Successful socialism conference held in the Philippines
From Partido Lakas ng Masa, International Desk
(Conference talks uploaded in Socialist Dialogue section)
A successful ‘socialism conference’ was held in Manila from
November 27 to 28. The conference was organized by the socialist
Partido Lakas ng Masa or Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM)
and the socialist-feminist regional network Transform Asia. The
conference was attended by 100 delegates, leaders of the PLM
from Metro Manila, and other leading socialists of the Philippine
left, as well as 13 international guests.
The international organisations represented came from the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM);
People’s Democratic Party (PRD-Indonesia); Working People’s Association (PRP-Indonesia);
Political Committee of the Poor-People’s Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD-Indonesia);
Socialist Alliance (Australia); The Left Party (Sweden); the General Confederation of Nepalese
Trade Unions (Gefont); the Vietnamese Union of Friendship Organisations; the Turn Left (Thailand);
and the Centre for Environment and Community Asset Development (Vietnam). Keynote speakers
at the conference included the newly appointed Cuban Ambassador to the Philippines Juan Corrales.
Greetings were also given by the representative of the Venezuelan embassy, Charge d’affaires
The aim of the conference was explained by the opening speaker Reihana Mohideen, Chairperson of
Transform Asia. “We need to go beyond anti-capitalism. We have no shortage of those criticizing the
horrors of capitalism today, including the capitalists themselves, such as George Soros and even
former leaders of international finance institutions, such as Joseph Stiglitz… to NGOs, who are also
critics of the system. [But] anti-capitalism is not enough today. We need to put forward alternatives
to the capitalist system and we need to name these alternatives,as socialism. This is what this
conference aims to do,” she explained.
Conference highlights included panels and discussions on socialist strategy, the capitalist economic
crisis and socialist alternatives to the environmental crisis. Sonny Melencio Chairperson of PLM
argued that “there’s no strategy for all seasons” and that strategy is “not something constant, fixed,
once and for all.” “Strategy becomes a key question during historic turning points, when there is
intensification in the class struggle and during political crises…. [Otherwise] we face periods of
protracted organising and the preparation of the forces of the working class.”
Melencio gave some examples of such historic turning points: “While Lenin did not use the term
strategy, the question of strategy was posed in the 1905 and the 1917 Russian revolutions, when
the capture of political power by the working class was resolved through insurrection … The second
world war gave rise to national liberation movements and the strategy of Mao’s peoples war or
protracted peoples war [emerged] in China… Gramsci put forward the idea of ‘war of positions and
war of maneuvers’ which was in the context of the structure of the state in western countries.”
Melencio outlined the strategy pursued by PLM as a “combination of uprising or people's power
action and electoral intervention”, also drawing from the lessons of the revolutions in Venezuela and
Bolivia that involved insurrectionary uprisings and electoral victories.
Bui Ba Binh, from the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations, described the situation in Vietnam
today under the ‘socialist oriented market economy’. He explained that the key features of this
orientation was “to consider the market as a means to achieve social development objectives…
to rationally use the market space… and to harmoniously link the market space with public,
non-market, space in other fields.” According to Binh, the ‘socialist-oriented market economy’ has
brought about real positive changes in Vietnam.
The final plenary session included a discussion on socialist internationalism and the call made by the
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela for the formation of a
Fifth International. Speaking on the proposal Arul Arutchelvan, from the Socialist Party of Malaysia,
explained the importance of the proposal. “Hugo Chavez and Venezuela have the moral authority to
call for the Fifth International because of their commitment to building socialism in the 21st century.
It’s also a non-sectarian position taken by Chavez. This is not a rigid [structure] it calls upon all left
parties and anti-imperialist groupings to come together.”
The conference concluded with a performance by the PLM cultural group Teatro Pabrika and
the singing of the Internationale.