Trajectories of Dissent: Potting the Philippine Student Movement

With the downfall of USSR, the world has become unipolar. The success of the U.S. anti-communist propaganda is such that deviant countries and people’s struggles have become targets of the global “War on Terror.”

Red-baiting has continued from Jimmy Carter to George Bush, legitimizing US intervention in sovereign nations. Concurrently, Jonathan Beller, associate professor of English and Humanities at The Pratt Institute, states that U.S.’ forceful coercion is packaged as “security, democracy and the rule of law.”

According to Ocampo, the same deception is employed by Arroyo, who has increasingly relied on the military to stay in power. The flagrant militarization of select urban and rural areas and the proclamation of repressive directives reveal a “creeping martial law.” Yet, resistance has generally been lukewarm, precisely because martial rule is undeclared.

Additionally, Beller points that globalization has facilitated the development of high finance capitalism such that the people’s aspirations are “commandeered by capital.” Following the discourse of sociologists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, the resulting commodity culture manipulates the people into passivity and docility.

Capitalism has thus developed new modes of exploitation wherein the youth’s energies are “co-opted by…consumerist culture,” Beller adds.

The movement’s errors have also contributed to the people’s further disenfranchisement. According to Prof. Arnold Alamon of the UP Department of Sociology, the “internal problems and external challenges in the 80’s…led to purges and a debilitating split in the 90’s.” The resulting two factions are the Reaffirmists, who assert the validity of the revolution, and the Rejectionists, who shifted to insurrection and adventurism. This made the movement especially vulnerable to red-baiting tactics, which serve to vilify the struggle from the populace.

To correct its errors, the movement has successfully enacted a “rectification movement” which asserts the primacy of the “protracted people’s war,” Alamon declares. Ten years of mass work has enabled the cadres to reestablish their ties with the mass base. Moreover, Ilagan points that the state’s machinations “should not detract us from the validity” of the semifeudal and semicolonial analysis of Philippine society.

History illustrates that the youth is a critical catalyst of the revolution. Now that the Establishment has intensified its coercion, the students are called upon to formulate new modes of engagement. For the world is still characterized by dialectical contradictions; to remain passive is a grave transgression. Philippine Collegian/(

References :
Adorno, Theodor (1991). The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture. Routledge,
De Quiros, Conrado (1997). Dead Aim: How Marcos Ambushed Philippine Democracy. Foundation for Worldwide People’s Power, Pasig City.
Lacaba, Jose (2003). Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage. Asphodel Books, Manila.
Raymundo, Sarah and Tolentino, Rolando (2006).
Kontra-Gahum: Academics Against Political Killings. IBON Foundation, QC.

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