ILPS: Inspiring Peoples to Fight for a New and Better World

Interview with Prof. Jose Maria Sison on the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS)

The International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) successfully held its Third International Assembly (TIA) in Hong Kong from June 18 to 20. Prof. Jose Maria Sison was re-elected as chairperson of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC).

Vol. VIII, No. 24, July 20-26, 2008

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) is today the most outstanding and largest anti-imperialist and democratic formation of global scale. It has attracted to its fold a great number of member organizations, with individual members running into millions, from the ranks of workers and peasants and the middle social strata in various countries and continents. It has become a rallying point because of its well-known resoluteness, militancy, self-reliance and effective campaigns.

The ILPS takes up a whole array of 18 concerns and issues involved in the people’s struggle for national and social liberation against imperialism and reaction. It has gained the trust of the people and has overshadowed the World Social Forum (WSF) because it has an uncompromising anti-imperialist line, it relies on the fighting will and capabilities of its member-organization and does not depend on funding from imperialist agencies.

The ILPS successfully held its Third International Assembly (TIA) in Hong Kong from June 18 to 20. Prof. Jose Maria Sison was re-elected as chairperson of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC). Here is Bulatlat’s interview.

Q1: Did you expect to be re-elected as ILPS Chairperson?

JMS: Before the assembly, the leaders of some major member organizations of ILPS from some countries had asked me to stay on as ILPS chairperson.  Nevertheless, the wish of these organizations was subject to the ILPS democratic process.  Like other candidates, I was nominated and elected by secret vote to the ICC. And then when the 3rd ICC convened on the day after the assembly, it elected its executive officers to form the International Coordinating Group (ICG) with me as chairperson.

Q2: You could not attend the TIA because of travel restrictions. But by using skype video chat you were very much present at the assembly. What do you think of the internet as a medium for arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people?  So far ILPS has used it effectively.  But in what way can it become ineffective?

JMS: Indeed, thanks to the use of Internet live video communication, I was able to participate in the last meeting of the outgoing ICC on 17 June 2008, in major parts of the assembly program from 18 to 20 June 2008 and in the first meeting of the newly-elected ICC on 21 June 2008.  I was able to deliver my general report to the plenary session and to answer some questions. I could even watch the cultural solidarity night and participate in it by singing two songs.

The Internet is a very effective way of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people. It is a fast and cheap medium for collecting, keeping and disseminating information for the purpose of education, voluntary organization and mass mobilizations. People can interact with each other in print, audio and video and arrive at common understanding and courses of action. The proceedings and results of the ILPS Third International Assembly are speedily posted at the website and are made available to everyone worldwide.

The monopoly bourgeoisie controls the governments, telecommunication companies and servers and can use them under the guise of anti-terrorism, national security and other pretexts to prevent the people and the anti-imperialist forces from having access to the new technology. The broad masses of the people must be vigilant and must be resolute and militant in upholding and defending the principle and exercise of the freedom of thought and expression. All the time they must be able to use the most time-tested methods of arousing, organizing and mobilizing themselves for national and social liberation, no matter how much the imperialists and local reactionaries control the mass media.

Q3: You played a prominent role in conceptualizing, organizing and founding the ILPS. Can you tell us your role up to the time that you first became chairperson in 2004?

JMS:  With the cooperation of some organizations from several countries, I convened the International Initiative Committee (IIC) in 1998 for the purpose of preparing the establishment of the ILPS.  We conceived of the ILPS as an international anti-imperialist and democratic alliance of mass formations in anticipation of the upsurge of the people’s resistance against the the escalation of exploitation and oppression under the US-instigated policies of imperialist “globalization” and aggressive wars.

On the eve of the Battle in Seattle in November 1999, I delivered a speech against the WTO and the myth of “free market” globalization in an international conference in Seattle and raised the call for anti-imperialist and democratic mass organizations to join the ILPS. I was the chairperson of the IIC until it founded the ILPS in its First International Assembly (FIA) in Zutphen, the Netherlands in May 2001.  At this assembly were 339 participants (314 delegates and 25 special guests), representing 232 organizations based in 40 countries. The FIA heard my report, ratified the ILPS Charter, conducted 18 workshops on 18 major global concerns and elected the International Coordinating Committee (ICC).

The ICC elected the renowned labor leader Crispin Beltran as its chairperson and appointed me as ILPS General Consultant. The ICC and the entire ILPS were very successful from 2001 to 2004 in taking positions on major global issues and on local issues of global significance and in undertaking sectoral and multisectoral meetings and campaigns of information and mass actions against imperialism and reaction.

