«

»

Apr 20

The patriotism of the family

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.

PCIJ has been live blogging the event: see their coverage of Session 1, and Session 2, and Session 3 of yesterday’s conference proceedings (I gave a talk during Session 3).

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.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

26 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. ricelander

    “…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?”

    I think it’s a kind of progression– from the family-centered stage to the community-centered stage, to nation-centered stage, and so on and so forth. Much like cells merging with other cells to form a more complex living thing, families would sooner submit to the interest of the community through impartial institutions to become stronger and enduring. A strong family is an indication of social backwardness. The formation of a bigger, harmonious whole rests on the strength of institutions to which some family-centered values must give way. When institutions are weak, society naturally fragments because members would have to retreat to their shell which is the family, for self-preservation. In the end, the realization that there is greater benefit in an orderly society would compel members to strengthen their social institutions and abandon the old ways of family-centeredness. But I guess societies each have its unique development speed: some do it fast, some do it slow. Italy, like us, is on a slow lane, for sure.

  2. Karl Garcia

    Thank you bloggers for the pictures and the videos of the event. I hope to be there with you next year.

    I read the executive clemency article MLQ3.
    I am glad you reissued the article.

    I might have said in the previous post that no matter what her motives,she made the right move.

    That was an impulse reaction. It is sad to say that all of her moves are for her political survival.

    I stick to my guns that death penalty is not the answer for deterring crimes.

  3. Karl Garcia

    I also did not like her reasoning in one of her interviews that living in our jail system is punishment enough.

    That means that she is not for rehabilitating the inmates after all. She wants them to rot in hell in an environment unsuitable for humans.

    That interview was way back but I would want for her to dare say them again.

    http://www.santegidio.org/pdm/news2002/19_03_02_b.htm

  4. Karl Garcia

    Oops ,after reading the link, the link did not prove my point. She was made to appear tactful on print.

    But with the way I saw it on TV; and the way she said it, it is like saying:let them rot in hell instead of the death penalty.

  5. a de brux

    MLQ3,

    In his article “Abolishing the death penalty is justice and redemption for the poor” Father Shay Cullen of PREDA writes his approval of Gloria Arroyo’s sentence commutation of convicts awaiting capital punishment to life imprisonment.

    While I do not support capital punishment for some of the reasons that Father Cullen evokes in his article, I believe that Gloria Arroyo’s abrogating the death penalty to life imprisonment massively with one stroke of the pen virtually abolishing it is, as you say, an affront to justice. When she did that, she nullified court sentences that were based on the existing laws of the land for the sake of her own private moral convenience.

    It is my belief that while a head of state has the authority to commute death sentences or pardon death row convicts, the said head of state must promulgate such presidential authority without jeopardizing the rule of law in spirit if not in content.

    I strongly adhere to the principle that we must not waylay democratic processes embodied in the the rule of law just because a certain law goes against our personal moral convictions. For this reason, I believe Congress should re-examine the law on capital punishment and if it finds valid grounds to abolish the law altogether, then it should act and make capital punishment illegal.

    There should be no doubletalk or doublethink when it comes to nation’s laws and democratic processes provided for in the nation’s Constitution lest they create a democratic and legal vacuum in the daily lives of the country’s law-abiding citizens. The nation’s head of state must not circumvent these democratic processes just to please her own conscience.

  6. rego

    “That was an impulse reaction. It is sad to say that all of her moves are for her political survival.”

    But, Karl, isn’t that the way all politicians (particularly Filipino politicians) do? All for their own survival! If you look at the opposition, they have to talk endlessly to the media to make them visible in the name of “name recall” for the future election. Do you sicerely believe that Ping Lacson or Senator Pimentel and Jamby is doing all their exposes to put the nation ahead of their own agenda or political survival?

    On the other hand, it seems to me that Gloria has been doing so many unpopular decisions ( EVAT, charter change) risking her popularity, believeing that particular action is good for the country. Maybe her motive is to complete her term. But is doing “unpopular decision” the way to earn “pogi” points?

  7. rego

    ” 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.”

    And yet most pro opposition bloggers are complaining that there is no freedom of the press and expressions in our country……….

  8. Jon Mariano

    Rego, who said there was no freedom of the press in the Philippines? I thought what the mediamen were complaining about was about the unsolved deaths of media persons (used to silence and control the media), the muscling of media by withdrawal of government ads, PP1017 (putting guards in the Tribune).

  9. rego

    On overrated middles class by Manuel Buencamino.

    If the middle class really has no political clout? Then why the opposing side are so hellbent on courting (or lambasting for their their inaction) this particular sector of the nation? Why not the rich and the poor just totally ignore them and go on with their political fight? Di naman pala kailangan ang middles class eh…..

