In this, I think the masa has a more democratic outlook than the middle and upper classes. The masa votes for senators to be a thorn in the side of incumbent presidents. This is closer to the mark about the role the senate should play, in a presidential system, than the refusal of the supposedly more enlightened to see that the legislature has oversight and not merely legislative functions.
I was surprised to see young boys and girls in 20s and 30s, many of them barely out of college. And my goodness, they were all talking about “doing business’ and making money! In my time, we were all about “social engineering,” “social change,” and revolutions as if we knew what we were talking about.
Is a new ethos taking over? I hope so. It’s about time. If we want the country to move faster into the lane of progress (whatever that means), we should have more entrepreneurs in our midst. And its not only because of its positive economic impact, its also because the growth of the middle class is the surest path to political stability. Fareed Zakaria in “The Future of Freedom” said so. Francis Fukuyama (in his “The End of History”) said so. And of course, they are not the original guys to have said so. It was Aristotle who theorized about this long time ago. And I guess, the reason is simple: the middle class, especially the entrepreneurs have a stake in stability and order.
I am not convinced, though, completely, that the attitude represents something fundamentally new, or even daring; or to be more precise, it seems far too susceptible, still, to confusing form with substance.
Yesterday’s Inquirer editorial argues that the administration proposal to revive the Anti-Subversion Act, is misguided, because it views the law as a tool in crushing Communism, instead of what it originally was -a tool for keeping Communist movements from rising up again, after having been defeated in the first place.
As it is, Arroyo backpedals on subversion law, and it’s about time. A reading of the law, after all, serves as a reminder that it wouldn’t achieve the aims desired by the armed forces, as Amando Doronila argues. A thoroughgoing look at the law, how it fared in the face of repeated challenges before the courts, is in Scriptorium, who then gives a razor-sharp list of reasons why the law shouldn’t be reenacted:
To begin with, the Anti-Subversion Law, if re-enacted as originally phrased in the earlier statutes, would be legally “overbroad”, meaning that its scope would go beyond what is reasonable under the circumstances. Note that it makes mere membership in an ideological organization an offense if its official ideology espouses violence; but the problem is that membership and ideology are not monolithic phenomena. Not all “Communists”, for example, actively espouse the armed-struggle component of Marxist ideology–Marx himself waffled between seeking violent revolution and conceding that, in electoral democracies, peaceful revolution might be possible (proven, ironically enough, in 20th century America)–, and even revolutionary Marxists have proven willing to put the armed struggle in the backburner for strategic reasons. Leaving aside the somewhat tortuous history of Italian Communism, the best proof is German Socialism (co-founded by Engels), which adopted parliamentarism long before it formally rejected armed revolution. The same observation holds of our party-list groups, whose parliamentarism would be rendered nugatory by the Law.
Second, and in connection with the preceding, the Anti-Subversion Law, if re-enacted as it was originally phrased, would violate the equal-protection clause (Article III, Section 1, last clause) of the Bill of Rights. Under the clause, a person or group of persons cannot be treated differently from others in similar circumstances; or, otherwise stated, different treatment can be allowed only if, it is in line with substantial distinctions and are relevant (“germane”) to public interest, among other conditions. In non-legal language, a person can’t be treated differently from others without reason. Considering that the Anti-Subversion Law made no distinctions among the various kinds of ideology and manners of adherence, its re-enactment would end up treating parliamentarian Leftists and Islamists, for example, as though they were all terrorists, and differently from other parliamentarians–and this would violate equal protection.
Third, the Law if re-enacted would violate freedom of religion and conscience. As pointed out by the US Supreme Court in the free-exercise case of U.S. v. Seeger (380 US 163, 174-175, 184-185 ), freedom of religion protects not only Theist belief-systems like Christianity and Islam but also non-Theist systems like Buddhism, Marxism, and Secular Humanism, which–as argued by Paul Tillich in Dynamics of Faith–have the same “religious” function in human life. (On this point, see also P. Casarella’s brilliant article on Communio.) Mark you, I am not a Liberal, and I don’t believe that restrictions on belief, if there are sufficient reasons to impose them, are intrinsically wrong: Post-Hitler Germany, for instance, prohibits Nazi beliefs, and no one can blame them under the circumstances. However, under our Liberal system, freedom of belief cannot be restricted without “clear and present danger”, meaning that there must be a real danger to society that only restriction would answer; and considering the shift of the Left to parliamentarism, the impending accord with the Islamist MILF, and the weakness of the armed Right, no such danger seems to exist.
Of course Benito Mussolini wrote,
Was there ever a government in history that was based exclusively on the consent of the people and renounced any and every use of force? A government so constituted there never was and never will be. Consent is as changeable as the formation of the sands on the seashore. We cannot have it always. Nor can it ever be total. No government has ever existed which made all its subjects happy. Whatever solutions you happen to give to any problem whatsoever, even though you share the divine wisdom, you would inevitably create a class of malcontents…
How are you going to avoid that this discontent spread and constitute a danger for the solidarity of the state? You avoid it with force –by employing force inexorably where it is rendered necessary. Rob any government of force and leave it only with its immortal principles, and that government will be at the mercy of the first group that is organized and intent on overthrowing it.
