Political opportunism and the specter of the yellow Left

Mong Palatino


It is public knowledge that the Left became a divided movement in the early 1990s. Most remained as national democrats while the rest splintered into various factions. Those who refused to reaffirm the Natdem principles became vociferous critics of the tactics and methods of what they refer to as the Stalinist wing of the Philippine Left. Two decades later, they are still fixated over the alleged massive errors, blunders, and political irrelevance of the Natdem movement.

That they continue to echo this line of thinking is quite surprising unless they admit that their fanatic rejection of the Natdem is crucial in preserving their political existence. But the intensified propaganda against the Natdems is not only vicious and malicious; the recent tirades appear to be government-backed as well. They are consistent in portraying the Natdem as the embodiment of evil Leftist in society; yet this narrative is self-serving since it ignores an obvious issue involving the Left today: the grand betrayal committed by a self-proclaimed Leftist bloc which agreed to be a junior partner of the reactionary regime.

They continue to ridicule the Natdem’s ‘obsolete’ way of thinking without acknowledging the following:

– That they were not prevented from challenging and supplanting the theories and practical legacy of the Natdem in the grassroots;
– That they have institutional (academic and religious) support in discrediting the Natdem movement;
– That they received ample foreign funding in sustaining their political work;
– That their doctrines were endorsed by opinion-making apparatuses such as the media, mainstream book publishing industry, and the global civil society;
-That they collaborated with successive bourgeois governments in demonizing the Natdem; and
– That they partnered with the Liberal Party and became a partisan state actor.

Yet they have the temerity to denounce the Communist Party and the New People’s Army as the recidivist superbads of Philippine politics.

They had enough time and resources to prove that their theories are superior and feasible. They were given the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of promoting bureaucratic reforms, parliamentary work, and peaceful transition to socialism.

But after two decades, they have nothing to offer other than shameful, unprincipled collaboration. Real existing reformism as exemplified by the yellow Left ends in blatant political sell-out. Ask Walden Bello.

By subsuming their politics to the bureaucratic demands of the state, they degenerated into a cabal of deodorizer cadres of the ruling party. They became politicians pretending to be progressives who discourage and disempower the masses from continuing the struggle for social transformation. Instead of advancing the politics of revolution, they assumed the role of hired ideologues to counter the Natdem movement. In other words, they aligned their aims with the rise to power of a bourgeois party.

Rewarded by the state for their canine loyalty, they could have pushed the militant section of the Left into obscurity. They could have gained the initiative in the grassroots. They could have destroyed the political infrastructure of the Natdem across the country.

But they utterly, bitterly failed.

All the funds used to displace the Natdem in the communities; all the NGOs created to tame the fighting capabilities of the marginalized; the deployment of the fascist machinery of the state to malign, hunt, expose, and arrest activists and revolutionaries – all these Rightist schemes to defeat the Natdem, in the name of what? Political stability and silence of the oppressed in support of elite democracy.

In the wake of post-Edsa Rightist resurgence, the yellow Left chose the side of the reactionaries (their alliance is christened as ‘reigning reform coalition’) to realize the group’s socialist objectives. But in practice, it uncritically defended the regime’s anti-people programs such as public-private-partnerships and development aggression in the countryside. Instead of maintaining its political independence and integrity, it willingly served as an attack dog of Malacanang.

If only an honest evaluation of its political record were done, the yellow Left could have easily recognized how its nice-sounding theories on responsible and democratic activism are not being realized on the ground.

Many of its cadres are detached from the grassroots, its leaders are experts on finance generation; and when they attend international conferences, they misrepresent themselves as struggling Leftists who are building the foundations of a democratic society while spewing out intrigues against the Natdems.

Unable to establish a formidable support among the grassroots without using the resources of the reactionary state, the yellow Left accused the Natdem of terrorizing and manipulating the masa. Instead of pursuing a critical appraisal of its work, it turned to the lazy tactic of red-baiting.

Because of the yellow Left’s delusion that it represents the humanistic tradition of the revolution, it distorts the Natdem brand of politics.

Party discipline? It is rigid Stalinist purging.
Holistic view of history? Deceptive metanarrative.
Marxist-Leninist-Maoist analysis? Dogmatic paradigm.

Instead of a coherent and comprehensive reading of the political situation, they opted for a so-called postmodern and pluralist perspective. They dismissed Joma Sison in favor of micro academic specializations and abstract language games. It would have been less controversial if they restricted these theoretical ‘innovations’ within the university, but these were introduced to the public as the emergence of the new Left.

The yellow Left only has contempt for its ideological adversaries that is why it couldn’t understand why the Natdemn movement continues to inspire support from various sectors and regions across the nation. It spreads the lie about how the Natdem has been artificially boosting its political strength through undemocratic and violent methods.

Coopted already by the reactionary state, the yellow Left has already forgotten how a people’s movement can thrive by relying on the sincere affections and collective struggle of the masses. It mimicked the oppressors’ cynical view of resistance movements and grassroots organizing. Every political action is deemed suspicious if it questions the noble motives of the Liberal Party. Mass struggles in the peripheries are rebuffed if Natdems are involved in the campaign.

Despite the vilification campaign and state-sponsored attacks, Natdems continue to stand up for their beliefs while waging the honorable fight for a socialist future. For the yellow Left, it is proof of the Natdem’s irrational tendency. But for the working classes, it reinforces the credibility of the Natdem to lead the struggle for genuine independence and democracy.

At the risk of creating a stereotype, I dare say a yellow Leftist is someone who rejects the politics of the Natdem while embracing the status quo. An activist who is intolerant of dissent coming from the margins, a pluralist who plays with competing theories as long as it does not involve Maoism, and a law-abiding citizen who dreams that politicians will pass socialist laws. In other words, a yellow Leftist is the personification of the anti-Left. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

Mong Palatino is a Filipino activist and former legislator. Email: mongpalatino@gmail.com

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