October 28, 2021
From The Commoner
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In his previous article, Simoun Magsalin resurfaced some of the lost legacies of Philippine anarchism in order to establish its roots. What he calls the ‘anarchism that almost was’ is found to stretch from the prehistory of Philippine history to the First Quarter Storm demonstrations in 1970. You can check out that article here.


The Philippine Left in Crisis

If the anarchisms of the earlier period were totally demobilized, what then are the roots of the contemporary anarchist milieu in the Philippines today? I observe four factors involved in the mobilisation and emergence of the contemporary anarchist milieu in the Philippines. These are:

  • the disillusionment with the authoritarianism of the left;
  • the collapse of the Soviet Union and of its satellites;
  • the dissemination of punk; and
  • the international mobilisation of anarchism as part of the anti-neoliberal “alter-globalization” movement.

This section deals with the first two factors. The disillusionment with authoritarianism among the left led to introspection by activists and radicals, in turn encouraging experimentation with different new ideas. The collapse of state socialism in the Soviet Union also factored into the crisis of the Philippine Left, leading to the questioning of old ideas about state socialism.

There were two major events in the crisis of authoritarianism within the socialist and communist milieus in the post-Marcos period of 1987 onwards: the bloody purge within the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which saw the torture and murder of hundreds of communist cadres and guerrillas; and the Reaffirmist–Rejectionist Schism (or the RA–RJ split), which split the communist and progressive movement. Within the Communist Party and those that follow its political line, this fracturing is known as the Second Great Rectification.

On the purge, Walden Bello [1] noted that it ‘contributed significantly to setting back the movement,’ such that political work was suspended and many lives were lost due to murder and other militants to disillusionment, with devastating results: ‘the morale of hundreds if not thousands of people in the movement […] directly or indirectly contributed to their leaving or lying low’ [2]. In reflecting on the experience of the purge as a victim, Robert Garcia [3] noted the ‘skewed power relations’ and hypocrisy that prevailed in the party:

‘The revolution thrives in its critique of iniquity and the hierarchical distribution of wealth, power, and decision-making in society. But the movement itself is patently hierarchical. The whole Party structure is vertically organized and all major decisions are done at the top. What makes this worse is the air of infallibility and finality that accompany such decisions. [4]

Garcia also noted the authoritarian tendencies in the political culture of the Party, which resulted in the ‘demise of critical thought’:

‘Critical thought had always been trained outward but seldom inward. […] Submissiveness and obedience being the implicitly favored traits, cadres who faithfully carried Party directives were more easily promoted. Mavericks and dissenters were often criticized as troublesome. This resulted in a population of cadres who are more efficient in accomplishing tasks and facilitating implementation down the line of command than scrutinizing their nuances and merits.’ [5]

For Garcia, these factors created a catastrophic conclusion, where orders were not questioned, faithful communists were tortured and murdered [5] and—as Bello suggests—paranoia was the rule of the day [6].

This crisis of Left authoritarianism was also one of the issues in the Reaffirmist–Rejectionist Schism, or the Second Great Rectification, as it is known in the Communist Party. To briefly introduce the matter, the so-called ‘Rejectionists’ or ‘RJs’ are so-called because they rejected the reaffirmation of Maoist doctrines within the Communist Party of the Philippines and then split from the party because of this disagreement. Those that stayed with the Party and their line are called ‘Reaffirmists’ or ‘RAs,’ because they uphold the 1991 Party document known as ‘Reaffirm Our Basic Principles,’ or simply “Reaffirm.” Rejectionists are ideologically diverse, ranging from de-Stalinised forms of Marxism-Leninism, Fourth Internationalism, and democratic socialism. The Rejectionists are not a coherent bloc, and are also prone to factionalism and schisms. In contrast, the Reaffirmists are also called National Democrats or NatDems/NDs because they form an ideologically-tight tendency following the political line of National Democracy (in other words, they believe that a socialist revolution is impossible without a democratic revolution first; this is the theory of the Two-Stage revolution officially adopted by the CPP. See Pabico 1999 for a more comprehensive summary [7]).

