Page 1

the sword the up political society review of political science ACADEMIC YEAR 2015-2016


FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Herby Jireh M. Esmeralda Editor-in-Chief Adrian Carlo C. Manlangit Deputy Editor for Externals Vienne Rose G. Delmonte Contributing Editor Contributing Writers Mareane Mabel Chavez Reiner S. Gallardo Christine Joy L. Galunan Rodolfo L. Lahoy Jr. Maria Elize H. Mendoza Ryan Ralph X. Nicolas Alphonse G. Samson Mark Ernest E. Mandap Deputy Editor for Internals Marqz Verone V. Olivar Contributing Editor for Internals Marc Cedric N. Dela Cruz Layout Artist

In a dire search for conflict resolution and as our practice has given rise to the pursuit of stability, I will carry on what my forerunner Editor-in-Chief, Edcel John A. Ibarra had aspired for our dearest official publication, The Sword. In other words, I will maintain the demarcation of the Internal and External issues so as to prolong their exclusive purposes with the former being concerned with the makings and undertakings of our organization in the academic year 2015-2016 and the latter with the analyses and explorations of our members by using and fusing literature and political science as media. To a large extent, this year’s external issue presents selected collective academic articles from our members and alumni for the on-going political discourse in the first release of this publication. It features the fundamental areas of the UP Diliman Department of Political Science curriculum with this particular production focusing on Philippine politics, political theory, comparative politics, and international relations. These themes have been freely referred by students of political science in this university as “core” subjects of this discipline. It augments to the established contentions of politics as a concept vis-à-vis the matter of its contestedness seeing that that is the objective of the previous edition. In this manner, Exploring the Core of Politics, equipped with our constructions of our reviews in the state of it being political, examines specific spheres of this field. I dream that the unleashed political animal within, while accompanying us with this struggle, shall find treasures of para-para-paragon along the way. Breathing politics,

Herby Jireh Esmeralda University of the Philippines Political Society (UP POLSCi) www.uppoliticalsociety.com | uppoliticalsociety@gmail.com | facebook.com/up.political.society | twitter.com/up_polsci Kanlungan Tambayan Complex, East Wing, Palma Hall, University of the Philippines–Diliman


EXPLORE THE CORE OF POLITICS This issue of The Sword focuses on the “core” subjects of the discipline of politics as referred to by students of Department of Political Science of the university— Philippine politics, political theory, comparative politics, and international relations. With articles from the members and alumni of the organization, this issue examines the on-going discourse of politics and its specified spheres.


6 10 14 17 21 24 28 30 33 37


POWER POINT Collective existence is the destination, but power is the journey. Alphonse G. Samson

COLLECTIVES, THE STATE, AND POLITICS Collective existential conditions are essential in politics and the state power plays a large role in this. Rodolfo L. Lahoy Jr.

POLITICS IN THE MUNDANE Personal relationships work in the same manner as state–individual relationships. Reiner S. Gallardo

THINKING OUTSIDE THE IDIOT BOX As budding critics, this is our calling – to minimize, if not eradicate, the existing blind spot. Herby Jireh M. Esmeralda

CLICKING OUR WAY TOWARDS POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT? E-activism’s effects on the political culture could be interpreted optimistically and pessimistically. Adrian Carlo C. Manlangit

THE GASLIT GENERATION It is high time to rethink the nostalgic triumphalism that envelops this period of history. Christine Joy L. Galunan

VOTES FOR SALE There should be a continuous effort to understand the reasons leading to this phenomenon. Vienne Rose G. Delmonte

IS DUTERTE THE ‘TRUMP OF THE EAST’? Both are self-proclaimed political outsiders who are fed up by the tiresome rules of the game. Mareane Mabel Chavez

THE DEMANDS OF MULTILATERALISM To reap the benefits of cooperation, there needs to be a genuine sense of unity in achieving goals. Maria Elize H. Mendoza

TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP Diminishing sovereignty is not in itself wrong. Ryan Ralph X. Nicolas


POWER POINT Why Power is the Point of Politics Alphonse G. Samson

“Politics as power is fashionable, pointless.”

The conjecture comes from the editor-in-chief as he argued in his literally out-standing and potentially thought-controlling article, “After Power,” published in last semester’s issue of The Sword. The rest of the articles in that issue glorified power as the center of the study of politics, but he churned them in his critique and concluded that the “idea of collective existence” should be the prime characteristic of politics. Let us revisit his tantalizing arguments. First, if power is the center of politics, and relations of power are everywhere, then emancipation from power is also impossible. The emancipation project has been led by feminists1 and Marxists who adopted a negative conception of power and politics as repressive. The ubiquity of material and social relations is the basis of the ubiquity of power; hence, that feminists and Marxists seek to overthrow such relations and achieve their goal of genderless and classless society is a no-brainer. Second, if power is the center of politics, and the unequal or repressive relations of power are the sources of problems, efforts to equalize or eradicate power relations only depoliticize the political. In effect, equality is similar to eradication; hence, if power relations are eradicated, it entails the eradication of politics. For instance, the liberal efforts to democratize (i.e., equalize individuals), he argued, are unproductive and contradictory. Also, he believed that social order can only be achieved under inequality and, therefore, under relations of power.

6

THE SWORD

Third, since politics as power appears to be pointless, it does not address problems of collective existence. The supposedly emancipatory and equalizing mission that put power in the Hence, if power center of politics has no ground relations are because such mission is suicidal eradicated, it ento politics itself. Ultimately, the tails the eradicaexposure of power, no less its tion of politics. eradication, does not solve any problem at all. He then capped off by mentioning that the main concern of human life is collective existence. Thus, this idea must be the center of politics, with essential focus on the state in its capability to maintain social order and distribution of resources. Although he did not necessarily assume a statist view, he claims that such conception of politics allows for the influx of solutions to problems of collective existence and guide the way for people to live harmoniously. On the contrary, here I present my audacious reply. First, I argue that he conflated the critique of power with its analysis, which is also a problem of the emancipatory project. Second, the ubiquity of power means that we cannot emancipate from power, and since we cannot emancipate from it, politics as power continues to exist. It follows, therefore, that politics as power allows us to observe and solve problems of collective existence. Ultimately, collective existence drives humans’ pursuit of knowledge – something that the study of politics shares with other areas of knowledge. Since collective existence is an indifferent destination, power is one of the roads


whereupon politics exists. “The critique of power is separate from its analysis” (Hay, 1980).

