I've been acquainted with Marx and Engel long before they became required reading in class. I must admit, the struggle and idealism were fertile grounds to romanticize. It was the classic manicheistic divide. Good versus evil. Denied justice. And the opportunity to overturn the status quo. I was still a rebel but this time with a clear cause.
"Workers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains!"
When I was forced to play soldier during ROTC, we had a bivouac in Tarlac. They showed us Simbas, amphibians, and other APC's. I even fired an M16. My shoulder padded its recoil and the bullets it spat were burning as hell.
Some time before lunch, I asked one of the soldiers manning an APC, "Boss, nakapatay na kayo?"
He replied with an uneasy smile.
What causes man to inflict pain on others? What pushes him to kill?
Hobbes believed that man's life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Left to his own devices, every man will fend for himself. In a country such as ours, a mere glimpse outside one's windows would reveal the face behind the observation. Poverty, squalor, and a pervading sense of helplessness. Every soul struggling to keep himself afloat. Every man fighting for his own survival.
Yet every so often, man is able to transcend this basic existence. An idea so compelling pushes him to find alternatives. He bands with another. He finds strength in numbers. And there, in that collective, he finds a cause.
His basic existence is then justified.
He still suffers but this time for a cause.
But what if that cause betrays you? How would you feel if the very people you trusted and cared for, the people you offered your life to, turn against you? Your home, your family, your comrades... now your enemy?
When solidarity lends itself to paranoia, collective fear sows a tragic end.
Oplan Cadena de Amor (1984)
Oplan Takipsilim (1985)
Oplan Missing Link (1987)
Oplan Olympia (1987)
Oplan Tidebar (1988)
Kampanyang Ahos (1980s)
In Bobby Garcia's book, To Suffer Thy Comrades (How the Revolution Decimated Its Own), he chronicled how he was tortured by fellow rebels during the CPP/NPA's anti-infiltration campaign in the 1980s: Kampanyang Ahos. At the height of communist insurgency and perhaps because of the confusion surrounding their failure to exploit the political vacuum in the events leading to People Power, a collective paranoia infected the movement. Whereas before, it prided itself with a righteous struggle for a worthy cause, the CPP/NPA committed missteps. Short cuts were made. Commitment to the Geneva Conventions was foregone. And comrades were tortured and killed.
All in the name of purging its ranks of suspected deep penetration agents (DPA's).
The Philippines was not immune to the ghosts of Auschwitz and Cambodia... after all.
"I said earlier that I had to satisfy a lot of people as I worked on this book. All victims of the carnage, I realized, were the foremost consideration though I would not go so far as to claim to speak on the others' behalf. I just had to take an initial step, albeit a painful one. For in the final analysis, I realized all I really had to satisfy was myself. My own peace. My own coming to terms and my own closure.
"It had never been easy. But nevertheless."
- Bobby Garcia, Preface (2001)
My closet communist died even before coming of age. The truth it offered was inadequate. Through time, the fluidity of principles exposed itself. The conservative turns bohemian. And the activist sells out.
Para sa isang hinahangaan.