Especially interesting to me is that it took digging around by Inquirer’s research department, and access to Lloyd’s database, for this story to emerge, when it should have been front and center from day one. And the reason it wasn’t -if you’ve noticed, letters to the editor basically supplemented original reports of the number of Sulpicio-related sea accidents- surely has everything to do with the slovenly way our government agencies maintain records. This is fruitful grounds for Congressional action but… the legislature is no paragon of record-keeping itself.
Unfortunately for policy makers, different weaponry is called for to vanquish the two heads of the stagflation dragon. Recession can be held at bay by lowering interest rates, while inflation is usually tamed by raising interest rates. Given the impossibility pursuing both courses of action simultaneously, priorities come into play. Historically, inflation has been considered the greater long term economic menace, and has therefore been dealt with first.
This was the plan of attack successfully mapped out by President Ronald Reagan and US Fed Chairman Paul Volcker in the 1980s. With the president’s political backing, Volcker was able to kill stagflation with a short but heavy dose of double-digit interest rates. With the stable currency and low inflation that resulted, the stage was then set for a sustained and robust economic expansion.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has recognized the stagflation threat for some time. But rather than studying the playbook of Volcker and Reagan, his gaze rests on events 40 years earlier. A well-known student of the financial history the 1930s, Bernanke is well aware that when the same beast raised its head following the Crash of 1929, the Fed rapidly raised interest rates. His conclusion was that this overreaction magnified the recession of 1930 into the Great Depression of the ensuing decade.
Scared stiff that these events could repeat themselves on his watch, Bernanke is loath to push up rates. In so doing, he is ignoring the much more recent and equally instructive lessons of the 1970s, in which a politically cowed Federal Reserve stood by while inflation raged uncontrollably.
The French Revolution gave us the metric system and, along the way, the blueprint for the abolition of monarchy and its replacement with a constitutional, republican regime. And one of its seminal documents was the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
It’s interesting that Jose Rizal set out to translate the Déclaration des Droits de l’homme et du citoyen du 26 août 1789 into Tagalog, which clearly suggests he felt it to be one of those seminal documents necessary for the public instruction of the citizenry. According to Ambeth Ocampo, it’s in Escritos Varios or Escritos Politicos de Rizal, under the title Manga Karapatan ng Tao.
The representatives of the French people, formed into a National Assembly, considering that ignorance, neglect or scorn of the rights of man to be the only causes of national misfortunes and the corruption of governments, have resolved to set out, in a solemn Declaration, the natural, unalienable and sacred rights of man,
so that this Declaration, always present to all members of society, reminds them constantly of their rights and their duties;
so that the acts of the legislative power and those of the executive power, being able to be compared at every moment with the aim of the whole political institution, should have greater respect for that aim;
so that the demands of the citizens, founded henceforth on simple and indisputable principles, are always oriented to conserving the Constitution and to the happiness of everybody.
Consequently , the National Assembly acknowledges and declares, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and of the citizen:
First Article – Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions can be based only upon benefit for the community.
Article 2 – The aim of every political association is the preservation of the natural rights of man, which rights must not be prevented. These rights are freedom, property, security and resistance to oppression.
Article 3 – The fundamentals of sovereignty has its origins essentially in the Nation. No organisation, nor individual, may exercise any authority that does not expressly come from there.
Article 4 – Liberty consists in being able to do anything that does not harm other people. Thus, the exercise of the natural rights of each man has only those limits that that ensure to the other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights. These limits may be determined only by the law.
Article 5 – The law has only the right to forbid those actions that are detrimental to society. Anything that is not forbidden by law may not be prevented, and none may be compelled to do what the law does not require.
Article 6 – The law is the expression of the collective wishes of the public. All citizens have the right to contribute, personally or through their representatives, to the forming of the law. The law must be the same for all, whether it protects or it punishes. All citizens, being equal in its eyes, shall be equally eligible for all important offices, positions and public employments, according to their ability and without other distinction than that of their qualities and talents.
Article 7 – No man can be accused, arrested or detained except in the cases determined by the law, and according to the methods that the law has stipulated. Those who pursue, distribute, enforce, or cause to be enforced, arbitrary orders must be punished; but any citizen summoned, or apprehended in accordance with the law, must obey immediately: he makes himself guilty by resisting.
Article 8 – The law must introduce only punishments that are strictly and indisputably necessary; and no one may be punished except in accordance with a law instituted and published before the offence is committed, and legally applied.
Article 9 – Because every man is presumed innocent until he has been declared guilty, if it should be considered necessary to arrest him, any force beyond the minimum necessary to arrest and imprison the person will be treated with severely.
Article 10 – No-one should be harassed for his opinions, even religious views, provided that the expression of such opinions does not cause a breach of the peace as established by law.
Article 11 – The free communication of thought and opinions is one of the most precious rights of man. Any citizen can therefore speak, write and publish freely; however, they are answerable for abuse of this freedom as determined by law.
Article 12 – Guaranteeing the rights of man and of the citizen requires a public force. This force is therefore established for the benefit of all, and not for the particular use of those to whom it is entrusted.
Article 13- For the maintenance of the public force, and for administrative expenses, a common tax is necessary. It must be spread in similar fashion among all citizens, in proportion to their capability.
Article 14 – All citizens have the right to verify for themselves, or through their representatives, the necessity for the public tax. They further have the right to grant the tax freely, to watch over how it is used, and to determine its amount, the basis for its assessment and of its collection, and its duration.
Article 15 – Society has the right to ask a public official for an explication of his management and supervision.
