Address to the Asian Peasant Coalition 2nd General Assembly, Bandung, Indonesia

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
19-21 December 2006

On behalf of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), I extend most cordial greetings of solidarity to the Asian Peasant Coalition on the occasion of its 2nd General Assembly. We congratulate you for all your achievements since the First General Assembly in advocating genuine agrarian reform and all measures for the benefit of the peasant masses and the rest of the people against the various forms of exploitation and oppression imposed by the imperialist powers and the local reactionary classes.

We welcome the militant call: Fortify the Struggle for Genuine Agrarian Reform! Fight Imperialist War and Terror! Further Strengthen the Peasant Movement in Asia and the World! We wish you great success in your current assembly. We are confident that you will be able to sum up your experience, draw lessons from it and set forth the tasks for advancing further. We wish you to win greater achievements in the difficult struggles that lie ahead.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to address your assembly. I appreciate the fact that the Asia Pacific Coalition is a formidable combination of peasant associations and related entities and that you play an important role in the struggle against imperialism and local reaction. I am therefore deeply pleased to make an input on “The Impact of Imperialist War and Terror and Further Strengthening of the Peoples’ Movement.”

Imperialist War and Terror

Since the end of the 19th century, the entire world has become the economic territory of monopoly capitalism. There is no part of it that is not in one way or another a field of investment, market, source of raw materials or sphere of influence for the imperialist countries. Outside their borders, the imperialist powers have dominated peoples and nations either as colonies, semicolonies or dependent countries.

Imperialist domination is imposed through aggression and other forms of violence and with a certain degree of assistance from puppet forces. The US crossed the Pacific Ocean to slaughter 1.5 million Filipinos in order to conquer the Philippines and keep it as a base for grabbing a share of imperialist domination over China. As a newly-risen imperialist power and a late comer in the acquisition of colonies, the US declared war on Spain in order to grab its colonies, like Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines, even as the people in these countries were already succeeding in their national liberation movements.

An imperialist power is by nature violent and aggressive, both in subjugating and oppressing entire peoples and nations and in engaging in economic competition and political rivalry with other imperialist powers. The growth in economic and military strength of any imperialist power or group of imperialist powers upsets the existing balance of forces among the imperialists and can lead to an inter-imperialist war to redivide the world. Humanity has gone through two world wars that have cost the lives of tens of millions as a result of the crises of overproduction in the world capitalist system and the bitter rivalry of the imperialist powers over economic territory. At the same time, the inter-imperialist wars have generated conditions for the rise of socialism and national liberation movements.

As a result of World War II, however, the US emerged as the No. 1 imperialist power. It spearheaded the Cold War and maintained an anti-communist alliance among the imperialist powers and puppet governments against the socialist countries and the great wave of national liberation movements. For this purpose, it used its economic and military power, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, bilateral and multilateral trade, financial, economic and military treaties and agreements.

US imperialism carried out aggression, economic blockades and military encirclement. It carried out the largest wars of aggression, to kill four million people in Korea and six million people in Indochina. It directed client regimes and supplied them with the military materiel to wage war on the people and on other countries. It masterminded the military coups and dictatorships in the name of anticommunism in Asia, Africa and Latin America from the 1950s to the 1980s. In the interest of the American, British and Dutch oil companies, it instigated the Suharto military clique in Indonesia to topple the Sukano government and massacre 1.5 million Indonesians.

While using aggressive methods of containment, US imperialism engaged in economic and diplomatic maneuvers to induce the growth of the forces of modern revisionism and capitalist restoration within the socialist countries. It employed neocolonialism to coopt the newly independent countries and make them dependent on foreign loans, direct investments and military assistance. It gave the largest US market accommodation to the exports of Western Europe, Japan and other economies deemed to be in the frontline against the socialist countries. In the process, it undermined its own manufacturing capacity for exports and gave lopsided attention to military research and production.

From the 1970s onwards, the US and the world capitalist system were strained by the recurrent crisis of overproduction, the phenomenon of stagflation, rising military expenditures, frustrated wars of aggression and the rising resistance of the peoples of the world. But the trends of capitalist restoration in socialist countries and neocolonialism in the newly-independent countries worked against the revolutionary forces taking advantage of the crisis of the US and world capitalist system. Ultimately, all the Soviet bloc regimes and the Soviet Union itself disintegrated. China also became integrated into the world capitalist system.

