Four hundred thirty participants from two hundred organizations and forty three countries, territories and autonomous regions from all continents packed the plenary hall of the 4th International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS) held in Manila last week.
They came from far and wide responding to the clarion call of the League: “Build a bright future! Mobilize the people to resist exploitation and oppression amidst the protracted global depression, state terrorism and wars of aggression!”
Remarkably, a diverse crowd gathered under one roof — trade unionists and migrant workers; peasants and farm workers; indigenous peoples; youth and students; health workers and professionals, teachers, lawyers and other professionals; human rights defenders; researchers and development workers; scientists and technologists; artists and media practitioners; environmentalists; and advocates of the rights of women, gays, lesbians and bisexuals as well as children and the elderly. Most were seasoned activists in their fields or advocacies, in their own countries and internationally.
The ILPS 4th International Assembly was by far the biggest, broadest and most energetic international conference of social activists here in the Philippines in recent history, calling to mind the spectacular people’s caravan from Manila to Subic that capped the People’s Conference against Imperialist Globalization in 1996.
They were all motivated by the desire to gain a broader, deeper and common understanding of the causes of the protracted global economic crisis and the widespread political disorder involving wars and other armed conflicts together with peoples’ mass protests and uprisings. And they were bound by the conviction that such an understanding was imperative in order to effectively deal with these scourges and build a new world without war and plunder.
The participants committed themselves to working for immediate as well as fundamental changes in the world by raising people’s awareness, organizing and mobilizing them – especially the exploited and downtrodden – for national liberation, genuine democracy and social emancipation.
The failed promises, distortions and outright lies of neoliberal “globalization”, the touted “new world order” and the US-led “war on terror” were dissected and laid bare. The incalculable misery, hardships, death and devastation to peoples, social and physical infrastructure and the environment wrought under these imperialist-constructed signboards were exposed and denounced.
The General Declaration of the Assembly minced no words in identifying the worsening global crisis as that of the world capitalist system and in welcoming the rising resistance of the world’s peoples to the “harsh consequences of the crisis and government measures that make them shoulder the burden of the crisis”.
It underscored the fact that the financial meltdown that started in 2008 has become a full-blown global depression with still no end in sight despite optimistic pronouncements of the G8 countries.
The toiling peoples of the world, whether in the advanced capitalist countries or in the poor and underdeveloped Third World, “create society’s wealth (but) suffer the most from unemployment and underemployment, lower income and rising prices of basic commodities and services” made worse by the downturn.
The so-called solutions to the crisis have not resulted in any real economic recovery with production and employment continuing to stagnate and even further decline as governments persist in pursuing neoliberal policies such as privatization, deregulation and liberalization that undergird the crisis in the first place.
The unprecedented trillion-dollar bail-outs by Western governments of the “too-big-to-fail” banks and corporations have served merely to improve balance sheets, revive the stock markets and pay for the golden parachutes of their overpaid executives.
In the process, these governments are incurring huge budget deficits and public debt because of tax cuts for the wealthy, subsidies for favored monopoly firms, overpriced contracts and bailouts for the big bourgeoisie on top of which are the bloated expenditures for military production and wars of aggression and intervention.
Once more, it is the people who must pay the price through harsh austerity measures pushed by governments and the ruling elites that include attacks on wages, job security, and conditions of work in the private sector and cutbacks on jobs, wages, pensions and health care in the public sector together with spiraling costs of living all around.
But as the Assembly Declaration pointed out it is still the poor peoples in the third world who suffer the most from the ravages of global capitalism in crisis. Untrammeled speculation in oil and food has caused prices to skyrocket pushing millions into destitution. Transnational corporations are taking over vast tracts of land, forests and marine resources, violently dispossessing peasants, farm workers, fisherfolk, and other rural communities from their means of livelihood throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
For the past ten years, the ILPS has steadily gained the capacity to launch globally coordinated campaigns and mass actions led by its member organizations in several countries on a wide range of people’s issues.
Among them are the wars of aggression and counterrevolution under the guise of counterterrorism, the neoliberal policies of globalization being pushed by the WTO and other international agencies, environmental plunder, the exploitation and oppression of the peoples, the extrajudicial killings and other gross human rights violations against progressives, the chauvinist, racial, gender, religious and other forms of discrimination and the anti-labor, anti-immigrant and anti-youth policies in imperialist countries and many others.
Unlike many conferences where the energy of the participants wanes from day to day of listening to speeches, the energy of the participants at the ILPS 4th IA was not only sustained but visibly rose to a high point towards the close. Everyone was happy with the process and outcome, each one was prepared and eager to carry out the tasks of the ILPS which had been clearly defined and united on.
Doubtless, the ILPS is in an even better position now to serve, as it had been conceived to, as a rallying center for anti-imperialist and democratic forces all over the world as they struggle to uphold people’s rights, interests and welfare.
According to newly-elected ILPS Chairperson, Jose Maria Sison, “The people have a bright future because they wage revolutionary struggles and build their strength against those forces that oppress and exploit them…The broad masses of the people are moving in the direction of a fundamentally new and better world.”
Published in Business World