Against ’Reaffirm,’ a document was distributed among the milieus commenting on the document ‘Reaffirm,’ entitled ‘Resist Authoritarian Tendencies within the Party! Let a Thousand Schools of Thought Contend!’ [8]. In it, the anonymous author signed as ‘Ka Barry’ or ‘Comrade Barry’ criticised how theoretical and strategic documents were put out and then retracted by the Central Committee and Politburo [9]. Ka Barry decried the way the Party document ‘Reaffirm,’ which had been signed by Armando Liwanag (the pen name of CPP founder and chief ideologue Joe Maria Sison), was disseminated. This resulted in the questioning of whether the rectification campaign advocated by ‘Reaffirm’ was the decision of the Central Committee, the Politburo, the Executive Committee, or just Liwanag himself [10]. Ka Barry contended that there was not enough democracy in the party, and that the ‘rectification campaign’ was a call for a purge [11]. Ka Barry opposed this purge:

‘The call for a purge is a sign of desperation. It seems that when people cannot be convinced through democratic discussion and debate, extreme organizational measures are being conjured to resolve the issue.

A purge would have disastrous consequences on the Party and the revolutionary movement. It would divide the Party or cause large-scale resignations. It would discredit the Party to a lot of its national and international allies. Any attempts to conduct a purge should therefore be vigorously opposed and resisted.

The Party faces the threat of authoritarianism, a form of one-man rule that recognizes only one set of views—its own, that considers all others as “erroneous” or “muddleheaded,” and that brooks no criticism and uses extreme measures against those who criticize.’ [12]

Notable in this excerpt is Ka Barry’s foresight, in that the Party was indeed discredited and divided through mass resignations. Ironically, Ka Barry ends their polemic by calling for a new Party congress to address the burning issues of the day, but the Second Party Congress would not be held until 2016 [13]. The late assembly of the Second Party Congress suggests that the party elite only allowed the congress to occur when they were sure they could control its outcome, perhaps proving Ka Barry’s fears quite valid. Indeed, the communiqué of the Second Party Congress implies that a rubber-stamp assembly simply affirmed what was already becoming standard procedure [13].

The crisis of authoritarianism and its relation to Philippine anarchism is explicitly dealt with in a dissertation by Loma Cuevas-Hewitt [14], who collated oral histories of Philippine anarchism in chapter 10 of their dissertation. In this chapter, Cuevas-Hewitt narrated the development of a crisis of authoritarianism experienced in the Philippine radical milieus in the post-Marcos period. This was experienced within the Communist Party of the Philippines and outside of it. Part of their argument is that the schism and crisis in the Communist Party of the Philippines ‘precipitated a flowering of feminism, environmentalism, and anarchism in the Philippines, all of which had been held in check by the Maoists’ hegemony over the Left’ [15]. Some Rejectionists sought to undo the ‘distortions’ in Marxism done by Mao Zedong and Joma Sison to articulate non-Maoist forms of Marxism (ibid.), while others articulated other ideological frames such as environmentalism and anarchism.

One of the frames Cuevas-Hewitt identifies as an example is a text by Serrano [16], ‘Re-imagining Philippine revolution,’ that essentially re-invents anarchist principles through the framing of Popular Democracy. Serrano argues,

‘There is no blueprint as yet, only preferred principles. Socialist here means greater democracy than what both capitalism and socialism have offered so far. The stress is more on society rather than the state. We favor the strengthening of the people’s sovereignty over resources and decisions. The lower the decision center is in the power ladder, the better; we have no illusion about the centralized and top-down nature of both the state and corporate institutions. We are set to build accountability safeguards from the social side of the power equation. This task extends to disempowering and bringing down unaccountable institutions.’ [17]

Interesting here is that Serrano mimics the anarchist adage, ‘there is no blueprint for a free society,’ and that Serrano explicitly discounts state-mediated mechanisms. Serrano continues:

‘We challenge the notion that tends to reduce revolution to capture of state power. We are not anarchists, but we believe strongly in social empowerment. It is possible that revolutionaries could come to power without completely capturing or smashing the state machinery. In such a scenario, society would be stronger than the state which, to us, is more desirable.

