Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Communists are dead, so what’s all the fuss?

An abbreviated discussion in our department has convinced me that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s spin doctors are doing a stupendous job. They are doing their job so well it has got perfectly rational, thinking people agreeing with them.

These well-paid “political analysts”, some of whom have been awful, awful teachers of mine (one gave me an undeserved 1.75 – the lowest in my graduate career), resurrect and reinforce the paranoid fear of “Communists,” or “Reds” or “Leftists” of a bygone era loooooong over. Heck, the “threat” wasn’t so much real as it was imagined and reinforced to put Martial Law dissenters back in line.

So now the much abused CPP-NPA is again being whipped out of the toy box as a way to scare us usually sensible folks. The Extreme Leftists are conspiring with the Extreme Rightists to overthrow the government. Communists are getting in bed with Military Adventurists. Wha’da’pak?!? That’s like claiming Wacko Jacko impregnated (now ex-wife) Lisa Marie Presley and had a hoot of a time doing it!!!

Communism, as any legitimate (i.e. acceptable to all and sundry) political force, is dead in the Philippines. Its death was sealed when they started killing each other in the mid-90s. Its death was sealed when the intellectuals left their fold. Its death was sealed when their so-called leader went and enjoyed the comforts of “political refugees” in continental Europe. Its death was sealed when the Soviet Union crumbled at the feet of the wall in Berlin. Communism as a political ideology, as a way of life, as a mode of governance has long been discredited worldwide. You’re only a good Communist, when you’re a Chinese Communist – that is, sort of but not really. Not since Deng Xiao Ping in the late 70s.

So what’s with all this religious fear of Communists? We are deathly afraid of Communists because Americans were (and still are, if Dubya’s any indication). And what Yanks thought and said, Pinoys thought and said. Now that the Cold War is long over and Communism thrives in only 2 out of 200++ states, what the heck is the fuss all about? How can you conceivably imagine the Communists taking over at this day and age?!?

Aside from the fact that Communist military might is now only evidenced by their fierce and valiant attacks of cell sites, the following are more reasons why we need not fear:

Point no. 1 : Americans, Europeans and the Japanese have billions of dollars in investments in the Philippines. Can you imagine them standing by and let a bunch of hooligans flush their euros/dollars down the twah-lette? Not likely.

Point no. 2 : JoMa Sison is too busy smoking hashish and having all colors and shapes of women legally warm his bed in Amsterdam.

Point no. 3 : The Filipino elite IS the Filipino government. And the government is the sole, legitimate authority and disburser of Violence in all four corners of this sunny archipelago. Which means the government has enough firepower to whack Communists into kingdom come thrice over.

Which brings us back into the question of the Military. Is a military take-over likely? HECK NO. Quadrillions of Filipinos will troop to the streets, boom-boxes blazing, party-atmosphere dancing, before WE let a uniformed man (or woman) tell us what’s what. Like, duh.

And because I’m a language teacher, I am obsessed with words, how they are used, manipulated, morphed into different meanings to suit different purposes. The problem is conflating “Leftists” with “Marxists” with “Communists” with “Party-Lists” with “Civil Society.” I understand the red flags, or all sorts of multi-colored flag-waving, might be a little confusing. But come on. When you want drama and maximum effect, don’t you wear red?

I have nothing but respect for people who will risk their lives, their comfort, their time for a cause that can never pay them back. I happen to think that to be a Randy David or a Rissa Baraquel, one has to be a little cou-cou. A little insane. What rational being will risk man-handling for social justice? For civil rights? For good governance? For development? For change? What rational being will die for love of country?

To conclude, let me ask you this. Since you’re so afraid of them, have you seen an actual Communist? Have you met and conversed with one? I have (excluding all those ex-commie academics roaming UP). It was in a class in 2002, we were divided in groups for a seminar presentation.

One group of 2 young men, probably thinking themselves exceedingly maverick, decided to have a True Blue Member of the Communist Party of the Philippines come and talk to us in class. There was a buzz of excitement when we had learned of this special guest. What could he possibly say to enlighten us of the movement’s high-minded pursuits of equality and justice for all?

He came in, a man in his thirties of small stature, skin darkened from doubtless hours of walking under high-altitude sun. His eyes kept darting to the door at the very back of our small room, as if expecting the bogeyman to come jumping. He then awkwardly introduced himself, a couple of stutters here and there. He reached for the whiteboard marker and started scribbling on the board. He paused in between scribbling and explaining the Marxist doctrine. Scribble, cough, nervous scoping of room and back door. I don’t remember the details of what he said, but I remember thinking he didn’t say anything I didn’t already know and could’ve done a much better job lecturing. If we had waited with bated breath, we would have asphyxiated waiting for enlightenment.

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