and semifeudal exploitation and oppression;

6. Women's rights against gender discrimination and children's rights against child labor and other forms of exploitation;

7. Rights of indigenous peoples and nationalities against chauvinism and racism;

8. The rights of teachers and the youth;

9. Environmental protection against plunder and pollution; and

10. Rights and welfare of refugees and migrant workers.

If you are interested, please convey to the Initiative Committee your expression of support for the League and willingness to participate in its founding. The League can be one more way of advancing the people's resistance to imperialism. The website is <> and e-mail: <[email protected]>.

The goal of socialism

We must expose and oppose the evils of imperialism. But we must also have a clear positive goal. This is socialism. It can be attained through the new-democratic revolution in pre-industrial countries like the Philippines. It can be attained more directly in industrial capitalist countries through the overthrow of the monopoly bourgeoisie by the working class.

But the problem is that in imperialist countries where the economic and technological wherewithals for socialism are best available it is also where the monopoly bourgeoisie is at its strongest in preventing revolutionary change. The problem can be solved by developing simultaneously the people's resistance in both imperialist and client countries.

The time will surely come for the working class to win political power and establish socialism on a wide scale, after the workers and peasants win the new-democratic revolution once more in several countries where oppression and exploitation by the imperialists and the local reactionaries are most rapacious. The conditions for making revolution are most favorable.

We are confident that we shall ultimately win the fight for socialism because of the rapidly rising social character of the means of production and the irrationality of the monopoly capitalist system of private appropriation. The recurrent and ever worsening crisis of overproduction brings about higher levels of chronic mass unemployment, poverty, social injustice and counterrevolutionary violence by the imperialists and local reactionaries..

The people of the world have no choice but to fight for socialism against monopoly capitalism in order to liberate themselves from oppression and exploitation. It is an advantage for the scientific socialists to learn lessons from both the positive and negative experiences, in all previous socialist revolution and construction. In the revolutionary struggle against imperialism and for building socialism in the 21st century, people of the world can do even better than in the 20th century. #


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