We reject the monopoly power substitution that happened in nearly all communist-led revolutions. We are for dispersing power across the social spectrum. Even the communists themselves stand to gain more in strengthening, rather than undermining, civil society. [18] […]

We cannot wait for the natural withering away of the state. We are committed to create the basis for such a process here and now. That is why the bias of our activity is toward social empowerment.’ [19]

In these passages, we find a clear reinventing of anarchist principles albeit using the framework of Popular Democracy, despite the disclaimer, ‘we are not anarchists.’ There is a clear call towards a ‘greater democracy’ than what the so-called actually-existing socialisms have offered so far. Serrano championed ‘people’s sovereignty,’ where decisions are done on ‘lower’ levels, and even explicitly challenges the equation of revolution to the capture of state power. This is similar in comparison to Grubačić’s ‘Anarchism, as I learned it from my comrades, was about taking democracy seriously and organizing prefiguratively’ [20]. The practice of direct democracy itself is not an exclusively anarchist idea, but it is one closely closely associated with the conceptual framework of anarchism, albeit combined with anti-authoritarian politics and non-hierarchical practice [21]. Serrano additionally says that ‘we cannot wait for the natural withering away of the state.’ This recalls the common anarchist critique of the Marxist notion of the dictatorship of the proletariat [22]. Cuevas-Hewitt similarly argues that ‘Serrano re-imagined revolution as a process rather than an event; more an undercutting than an overthrowing’ and that this ‘is the precise approach taken by present-day anarchists in their building of counter-institutions and their efforts to cooperativise all that capitalists would wish privatised and that statists would wish nationalised’ [23].

We have to keep in mind, however, that Serrano’s Popular Democracy really is disclaimed as ‘not anarchist.’ Despite this, there is a clear libertarian bent in its reinvention of anti-statism and horizontalism as principles that aligns with the conceptual framework of anarchism.

Serrano was not the only one re-inventing anarchism, either. As early as 1986, there were communist cadres questioning Party orthodoxy [24]. In one oral history provided by a former New Peoples’ Army (NPA) guerrilla and cadre, ‘Edwin’ recounts how he and his comrades in the cadre arrived upon anarchism after being derogatorily called as ‘anarchist’ by senior cadres:

‘In 1986, we were still good Maoists, loyal Maoists at that time… but we were already reading [Paulo] Freire. And the senior cadres were discrediting us for reading Freire… I think after three years, they got tired of us… They simply severed us and that was the end. After that, some of us started discovering [György] Lukács and [Antonio] Gramsci… [and the] postmodernist writers. And then the senior cadres were branding us as anarchist, but we didn’t even know what anarchism was… So we started reading up on anarchy and anarchism and realised: “Yeah, we’re anarchists! They’re right!”’ (Edwin recounted to Cuevas-Hewitt [24])

In this passage, we see Edwin and his comrades in the cadre independently coming upon anarchist conclusions. Edwin would later become part of an anti-statist current in the milieu of Popular Democracy after leaving the Party [25].

These accounts from Bello, Garcia, Ka Barry, Serrano, and Edwin all suggest a deep crisis of authoritarianism in the milieu of the Communist Party. However, this crisis of authoritarianism was not restricted to the Communist Party and National Democracy. It was also present in the Rejectionist milieu. In one case, Cuevas-Hewitt interviewed ‘Leon’ who was formerly a militant socialist in the Rejectionist milieu, who eventually moved towards anarchism because of the authoritarianism experienced in his socialist organization. Cuevas-Hewitt noted that Leon ‘was taught to scorn the RAs for their authoritarianism, but grew tired of the authoritarianism within his own organisation as well. For this reason, he began gravitating in an anarchist direction’ [26]. As Leon himself recalls:

‘If we wanted to organize our own local struggles at that time, they would always say, “Oh, coordinate it with the national committee of the student sector.” We always had to ask permission; that’s how it works. So yeah, eventually I got pissed off with this kind of authoritarian tradition, and I saw a different mode of expressing politics in the [Metro Manila Anarchist Confederation]… They’re very dynamic; they don’t need to have a party.’ (Leon, recounted to Cuevas-Hewitt [27])

Because the crisis of authoritarianism was felt in both the Reaffirmist and Rejectionist camps, activists like Leon gravitated towards more libertarian and anarchist frames. It is in statements like Leon’s that we see that Philippine anarchism is also partly a reaction to and a disillusionment with the politics of the mainstream left of both RA and RJ camps.

