Friday, 4 August 2017

Dutertism: revolutionary or counterreactionary?

Dutertism: is it revolutionary or counterreactionary?

Notes after Rodrigo Duterte's authoritarian-populist actions
if not an imitation of past authoritarian despots in a modern
yet still third world setting




Initially known for his arsenic statements and bloodied trails, Rodrigo Duterte has been the darling of the common Filipino. With his iron-fisted stance towards crime and some populist reforms, it seems that the president has been trying to do "carrot and stick" tactics enough to "restore order" and to create an example not just in his country but also in the Asian region.
This year every country have done him both homage and criticism, seeing him as an examplar of the Alternative Right and a scourge for the desperate Liberals.

However, amidst this popularity, this person and others concerned sought his sudden and dramatic rise as similar to Mussolini, with all his sentiments and promises, only to found out that the Duterte everyone adored and criticised is nonetheless similar to Engelbert Dollfuss, or even Antonio Salazar, or any other caudillo whose authoritarian-like conservatism is well hidden underneath in the sheet called populism.

Sorry for the comparisons between the Asiatic and of the pre-and-wartime leaders from Europe, but Filipinos are closely tied to the west when it comes to socio-economic and foreign policies to the extent that there is no other difference like any other banana republics the west afforded to coddle; but like most of the pre-and-wartime leaders people afforded to admire and praise, most of Duterte's speeches and actions are extraordinarily unsophisticated behind its frankness. He does listen to both left-wingers like Taguiwalo or Mariano although mostly heeds the appeals and suggestions of Dominguez, Lorenzana, Ano, and other personages from past administrations; he does support programs meant first to consolidate his rule behind the words "change" and "inclusiveness"; but, When he speaks himself, he is tense, awkward, overworked, sincere. There is no pomp or cant in him.

But then, his supporters are still thinking that he is a perfect person to rule besides the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. As an observer, the president's brand of populism is rooted in the idea of a iron-fisted peace and order, that his arsenic statement and bloodied conclusions against his enemies are justified as if a catharsis; but, in regards to his economic and even its social policies, it seems that Duterte is doing a rehash of past policies, of course with different names and themes enough to differentiate with those of past administrations; intensified by the ruralism of its supporters.

And according to the Ruben Garcia's "Filipino Nationalism under Dutertismo", it stated that:

"Ruralism is an idea formed by a nostalgia. City life, especially in Metro Manila where everything seems to be out of joint, creates a nostalgia for the good old times where food is a matter of going to the local market or asking people what they have to share. Ruralism is a nostalgia in response to the perceived decadence of urban life."

Like Portugal's Salazar, various infrastructures been building ranging from roads to bridges and flyovers, that raw material exports continue in exchange for processed imports from abroad, what more that conservatism is its ruling social policy with all its Christian-based orientations. Like Korea's Park, remittances from the Filipino diaspora remains one of the important pillars to stay afloat the struggling economy. And like Lee Kwan Yew, tries to be pragmatic when it comes to foreign and economic policies, and at times intervenes markets and accommodates outside capital.

But, like his predecessors, Duterte rather still-toyed the idea of industrialisation knowing that these self-sustaining kind of economic reforms advocated by some elements which were successfully implemented under similar circumstances in developing countries, were rejected out of fear that industrialisation would destabilize the country "thanks to those so-called oligarchs", if not having lost potential in regards to manufacturing in general. Conservatives, both Filipino and Foreign, agreed to that kind of view that the country has to depend on imports, outside capital (both investments and remittances), and limiting the manufacturing sector into semiprocessed goods, as well as tourism is if "really where the Philippines can out do many" given that Filipinos are naturally hospitable if not actually having disdain in a full-blown industrialisation, describing it as "passe"in favour of remittances from the diaspora, raw and semi-processed exports, and direct foreign investment.


A revolutionary dream or a counterreactionary reality?

Reasonable indeed how Duterte can be compared to these late foreign rulers besides of his own predecessors given their economic polices of the past has been doing so in today's Philippines, both to create an atmosphere of development and to curry further both domestic and foreign captial; but, back to the main topic, Duterte, being an Asiatic counterpart to the ones from the West and a non-western examplar for the Alternative Right, is more of a living remnant of a past: a caudillo who tries to consolidate his rule both by carrot and stick, who tries to appear himself progressive, a moderniser of sorts yet actually acts like any other conservative with some followers trying to insist the regime's beneficence, or . Like Mussolini who was a once socialist, Duterte self-proclaimingly described as a socialist and as a left-winger who promised numerous "revolutionary changes"; while at the same time like Engelbert Dollfuss, as he is surrounded by neoliberal and conservative, militarist elements similar to Mises, Schuschnigg, and Stahremberg; And these are in a form of personages like Dominguez, Tugade, Esperon, Ano, and Lorenzana.
But the difference between Duterte and other authoritarians is this: he afforded to deal with the left both in a positive and in a negative manner. He did appointed left-wing cabinet secretaries who end sidelined by the Commission on Appointments, much more that he himself through some of his statements and actions expressed in a negative light towards the left, ranging from cuss words against his former professor and communist party founder Jose Maria Sison, to those of scrapping the peace process in favour of "flattening the hills"- zones controlled by the communists.