In November 2004 the ILPS held the Second International Assembly in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.  It issued an excellent General Declaration, firmed up the study commissions to a significant extent and elected a new ICC. This in turn elected its executive officers, including me as the chairperson.

Q 4. What were your accomplishments as ILPS Chairperson from 2004 to 2008?  What are the objectives you wish to accomplish under your new term?

JMS:  The ILPS and I benefited from the experience and achievements of the ILPS and ICC under Crispin Beltran as chairperson from 2001 to 2004. Whatever distinct contributions I could make to the achievements of the ILPS from 2004 to 2008 were made possible by the support and cooperation of colleagues in the ICC, ICG, General Secretariat, the staff and the study commissions and, most important of all, the ILPS member organizations.

My report to the TIA presents the major ILPS achievements and puts in context what I have done as ILPS chairperson after the SIA. I tried to do my best in performing the role of presiding officer of the ICC and ICG, chief spokesperson, chief coordinator and chief representative of the ILPS.  In accordance with the ILPS Charter, General Declaration, resolutions on the 18 concerns and timely resolutions of the ICC and ICG, I issued many statements on a wide range of global issues.  I called for particular actions and for sustained campaigns on various issues.

Under my new term, I wish the ILPS to issue statements and calls to action on an ever wider range of issues, to expand and intensify information and educational work, to engage and attract more member-organizations, build national chapters and global region committees, conduct sectoral and multisectoral gatherings and generate campaigns on various issues and raise more resources for the improved and expanded functioning of the ILPS at various levels.

Q 5.What are the global conditions favorable and unfavorable to the ILPS and the anti-imperialist mass movement?

Let me state first the unfavorable conditions. Under the baton of the U.S., the imperialist powers and the puppet regimes are united in escalating the exploitation and oppression of the people under the slogans of “free market” globalization and global “war on terror” despite inter-imperialist contradictions. The economic and financial crisis of monopoly capitalism is ever worsening and is driving the imperialist powers to whip state terrorism on a global scale,  increase military interventions and unleash wars aggression.

But the unfavorable conditions are also precisely the conditions that challenge and drive the peoples of the world to wage resistance. The people’s discontent is deep and widespread in the imperialist countries as well as in the semi-colonies and dependent countries. The people’s armed resistance against aggression, occupation, social injustice and state terrorism is growing fast.  Mass protests are breaking out at an accelerated rate all over the world.

The ILPS can avail of these favorable conditions for further clarifying the issues, raising the level of consciousness,  inspiring the people to strengthen their organizations, encouraging them to take the anti-imperialist and democratic road of struggle and mobilizing them to fight for a new and better world of greater freedom, social justice, all-round development and a just peace.

Q 6: How is the ILPS similar and dissimilar to other comparable international organizations? How do you relate to them?

JMS:  The ILPS has arisen and developed in sharp contrast to imperialist-funded organizations, alliances,  networks and conferences that present themselves as critical of  the manifestations of global capitalism but are in fact mere reformists begging for reforms from the oppressors and exploiters in order to preserve and prettify the system of oppression and exploitation.The ILPS  addresses itself to the oppressed and exploited people to fight for reforms as means to a revolutionary process of national and social liberation.

Among truly progressive and revolutionary forces and people, the ILPS enjoys high prestige because of its anti-imperialist and democratic position on a comprehensive range of issues, such as those covered by its 18 concerns, and its resolute and militant campaigns mainly for the national and social liberation of the peoples of the world. The ILPS has accomplished so much despite its financial constraints.

The crypto-Trotskyites and social democrats formed the World Social Forum (WSF) to counter the ILPS and to coopt a wide range of organizations through the tactics of the variety show and carnival.  But the WSF has been discredited because it is reformist. It does not strike at the roots of imperialism and global reaction. It receives funding from the most ignoble imperialist sources like the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Institute of Peace and the like.

Organizations that are truly anti-imperialist and honestly for a new and better world have differentiated themselves from the pro-imperialist core of the WSF.  They either stay within the overly wide framework of the WSF and cooperate with the ILPS and its member-organizations or separate themselves from the WSF to assert their integrity and cooperate with or join the ILPS.

Q 7: What are the most significant political forces that you wish to arouse, organize and mobilize against imperialism and reaction?  How do you go about arousing, organizing and mobilizing them?

JMS: The ILPS is most interested in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the toiling masses of workers and peasants and the middle social strata. It gives highest priority to attracting the trade unions and peasant associations to become ILPS member-organizations. It is also eager to attract the progressive organizations of the women and youth and the associations of teachers, artists and writers, scientists and technologists, health professionals, lawyers and other sectors.

It is interested in the organizations that are active in movements for national and social liberation and in sectoral and multilateral organizations and alliances that are based on concerns and issues pertaining to sovereignty against imperialism, social justice, human rights, peace, protection of the environment, and so on.

