Friday, September 21, 2007

The Left Has No Monopoly In The Fight For Freedom

ehn Cervantes and Neri Colmenares were talking to Ricky Carandang just now on Dateline Philippines...I'm getting really sick and tired of these old Leftists like Behn Cervantes (an old friend and comrade, actually, who abused the letter "h" in proper names long before it became bakya to do so) spinning and weaving and embellishing the myth that the anti-Marcos struggle was primarily conducted by the Left. Now, don't get me wrong, I had lots of personal friends lose their lives and families in those dark days, but it is no use today grousing about the fact that lots of other people back then did not support the Left against Marcos either. Then, as now, the Left has no monopoly in the fight for freedom. In fact, what many Filipinos have come to see is that the Left is not and has never been truly interested in anything but a dictatorship of the professoriat of Jose Maria Sison and the rest of the Nice People's Army in the Utrecht Space Station. Proof of that would be Behn's own protest right about now that HE doesn't support such a totalitarian regime either. He is, as he puts it, "a cultural warrior."

So let me quarrel with him about his take on "culture". In my opinion, the main reason for the Philippines unexplained poverty, despite its rich natural and cultural heritage, is this longest running communist insurgency, which too many Filipinos speak of with a weird kind of pride, as if such a thing were like an Eight Wonder of the World, a kind of bloody Rice Terraces uniquely our own. In part, that is because cultural warriors like Behn have convinced many people that we have to fight for some kind of --(here is that magic word again)-- indigenous culture that is somehow free of the culture and idiom he is himself using to conduct the same fight! For him Spain and America are still "foreign" cultures to the Filipino, and deserve to be rejected because of what them thar imperialists did to us. That position, which I can only describe as aboriginal ignores the facts and realities of the last four centuries of Philippine history. What is ironic is how oblivious Behn is to his anti-Americanism being a form of colonial mentality of its own, of which he ought to be justly proud, as it comes straight from Mark Twain (of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn fame) and the US Anti-Imperialist League. That is how unavoidable America is in our culture! Even our anti-Americanism is soooo recognizably--American!

When Behn speaks nostalgically about the Sixties, he strums my own heart-strings, but I am afraid his sentimentality for the Protest Culture that accompanied Flower Power, has ossified and degenerated into what I call a "protest attitude" that is endemic in the modern Filipino Inteligentsia (yes I know the latter is an archaic term, but I am just an old fogey), in the Media, Academe and the professional activists. When one adopts the Protest Attitude one does not need to examine the actual progress or lack thereof in society at large for protest is enough to fulfill one's moral duty. But I think we delude ourselves when we believe that Protest is good in and of itself because the Root Conditions of society are so deeply embedded and wide spread that we cannot go wrong protesting something or even anything. Such protest activities are directed at eternal enemies--imperialism, feudalism, bureaucrat capitalism and take on the trappings of a Fight Between Good and Evil. Once the protest attitude gets there, the transmogrification is complete from protest to moral copout.

When Behn demands that we fight for "a change in the basic structure of society" (even if it is just the management of the Cultural Center and the NCCA) he expresses the biggest justification for a never ending protest movement, protest culture, protest attitude and protest ideology, because that is essentially "moving the goal posts" as they say in a certain foreign land. It is a goal that can only be asymptotically reached, as in the ends of Ideal Grace.

I think the solution to poverty is getting rich, not protesting it forever. The OFWs have led the way with Virtues Greater Than Nationalism, not the activists. It is the global Filipino whose rising tide of hard earned bucks is what is raising all boats. Meanwhile, in the Archipelago, the boys and girls with their deadly toys and even more lethal ideas are keeping the tourists away from what should be Hundred Hawaiis and the "foreign" investors from 7100 Singapores. They just have to get out of the way and not insist on "changing the basic structure of society" using the methods of protracted warfare and cultural self-mutilation.


Dave Llorito said...

hi dean, i guess we share some sentiments here. why cant we "revolutionize the country's productive forces" [using the left parlance]? because of the rent-seeking character of wealth creation here. i specifically referring to monopolies and oligopolies in our midst and its political stranglehold on the country's body politic. the only solution is the dismantling of these structures. but the Left has never been an ally in these struggle. they in fact support them. the Left has become the Right what is resistant to change.

DJB Rizalist said...

Maybe it's because they actually have a big piece of the rock and its suits them just fine the way it is, expanding and developing just the machineries for protest and revolution.

lcnatabio said...

"In my opinion, the main reason for the Philippines unexplained poverty, despite its rich natural and cultural heritage, is this longest running communist insurgency.."

This is chichen and egg.

Question: Was the country wallowing in wealth already before the communists came to our shores?

Were we not perhaps impoverished by the parity rights, Tydings-Mcduffie, Jones Law blah-blah?

DJB Rizalist said...

Maybe the way to look at it is this. The Left are like weights tied to our feet. I don't believe there is anything wrong per se with the basic structure of society because the most prosperous nations we know about are democracies. True there are many inequities and society has to reform. But we need evolution, time to grow and become progressive. Do you know how long ago those arrangements and treaties expired. Long before you were born probably.

It's the blame game of the Left. Boring. We need to take responsibility for our own fate. They won't let go their favorite grievances.

lcnatabio said...


It's just like the arms race - adaptation, renovation, survival of the cunning(iest).

So far, neither side of our left and right protagonists offer any remarkable capacity for clear victory. Parehong corrupt, parehong mediocre. Stalemate. Both sides does not offer a threat of strength but a threat of weakness. Mutually assured destruction through corruptibility.

Which side will be wise enough to follow the law of evolution will eventually win.

But as of now, the whole country is being hostaged by both sides in a state of non-evolution.

lcnatabio said...

American capitalism did not prevail over Soviet socialism because it strictly adhered to Smith's Wealth of Nations principles.

It prevailed because it adapted some of the strengths of socialism like welfare, social security, pro-worker labor laws, etc.

Cultural evolution, like biological evolution, follows the same rule : adapt, adapt, adapt.