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Nov 09

Killing Communism softly

One of my favorite TV shows is the West Wing. Its most recent episode featured an interesting experiment. The show has Alan Alda (as Sen. Arnold Vinick) running against Jimmy Smits (as Rep. Matt Santos) as the Republican and Democratic candidates respectively; the episode (number 7 in the 7th season of the show) had a debate broadcast live between the two. So you have a presidential debate between two actors but broadcast live and with a minimum of scripting, as if it were a real presidential debate (actually, more free-wheeling than any real presidential debate). Then, apparently, a survey was undertaken. Via Free Republic, this surprising story from the Washington Post: young viewers have swung to the right:

Before the episode, viewers between 18 and 29 preferred Santos over Vinick, 54 percent to 37 percent. But after the debate, in which veteran Alda gutted pretty-boy Smits without him even knowing it, Vinick now leads among viewers under age 30, 56 percent to 42 percent.

(Among viewers 65 and older — or, as TV execs like to call them, the Irrelevantest Generation — Santos has a lead of 68 percent to 27 percent.)

I suddenly feel so geriatric.

Paris and the rest of the woes of France takes center stage today. The Herald-Tribune reports the proclamation of a State of Emergency. Max Soliven in his column claims his Europe correspondent says the whole thing is being exaggerated! Presto Vivace a few days back points to an American example of how to handle rioting. My Arab News column for this week, French Riots: Symptoms of a Kind of Colonialism in Reverse? takes off from this previous blog entry, and owes a great deal to a conversation I had over lunch with a couple of media colleagues. Paris Riots Not Intifada, which came out in the Arab News yesterday, makes points similar to mine. Belmont Club also tackles the question of whether the Paris troubles represents an Islamic revolt or simply a revolt of the poor; Philippine Commentary takes on the Paris phenomenon as a meme.

Speaking of DJB at Philippine Commentary, his latest post wonders how I can personally abhor Communism and yet take an accommodating attitude toward it. It begins with my view that it is counterproductive to suppress thought: one must fight ideas with ideas. The problem is, Communist thought has won an intellectual victory, in that with the demise of the generation that defeated Communism in the 1950s, no one has taken their place. Generations of Filipino schoolchildren are being brainwashed in the schools, because the history textbooks are being written by Communists. Second, Communism in this country has mutated into a kind of religion, and the history of religious persecution suggests that persecuting religions only strengthen them. Which brings us to the question of armed struggle.

The rights of a citizen to espouse whatever ideology he picks up can only be tempered by the right of the State to defend itself if the ideology in question embarks on armed struggle. But there is more than one way to win a war. There is winning “hearts and minds,” which begins with education, and involves economic development: eliminate, or reduce poverty, or even more basic than that, establish a justice system that is less susceptible to subversion by the wealthy and well-connected, and you strike a mortal blow at Communism. Our counter-insurgency efforts have been characterized by brutality and corruption, and there are times when I am quite convinced that the military feels it is in its interest not to really defeat insurgencies, because the insurgencies give them something to do. From a pragmatic point of view, it is better to neutralize, in a sense, Communists the same way that putschists such as Gringo Honasan were neutralized: elect them into office. That’s one way, at least: you defeat Communism by smothering them with love, so to speak: but a purely military solution, with the present military we have, simply won’t work.

Dean Bocobo does make a pungent point about the Communists lacking the guts to admit what -and who- they are. I earned evil looks from Atom Araullo when, on Studio 23’s Y-Speak Live, I castigated he and his group for lacking the intellectual honesty to state they’re Communists and they want the overthrow of the existing system by any means. This country, were it to become a fully-functioning democracy, must inevitably have an above-ground Communist party just as it should have a flourishing Socialist party (and not the one headed by National Security Adviser on leave Norberto Gonzales): my personal inclinations are for a kind of State Socialism on the European model, after all.

There is, of course, a highly personal aspect to the question of Communists and Communism, and it began with asking my father how he could bear no hatred in his heart over the murder of his mother, sister, and brother-in-law by the Communists; and similar questions to my aunt who lost her mother, sister, and husband to the Communists, and yet who spent martial law visiting Communists in prison. Their answers were the same: the depths of hatred and despair over the inequities of our society make the unthinkable happen. For them it helped that their faith taught to hate the sin but not the sinner; since I don’t have their faith, I have to ask myself, how can we beat their swords into plowshares?

