While Democracy and Liberalism are two distinct philosophies, they have big similarities so that early movements by progressives in Europe, like the French Revolution in the 18th century, have been referred to as Liberal–Democratic. The Filipino propaganda movement that culminated in the Philippine revolution of 1896 was of that character.
Everything evolves so do ideologies and philosophies. Democracy and Liberalism yesterday and today are not really exactly the same. [The use of the word democracy more often refers to the political system, while liberalism usually refers to ideas.]
The 19th century saw the birth and rise of Marxism. This ideology is a branch-off of Liberalism and Democracy. Marxism is quite similar to them except that it is keen on social classes, social class conflicts and social class struggles.
Karl Marx [1818 – 1883] came in the time of the Industrial revolution. He called the new and emerging economy as Capitalism. He saw only two social classes in a capitalist society: I. the wage earners that he called Proletariat, and 2. the owners of the means of production that he called Bourgeoisie, which is a word that was associated with “middle class” during the Feudal era.
That human history is about classes and class conflicts that caused societies to change i.e. that because of slave-master conflicts, slave societies gradually transformed into Feudal societies. Slave–master relations became peasant-landlord relationship. That Feudalism in turn gave rise to Capitalism. Peasant-landlord relations became worker-capitalist [employee-employer] relationship. That Capitalism will give rise to another system which he called Socialism.
Karl Marx defined State as an instrument of a class [has always been an instrument of a class, and will always be an instrument of a class]. That class struggle will end only with the end of classes, or in a classless society – in an envisioned system he called Communism, the ultimate end of socialism.
While Marx himself favored armed overthrow of states, armed struggle is deemed not Marxist law. It was a strategy in their situation. It should be noted that there was no free election like we have today during his time, or in the time of Vladimir Lenin in Russia and of Mao Zedong in China.
Karl Marx, being a staunch materialist, had history of Slave and Feudal societies from where he based his projections and concepts for the future – plotting the path of social evolution from capitalism to socialism, and on. The path of social evolution was always been littered with blood.
Marxism is class-partisan. It identifies itself with the working class because it sees this class as a destiny class. In the early days of Marxism the future appeared as one of machines, their owners, and their workers. The symbol for the working class then was strength. Little was seen of the developing “white collar” workers and the shift of the world from ‘strength’ to ‘intelligence’.
In the time of Karl Marx, socialism was only a theory because the first Socialist state, Russia, came to exist only in 1917, followed by China in 1949 – long after his death.
Marxism makes interesting social political study as it affects the whole world. Its influence is global and has dominated more than half of the world today.
One development in Marxism is the split of forces known as Revisionism. These movements were called Social Democratic [see Eduard Bernstein, 1850-1932. Also, Karl Johann Kautsky 1854-1938]. They are one with Marxism except for the means of achieving end. That at the rate of the initial advances gained by democracy, [right to education, right to vote, and human rights] Social Democrats foresaw armed struggle as becoming unnecessary. With the advances of the industrial revolution, the growth in size of the working class is inevitable. With all that, the political-economic powers of the Bourgeoisie will recede while advance the political-economic powers of the Proletariat. The bourgeoisie will naturally be eaten up by the proletariat in the process of social evolution. Revolution in the other hand aims at jumping short what naturally would take time for social change to complete a leap. In the case of slave and some feudal societies, it took millenniums to complete. Russian and Chinese Marxist revolutions were leaps to Socialism from semi-feudal and Feudal conditions, skipping or aborting the stage of Capitalism.
With Marxist progressives came adversarial words like liberal-bourgeois and bourgeois liberalism. Attributed to them is the set of mind that is centered in the individual or the self with little or no regard for the community. I think Exceptionalism is an extension of them… a lingering spirit of diminishing old form of liberalism that has not gone extinct yet.
Modern day political contest is a game of numbers. Indeed, will come a time in modern democracy when the so-called bourgeoisie will be at the mercy of the so-called proletariat. Maybe social minority can fall back to tyrannical measures but they are always futile exercises in the end. Just a matter of time as seen in history.
Leftist struggle in the Philippines is basically Maoist. Mao Zedong [1893 – 1976] was a deviation from orthodox [proletariat vs bourgeoisie] Marxism during his time. Mao identified China’s situation as mainly a struggle of Chinese peasants against the Feudal lords. Philippine leftist struggle has been patterned after the Chinese experience.
Applied in legal political struggle, I think peasants versus landlords will not even win seats in the municipality level, much more win seats in district and national levels, in present-day Philippines. It is an issue that has become too sectarian within a sector. It has become obsolete in a diminished feudalism like present-day Philippines. Peasants, to mean landless tenants and serfs, are practically imaginary characters today.
Presently, in the agricultural sector, I think the issue should revolve around advancement of agriculture, something blanket for the whole agricultural sector, which must reconcile with consumers’ interest as they conflict. And within that, is also the class conflict between the miserable farm workers and the landowners many of whom are not really doing great, actually. Since the mode of production is Capital and no longer Feudal, Landlords are also imaginary characters.
Let’s face it, why can’t Philippine Leftists win regular seats in congress? I think it is because they are associated with bloody social movements as in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia that are typical Leninist-Maoist’s, and which scared many Filipinos. Proletariat class-dictatorship to take the place of Bourgeois class-dictatorship is still dictatorship. Dictatorship or just the mere prospect of any of them is no longer popular where democracy has grown roots and gained grounds.
Legal political struggle of leftists in the Philippines was actually designed to support their primary form of struggle, which is to overthrow the state by rebellion. In labor exercises, demands sound good but are non-realistic. Like a two or three-fold increase to the daily wages for example, they usually result to denial by government that gave leftists the opportunity to cite as the futility of a legal struggle.
There is a drawback to that – failure of the movement to deliver gains for the masses of workers.
Pure democratic struggle of the working class, in the other hand, means bearing with the system throughout time . Fighting for what is possible or achievable only in present time.
In legal political contest, definitely ideologies belong or better be left in the classrooms. Legal political contest is basically all about what will sell – real problems of the people in real-time and solutions to them. That is what present day democracy is all about. And it can be compatible with any social system.