What is Imperialism, and How Did It Get to the Philippines?

Monopoly Capitalism

Imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism, the state of monopoly capitalism.  Simply put, it is comparable to a leech, whose only means of living is by feeding off of its host.  In reality, Imperialism, due to its crisis of overproduction, needs to depend on the sustenance of feudal and/ or semi-feudal countries such as the Philippines.

At the dawn of the 20th century, the United States has reached the highest stage of capitalism, wherein capital, banking and industry merged and reached a point of monopoly.  Due to this combination, it has dramatically raised its productive capacities, enabling it to produce more than enough commodities needed for domestic consumption.  As a by product, the crisis of overproduction came knocking on its doors.  This condition necessitated the United States to look for new markets, sources of cheap raw materials and surplus capital, and a cheap labor force beyond its borders.

Bonifacio leads the proletariat revolution of 1896

In 1898, the Philippines was on the verge of a revolutionary victory against the crumbling Spanish empire.  Led by the proletarian hero Andres Bonifacio, the Filipinos launched the first war of national liberation in Asia.  Through the Katipunan, an underground revolutionary movement, the young Filipino proletariat, in alliance with the farmers and intellectuals mobilized the Filipino masses to realize their national and democratic aspirations.

After buying the Philippines from Spain for twenty million dollars, the U.S. proceeded with its Imperialist conquest, which they called “benevolent assimilation”.  It immediately showed this so-called benevolence by replicating its genocidal campaign against the Native Americans, this time against the Filipino people.  Employing a hundred thousand troops and the most advanced military weaponry available, they murdered an estimated six hundred thousand Filipinos, combatants and non-combatants alike, in coldblood. On July 4, 1902, the U.S. government declared the war over but Filipino revolutionaries, alongside the masses of workers and peasants, continued the struggle for national liberation and democracy.

How Does U.S. Imperialism Operate in the Philippines?

Farmers work the fields at Hacienda Luisita

Figuratively speaking, the semi-feudal and semi-colonial character of Philippine society is the fertile soil from which imperialism draws its life.  The nation’s economy functions on an export-oriented, import-dependent approach that is forced to crouch down to the demands of U.S. Imperialist interest instead of responding to domestic needs.

Despite being an agricultural country, the grasp of feudal practices such as monopolization of land, exploitative working conditions for farmworkers, backward agricultural technology, and production aimed for export resulting in massive landlessness among the peasantry and the proletariat (which compose 90% of the population), joblessness, rising prices of basic (imported) commodities, and migration among the workers and the petty-bourgeoisie (4,500 Filipinos leave the country per day).

Imperialism boasts of its ability to control a state without physical presence; thus, it furthers its influence through economic, political and cultural means.  Long after the supposed use of military might in the name of democracy in the Philippines, the U.S. introduced and established the bastion for colonial mentality- the public school system. Its curriculum suppressed  nationalism by diluting the rich, revolutionary history of the Filipino people, imposing the use of English as the medium of instruction, and promoting Western culture.

Initially tailored to educate children of national bureaucrats, landlords, and business owners, state colleges and universities offered programs that trained and produced puppet leaders who ensure the perpetuation of U.S. domination in the form of policies consistently seen in every puppet regime since the Americans granted the Philippines nominal independence in 1946.  Such policies include, but are not limited to:

The disputed "Balikatan Exercises"

-Military agreements such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that allow for the continued presence of American troops beyond the Military Bases Agreement which ended in 1991;

-Sham Agrarian reform programs, which ironically serve to concentrate agricultural lands in the hands of the Landlords and maintain the backward agriculture that is solely geared towards producing crops for export.

Operation Plan: Freedom Watch, counter-insurgency program 2002- 2009

-Counter-insurgency programs that are fully funded by the U.S. These aim to destroy the armed revolutionary movement in the Philippines, namely the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP). The latest among Counter-insurgency program is called Oplan Bayanihan, the implementation of the U.S. Counter Insurgency (COIN) Guide, the primary cause of human rights violations in the Philippines.