I find not only the editor guilty of committing this mistake, but also some from the feminist and Marxist traditions. In Colin Hay’s discussion of power, there is a conflation between “analytical questions concerning the identification of power within social and political settings, and normative questions concerning the critique of the distribution and exercise of power.” Assuming that power relations involve interests, the identification of these are enough to end power relations in that actors are now aware of what influences them. Power, in this sense, is “self-annihilating.” Additionally, this fails to consider that actors are only aware of perceived rather than real interests, evoking that identification of power involves its critique. Power indeed bears analytical focus on society and its structures which invoke persuasion among actors and guide their actions. Misperception or “false consciousness,” the seemingly empirical basis of power, therefore makes it difficult for us to identify power. Power therefore becomes a pejorative concept. Its analysis now entails its elimination. Yet this conception is not only self-annihilating but also narrows down the concept such that the familiar uses of the term are established in social and political theory. Moreover, this conception prevents us from agreeing on what constitutes a power relationship. Our analysis of power is now based on how the world ought to be, rather than what it is. This entails that there exists an infinity of interpretation and that the possibility of agreeing on observations that render human knowledge useful is farfetched. This happens under a conception of power that does not separate outcomes with contexts. Hay proffered that power is both context-shaping and conduct-shaping. I am partial to Hay’s definition that power can be direct (conduct-shaping) and indirect (context-shaping). Direct power is manifested in force, coercion, and persuasion. Indirect power, meanwhile, can be seen in how actors can exert influence on the range of possibilities of others’ actions. Hay offers lawmaking as an example. It is a power of the legislature, but it does not necessarily directly affect citizens’ actions, but it could limit (or add to) their capacities. On the contrary, law enforcers

possess direct power in their ability to apprehend rule-breakers. What are the benefits of this conception? First, we are able to analyze without necessarily critiquing the concept. Whereas biases and ethical judgments continue to exist, these can be temporarily suspended. “To suggest that A exercises power over B is to make no claim... about the subPower indeed version or violation of B’s ‘true bears analytical interests.’” At the same time, we focus on society are able to say something about and its structures the context that may explain the which invoke persubsequent action of B since A suasion among exercises power. To say that A’s actors and guide power is illegitimate, as critics their actions. espouse, can be useful, but at least it should begin with saying that A has power over B and that it operates under a context. Second, this conception relieves culpability on power. Apparently, since we are able to identify the actors in power, we may hold them accountable, making power analysis a useful tool. But of course, if we say that a police officer killed a suspect, and the officer indeed exercises power in this scenario, we do not hold the officer accountable at all. “Exercising power may be a necessary condition for being held responsible, but it is not a sufficient one.” We cannot assume that the powerless cannot be held accountable in the same way that we cannot ascribe culpability to those in power. The identification of power relation and its context is separate from its judgment. Toward this end, I denounce that the emancipatory project operating politics as power is anything but foolhardy. The exercise of power is neutral in the first place. When gender and material relations collapse, depicted in feminist and Marxist utopias, the exploitative use of power is eradicated, but power still remains in setting the range of possibilities of individuals. Common ownership denies private property; gender equality denies patriarchy. Here we understand structure as indirect power. Moreover, balance of power does not deny the existence of power. A relation of reciprocity means that one actor can exercise influence on the other as equally as the other influences that the same actor. Patron–client relations are a clear example. Political leaders, having material power, give dole-outs to constituents in exchange for votes in the next polls.

THE SWORD

7


In turn, constituents are able to address their needs and have the ability to choose politicians. Here we understand in relational terms that actors invoke direct power. At this point, I surmise that the editor may be laughing: he did say that the use of politics as power in the emancipatory project is but a failure. However, I further argued in this section that the emancipatory project used the wrong conception of power and brought up the neutrality of power. In effect, his mistake lies in conflating analysis with the critique of power, as did some feminists and most Marxists. By rectifying that mistake, we are able to identify and analyze power, and acknowledge its existence amid its ubiquity. The ubiquity of power means that we cannot emancipate from power.

I believe that the editor may once again be laughing – this is exactly his point! Yet I find it helpless to say that he used this point for the wrong purpose. Resulting from the above discussion is that emancipation from power is impossible. However, he made it appear that the Foucauldian conception of power was used in the emancipatory project. Technically, the social and material relations depicted in feminist and Marxist traditions are semi-temporary. That power relations as ubiquitous have been attributed to these, I believe, is a sin to Foucault. Foucault may have stated that social relations are everywhere, but nowhere did he suggest emancipation. He also did not fail to mention that “power is not always repressive. It can take a certain number of forms. And it is possible to have relations of power that are open.”2 Foucault’s project was to deconstruct assumptions and labels of how society is compartmentalized to work as it is. He gave us the lens of power to understand how politics works and to address societal problems. Here, we can go back to Hay’s conception of power as one that allows its identification and analysis independent of ethical judgment. Third-wave feminists would expose the existing but invisible discourse of gender and sexual orientation that constituted or naturalized labels, which are the sources of exploitation. The goal is not to eradicate a concept, but to present a counter-discourse against the prevalent conception in an effort not to reverse but to end exploitation. Indeed, a normative

8

THE SWORD

intent is present in this scenario, but it required a discursive lens and analysis to point out the problem. Even more beneficial is that this lens addresses problems that a simple statist analysis could not offer because it denies the ubiquity of power. Lastly, this shows us that relations of power are changeable and malleable, not erasable. Since emancipation from power is impossible, politics as power continues to exist.

This conjecture logically follows the second. Since there is an agreement on the ubiquity of power, politics gains its essence and distinction. Contrary to the editor’s assertion, politics as power does not seek to depoliticize. Such attempt is unproductive not because it is in inherent contradiction to the mission of politics but rather Relations of power because it makes wrong assumpare changeable tions on power. This has been and malleable, highlighted in the above discusnot erasable. sion of my first two conjectures. Thus, there is still politics as power whose mission is to present problems and suggest solutions by exactly looking at possible relations of power that may be found everywhere. Hence, politics as power continues to exist. The editor may ask, is there an end to power? He actually gave an answer, but a wrong one: “the erosion of power does not automatically lead to the erosion of problems.” I say, it does not solve any problem at all. Let us stop firing our guns at power because it cannot be destroyed – except when we all die from ricocheting bullets (definitely, power ends here – but what is the sense when society is already dead?). Instead, we can go back to solving problems and using power as ammunition. This is not to denote that “political power grows out from the barrel of the gun.”3 Rather connotatively, we should use power as the lens to understand reality and produce knowledge to address problems of collective existence. Politics as power allows us to observe and solve problems of collective existence.

The editor claimed that politics as power is contradictory and unproductive, since such conception banks on the equalization that also leads to the eradication of power relations. This claim reached the wrong target, which he created from misconceptions to suit his stand. I have been presenting here anoth-


er target: the other sense that using politics as power is productive. Whereas I still maintain power as the center of politics, I speak of it in the same sense as I have discussed in my first and second conjectures. Exposure of the problem is definitely not the end. But in order to solve problems, proper identification and analysis is crucial. Politics as power is a powerful tool. It allows us to venture into other realms of social relations that have not been observed before. We saw these in micro-contexts such as in crude relations in home, school, and workplace, and in discourses such as what I discussed in my article in the previous issue, particularly the discourse of labor exportation that is used by the government to side-step its role to provide jobs in the country. This is not a case of opposition without proposition. In the labor exportation case, the solution therefore is to improve the system of education and to find more ways to generate jobs in the country. We can now see other problems. The state of education in the country limits the range of possibilities for the youth, forcing them to find blue-collar jobs in foreign lands. Accordingly, we could see how the state is hijacked by private, corporate, and foreign interests, diverting its attention from its impoverished citizens. These are manifestations of power, and something must be done to change these to improve conditions of collective existence. Hereinafter, the solutions are vast. Just relying on the power of the state does not take us far – if so, this does not give justice to the numerous and successful social movements around the world. If anything, politics as power revealed to us the actual problems and provided us with more and appropriate solutions. Collective existence drives humans’ general pursuit of knowledge, not just politics.

