VISITOR’S VOICE

Walden Bello

Visiting Research Scholar
December 2022 – June 2023

Message from the Visitor

This is the second time I am serving as a senior research fellow at CSEAS. I am grateful for this opportunity to be afforded the space to reflect and to write. From my stint in CSEAS in 2016-2017 came two books, Paper Dragons: China and the Next Crash and Counterrevolution: The Global Rise of the Far Right. Both of these books came out in 2019. I do not think I could have produced these books—or brought them relatively swiftly from thinking to published form—had I not had the valuable room for thinking and writing provided by the Center.

I am doubly grateful this time around, for CSEAS has not only extended an academic opportunity but has done it as an act of solidarity to one who is under legal assault for speaking the truth. In doing so CSEAS shows that it values not just academic excellence but the broader progressive values that provide the context for the flourishing of teaching, learning, and research.

The library and research facilities of Kyoto University are second to none. And the faculty and fellows of CSEAS present valuable opportunities for creative intellectual exchange and critical analysis. As I did during my first stint here, I plan to take full advantage of these intellectual resources. I am looking forward to a stimulating stay. Returning to Kyoto brings with it a measure of nostalgia. The first time I was here, I was with my wife, Suranuch Thongsila. She enjoyed Kyoto to the full even as she battled the disease that eventually caused her demise in 2018. She would have enjoyed being here again. Indeed, she is with me in spirit.

Biography

Walden Bello is currently a senior research fellow with the Center for Southeast Asian Studies of Kyoto University. He is currently also the International Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He served in the Philippine House of Representatives from 2009 to 2015 and ran for vice president in the Philippine elections of 2022.

An academic with a global reputation, Bello obtained his doctorate in sociology from Princeton University in the United States in 1975 and his bachelor of arts from Ateneo de Manila University in 1966. He is the author or co-author of 25 books on topics ranging from the political economy of the Philippines to the rise of the Right globally to the brewing conflict between China and the United States. He received the Right Livelihood Award (aka the Alternative Nobel Prize) in 2003 for his work in exposing the negative side of corporate-driven globalization and was named Outstanding Public Scholar by the International Studies Association in 2008. He has been called “the world’s leading no-nonsense revolutionary” by renowned Canadian author Naomi Klein. He was also praised “as the world’s best guide to American exploitation of the globe’s poor and defenseless,” by the late Chalmers Johnson, the world’s leading authority on East Asia’s economic development. 

Bello’s books include Counterrevolution: The Global Rise of the Far Right (Nova Scotia: Fernwood, 2019), Paper Dragons: China and the Next Crash (London: Bloomsbury/Zed, 2019), Capitalism’s Last Stand (London: Bloomsbury/ Zed, 2013), Food Wars (London: Verso, 2009), and Dilemmas of Domination: The Unmaking of the American Empire (New York: Henry Holt, 2005). Over the last 50 years, he has authored hundreds of studies and articles that have come out in many publications, including The New York Times, Guardian, Bangkok Post, Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, Foreign Policy, Dissent, International Sociology, Foreign Policy in Focus, and The Nation. He is a regular commentator for Rappler, the online publication founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa.

A retired professor of the University of the Philippines, Walden Bello is the co-founder of Focus on the Global South, the leading progressive think tank in Southeast Asia based in Bangkok that is affiliated with Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University. 

Arrested multiple times by US authorities for civil disobedience, Bello led the seizure of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco in 1978. This resulted in his conviction and imprisonment by the US government when he and his co-accused refused to recognize the authority of the court at their trial and defiantly walked out of the court room, an act for which they were immediately apprehended by US marshals. Prison officials, however, were forced to release Bello and his companions from the San Bruno County Jail after they went on a highly publicized hunger strike out of fear that their example could provoke the prison population to riot.

During EDSA Revolution, on February 26, 1986, Walden led the takeover of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC, expelling Marcos’ diplomats then turning over the building to representatives of the new government of Corazon Aquino.

Walden made the only recorded resignation from the Philippine Congress on a question of principle in March 2015 after serving in the House of Representatives for six years. Bello’s party Akbayan was then allied to the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III and he resigned because he could no longer support Aquino. The reasons for his resigning a year before the end of his third term was to protest Aquino’s double standards, where the president tolerated corruption among his allies but used it as a weapon against his enemies; his refusal to accept command responsibility for the Mamasapano tragedy which led to the death of 44 policemen; and his administration’s entering into the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States.

Walden was characterized by the government’s Philippine News Agency as “one of the staunchest critics of the [Rodrigo] Duterte administration,” which was in office from 2016 to 2022. He has been charged with “cyberlibel” by the camp of the Vice President Sarah Duterte, the former president’s daughter, for criticizing her record as an elected official during the 2022 electoral campaign.

(January 2023)


Walden Bello is a Visiting Research Scholar of CSEAS
from December 2022 – June 2023