Delivered in Shih Hsin University, Taipei, Taiwan
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
10 August 2009
From the International Coordinating Committee and entirety of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), I convey warmest greetings of solidarity to all the educators and social activists now gathered. I express high appreciation to the ILPS Working Group on Teachers, Researchers and Other Educational Personnel for organizing this international conference on education, imperialism and resistance and to the International Center for Taiwan Social Studies for hosting it.
Thank you for affording me the honor and privilege of delivering this keynote address. The theme of your conference is urgent and of great importance to the educators, the youth and the people of the world. We need to underscore the decisive importance of education in the service of the people, to criticize and condemn the depredations of imperialism and all reaction and present the anti-imperialist and progressive perspectives of struggle for a new and better world. I keep in mind that the participants of this conference come from advanced industrial economies as well as from underdeveloped ones.
I. The Decisive Importance of Education
The availability of formal education at the basic and higher levels to comparatively larger numbers of people differentiates the modern world of the bourgeoisie and working class from the ancient world of the slave masters and feudal lords. The wider extent of education is made possible by the larger amount of surplus product created by the modern forces of production and is required by the greater need for mass literacy, professional and technical skills to maintain as well as to advance the level of material and cultural development.
Every exploitative ruling class in modern society, be it the monopoly bourgeoisie in imperialist countries or the bourgeoisie in combination with the landlord class in the underdeveloped countries, always puts its class imprint on the character and content of education and lays stress on the preservation of the ruling system and continuing exploitation of the working people. In opposition, the revolutionary forces of the people lay stress on the transformative character and content of education for the purpose of national and social liberation, all-round development and the attainment of socialism.
In large historical terms, capitalism has outlived its progressive character in opposition to feudalism in the industrial capitalist countries. It has reached the stage of monopoly capitalism or modern imperialism since the beginning of the 20th century. It has been responsible for ever worsening levels of economic and financial crisis, state repression, fascism, colonial and neocolonial domination, inter-imperialist global wars, wars of aggres-sion against independent countries, damage to the environment and the use of the most backward forms of reaction, including racial, religious and gender biases.
Critique of Imperialism
You are absolutely correct in declaring that imperialism is at the root of the suffering and misery of billions of people throughout the world. Indeed, imperialist banks and corporations reap superprofits from the exploitation of the working people in both imperialist and underdeveloped countries and do so far more in the latter countries. The gap between rich and poor countries is ever widening. Widespread poverty and unemployment are deliberately maintained in order to keep ever available a large pool of cheap labor for super-exploitation. Concomitantly, environmental destruction proceeds unabated for the same purpose of extracting superprofits.
In recent decades, it has seemed as if capitalism and imperialism were perpetual and as if the cause of national liberation, people’s democracy and socialism were hopeless in the face of the betrayal of socialism by the revisionists, the full-scale restoration of capitalism in revisionist-ruled countries and the imposition of “neoliberal globalization” on the world by the imperialist powers and their local puppets. With Russia having shifted from social-imperialism to rejoin the ranks of the traditional imperialist powers and with China aiming and trying hard to be a major imperialist power, the contradictions within the world capitalist system have intensified, such as those between the imperialist powers and the people of the world, among the imperialist powers themselves and between the bourgeoisie and the working class in the imperialist countries.
The slogan of “free market” or “neoliberal globalization” stands for the systematic attack by the monopoly bourgeoisie on the working class and the rest of the people. It blames supposed wage inflation and social spending by government for the stagflation that surfaced in the imperialist countries in the 1970s and manifested the crisis of overproduction and the financial crisis in the imperialist economy. Since then, the imperialist countries headed by the US have gone on a rampage of pressing down the real wage level, cutting back on social spending for education, health and other social services and curtailing the rights and hard-earned social benefits of the working people.
The imperialist powers have pushed the underdeveloped countries to denationalize their economies, liberalise investments and trade in favor of the foreign monopolies, privatize state assets and social services and deregulate all previous restrictions on foreign monopoly capital and on the exploitation of the working people, women, children, migrants and the environment. The essence of the policy of “neoliberal globalization” is gobble-ization of the world by the monopoly banks and corporations. It unleashes the insatiable greed of the monopoly bourgeoisie.
I. Such monstrous policy has degraded and devastated education. Government spending for public education has been reduced. Teachers, researchers, and other education personnel suffer the consequences of stagnant and decreasing real salaries as these do not keep up with the rising costs of living. Large numbers of education personnel are laid off as governments close down schools and universities. As the academic and non-academic employees and the student masses become restive, they are subjected to repression by state authorities.