Collective existence cannot be the core of politics. Rather, other areas of knowledge share in this goal. Sociologists produce behind-the-scenes accounts of social relations and artifacts in order to find out the root causes of social problems. Anthropologists focus on humans’ way of life through history and discover what guided humans to live collectively. Geographers see places and spaces appropriate to human life. Economists try to develop ways to allocate scarce resources properly, assure sustenance of human needs and wants, and to live in harmony. Physicists

experiment on how better we could understand our daily actions and interactions with matter and space around us. All these pursuits of knowledge, nihilist pretensions aside, allow us to find ways to establish a harmonious life. Basically, collective existence is something addressed by many fields. If the idea of collective existence is the core of politics, politics loses its meaning. It becomes similar with others, letting it suffer an existential dilemma. Politics becomes too general a concept, with nothing concrete enough to hold itself together. This has been a problem being addressed throughout history; what shall take hold? Arguably, the state was once the primary concern of politics, in the context of the lack of social order. But even as early as those times, power is something assumed as the ability to If anything, order the people, or in terms politics as power of military and economic pow- revealed to us the er. We were also given the idea actual problems that the people supposedly have and provided power over the state, but at least us with more in certain democratic regimes and appropriate only. Nonetheless, the state can solutions. only go so far as to manage order and distribute resources. It may be aware of many problems, but not all. It is just apparent that politics as power is not only a product of consensus among scholars, but also a testament that power is something the study and analysis of politics has benefited from. Collective existence is the destination, but power is the journey. Knowledge is interdisciplinary, but the fact that disciplines remain implies that there are still discrete roads, but with intersections. If politics is just concerned with collective existence, then would it rather appear as the destination? That would be a red-flag for careless reductionism and, at the same time, lack of essence. Arguably, many disciplines tend to commit reductionism, which must be avoided. “If everything is political, nothing is definitely political.”4 Rather, we see the potential analytical capacity of politics as power in many, mostly social, interactions. Most importantly, the study of politics, or political science, is concrete, sensible, and practical when it is concerned with power. Power is the point of politics

THE SWORD

9


COLLECTIVES, THE STATE, AND POLITICS Rodolfo L. Lahoy Jr.

To respond to Ibarra’s essay means biting his polemical bait. And I would be playing his game as a consequence. It is just that a line of thinking that attempted to subvert a whole hip doxa within a field, that of politics as power, deserves a response. As a replacement to this common belief, a notion which according to to him is ridden with logical and practical problems, he re-presented the idea of politics as collective decision-making for the sake of collective existence. A common thread lies between two of his major arguments, one which questioned the possibility of actual “emancipation” Via the fact of our originating from a diagnosis consciousness, we wherein all social relations are have the capacity relations of dominance, and to say no and act another which categorized the in its light if we see notion of politics as power as that our interests an imposition in itself which are threatened. prescribes its own terms of emancipation. Both of these raise the problem of autonomy/agency: we can never start freeing ourselves if there is always an A that determines B’s action in every relationship between persons, and even if we entertain grand critical theories, they still impose on us how we can be free. How can any resisting subject be formed? For one, despite how any institutionalized order or set of norms (i.e., “A”) instruct us (“B”) particular ways of behaving and thinking, we should recognize that human subjects are never merely passive receptacles in any “relationship of power.” Via the

10

THE SWORD

fact of our consciousness, we have the capacity to say no and act in its light if we see that our interests – especially immediate ones such as life itself, livelihood, etc. – are threatened. This is still possible even if is not our personal interests per se that are in question: persons who have been socialized with a strong ethical and moral compass can say no to anything (e.g., including state policies) that violate their sense of rightness. Thus resistance can have a basis and is possible. Even Foucault, one of those who are fixated on how subjects are created by regimes of knowledge and norms, recognizes the possibility of resistance based on empirical facts of strategies of resistance by the struggles of his time.1 The idea that agency is logically impossible for the “prime advocates of politics as power” only works if these advocates are only considered in the abstract, in vague generalizations. One cursory look at the particular content of Marxism and its offshoots, for instance, will let one see that there is always a collective subject-agent to whom consciousness of the situation is necessary: the proletariat, the proletariat with the peasants, the vanguard party, the counterhegemonic historic bloc, the Spinozist multitude, the people, and so on. To break the argument of logical impossibility, I would say that in these approaches – using Marxism again as an example – the ontology (being, the world) of the political is never a fully-closed system. Escaping what Ibarra phrases as the “all-present relation” of power can be done because in the first place, it is never a one-sided affair that forecloses any room to maneuver for our


collective-agents. (So to posit this prime advocate of politics as power as he did is misrepresenting it.) In classical Marxism and its more traditional varieties, it is a class struggle, hence an initially two-sided thing; and even in the post-Marxism of Laclau and Mouffe, a particular discourse never establishes complete hegemony.2 We still have not addressed the second part of Ibarra’s questions on agency: are not these theories that claim emancipation do their own imposition as well? The approaches that he mentions have their origins in modernity, still an era of grand narratives. So we can expect that they have their own terms of “the good” which they forward as universal standards. We can actually expect the same for most political ideologies (here understood as action-oriented sets of ideas)3. It is part of the nature of the grand systems of ideas that operated within the history of politics. The ones that are much more dangerous, perhaps, are those that manifest that they are not doing any imposing, wherein full respect for difference can only be achieved by an attitude of full tolerance – allowing you to speak your position but ending with that. It is under the veil of this tolerance that potential oppressive relations can remain unquestioned. The more important notion forwarded by Ibarra, I think, is the attention he says should be given to the state in analysis, especially in relation to what Ibarra calls “determin[ing] the conditions of... existence within a collectivity.” Rendering politics as power does not necessarily constitute an unabashed shift to microlevel analysis. Yes, Foucault told us of the necessity of “cut[ting] off the head of the King”4 and give attention to smaller-scale manifestations of techniques of power and creation of political subjects, but he never shunned the state altogether. More importantly, as it is, the state remains a primary entity in world-systems. The state, through its government as chief mechanism, remains the primary entity that organizes society, and thus should be given attention. Before anyone mentions neoliberalism and the decline of the state’s role in the contemporary situation, I point out that neoliberalism can only have effect if it becomes state policy, that is, if the state lets part of its functions be given to multinational corporations. The affairs of the state and collective existence are intertwined with the so-called private – for instance, state policy and action via laws and