But the problem is, a fascist dictator wrote the above. What sets apart a totalitarian from a democrat is the acknowledgment, on the democrat’s part, anyway, that there will always be a limit, however circumscribed in times of emergency, when a regime will have to dissolve itself, if demanded by the people. A basic attitude towards power, when held by the public and not despite public opinion, as totalitarians argue (for the good of the people, of course, they say).
As I mentioned in my column, Hearts and Minds (2005) and in my column Why Revolts Fail (2006), and Radical Yet Firmly Legal (2007), it is this constant need to revalidate the power given by the public to its leaders, that should be the primary concern and, indeed, obsession of governments that claim to be duly-constituted. As always, Mon Casiple zeroes in on what really deserves our attention:
The civilian leadership in Malacañang has painted itself into a corner. Its unprecedented unpopularity and the unremitting opposition to its questioned election has led it to depend more and more on an increasingly tenuous commander-in-chief powers over the military even as it made sure of its control over the civilian police forces. Money flows freely these days. In an irony of Philippine politics, the post-Marcos democracy is increasingly under siege by its own leaders through Marcosian tactics.
The current military pressure for a revival of the Anti-Subversion Law, the unrelenting phenomenon that is the military’s own Operation Phoenix, and even the military modernization scheme betray the military’s own agenda. This is quite apart and distinct from the over-all political framework of the peace process and the search for a lasting solution to the insurgency.
The post-Manila Pen situation indicates a new level of military politicization. Before this, it was the military intervening in politics or negotiating with civilian politicians for its own ends. It is now having illusions about its decisive role in regime change and becoming the nation’s leaders.
In his blog, Journal of the Jester-in-Exile is furious with the New People’s Army who recently claimed 3 casualties from the Philippine Marines in Palawan:
As the NPA terrorists have have refused to declare their own Christmas-season ceasefire for the past two years, the argument is that hostilities are still on (quite obviously, a ceasefire must be declared by both parties to be in effect), therefore soldiers remain to be legitimate targets for the NPA. I will concede that much to the idiot NPA sympathizers, that such a statement may be legitimate, but only as it is worded specifically (verba legis, for my fellow students of law).
However, it must be made clear that this attack was in contravention of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, of which the CPP-NPA-NDF is a signatory. Part IV, Articles 2 and 4 say that the CAHRIHL applies to, among others, “those taking no active part in the hostilities” (emphasis mine); Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), 8 June 1977, Part II, Article 1, paragraph 1, speaks of “All persons who do not take a direct part” in hostilities as well. With that, it is pretty clear that this NPA attack on UNARMED Marines, dressed in civvies and therefore were NOT ON NOR ON THEIR WAY TO a combat mission (they were on their way to church and the market), is nothing less than a dastardly and cowardly massacre.
A precedent has been established in which Chinese authorities have proven themselves willing to cancel longstanding commitments to harbor and support US military craft. Knowing this, American military planners will no longer design operations that require support from China. In certain scenarios, this may have the effect of limiting Washington’s freedom of action within multiple regions.
In the ongoing policy dialogue of Sino-American relations, a recurrent theme is the “responsible stakeholder” paradigm coined by Robert Zoellick. The paradigm asserts that China is benefiting tremendously from the global system, and as such has a responsibility to support that system. When China undertakes some action that is deleterious to the established order, critics charge that China is not behaving like a “responsible stakeholder.” When China undertakes some action that is supportive of the established order, proponents assert that China is making an effort and moving toward becoming a “responsible stakeholder” and, therefore, Western governments should exercise patience. The dialogue between the two camps is often colored by this language.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has stated that recent events were a natural reaction to US overtures, but this position is difficult to justify. One of the few respected rules of the sea is that when a vessel is in trouble (i.e. facing a storm or running low on fuel), assistance is provided first and details sorted out later. China violated this rule by denying assistance to the USS Patriot and USS Guardian. In future policy dialogues, references to this incident will certainly be manifest and may make the arguments of China’s critics more forceful than those of its advocates.
For constitutions are all about defining and upholding sovereignty. Any alteration to the constitution is also potentially a threat to constituted power: in the passage between constitutions, the state is temporarily ungrounded. Everything is up for grabs, however briefly. There’s no better example of that than the crisis currently affecting Bolivia, where even a hundred-year grievance over the site of the national capital has been thrown into the mix.
Meanwhile, the ongoing deadlock in Belgium, let alone the slow-motion catastrophe that is the process of European integration, both demonstrate that threats to constituted power abound as much in the North as in the South. We’re living in an era of global reconstitution.
And so the defeat of Venezuela’s proposed constitutional changes could be read as an affirmation of the country’s current (hardly any less chavista) constitution and current head of state. Indeed, that’s precisely how Châvez’s defenders have portrayed the situation: as an endorsement of the institutional mechanisms cemented in place by the 1999 constitution, from the National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral or CNE) to the clauses that regulate constitutional amendment itself.
In other words, at least at first sight, the rejection of the referendum is a victory for constituted power, and a defeat for constituent power.