COMING out of the woodwork, like worms wriggling out of a long and satisfying hibernation, were the latent but no less rabid manifestations of the dominant ideological mindset.
The collapse of the peace talks between the NDFP and the GRP was the clarion call that launched a number of oped pieces and a thousand dispirited comments maligning the 48-year-old struggle of the people’s army and the mass movement that supports it.
No doubt, a significant number of these are fueled by a well-oiled propaganda machine that has been animated on cue to amplify existing anti-left dispositions. But a good number of these reactions emanate from honest and passionate convictions. However, just because opinions are meant and felt, do not automatically validate them nor exclude them from ideological scrutiny. It is still imperative for us to ask: for whose interests are certain ideas propagated and amplified in media and whose voices are being silenced in the process?
The substance of the script has been predictable. The only variation has been from whose pen the negative regard for the movement emanates from. The naysayers range from opinion writers, leftist demagogues, and paid trolls, and they all mouth the same line in varying degrees of eloquence and garishness.
They regard the movement present in major cities and 2,500 rural villages all over the country representing close to 50 guerilla fronts, communities where the armed struggle has grown roots and expanded for four generations, enjoying the support of millions as part of their mass base, as simply a huge personality cult revolving around a group of political exiles in Utrecht. By erroneously depicting the movement according to the terms of the old feudal order that must be destroyed, these critics only expose the substance and limits of their political imagination.
It is condescending not just to the esteemed men and women who were former political prisoners but now in political asylum at the Netherlands, but also to the likeminded activists who have followed their footsteps to continue the struggle from the time of the dictatorship up to the present for decades here at home, most of whom hide from the shadows.
The rancor is expected from these quarters who boast about their ties with the Left at some point in their lives,
a past that they have traded to become government functionaries and consultants enjoying the perks and privileges of the ruling elite while their erstwhile comrades remained in the margins, nameless and unrecognized.
Deep in their hearts, despite the trappings of success they have accumulated, including the mainstream accolades and economic security they have secured for themselves and their families, they know that history has weighed them and their compromises and even servitude to maintain an oppressive system, and found them wanting.
There is also the jealous confusion of those who cannot understand the ideological discipline and rigidity of the movement they regard as inflexible and dogmatic. This set lament the supposed lack of joie de vivre of national democrats and caricature them as soulless humorless creatures who are constantly grim and determined, a portent of the kind of dangerous revolution they are set out to make.
For those who have the luxury and resources to be confused, it is their prerogative to be playful and remain to be undecided while workers die in unsafe factories and peasants fighting for land are being shot. Anyway, there is foreign funding for one’s civil society organization for the next couple of years to waste in faddist interventions of little impact. While going through the motions, why not enjoy the perks of out-of-town meetings in swanky hotels with free beer and meals?
Ultimately, it is really the degree of urgency one regards the unchanging and worsening political and economic crises in this nation that separates those from the movement and those outside ignorant or arrogant enough to take potshots at it. The critics come from two impulses to this historical challenge: they either shirk away and compromise themselves to the system and/or feign confusion and attack the movement for remaining steadfast to its principles – both actually reflections of their personal weaknesses.
And for the intellectually sophisticated, they decry the supposed stagnant theorizing of the left as if the job of waging revolution was to come out with theoretical papers to respond to esoteric academic concerns. The movement lives and breathes as we speak and its longevity and resilience are proofs of its continuing relevance. The fidelity to a certain set of core principles is necessary when the conditions have remain unchanged, especially when critics espousing new ideas endeavor to actually weaken and divide the movement.
The criticisms are not new and these have been leveled against the movement time and time again. The movement is sure to outlast this kind of cowardly stance that only exposes their betrayal and/or confusion masquerading as potent. — Arnold P. Alamon