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Walden Bello, Jose Maria Sison and Schisms on the Left

Despite efforts by many around the world to rise above sectarianism in the face of the USA's raw imperialism, Walden Bello, a prominent critic of neo-liberalism, has launched an international distancing campaign against the Communist Party of the Philippines and the democratic sectoral movements which draw political inspiration from them. Claiming that the CPP's military wing has targeted him with a "hit list," which in fact is a mere diagram showing the international linkages of various Phillipino parties and individuals, Bello is playing a dangerous game. Included on the diagram is Bello's Akbayan parlimentary party.

The Trotskyite International Socialists and various social-democrats have lend a hand in this regard. None of these forces, including Tariq Ali, Naomi Klein and other luminaries of the rad-lib left, have made similar demands that the capitalist state stop carrying out judicial proceedings or that leftists cease collaboration with the state that degrades the Philippino people. That Bello and Akbayan rely on the capitalist state for matters of "justice" speaks volumes about the nature of the dispute. Who isn't against thuggery and sectarianism? Considering the fact that Sison and others have plainly stated that there is no pending threat against Bello, the politics behind Bello's campaign become increasingly dubious. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines has released a point-by-point rebuttal.

The revolutionary Philippine left has been going through a process of "re-affirming" its communist orientation. Since the collapse of the Marcos dictatorship (and state-capitalist Soviet Union) there have been many re-allignments in the Phillipines as in the rest of the world. In the 1980s, a destructive and bloody series of purges were carried out seeking "deep penetration" intelligence agents that led to the deaths of many innocent activists and militants. During this period, some former members of the New People's Army/CPP gave up on the vision of a people's republic and decided to throw their lot in with the existing state. These former revolutionaries rejected basing the movement on the most oppressed, and instead began to use the foundation-funded term "civil society." Jose Maria Sison, the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, currently in political exile in the Netherlands, has recently named Bello's Akbayan comrade and former New People's Army commander Ric Reyes as the mastermind of the most vicious incidents during that time. None of those taking a stand against "violence as a means of resolving contradictions" bother to note who it is exactly they are getting into bed with.

From a distance, it is always difficult to figure out the particulars of "who shot John." Meaning, rather than focusing on sensational, unsubstantiated and disputed allegations, it is important to deal with the political implications of what parties and groups argue. In this case, Bello takes the money of capitalist foundations to argue for reform of institutions like the WTO while participating in the corrupt and brutal Phillipine government. The Communist Party of the Philippines is engaged in a People's War against that same government and intends to destroy institutions such as the WTO root and branch. For anti-captialists internationally, recognizing these basic dividing lines does not mean we should resolve contradictions violently. It also means we ignore them at our peril.

Walden Bello is a professional counter-revolutionary in the most basic meaning of the term. He is in philosophical and practical opposition to revolutions real and possible. He may (or may not) be an honest reformist, but his claims that revolutionary communists are no different than "al Qaeda," coupled with assertions that the Re-Affirm bloc of dedicated anti-imperialists are mere "fronts" for the CPP are profoundly irresponsible and dangerous. It is another way of saying to the forces of imperialism "do what you will." When considered in light of the U.S. State Department's listing of the CPP as a "terrorist" group and active efforts to extradite Sison from the Netherlands, who is threatening who's life becomes an entirely different ballgame.

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