-one-sided Economic agreements, neo-liberal policies such as trade liberalization which opens up the economy to surplus goods and capital being dumped by the U.S., economic deregulation that produces super profits, partularly to Oil Cartels, privatization of basic social services and contractualization of labor to provide cheap labor for foreign monopoly capitalists.

Today, the colonial foundation of Philippine education manifests itself through the prevalence of privatized and semi-privatized schools determined to produce English-speaking teachers, nurses, engineers and other professionals to satisfy the needs of the global workforce, while industries shrivel and deteriorate at home.  Hand in hand with the Labor Export Policy, a government initiative to generate funds to keep the economy alive through billions of dollars in remittances each year, the semi-colonial character of Philippine society stunts the nation’s growth and impedes its path to national industrialization.

What Are the Filipinos Doing to Fight Imperialism?

Filipinos are generally described as happy and peace-loving people. They are known to be a nation of hospitable indigents, of hardworking service-oriented men and women. This is essentially true. They believe in social justice as a stepping stone for peace, and they work hard- -some even risk their lives– in advancing the struggle for genuine democracy.

NDFP peace panel chairman Luis Jalandoni

Anti-imperialist movements come in various forms. The first and longest running of which is the New Democratic Revolution being waged by the New People’s Army (NPA), under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its revolutionary united front, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Last 2009, the CPP declared that it will aim to achieve, what it calls, the Strategic Stalemate of its protracted people’s war in 5 years. This worries U.S. Imperialism as the revolutionary forces threaten to crush its local reactionary puppets.

The second, in which Anakbayan (in English: “sons and daughters of the nation”) is part of, is the legal National Democratic mass movement across the country and abroad. Its aim is to fight for the basic rights of the Filipino in recognition of the fact that the country is controlled by a foreign entity, and will remain poor until it liberates itself from U.S. Imperialism.

National Democracy involves the advancement of a mass-oriented, scientific and patriotic culture by providing free, accessible and liberating education to all levels; upholding worker’s rights, raising the quality of life, and developing social services by way of genuine agrarian reform and strategic national industrialization; and adapting an independent foreign policy that is anti-imperialist, independent and peaceful. Its analysis of pressing issues such as budget cuts in education and other social services, oil price and fare hikes, U.S. wars, and human rights violations incorporates the relation of imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism and feudalism as the three basic problems in Philippine society.

Participants of the 4th ILPS Assembly in Manila, July 2011

Finally, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) forms the united front for anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of workers, peasants, women, youth, professionals and other sectors of society around the world. The ILPS- USA chapter will hold its founding assembly on the third week of May 2012 in Seattle. Visit www.ilps-web.com for updates.



Why Americans Need to Stand Against Imperialism

US President Obama shakes hands with Philippine President Aquino

The current U.S. puppet, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, is squandering the Filipino people’s money on senseless foreign debt servicing and fortification of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its U.S.-backed war against the armed resistance in the countryside without addressing the root cause of the conflict. His government, with assistance from the Obama administration, continues the cycle of indebtedness and state repression.

The U.S. granted approximately $28 million in military aid to the Philippines this year. This package includes financing, educating and training, and anti-terrorism schemes for the AFP, internationally notorious for over a thousand cases of torture, abductions, extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests, and other human rights atrocities within the past ten years.

Imperial U.S. maintains hegemony over much of the world’s resources and preserves its otherwise crumbling capitalist economy through war and occupation. At present, one can think of the developments in Libya, Iraq, Egypt and Afghanistan as its prospective hosts. In the same vein that the U.S. snatched the Philippine revolution’s victory over Spain in 1898, it is maneuvering and manipulating these territories into subservience to American products and ideals. Not surprisingly, the model of “defend, educate, rebuild, protect” that was successfully prototyped in the Philippines is now being used in these areas of imperialist interest.