Since 1991, the US has become the sole superpower lording over the world. It has proclaimed a “new world order” and has carried out ideological, political, economic, military and cultural offensives against the cause of socialism and national liberation. It has promoted the notion of capitalism and liberal democracy as “the end of history”. It has trampled upon the principles of national sovereignty, the equality of nations, real democracy based on the people, social justice and development. In the name of “free market globalization”, it has pushed denationalization, privatization, liberalization and deregulation for the benefit of the imperialist-owned multinational firms and banks at the expense of the working people, women, children and the environment.

The US has become ever more arrogant, quick to make and carry out threats, in herding its imperialist allies towards war and in imposing itself on client countries. It interferes in the internal affairs of other countries through such methods as withholding or releasing loans and supplies, reducing or increasing market accommodations, exerting military pressure or carrying out outright military intervention and aggression. It demonizes as “rogue” those states that defend their national sovereignty and independence and by so doing seeks to intimidate all countries to stay under its sway.

In the last 16 years, after the end of the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union, US imperialism has led large-scale wars of aggression, such as those against Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. In the process it has collected substantial spoils of war, including sources of oil, military bases and stations, military supply contracts and contracts for the “reconstruction” of the countries ravaged by US cruise missiles and other weapons of mass destruction. The people have suffered great loss of lives and property from the worst form of terrorism, the wars of aggression, unleashed by US imperialism and its cohorts.

The US is the No. 1 aggressor and terrorist of the world today. It has used the September 11 attacks to misrepresent itself as the champion of antiterrorism and to terrorize the people of the world. The terrorist acts committed by such small private terrorist groups as the Al Qaeda and the Abu Sayyaf, are condemnable for inflicting death and injury solely or mainly on the civilian population. But their terrorism pales in comparison with the superterrorism of the US. US terrorism in Iraq alone has caused the death of 1.5 million people, including that of 700,000 children in the period of 1991 to 2002, and more than 655,000 people in the period of 2003 to 2006.

The US has used the September 11 attacks as a pretext to drum up war hysteria, step up military production and curtail the democratic rights of the American people and other peoples. It has invoked the 9/11 attacks to carry out acts of aggression against countries asserting national independence. It has emboldened repression and state terrorism against the people waging revolution and the nations fighting for liberation. It uses the “terrorist” label on all anti-imperialist forces and thus rationalize all sorts of barbarities inflicted upon them.

Under the Bush regime, the so-called neoconservatives have been able to put into practice their Project for a New American Century. This sets the line for the US to make use of the full spectrum of its power, especially its high-tech military superiority, to undertake preemptive wars in order to cut down any “rogue state” or any potential US rival. The US thus seeks to maintain supremacy over all countries and peoples and enforce its “democracy” and the “free market”.

The Peasant Masses in the Third World

The peoples of the third world countries have suffered the most from the crisis of the world capitalist system since the 1970s. The imperialist countries have passed the burden of the crisis on to their client countries, the semicolonies and dependent countries. Thus, it is also in these countries where the struggle for national and social liberation is most intense. It is in these countries where revolutionary armed struggle is raging and strong mass movements are advancing.

The crisis of overproduction in the imperialist countries has further aggravated the overproduction of raw materials by most semicolonies and dependent countries as well as the overproduction of low value-added semimanufactures by a few of them. This has resulted in either the closure of the bankrupted enterprises or bigger overproduction and export of bigger volumes of the same goods at lower prices in the global market.

The crisis of overproduction, the chronic budgetary and trade deficits and mounting debt burden result in the worst working and living conditions for the people. The worst conditions of mass unemployment, low incomes, impoverishment and deprivation are found in the semicolonies and dependent countries. Here, the majority of the people live on less than two US dollars a day. In most third world countries, the main problems are landlessness and the feudal and semifeudal exploitation of the peasant masses who compose the majority of the population.