This reaction and rejection of mainstream left politics is further corroborated in other accounts as well. For example, a popular Philippine anarchist text by Cuevas-Hewitt (2007) (the same Cuevas-Hewitt who wrote the dissertation) argued that the framework of National Democracy is ironic in that:

‘despite their purported goal of liberating themselves from western cultural hegemony and political control, they arguably have yet to decolonise themselves of western imperialist logics; for example, those Enlightenment-derived logics pertaining to the transcendence of reason, the human, and the nation-state’ [28].

This is anationalism and a rejection of the nationalist framing of the Philippine left. One justification for anationalism given by Bas Umali is that the ‘flourishing modernist ideas from the West, such as nationalism, reinforced statist thinking among the locals’ [29]. Anationalism here connects nationalism to the project of the nation-state, which an anarchist conceptual framework rejects. Important as well is Umali’s influential text ‘Archipelagic Confederation’ [30], which lays the groundwork for an anationalism grounded in the history of indigenous resistance in the Philippines. It also contains jabs at National Democracy. He says:

‘A confederation offers an alternative political structure based on a libertarian framework, i.e., nonhierarchical and non-statist, which is doable and applicable. It is doable compared to the thirty-five-year-old struggle of the CPP-NPA-NDF [the Communist Party and its united front], which, after taking tens of thousands of lives, has not delivered any concrete economic and political output for the Filipino people. Moreover, the alternatives being proposed by mainstream leftist groups outside the NDF [National Democratic Front; an organization that the CPP chairs] offer no substantial difference, for they all adhere to the state and to capturing political power—an objective that cannot be realized in the near future.’ [31]

This simultaneous rejection of the state-centred paradigms of both the camps of National Democracy and of the Rejectionists captures the moment Philippine anarchism finds itself. That there is a flowering of anarchist literature emerging after the crisis of authoritarianism is suggestive that this crisis factored into the mobilization of anarchism.

Internationally, the collapse of state socialism also led to a resurgence of anarchist ideology world-wide. D. M. Williams and Lee (2012) noted that the collapse of the Soviet bloc was the ‘most important political opportunity’ that enabled the remobilisation of anarchism in the 1990s [32]. In the Philippines, the Soviet collapse also factored into the crisis in the Philippine left [33]. This sort of crisis of faith in state socialism happened all over the world and allowed for the mobilization of anarchisms, especially in the Americas and Europe.

This international mobilisation also factors into mobilisation in the Philippines through international interaction. Anarchists elsewhere would interact with Filipinos looking for their radical footing and the ideas and tactics would diffuse through interactions. As we shall see later, anarchists in the anti-neoliberal alter-globalisation’ movements helped mobilize anarchism in the Philippines through diffusion.

Punkista as Mobilization

Punk and anarchism have a long history that spans nations. A new type of anarchism emerged in the 1980s, such that punks in the late 70s started referring to themselves as anarchists [34]. The strong anti-authoritarian and confrontational sub-culture that punk rock brought about naturally dovetailed with anarchist politics, and anarcho-punk bands spread anarchism throughout the entire world [35]. In some cases, like in the former Czechoslovakia (the current Czechia and Slovakia), punk was a particularly strong influence on the reemergence of anarchism in those countries (Slaèálek 2002 quoted in D. M. Williams [36]). In other cases like in Venezuela, anarcho-punk is the ‘most consolidated and publicly visible source of anarchist ideas,’ and it is a more popular tendency than other traditions (Nachie 2006 quoted in D. M. Williams [37]). In a study of anarcho-punk scenes in the United Kingdom, Indonesia, and Poland, Donaghey (2016) noted multiple ‘sites of connection’ between punk and anarchism such as in anarchist-inspired lyrics, personal expression of anarchist politics by punks, punk gigs benefiting anarchist groups, overlap between punks scenes and anarchist activist milieus, and the role of punk in politicising people towards anarchist politics [38]. In terms of the mobilisation of anarchism, punk is a ‘cultural’ opportunity rather than a strictly political opportunity because of the use of cultural rather than political factors. Still, punk acts like a political opportunity for mobilisation through the safe spaces that punk cultivates for anti-authoritarian and DIY (do-it-yourself) politics, together with the shared counter-culture, which allows values such as anti-racism, feminism, ecologism, and veganism to grow [39].

