It is commonplace among those who claim that they have abandoned the tactics of the far left to decry how much was wasted in the left’s dogmatic assertion and affirmation of old tactics (the importance of the vanguard party, the armed struggle and so on). In an article written for rappler.com, the criticism of the administration implies at the same time a criticism of the left. The goal is to come up with a vibrant left-wing movement, deserving of the people’s representation. What should this vibrant, new, progressive left stand for? It is the rejection of “undemocratic and instrumentalist practices.” This for our well meaning “leftist” should be replaced by a more democratic and state oriented left, something that is similar to Akbayan policy, entailing close collaboration with the administration. One could entertain the fact that it demands the reconstruction of the party to more Democratic Socialist lines of thinking; something already done by the Communist parties of the United States, Italy, France and (to a limited extent) the Russian Federation. The dismantling of the armed wing, the softening of the theories of imperialism (abandoning its usual slogan against Imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism), and the docility to accept market oriented reforms (with a strong sense of Keynesian Welfare state system rather than the National Democratic Front’s programs of National Industrialization) are but the many demands in order to be considered democratic and relevant for to-day’s political discourse.
This is blatant revisionism, taking advantage of the radical left’s shortcomings as a pre-requisite to soften-up its position, abandoning its militancy and wear the garb of an enlightened liberal, singing praises to Fukuyama’s declaration of capitalist universality and the pragmatic tone of adjusting one’s cause to the “real” order of things. This is an obvious breach in conviction of turning leftist politics to a mere role of a counterweight to the status quo, instead of an actually transforming it, opposing it. Indeed, Akbayan merely dusts the balls of those in power (licks them further on), just to maintain its self-image of being democratic, choosing to play the safe game of justifying government policy than actively opposing its neoliberal agenda. They are not even the counterweight they could conceive themselves to be, but the very gloves to the administration, tamping on the welfare of the farmers, workers and the common man.
The courage to remain in one’s conviction and identify with the cause even at the sight of its past failures and shortcomings is fundamentally lacking in our so-called democratic socialist blocs. The attempt to be (supposedly) more democratic has made current leftist movements a mere academic exercise in criticism, bereft of any active opposittion to the very principles they stand against. If Euro-Communism descended into mere party power play and coddling with the status quo, the post-Soviet left slowly descends into an obvious reformism and revisionism. The seriousness of this change of colors for the sake of inclusion within our democratic practice implies a loss of credibility; for once they consider our enemies as our partners and colleagues (of who one can disagree or agree with), they have become the partners of those who disenfranchise our comrades.
I would claim that even the radical left has some short-comings of its own; but that would test its capability to engage in criticism and self-criticism. However, it does not imply an abandonment of the general principles that established its identity as a cause with an orientation to the transformation of the state and society. Our current situation though different from the social upheavals of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, are (dialectical) variations of old problems. Inasmuch as workers were exploited half a century ago, they are still being exploited to-day and made to enjoy it with the mechanisms of neoliberal capital. Such conditions demand new theoretizations, but what is as important as theory is the unwavering conviction to retain one’s position, one’s dedication to the cause, even at the strong temptation of revisionism. In the end, what would define the left would not be its pragmatism nor its capacity to co-exist with the status quo but the way it has introduced a challenge to the status quo and transformed the coordinates of our political life.