The ILPS has its information and educational work to arouse the people, its enlistment of member-organizations and formation of national chapters and global region committees and the campaigns on various issues to mobilize large numbers of people.  But in fact, the ILPS is essentially a coordinating center at various levels.  It can only be as strong as the member-organizations are strong and willing to unite, cooperate and coordinate with other forces within the framework of the ILPS Charter.

Q 8: Is not the job of ILPS chairperson so heavy and preoccupying that you have no more time to work for any Philippine organization? By working for the ILPS, are you not reducing your working time for the struggle of the Filipino people for national and social liberation?  Within the ILPS, are you not likely to give a disproportionate amount of attention to the said struggle?

JMS: The work of the ILPS chairperson is indeed heavy and preoccupying. I have to do a lot of the things that a chairperson would not do in a well-financed and well-staffed organization. The speeches that I address to various organizations, the articles that I write for various publications and the legal cases that I am involved in also take a lot of my time. But I still manage to be the Chairperson of the International Network for Philippine Studies and chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The organized forces in the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation are relatively well developed. They would not consider as a loss of time the work that I devote to the ILPS. On the other hand, they could consider my work for the ILPS as an opportunity for the Filipino people’s struggle to be better known and to gather political and moral support on a global scale. Many patriotic and progressive organizations in the Philippines are member-organizations of the ILPS because they recognize the need for international solidarity and common struggle against imperialism and all reaction.

I avoid giving a disproportionate amount of attention or whatever benefit to the Filipino people’s struggle because I am always conscious of the ILPS as an international alliance and coordinating center for all its member organizations and allies on a global scale. The ILPS member organizations from the Philippines are numerous and thus provide a strong support to the ILPS.  But the Philippines like any other country is subject to the rule that it can have a maximum of only three seats in the ICC.  This rule ensures the international character of the ILPS.

Q 9: How much of a problem to the ILPS and to you as ILPS chairperson are the “terrorist” listing and the court cases involving you in the Philippines, The Netherlands and Europe?

JMS: Because the ILPS and its member organizations have an anti-imperialist and democratic character, they are in firm solidarity with me and strongly support me against the “terrorist” listing and the false charges hurled against me. They see the false charges against me as violations of my human rights and blatant acts of oppression. They see the monstrous hands of the U.S. and other imperialist states and the Arroyo puppet regime.

The false charges have been used to deny me legal admission as a refugee and residence in The Netherlands, to ban me from work, to freeze my bank account, to terminate my social benefits, to curtail my right to travel, to put me in prison last year, to have the excuse to raid the NDFP office and the homes of seven Filipino families, to intimidate my colleagues and friends, to attack me with further prosecution and imprisonment, to stigmatize me and incite hatred and violence against my person and to inflict material and moral damages me without letup.

The ILPS is accustomed to having its highest officials subjected to oppression. Deputy Chairperson Memik Horuz was arrested and imprisoned in Turkey for many years since 2001. Honorary Chairperson Crispin Beltran was imprisoned in the Philippines from 2006 to 2007. ICC member Dr. Ahmad Maslamani was imprisoned for several years from 2005 onwards. I joined the distinguished group by my imprisonment in the Netherlands in 2007. In each case of oppression, the ILPS member organizations stood up in various countries to defend the democratic rights of the victim. Whenever an ILPS officer was imprisoned, the ILPS launched campaigns to denounce the injustice and demand the release of the prisoner.

Q 10: Can you give a message to the ILPS member-organizations and the people of the world? What are the problems to overcome and what are the tasks for overcoming these and advancing to a  new and higher level?

JMS: Once more I wish to thank all the ILPS member organizations for keeping me in their trust and confidence and reelecting me to the ICC. Let us all work together in order to carry forward the people’s struggle for national and social liberation against imperialism and all reaction. Let us exert ever greater efforts to arouse, organize and mobilize the broad masses of the people. The people themselves are eager to wage mass struggles because they cannot tolerate the acute suffering that they are undergoing in the ever worsening crisis of the world capitalist system, especially under the US-instigated policies of “free market” globalization and the global “war on terror.”

The problems to overcome are the evils of monopoly capitalism and all reaction and all the policies and acts of exploitation and oppression that they imposed on the people. The people must fight  these evils resolutely and militantly and march from victory to victory. The tasks of overcoming the evils and advancing to a new and higher level of the struggle are gargantuan. But our strength is still very limited. We must build on our existing strength, overcome our own weaknesses and increase our strength several fold by undertaking the necessary work in the fields of education, organization and mass mobilization. Bulatlat

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