U.S.- NATO Forces

To start off, the U.S. will help a country defend its people from a dictatorship by supporting the overthrow of an unpopular leader via “humanitarian intervention”. It then proceeds to “educate” the people into glorifying the U.S., mighty liberator and ally, as the state’s government and economy are revitalized by funds lent by the IMF-World Bank, rendering the weakened nation unwittingly buried in foreign debt. The local ruling class forge policies with the neo-colonizers to protect imperialist investments and promote colonial culture at the hands of a fascist government.

Our Next Steps

U.S. taxpayers should not subsidize the greed and ambition of monopoly capitalism. Instead, the trillions of dollars spent on war should be cut, and re-channeled as budget for social services like education, health care, housing, pension, etc. Building an anti-imperialist united front here in America is only possible if its citizens consciously link their domestic struggles to the global struggle against the reckless use of public resources for tyranny of one state over another.

AB-NJ with BAYAN and other allied orgs at the April 9th Anti-War Rally in NYC

Anakbayan New Jersey is inviting the youth, Filipino and non-Filipino, to: (1) work on joint campaigns to expose and oppose U.S. military presence and military aid in the Philippines and other semi-colonial countries; (2) participate in, and launch actions for, Philippine Solidarity Week in February; and (3) join the International League of Peoples’ Struggle.

Chinese revolutionary, Mao Zedong, once said, “Imperialism is nothing but a paper tiger”. By strengthening our ranks with critical education, solid organization,and collective mobilizations, we garner little victories toward loosening the intimidating grasp of imperialism over our daily lives. The youth and students in the U.S., united with the workers and other oppressed sectors across the globe, can generate a formidable force that will shake the already wavering foundation of monopoly capitalism from within, and build a better society for the next generation. ###

Filipino Youth in New Jersey Fight Racist Attacks on Immigrant Communities, Demand Legalization For All

Anakbayan New York/ New Jersey stands with migrant workers and their families in exposing Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) “Secure Communities Program” as another anti-immigrant scheme to round-up and deport migrant communities in the United States.  We are joining Action 21, Jersey City Peace Movement, Jersey City Truth, Action and Peace Coalition (JC-TAP), Truth-Media.Info, Jersey City Soccer, and Dominico- Americano 809 Association on Saturday, September 3, 2011, to call for an end to “Secure Communities”, and demand “Legalization for All” as the immediate solution to the issue of immigration. We strongly urge the Filipino community in Jersey City and other neighboring areas to support our undocumented kababayans all over the U.S. who are targets of anti-immigrant policies such as “Secure Communities”.

Roots of Migration

Roughly ten percent of  the population, or 12 million Filipinos, are living and working overseas due to dire economic circumstances in the Philippines.  Landlessness, joblessness, low wages, contractual employment and exploitative working conditions push 4,500 Filipinos to migrate every day in search of better opportunities abroad.  They become the nation’s largest commodity thanks to the Labor Export Policy (LEP), which has been in place since Marcos’ dictatorship in the mid-1970s.

Youth Protest the L.E.P. in the Philippines

LEP was initiated as strategy to assist in paying off foreign debt and managing an intensifying financial crisis through the influx of dollars from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), propping up the local economy. In 2010 alone, OFWs sent a record $18.76 billion in remittances, accounting for a 10% growth in the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  The coercive LEP continues as the Philippine government’s alternative development program to industrialization.

We must grasp the abnormality of this situation.  Massive out-migration from the Philippines and other developing countries to the so-called “First World” countries such as the U.S. disproves the theory that leaving one’s homeland is voluntary.  This phenomenon is testament to a deeper problem in our society that can be linked to the global context of Imperialism.

The Real Culprit: Imperialism

Migration is a laborious process necessitated by a country’s failure to provide for its citizens because of Imperialism.  In simple terms, imperialism is a stronger state’s political, economic and cultural dominion over a weaker one in order to acquire cheap raw materials and cheap labor, and  use as dumping ground for surplus products and capital.  Such has been the relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines (and other semi-colonies) since the end of Spanish colonial rule.  The following neo-liberal policies are consistently imposed by the U.S. and its puppet regimes to maintain control over a country’s resources:

1. Trade Liberalization is the elimination of trade barriers, such as tariffs and other taxes in the spirit of free trade. This swamps the market of under developed countries with cheap surplus products from first world countries, such as the U.S.

