After the Autumn of the Patriarch: Part 2 (was Re: Milosevic out?)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at SPAMosu.edu
Sun Oct 15 12:32:37 MDT 2000


Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky wrote:

>En relación a [PEN-L:2763] Re: Re: Milosevic out?,
>el 7 Oct 00, a las 11:16, kjkhoo at pop.jaring.my dijo:
>
> > At 6:05 AM +0800 7/10/00, Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky wrote:
> >
> > >In Belgrade we have had a rehearsal of the "out wih Ferdinand Marcos"
> > >play, where a good fraction of the petty bourgeoisie, with the
> > >company of diverse fractions of lower classes, seems to have tilted
> > >the balance in the Yugo armed forces against Milosevic. This is not a
> >
> > And so, the progressives in the Philippines should have supported
> > Marcos, because Washington had turned against him and Aquino had
> > become the preferred one?
> >
> > kj khoo
>
>Not my position (but I am not shunning the issue, please read the
>para after next).
>
>The only thing I said is that the situation in Belgrade resembled
>that of Manila, "technically" speaking, too much. And that this was
>still another proof that the whole "democratic" opposition in
>Yugoslavia was "democratic" in the sense we in Latin America sadly
>know too well: compliant with US imperialism. It is not necessary for
>the actors to be aware of the play they are working at. What's more,
>most of them realize that they have been used up and thrown away as a
>condom, but when they do, it is too late.
>
>As to the F. Marcos issue, I am no one to delve into the intricacies
>of Phillipino poltiics. I have some general ideas, however, and one
>of them is that if the USA media backs some political movement in a
>Third World country, this is ALWAYS to the detriment of the masses in
>that country. There IS an Empire, "imperialism" is not an abstract
>system of blind forces. There exist collective subjects at the core
>countries, the imperialist bourgeoisies, who have clear goals and
>need to have these goals fulfilled.

*****   Global Economic Crisis, Neoliberal Solutions, and the Philippines
by Kim Scipes

Monthly Review 51.7

...Post-Marcos

But what has happened since the overthrow of the dictator? Marcos'
successors -- Corazon Aquino (1986-1992), Fidel Ramos (1992-1998),
and Joseph Estrada (1998-2004) -- have continued to follow an EOI
[export-oriented industrialization] strategy. Aquino committed her
government to repaying all foreign debts, including the ones that
only benefited Marcos and/or his "cronies," and Ramos and Estrada
have followed suit.

One Filipino researcher, Pedro Salgado, put the debt into perspective
early in Aquino's administration. He pointed out that the 28.2
billion dollar debt in 1987 was equal to about P564 billion, 4.4
times the national budget (or 81 percent of the projected GNP for the
entire year). He then goes on to say, "If a person were to drop a
P100 bill into a pit every second, it will take 179 years to drop
P564 billion worth of bills into the pit!"

Researchers have detailed how recent presidents have gone along with
the World Bank and the IMF machinations in exchange for loans. This
was true under Marcos, and it has remained true since. Why? I think
Temario Rivera is correct when he suggests that there is a larger
reason: the ability to obtain foreign loans, no matter how bad for
the country, allows political "leaders" to ignore the key issue in
the country -- political power based on land ownership. And, courtesy
of the World Bank and the IMF, foreign loans have been available.
Philippine national debt (which was 275 million dollars in 1962 and
was approximately 27.2 billion dollars in 1986), was 35.5 billion
dollars in 1993, and 45.5 billion dollars in 1997, according to data
from the Central Bank of the Philippines.

At the same time, the shift from traditional agricultural exports to
nontraditional, labor-intensive manufacturing exports, particularly
in garments and electronics, has continued. By the early 1990s, over
70 percent of total exports were in these nontraditional
manufacturers. However, despite this shift (supposedly the key to
Philippine economic development), the balance of trade worsened
between 1987 and 1996. The trade balance in goods was -1.017 billion
dollars in 1987, -8.160 billion dollars in November 1995, and -11.342
billion dollars at the end of 1996. Note that these figures are all
from before the crisis.

The GNP of the country has generally grown, albeit unevenly: it grew
5.9 percent in 1987, 6.6 percent in 1988, 5.7 percent in 1989, and
3.0 percent in 1990. It declined .05 percent in 1991. The GNP
increased 1.56 percent in 1992, 2.02 percent in 1993, 5.1 percent in
1994, 5.7 percent in 1995, 5.8 percent in 1996, and 5.2 percent in
1997.