    ( ha ha ha Im on a roll… this is what i got for going to bed so early in the city that never sleeps)

  10. a de brux

    MLQ3, John,

    Re: “…why the opposing side are so hellbent on courting (or lambasting for their their inaction) this particular sector of the nation?”

    I suppose the so-called opposing side wishes to tickle pink the likes of the “inactive” middle class, to get them rolling into action before they die of extreme boredom or lack of whatever …

  11. dirk pitt

    “And yet most pro opposition bloggers are complaining that there is no freedom of the press and expressions in our country……….”

    If one is not a pro-Gloria blogger, is he a pro-opposition blogger???

  12. Doubting_Thomas

    Re #9: I find Mr. Buencamino’s analysis of the current political situation a little too simplistic and a number of sweeping assertions are made without any explanation or supporting data. The middle class values stability over everything else? What then of the role of the middle class in Estrada’s ouster? Are the poor really natural allies of reformers and revolutionaries? Why would they be?

  13. Phil Cruz

    Blogging is great. What a way to engage others in active conversations and debates on the web.

    What a way for the ordinary citizens to express one’s frustrations and anger at government’s ineptness and abuses. What a way to get involved in the protest movements without getting one’s head clobbered and bloodied.

    But wait a minute. Could blogging be one of the reasons why there isn’t much middle class attendance in street protests anymore? Is the middle class now just glued to their computers and simply content with just letting off steam through blogging? Could blogging have served as a safety valve and soothed and lulled the middle class…to the benefit of this already teetering administration? Hmm…

  14. a de brux

    Phil Cruz, funny you said that… I expressed similar sentiments a couple of months ago, I think in Philippine Commentary or in Ricky Carandang’s blog.

  15. rego

    “If one is not a pro-Gloria blogger, is he a pro-opposition blogger??? ”

    Not really, Pitt! The same way that non pro oppostion bloggers are all pro Mrs Arroyo…

  16. Karl Garcia

    Anna,

    I recall that you also said the point raised by Phil. I think it was in both blogs that you mentioned them (i don’t know really).

    Rego,
    You maybe right in a sense that all politicians exist for poiltical survival as to all humans exist to survive… but by saying that all exposes are for that sole purpose, would be oversimplification for me.

    You may agree with me or not,but I think the fertilizer scam investigation was not initiated for mere grandstanding by sen. Magsaysay.
    I need not say more.
    Granting it is

  17. Karl Garcia

    re my comment 16…
    I forgot to erase the last part kaya ang weird ng dulo

  18. a de brux

    Karl,

    The Tanadas are some of the politicians who do not exist merely for political survival but for a noble purpose or a moral motive: serve the nation and serve it well.

  19. Karl Garcia

    Amen to that Anna!

  20. Phil Cruz

    Anna,

    Re your Comment #14,it’s nice to know we’re on the same wavelength on “blogging’s possible lulling effect”.

    But, of course, the exchange of ideas and opinions through blogging still serves a great purpose. Can you imagine if all of a sudden for whatever reason blogging is no longer allowed?! We’d be back in the streets! Hmm…that would not be good for this administration, would it?

  21. rego

    “I suppose the so-called opposing side wishes to tickle pink the likes of the “inactive” middle class, to get them rolling into action before they die of extreme boredom or lack of whatever”

    Well let them pay they consequneces of their actions or lack of it. Let them suffer or die of extreme boredom! If that whats they deserve….

  22. pingkian

    “Could blogging be one of the reasons why there isn’t much middle class attendance in street protests anymore?”

    Perhaps for some. However, many active bloggers are likewise active in street protest and political organizing and mobilization. I believe that organized groups/coalitions like B&W (Bisig, Akbayan, Partidong Manggagawa, Sanlakas, Pandayan, SD and Rejectionist), the BAYAN-GSM/KMLG/PMAP-UMDJ-FPJMP have the capacity to mobilize at least 70,000 people in less than a week notice. This could swell to 200,000 to 500,000 on the second day and up to more than a million on the third day with enough funding and active support of religious groups like the Catholic Church and JIL political parties like UNO, PMP, PDP-Laban, Be not Afraid Movement, and big blocks in LP, NP, and LDP, and the unorganized or unaffiliated middle class. A critical segment in the military is waiting for clear signals from the people for them to move. I also think that INC and El Shaddai can be swayed to our side to support the Gloria Resign or Step Down movement. There is existing/ongoing communication among all of these groups, though coordination and harmonizing campaign activities are still much to be desired. The middle class are restive and some are apolitical, but they are watching. They just can’t risk joining rallies without certain level of confidence that people power can succeed.

