Notes after revisiting neglected calls
(Or "ramblings on "ideas" being "watered down" by the system
In the name of "economic development"")
By Kat Ulrike
"If this person may ask, when will be the time an individual or a group, curious enough to deal with the past just to counter the present, will afford to look at the blueprints being left decades ago in the archives or salvaged from the waste bins, yet still feasible in this society in need of having its own?"
As observed by the concerned, there are many blueprints that are well kept, yet unseen by many as it hidden in the archives for generations, most of which were considerable in this today's socio-economic situation, and possibly an alternative to the prevailing idea that requires subservient to outside policies as if the latter can provide really generous aid in pursuit of development.
But then, it is obvious that instead of cultivating a truly national development, it is an ersatz, faux-national development based on the wishes of both outside policymakers, domestic compadore-landlord oligarchs, and its apologetics trying to insist the present as an era of international finance capital and thus, no room for domestic-based production and sustainability. That amidst modern things people enjoyed, most were rather offshore if not assembled with parts not made from its own. The latter, although it appears as providing jobs and a facade of stimulating production according to the wishes of the so-called developed countries does not mean it gives an enough opportunity to prove that the society is also capable of having these creations, obviously a mockery since it has no solid foundation such as a heavy industry to support the assembly line manufacturing sector.
Pardon to those whom are offended by these person's words, but citing the fact that the so-called newly industrialised country has no foundations to create sound industrialisation, of limiting industry to those of light ones, if not disregarding industry in favour of commerce and trade, then what is the use of learning the sciences and other necessary subjects in pursuit of national development despite seeing handicrafts and herbal medicines during trade bazaars? Noting that the nation is abundant in resources yet mismanaged by the system amidst its rhetorics, of what are the phrases like production and modernisation if not for the factories and the call to roll one's sleeve to man the engines, of making plans and be agreed by those supposedly working for the people?
Having a policy of import dependence and reliance on outside investment does not guarantee having a developed country without stimulating domestic production and its proceeds going to further development (a la China, Japan, and Korea); and letting the system leaving matters to a group of con-men assuming to be for the economy shows its reluctance to support the demands if the people, save profit and keeping interests.
Anyways, this writeup is not all about a battle between trade protectionism or liberalisation as what others likely to think of, but a call for a genuine national development that requires popular consensus, formulating ideas coming from both contradicting schools of economic thought, and its subsequent approval. For sure there is nothing wrong in formulating an idea that accommodates foreign investment yet protecting the interest of the folk via its own control of basic needs. And History showed that there are also attempts to create a bridge to accomodate both views in pursuit of domestic development, however while making discourse it becomes an object of ceaseless debate rather than creating consensus for the sake of the people seeking employment, communities yearning for development, access to goods and services, and a nation trying to roll its own sleeves and standing up on its own.
To other may sound Keynesian with all the idea of spending in social works including mass transport and basic industries as well as welfare, or even NEP-like given the latter did also accomodate some outside investment (such as Armand Hammer) while at the same time building foundations for Socialism. China did the same example during Deng Xiaoping, yet instead of gearing towards Socialism, it end succumbed to Neoliberalism.
But as for the Philippine experience, the attempt was all but rhetorical complimented by a façade of "action" with a different benefactee, much likely as if an icing enough to hid the core such as backwardness and negligence, corruption involving bureaucrats and compradores past and present.
