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Rewriting History: Walden and His Somersaults

By Felix Rivera
New York City, N.Y. , USA
May 4, 2005

Walden Bello's column, "Wolfowitz and the Philippines: a historical footnote," in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on April 30, 2005 wasn't quite complete or accurate. He failed to mention that the U.S. NSSD (National Security Study Directive) on continued U.S. support for Marcos was "leaked" to him by an American "informant" of his, and he not only put all his eggs in that basket, but purveyed it to the Philippine revolutionary movement leadership at the time as gospel truth, thus incurring some responsibility for their erroneous analysis and policy.

Yet months before the snap election, right after he had peddled the US-will-not-abandon-Marcos line in a forum in New York, it was already pointed out to him that there were indications of a shifting U.S. position on Marcos and that the U.S. strategy shaping up was to prop up a pseudo-democracy (an analysis later adopted by him, after his contrary analysis had done its harm).

It was the imprisoned Jose Maria Sison who uncannily got it right in a Dec. 26, 1985 Interview published in Business World, where he advocated minimum boycott and critical participation in the snap election rather than the maximum boycott put forward by the CPP leadership.

Bello also appears to have been critical of the post-EDSA Aquino in his Wolfowitz column, but as late as a Philippine Resource Center conference in San Francisco on March 16-18, 1990, he was advocating all-out support for Aquino as the rightful "constitutional regime."

Now cutting quite a swath in anti-globalization circles, before the Asian economic crisis Walden, in the papers he wrote for the April 2-4, 1993 Forum for a Philippine Alternative conference, was advocating more not less imperialist exploitation of the Philippines, a la the NIC "strong developmental state" he hankered for.

It seems every seismic change in the world scene causes Walden to register a turnabout. Apolitical, certainly not anti-imperialist, and uninterested in the mounting protest movement against US domination of the Philippines in the late 1960s, upon getting to Princeton University on the basis of his editorial work for the USAID-funded, Jesuit-run Institute for Philippine Culture, Walden was swept up by the anti-Vietnam war protests in U.S. campuses.

Not long after the Cory phenomenon with which he was similarly affected, and swept up by the Gorbachev tide, he advocated turning the pictures of Marx and company to the wall, and contraposed Gramsci to Lenin as was the fashion.

In his next phase, shaken up by the Asian economic crisis, Walden, nothing if not a born hack, began saying seemingly all the right things about globalization. Being awfully prolific, he parlayed his voluminous outpouring into an exalted status in the international liberal-left. Lately, from championing "Down with Leninism," he has even bandied about "Long Live Leninism," though this is just rhetoric.

Since his remorse over the snap elections and his wrong analysis, and won over by the campaign of Ric Reyes (he of the notorious Mindanao anti-dpa hysteria) and company to liquidate the armed struggle, Walden has been fancying himself a new world visionary as well as dabbled in Philippine politics, taking potshots at Joma and the Philippine movement whenever he can (including in his Inquirer columns), as "fossils in the mud," "dogmatic," "rigid," and worse.

He has hitched up with a network of fallen-away ex-movement people laden with various disgruntlements, resentments, guilt and recrimination, with their assortment of funded and granted NGOs and fancy websites.

Not remotely a so-called target of assassination, being thin-skinned Walden hated being cast in the counter-revolutionary camp in the CPP chart he has launched a campaign about, though he himself cast no end of aspersions and epithets at the Philippine movement. To get back, he whipped up an anti-CPP international campaign among his pals in the Washington DC Institute for Policy Studies and Transnational Institute in the Netherlands.

Not knowing a whit about the other point of view, some international left-liberal intellectuals (never mind the Trotskyites), who could have used some Marxism, swallowed Bello's diatribe hook, line and sinker, accepting his conflation of a chart of the counter-revolutionary camp in which he was included, with "target of assassination," which the chart was not at all meant to be. But Walden could count on his pals to ignore logic, bamboozle others in their circles to do the same, and drum up an anti-Philippine movement campaign.

Truly, the defunct U.S.-based KDP, Line of March and their progeny to which Walden belongs have wrought a negative image of the Philippine movement among the liberal left, but there are many more progressive intellectuals and masses than them, who continue the revolutionary struggle on the ground. ###

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