The forces and relations of production in agriculture in semifeudal economies are backward. The big compradors and landlords are dictated upon by foreign monopoly capitalism and driven by their own reactionary class interest to oppose genuine land reform and national industrialization. These two economic measures are complementary. Land reform is a way for liberating the peasant masses economically, socially and politically, encouraging them to produce more food for the country and raw materials for industry and becoming a major source of capital and an expanding market for industrial products.

The “land reform programs” decked out by the big comprador-landlord regimes in semicolonial and semifeudal countries are bogus and tokenistic. In the case of the Philippines, various methods are used to block genuine land reform, such as limiting its scope to certain crops, like rice and corn, allowing the landlords to retain land and to distribute it to his children and children-in-law through fake personal or corporate sales.

In cases where the government expropriate the land for distribution or where the government mediates the sale of land between the landlord and the tenant, the latter is made to pay what is supposed to be the fair market value of the land and such value is arbitrarily raised in any arrangement by which the tenant pays in installments for the land. Tenants rarely succeed in completing payments for the land and are ultimately evicted or returned to tenant status. In cases where the peasant masses clear and cultivate public land, they are subjected to eviction by various types of landgrabbers, including bureaucrats, military officers, longtime landlords and foreign agri-corporations.

Since the promulgation of the 1987 constitution under the Aquino regime, it has been constitutionally established that land can be sold by landlord to tenant, only if the former agrees to do so voluntarily and the latter agrees to pay the fair market value as “just compensation. The landlord can also escape land reform by inveigling the tenants and farm workers to accept the “stock distribution option” by which they become petty stock owners in an agricultural corporation in which members of the landlord family owns more than 95 per cent or more of the stocks.

The fake land reform in Hacienda Luisita in the form of stock distribution, the cases of overpriced expropriated land for redistribution to tenants and the long running flow of reclassifying rice and corn land as other types of land for the purpose of exemption have completely exposed the bankruptcy of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Since the time of Aquino, the reactionary government has junked the principle of social justice by regarding land reform as a real estate deal in the “free market”. The Hacienda Luisita massacre and the subsequent assassinations of the leaders and members of the farm workers and peasant organizations manifest the utter failure of the stock distribution option and other sham measures of land reform under the CARP and the so-called free market globalization.

Under the banner of “free market globalization”, the presidential successors of Aquino have completely ignored the need for land reform and national industrialization and have merely prated about providing the “land reform beneficiaries” with the financing for the production and marketing of farm products. The local ruling classes of big compradors and landlords are happy with the World Bank prescription of “market-assisted land reform” that makes this a mere real estate transaction. This has served to preserve land monopoly and favor land concentration, including the reconcentration of land previously awarded to or being amortized by peasants.

With the so-called “free market globalization” many third world countries are driven to importation of agricultural products from other countries. The big compradors and high bureaucrats benefit from this as well as from the export of agricultural products. But the overall result is the ruin of local agricultural production due to imports of surplus agricultural products, especially from the imperialist countries and other well-mechanized and well-subsidized sources. China, which has become a net importer of food, is a well-known case of a country which has dismantled socialist agriculture and sacrificed self-reliant agricultural production in favor of agricultural imports, semi-manufacturing principally for foreign consumer markets and yielding expanses of land to real estate developers and speculators.

The burden of the crisis is laid on the shoulders of the peasants and farm workers. These toilers are subjected to further social degradation as a result of ever more virulent forms of feudal and semifeudal exploitation. “Free market globalization” imposes terrible suffering on the peasants and farm workers of Southeast Asia, South Asia and China and thus cause deep social discontent among them and drive them to rise up against those who monopolize the land and reduce them to conditions of feudal and semifeudal exploitation. We are all aware of the growing wave of concerted peasant mass actions in Asia, both in the form of legal protest actions and armed resistance.

The crisis engendered by foreign and feudal exploitation, particularly under the policy of “free market globalization”, drive the imperialist owners of plantations, big compradors and landlords to evict peasants, fire farm workers, bust peasant associations and farm workers’ unions and unleash other oppressive actions. The local puppet regimes work against the rights and interests of the peasants and farm workers and carry out violent campaigns of suppression, using military, police and paramilitary forces as well as private goons against the communities and associations of peasants and farm workers.

