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Message to the International Research Conference on the 1955 Afro-Asian Summit in Bandung

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle
April 14, 2005

On behalf of the International League of Peoples" Struggle (ILPS), I wish to express deep appreciation to Asia Pacific Research Network for cooperating with the ILPS Study Commission No. 2 and organizing this international research conference and to the Institute for Global Justice, Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria and Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria for hosting it. To all of you and to all the distinguished guest speakers and participants from various parts of the world, I convey the warmest greetings of solidarity and best wishes of the ILPS as you celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference with your conference..

The theme of the conference,, "Bandung in the 21st Century: Continuing the Struggle for Independence, Peace against Imperialist Globalization and War" is of great importance and acute urgency. We need to reaffirm and draw inspiration from the principles upheld and propagated by the Afro-Asian Summit Conference of 1955 . These principles are still valid and relevant today in the face of the worsening conditions of oppression and exploitation under the shadow of imperialism and neocolonialism.

We, in the ILPS, are guided by the Spirit of Bandung in striving to arouse, organize and mobilize the broad masses of the people against the evil forces of imperialism and reaction. We fight for national and social liberation, development and social justice, human rights, unjust war and militarism, the rights of all the oppressed and exploited and the aspirations for a just peace and all-round social progress.

We agree with the aims of your conference: to deepen the study and analysis of issues pertaining to development and imperialist globalization, the need for national independence and the principles of peaceful coexistence against the rampages of the sole superpower and its cohorts, to identify issues for advocacy and topics of research and to create interest in conducting research and the role of the people in the struggle against neoliberal globalization and war, and to promote cooperation in developing the strategy and tactics of the people's struggle.

I. The Historic Significance of the Bandung Conference of 1955

The Bandung Conference of April 18-24, 1955 was preceded in a substantive way by the formulation of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in 1954 by China and India as guide to state-to-state relations and to international relations in general. The principles are mutual respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual nonaggression, noninterference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. These motivated the Bandung Conference and its Final Communique, They were integrated into and elaborated in the Declaration of Ten Principles, which are as follows:

1. Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
2. Repect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
3. Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations large and small.
4. Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.
5. Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself, singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
6. Abstention from the use of arrangements of collective defense to serve the particular interests of any of the big powers. Abstention by any country from exerting pressures on other countries.
7. Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
8. Settlement of all international disputes, by peaceful means, such as negotiation, conciliation, arbitration or judicial settlement as well as other peaceful means of the parties' own choice, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
9. Promotion of mutual interests and cooperation.
10. Respect for justice and international obligations.

The Bandung Conference sought to consolidate the national sovereignty and independence of countries of Asia and Africa that had become newly-independent from colonialism since the end of World War II in 1945 through the defeat of fascism, to promote the process of decolonization, especially in Africa where plenty of colonies still remained and to work for socio-economic development as the substance of national independence in the face of obvious efforts of the US, British and other imperialists to undermine and negate national independence through neocolonial methods of economic and financial control as well through the US drive to impose treaties of military alliance and install overseas US military bases in the context of the Cold War.

Of the 29 countries represented in the conference, 23 came from Asia and 6 came from Africa. China, India and Indonesia were among the most active and instrumental in making the conference successful. The Philippine delegation, headed by the long-time US stooge Carlos P. Romulo, acted according to the baton of the US. He stood out by trying to stir up dissensions and water down the formulation of the conference documents. At that time, the US controlled and directed the foreign relations of the Manila government under the US-RP Treaty of General Relations. However, the delegations were guided by their experience of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle, their peoples' demands and aspirations and by the UN charter and international law..

Let us consider the positive consequences of the Bandung conference. It inspired the peoples and countries of Asia and Africa to struggle for real national independence, development, social justice and independent foreign policy against imperialism and colonialism. It led to the organization of the Afro-Asian peoples' solidarity and Afro-Asian associations of youth, journalists, writers and the like. It pushed the UN general assembly to proclaim the decades of decolonization and development in the 1960s and 1970s. It encouraged the spread of armed struggles for national liberation in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It gave impetus to the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement of states. It paved the way for the demands for a new international economic order and a new international information order in the UN general assembly in the 1970s..

But the imperialists headed by the US were not idle. They sought to reverse the trend of national liberation, people's democracy and socialism. In the Cold War, they used all kinds of instruments against the people and against anti-imperialist and socialist movements and governments. They used anticommunist propaganda, neocolonialism for economic and financial control (through the US Export-Import Bank, the IMF, ADB, and the GATT) and, of course, violence to undermine anti-imperialist governments and suppress revolutionary movements for national liberation and democracy. Among the most vicious crimes of the US and its Cold War allies from 1956 onwards were the wars of aggression against the Indochinese peoples, the brutal suppression of anti-colonial movements in Africa, the massacre of at least 1.5 million Indonesian people and the imposition of fascist military rule on the people in many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In the 1970s, the US could not really solve the problem of stagflation. As the US and world capitalist system were in serious economic trouble in the latter half of the 1970s, the Soviet Union and its East European satellites were also conspicuously in economic stagnation and decline and China rapidly took the same revisionist road of capitalist restoration and accommodation with the world capitalist system that the Soviet bloc had taken much earlier. The US found some leeway and conditions favorable for pushing monetarism and neoliberalism, for taking the offensive against the proletariat of the entire world and against the aspirations for genuine national independence and development in Asia, Africa and Latin America, for cutting back on social spending in favor of high-tech military production and for concentrating capital in the US through superprofits and borrowing from foreign buyers of US securities (stocks and bonds).

