Questions from ND Online School of Anakbayan-Europe
Answers by Jose Maria Sison
17 October 2021
COP26 or the Conference of the Parties has begun in Italy this month and will culminate in Edinburgh, Scotland by the end of October to November. We are thus, excited to have this ND Online special on Climate Crisis. To begin with:
- Did Marx and Engels envision that rapid industrialization will ultimately lead to a crisis on climate? What do they have to say about the relationship of man to nature? Can you suggest to us reading materials?
JMS: At the time of Marx and Engels in the 19th century, the degree of industrialization that free competition capitalism achieved did not yet cause damage to the environment or to the ozone layer in particular to an extent causing drastic climate change and threatening the very existence of humanity. But they saw the need for humanity to understand the laws of nature, make wise utilization of nature and have harmonious relations with it. It would take a further development of capitalism to its monopoly stage that science and technology would be used by the monopoly capitalist class to plunder, pollute and ruin the environment to the extent of posing the danger of human extinction. We are now confronted by the problem of huge amounts of carbon dioxide emissions that are causing global warming.
We are nearing the tipping point of irreversible environmental destruction. Scientists, conscientious social activists and the broad masses people are alarmed and concerned with the heating up of the surface of the oceans, the frequent widescale forest fires, the melting of icebergs and rise of the sea level.
Since the very foundation of the theory of Marxism, dialectical materialism has taken into account that humanity is part of nature and that humanity and nature as distinguishable phenomena have an interactive relationship. In Dialectics of Nature, Frederick Engels sought to relate the natural sciences to the social sciences. He paid attention to anthropology in both the aforesaid book and Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.
He showed that man made himself through labor and that the dialectical relationship between humans and nature involves both unity (man being part of nature) and struggle. He defined in “The Part Played by Labor in The Transition from Ape to Man,” the basic position of Marxism:
Labour is the source of all wealth, the political economists assert. And it really is the source – next to nature, which supplies it with the material that it converts into wealth.
In his Critique of the Gotha Program, Marx declared: Labour is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labour, which itself is only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labour power….Only in so far as man from the beginning behaves towards nature, the primary source of all instruments and objects of labour, as an owner, treats her as belonging to him, does his labour become the source of use values, therefore also of wealth. In production, nature is the mother and human labor is the father.
- How does monopoly capitalism contribute to the plunder of our environment? What is direct foreign investments, can you give solid examples in the Philippine setting? Why does climate imperialism have an impact on semicolonial and semifeudal countries like the Philippines?
JMS: Foreign monopoly capitalism has been the main factor in the plunder and destruction of our environment. It deploys direct investments to acquire assets in the Philippines and exploit its naturaI and human resources. It also deploys loans in order to perpetuate underdevelopment and high profitability for the foreign investors. It has imposed on us the use of fossil fuel in our households, transport system and workplaces. This has emitted a huge amount of carbon dioxide polluting our lungs and contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer, the intensification of radiation and global warming.
Foreign monopoly capitalism has limited the Philippines to providing cheap raw materials and cheap labor in exchange for imported manufactures. It has extracted superprofits by cutting down our forests to take logs, using open pit mining to take out a wide range of mineral ores and expanding monocrop plantations for the purpose of export. Chemicals used in mining and monocrop plantations have poisoned the streams and the fields for producing food staples for the people.
US imperialism has also manipulated weather conditions to wage geological war against its enemies in the Asian mainland and the Philippines is also adversely affected because it is in the path of super-typhoons directed against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. There are extreme changes of climate from super-typhoons through floods to droughts. The warming of the seas has speeded up the super-typhoons and the loss of forest cover has made them more destructive than ever. Soil erosions and landslides have increased .
- The Philippines is a country usually battered by natural calamities. What do the progressive forces and revolutionary forces do to fight against the worsening global climate crisis? How can these forces help whenever the country is hit by a catastrophe? How do these catastrophes affect the principles and ideologies of the revolutionaries and activists?
JMS: Indeed, the Philippines is a country usually battered by natural calamities. An average of 25 typhoons of varying ferocity now devastate the Philippines every year because global warming has made the Pacific Ocean a super-highway for them.