    But what seems to be the main problem? The answer is CPR (rallies are being dispersed and protesters are being blocked even before they can enter Metro Manila. GLORIA and her apologist have learned better than us from previous People Power (EDSA 1, 2 & 3). I still believe, that the legitimacy of GLORIA will not be resolved by purely legal or judicial processes. The opposition is still divided, but I believe this can be resolved by a snap election as it should be. An impeachment process may help, but it can only succeed by a STRONG public pressure. Aside from impeachment, other pending issues in the SC (People’s Initiative/Charter Change) if handled properly, can serve as triggers for as successful people power.

  23. a de brux

    Phil,

    Ugh!

    If ever blogging in the Philippines becomes verbotten, Gloria will have serious trouble on her hands which would come not only from bloggers in Pinas but from millions of bloggers the world over – American bloggers alone will have the capacity to blog her to the ground or “bloguillotinize” her – Heheh!

    Ask MLQ3 how he would feel if all of a sudden, he was told that he couldn’t blog anymore! Sacré de plus sacré des sacré bleus!!!!!

  24. rego

    “But what seems to be the main problem? The answer is CPR (rallies are being dispersed and protesters are being blocked even before they can enter Metro Manila. GLORIA and her apologist have learned better than us from previous People Power (EDSA 1, 2 & 3). I still believe, that the legitimacy of GLORIA will not be resolved by purely legal or judicial processes. The opposition is still divided, but I believe this can be resolved by a snap election as it should be. An impeachment process may help, but it can only succeed by a STRONG public pressure. Aside from impeachment, other pending issues in the SC (People’s Initiative/Charter Change) if handled properly, can serve as triggers for as successful people power.”

    Oh common, pingkian! we all know that that during peopel power I, Marcos has all the power to disperes the crowd. And its stronger and has more teeth than CPR. But People power happen. WWhen will you ever accept the reality that people doesn’t want to udo Peopel Power anymore to remove the president? And that is the only reason why Mrs Arroyo is still in power until now. Kung milyon milyon talga ng tao na dumagsa sa EDSA. May magagw ba ang CPR ni Mrs Arroyo. Effective lang ang CPR sa mga kokonting crowd, pero kung yung mag binabanggit mong mga grupo ay talagnag may kakayanan na humakaot ng milyong milyong tao sa kalsada may maggawa ba ang CPR, kaya ba ng PNP ang na idisperse ang milyong milyong tao? Wala ng ang people power! kaya gawan na lang nag paraan na matuloy ang impeachment. After all yan naman talaga ang nakasasaad sa saligang batas eh.

  25. pingkian

    Yes rego, we all know what happened during PP1. I was there. Marcos was even more powerful then than GLORIA. The gathering at EDSA in February 22, 1986 started very small, even fewer than five thousand (5,000), the few who first responded to Late Cardinal Sin’s and Butz Aquino call came in small groups. The crowd only started to swell in late afternoon to early evening, when the big organized groups marching from Morayta to Cubao to Santolan, others came from Guadalupe and others from Ortigas arrived, but Marcos didn’t order his police and military to disperse us right there and then. The crowd reached to around a million people on the 23rd of February ‘86. Marcos was caught unprepared to handle the situation. Marcos, his police and military Generals even have to truck and bus in soldiers and the police and to send tanks from the provinces to quell and disperse the people, but was unwilling to spill blood. We were more determined and militant then and we were prepared to hang tough and even die. The rest were history.

    GLORIA and her ilk have the benefit of hindsight and have learned well from them. She wouldn’t allow our disgust, frustrations, and anger to implode. Hence, she issued CPR – block all entry and exit points, do not issue rally permits, disperse rallies as early as possible, arrest people who would persist. She may allow some rallies, but they have to be dispersed before night fall. She wants to project that she’s in control. She wants to us to believe that we are no match to her and that there are no alternative to her. She wants us to surrender to her whims and to move on. Hey guys, SHE’S ROBBING US OF OUR HOPE and OUR FUTURE. But I firmly believe that we will overcome; GLORIA will be deposed.

  26. mortgage refinance

    Si eres cualquier cosa como mí, odias el pensamiento del gasto cuarenta horas a la semana en un trabajo del punto muerto. Las luces fluorescentes de zumbido, la gerencia idiota, el hecho de que necesitas despertar doloroso temprano – el único alto punto son que viene viernes cada semana. Dije tan a me, allí me consigo ser una manera mejor. ¡Una cierta manera de hacer el dinero que me deja fijar mis propias horas y hacer una cantidad cómoda del dinero!

Leave a Reply