the norms unintentionally reproduced through free press and media which seep into daily culture, can modify the relations within private life. The state has the resources to order society and plays a large role in grounding and maintaining conditions in the community and polis, but how can we describe this ordering? Rancière terms statist practices as the “police order” (in the sense of the verb policing):5 a distribution of roles, even of “ways of doing, ways of being, and ways of saying”6 through institutions and norms various groups within the social body while rendering a part of the body invisible, excluding them within the community by making them “imperceptible” (i.e., ignored). Essentially, this ordering is a hierarchical set-up. There is a part of the community deemed to be not counted, a les sans-part or the “part of those who have no part” in what Ibarra calls collective decision-making. Throughout history this can be seen in “the poor in ancient Athens, the plebs in Ancient Rome, the Third Estate in pre-Revolutionary France, and the proletariat [of the early to mid-19th century]”7. In our own nation-state, one need not look far to see an equivalent. Another concept through which to look at the state and order is through sovereignty. Even though Hobbes’ notion of the state of The state, through nature obscures the war-ridden its government as origins of the modern, territochief mechanism, rial, nation-state through the remains the priadmittedly hypothetical idea of mary entity that a rational contract, the state reorganizes society, tains its violent quality.8 Indiand thus should be viduals’ equal right to kill each given attention. other under the hypothetical state of nature is suspended, yes, but because it has been transferred to the sovereign of the commonwealth, best a monarch, which then has the capacity to order the death of any subject. This is usually thought of to belong to the monarchical sovereign right (“Off with their heads!”). A transition to modernity supposedly marked a shift in why subjects are killed off by the sovereign: from killing you because you threaten the king or the absolute ruler, to killing you because you are seen as a threat to the population and citizenry controlled by the state. This is what Foucault called a shift to biopolitics9 in which the life itself of the subjects becomes a concern for the state. Organization of society has therefore meant that the state has the potentiality (by sover-

THE SWORD

11


eignty) to “take life and let live,” to steal Foucault’s words. Sovereignty, as it exists, is the principle that allows for the ordering of society by excluding large numbers of people to the point of condemning them to float in boats in the ocean, or deciding on the death of individuals for the sake of the order of its society. The state has legitimized the capacity to decide on which lives are worth letting live (e.g., its citizens, its citizens who conform to the order, etc.) and which ones are “bare life,” life deserving to be stripped of all its attributes (e.g., citizenship, etc.) and rendered excluded. To speak in Agambenese (see Homo Sacer), the only law that applies to them is the one which determines their exclusion.10 Despite these exclusionary techniques that are practiced by the state, Ibarra correctly points out that various groups can participate in decision-making for collective existence, such as social movements through agenda-setting and preference-shaping. This is possible, especially In order to get out of under the dominant regime the clutches of the as market economy plus de“police,” the assermocracy. This would only tion of the collective mean for Rancière that we subject-agent in the are improving the police form of the demos, order, and for him we can the poor, the proletarspeak of better or worse iat, and so on, must police orders, but can only disrupt the hierarchy. speak of them as better oligarchies. In order to get out of the clutches of the “police,” the assertion of the collective subject-agent in the form of the demos, the poor, the proletariat, and so on, must disrupt the hierarchy, the contingent distribution of roles, and not be integrated into it. If this were The Republic, a reference used by Rancière, this would consist of saying: “Ultimately, our order is initially based on a myth (of the metals); in actuality we are just as capable of having and gaining the capacities of a ruler.” Under its current dominant form as a regime that allows for participation, what seems to me the most prevalent forms of decision-making in relation to collective existence are voting and public opinion polls. Ibarra has criticized emancipatory discourses for preventing autonomy (responded to in the discussion above), but the mechanisms of his democracy-as-method in arriving at solutions are worse off in providing it. Agency and autonomy here means participating in a mechanism of choosing among a class of elites whose membership seem require im-

12

THE SWORD

plicit characteristics: a surname that is sellable to bailiwick and/or market votes; education in a technical field in administration or law; millions of pesos from donations of business elites, from family fortune via land, from showbusiness profits; and so on. Many groups cannot really decide for conditions that also affect their collective existence. But “some relations of power are necessary, for collective existence relies on some settled order” – if Ibarra means settling with the current nature of the state and its effects, if he means that it is an acceptable way of shaping how we live with each other, then it seems that we are only settling for improving our oligarchy. I agree with Ibarra that collective existential conditions are essential in politics and the state power and practice plays a large role in all this, but talking about the state and the “shared destiny” as if it is all glorious is to refuse to see the dark underbelly of our weakened Leviathan. If the state has a historical origin, and which developed as different forms throughout history, then at some point it would again be liable to change via agential interference, especially collective entities


THE SWORD

13


POLITICS IN THE MUNDANE The Ideal Relationship Reiner S. Gallardo

Much can be drawn from the works of Plato and Aristotle. A few of their masterpieces revolve around having an ideal state, one that promotes justice for all citizens. However, more than determining the best form of government, or identifying who can be called a citizen, there is much more to be absorbed from their works. The very essence of their ideal state can be applied to other relationships on a less grand scale. The ideal state, in its own manner, presents the best ways to make everyone happy. Simply put, they are prescriptions or instructions on how to obtain mutual happiness, as they see it. For instance, Plato’s ideal “republic” revolves around the self-sufficient state where all members perform specific roles in order to contribute to the overall welfare of the polis. Aristotle’s ideal state, on the other hand, gives primacy to the involvement of the citizenry in running state affairs. With that said, these two conceptions are merely attempts to raise the dynamics of personal relationships to a higher level, involving more people and more complex goals. It can be seen, however, that personal relationships work in the same manner as state–individual relationships. Basically, a relationship is a non-tangible link formed between objects, ideas, or individuals. Friendships, family, and acquaintances are but some examples of a relationship. A state–individual relationship is another kind of relationship. It can involve as many as a whole nation or as few as two people. In this essay, I focus on relationships in the romantic sense, which involves less people. Roman-

14

THE SWORD

tic relationship is a much more complex kind of relationship. I agree that many of the points raised in this work can be applied to non-romantic relationships, but for the sake of limiting the discussion, I only discus romantic relationIt can be seen, ships. My aim is to link the ideas however, that of Plato and Aristotle to identify personal relationthe dynamics necessary to have ships work in the an ideal relationship. Note that while romantic relationships same manner as state–individual are often associated with love, I relationships. focus only on relations between individuals. This is the reason that while Plato and Aristotle discus love and other forms of relationships in their other works, I draw only from Republic and Politics,1 where they talk about their conceptions of the ideal state. (I apologize in advance for the possibly sexist references as it could not be avoided, since the works I analyze in this essay are themselves sexist.) One of the most notable differences that be can drawn from Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics is the idea of the wealth of the state. In fact, it is one of the first criticisms that Aristotle raises against Plato’s Republic. Plato presents the idea of having common ownership to all members of the polis. This includes wives and children. This is all integral in promoting unity and allegiance to the state. Plato sees individual ties to property and family as detrimental to having a healthy relationship with the state. Aristotle refutes this idea by arguing that private ownership is necessary in order to practice several virtues.