Anyway, I actually attempted to make my first podcast, with coverage of the opening ceremonies of the Citizen’s Congress for Truth and Accountability, but I’m having a devil of a time posting it online. For now, there’s the PCIJ report on the fist fight that broke out, as well as Sun Star’s reporting the government objecting to the process, even as it’s vetting the whole thing for sedition (according to the Daily Tribune). RG Cruz gives a front row and backstage account of the day’s events.

The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport is the subject of an entry by The Unlawyer: the airport sounds like a hybrid modern-day facility and a throwback to Stalinist East Berlin.

The punditocracy has the Inquirer editorial taking a dim view on the President’s handling of the arrest of (it turns out) the wrong one-armed person: Marichu Villanueva of the Star, Johnna Villaviray-Giolagon of the Manila Times, weighing in on the subject, too. Dan Mariano tackles the President’s retreat from her proposal to legislate wage increases; Benito Lim skeptical about governments of national unity; Carmen Guerrero Nakpil compares President Arroyo to President Bush; Greg Macabenta says Philippine advertisers are poised for takeoff; Ed Espiritu says the Asian Development Bank’s peso bonds are a great thing. Gail Ilagan is outraged by the behavior of the Filipino driver involved in the case of a Filipina raped by an American soldier.

The blogosphere has Leon Kilat with an interesting report on porn popping up in the Addict Mobile portal, from writing his column to the reactions of Smart Communications, to his suggestion that companies start monitoring blogs.

JJ Disini suggests how bloggers can properly handle retractions, which he says will become an inevitable part of blogging ethics.

Jove Francisco has the press corps skinny on the President’s tirade aimed at the press; Big Mango says the present Constitution is mediocre; New Economist points to a study that says the richest 1% of American hold a third of the US economy’s total wealth – the “highest degree of wealth concentration, with the largest shares of total wealth in the hand of the richest percentiles of the wealth distribution.” Washington Note has an intriguing entry on how some Americans want to effect a citizen’s arrest on Ahmed Chalabi, Uncle Sam’s once and future Golden Boy in Iraq.

Travel tips: Howie Severino writes on the horrors of riding trains in Metro Manila (I once hosted Inquirer TV’s show and one segment involved me reading from a teleprompter as a train creaked past squatter shanties: as the train rumbled along, bags of garbage and excrement slowly slid from the pointed roofs of the coaches, designed specifically to keep things from remaining on top.

In other news, Pajamas Media (which will be renamed when it formally launches on November 16), has my profile up. I’m apparently the Philippine correspondent. Another Filipino, wretchard of The Belmont Club fame, is on the editorial board.

25 comments

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  1. Karl

    I alo like West Wing but unfortunately I stopped watching it, good thing there are dvds for future reference.

    Communism or simple caled the left.
    Funny i was almost named Karl Marx have not the military priest who baptized me disallowed it.

    I said it was defeated 15 years ago and we are the only ones fighting for it through its armed and unarmed groups..
    Suddenly I watch CNN and got reminded of Fidel Castro and Hugo, two guys who made dubya Bush blush.

    I recalled that Castro laughed at Bush for not containing hurricanes and thank god bush must have missed that for he was there right away when he was needed.
    Now the conference of the Americas time to heat on Bush and poor US again.
    I thought it is only in this part of the world that we hear cries of Imperialist US then came the internet…
    The riots in the US during WTO meet, The so called formattion of the G20 or what ever number supposedly by Mar Roxas and Lorenzo althugh I never hear other countries say that they initiated it.
    They advocated against those unfair subsidies which makes US agri products way cheaper.
    It is alwayas a look who’s talking situation when you hear American angry at losing businesses and american jobs to the so called outsourcing phenomenom and yet they advocate cheap exports through these damn subsidies.
    ITs either my way or the highway.

    Concerning that powerful whitehouse guy who leaked the identity of Sidney Bristow or was it Jack Bower to the public now bristow can no longer have an ALIAS and Bower will no longer have the longest day of his life.

  2. Karl

    How communism made me unable to know my uncles and cousins in Mulanay Quezon just because my father happenned to be with the military.

    I was touched by the docilty of MLQ3’s close relatives it was about hatred can not solve anything.
    It made me reflect on the comments I submitted on R. Carandang’s blog on mistrust that I almost hated my parents for believing that di bale na ang maagrabiado wag lang mangagrabyado thought to my dad by my lola

  3. MitaMS

    We watched that episode last Sunday and my husband actually said “Damn, why doesn’t Jimmy Smits run for president!” LOL!

