Gameplan – battle of the streets part 3

Recap: In part 1, I wrote that the campaign to remove Gloria from power will be won or lost through street protests. In part 2, I offered my views on how to conduct the siege of Malacañang. I also emphasized that rallies are not enough. In fact, I insisted that the main task today is still to convince more people to join our battle.

Malacañang’s calibrated preemptive response policy has actually encouraged more people to continue holding provocative actions near Mendiola. Protesters responded with their own version of CPR – a calibrated peoples’ resistance to show Gloria and the police that the people will not be cowed into submission.

The full force of the protest movement has not yet been unleashed. Activists are actually seriously studying how the police forces are responding to rallies near Malacañang. And the past weeks have shown us their vulnerability and a predictable reaction which can be easily dealt with in the next big wave of protests. The police has little space to maneuver in the narrow streets of Mendiola and Recto but protesters can always attack from different points near Malacañang.

The police could not defend the CPR in a protracted struggle and we must continue demoralizing their ranks. This is bad news for Gloria; she must realize that the people are slowly, persistently and systematically embarking in a takeover bid of Malacañang Palace.

While we are busy preparing for the next rally in Mendiola, we must not lose sight of our other task of soliciting support for our campaign. We must imbibe a mentality that victory does not come after the war but even today, when we are still the opposition, we must project an image that our forces can dictate on our enemies.

Here is a reminder from Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci: “A social group is dominant in two ways. It leads the groups which are its allies, and dominates those which are its enemies. Therefore, even before attaining power, a social group can (and must) lead; when it is in power it becomes dominant, but continues to lead as well…there can and must be ‘political hegemony’ even before the attainment of governmental power, and one should not count solely on the power and material force which such a position gives in order to exercise political leadership or hegemony.”

Acquiring state power therefore involves building “consent” among the people even before acquiring such power. Gramsci mentioned that fighting involves “force and consent, authority and hegemony, agitation and propoganda” (similar to the dual nature of Machiavelli’s half-human half-animal Centaur).

Gramsci also mentioned that political struggle involves three forms of war: war of movement, war of position and underground warfare. He described Gandhi’s passive resistance as war of position, strikes as war of movement and preparing combat troops as siege warfare. He added that in politics, the war of movement continues as long as the war of position has not been won because the latter is more decisive. But the siege warfare will commence when the other two forms of war loses its value. It is also a signal that the ruling power has dispatched its full resources to win the struggle.

In our present campaign against Gloria, the war of position and war of movement are in full swing. There is also the challenge to build and consolidate consent among the people. Political forces are also regrouping for siege warfare, though this does not involve armed troops as of the moment.

To intensify the war of position, we can take cue from the inspiring stories of the Algerian revolution as narrated by Frantz Fanon. He once wrote that if the oppression is “maintained by violence from above, it is only possible to liquidate it with violence from below.”

Let our resistance be pervasive, adopting various forms which will surprise our enemy. If police uses violence in dispersing our assemblies, then we should punish them by filing charges in the courts while preparing for the next street action armed with conviction and defense gadgets. We should deceive our adversaries, use their tactics against them and drown them with small but effective protest actions.

We could develop support for our campaign if we can prove to the people that change would start now, not after Gloria is removed from power. Being part of a struggle is also an act of liberation, an opportunity to learn new things and see the world from a different perspective. In the process of learning and un-learning, we are building a new army for the emerging political power.

Fanon described how the Algerian women agreed to change their lifestyle not in support fro the French culture but for the resistance. While the men were fighting in the mountains, the women, children and old citizens are left in the cities where the colonizers govern with terror. The Algerian revolution made the initially disadvantageous situation into an advantage for the struggle by mobilizing the people to become part of the extended arena of the guerilla warfare in the cities. We can actually learn from this attitude.

For example, analysts are pointing out that the anti-Gloria movement lacks a charismatic leader who will unite the political forces and embody our struggle. If that is a weakness, then let it become our strength. Sometimes, the rise of a charismatic leader signifies not political strength but the immaturity of progressive forces which can represent the interests of the people.

So, does this mean the progressive forces in the country are already strong? Well, we can always appreciate the fact that the present campaign against Gloria has led to the inclusion in the public discourse the need for sweeping changes in our political culture. We have recognized that change should not be limited to personalities and we must not allow the rightist agenda of exploiting the situation to advance their own interests.

This is not the first time that a movement is criticized for not having a charismatic leader. Teodoro Agoncillo once wrote (Will the revolution of 1896 be repeated?) that the fiery protest marches against Marcos during the late 60s will not succeed because there is no Bonifacio or a leader who will rise up and challenge the system. I have to disagree with him because the student movement of the late 60s has produced a generation of activists who became the forefront of the anti-Marcos struggle and the leaders of various advocacies (not necessarily belonging to the militant Left) up to the present which have made a lasting impact in Philippine society. In a way, the student movement fomented a silent revolution which we are still continuing today.

In the last three months of the year, let us build consent among the people. We should recruit more people in our campaign. Let us energize our protests and radicalize seemingly non-political activities like playing computer games or texting. Our success in this war of movement will guarantee that the siege warfare we are embarking today will lead to the removal of Gloria and the establishment of a potentially revolutionary government.

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