Sense of ownership is natural issue in relationships. It seems sweet and somewhat expected that couples, even those who are tied by marriage, share their belongings. One would not be surprised if he or she has a friend who knows his or her lover’s Facebook account details. More so, it is not entirely new to find someone wearing his significant other’s shirt, or bag, or watch. Other than material things, couples also share secrets they know, things they do, and many other stuff in their life. For instance, when you tell a secret to A, who is romantically linked to B, it is expected that B knows of the secret as well. The point is that it is almost automatic for nearly all couples nowadays to share things upon sharing love. It is not bad at all, for we were taught at a young age that sharing is a gesture of love, and that it is supposed to be good. But then again, the question is, does it have to be like that all the time? Aristotle’s point in criticizing common ownership in property has value in it that can be applied in romantic relationships. Yes, entrusting your whole life to your special other, as manifested in the act of sharing all your things with him or her fosters unity. But is it trust that you exercise in the act of doing that? One could not argue that it takes “trust” to entrust things to someone. However, it takes more trust to have your special other to have it their own way. What do I mean by this? Take for instance the issue of a boy going out with his friends. One can say that trust means that the boy tell all that happens in their night out to his girlfriend. However, it takes greater trust if the girl, regardless if the boy does or does not tell him about the specific details of their night out, would be completely confident of the actions of the boy during the said activity. Having a notion of privacy does not necessarily have to be against trust. Going back to the example above, you have probably heard of the expression, “If you trust me, then you would tell me” – and more often than not, you have been subjected to this oppressive test. Common ownership of secrets is a trademark among relationships. It is not surprising that most of the time, the conversations I have with people are disseminated to their special other. But then again, is it completely necessary? Well, conventions tell us so, which is why most of the time we succumb to that unjust test. However, I say that it is not necessary, and that this is not necessarily against trust. Keeping secrets is not bad especially if the secret one tries to keep has completely nothing to do

with the other party. Another point I would like to raise is the idea of who should rule and who should be ruled. As explained in my previous article “Love and Power” in last semester’s The Sword, romantic relationships are nothing more than a set of decisions. The thing with decision-making is that we A romantic political scientists have always relationship, like the been hell-bent on discoverstate–individual ing how it happens. Moving relationship, is a on to the point, while both pursuit of happiness works talk about the natural for all involved. supremacy of men over women, I disregard this notion and assume that they are talking about non-heteronormative roles when they speak of relationships. Plato talks about the philosopher-king, aided by the guardians, doing the entire decisionmaking, while everyone else does what is necessary for the community. This resembles authoritarian rule. In the romantic sense, authoritarian relationships have almost always been viewed negatively. One may be familiar of the terms “under the saya” and “utos ni kumander” which gives reference to having one person to decide for the sake of all involved in the relationship. It is in contrast to those “authoritarian” relationships that we take pride in our “democratic” relationships. Though Aristotle gives us the idea that democracy is actually a bad form of government, his notion of polity actually resembles our contemporary notion of democracy. We give importance to what everyone involved has to say when it comes into deciding for the sake of the collective. Like in most relationships, it seems ideal that we give chance to our special other to decide for the relationship. It is at most a compromise, if not a consensus, that results from romantic relationships. Take for example the issue of marriage. It is from the start a democratic exercise, as manifested in the question “Will you marry me?”2 Everything that follows is but a series of agreements, and as such, it gives the whole activity a sense of being somewhat democratic. Does this mean that democratic relationships are entirely better than that of the authoritarian alternative? Drawing from the examples above and the inherent biases to the words authoritarian and democratic, one can say so. However, one must take into consideration the merits of having an authoritarian relationship. Like in the manner that Aristotle justifies monarchy, one can say that it is not all the time

THE SWORD

15


that all of those involved – in our case, the lovers – are guided by their virtues. There are situations that require for one to step up and decide for the sake of the relationship. For example, while others may argue that breaking up is not a decision for romantic relationships, I argue otherwise: it involves all who are in the relationship and it is, most of the time, for the benefit of all involved. Breaking up is often an authoritative decision. You impose it, regardless if the other party of the relationship agrees or even recognizes it. At times, when everything gets rough and painful, breaking up is the only beneficial thing to do: it is when you have to decide in behalf of your romantic partner. Romantic relationships are but another form of social interaction. We can argue left and right as to how relationships should work. As one can draw from the arguments of Plato and Aristotle, there are merits in following their prescribed relationships. However, the main point of this essay (if the reader has not come to its realization yet) is to show that the ideal, at least in the case of relationships, cannot be confined to rigidity. A romantic relationship, like the state–individual relationship, is a pursuit of happiness for all involved. There is no single superior way of getting relationships to work. What is important, as Plato and Aristotle reiterated in their works, is that we be guided by reason and moderation in doing so, that we be virtuous in all our relationships

16

THE SWORD


THINKING OUTSIDE THE IDIOT BOX Political Activism in the Digital Age Herby Jireh M. Esmeralda

Nowadays, there is an on-going social media outbreak about a variety of competing interests in the arena of socio-political relevance. The dispute ranges from the #AlDubNation and Heneral Luna to the #APEC2015, Alma Moreno interview, and the terrorist attacks all over the world, making it to the headline of our news feed, proves the actuality of eliciting intellectual elitism in the digital media by the so-called clicktivism.1 This essay will use post-structuralism as an approach in giving an assessment and critique to the current situation. Certainly, this kind of media is our new “purveyor of filth and deliverer of wonder”, as D.S. Brown puts it.2 In circumstances like this, we are Schrodinger’s cat locked in different types of idiot boxes.3 Being a viewer and a consumer, it is easy to spectate and hard to gladiate. Some say that fans of teleseryes and other conventional entertainments are downright, for lack of a better term, “stupid”. In this matter, we can still merge profound theories and real life expediencies instead of radically demarcating them. Then again, there are certain inquiries that will make you cringe about one’s intellectual condition when he or she begs someone to answer it by committing an argumentum ad hominem. In spite of this and for the sake of propagating an erudite response, one must answer or criticize it constructively in the defense of merely spoon-feeding the area under discussion. We need them to think outside the idiot box. Undeniably, I have also subjected myself into this false dichotomy and maybe, it is because of my

sudden estimation to distrust the public’s choice. It seems that when something has gone mainstream, it has already lost its content and substance. For this rationale, settling for anything less has become our nation’s ideology for a while and in effect, it prolongs a culture of mediocrity. To the same degree, we must commend the public’s efforts and get the most out of it in showing that they truly care about the justification of such social art. Moreover, the digital media as Michel Foucault’s Panopticon also sees the masses as idiots hook in their boxes for “he who is We can still merge subjected to a field of vis- profound theories and ibility, and who knows it, real life expediencies assumes responsibility for instead of radically the constraints of power; demarcating them. he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection.”4 In a Panopticon, there is the presence of an anonymous power that watches its prisoners. This brings us to the question of who watches the watchmen as asked by the Roman poet Juvenal from his Satires. In spite of everything, this kind of media is not only an avenue for personal bonding, seeking intellectual articles, monitoring activities, advertising assorted publicity stunts, but also for proliferating deceit and propaganda. Fast-thinking supremacy over deep thought is the new game in town. It is also subjected to different types of media effects in which the most exploited is the use of framing.