Awkward isn't it? In seeing a Filipino president acting in a manner of a caudillo, a cacique, a feudal lord whose fanatics be like paying homage so badly. He would have eschewed democracy like the late Thailand's Thanarat, or stressing order like Greece's Ionnides, but, being a strongman emphasises much of retaining order while at the same time creating an atmosphere wherein "change", "reform", or even "restructuring" as gradually undergoing. It may appear socially oriented, but, it turns out to be driven by upholding the status quo and economic in its very orientation.
And in speaking of that late Austrian dictator, Dollfuss’s authoritarian policies were in his view only a quick fix to safeguard Austria’s independence—unsuitable in the long run, especially if the general political mentality did not change” (H├╝lsmann 2007: 683–684). And if correct, then that Libertarian Mises saw that Authoritaian Dollfuss and his form of fascism in much the same way as Mussolini’s in spite of its obvious conservatism as different from Mussolini''s assuming radicalism: as an “emergency makeshift.” It was also the same Mises who contended that the violence and authoritarianism of fascism had been provoked by the equally violent and brutal nature of revolutionary socialism:

“The deeds of the Fascists and of other parties corresponding to them were emotional reflex actions evoked by indignation at the deeds of the Bolsheviks and Communists. As soon as the first flush of anger had passed, their policy took a more moderate course and will probably become even more so with the passage of time” (Mises 1978: 49).

And frankly speaking, Duterte's clique, mostly coming from past regimes, did shared that kind of thought brought about by Mises, that through a system-sponsored catharsis pointing against the anti-order has to be enacted no matter how bloodied it is, as if it leads to order and stability, and "can become moderate" as that order restores its stability. That the recent killing of drug-dealing personages, statements like "flattening the rebel-infested hills with aerial bombings", and its martial rule over Mindanao are examples of that flush of anger in which his followers agreed upon to it as if "this brings order no matter what how bloody it would be." If that's the case then that kind of justice that doesn't require due processes is but a "justicia de gatillo", whose power rather comes from the barrel of the gun.
And the motive behind that "justicia de gatillo" is not just to create an atmosphere of stability, justice, and peace according to its apologists and unrepentant supporters, nor even create numerous radical changes the way its red counterparts took guns and assert numerous, revolutionary changes; but rather an atmosphere of fear and silence, enough to create conditions for a compradore-landlord sided kind of "development", whose supporters sees it in a positive sight as if it is revolution itself-a revolution using that kind of "rule of law" that maintained rather that status quo!

Again, according to Garcia:

"Today, the nostalgia for the Martial law years reverberates in the outbursts of nationalisms that decry the decadence of contemporary cosmopolitan life. Disobedience to authority, rebelliousness, apathy, consumerism and so on are highlighted as repulsive values of the urban life. To counteract this, nationalism(s) revolve around the mystification of the past of rural Filipinos who cooperated with their leaders for the betterment of society, regardless of political color. In this case, market society offers a level playing ground upon which traditional values must inform the relations between people while at the same maintaining a highly permissive workplace. Hence, one can complain about work and at the same time obey with commitment. The organic unity of society is sustained by perceivable enemies: drug addicts, drug pushers, rebellious students, decadent bourgeois thinking and so on are seen as external bodies that disturb the harmonious flow of the organic body, the removal of which guarantees the continued healthy lifestyle.

Let it be called as a "rule of law" and a "restoration of order" no matter how repressive it is, but given the reality of what the regime goes on, that the downtrodden continues to be maligned and accused just because some are using drugs, or denied of homes and  arable lands, of being submissive to various interests both domestic and abroad, then sorry to say, but it intensifies conflicts, if not thinking that kind of law isn't law at all but creating a scenario wherein behind that illusion of order and progress lies discontent.

Or to paraphrase Allen Severino's: 

"That this Caesar, the murderer of the Republic of oligarchs, is but a paper tiger in the end whose rule is dependent on a laughable excuse of discipline and societal reinvigoration that like his persona, will collapse like a house of cards once this illusion of aura fades away with his dissolution."

Remember: it was during Dollfuss when a civil war against the social democrats began, followed by a putsch led by the Austrian Nazis that led to his demise (and replaced by a weak Schuschnigg followed by an Anschluss with Hitler's Germany); it was also during Salazar when dissidents like Humberto Salgado and Bishop Antonio Ferreira Gomes spoke against the prime minister because of his unjust social policies (in spite of Salazar's social catholicism); or even Korea's Park, who, in spite of his "achievements", end killed by the bullets of the KCIA.
These personages whom Duterte and his supporters maybe have looked upon for an inspiration for a pseudo-corporatist setup utilising authoritarianism with a populist appeal (besides Marcos); if not a person who has the guts to be above the law "in order to uphold the law" (sounds F├╝hrerprinzip) yet, with the realities such as prevailing narcopolitics and its bloodied responses, attempts to quash dissent by carrot and stick, and capitulation to interests whilst parroting patriotic sentiments, hath made its own brand of nationalism same as his predecessors: shallow and meant to appease tourists if not children.

And not wonder why there are still rebels continue to fight in order to make numerous revolutionary change happen. Change is truly coming, but from the people themselves and not from a single person and its clique who at first sworn to protect the status quo.