The progressive and revolutionary forces must arouse, organize and mobilize the people against the dumping of fossil fuel (oil, gas coal) on the Philippines by the foreign oil monopolies and demand the accelerated adoption of environment-friendly technologies to generate energy, such as the use of solar, wind, hydrogen and tidal power.
When catastrophes hit the country, the progressive and revolutionary forces must undertake campaigns to provide relief and rehabilitation to the people in need and demand the end of policies and practices that result in the catastrophes and the failure of the reactionary government to serve the interests of the people.
It is perfectly in accordance with the principles and ideologies of the legal national democratic movement and the people’s democratic revolution to struggle for ending the policies and practices of foreign monopoly capitalism and the reactionary government that plunder and destroy the
environment and cause the catastrophes. The protection, conservation and wise utilization of the natural resources are in consonance with the anti-imperialist and democratic struggle as well as with the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed and exploited classes.
- Can technological advancement and protection of nature coexist, or does our modern society mother to the death of nature such as what we habitually see in sci-fi movies and books?
JMS: Science and technology can be used by the people to serve their needs and at the same time advance and protect nature, in contradiction with the monopoly bourgeoisie that uses science and technology to plunder and destroy nature for sole purpose of taking superprofits and that avoids the costs of conserving, restoring and renewing renewable resources in the environment.
The monopoly bourgeoisie uses not only the sci-fi movies and books but also other means of information and education to spread the notion that the people are helpless and the lie that economic development is impossible, unsustainable or self-destructive if undertaken by the people and their progressive and revolutionary forces in the global South and not by the imperialist firms and banks which are supposed to be readily endowed with the technology and financial resources to fix the problem of environment degradation and damage that they themselves have wrought.
- October is also the month of peasants – how does climate change affect the livelihoods of peasants and indigenous peoples in the world, particularly in the Philippines? Can you explain more about mining, quarries and dams? They promise progress and development, what impact do they have on the peasant communities?
JMS: Climate change adversely affects the livelihoods of peasants and indigenous peoples in the world, particularly in the Philippines, because the unpredictable shifts from one extreme climatic condition to another destroys the crops or prevents any timely measure to save them if any. A super-typhoon, a flood or a drought is capable of destroying the crop and prevents the peasant communities from reaping the fruits of their labor.
Mining and quarries destroy the foliage that protects and gives nutrients to the farms and crops of the peasants communities. They can cause the streams to dry up or take a course away from the farms. They cause soil erosion and landslides. Mining operations use acids that poison the streams. The use of explosives in mining has made earthquakes very frequent. Dams are built to concentrate the flows of streams and rivers in one direction. Thus, many of the widespread peasant communities are deprived of water for their farms and daily needs. They are often deprived of any satisfactory program of resettlement because of bureaucratic corruption.
- The Philippines is an island nation. Our seas are of great abundance, but why are our fisherfolk in a dire situation now? Why is there a need for us to import fish from (and on the topic of importation, other agricultural produce as well?).
JMS: One third of the fish requirement of the Philippines is supposed to come from the West Philippine Sea but our sovereign and maritime rights have been sold out by the Duterte regime to China despite the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the legal victory of the Philippines before the Permanent Arbitration Court in The Hague in 2016. Chinese factory ships and fleets of boats have been sucking up the fish from the West Philippine Sea and preventing Filipino fishermen to fish there.
So, the solution of the traitor Duterte is to buy galunggong and canned sardines from the Chinese in the name of neoliberalism. We buy the fish stolen from us. Also, Duterte has a stupid policy in agriculture. He lowers the buying price of rice under the National Food Authority to kill our peasant producers and imports rice from abroad. He and his big comprador cronies make a killing both ways. But he is destroying the livelihood of the peasants and wasting the foreign exchange resources of the Philippines. It is absurd that the Philippines, an agricultural country, has become one of the world’s top rice importers.
- Indigenous peoples thrive for many years without destroying nature, how are their practice and tradition different from ours? What can we learn from them?
JMS: The indigenous people abound in the hills and mountains of the hinterlands. They are basically peasant in class terms. They have been able to subsist by combining agriculture with fruit-gathering, hunting and fishing in local streams. We can learn from them how to work and survive with a low level of technology and assist them in obtaining economic and technical assistance and social services. We can also help or join them in defending the environment and struggling against the invasion by logging, mining and plantation companies.