THE SWORD

17


In this instance, the case does not directly confront the idea of a concept or the actual event rather; one can frame the argument in terms of creating a linear narrative by highlighting few facts. As budding critics, this is our calling – to minimize, if not eradicate, the existing blind spot. We are evolving, changing, and opposing. Additionally, Louis Althusser said that ideology is a “representation of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence.”5 Our culture has been commoditized. Ideology sells what popular culture plays. Different media corporations couldn’t care less about As budding critics, its quality and instead, they this is our calling – concentrate on the quality to minimize, if not of its quantity. In Chambers eradicate, the existing and Kopstein’s Civil Society blind spot. We are and the State, “The contrast evolving, changing, is between mere “users” of and opposing. the public sphere who pursue their political goals within already existing forums and with little or no interest in the procedures themselves, and “creators” of the public sphere who are interested in expanding democracy as they pursue their more particularist goals.”6 Returning to my initial line of reasoning, we are one of the masses’ chances of getting their voices be heard while some of us are busy repressing it. With the advent of the digital age, this generation has been dubbed as the millennials.7 In The Atlantic article, Tom DiPrete, a sociology professor at Columbia University, said that “I think the boundaries end up getting drawn to some extent by the media and the extent to which people accept them or not varies by the generation.”8 He also added that “The media in particular wants definitions and identities.”9 In this case, our generation has been coronated by the media as the critics of societal changes that use various social networks to cut across borders that are both seen and unseen by the naked eye. With this, one may turn the dreams of the formation of a neo-vanguard party into a reality. At any rate, we are avant-gardes in the making. In a research conducted at the University of Leeds that is featured in a Rappler article entitled “The trouble with Filipino fanaticism”, it is said that “the research findings show that as the number of people in a crowd increases, the number of informed individuals decreases.”10 At this juncture, the direction was instructed but the destination was not mentioned.

18

THE SWORD

With the “informed individuals” scattered, they can still lead the way towards the journey’s end by traversing through the eye of the political storm. The masses are “free-willed subjects in almost complete control of their destiny, able to shape political realities in the image of their preferences and volitions”.11 Although, as an additional analysis to Hay and Lister’s account, they can also realize their intentions not only to the “densely structured institutional contexts” but also to the politico-cultural frameworks which can enact their own deliberate discernment of the issue at hand. Surely, they have been deprived of critical shows. It is really a great initiative from the innovative fusion of mainstream and independent media in designating a new channel for documentaries, films, and other magnum opus that present socio-political implications since it turns out to be an impetus of social discourse. In Foucault’s words, “Discourse transmits and produces power; it reinforces it, but also undermines and exposes it, renders it fragile and makes it possible to thwart”.12 In this manner, it can revolutionize the general public’s ways of thinking and relating to politics. Also, the making and propagation of such films should be widespread to infuse heavy emotions of nationalism and patriotism. Consequently, having a political theme in every works of art must be a universal one so that it could engage the audiences to be inspired and to act in their own modest means. Obviously, they stick to journalist and other news anchor’s interpretations of the political climate with an ounce of interview with the side of the academicians. Furthermore, reading and perceiving political jargons is akin to speaking in another language, with them trying to fish out its significance. Indeed, I recognize that the meaning may be lost in translation while transforming it into the layman’s terms but it is the call of our duty to spread the deck of cards in the table for all to see. Additionally, as a whole, a lot of social and political academicians (i.e. scientists and theorists) may see the digital media as a collection of condensed and generalized facts. It is for this matter that it is in conflict with the culture of the former. By any means, this essay does not perpetuate the idea of the public’s conception of absurdity and with the use of effective scientific communication, their worldviews will instantly change and become scientists themselves in a blink of an eye. Besides, the majority of great researches come from the inner layperson’s idea within the political


scientist. As Christopher Nolan put it in the film Inception (2010), “What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient and highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain, it’s almost impossible to eradicate.”13 As Michael Foucault writes: “There are more ideas on earth than intellectuals imagine. And these ideas are more active, stronger, more resistant, more passionate than “politicians” think. We have to be there at the birth of ideas, the bursting outward of their force: not in books expressing them, but in events manifesting this force, in struggles carried on around ideas, for or against them. Ideas do not rule the world. But it is because the world has ideas (and because it constantly produces them) that it is not passively ruled by those who are its leaders or those who would like to teach it, once and for all, what it must think.”14 As political science majors, we are on a journey to reach the top of the ivory tower. Halfway through, it’s time to grasp the thought of retracing our steps and examining our tracks. This is the moment when we need to realize that there is a growing alienation between the political scientist and the people. Along with the statement of Lipset, “many of these could be subsumed under the concept of stratification, since they vary in terms of ranking on the power and status dimensions”.15 Indeed, stratification in the intellectual order is the current phenomenon. Astonished we may be in the middle of the build-up of issues, this echoes an essential dilemma: that we persist on assuming the demarcation between our individual and collective problems, and take pleasure in our vastly sightless idealism, and liberty without liability. In this sense, it leaves us the question of the extension and the limitation of our freedom of expression. The cost of a united feat is the obstruction of our arrogance when it comes to political diversities. It seems that we are in its turret hiding from society’s disease in an impending zombie apocalypse. The cure from this growing “illness” will be deemed effective if it is applied directly. There is a growing disjunction between thought and action. A political scientist does not wait for a prince charming to come along and save the day. The search for the resolution of conflict is charming enough in getting on board with this political adventure. In any case, this is our purpose.

This ivory tower has become our own allegorical cave. The political scholars that have been hailed before us have given names to the shadows protruded on the wall. As stated by Bachrach, “it primarily reflects a healthy division—not We persist on unique to political science— assuming the debetween mainstream and marcation between radical political scientists, our individual and a division in which radical collective problems, scholars have had some inand take pleasure in fluence in changing the oriour vastly sightless entation and direction of the idealism, and liberty discipline”.16 We should not without liability. let these shadows be our only reality by stopping when our articles and researches are successfully published. We need to go back out there and find the treatment for this epidemic that our generation is currently facing. We shall venture into stimulating the Filipino philosophical and political dispositions let alone the limitless and the concealed notions stored within the oasis of our minds. After all, the philosopher king needs the whole kingdom to politicize and philosophize. Climbing down the stairway of the ivory tower does not necessarily mean that we have to lower our standards and dumb down the circulation of knowledge. It means that we are able to convert these political jargons into something that is understandable and comprehensible to the layperson and the public in general. Although, there is no denying the fact that the academe’s system has been hooked between the grips of professionalism and the notion of sustaining the custom of honor and excellence. However, I am not saying this to give the former view a critique but I placed that card on the table to present that the social reality of monotonous historiography and prejudiced political analysis still exists. We can be heroes in our own ways using our specialization into bringing and contributing to the thorough change in our society even though a paper, ink, motion picture, backing literature, and an idea are our only weapons. This arsenal will be irrelevant if they are not viewed nor read. For sure, tomorrow’s episode in our feed will be the most awaited talk in town, and as it appears, it is here to dwell. There is still that little spark outside the cave to be lit up in some kind of revolution. Above and beyond, the adventure awaits us

THE SWORD

19


20

THE SWORD


CLICKING OUR WAY TOWARDS POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT? Adrian Carlo C. Manlangit