Article 16 – Any society in which the guarantee of rights is not ensured, nor a separation of powers is worked out, has no Constitution.
Article 17 – Property, being an inviolable and sacred right, no one may be deprived of it; unless public necessity, legally investigated, clearly requires it, and just and prior compensation has been paid.
How very far off we are, in terms of achieving what these 18th Century Frenchmen envisioned not only for themselves, but for all humanity.
For the French peasants and workers had not been taught, like the English, to follow their landlords and employers. It had always been the policy of the French government to detach the people from the privileged classes and to maintain direct control of them through the Intendant and the Cura. They lived their own life in their communes and guilds and looked for guidance not to the nobles and the rich merchants but to the ultimate sources of all authority — the King and the Church. And hence, though they had little class consciousness in the modern sense, they had a strong national consciousness which had found expression hitherto in their loyalty to the King and their devotion to the Church. Now, however, everything conspired to shake their confidence and disturb their faith. Ever since the death of Louis XIV they had seen the higher powers at war among themselves; Jansenists and Jesuits, Church and Parlements, the government and the magistrates; and more recently the continual succession of reforms and counter-reforms, such as the abolition and re-establishment of the Corporations and the changes that produced the rises of prices and periodic crises of unemployment and food shortage, caused an increasing feeling of insecurity and discontent. There were the disorders and the revolutionary agitation of the last two years, the sinister rumors of treachery in high places, and finally the appeal of the King to the nation by the summoning of the States General and the extraordinary democratic forms of election which exceeded the demand of the reformers themselves.
All these factors combined to rouse popular feeling as it had not been roused since the days of the League. The deeps were moved. Behind the liberal aristocrats and lawyers who formed the majority of the States General, there lay the vast anonymous power that had made the monarchy and had been in turn shaped by it, and now it was to make the Revolution. To the liberal idealists – to men like Lafayette and Clermont Tonnerre, to the Abbe Fauchet and the orators of the Gironde, the Revolution meant the realization of the ideals of the Enlightenment, liberty and toleration, the rights of men and the religion of humanity. They did not see that they were on the edge of a precipice and that the world they knew was about to be swallowed up in a tempest of change which would destroy both them and their ideals. “Woe unto you, who desire the day of the Lord. It is darkness and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand upon the wall and a serpent bit him”; they were a doomed generation, fated to perish at first by ones and twos, and then by scores and hundreds and thousands, on the scaffold, in the streets and on the battlefield. For as the Revolution advanced it gradually revealed the naked reality that had been veiled by the antiquated trappings of royalty and tradition — the General Will — and it was not the benevolent abstraction which the disciples of Rousseau had worshipped but a fierce will to power which destroyed every man and institution that stood in its way. As de Maistre wrote, the will of the people was a battering ram with twenty million men behind it.
A subsequent passage illuminates, too, the problem with Year Ones and Year Zeros, of New Societies and those who aspire to raze and refashion entire societies:
But if it was a time of freedom and hope, it was also a time of illusion. The Constituent Assembly went to work in a mood of boundless optimism without any regard for the facts of history or the limitations of time and place, in the spirit of their arch theorist Sieyès, who said that the so-called truths of history were as unreal as the so-called truths of religion. When their work was finished, Cerutti declared that they had destroyed fourteen centuries of abuses in three years, that the Constitution they had made would endure for centuries, and that their names would be blessed by future generations. Yet before many months had elapsed their work was undone and their leaders were executed, imprisoned or in exile. They had destroyed what they could not replace and called up forces that they could neither understand nor control. For the liberal aristocracy and bourgeoisie were not the people, and in some respects they were further from the people than the nobles and clergy who remained faithful to the old order. On the one hand there were the vast inarticulate masses of the peasantry who were ready to burn the castles of the nobles but who were often equally ready to fight with desperate resolution for their religion. On the other hand there was the people of the communes, above all the Commune of Paris.
The Commune of Paris would, of course, keep throwing up barricades in an attempt to return to the republicanism of the Revolution. The France of 1789 and of 1870 (the Paris Commune) are commemorated in two songs detested by the Right: the French national anthem and the Internationale, anthem of Socialists, Communists, and Anarchists.
The Marseillaise has ferocious lyrics, which may explain the unease it inspired in regimes wary of the republicanism established by the French. My favorite examples: the Czar of Russia, manifesting a new alliance with France, shocking his fellow monarchs by standing at attention while the French anthem was played; years later, when Lenin arrived in Russia after years of exile, a band played the French national anthem; in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (and mention has to be made here of Beethoven’s extremely jolly Wellington’s Victory which showed how a national anthem could be woven into a crowd-pleasing piece of bombast), and in fiction, see this marvelous paper, Bogart’s Nod in the Marseillaise Scene: A Physical Gesture in Casablanca.
The Chinese also pay ritual Socialist homage to the song, in this case, beginning with the original French version and then shifting to Chinese, complete with large scale rhythmic clapping (not very different from this 1965 version in the same hall):
A Chinese heavy metal version!
Which is nice n’ rhythmic, but this other (truncated) version which mixes the rock version, which begins with Mao proclaiming the People’s Republic at the Gate of Heavenly Peace, then shifts to creepy Cultural Revolution iconography, is enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine:
And of course, there’s a version in Filipino (an old revolutionary once tried to explain to me the nuances of the various versions floating around, one apparently belonging to the Huks, the other to the CCP, and woe unto any radical singing the wrong version in the wrong company: I wonder what this video set to a photo of the Great Helmsman with Imeldific is all about?): but so you know what all the Socialist, Communist, and Anarchist fervor’s about, here’s a version in English: