Unity in Social Justice

[Contribution to Pakighinabi, “When Blue Meets Red” on the on the GPH-NDFF Peace Process with Mr. Fidel Agcaoili representing NDFP, Finster Auditorium, June 8, 2015, 1:00 to 5:00 pm.] 

As a young Jesuit, I was part of the first quarter storm. Our groups were left of center, while many of our friends and the Philippine youth were moving left of us towards the newly formed Kabataan Makabayan. That phenomenon pushed me to study Marxism – first with a my professors at Ateneo de Manila University, then in Munich, Germany and in Innsbruck, Austria.

 My viewpoint was less from the communist political leaders who followed Marx – Stalin, Lenin, Mao – and more from the philosophers who influenced Marx: especially Hegel and Feuerbach.

 Viewed from the logic of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and the left-wing Hegelian influence of Ludwig Feuerbach, I learned that the dialectical materialism of Marx was at bottom still an idealism, that Marxian “materialism” was a rejection of the Hegelian transcendent Idea unfolding itself dialectically in nature and recovering itself in absolute Spirit. In Marx, humanity, species being, unfolds itself dialectically in nature and recovers itself in communism. The dialectic was a dialogue between species being and nature, in which through history species being being is negated in its selfishness, preserved in its humanity and uplifted into communism. Only the untranslatable German verb, Aufhebung, allows expression of negation, preservation and upliftment simultaneously.

 We cannot go through all this now. But the necessity of the revolution which would necessarily bring about the communist redemption was also but an ideal necessity that plays with the German word for necessity – Notwendigkeit. “Not” is extreme need, and “Wenden” is “to turn”. So the necessity (Not-Wendigkeit) of the revolution and eventually of the communist state was an ideal overcoming of extreme human need.

What was material in Marx’s dialectical materialism is that all originates and ends with humanity, species being, negating tendencies to be selfish or private, preserving its fundamental human identity, but necessarily achieving “species being” – individual being for the human species, for all in the human species – in communism. The communist state is not achieved through objective evolutionistic historical laws imposing themselves on history, but by individual man achieving himself in his free historical action in selflessly relating to all in communist society.

While the Christian or the theist disagrees necessarily with the Marxist or Marxianist in his rejection of transcendence (anything beyond time and space) and God, the Christian shares with the followers of Marx a rejection of all that which privatizes the human being utterly, isolates him or her from his or her fellow human beings, and creates a society of exclusion, marginalization and human misery.

Recently, we know that while Marx rejected the capitalist economy with its alienation of the worker from himself, his product and his species being, Pope Francis rejects an economy that thrives on unbridled consumption, the profit motive, and environmental destruction. While Marx rejects the “fetishism of the commodity”, the Pope rejects economies which worship money! While Marx says, “The philosophies of the world have too long interpreted the world, it is now time to change it!”, the Pope calls for real action to transform the world. Ultimately it is a call for a world where the human being is respected, social justice rules and each person serves the common good. From this viewpoint there is a strong resemblance to the Marxian species being.

Meanwhile, we have a Constitution that has been described as a social justice Constitution. Sec. 1. Art XIII of this Constitution states: “The Congress shall give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic and prolitical inequalities, and remove cultural inequalities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good.

“To this end, the State shall regulate the acquisition, ownership, use, and disposition of property and its increments.” The key parts of this section include labor, agratian and natural resources reform, urban reform and housing, health, women, the role and rights of people’s organizations, and human rights.

Meanwhile, Sec. 1, Art XIV states: “The State shall protect the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessibile to all.”

Our problem is: as the Constitution is actually implemented, being interpreted often through jurisprudence not based on a social justice Constitution, it is more the interests of an humanly alienative economy that are pushed rather than social justice. The spectre of poverty haunts the land, belieing the claim of human dignity for all. Wealth and political power for the common good continue to be concentrated in a few lords of land, capital, production and culture, thwarting the Constitutional mandate to reduce social, econonic political and cultural inequialities.

I am an older Jesuit today. An estimated 120,000 lives have been lost in an armed struggle whose finality is blurred by ideological upheavals, fatigue, and disillusionment, but whose necessity (Notwendigkeit) persists.   If today the CPP-NPA-NDF with its Marxian ideological roots talks peace with other Filipinos influenced by the faith in a compassionate God or with elective representatives of government under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, I suggest that what binds them together more than anything that separates them is a common concern for social justice. Peace is achieved not in giving up social justice, but in achieving it.   Peace cannot be achieved if the social injustice that tears peace apart is not overcome. Social justice cannot be achieved if the armed struggle does not seriously dent the exploitative interests of the ruling elite, backed up so often by the armed forces of the nation. But social justice is a possibility under a President passionate about the poor. A Duterte government serious about social justice allies logically with revolutionaries and citizens and worshippers passionate for social justice – be they from the CPP-NPA-NDF, civil society, or from radical believers in a compassionate God; what must be changed is not the Constitution that mandates change, nor the religious belief that suports change, but the established elite powerfully protecting its self interest, supported and entrenched by a global elite; what must be changed is the large number of complacent Filipino citizens more worried about propriety than social justice. They are happier with leadership that is prim and proper than with leadership that curses the darkness and follows the inner light.





About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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