That somehow made the Centrist writer Charles Baynas, detested the "economic growth and development" that was made during the Marcos regime with an emphasis on his "nationalisation/industrialisation":
"Marcos’ attempt was to re-create the early Meiji Japan and Park Chung Hee South Korea model of industrialization. The problem is that while the ex-Samurai Landowners who got converted into industrialists in Meiji Japan and the ex-landowners in S. Korea who also got converted into industrialists were disciplined enough and COMPLIED with their governments and delivered, Marcos’ cronies did not deliver: they lived luxurious lives and lazily enjoyed the mountains of “free money” they had been allocated (which they were supposed to pay back since they were loans)"
Actually, prior to him there were attempts to recreate those examples, with men like Araneta, Soriano, Lopez, Concepcion, Halili, and Guevara once trying to become industrialists despite their landlord- compradore nature. However, with policies subservient to the wishes of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, it hinders their supposed intention to develop, if not limiting their "industrialisation" to those of semi-processed ones, assembly line, power, and consumer goods, or even sold by its competitors lock, stock, and drop (such as in case of Halili Beer and Mission Beverages to Soriano's San Miguel). And Marcos, assuming to be "nationalist" yet subservient to those of American interests, rather reduced his statements into crass rhetoric trying to appease developed countries for the sake of foreign investments. Yes, he had junked the controversial "Parity rights", he had made US bases a tie up with its Filipino counterpart as a "stepping-stone" to a possible takeover, yet he failed to assert further patriotic intentions, but instead letting his gang of corrupt bureaucrats and landed compradores takeover what was left, with his controlled media repackaged, making everyone hailed it as "nationalisation" or "industrialisation".
But then, what Marcos did was not really a trying hard Meiji nor Yushin. That amidst attempts to do a protectionist-style import-substitution scheme the way groups coming from his predecessors trying to assert, his style of "import substitution" coming from his cronies would have been "trying hardly inspired" from the Soviet Union, particularly with its "New Economic Policy" (NEP) that had brought the rise of "NEPmen" or Middlemen-Bureaucrats. Marcos, in pursuit of countering "oligarchs" of the old had tried to make a fashion out of landed gentries-cum-bureaucrats supporting him like Enrile, Floirendo, and Benedicto, while at the same time courting the existing compradore-landlord "oligarchs" Soriano, Zobel de Ayala, and Cojuangco, to become his own "NEPmen"; those who can't comply were given trumped-up charges if not gone exile in case of the Lopezes and Domingo M. Guevara.
But as what Mr. Baynas said in his post, the Japanese and the Chosonese (Korean) compradores did tried to comply (as what Ninoy Aquino said in an Asiaweek article, societies in the far east such as China and Japan are command societies unlike the Philippines) unlike the self-centred Filipino compradore trying to keep firm in its existing and new share of property, much more being corrupt due to letting government funds ended in their pockets. And Marcos, despite assuming to be anti-corrupt and patriot, rather failed his task on punishing them for being , unlike Stalin whom had afforded to immediately stop the NEP (which was actually temporary and transitional), punished the corrupt NEPmen (most were imprisoned or executed due to "wrecking" and "economic sabotage"), and instead pave way for the series of 5 year economic plans in the former Soviet Union (that includes strict regulation of the private sector, emphasis on production, and a series of major infrastructure projects trying to steer development further than during the earlier policy).
That fact that bureaucrats amd compradores are thriving in their interests, it seemed obvious for them to disregard most, if not altogether policies even the charter itself designating an institution as for service than for profit. That once, this writer's grandfather, who once worked as a manager in the Land Bank of the Philippines, abhorred the nature of some bureaucrats (particularly the administrators) in treating the bank as like any other enterprise rather than financing the Agrarian Reform according to its charter. The bank did somehow trying to appear as populistic with low interest rates and a series of "improvements" to be boasted, yet it did not satisfy most but instead seeing its contraries. Thus, not even wonder why there are farmers complaining about less developments in the countryside and more scams pretending to be supportive of the said project, that took decades and additional years with various bills like the Extended and Reformed version of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. If they afforded to say Agrarian Reforms as successful, then how come Hacienda Luisita remained undistributed, Looc remained controlled by its landlords, and Canlubang Sugar Estate gone developed from agricultural to commercio-residential? Did Landbank really succeed in financing the Agrarian Reform Program of the state? Or just letting compradores take over in the name of "development"?
Well, despite agreeing to the statement coming from the so-called "centrist", what Marcos did was to create a façade of nationalism that benefits himself ranging from brutalist architectures at Pasay to the almost use of the Bayabayin "Ka", but substituting both the old rich and the foreign companies with his handpicked men with the same foreign companies seems to be a mockery of his statements. Yes, the Parity Rights had been expired, but did it provide a transition that requires capable Filipinos to take over American-owned ones? Nope, instead were the old rich landlord-compradores in the provinces loyal to the regime, if not familiar names trying to take a chunk for their new venture and be rebranded as nationalism by the propaganda department. Worse, an aggravation of feudal and compradore problems as the regime and its successors failed to make their "reforms" succeed in its course.