We see the same dynamics play out in the Philippines. The punkista scene provided a place for ‘unity and equality for all,’ as one punk explains [40]. That punk provides an environment in which anarchist politics is articulated is also noted by Filipino anarchists:

‘Once it had become popular, punk rock represented the dissatisfaction of the Filipino youth with conservative Philippine society. What, in the beginning, seemed like just another musical upheaval, very apolitical in nature, later developed into a radical challenge of authority. Youth into punk rock started to explore the politics of DIY and anarchism that were associated with it. (Pairez in Pairez, Umali, and Kuhn [41])

‘Kasi dati, yung mga 1980s na punk, mas cultural ‘yun eh. … Sex Pistols na anarchy ‘yun. Karamihan sa kanila, mas na-o-organize pa ng Left… Pero mga 1996, diyan na nagsulputan na nililinaw ng mga indibidwal na ito na hindi sila Marxist, hindi kami leftists, kami ay mga anarchists. (Umali as told to Ladrido [42])

[Back in the day, the 1980s punk was more cultural. … It was anarchy of the Sex Pistols. Many of them organized with the Left… But by 1996, there were individuals who clarified that they were not Marxist nor leftists, but rather, anarchists.]

In these examples, the rooting of punk laid the groundwork for later anarchist identities. Interesting to note is also the mechanism of reaction to the political dynamics in Philippine society, similar to what we saw in the previous section. In Umali’s quote in particular, we see the articulation of an anarchist identity, as opposed to Marxist or Leftist identity.

In another example in the anarchist milieu of Davao, the history of punk and anarchism cannot be separated. The Davao Anarchist Resistance Movement (DARM) explicitly emerged from punk and hardcore bands and partook in projects such as ecological campaigns like Kinaiyahan Unahon [Nature First] and community kitchens such as Food Not Bombs [43].

In all of these examples, we see that the dynamics that punk played in the mobilisation of anarchism elsewhere also plays out in the Philippines. However, much of the history of these dynamics remains oral. The anonymously written history of anarcho-punks in Davao by Tanex & Lander (2020) is a rare record of the various oral histories of anarcho-punk. A more systematic examination of the manifestations of punk and anarcho-punk in the Philippines is still yet to be written.

International Interaction and Mobilization

The final factor that has mobilised Philippine anarchism is international interactions with anarchists abroad. For example, the relationship between the exiled Japanese anarchist Kotoku Shusui and other anarchists such as Peter Kropotkin facilitated the dissemination of anarchism in Japan, with Kotoku acting as translator and mediator [44]. In the Philippines, we see Isabelo de los Reyes interacting with Spanish anarchists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, leading to the mobilisation of socialist and anarchist ideas in the Philippines. Upon his return, de los Reyes facilitated the dissemination of socialist and anarchist ideas, as concretely manifested in books like Malatesta’s Dalawang Magbubukid and Banaag at Sikat.

Similarly, international interactions in the late 20th and early 21st century helped mobilise anarchism in the Philippines. Part of this interaction was framed through the lens of the ‘alter-globalization’ movement which opposed the expansion of neoliberal institutions.

As a movement, the alter-globalization movement tended to have—as Epstein (2001) argued—an ‘anarchist sensibility’ oriented towards direct action, anti-authoritarianism, equality, and democracy [45]. Rather than simply a sensibility, Baverel (2017) argued that anarchist values and practices were present in the alter-globalization movement, Occupy, and the Arab Spring [46]. This libertarian sensibility and the movement’s already anti-authoritarian nature allowed for anarchist ideas and practices to permeate. This in turn mobilised anarchism globally.

