THE QUEZON City government denied leftist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan’s (Bayan) request to hold a protest action near the Batasang Pambansa complex where President Aquino will deliver his mid-term State of the Nation (SONA), prompting them to file a case before the city trial court.

Leftist groups are known to rally every SONA. Part of their tradition since time immemorial is the burning of effigies of the current president, which they say is a manifestation of the country’s real situation.

In denying the group’s request, the city government cited a law which allows the mayor to deny a request to rally in so far as there is imminent and grave danger, which in this case there is obviously none. And in fact, the country’s constitution protects the right to assembly and petition as part of a healthy democracy.

But the legality of Bayan’s activism is beyond the issue at point. What’s more interesting is whether or not it is even necessary. (Note: as of press time, SONA’s already over and the activists were able to hold their protest. But I’d rather not dwell on what happened on account that I wasn’t there.)

Arguably, activism has brought nothing good in so far as it has not met the ends it seeks to achieve.

Lest I be accused of narrow-mindedness, it may be significant to give the disclaimer that I am not in the best disposition to criticize activists and leftist groups, being a part of the “middle class,” whom they loathe so much.

By no means is the goal of this writing to downplay activism per se. But worthy of noting is the context of the Constitution’s protection of the right to freedom of assembly, which activists usually invoke.

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The 1987 Philippine Constitution was enacted following an era of restraint. Thus it was natural for the framers of the constitution make sure that freedom of expression will be guarded, considering of course that it was a peaceful rally which toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

These days, however, activists can express their distaste to the President, society, and the “system,” as they love to call it, all they want, but their significance and (I dare say) necessity is nowhere near to that of during the Marcos era. An antagonistic approach to achieving ends just does not work anymore these days.

In fact, undesirable connotations and labels have been attached to activists. To some, they are just leftist hooligans who cause traffic every now and then.

An article—titled “A Response to ‘Why Activism is Passe,’” by a Facebook user who wrote in response to an article of Philippine Star’s Cate de Leon which criticized activism—defended activism:

“Those who urge us to act like proper citizens, to go through the necessary paperwork or settle for legal channels and civil lawsuits often fail to see reality… The law is in the hands of the powerful.” The article added that there can be no justice when there is no fight.

It is statements like the one above which make activism passé, because as can be gleaned from the quotation, leftist activists are fond of hasty generalization and noisy platitudes. They’re incapable of discernment because whatever social analysis they purport to use is really a cloak for their ideological fanaticism. They don’t pinpoint the problems that need to be solved. They generalize that the system is rotten, that all so-called democratic governments serve elitist and imperialist interests, and that they – in this case the leftists of the so-called National Democratic Front — offer the best alternative.

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And of course, they call themselves “militants,” which is a martial term that betrays their militaristic, totalitarian inclinations. So even if they claim to be “democratic,” they also maintain the New People’s Army. In some instances, they let the NPA kill members of their ranks the minute the latter start to show a modicum of dissent. Look at the communist purges of the 1980’s and the 1990’s, which the leftist activists of today either defend or worse, deny.

In short, leftist activists use the democratic space of bourgeois democracy to advance their Stalinism. They do a disservice to authentic activism. They’re not activists but Stalinists.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Walang aasahan sa ganitong mga opinyong walang materyal na batayan. Kunsabagay, kaya walang nagbabasa ng The Varsitarian dahil sa ganitong mga “by the book” na analysis at walang danas na pagsulat. Ano nga ba ang aasahan sa mga manunulat ng Varsitarian na nakakulong sa kanilang mga opisina at nasa estado ng comfort zone? Kaya wala kayong masulat na kritikal at may katalinuhan dahil sa ganitong atrasadong pananaw. Isa pa, wag mong ipangatwiran na nasa middle class ka, kaya ganyan ka mag-isip dahil kung magsusuri ka sa kasaysayan, marami sa tinuturing mong uri na kinabibilangan ay lumahok din at naging kasapi ng mga kilusang dapat mong pagkautangan ng loob ngayon na may tinatamasa kang kalayaan. Gayundin, lilinawin ko lang po na hindi lang rali ang porma ng pagkilos ng aktibismo, basa-basa rin (tutal yun lang ang kayang abutin ng iyong kamalayan). Panghuli, kung itinuturing mong walang naiambag ang aktibismo na kahit anong mabuti? Nahihiya naman ako sa iyo, marami kang benipisyo at karapatang tinatamasa ngayon dahil sa aktibismo. At wala ka sanang tatambayang opisina o susulatang dyaryo na pambalot ng tinapa, kung hindi dahil sa aktibismo, hanggang ngayong sarado pa kayo?

  2. Thanks for quoting my facebook note, bro, and for taking it completely out of context.

    We lemons are the best.

    Btw, there were more than a few priests with us at the SONA rally. Some of them were probably from your school.

    Yes, we’re all stalinists here.

  3. Your judgement among the activist always settle on answering the question how, and neglecting the question why. In short, your article is too shallow to give a good claim on why activism is out of context, That makes a good irony for you actually for calling it out of context. You see activist as if they are just bunch of people who wanted to ruin the city by causing a traffic jam. But I have you know that preparations are done beforehand, these protesters and activist risk the invulnerability of their ideas with their actions. These ideas and actions are the same things that makes you free from the dictator and his cronies. You mocks activism without realizing that it is the thing that enables you to write freely. And don’t worry pal, to be tagged as a leftist or a Stalinist is something that we activist are proud of. Why? Because it only shows our worth to the political spectrum. It must be the likes of you who must be ashamed for staying stagnant and passive, the one who always conforms with his alma mater’s traditional way of thinking. Maybe being a radical often resort to violence, but it is the manifestation of the people’s hunger for a change. It is a just rage, and I guess you lost it.

  4. Could you please define what you mean by “authentic activism,” “Stalinism” (by this I think you lump all his excesses and give it such a label without knowing much of his works), and please, the left had decried the purges countless of times. Inquirer articles of Teddy Casino proves this, not only that, as an national democratic activist myself, we accept these mistakes of the left in the past. And please, let us not talk about the New People’s Army without really knowing what purpose they serve (for that I think you just see them as armed bandits, who just kill anyone in sight). They’re a lot more than that.

    Ideological fanaticism? Can you please prove your point using tangible evidence, that the ND movement’s claims and actions are but mere theoretical dogma and slogans unsubstantiated and not grounded on material conditions?

    And do not dare talk about dictatorships and totalitarianism, when we’re already living in one, cloaked in the fancy of the bourgeois.

    And please, the revolution does not loathe the middle class as a whole. That my friend is a generalization you yourself pass on activists who do not generalize such strata. The revolution sees the progressive potential in the middle-class intelligentsia insofar as they are also an oppressed class. What the revolution loathes is their reactionary tendencies, that of being individualistic and wanting to be next in line as the ruling class.

    I really hope we could talk sometime personally to clear such matters. However, I could not help but be disappointed on what you have become in the past years.

    PS: If it weren’t for “stalinist” activism, you wouldn’t even be granted the liberties of our current bourgeois society. Militant activism has proved time and time again its relevance and effectiveness — from stopping tuition increases, demolitions of urban poor communities, even the dismantling of the US bases, etc. The point is that, under this type of society, relevant and progressive change in the economy, politics, and culture cannot never be achieved as long as political power is in the ruling classes.

    We could have more and more liberties, but we must take note that these liberties are liberties that are given only to make it seem that we are given more spaces for engagement, when in fact it only disengages us more. Rights that should endanger the status quo and the ruling elite’s hold to power will never to legislated, however righteous in the Christian sense it may be.

  5. A writer is different from a journalist, for anyone who knows how to write is already a writer. but as a student Journalist, I believe in critical analysis and in the truth of doing what is right.
    This issue about activism and all had been there since century of ages. We have to think critically and analyze the issues one by one; What is activism? does it not mean confrontational action? such as a demonstration or strike, in opposition to or support of a cause? Why is there a need of rallying if everything is just perfectly fine? why would people waste their time shouting, walking all along the streets if they don’t believe that they could actually do something?
    The question here is; DO THEY LISTEN?
    I suggest you go dig deep down the grassroots so you could find a better argument; its not enough that you site other people’s writings. defend yourself on your OWN. 🙂

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