Carvajal: Divided masses

Break Point

ONE does not have to be a communist to recognize that class struggle still exists between the lower class and the upper class in this country. It is plain and simple sociology. You become a communist only when the means you employ in the struggle is the barrel of a gun.

But violent or peaceful, no means will succeed unless the masses manage to forge a workable unity among their subgroups. Lower class Filipinos, the country’s majority, are sadly divided while the minority but ruling upper class is united in its resolve to keep exclusive control of the country’s economy. Two recent events are stark reminders.

First, the disgraceful behavior of OFW-Party-List Rep. John Bertiz surfaced the fact that party-list groups work for their own narrow interests. Their representatives are not working to promote the welfare of the lower class. Many party-list representatives do not even belong to the group they represent. Like Bertiz is not an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) but a recruitment agent.

Second, the recent insistence of organized labor that the president simply issues an executive order raising the minimum wage by P50 shows up the disunity in the labor sector. In asking for the raise without corresponding safety nets for the underemployed and the unemployed, organized labor promotes their interest at the expense of their unemployed and underemployed brothers/sisters.

We may not like it but the grim reality is that business is driven by profits and is accordingly pragmatic to the extreme of even setting conscience aside. If pressured to give extremely high wages they will comply but not before cutting down on the number of employees, thus ramping up the unemployment and underemployment rate of the country.

(In 2018, official labor department figures placed the unemployment rate at 5.3 percent, down from 6.6 percent in 2017. Underemployment, however, went up in 2018 to 18 percent from 16.3 percent in 2017 while employment only went up slightly to 94.7 percent in 2018 from 93.4 percent in 2017).

The poor masses are divided. The upper class on the contrary is very united in their determined effort to prevent radical structural change from in any way threatening to breach the walls of their castles. They are so focused that they easily forgot the sins of the Marcoses as soon as the game of thrones (political chairs) resumed after Edsa.

In a representative democracy’s genuine party system, the whole labor class is represented by one labor party that balances the often conflicting needs of labor subgroups. It is only the healthy and peaceful dynamics between this party of the lower class and the party of the upper class that can move Philippine democracy forward in a politically and economically inclusive manner.


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