Friday, May 25, 2007

Fighting Incapacity

Have you noticed that the common battle cry of fascists and a lot of conservatives (who turn to dictators) around the world are "peace" and "prosperity"? It would be funny, if wasn't for the fact that people around the world have been oppressed by leaders who've taken advantage of people's fears and has led to catastrophe after another.

One of the best fictional examples of leaders taking advantage of people's fears is V for Vendetta. Set in a post-apocalypse Britain, the British people allowed their government to subvert their freedoms, in exchange for "protection", "peace" and "prosperity". Their leaders preyed on their fears, and people let them. In the name of "fighting" Terrorism, haven't we in many ways subverted our freedoms? In effect, haven't the terrorists "won" when we've changed our way of life? In many respects this driving desire for "prosperity" and "peace" has led to the subverting of democratic processes in the Philippines.

This is old news and it has led us to this point in time.

The "result" of the election has been spun and is it a referendum or is it not a referendum? Of course, it is a spin. Is it any surprising the "facts" fit their "logic"? After all it was a foregone conclusion that in majority of those races, the Coalition Allies would win. John Nery aptly pointed out in his blog:

The Senate contest is not a referendum on the Arroyo presidency, because, well, the administration has lost the majority of seats at stake. But the congressional and local races? They are a referendum because the administration won most of the positions at stake.

Apart from the framing (another example: 2007 was “an election generally predicted as a referendum on the economic performance of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo” — nice, that subtle use of the dismal science), the advertisement is interesting for the lists it provides of the winning coalition candidates: 183 congressmen (including, ah, transplanted Bicolano Dato Arroyo); 64 governors (including Joey Salceda of Albay, who ran as an independent against an incumbent Lakas governor, another clear example of the “clear choice” the coalition offered the Filipino people); and 101 city mayors (including Charter change exponent Rep. Constantino Jaraula).

When you've looked at who were thrown out and who won in the local elections--- it was largely a matter of local politics. Once again, the Administration looks at it from what has transpired with Bush--- these two animals are so largely different. For one thing, the "opposition" fielded no candidates in many of the local races. In fact, in races for the Governorship of Batangas for example--- a voter rich province, it was coalition allies Kampi and Lakas who were fighting for the scraps. How can that be a measure of voter love for pGMA's government? When one looks at Nueva Ecija province--- it is in the same way: a political dynasty went out the door.

It is kind of stupid and uninspiring, really. The pGMA battle cry is "change" and "prosperity" and "peace" yet they corrupt the meaning of those words. In the process, our people are disgusted and disenfranchised. It is the difference between looking at our national life, glass half-empty or glass-full.

When you look at the violence and by extension the rampant electoral fraud being propagated, you can see it in the context of a feudal society. Actually you can look at the entire society in that context. When you look at it from that point of view it is not per se, an elitist society. When you look at it from the perspective of a feudal society, it explains perfectly how in this society the scales between meritocracy and who you know is skewed towards the latter and not in a balance as it should be.

Any intellectual honesty in "reading" the "will" and "intent" of our people in this last election needs to take into account Voter turnout. Why is this important? Because through it we can gauge how apathetic, and disenfranchised our people really are. A voter turnout of only 50% or even 60% is a greater chastisement not only of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but more importantly of the entire political system.

This is ominous.

The only way to stem this tide is for politicians--- on both sides to get their act together. They may find themselves discussing their concern with only themselves as audience. You know what people say about a person who talk to themselves, don't we? Politicians may find themselves leaders of a nation that vastly ignores them. The hard part is the business of governing and for many Filipinos, the answer maybe governing ourselves and ignoring government and mediocrity of the political processes. Of course the future is not written in stone and the lesson of this election is this: the hard part is living up to expectations of the electorate and delivering the goods.

The problem with third world countries is the problem of incapacity. Filipinos can't seem to see that.

When you get a holistic and honest look at Philippine society today--- people largely are no longer subscribing or slowly moving away from political "spin" and thus are liberating themselves from incapacity. They're slowly waking up, simply because their wallets demand it. Philippine society is changing--- and becoming more like a suburb, where people grow families and build houses and they work elsewhere. This is what it means to move on (which a lot of our politicians simply don't get): people are, will and are beginning to leverage their own lives, vastly ignoring government, which isn't such a bad idea to begin with. They are liberating themselves. After all, what has government and politicians done for the rest of us? Private enterprise (i.e. individual effort) is the key to fighting incapacity.