  4. karl

    When will the time come for a good presidential debate here in the Phils ….maybe if we won’t switch form of gov’t it may still happen.

    What could have been…

    I would have loved to hear the debate between Raul Roco and GMA it could have been nice to watch.

    parang kulang kung wala akong typo so I won’t press back button later and try best not to commit errors.

    To DJB:
    I tried commenting on your blogs but I felt uncomfortable sharing other email addresses baka kasi patayin ako ng friend ko eh.
    If there is something to share na lang in this forum then I will grab the opportunity.
    Besides we had to much of the French story already and I researched on the meaning of Meme, It is the cultural equivalent pala of a gene.
    Akala ko meme as in tulog na meme na…
    And i said something about communism na din kaya dito na lang siguro wag lang ma out of topic at argumentum ad hominen ulit.

  5. Carl

    Then government, media, and the public at large should call a spade a spade. Communists must be called by what they are instead of letting them hide under sugar-coated terms like “Leftists”, “Activists” or “Progressives”, which comouglage them from their bankrupt ideology.

  6. sleeping with who

    The politicians dont want to talk policies because they dont have one..

    Not a single policy and how many Senators….

    OH thats right Bayan Muna Has One take all the money from the rich and give it to the poor..

  7. hawkeye

    “Our counter-insurgency efforts have been characterized by brutality and corruption, and there are times when I am quite convinced that the military feels it is in its interest not to really defeat insurgencies, because the insurgencies give them something to do.”

    I agree.

    I have a friend who is an AFP official. He told me stories about his missions to capture the rebels. In many cases, he said, the rebels are gone before they reach the camp. Then I ask him, why not launch or rent a satellite to track these armed rebels so that they will capture them.

    I’m amazed by his answer… ” Kung ganoon.. wala na kaming trabaho pagmaubos sila”.

    The AFP top brass don’t want to defeat the insurgents. They need the insurgents to keep their job.

  8. joselu

    Ben Lims column on a goverment of national unity won’t really work in this country.
    It can’t work cause the concept of power in the Philippines is about “winner take all”. It’s about wilding power. It seems governance is not well well understood or taken for granted.
    Unless everybody and not only the politicians but the entire citizenry accept to “take responsibility” for our future.
    My point is governace is also a two way street. No goverment can ever succed w/o the people’s cooperation. I’m almost sure that there will be so many excuses why cooperation is not possible because of childish reasons to say it in a word.
    In the last 5 months i have herd word of accountability, rights, truth, justice etc… that my ears hurt already!
    But never have I herd of “taking responsibility”
    It sadens me when I read & listen to people who talk about democracy as if it’s a one way road made of obligations of goverment towards people alone.
    Throughout these months I have never herd or read anyone say more responsible things about democracy.
    I experienced working in an office full of intigue & dirty politics,Productivity & quality suffered.Now I work in an office where each employee accepts “responsibility” w/o loseing time in blaming the others.productivity & quality always get better.
    It seems to me a practical concerned mind makes a difference in life.We either are more concerned in achiving & making a difference or we get left behind.

  9. sleeping with who

    Counter Insurgency never works by using weapons as it is driven by the heart..

    Look anywhere in history where has it worked.. Never..

    The only way to win is to win the Hearts and Minds it is a Physological war that has to be fought not with guns.

    Use the Guns to protect at the start, but only that and talk..

    Only though understanding can you win it.. Look at USSR and USA it was never won by one having bigger or better.. In the end it was look what you have and we have.. What would happen if we drop the YOU vs US idea, Can you help..

    The world said yes… Bang no more USSR..

    China same there they did not see the light through weapons it was dialogue and seeing what can i get if i join the world..

    The only way to stop support for the insurgency is to remove the reason for it. Under-developed areas, Crappy roads and infrastructure.

    Thats also why they hit the cell sites so hard and so often to remove the advancement of the areas. thus keep their support..

  10. karl

    If everything is as simple.

    Right now the military has not enough funds allocated. The government refuses addition to ther size, the modernization law can not be launcehed because lack of funds etc.

    Do they have enough to do?
    (I am throwing all my biases away for now having said that my father was with the military)
    Why not start a war that has been started by others.
    Why not let the people on the run by raiding them as they sleep.