A crucial moment in the alter-globalization movement was the ‘Battle of Seattle’ in 1999, where concentrated opposition to the World Trade Organization (WTO) summit in Seattle, Washington, gave birth to a network that would become the alter-globalization movement today. In addition to punk, the Battle of Seattle is noted to have an effect on anarchism in the Philippines. As Umali says:

‘The [Philippine anarchist] movement attracted an increasing number of individuals, especially after the anti-WTO riots in Seattle ignited by the black bloc—the “propaganda by the deed” of our time. … Numerous collectives have formed since then in the National Capital Region (NCR), Davao, Cebu, Lucena, and other cities.’ (Umali in Pairez, Umali, and Kuhn [47])

The very visible opposition to the WTO’s neoliberalism in Seattle became a signal point to others elsewhere, diffusing anarchist ideas. In an essay in the Philippine anarchist journal Gasera Journal, Gabriel Kuhn (2011) terms this diffusion as ‘transnational community building’, and notes the influence of the anti-neoliberalism in the development of transnational connections between the global North and South:

‘In the context of the Philippines, it appears that the 1999 Seattle anti-WTO protests—which, despite a notable presence of comrades from the global South, were dominated by activists from the global North—provided major inspiration for the islands’ contemporary anarchist movement. At the same time, the Seattle protests drew a lot of inspiration from struggles of Southern communities. This only confirms the important multilateral aspect of the anti-privilege struggle.’  [48]

In this, Kuhn notes the multilateral nature of transnational community building with events and actors from both the global north and south factoring into each others’ mobilisations. Interesting as well in Kuhn’s account is that he first interacted with Philippine anarchism through its diaspora with Filipino migrant workers in Japan [49], mirroring similar international interactions by de los Reyes and Kotoku in their exiles.

Later mobilisations in Occupy Wall Street in the United States would again have ripples in the Philippines. Umali ([2011] 2020) would connect the struggles of Occupy in the United States to the Philippines in an ‘Occupy Luneta.’ Though Occupy Luneta did not develop into a significant Occupy on the scale of other Occupies, we still see the mechanisms of diffusion and Kuhn’s transnational community building play out [50].

An emerging but understudied mechanism as well is the use of online communication to develop mobilization. Online and print publications are evermore platforming voices from the global South, while publications based in the Philippines continue to develop new translations of anarchist work written abroad. Likely this new republic of letters will play a role in the mobilisations to come. Further study will be needed on these matters.

Mobilizations Past and Future

In this essay, I have sketched how Philippine anarchism roots itself in the indigenous traditions of the archipelago known as the Philippines, and in the country’s radical history. We have seen how international interactions factored into the mobilisation of the ‘anarchism that almost was’ during the American colonial period, and in the contemporary anarchist milieu that emerged in the 90s. In the first part of this essay, we have also seen how the two precedents of Philippine anarchism in the ‘anarchism that almost was’ and of the First Quarter Storm were totally absorbed into the Marxist milieus, leaving almost no trace afterwards. However, we have also seen that when the Marxist milieu went into crisis and fragmented, anarchism found space to reemerge as a distinct tendency. We also saw how punk rock and punkista subculture factored into forming this anarchist tendency.

However, there are still many unanswered questions. There is still not yet a definitive study on either the extent of anarchist ideology during the American colonial period or of the Chinese anarchists based in Manila in the first two decades of the 1900s. Perhaps a study of primary sources would reveal deeper anarchist international cooperation than what the current literature suggests. As noted in earlier sections, the question of whether the Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan Mendiola (SDKM) really was anarchist is still in the air. If they were anarchists, we do not know where this anarchism came from. It was too early for anarchism to have been disseminated by punk which came to the country in the 90s. However, the SDKM emerged after 1968 when anarchism experienced a small revival due to the May ’68 events in France and the global unrest that followed. Perhaps the anarchism of ’68 and of the emerging New Left factored into the anarchism of the SDKM through international interactions? Perhaps primary sources from the SDKM can prove illuminating. Furthermore, much of the history of the Philippine anarchist milieu remains unwritten. I am curious about the oral histories of those emerging from the original RA–RJ schism who moved towards anarchist frames. Who were those discovering anarchism while still deep in the paradigms of the Communist Party? What happened to them, and where did they end up? Popular Democracy and other tendencies like it later formed part of a Green tendency. The Greens in the Philippines retain a certain libertarian bent; perhaps there is some cross-fertilisation between the Greens and those brandishing black flags? I recognize that some Green ideas such as social ecology, deep ecology, and biocentrism form tendencies within Philippine anarchism. Cuevas-Hewitt (2016) does some work in their dissertation to connect the Green and Black. More might be found with further study.

