Monday, 9 November 2015



Notes on those who yearned for "benevolent despotism"
to take in place of "Democracy"

by Kat Ulrike

"Desiplina," "Diseplina", "Deseplena".

These is one of the words commonly spoken by mistypped nostalgics and order obsessed fanatics in social media, and that word is more than just insisting discipline. For what they want at first is an order based on their "cherished pasts" and nothing else.

In reading their comments, or perhaps their misttyped words and its exaggerations, this person would say that they wanted an era that deemphasise "Democracy" and focused much on order like any other governments of the past. Most of them hated poverty and corruption, but instead of mobilising they prefer forcing people to get contented knowing that to assert beyond parameters is but a disordlerly noise, while favouring letting the issue be ameliorated by persons "capable to resolve" such as a statesperson.
Otherwise, these people insist that hard work alone is enough, that "change" is coming from "themselves" and nothing else, frustrations of self-made beings in a society marred by rising costs of goods and services, low purchasing power, corruption and gross negligence and mismanagement of state machinery that requires cooperation and struggle. And that idea is somehow reminiscent of the door at Auschwitz in letting these people consistently reminding them: "Arbeit Nacht Frei", in work brings life.

Like Thailand during the era of Sarit Thanarat, of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Shahanshah Reza Pahlavi,  or even the Philippines' own Ferdinand Marcos, people have wanted a strongman not just a leader, a boss rather than a head of state, a person that embodies fear as it represents the nation and its people, with the guts to go beyond the law just to keep things in order. That person may babble democracy and freedom the way it does developmental projects, but that democracy and freedom of sorts may likely be a facade as the regime emphasises fear in the name of discipline. Development may be given, not as a national task but more of a benevolence like any other feudal despot who afforded to take pride in its numerous projects and decrees described as "emancipative" in a way Ferdinand Marcos described his admnistration as "revolutionary" and his government situated at the "center" rather than "above" the Volksgemeinschaft (folk community). as what he said:

 “Government in a democracy, stands at the center of ─ not above─ the political community. It governs, and the men in government may constitute a governing class, but only in the democratic sense that the masses, sovereign as they are, cannot govern.” 

More than anything else, Marcos wanted to stress a "Liberal", "Democratic", "Peaceful" kind of "revolution", a stark contrast to the kind of violent "Jacobin" revolution aimed at the existing government and seeking for its overthrow. In fact, what really Marcos is trying to insist “Revolution from the Center” was nothing more but a revolution undertaken by the existing government itself, but in reality a dictatorship trying to appear "Democratic" unlike Thanarat who eschewed Democracy and Liberalism in favour of a rabid Benevolent Despotism.
And that somehow makes apologetics in social media agree to it The state should handle the issue and provide anything while making people "shut up" from criticising state insufficiencies, injustices, repression, and be "in order" so as to curry outside investments and focusing much on "development" that is enough to take pride on in its media centre. Remember: During Martial Rule, strikes and invoking anti-government criticism to those of long haired guys and rumour mongering are not allowed as it equates to disorder.  

And to think that as leaders and adherents continue to insist terms like "discipline" and "order", what kind of discipline and order they are talking about? Is it the discipline of the camps? Order based from total fear? Most commentators this person had sought and read may have wanted a leader who is better to be feared than loved, for "to be if you cannot be both" as what Machiavelli said. Nothing is wrong in insisting discipline and order particularly to a developing nation, but in this person's observation maybe their perception of order may likely involved "having no questions asked" in imposing certain decrees or undertaking projects no matter it infringes the law. Maybe these commentators looked at the examples of so-called paternalistic societies for an inspiration, be it Lee Kwan Yew's Singapore or perhaps Saud's Saudi Arabia with all its strictest "theocratic" laws and various "modernising" projects, but on the other hand, Filipinos have a perchance in American-style "rugged individualism", hence, isn't it that contradicting? Some, if not most of them babble about "self-initiative" that as if a panacea for social ills, that they insist that hard work alone is enough to resolve the crisis and to bring change, without any protection at all from the state nor solidarity from its fellowmen thinking that "change" is coming from "themselves alone" and nothing else, frustrations of self-made beings in a society marred by rising costs of goods and services, corruption and gross negligence and mismanagement of state machinery.

But Nonetheless, their words is all but a frustration to return to their glorious "imaginative" pasts where order means a sound sleep and less interference, wherein not believing is anathema what more of opposing.

And maybe they will still speak about democracy while few of them really wanted a return to "tradition" with paternalism as its foundations. Again, nothing is wrong in having an orderly society, a disciplined populace, but wanting an order and discipline based from total fear rather as in the past rather aggravates the age-old situation, of injustice that is creeping behind the modern-day fa├žade.