US imperialism

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Sunday, April 27, 2014


TODAY’S visit of US President Barack Obama has riled up militants who see US imperialism as among the major reasons for the country’s backwardness (the other two are bureaucrat capitalism and feudalism).

Of the three basic problems that the national democratic (ND) movement is battling, US imperialism is the most difficult to explain. One needs to sift through the complex relationship between the Philippines and the US to be able to grasp it.

Militants see that relationship as that between oppressor and oppressed and between exploiter and exploited. But because the oppression and exploitation is well-hidden, it cannot be countenanced easily.

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Economically, the US exploitation of the Philippines is three-fold: using the country as source of raw materials, as market for US products and recipient of its surplus capital, euphemistically called direct investment. Through this relation, US
capitalists are able to suck huge profits from their dealing with the Philippines.

To defend its economic interests in the country, the US is known to have influenced the outcome of every presidential election here, except for the snap elections in 1986 that sparked the 1986 Edsa people power uprising and brought Corazon Aquino to power.

This is the reason militants always refer to every government in the country as US-“Talpulano” regime (examples: US-Arroyo regime, US-Aquino regime, etc.) and describes the status of the Philippines as semi-colonial (because of indirect US influence over the country) and semi-feudal. Semi-colonial is also referred to as neocolonial.

But as I have noted in previous articles, much has changed since the “three basic problems” were popularized by the NDs starting in the `60s. Incidentally, US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism are terms that local militants borrowed from the successful 1949 Chinese revolution led by Mao Zedong and applied to local context.

Two developments should be noted when tackling US imperialism: one, the country’s own version of the diaspora that has seen the number of Filipino immigrants grow by leaps and bounds; two, China’s rising assertiveness, especially in the South China Sea and the “West Philippine Sea” that exposed our country’s military impotence.

Indeed, it is difficult to raise the banner of US imperialism without offending the American people and the Filipinos who have considered the US as either their second home or their new home. There are efforts to separate the US government and monopoly capitalists from the American people in the hurling of the US imperialism critique, but these have not been effective.

As for China, which is being considered by some analysts now as an imperialist state, its assertiveness has given the administration of President Noynoy Aquino pretense to move closer to the US. This plays well into the hands of the Obama administration and its strategy to “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region.

Now, the Aquino administration is talking about giving the US access to the country’s military bases through the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation that P-Noy and Obama may sign during the latter’s visit to the country. Morag nakadaug ang US og lotto.

Militants have promised to stage mass actions for the duration of Obama’s visit starting today. I hope the Aquino administration won’t overreact by using force to disperse rallyists. It won’t look good for a country that is supposed to be democratic.

Let the militants articulate their demands out there in the streets. People also need to be given a contrarian view so they will be able to objectively assess US-RP relations.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 28, 2014.

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