UTRECHT, The Netherlands—“Revolutionary forces should have a very positive attitude about the Internet as a powerful vehicle for mobilizing the masses,” Jose Ma. Sison said in a talk before fellow activists at a symposium on anti-imperialist organizing and propaganda held here on February 17.
Sison, chairperson of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) and founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, compared today’s Internet with the railways a century ago. “The capitalists built and operated the railways to earn huge profits and to open up new frontiers for their businesses, that’s a given,” he noted.
But capitalists could not prevent determined revolutionaries, like Lenin’s Bolsheviks, from using the same railways “to transport the underground newspaper Iskra so it could reach thousands of workers.” Today’s revolutionaries should also maximize the Internet in the same way to mobilize the masses, Sison said. “There are always ways to go around restrictions,” he added.
Malcolm Guy, a progressive Canadian filmmaker, grassroots journalist and anti-imperialist activist, shared his experiences in producing documentaries about oppressed people’s lives that capture their most deep-felt thoughts and feelings as they pursue mass struggles and fight for their aspirations.
“On TV, as on the web, you’re competing with hundreds of potential choices and the zap button is never far away,” Guy said. He explained that the TV medium wants “character-driven stories that touch the heart and will attract a large mass audience.”
“That’s fine with us, we understand that we can touch people’s minds and move them to action if we also touch their hearts with powerful human stories,” the filmmaker said. “The combination of heart and mind in a film is a powerful one, with film being a powerful emotional tool,” he added.
Other speakers stressed that all progressive forces must take on immense tasks in exposing the facts and propagating the truth about the crisis of capitalism and the workings of imperialism. They called on all progressives to continuously challenge the brazen manipulation of truth and distortion of facts by giant media monopolies and the imperialist states, especially in this time of false-flag operations and cyber-warfare.
The anti-imperialist movement must develop its own media outlets, they said. But even if our voices and our media platforms seem puny at first, eventually the masses will respond to the truth, organize themselves, and join anti-imperialist protests in their millions, they explained.
“Ultimately, it is the awakened people that matter, not control of media technologies,” they added.
The symposium discussions also focused on lessons in waging anti-imperialist campaigns locally and globally, developing united fronts, and engaging a wide range of international organizations including inter-governmental institutions.
“Engaging with progressive and liberal international institutions is necessary to build up resources and strength,” explained one speaker who shared his extensive experience in working with diverse international formations. Such engagements offer opportunities for anti-imperialists to build a united front with a wide “reach and comprehensive scale of work in influencing public opinion and strategic positioning,” he said.
A veteran activist working among migrant workers in Hong Kong-Macau shared his organization’s experience in waging a successful international campaign against the World Trade Organization on the occasion of the WTO summit in Hong Kong in 2005. The campaign mobilized thousands of migrant workers of different nationalities, as well as local trade unions, women and youth, under the banner of the HK People’s Alliance on the WTO.
“We strengthened the points of unity for common action by a very diverse range of organizations involved in the coalition, rather than dwell unnecessarily on minor differences,” the activist said.
The whole-day symposium on anti-imperialist propaganda-agitation and mass organizing was organized by the People’s Resource for International Solidarity and Mobilization (PRISM).
PRISM, an international initiative for activist-driven research, education and mass action, had earlier conducted an Inception Workshop in November last year. Its activities are geared towards producing and disseminating educational and training resources needed by people’s movements. #