    We would like to think that it is simple as not eliminating insurgents to have something to do because there are no external threats anyways.

    Enough said, I might just as well stop i’ll just show my bias and lose my objectivity.

  11. ricelander

    Communism is a bankrupt idea, no question about that. Do you hear JoeMa or any of his cohorts proudly pronouncing themselves to be communists? But they too have to evolve by using a different tag. One thing though, capitalism itself is presently undergoing a crisis. Globalization, a necessary consequence of it, is producing catastrophic results in many areas massively dislocating and dispossessing populations. An antithesis incorporating communism is likely to emerge from the ruins.

  12. sleeping with who

    Karl not sure of your point.. But i think what you were saying was true..

    That it has nothing to do with the brass needing a war to fight… They did not start it.. and Policies and money at the moment wont stop it..

    So it will go on..

    No Brass sends kids to be killed on the battle field for the fun of it or having something to do..

    All have kids and hearts as well .. Just like the Rebels they dont send there kids just to do it just for the fun..

    It is a easy way of saying the war will never end because no one has a magic bullet to solve it. And blame someone else..

  13. Karl

    As I said on the previous blog sleeping with the who.
    Acknowledged!

  14. sleeping with who

    Also further to Karls first statement and a program i watched last night and even my father..

    “that I almost hated my parents”

    DR House anyone?..

    Statement was from Dr House “He is your father you have no choice no matter what you will always love him..” Then the doctor left the room to go see his father to tell him that he loved him, even if it was not in words but just the act… (He asked his father out for a beer..)

    We have no choice in reality.. It sometimes is the love that causes us to hate so much…

  15. Karl

    Thanks again sleeping…..
    Got to see that…
    when is the rerun, Oh it was today right?
    Missed it again.Will just buy the vcd when i havethe money.

    On another note news as we type….

    Damn that French thing is not over yet and it seems it won’t be for a couple more(hopefully days)
    Now they are trying to slow it down by imposing curfews….
    On the CCTA….
    I hear the lawyers are complaining that the proceeding must be followed like a hearing and if it is up to them they would stop the testimony because what they hear are speeches.
    What were they expecting?

  16. sleeping with who

    Me sides are splitting with laughter….

    CCTA…Peoples Court..
    I thought the peoples court was the street with the basketball hoop at the end for all to play…

    Curfews…. Even the French cant stop it..

    Take a step back…. See where it started.. Impoverished area, bored youths, youths die evading the police..

    Sound like the US, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Australia..

    The world seems to be getting smaller…

  17. cvj

    Even today, it still pays to read Karl Marx as he is a leading authority on how the Capitalist System works. A lot of what he describes, both good and bad, still apply. This is a person who devoted his life to its study. It would be useful to understand his insights and put what he has learned to good use, of course, constantly mindful of the failed experiments of the past.

  18. absolut

    Manolo, I think your labelling of the French riots as a COLONIALISM in reverse is incorrect. The substance of colonialism is that an army and its strategists, almost all men, take control of a territory to extract raw materials out of that place to bring back to their mother country.

    A. the first generation muslim immigrants who went to France were families, composed of husband and wife and male and female children, going there to find jobs, not to rule and extract raw materials.
    B. the 2nd and 3rd generation children of these immigrants who are now rioting are not extracting raw materials and don’t have any attachments to their mother countries. If anything they’re basically French and simply unemployed.

    The simplest explanation I can give to these riots is Hip-hop music. These kids, unemployed and druggies, are brainwashed by American hip-hop and its romantization of the LA riots.

    They listen to this music and, seeing how “street” it is to cause mayhem, instigated the riots as we see now. They’re basically emulating what the like of Ice Cube or NWA (song: “fuck the police”) has been preaching about the LA riots or Rodney King. The “gangs” who roam the streets of France are outstreet-credding (as in credibility) other gangs to show they are as hip-hop as the other gangs.

    They’re emulating their idols. They see themselves as victims when they are not. Basically they’re brainwashed by commercial rap. Because some of them are black or ethnic, poor, live in dilapitated suburbs or ghettoes (to use hip-hop parlance), they somehow feel they have a connection with the black, poor, and ghetto citizens of the LA.

    They also use the current wave of Islamic discrimination in Europe as another excuse to realize this image in their head of the European version of hip-hop struggle.