And although knowing that both "protectionism" and "liberalisation" have enough positive points to consider, in the end it rather benefits the compradore oligarchs, both local and international as seen in its actuality: that "protectionism" did benefit both Chinese and European sounding Filipino names, yet "liberalisation" did also benefit both Chinese and European sounding Filipino names; these profiteering compradores rather benefited much in these two schools of economic thought by diluting if not distorting to appear applicable as theirs being stubborn profiteers and exploiters. How come there will be competition in an actually existing cartelisation? How come there will be fair prices in an actually invented crisis brought by compradores and supported by the corrupt? Yes, these ideas this person stated benefited the exploiter in the name of their interests just like what Marcos and his like did for an example.
And if that's the case, then how about the people who did the entire work long hours for these profiteers and exploiters? Whether they are working in a Japanese-controlled car assembly line in Laguna, an American-owned textile works at Bataan, British-owned Oil company, or a Chinese-owned flour mill at Pasig, besides those of oligarch-owned sugarcane centrals like Hacienda Luisita, and food manufacturing giants like San Miguel, these people who are directly participating in the working process obviously knew that these people on high, controlling the economy as well as politics, are all profiteers scrambling for profit and disregarding the welfare of its workers, as well as communities.
Or in a Marxist terms, they are stubborn, hard headed capitalists. The oligarchs did babble "protectionism" especially during Marcos, yet they can't protect small and medium enterprises nor seriously adhere to industrialisation given their compradore nature, at the same time they also babble "liberalisation" given that they do tie ups with foreign capital with the latter trying to expand their interests and the former trying to keep their prestige; but still both ideas these oligarchs taken interest rather limit industrialisation to those of medium scale and describing assembly line manufacturing as enough for a so-called "heavy industry", for the fact that these compradores are also stooges of international finance capital, with its very own agreements, that obviously limiting development to those of small and almost medium scale, a façade that tries to lessen the appearance of an actually exiting feudal, backward agricultural society assuming to be a developing one in par with its developed neighbours.
That somehow made this person and others concerned think that scheme as all but a mockery. Of what is economic independence if most economic plans require approval from people outside such as the international moneylending agencies assuming to be for "reconstruction" and "development" as well as oligarchs trying to stunt, if not block altogether attempts suggested by the people? Is it because of their funds? Of hindering their profits from outside trade and commerce in favour of production despite assuming to be "industrialists" with their façade called "industry"? Then how about call for massive long term economic plans (involving new infrastructure, exceeding production quotas), protecting small and medium scale producers while accomodating foreign investments under "fair" agreements, investing in science and technology (especially in education, research, and development), a serious implementation of agrarian reform (and agricultural modernisation), and a revisit in attempts for industrialisation, with rehabilitation of major industries (steel, chemical) as its focus?
Such "idealistic" concepts and attempts were being scrapped altogether if not unjustly watered down for its planners are actually being scared of turning it down by the system due to its reluctance and favouring the agreements international moneylending agencies offered much. And also to think that the system and its apologetics afford to babble much of Friedman and Mises to the Third World, and limit the words of Recto and Lichauco to those of whining crackpots, these people who supposedly thinking about domestic-based development and the desire to have lower prices of goods, self sufficiency, and full employment, ignorantly notice that despite its sugarcoated statements given from existing and future agreements, international moneylending agencies, actually agents of the assuming developed countries and finance capital, actually tend to bloc attempts to steer a developing country further in a genuine course of progress, and be forced to depend on imports while squandering natural resources for export by outside capital than its supposed domestic consumption.
And no wonder why a nation that is abundant in natural resources is rather contenting in import surpluses and less on its exports, thanks to a mismaged, unguided economy due to its existing agreements with international moneylenders and a system that chose to leave serious matters to those assuming to be for the country yet actually for their interests.
That somehow makes poverty, crisis aggravating, with corruption, repression gone worst.