Another fruitful avenue of study would be to survey the political and anti-political positions in the Philippine anarchist milieu. D. M. Williams (2017) does an excellent review of tendencies in the anarchist milieu of North America, and perhaps something similar can be done for the Philippines and Southeast Asia. From my personal observations, post-leftism dominates the mindscape of Philippine anarchists. I suspect that this dynamic is due to the peculiar experience of Filipino anarchists with the left. Ecological ideas also predominate. However, it is clear that there is not yet an anarchist political organisation in-country, rather, there are affinity groupings, small collectives, and a broad and loose network called the Local Autonomous Network. Neither is there an anarchist presence in the labor movement, nor an insurrectionary tendency. Why is it that the anarchist milieus of Bangladesh and Indonesia are able to develop labor organisations but those of the Philippines have not? A comparative analysis of various anarchist milieus across countries might be able to provide insight. Perhaps the presence or absence of a large left grouping like National Democracy can explain some peculiarities.

How about the future of anarchist mobilisation in the Philippines? I would think the slow demobilisation of National Democracy and the Communist Party is a continuing political opportunity for those outside the umbrella of both groups. However, this is not a clear win for anarchists, as there are other Rejectionist groupings that are better organised with political organisations—something Philippine anarchism lacks. These political organisations are better capable of absorbing those dissatisfied with National Democracy, but who still want to organize. It is unfortunate that the post-leftism of Philippine anarchism tends towards anti-organizationalism, thus alienating potential comrades. The future is still unwritten, and Philippine anarchism can still diversify into new political niches. Perhaps a political organization will be founded in the future. As for the possibility of a reabsorption into Philippine Marxism, I find the chances of that unlikely as long as the Philippine left continues on its current course, with National Democracy weakened after the crisis and purge, and Rejectionists still fragmented as ever. If not proletarian niches, perhaps Philippine anarchism can enter into unoccupied niches. For example, there is not yet a police and prison abolitionist movement, but there is a crisis in policing. It is possible that Filipino anarchists can adopt that framing.

What will also encourage future mobilisation of Philippine anarchism is the continuing mobilisation of anarchism in other countries which disseminate these ideas, frames, and practices across the world. The existence of other libertarian projects like the Zapatistas in Chiapas or Rojava in Syria can also continue to inspire alternatives. Important as well is that there is no socialist superpower that subsidises Marxism-Leninism. Anarchism is currently at a level playing field with Marxism-Leninism and Maoism in terms of international relations with no major powers supporting either. The People’s Republic of China, that darling of Dengists the world over, cares very little for the subsidisation and development of communist parties since the capitalist restoration in China while the Russian Federation cares about fascists, neo-Nazis, and National ‘Bolsheviks’ more than Marxists.

The world is still very much in crisis with civil unrest and political violence reaching new levels, if the years of 2019–2021 are any indication. Anarchism reemerges as one of the tendencies in this new age of new (anti-)politics. With the growing resurgence and popularisation of anarchism worldwide, it is my hope that this study can contribute to an understanding of the emerging political landscape.


Cover photo credits go to Jason. Credit for the photos in the article’s main body go to Reclaim Pride Brighton.