Among the local reactionary regimes in Asia, the Arroyo regime has been most notorious in cheering the Bush global war of terror and has used it to beg for US military intervention and assistance and carry out a ruthless and murderous all-out war policy against the Filipino people, especially the toiling masses of workers and peasants. More than fifty per cent of the victims of the well-documented extrajudicial killings are peasants. The number of peasant victims run into tens of thousands if we take into account those illegally detained, tortured, murdered and forced out of their homes and farms through arson, bulldozing, bombings and artillery fire by the military, police and private security agencies. .

Further Strengthening the People’s Resistance

While the attention of the world is riveted to the US wars of aggression related mainly to oil and gas resources in the Middle East and Central Asia, the cleverest of the strategists of the imperialists and local reactionaries in Asia are well aware of the frustrations and increasing misery of the peasant masses under “free market globalization”. They fear the high potential of the peasant masses for armed revolution. They are aware of the durability and steady growth of people’s war in the Philippines, the dramatic growth of people’s war in Nepal and India and the yearly outbreak of thousands of peasant uprisings in various parts of China.

The same strategists are concerned about the fertile conditions for protracted people’s wars for national liberation and democracy, with the crucial participation and support of the peasant masses. However, the prevailing reaction of the imperialists and the local reactionaries to such conditions is not to carry out any genuine and thoroughgoing land reform but to conduct in the name of anti-terrorism campaigns of suppression against peasant unrest and resistance .

For instance, in the Philippines, the US and Arroyo regime have practically terminated the peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Philippine reactionary government in favor of an all-out war policy. They would rather spend lives and huge amounts of resources on military and police campaigns of suppression than carry out honest-to-goodness land reform, national industrialization and other bourgeois democratic reforms. The imperialists and the local reactionaries know no bounds for their greed and their violent determination to preserve the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system. They leave no choice to the broad masses of the people but to wage armed revolution.

The peasants and farm workers need to organize themselves and wage militant resistance to defend themselves and assert their rights. They have to struggle for the people’s national sovereignty and democratic rights and for genuine land reform and national industrialization. They must join up with the rest of the people in advancing the struggle to achieve national and democratic power necessary for carrying out comprehensive land reform, pursuing national industrialization and undertaking other reforms to promote the people’s livelihood and well-being. For these reforms to be carried out, the rule of the big compradors and landlords who act as puppets of imperialism must come to an end.

The imperialists with the collaboration of their puppet regimes will do everything, including direct military aggression, to prevent the people from achieving their goal of national and social liberation. They will block the countries and peoples from breaking free of the imperialist system of exploitation and oppression. The big compradors and landlords oppose national and social liberation because this would mean an end to their privileges and parasitic existence. The imperialists and their puppet regimes brand the people’s revolutionary movement and even the forces of the legal opposition as “terrorist” in order to justify state terrorism and armed counter-revolution.

The people have to strengthen their unity in a patriotic and democratic united front, which encompasses the workers, peasants, petty-bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie, with the basic worker-peasant alliance as the foundation. They have to wage all forms of struggle in order to establish a truly national and democratic state. Only with such a state can they carry out genuine land reform and national industrialization and solve the problems of exploitation, massive poverty and underdevelopment that afflict many third world countries.

The people of every country in the third world must rely mainly on their own strength to achieve national and social liberation. But they can also draw additional strength from as well as lend their own through international solidarity among peoples waging a common struggle against imperialism and all forms of reaction in all continents and countries. In this connection, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle is constantly dedicated to build an international anti-imperialist and democratic movement for the national and social liberation of the peoples of the third world.

The Asian Peasant Coalition is a highly important framework for various forms of cooperation among the peasant movements in Asia that are struggling for urgent basic social reforms. It is a framework for raising the level of consciousness, organization and mobilization of the peasant masses. You can learn valuable lessons from each other’s struggles, thus strengthening both your coalition and its individual members. Your coordinated campaigns and actions against the onslaught of imperialist and feudal forces contribute to the over-all weakening and eventual defeat of the imperialist system of exploitation and oppression.

Once more we in the International League of Peoples’ Struggle wish you the utmost success in the hard struggles ahead against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism and for the national and social liberation of the exploited and oppressed peoples in the countries of Asia and other parts of the world. #

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