II. The imperialist powers keep on tightening their grip on education on a global scale. They use the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) to treat education as a commodity for profit-making in the so-called free market and to push the privatization of public schools at all levels. The purpose, content and conduct of teaching and research are made to serve the interests of the imperialist powers and local reactionaries. These factors of mis-education design and produce the curricula, study materials, education and research programs and institutional structures. They use the combination of schools, mass media and other means of information and education as tools of imperialist domination in the cultural field as well as in the socio-economic and political fields.
The adoption of higher technology in combination with the pushing down of the incomes of the working people in order to maximize corporate profits have engendered a series of worsening crises of overproduction under the policy of “neoliberal globalization”. Every rise of production has been accompanied by the reduction of wage incomes and the shrinkage of the market. The attempt of monopoly capitalism to override the crisis of overproduction and the tendency of the profit rate to fall through massive doses of debt financing, the creation of financial bubbles and the financialization of the economy have served to aggravate the crisis.
We are now faced with the worst financial and economic crisis of the world capitalist system since the Great Depression. If we look at the drastic fall of economic growth, unemployment and trade on the global scale since the second half of 2007, we can say that the current crisis follows a trajectory which is already worse than the Great Depression. But the officials and propagandists of the US obfuscate the severity of the crisis by calling it euphemistically as the Great Recession and merely focusing on some temporary effects of the huge bank bailouts in the US.
The downward trend of the US economy continues. It is most evident in the rise of unemployment and the concomitant decline in consumption. The Obama regime continues the neoliberal bias of the Bush regime for bailing out the banks and feeding the greed of the finance oligarchy. The funds that are supposed to stimulate the economy are channelled to certain monopoly corporations that use them to make profits rather than to expand production, create jobs and revive consumer demand. The US will continue to generate crisis in the world capitalist system, worsen the conditions of the working people and even the middle social strata, cause political turmoil within the ruling systems and incite the people to wage all forms of resistance.
The worsening crisis of the world capitalist system leads to the escalation of state terrorism and wars of aggression. The imperialist powers continue to band together to shift the burden of the crisis to the working people and the underdeveloped countries. But the broad masses of the people are bound to fight back for national and social liberation. The imperialist powers become ever more driven by greed as the financial and economic crisis constrains their profit-making. Their struggle for a redivision of the world is bound to intensify as they scramble for the sources of cheap labor and raw materials, markets, fields of investment and spheres of influence. The worsening crisis, the rise of fascism and the imperialist propensity for war are driving the workers and the rest of the people to fight back and move for a radical change of social system in various countries.
Struggle for a New and Better World
To be able to fight for a new and better world, the people need to be aroused, organized and mobilized by the revolutionary party and progressive alliances in every country. In this regard, the revolutionary party analyses the global and domestic situation and sets forth the general program of action and the strategy and tactics. The people must be aroused through information and education work. They must be organized on the basis of class or sectoral affinity as well as on the basis of major social issues. They must be mobilized through mass campaigns and through sectoral and multisectoral alliances.
The teachers and researchers play a crucial role in the struggle of the people for a new and better world. They must develop and utilize knowledge and research against the imperialist domination of these and for the liberation of the people from national and class oppression, for the realization of democracy, for all-rounded development in the service of the people, for world peace and the protection of the environment. They must promote and realize a new type of education and culture that is anti-imperialist, scientific and pro-people.
It is of urgent necessity that the teachers and researchers put forward a critique of imperialist ideology. Such a critique is an important instrument for defining the targets and tasks in the struggle for a radical transformation of society. We must be able to confront imperialist globalization and its terrorist complement of state repression and wars of aggression. In this regard, we must be able to build ever stronger the solidarity of the people of the world and advance their struggle to defend their rights and welfare, including the people’s right to education, and advance in stages the struggle for a new and better world of greater freedom, justice, development and peace.
I am pleased to know that participants in this conference are urged to contribute to the critique of any aspect of imperialism and education and are encouraged to make interdisciplinary approaches to such concerns as access to education, the so-called neoliberal reforms in the education sector, the right to education and livelihood, the political economy of education, the politics and theories of knowledge, production and research, the impact of privatization and liberalization on educators and students and adverse effects of neoliberal reforms in education on societies.
The organizers of this conference guide well all the participants by setting forth certain tracks of discussion and calling for papers under each track. I look forward to the publication of the papers on education and imperialism, dealing with historical perspectives, the relation of imperialist globalization to the basic and higher levels of education and the relation of debt and so-called aid to education; to the papers on education and markets, dealing with the relations of education with industry and imperialist globalization, free trade agreements and transnational education; and to the papers on education, oppression and resistance, dealing with the relations of education to social movements, the cause of national liberation, the issues of race, ethnicity and gender and the rights and welfare of educators and related personnel.
The direction, scope and content of your conference are comprehensive and take up the most important issues and concerns. I wish you the utmost success. I am confident that your conference will be very successful not only in interpreting the world but also in proposing how to change it. Thank you.###