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[1] Bello, Walden. 1992. “The Crisis of the Philippine Progressive Movement: A Preliminary Investigation.” Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 8 (1): 166–77. https://journals.upd.edu.ph/index.php/kasarinlan/article/view/304.
[2] Bello, Walden. 1992, 175.
[3] Garcia, Robert Francis B. 2018. To Suffer Thy Comrades: How the Revolution Decimated Its Own. Revised edition. Mandaluyong City, Philippines: Anvil Publishing.
[4] Garcia, Robert Francis B. 2018, 104.
[5] Garcia, Robert Francis B. 2018, 105.
[6] Bello, Walden. 1992, 172.
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[9] Ka Barry. 1992, 158.
[10] Ka Barry. 1992, 159.
[11] Ka Barry. 1992, 164-5.
[12] Ka Barry. 1992, 165.
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[15] Cuevas-Hewitt, Loma. 2016, 293.
[16] Serrano, Isagani. 1994. “Re-Imagining Philippine Revolution.” Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 10 (2): 71–81. https://journals.upd.edu.ph/index.php/kasarinlan/article/view/885.
[17] Serrano, Isagani. 1994, 75.
[18] Serrano, Isagani. 1994, 80.
[19] Serrano, Isagani. 1994, 81.
[20] Franks, Benjamin, Nathan J. Jun, and Leonard A. Williams, eds. 2018. Anarchism: A Conceptual Approach. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
[21] Franks, Benjamin, Nathan J. Jun, and Leonard A. Williams, eds. 2018, 105.
[22] McKay, Iain, Gary Elkin, Dave Neal, and Ed Boraas, eds. 2020. An Anarchist FAQ. Version 15.4 (17-Mar-2020). 2 vols. The Anarchist FAQ Editorial Collective. http://anarchistfaq.org/afaq/index.html.
[23] Cuevas-Hewitt, Loma. 2016, 294.
[24] Cuevas-Hewitt, Loma. 2016, 297.
[25] Cuevas-Hewitt 2016, 295.
[26] Cuevas-Hewitt 2016, 292.
[27] Cuevas-Hewitt 2016, 297.
[28] Cuevas-Hewitt 2007, 240.
[29] Umali, Bas. 2020. Pangayaw and Decolonizing Resistance: Anarchism in the Philippines. Edited by Gabriel Kuhn. Oakland: PM Press.
[30] Umali 2020, 35–51.
[31] Umali 2020, 36.
[32] Williams, Dana M., and Matthew T. Lee. 2012. “Aiming to Overthrow the State (Without Using the State): Political Opportunities for Anarchist Movements.” Comparative Sociology 11 (4): 558–93. doi:10.1163/15691330-12341236. p.579.
[33] Bello 1992, 170.
[34] Williams, Dana M. 2017. Black Flags and Social Movements: A Sociological Analysis of Movement Anarchism. Contemporary Anarchist Studies. Manchester: Manchester University Press, p.133; Cf. Donaghey 2016.
[35] D. M. Williams 2017, 133.
[36] D. M. Williams 2017, 134.
[37] D. M. Williams 2017, 134.
[38] Donaghey, Jim. 2016. “Punk and Anarchism: UK, Poland, Indonesia.” Dissertation, UK: Loughborough University. https://pure.qub.ac.uk/en/publications/punk-and-anarchism-uk-poland-indonesia(67005cb4-5890-4e6b-82bf-b04426a715d2).html, 2016, 41–42.
[39] D. M. Williams and Lee 2012, 580–81.
[40] Kohl, Jess, dir. 2018. Anarchy in the Philippines. Dazed. Philippines: Dazed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtSZt_KeiGU&t=5s.
[41] Umali, and Kuhn [2010] 2020, 18.
[42] Ladrido, Portia. 2017. “The Anarchists Making a Difference in Philippine Society.” News. CNN Philippines. September 28. https://cnnphilippines.com/life/culture/2017/09/06/anarchists-making-a-difference-in-Philippine-society.html.
[43] Tanex & Lander. 2020. “Brief History of Punk, Hardcore, and DIY Scene in Davao City, Philippines.” Distronka Sistema. https://sea.theanarchistlibrary.org/library/tanex-lander-brief-history-of-punk-hardcore-and-diy-scene-in-davao-city-philippines-en.
[44] D. M. Williams and Lee 2012, 575.
[45] Epstein, Barbara. 2001. “Anarchism and the Anti-Globalization Movement.” Monthly Review 53 (4): 1. doi:10.14452/MR-053-04-2001-08_1.
[46] Baverel, Clifford. 2017. “Modern Anarchism in Social Movements: From the Arab Spring to the Occupy Wall Street Movement.” Emulations – Revue de Sciences Sociales, no. 19 (March): 71–88. doi:10.14428/emulations.019.002.
[47] Pairez, Umali, and Kuhn [2010] 2020, 17.
[48] Kuhn 2011, 14.
[49] Kuhn 2011, 14.
[50] Umali, Bas. (2011) 2020. “Social Revolution Is the Solution.” Alimpuyo Press. https://bandilangitim.noblogs.org/2020/05/30/social-revolution-is-the-solution/.




Source: Thecommoner.org.uk