Imagine if you were arrested for trying to attend iBlog2: you would then discover that besides the joys of blogging as described by Susan Ople, there are perils to blogging.
Newsstand describes the vicarious discovery of the perils of blogging, in a sense. Two Vietnamese delegates to the Free Expression in Asian Cyberspace conference were arrested and detained when they tried to get a flight to Manila. Experiences like that, plus other cases of official hostility to blogs and online media in Malaysia, Singapore, and the People’s Republic of China makes me glad I’m a Filipino blogger.
The conference enters its second day today. My heart’s in Accra gives a good overview of who’s involved and what’s at stake (plus impressions on Shiela Coronel’s keynote address).Incidentally, Rconversations points readers to My heart’s in Accra for capsule digests of what the speakers said and other conference highlights, while video highlights are at Asia 0900. Also, Leon Kilat blogs for the tech-oriented among us. Jove Francisco has managed to concentrate on blog-oriented matters this week.
The conference itself is being thoroughly documented over at its official blog, Free Expression in Asian Cyberspace.
Tonight, I’ll be substituting for Ricky Carandang on his 9-10 p.m. show on ANC. Guests will be (hopefully) Rebecca MacKinnon and Roby Alampay of SEAPA to discuss online media, free speech issues, and blogging.
The great concentration of regional bloggers who spend the time after each session or at the end of the day’s activities concentrating on their blogging, has allowed me to simply concentrate on being a spectator over the last few days, which have been very tiring. Today, it’s more of being in observer mode. So I’ll leave you with readings for today.
My column for today is Executive clemency. I’d like to point to one more opinion piece: Manuel Buencamino’s explanation on how the middle class is politically overrated. The real movers, politically, he says are the very wealthy or the very poor.
In “The Italians” (Luigi Barzini), the passages that strike the most familiar chords are these, from Chapter Eleven, “The power of the family”:
The first source of power is the family. The Italian family is a stronghold in a hostile land: within its walls and among its members, the individual finds consolation, help, advice, provisions, loans, weapons, allies and accomplices to aid him in his pursuits. No Italian who has a family is ever alone… Scholars have always recognized the Italian family as the only fundamental institution in the country, a spontaneous creation of the national genius, adapted through the centuries to changing conditions, the real foundation of whichever social order prevails. In fact, the law, the State and society function only if they do not directly interfere with the family’s supreme interests.
Italy has often been defined, with only slight exaggeration, as nothing more than a mosaic of millions of families, sticking together by blind instinct, like colonies of insects, an organic formation rather than a rational construction of written statutes and moral imperatives…
This is, of course, nothing new, surprising, or unique. In many countries and among many people, past and present, where legal authority is weak and the law is resented and resisted, the safety and welfare of the individual are mainly assured by the family. The Chinese, for instance, in their imperial days held the the cult of the family more praiseworthy than the love of country and the love of good. This is why the Communist regime of Ma Tse-tung tried to stamp out the family, recognizing it as its most powerful opponent. Similarly, wherever the Jews were allowed to settle in Europe, they outwardly conformed to the local laws and impositions, but in their hearts obeyed only their religious rules and the immemorial code of their family life, which allowed them precariously to survive persecutions.
It is therefore not surprising that the Italians, living, as they have always done, in the insecurity and dangers of an unruly and unpredictable society, are among those who found their main refuge behind the walls of their houses, among their blood-relatives. Italians have, after all, many points of contact with the Chinese: the Chinese, too, love ceremonies, feasts, elaborate rites, deafening noise, fireworks, and good food; love children and produce many of them; their art is also highly decorative and ingenious but not always deep; they fashion lovely things by hand, and are astute negotiators and subtle merchants. The Italians are also, in many ways, similar to the Jews: the Jews have the same disenchanted and practical outlook; are among the few people who laugh at their own foibles; they entertain a wary diffidence for other people’s noble intentions and always look for the concrete motives hiding behind them.
There is, however, this fundamental difference between the Italians and most other people who use the family as their private lifeboat in the stormy seas of anarchy. Anarchy in Italy is not simply a way of life, a spontaneous creation of society, a natural development: it is also the deliberate product of man’s will, the fruit of his choice; it has been assiduously cultivated and strengthened down the centuries. The strength of the family is not only, therefore, the bulwark against disorder, but, at the same time, one of its principal causes. It has actively fomented chaos in many ways especially by rendering useless the development of strong political institutions. This, of course, brings up a complex problem: do political institutions flourish only where the family is weak, or is it the other way around? Does the family become self-sufficient only where the political institutions are not strong enough? However it may be, political institutions never had much of a chance in Italy. The people gave birth to but a few of them: they had to import most of them ready-made from abroad, from time to time…the constitution, the bi-cameral system, liberalism, democracy…
The family extracts everybody’s first loyalty. It must be defended, enriched, made powerful, respected and feared by the use of whatever means are necessary, legitimate means, if at all possible, or illegitimate…
There’s another passage from the chapter above, which strikes close to home:
One fundamental point which escapes most foreigners must be understood and remembered. Most Italians still obey a double standard. There is one code valid within the family circle, with relatives and honorary relatives, intimate friends and close associates, and there is another code regulating life outside. Within, they assiduously demonstrate all the qualities which are not usually attributed them by superficial observers: they are relatively reliable, honest, truthful, just, obedient, generous, disciplined, brave, and capable of self-sacrifices. They practice what virtues other men usually dedicate to the welfare of their country at large; the Italians’ family loyalty is their true patriotism. In the outside world, amidst the chaos and disorder of society, they often feel compelled to emply the wiles of underground fighters in enemy-occupied territory. All official and legal authority is considered hostile by them until proven friendly or harmless: if it cannot be ignored, it should be neutralized or deceived if need be.