Cadre as Informal Diplomats: Ferdinand Marcos and the Soviet Bloc, 1965-1974

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An examination of the class function of Stalinism and the informal networks which it established, through the movement of cadre and ideas, on behalf of sections of the ruling elite throughout the underdeveloped world in the mid-twentieth century, allows us to see past the traditional top-down geopolitical division of the world in the cold war to a richer understanding of the development of political and social struggles within these countries. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, from 1965 to 1975, engaged in secret and wide-ranging informal diplomacy with the Soviet bloc using the transnational connections of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) [Communist Party of the Philippines]. The PKP, while officially an illegal organization, had endorsed Marcos for president in 1965 and he had appointed some of its members to positions within his government as salaried “researchers.” The party was split along lines drawn by the Sino-Soviet dispute, and a rival party, the CPP, was formed in 1967, with ties to Beijing. Marcos sought two things from the PKP: the secret negotiation of diplomatic and economic relations with Moscow, and the eventual support of the party for his imposition of dictatorship, giving martial law a progressive veneer. The economic ties with Moscow, arranged through these secret channels, were meant to provide leverage for renegotiating the unequal economic terms of the Bell Trade Act and the Laurel-Langley Agreement with Washington. The PKP meanwhile sought Soviet funds to secure national industrialization and the military might of the Marcos dictatorship to suppress their rival, the CPP. The informal network of the PKP, both its salaried ‘researchers’ and exiled representatives in Europe, allowed Marcos to circumvent the political barriers imposed by both domestic rivals and geopolitical ties with Washington. The informal network of the PKP provided Marcos with a domestic incentive as well, as the party endorsed Marcos’ dictatorship, ghostwriting his justification for martial law, and made support for his military rule a component of their constitution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-371
Number of pages17
JournalHistory and Anthropology
Issue number3
Early online date28 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cold war
  • informal diplomacy
  • strongmen
  • Stalinism
  • martial law
  • Communist Party of the Philippines
  • Ferdinand Marcos


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