Irrelevant and obsolete…revisited

THE OTHER day in Starbucks while having my usual caffeine fix I got into a conversation with a couple of students claiming to be communists which is laughable (what are “proletariats” doing in a completely “bourgeoisie” coffee shop?). At best I’ll grant that they are pseudo-communists trying to be trendy.

So I asked them what are you doing espousing an irrelevant and obsolete ideology?

They looked at me with no answer so I brought them down to reality and they left fully enlightened, which is why we are revisiting this column.

Nothing last forever, even Forever 21 has filed for bankruptcy. Some things may have been relevant in certain periods of time, some may stand the test of time and we call them classic.

Take for example the classic Levis 501 jeans; it’s been around since the 18th century and is still relevant and a coveted fashion icon.

Jazz and blues are musical genres that have stood the test of time; in fact almost all genres of music emanated from jazz and blues. From hip-hop to rhythm and blues to soul and reggae they all trace their roots to jazz and blues.

Political ideologies, social mores and cultural practices also have a shelf life. In fact as man progresses a lot of these ideologies, social standards and cultural practices get left in the wayside.

Simply put they become irrelevant and obsolete.

A case in point is the so-called Communist ideology; it has become as irrelevant and obsolete as, say, “double-knit” bell- bottoms trousers whose hems sweep the floor, and body-fit polyester shirts together with platform shoes.

The Communist ideology is not only irrelevant and obsolete but downright baduy just like the “Edgar Mortiz and Vilma Santos” or the “Guy and Pip” box office love teams.

But of course there remain a lot of “Vilmanians” and “Noranians” hoping for a comeback of their movie idols as there are a lot of quaint pseudo-communists still dreaming of the “withering away of the state”.

The Communist Manifesto (originally Manifesto of the Communist Party) is an 1848 political pamphlet by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It was the answer to the Industrial Revolution then sweeping Europe particularly England where factories with almost subhuman conditions were manned by exploited workers including women and children.

The Communist Manifesto was also a statement against the abuses of the rich factory owners against the factory workers.

“The Communist Manifesto summarises Marx and Engels’ theories about the nature of society and politics that, in their own words, ‘The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.’ It also briefly features their ideas for how the capitalist society of the time would eventually be replaced by socialism.”

It soon became fashionable in Europe to be an anarchist or a communist or both. A wave of revolutions swept Europe and Russia from a monarchy became communist. China soon followed after World War 2.

The Communist fashion eventually reached these islands and it soon became fashionable among the restless students to be a communist having some clandestine meetings in some coffee shops in Malate.

 It came to the point where being a communist was a fashion statement and de rigour to wear a t-shirt with a print of the face of “Che Guevara” or one with the words “Hasta Siempre, Comandante” and a cap with red star.

After decades of being communist the Russians eventually realized that being a communist country is not their cup of tea.

Russia is now one of the biggest if not the biggest capitalist country in the world. And what about China? Well, they are now the biggest trading partner of that hated capitalist country, the United States of America.

The funny thing is that both former bastions of communism embraced capitalism including all the trappings of a decadent capitalist way of life, sometimes event outdoing the American capitalist.

Meanwhile the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines Joma Sison is having the time of his life enjoying the decadence of capitalism in the Netherlands partying like Austin Powers.

In the meantime the poor sobs or cadres of the New People’s Army are up there in the hinterlands still dreaming of the “withering away of the state” and the next “Cultural Revolution”.

From a ragtag bunch of idealistic but naïve student activists in the 1970s the NPA or New People’s Army has become a motley crew of armed bandits making a killing (pun intended) extorting money from farmers and mining companies with their own form of extortion they labelled as “revolutionary taxes”.

Most of the idealistic student activists are gone; what we have now are illiterate indigenous people in the ranks of the NPA who have found a “lovely way of life”. As NPA cadres they don’t have to break their backs hunting and farming, all they have to do is extort money from farmers, mining and telecommunication companies.

The ideology is gone, instead what we have are armed bandits making a “lovely way of life” in the name of Communism. Karl Marx must be spinning in his grave. ([email protected]/PN)

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