  19. Karl

    Indeed karl Marx was a great man… having to dedicate myself of knowing who he was at a very young age made me know who howw great he was.
    Karl Marx was the reason I read an encyclopedia at the age of 8 because I was always haunted by the knowledge of a military priest disallowed marx to be annexed to my name.

    I also debated with my high school teachers that socialsm seems to be the perfect ideology had it not for mao.

    I hate it back then when people call themselves Marxist Leninist
    when I said that they were Maoists.

    Back to the future I mean present. I agree communism is a bankrupt ideology. I don’t know if Marx knew that he would be creditted for communism because communism as we know it was never his idea at all!

  20. Ed

    I still hate anything about communism. I dont acknowledge them and I dont respect any of them. oh they maybe be intelectuals but still wont forget what happened to my some of my relatives in the past (death threats, extortion,death threats, grenade at my uncle’s car, extortion, revolutionary tax, under the banner of cpp/npa)

    they may have their ideology ( all i know about them is they want an ant like colony – lahat pantay pantay bullshit) and I have mine. still if they want my respect they should also starts respecting other people and stop doing the robin hood bullshit they always do ( for all I know they send it to the netherlands and that makes joma happy)

    just my opinion

  21. karl

    Sorry to have trigerred bad memories; I too have my story.
    I have relative in Quezon who was abducted by the NPA and until now I don’t know if he is alive ….

    I hate the npa too and hate what they are doing with Globe and made me think that SMART pays revolutionary taxes.

    Ever since I was young NPAS were labeled to me by my father ,his military drivers and aids as the bad guy kaaway and killers.
    The only reason for me wanting to find out what’s good in Marx was just incidental my being named after him.
    Going offtrack….
    What’s in a distorted name….
    MILF and MNLF do they ever want themselves to be called Moroccans they keep on calling themselves Bangsa Moro!
    And I don’t even think Moroccans themselves want to be called Moro.

  22. joselu

    sorry to butt-in guys, I think not one of the “isims” will ever have all the answers that we want. I think everyone of them have their down sides. I think what really builds a humane society starts w/ fairness.
    I guess at times we are just too idealist or just plain oppurtunist.In both cases we miss out on things we can do as an individual.
    I think that our energies are better used in cultivating our skills that can in turn generate jobs for others.
    The level of entreprenurship in our country is very low.
    Maybe we must focus on things that are at our reach first.In activities where we can make a difference & share our experience in them no matter how simple.
    I think giving courage & insperation to others is much better.

  23. karl

    For lack of interest in the CCTA even after listening to its clips. I went back to these part of the blogs again.

    Being in my thirties I see how our beliefs and those that we thought were correct beliefs either turn into advocacy /ies or completely forgotten once engaged in other activities or if something else happens.

    I can just see myself in my comments that I may have some sort of identity crisis, but I would not call it that for we are dynamic and continuously learning if what we believe in is the correct thing or not….

    It is a good thing that I have not changed religion that is what can I say that there is still things I never want to change no matter what.

    having said these let me again copy and paste above comment

    “The level of entreprenurship in our country is very low.
    Maybe we must focus on things that are at our reach first.In activities where we can make a difference & share our experience in them no matter how simple.
    I think giving courage & insperation to others is much better. ”

    I could not help but agree.

  24. mong

    in other countries, when you are an avowed communist, your beliefs are respected and your proposals are deliberated with open minds. In this country, communists are abducted, killed and maligned even if they are doing nothing.

    a filipino communist can propose ideas or programs which can help advance the cause of democracy, but not too soon, he will be called an NPA, a proponent of a godless ideology, stalinist pimp and all sorts of accusations. communists are lumped into one category with the rebels in the hills as if the left is one monolithic entity.

    i undertand your position to have an aboveground communist party. but right now, when conservative propaganda about communism is taught in schools and broadcasted in mainstream media, calling someone a communist in public is a tip for the military and intelligence units who have no tolerance for communist ideology given their limited and distorted knowledge of communism.

    when you refer someone as your favorite communist blogger or atom araullo as a communist in national TV, you are unintentionally risking the lives of these activists.

    you may call for GMA’s resignation, you may decry the military policies but you will not be harmed because you are not a communist and no one has accused you of being a communist.

    such is the unique situation in Philippine politics.

  25. cvj

    absolut,

    so France might end up to be the first ‘hip-hop Caliphate’.

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