The days when we can only fantasize about becoming “politically involved” at the comfort of our living rooms, with just a five-second voice command to Siri,1 or with the meager muscular effort of a single click on a computer mouse is certainly over for some. What accounts to people in the past as crude imagination now exists as a reality- that Facebook, Twitter, and most social media can now be venues of activities with political motivations and overtones. The #BringBackOurGirls, #NeverAgain, and #PrayforParis virtual movements are just few examples. However, as much as people could claim that activism is now metamorphosing into a ‘virtual/digital’ form, others piously insist that such “e-activism” remains an imagination for it runs very short of reproducing the effects of traditional activism. Internet campaigns and protests have been popular recently, with some people considering them as the ‘fuel’ for the recent overthrows of the dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen.2 Ironically, such virtual campaigns have also been effective in putting pressure on Internet activity-directed regulations like when the USA’s Stop Online Piracy Act or “SOPA” was prevented, when the treaty crafted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was trashed, or when the Cybercrime Law in the Philippines was held.3 Because of the waves e-activism is continuously creating, a lot have pointed to the need to evaluate it. Is e-activism a dependable replacement to traditional activism? What good has it brought? And as C. Price quipped, if it is the ‘answer’, what is the ‘question’?4

There are two rival paradigmatic views on the e-activism (also known as ‘cyber’, ‘virtual’, ‘digital’, or ‘click’ activism). There are those who see as the Internet as a tool for mak- However, as much as ing societies “…more open, people could claim more participatory, more that activism is now decentralized, and …more metamorphosing conducive to democracy.”5 into a ‘virtual/digital’ They uphold the enhancform, others piousing and developing role of ly insist that such the cyberspace on traditional activism and sponsor the “e-activism” remains an imagination... view on e-activism hereby referred as “optimistic.” On the other hand, there are those who see the Internet and e-activism as retarding the quality of activism in the society. They maintain what they say is “cyber-realism” contrary to the “cyber-utopianism” of the first view.6 This second view, pushed by, would be hereby referred to as “pessimistic.”7 Regardless of which camp you side, the effects of e-activism on political scenarios are profound. Furthermore, it has produced rippling effects and contributions to the basic models, assumptions, and theories we have on (1) the nature and definition of power, (2) political and democratic processes, and (3) political culture and opinion. In the last two fields, we can use the split lenses of the two rival views (optimistic and pessimistic) as to how e-activism contributes and makes changes. E-activism can recreate a certain degree of ‘power as surveillance’ in the modern age. The view of

THE SWORD

21


power as surveillance, first contended by M. Foucault, maintains that power exists when there is “… constant observation acted as a control mechanism.. [and the] consciousness of [such] constant surveillance is internalized [by the one observed].”8 The example of the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) best demonstrates this. People in establishments guarded by CCTV cameras tend to discipline themselves and modify their behavior in front of these cameras because they know that authorities have an eye to them and could readily direct action to them. The CCTV’s ‘constant surveillance’ becomes a powerful ‘control mechanism’ for the establishment’s authority. The same thing may go for the cyberspace. With its massive ability to disseminate information with a single click, it is a powerful ‘CCTV’ that could expose the behavior of individuals, not only to those whom they are responsible to, but even to the whole wide world. We could recall how the “Playgirls scandal” during the birthday party of a Liberal Party member leaked, went viral, and spread sporadically like germs in the Internet within minutes- reaping the wrath of hundreds of thousand Filipinos. Such powerful capacity of e-activism to provide surveillance that could expose and report misbehavior and, in general, document the actions of people had even led academics like E. Goldman to think that e-activism works through a system of ‘reputational costs’- a simple tweet, blog, or wiki-leak can strip the authority or public trust that someone holds. What could be a more recent proof of e-activism operating through reputational costs than recent harsh and derogatory critiques of Alma Moreno in her interview with Karen Davila? However, that the Internet is always a tool for surveillance by the public against their leaders’ misbehavior is not always the case. Governments, for example, have also used the cyberspace to monitor citizens’ affairs. The example of the American government spying on its citizens’ social media accounts shows that although the cyberspace gives power in the form of surveillance, who is to use it is still indeterminate. Moving on, e-activism has also altered most of our political and democratic processes. The rise of so-called “e-participation” that involves virtual activities ranging from advocacy hashtags and profile pictures to online petitions and hacking has provided us novel ways of being politically involved (or possibly, novel ways of ‘feeling’ politically involved).

22

THE SWORD

The mission now is to observe a hefty amount of scrutiny and investigate if e-activism is really an engine of participation or a factory of slacker and pretend activists. Using the lens of the optimism camp, digital media has made collective action easier. Cheaper and faster, it is a ‘trending’ tool for communication amongst activist groups as The mission now the example of the “Milis to observe a hefty lion-people March against amount of scrutiny Pork Barrel” would show. and investigate if Furthermore, aside from e-activism is really an merely being a communication tool for staging rallies engine of participation and pickets, social media- or a factory of slacker and pretend activists. newsfeeds and timelinescan even be the actual venues of protests, i.e. virtual demonstrations. Barrages of #PrayforParis links and videos did steal our attention, made us want know more about what happened, and disrupted our Internet-surfing like a road traffic disrupted by marching activists. Digital media has also made collective campaigns louder and more heard. The entry of activism into the cyberspace has put in front of social movements, cause-oriented groups, and interest groups more ears ready to listen as posts in social media easily reach all the other corners of the world. Certainly, it was easier for the LGBT activists in the United States to spark a global sentiment last year for marriage equality because of the Internet. However, when viewed in a different angle, e-activism may just have possible scary effects on the quality of true participation and involvement. Using a pessimistic lens would make us want to realize that instead of making collective action easier and more heard, e-activism has actually rendered it the otherwise, more difficult and less meaningful. To begin with, e-activism might just make collective action more difficult by fragmenting people by cultivating a “digital divide”. By setting up collective action online, a significant segment of the people is already secluded due to economic inequality, as not all people have access to the cyberspace. In effect, the actual poor masses ready to struggle in the streets are traded for people ready only to ‘like’, repost, or ‘tweet’. Reliance on the digital media could thus alienate and weaken activist movements. Delving further into e-activism, digital media


may also have polarizing tendencies. As much as it publicizes the opinions on issues we side to, it also highlights and makes obvious our differences of ideals. Although this could be beneficial if this results to debate and public discussion, a bulk of Filipino netizens barely proceed or participate with commitment to this further stage of debate in the cyberspace. E-activism has also made collective action less meaningful by substituting personal attachments and actual working with activist movements with impersonality and “slacktivism”- a range of “activities that are easily performed, but… are considered more effective in making the participants feel good about themselves than to achieve the stated political goals”. It is problematic when people see the using of an advocacy hashtag, sharing a video, or using a rainbow-colored profile picture filter as enough to make them ‘activists’ or ‘politically involved’. Ironic enough that slacktivists call themselves ‘activists’ despite the fact that they never really became active in pursuing the political ends of posts they repost, this tendency might just spell the demise of truly active activism. Worse than being activism of the fingers is the fact that e-activism’s activities are sometimes reduced to mere gestures relegated to pop culture or the ‘trending’. The use of filters, hashtags, tweets, and the like are sometimes imitated in the spirit of following what is popular and glitzy in the computer screen and not by their deeper meanings. In connection with the changes e-activism has made to the political and democratic processes of the society, e-activism has greater deeper impacts to the society’s political culture. As with political and democratic process, e-activism’s effects on the political culture could be interpreted optimistically and pessimistically. Digital media may have brought politics closer to our homes and to our rooms. With a single swipe or single click, we find in front of us tons and tons of information. We do not need to go to the actual places of political struggles or happenings anymore to get involved- everything is offered before us. This, in effect, has given rise to a culture more informed, more opinionated, and more conscious. It is easier to be an activist if you have the services of new media. You can obtain mountains of information and express your opinion to a larger audience.

