Shades of things to come: PCIJ gears up for legal harassment; ABC-5 is experiencing it; mercifully, for now, scuttlebutt that Newsbreak is next, remains in the realm of speculation. Bryanton Post points to an article by Vergel Santos that everyone should read.
Juan Mercado explains why people pulled back from the brink, at the thought of a junta.
The Nation of Thailand explains the Thai version of “Constitutional rescue.” Two other opinion pieces are eerily familiar: Thaksin simply can’t afford to relinquish grip on power and We can’t let Thaksin drag the country down with him.
But our topic for today is: the specter of fascism possibly becoming fashionable.
Two years ago, Torn & Frayed in Manila asked, “is the Philippines ripe for revolution?” The question was inspired by a column by Randy David, which, as Torn put it at the time, put forward “the possibility, even the likelihood, of a middle-class coup against the flailing president… He [David] starts from the assumption that the current situation ‘is not politically sustainable’ and goes on to argue that ‘sheer hunger will not spark a social revolution. For it is not hunger alone that grips the poor; they are also seized by a paralyzing helplessness that takes away the volatility from their anger.’ I agree.. [and]David reckons the greatest threat to Gloria will come from the middle class…” The essential question was, would the Philippines go right? Or, as Torn phrased it, “The Philippines is not going to take such a radical course as Germany in the 1920s, but many of the features that Bullock talks about (‘the crumbling of familiar landmarks and accepted values and … insecurity about its future’) are already among us, making some form of ‘right-wing radicalism’ attractive to a desperate middle class.”
On October 12, 1994, I disputed the idea that the country could turn right. I based it on four arguments; Torn & Frayed in Manila responded that perhaps I made a point, and then proceeded to probe the possibilities. Still, in the end, he concluded,
…if the trend of the last five years continues, security seems likely to deteriorate still further. If the Philippines continues to slide slowly and sedately towards anarchy, the feeling that “something must be done” – the same sentiment that propelled Mayor Duterte to power on a “law and order” platform in Davao and won Ping Lacson a prominent position in national politics despite his human rights record – will strengthen.
What neither Torn nor I ever expected was that the President would turn into a fire-breathing peddler of fascist notions; she wasn’t high on the list of aspiring dictators then. But since then, the Strong Republic has become the Fear Factor, as I pointed out in October last year; and if we are to be ruled by fear, then let us reject the argument that might makes right can be a substitute for the rule of law. We have no choice but to resist scorched earth governance. Still, I should have seen it coming, as I noted in 2004, even then, the middle was tiring of the democratic ideal: like me, they preferred competence to idealism. But a president should always be more than a bean counter. The poor, I also said in 2004, instinctively understand the hypocrisy of the middle and upper classes.
Carlos V. Jugo in a comment dissects Demosthenes’ Game’s utilitarian attitude towards democracy (my view: it is an ideal, and cannot be something merely “useful”). Anyway, here’s a good discussion of Fascism: and see just how many of the Palace and irate middle class arguments you can spot. But even if some in the middle class toy with the idea of examining (though not, quite yet, actively espousing) Fascism, is it really something for the middle class? An article examines if the middle class really embraced Fascism in Italy and Germany.
Anyway, as Big Mango suggests, change is necessary. What is up for debate is the extent and the speed -not the necessity. Also, fascinating discussion at stepping on poop. Micketymoc quotes St. Thomas More; but he became a martyr to defend a law higher than the laws of men.
And, you know, if there are those not in opposition who bewail the loss of civility, even rationality, and would like to put it on the doorstep of the opposition,they might consider taking a peek at this internet forum from 2005, which, incidentally, seems to have been an incubator for every argument and line being peddled in the pro-Palace literature at present.