II. Relevance of Bandung Conference to the Present

The crisis of the US and world capitalist system has gone from bad to worse, from the 1980s to the present. The shift in policy stress from Keynesianism to monetarism and neoliberalism at the end of the 1970s has not solved but has aggravated the crisis. The US claims to "new economy, with inflationless growth based on high-tech production" in the second half of the 1990s have proven ephemeral. US prosperity and consumerism have been propped up by huge amounts of foreign borrowing that covered up huge trade deficits. Just like the rest of the world capitalist system, the US is vulnerable to the crisis of overproduction in its own economy. The financial collapses have come crashing down on the real economy.

The Bush regime has taken advantage of the 9/11 attacks to undertake "military Keynesianism" as a complement of neoliberalism in economic policy and to adopt the "neoconservative" policy of using the military power of the US as sole superpower to impose its will on peoples, nations and countries. It has embarked on a course of heavy expenditures on war production contracts and overseas military deployment for intervention and aggression supposedly to stimulate the economy.

The "war on terror" is the pretext for state terrorism against the people in the US and abroad and for whipping up war hysteria, war production and wars of aggression. Under the neoconservative policy, the US is arrogantly and brutally using chiefly its supreme military power to engage in "preemptive strikes" and wars of aggression against rivals and recalcitrants. It operates with a broad spectrum of instruments (economic, financial, military, cultural and diplomatic) torealize the Pax Americana iit wants for the 21st century . It is frenziedly imposing its hegemony on other countries, pretending to spread democracy and expanding its economic territory(sources of oil and other raw material, markets, fields of investments and spheres of influence).

Now, the US is in the throes of a severe protracted crisis unprecedented since the end of World War II. The economy continues to stagnate. The real rate of mass unemployment is high. The budgetary surplus at the end of the Clinton regime is gone and the budgetary deficit is growing rapidly. The trade deficit is widening without cease. The domestic and foreign debt is mounting. The US is failing to serve as the "main engine of growth" for the global economy. Its role as the "consumer of last resort" and "limitless borrower" is in jeopardy.

But the US and other imperialist powers always try to shift the burden of crisis to the proletariat and people of the world, especially in Asia, Afrca, Latin America and the retrogressive countries of the former Soviet bloc. They are intensifying oppression and exploitation in these parts of the world. They plunder their social wealth and natural resources. They aggravate and deepen the conditions of neocolonialism. And they occupy as colonies the countries most ravaged by neocolonial economic policy and by wars of aggression such as Iraq and Afghanistan and by civil wars, particularly in Africa.

The main contradiction in the world is still between the imperialist powers headed by the US and the oppressed peoples and nations who inhabit the overwhelming majority of countries and whose ranks have been expanded by the retrogression of countries previously belonging to the Soviet bloc. This contradiction is intensifying because the imperialist powers are stepping up oppression and exploitation. But the legal democratic mass movements against imperialism and reaction are spreading and armed revolutionary mass movements for national and social revolution are developing.

The US and other imperialist powers are increasingly in conflict with governments that assert national independence and the social aspirations of their people as well as from governments that must take a stance of national independence either due to public demand or due to unbearable demands from one or more of the imperialist powers. The threats of imperialist aggression, economic sanctions and actual wars of aggression have been directed against countries that assert national independence.

More than ever the peoples, nations and countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the retrogressive countries in the former Soviet bloc need individually and collectively to assert, realize and exercise the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and the Ten Principles of the Bandung Conference. Conditions of crisis demand that they use all possible and necessary forms of struggle in order to frustrate and defeat the unjust impositions of the imperialist powers and strive to put an end to imperialist plunder and war. They can take advantage of the contradictions among the imperialist countries, now being driven by the crisis to engage in more bitter competition and to seek the redivision of the world. They can avail of the resurgent anti-imperialist and socialist movements arising from the contradictions between the monopoly bourgeoisie and the proletariat in the imperialist countries.

III. Conclusion

All the major contradictions in the world will continue to sharpen. The crisis of the world capitalist system inflicts terrible suffering to the broad masses of the people. At the same time it is a favorable condition for people's resistance. It drives them to fight for national and social liberation. The noble and intelligent course of action for the people is to fight and defeat imperialism for the purpose of bringing about a new and better world of national freedom, democracy, social justice, development and enduring peace.

The International League of Peoples' Struggle is dedicated to rally the people to action and help bring about a new and better world and end the unjust world of imperialist plunder and war. I hope that this international research conference will shed light on the current conditions and on the ways for the people to overcome imperialism and its cohorts. May this conference lead to further research that would inform, enlighten and assist the democratic forces and the mass movements of the people for national and social liberation. ###

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