- The New People’s Army also calls itself the Green Army because they are protecting nature. In what manner can they respect and protect the forests and jungles of the country while making it their home?
JMS: The Red commanders and fighters of the New People’s Army respect and protect the forests and jungles of the country because these are their homes and bulwarks for guerrilla warfare, politico-military training, cooperation with the indigenous people and source of food. They unite and cooperate with the indigenous communities and poor peasant in preventing the logging, mining, plantations and tourist or real estate companies from grabbing their land and other natural resources.
- In your opinion, Tito, how does being a revolutionary, being a Marxist-Leninist impact one’s stand on climate crisis? Why is it essential for revolutionaries to take part in the struggle against climate injustice?
JMS: As a Marxist-Leninist and proletarian revolutionary, it is my duty to fight foreign monopoly capitalism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists who collaborate in exploiting and oppressing the toiling masses of workers and peasants. The indigenous people and poor peasants settlers are most subjected to land grabbing and displacement by logging, mining, plantation and real estate companies that ruin the environment and aggravate the climate crisis. The fight for climate justice is necessarily a national and class struggle against the foreign monopoly capitalists and the local exploiting classes that bring about climate injustice.
- What can we learn from Marxism-Leninism in advancing the fight against climate crisis?
JMS: We learn from Marxism-Leninism the fundamental principles about humanity being a part of nature, their dialectical relations in the course of the prehistoric and historic development of human society, the worst attacks done by monopoly capitalism on both humanity and nature and the possibility that humanity under socialism and communism can use the natural and social sciences to avail of nature without damaging and destroying it but making it even more green, abundant and fruitful.
OPEN FLOOR QUESTIONS
- How does the huge foreign-owned fishing boats affect the livelihood of our fisherfolks? What about the situation in South China Sea?
JMS: The livelihood of our fisherfolk is adversely affected by the Chinese, Japanese and other foreign factory ships and fishing boats operating in Philippine seas. In the South China Sea, the Chinese have taken over Panatag Shoal and the rest of the West Philippine Sea. Thus, we now have to import from China fish stolen from our own seas.
- Does the NPA help in relief operations during the crisis? How do they survive the earthquakes and typhoon?
JMS: It is a fundamental principle and long standing policy of the NPA to help the people in relief operations during calamities and crisis. Being a disciplined and mobile force, the NPA can move easily to more relatively secure areas during earthquakes and typhoons. But still they have to endure and overcome the same difficulties as the people.
- Kaingin system has been a practice for many years, why is it bad for the nature?
JMS: The kaingin system is often used as a whipping dog by the publicists of the exploiting classes. It is relatively harmless in comparison to the largescale grabbing and misuse of the land by the logging, mining, plantation and real estate companies. Swidden farming has been a traditional method for the poor peasants and lower middle peasants to make a living.
In the first place, swidden farming is usually undertaken in logged over areas. What is slashed and burned is secondary forest growth in logged over areas. The revolutionary forces can mitigate the damage to climate by planting swidden farms with fruit trees and other crops that retain and enhance the fertility of the soil.
- Does being a revolutionary automatically mean being an environmentalist?
JMS: If you are a revolutionary, you must be an environmentalist. You must join or support the campaign to preserve and protect the environment. At best you can join the people in the Philippines who are very much engaged in the midst of the indigenous people of fighting for their ancestral domain and the protection of the environment.
- How does the war of aggression aggravate the climate crisis?
JMS: The war of aggression aggravates the climate crisis because it uses weapons of mass destruction, such Agent Orange and other defoliants, napalm, white phosphorous bombs, cluster bombs and other bombs that destroy the forests, chemicals that poison the streams and disease-carrying animals and insects.
- What impact does free market have on climate imperialism and further destruction of our environment?
JMS: In the name of the free market, the neoliberal policy predetermines the character of the Philippine economy as a supplier of cheap raw materials and cheap labor and as buyer of foreign manufactures. Thus, foreign monopoly capitalism has been able to plunder the natural resources of the Philippines, destroy the environment and biodiversity and aggravate the climate crisis.###