You may have heard of protest actions chanting “Uring Manggagawa – Hukbong Mapagpalaya!” (literally, the Working Class is the Army of Liberation!) – In this slogan, national democratic activists capture the historic role of workers in leading the Philippine revolution towards genuine national liberation and the establishment of a democratic people’s republic.
The working class is the most productive force of society, honed in efficient, industrial production. Their social practice of collective labor molded the working class to be the least fettered by individualism and self-interest. How did the other classes of society fare when it was they who were in power? Remember when the Propaganda Movement was severely hampered by the ‘Illustrados’ who only want the Philippines to be a Spanish province? Remember when the leadership in the Katipunan was grabbed by the ‘Principalias’ and how it led to their surrender and self-exile?
That workers have to achieve comprehensive systemic change–land reform and agricultural development, national industrialization, and various other economic, social and political reforms–before it is able to completely overcome the exploitation of workers, means their leadership will ensure that the radical changes needed in society will not end with just the achievement of other classes’ self-interests.
Activists who came from other classes, such as my fellow environmental advocates who mostly come from the petit bourgeois (middle class, intellectual) class, should earnestly remould themselves to gain a worker’s standpoint and viewpoint–that is, a proletarian ideology–if they want to address the root causes of the deep-seated problems of society that we face. In that sense of liberating ourselves from our backward class origins through immersing ourselves in the lives and struggles of the labor movement, the workers truly are the ‘Hukbong Mapagpalaya.’