New/Old Communism

A day after I flew out of Tagbilaran on the island of Bohol, I read about an attack on a cell phone tower in the same city. The New People’s Army raided the cell tower and shot a guard because Globe Telecommunications — my own cell phone service provider — refused to pay the NPA’s “revolutionary taxes.” Since then I’ve paid closer attention to the actions of various communist groups in the Philippines.

The Christian Science Monitor has a story with a lot of background on the NPA and communist insurgency. The Philippines is not only a highly commercial and capitalist society, but it is also one that still has old-money, landed families that wield an enormous amount of influence over the economy and politics.

What I find fascinating about this article — and about the situation in the Philippines in general — is how the symbols of capitalism have changed so dramatically. (After all, it’s only been in the last few years that the NPA began attacking cell phone towers.) In the end, the goals of communism have not changed much: these farmers are still hoping for a reorganized society. But at this point — after years of struggle and insurgency and thousands of former communists integrating themselves into mainstream life — the communists that remain seem to be hoping the hierarchical structure will bend just enough for farmers to own their own plot of land.

4 comments

  1. Christina says:

    Hi! Thanks. Communism in general is a fascination of mine — a leftover from college. And I find the situation here especially fascinating because of how the communist movement has adapted its tactics to modern life. Whether they’re succeeding or not is another topic entirely.

  2. Sidney says:

    the communists that remain seem to be hoping the hierarchical structure will bend just enough for farmers to own their own plot of land.

    It is not about communism anymore but about money and revolutionary taxes. I used to own a bookstore in Sorsogon (Bikol) and was required to pay the NPA people money or they would burn down my bookstore. They look more like the Italian mafia than idealists fighting for the rights of the poor farmers.

    By the way, I will link your blog to my photo blog under the BLOG (PH).

    Enjoy your stay in the Philippines!

  3. Christina says:

    Hi Sidney: Thanks for the comments! I agree with you completely. Absolutely nothing excuses the extortion and threats of the NPA. (It’s great to hear from someone with personal experience with this.)

    I picked up that last part from a quote in the Monitor’s article from a farmer saying he just wants land. I guess I should be asking: Are there people who sympathize with the NPA, people who are otherwise peaceful and law abiding, because they long for some long lost communist ideal that promises equal distribution of land? Do they see no other way than to side with this group?

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