Socialists: the opposite of terrorists
Duterte is not a socialist. And if he is, I am not one.
The President has uttered several lies during his candidacy and presidency, but among those I find most appalling, is his profession that he is a socialist. His actions and policies speak the contrary, and if he still believes that he can rightfully claim to be one, I think this is out of the possibility that he does not understand what socialism entails.
Most recently, he has pronounced that he is not afraid to tag communists as terrorists. This may be because while many progressive groups have in one avenue or another engaged in collaboration with his administration, with the Communist Party of the Philippines even throwing its weight to support him even in the most questionable of times, some groups have not backed down in criticizing and even condemning unjust policies he has spearheaded.
Some outside spectators view this as hypocrisy, others have called it cowardice. But to those who have struggled with the masses for years and understand the intricacies of living under the banner of capitalism, there is a valley that divides blind support and critical engagement.
Perhaps this is a time to break ties and call for an outright opposition to the strongman’s rule. Or perhaps it is not. But the body count of state-sponsored killings, the opportunism of corrupt police officers in the atmosphere of impunity, and the surge of support for policies which promote fear and intimidation by the state against its citizens show that socialists must at least distinguish themselves from this man who claims to be among their ranks while being the exact opposite of what they aim to be.
Building on courage, not terror
Socialists do not believe that fear drives change: that is the terrorist’s pipe dream. Terrorists believe that to upset the status quo, the threat of arbitrary violence must run rampant, and that people should believe that no one is safe.
If there is anyone at present who believes that such is true, it is not the socialists, not the progressives, but the President himself.
Socialists do not build on terror, but courage. In this sense, they are the opposite of terrorists. The strength of the commune lies in the awareness of the people that they have “nothing to lose but their chains,” and for this reason, if anyone has anything to fear, it is the State and those whose interest it represents.
The government should fear its people. And it does. How else could one justify the government’s fixation on elevating punishment, increasing its capacity to harm, and widening its range, even including children – through law – in those who warrant justice which comes from the barrel of a gun?
For this reason, socialists believe that change can only come in the collective assertion of the people’s aspirations, not in kneeling in subservience to those who hold them at gunpoint. This collective assertion is exercised in collective action: in the streets, inside the halls of Congress, on the mountains, depending on the conditions that are prevailing. This is another thing that sets socialists apart from Duterte: they do not believe in the strength of just one man.
What's Duterte's contribution?
Even those who have aged and gained much experience from the movement would not dare weigh himself or herself against the wisdom of a collective. And that is why it is a rare occasion to find one person, against the unities held by the collective, would hold himself higher than the rest.
Live among socialists and you would not find one person who treats himself or herself as an exception to the standards set by the commune. Socialists value individuality not as a good in itself, but as a contribution to the group.
And what is Duterte’s contribution? And to what group does he contribute? Certainly, not the working class whom he has betrayed in offering a false solution to contractualization. Certainly, not the impoverished masses whom he has declared to be guilty until proven innocent when dead in his drug war. Certainly, not the fallen progressives whose memory he has desecrated by hailing the dead tyrant Marcos worthy of a hero’s burial.
The President’s “novelty” is not novel at all. It has only served a handful of people whose interests have always been prevailing in our society. And while he may claim to his heart’s content that he is not “yellow,” he certainly is not red.
All the while, he uses his approval rating, his 16 million votes, to justify his actions. Socialists do not believe such things to be the measure of correctness. Socialists analyze the conditions, extract the cure, and empower people to take it as a united front.
Terrorists, as well as Duterte, do the opposite: they invent the disease and sell the cure, and use tactics to divide the people so that the real object of anger is hidden in plain sight. They divide us based on our opinions of our leaders, based on our allegiances to parties set up by the elite, based on which color of chains we prefer. Meanwhile, economic development plans remain the same. Public services remain increasingly privatized. And business remains profitable while the poor remain poor.
History will have a lot of opinions about Duterte, but he will not be remembered as a socialist. He may be remembered as strong, even in his impotence. True, even in his falsehoods. This is not new.
But there are no insults he can throw against socialists, against true democrats, against the social movement, that has not already been said. But while the strength of men have failed, these “terrorists” have prevailed. The march of history labors on. And history will absolve us. – Rappler.com
Arvin Buenaagua, a graduate of political science from the University of the Philippines, is a member of the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan. He is currently studying in the UP College of Law and is an advocate of ecological and climate justice.