2. Economic Deregulation is a policy that puts a “hands-off” policy on the market, meaning the government cannot control the prices of basic commodities nor subsidize vital ones, such as agriculture.

These policies devastate the  capacity of nations to industrialize and provide jobs, therefore, creating the socio-economic conditions that convince people to leave their homeland.  This is why Anakbayan NY/NJ believes that, without the U.S. intervening in political, economic, and cultural affairs of developing countries such as the Philippines, these nations will be able to assert their self- determination and implement genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, ultimately eliminating the need for its citizens to undergo forced migration.

“Secure Communities” Make Communities Insecure

The U.S. remains to be the primary destination for many immigrants.  There are about 12 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. due to the flawed economic system that governs immigration protocol. Among the 4 million Filipinos here, 1 million are undocumented.

In an effort to facilitate the removal of “criminal aliens”, ICE initiated the “Secure Communities Program” in 2008.  It involves biometric information- sharing between local law enforcement agencies and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify, detain and deport criminal offenders of varying levels.  Level 1 refers to “aggravated felony” and supposedly receives highest priority; Level 2 includes misdemeanor charges; and Level 3 includes crimes punishable by less than a year.

Jurisdiction of “Secure Communities” in the U.S.

“Secure Communities” has been implemented in a total of 1,508 jurisdictions spread out across 43 states including California, Florida and New York. Despite its guise of public safety, it has been found that, of the 49, 638 removals from October 2009 to September 2010, only 23% were Level 1 crimes, 49% were Level 2 and 3 offenders, and 28% do not even hold criminal records. Arrests also lead to prolonged detention, lack of detainee appeal system, and detention solely based on immigration status.

ICE does not maintain documentation of particulars regarding the offender’s case, so there is also no way of confirming one’s conviction.  Moreover, this program harbors fear among immigrant communities.  It raises the mentality that cooperating with law enforcement may be harmful to their safety in this country, especially if they are undocumented.

ICE is barking up the wrong tree with “Secure Communities”.  It is a waste of taxpayers’ money on unreliable strategies, and the expensive process of detention and deportation.  Instead of posing immigrants as threats to national security, why not enable them to be productive members of society through a realistic legalization process?

“Legalization For All” Means Justice For All

AB-NY/NJ with NAFCON at May 1st Rally in NYC

Anakbayan NY/NJ stands firm in the principle that providing undocumented immigrants a path to legalization that is appropriate to their economic conditions is the first and only step in attaining justice for the most oppressed sector in today’s American society.

Granting lawful immigrant status also means upholding workers’ rights by improving working conditions, enforcing fair and just wages, and providing legal protection.  Furthermore, U.S. government spending will be allocated on social services rather than detention and deportation, which will cost an estimated $94 billion for 10 million undocumented immigrants.

The Migrant Struggle Should Adopt an Anti-Imperialist Perspective

At the root, migration is provoked by the lack of domestic industries, smothered by the grasp of Imperialist countries on third world countries, such as the Philippines.  For this, concerned sectors of society must ultimately take a stand against Imperialism and its neo-liberal policies that it imposes on our home countries.  Only by building an international anti-imperialist united front of migrant workers  and supporters against injustice and oppression can we truly win the struggle for equal rights for migrants and the people.

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA; www.internationalmigrants.org) is the first international grassroots organization that unites migrant workers under the anti-imperialist banner. Anakbayan encourages groups and organizations with similar aspirations to participate in IMA-USA’s founding assembly on October 23, 2011 in Queens, NY.


Youth and Students @ AB- NJ’s Open Mic, “Upsurge: Migrants at Heart”

Anakbayan (in English: Sons and Daughters of the Nation) NY/ NJ is a comprehensive national democratic mass organization of Filipino youth. We fight for the rights and welfare of our fellow Filipinos at home and abroad. To contact us:
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