The national democrats or ND call it the three basic problems. So you hear them in rallies shout, at one time or another: Imperyalismo (Ibagsak!), Pyudalismo (Ibagsak!), Burukrata Kapitalismo (Ibagsak!).
Actually, I have been out of the movement for some time that I don’t know if the three basic problems are still being talked about there. Groups from the Left not aligned with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) have challenged, for example, the idea of feudalism as a basic problem considering the “changing” landscape in the countryside.
But credit the CPP for advancing the feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism analysis more than three decades in advance. Nowadays, when you look at the major issues of the day, you’ll find the symptoms of the feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism illness: the rice crisis and graft and corruption in government, respectively.
The feudal setup has always been the bane of the country’s agriculture sector. Despite capitalism in agriculture here and there, farmers are still mainly tied to a centuries-old structure that pushes them to a life of poverty. Landlords are still the dominant force in the countryside because the structure has not been broken despite the many agrarian reform programs initiated by the government.
Of course, the rice problem is a very complicated one. Government neglect of the countryside is one reason why planting rice is difficult, expensive and in the end does not pay well for the farmers. Meanwhile, some landlords are cashing in on capitalist incursion into the countryside by selling even rice fields to corporations and moneyed individuals investing on subdivisions, specialized farms, etc.
Genuine land reform has long been part of the ND program, only that the CPP may have to seize political power first because it can be implemented and the results measured. Land must be turned over to the tillers without much cost to them and government must subsidize the farmers and provide the needed inputs to spur agricultural growth. Until that is done, the country will never be self-sufficient, especially in rice.
Bureaucrat capitalism? It straddles all the issues that has rocked the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, from the current hog fund anomaly to the aborted national broadband network project to almost everything else. Simply put, it means investing in elections to gain a government post and then using that government post to recoup the money spent, with profit on the side, using all methods available.
The truth is, elections even at the barangay level have become capitalist undertaking. You need capital to campaign, pay watchers and other election workers, buy votes and pay off election officials. Capital for presidential campaigns have also become astronomical, thus incumbents have to steal more money to recoup spending and to build capital for the next elections. That is aside from the money needed to line their pockets.
The ND political program includes setting up a structure that would smash the capitalist nature of public service, of course, with CPP acting as the vanguard. In the short term, communist-led countries like China and USSR grew by leaps and bounds after winning their revolutions. I don’t know, however, whether that will work in the long-term considering that CPP cadres are also people. In China, corruption has reared its ugly head, and the Communist Party of China took over only in 1949.
Still, it pays for people to revisit the theory on imperialism and bureaucrat capitalism in the light of the current situation.
–Candido O. Wenceslao