The neoliberal economic program has made things worse for the large
majority of Filipinos. By November 1992, while evaluating President
Ramos' first one hundred days in office, IBON Databank, a
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that focuses on the economy,
estimated that the number of Filipinos living under the Filipino
poverty line had increased from 70 percent to 75 percent, and noted
that a peso in 1992 "could only buy 60 centavos of what it could have
bought in 1988." The numbers in poverty are likely to have been
somewhat reduced between 1994 and 1997, when the GNP of the country
grew over 5 percent each year.

Roger Daenekindt, using Department of Labor and Employment figures
from September 1995, reported that 62 percent of the
29.2-million-member labor force was either unemployed or
underemployed. Furthermore, only 10 percent of the labor force
received at least the minimum wage, but even this was insufficient,
as the minimum wage itself resulted in income below the poverty line.
In 1994, according to the government, the daily cost of living was
P237.57 (approximately 9.50 U.S. dollars), while the mandated daily
minimum wage was only P145 (approximately 5.80 U.S. dollars).
Additionally, while nominal wages increased by more than two hundred
percent between 1983 and 1993, real wages for all workers (based on
1978 prices) actually decreased by 14 percent, and despite nominal
wages increasing 32 percent between 1990 and 1993, real wages fell 4
percent.

Daenekindt further noted definite changes in the workplace, toward a
more flexible labor regime. And "flexibility" of the labor market
means that workers have even fewer chances for regular employment, as
workers are forced to compete at an even greater rate than before for
the relatively small number of available jobs. This also makes it
much more difficult to organize and maintain unions, which means that
workers will have even less power in workplaces where they do obtain
employment, and that their working conditions will get worse. And
that is for those lucky enough to have regular jobs!

At the same time that the economy is not providing a sufficient
number of jobs for people, and their wages are already horribly
insufficient, inflation is eating at the value of the money they do
earn. As mentioned above, the real value of wages for urban workers
decreased by about 75 percent between 1962 and 1986. But between 1988
and 1994, the purchasing power of the peso declined another 49
percent. The inflation rate was 7.6 percent in 1993, and 9.0 percent
in 1994.

But the Philippine State has never failed to keep coming up with
grand plans designed to solve all of the country's problems in one
fell swoop: the latest, initiated under President Fidel Ramos, was
"Philippines 2000." Key to Ramos' vision was the Medium Term
Development Plan for 1993 to 1998. Ramos stated his goals for the end
of his presidency in June 1998: to raise per capita income to 1000
U.S. dollars; for the economy to grow by at least 6 to 8 percent, and
for the poverty rate to decline to at least 50 percent. He missed all
three.

Ramos' larger goal was to make the Philippines a Newly
Industrializing Country (NIC) by the year 2000. And was this to be
accomplished? In January 1995, at President Ramos' urging, the
Philippines joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), which meant it
had to open its borders to even more international trade. Roger
Daenekindt commented: "We are ... told to be outward-looking and
accept liberalization. But ... in the case of textile and garments,
we enter in a stiff world of competition of cheap labor. Chinese
labor is at 25 cents an hour, Vietnamese at 15 cents an hour,
Philippines [at] 90 cents an hour, and there are still the countries
like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc." Additionally, according to
former president Ramos, "Export orientation shall `enlarge the pie.'"

And then the global economic crisis hit....

[The full article is available at
<http://www.monthlyreview.org/1299scip.htm>.]   *****

Now that the threat of Communist and revolutionary nationalist
challenges has disappeared from the world-historical stage (at least
for a foreseeable future), imperial powers -- especially the USA --
have decided that dictatorships (even anti-communist dictatorships)
are too costly & out of keeping with the purest spirit of
neoliberalism (even though, in many cases [for instance Chile], it
was U.S.-imposed dictators themselves who laid the foundations of
neoliberalism & implemented its first stages).

Contrary to popular opinions, dictatorships do not mean a simple rule
of naked force (though harsh repressions are necessary at strategic
points).  Dictatorships depend on their ability to bind the masses to
the state, through the military itself (the only path of social
mobility available to the poor in the periphery), corporatism
(incorporation of trade unions, civic organizations, etc.), patronage
& corruption (corporatism by informal means), state controls of trade
& investment, etc.  In other words, dictatorships (even dictatorships
that introduced neoliberalism, like Marcos's) possess elements
inimical to the purest dream of neoliberalism.  Hence we live in the
epoch "After the Autumn of the Patriarch": the Spring of the
Neoliberal Vultures.  The time of feeding frenzy of imperial vultures
picking apart the corpse of the dead Patriarch (the social body of
corporatism).

Yoshie






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