In this respect, digital media can significantly boost the health of a democracy. It can give rise to more participative and concerned citizens. However, digital media may have also facilitated a decline in social capital. As people spend most of their time alone and typing The cyberspace and swiping on their phones, really, as much as it a “selfie” culture starts to eat enriches and paves up the value and regard we ways for political have for collective action and action, can someunity. Collective action may times stop us short have become shallower and of generating such. shallower and sometimes, fewer and fewer. The unity of hashtags, likes, and tweets may have lowered our attention to actual and traditional unity found in activism in the street- in the non-virtual and real. As it appears, both optimistic and pessimistic camps hold certain degree of truthfulness to their observations. The cyberspace really, as much as it enriches and paves ways for political action, can sometimes stop us short of generating such. However, at the end of the day, no matter how much and how drastic the changes the cyberspace and digital media may do to our form of activism, we have to realize that it has not still changed the reason for which we pursue activism. We still work and struggle for our ordeals, and pursue the visions of better society that we have. We should be able to use the cyberspace for this ultimate function. Therefore, since the cyberspace inevitably carries a mixture of both good and bad effects, how it affects activism is now in our hands. The users, us activists, must know when it is useful and needed. We must be alert and know when a click on the computer mouse provides a more effective road to activism, or a major detour from political action

THE SWORD

23


THE GASLIT GENERATION 30 Years of (Mis)Remembrance Christine Joy L. Galunan

Stories and images constantly flood our feeds to remind us of history. They speak of a time when ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’ were merely dreams that colored the mind of the brave, seized from reality by an unbridled hunger for power and wealth. They tell us not to forget, because it is only by awareness that we can fight the urge to be enamored like moths to a flame that will inevitably burn us alive. Because dear millennial, they usually say, you did not live through it. If only you would look at the figures, know your history, and They tell us not distinguish fact from fiction; to forget, because it the thought of being under is only by awareness Marcosian rule once more that we can fight the would be unimaginable. urge to be enamored And yet, many young people like moths to a flame perceive the prospect to be that will inevitably the be-all and end-all to the burn us alive. country’s ills. “Buti pa noong panahon ni Marcos…” is a line that we have heard too many times over coming from our generation. As the dominant critiques go, how else to describe this but indeed an unforgivable historical myopia? How could the youth forget the Filipino people’s fear of darkness and the euphoria of light? When democracy was reclaimed by people power, the perplexed ask, what are these young people but ignorant ingrates who would want to mindlessly throw it back into the hands of dictators? What use was the peaceful struggle of February 1986 if only for threat and coercion again to be foundations of law and order? As a young spectator of history, it is with humble

24

THE SWORD

dissent that I offer an answer – no, we did not forget the lessons of EDSA; we were just given a bogus version of history to remember. And it is precisely because this version holds so much power that the people are rendered powerless. “Handog ng Pilipino sa mundo, mapayapang paraang pagbabago.” Released in 1986, the song of the revolution was recorded by a huge ensemble of Filipino musicians. So resonant in the minds of the protesters, it was even inscribed in one of the statues in EDSA Shrine to constantly remind us of the legacy left by the EDSA People Power Revolution. And what a shimmering legacy it was certainly made to be. Said to have inspired a domino of revolts against dictators around the world, it was an offering that was to be etched in the annals of world history. After all, who would have thought that a bloodless revolution could be possible. But here lies the profound misnomer: EDSA People Power was neither bloodless nor a revolution. In a forum held last week in the University of the Philippines, one of the questions posed by a student to national candidates was “where were you in February 1986?” To which they said, they may have been in different parts of the country but they were certainly part of the revolution that ‘restored democracy.’ This struck me as odd because it seemed that the

Renaissance after the Dark Ages


answer to this merited an automatic ‘pass’ card for those who can attest to their presence in the revolution. That somehow standing behind Aquino, Enrile, and Ramos at the time meant that they were in the ‘good’ side of democracy, and a negative answer would be a foul cry to People Power and all its glory. But did anyone care to ask: Where were you in the student protests of 1977 against the proposed tuition hike? Where were you when the noise barrages were erupting in 1978 following Marcos’ electoral fraud? Where were you in the workers’ strikes of 1975 that demanded for the end of Martial Law? Where were you when these clashes resulted in incarceration, torture, and disappearance of persons that were never found? When pitted beside February 1986, can one actually say that the victory of Philippine democracy was one fought with bloodless, nonviolent, and ultimately peaceful means? I shudder at the suggestion. Just like how history names the time preceding the Renaissance as the ‘Dark Ages’, these 20 long years were painted as a shadow to the light of EDSA I. But as critical historiography would tell us, it is not so much that the Dark Ages were a time of barbarity and ignorance as it was of a time that historians have admitted to know little of for much of it has been ‘lost.’ Can the same be said for memories of the ‘dark’ years before 1983? Indeed, for it is not only the Marcoses that would want us to forget them but also the Aquinos, Ramoses, and Enriles who would be reduced to silence when asked ‘where were you all those years?’ And if we were to ask those who were there, when blood was spilled and futures disappeared, this is about the most unforgivable silence. Where were they all those years?

These so-called ‘heroes’ of EDSA I would be the first to invoke remembrance for the events of February 1986. It was, as they would put it, a historical moment wherein disaggregated members of society found a common voice to end the tyranny of the Marcos regime. It may just be the case that all dictators are tyrants, but not all tyrants take the shape of dictators. Sometimes they also make space for democracy, when they are certain that the resulting system can work better in their favor. And there’s the second rub: EDSA I falls flat of a

revolution, in a sense of an abrupt systemic rupture that transfers power from the hands of the ruler to the people. It was at best a product of elite collaboration through a carefully cut-out negotiation between the opposition and the military, euphemized under the restoration of democracy. Never mind the images that come to mind of tanks facing kneeling nuns in Metro Manila during that week; the democraEDSA I was at best cy deal was sealed long bea product of elite fore behind closed doors by collaboration through no other than those whose a carefully cut-out hands were emptied when negotiation between Marcos came to power. the opposition and the When the rights and libmilitary, euphemized erties of the common man under the restoration were taken away by Martial of democracy. Law, so were powers that were conveniently secured by all-too-familiar names through elections before 1972. Following Philippine independence, these landholding elite families were the first to vouch for democratic institutions for as long as elections remained as a battlefield among themselves and no one else. Even so, if the what of democracy were considered, elections and civil rights would certainly tell us that before Martial Law, the nation was a functioning democracy. Marcos was one of these, except he broke the pact. He exposed the fragility of the system by switching parties and after winning elections, gathered all scattered spheres of power into the center. He displaced these traditional political families from security with a loyalty network we now call to be his ‘cronies.’ Thus, his ‘revolution from the center’ required that the what of democracy be abolished completely, with a few questionable procedural concessions. It would not be a surprise then, that come 1983 onwards, the disenfranchised political families would be the faces of the eventual restoration of democracy. But not only was this a democracy in the what sense, but more importantly, in the sense of the who. The cracks of the regime were showing; the dam was about to break, and a vacuum was to be filled. It was an opportune time for these inert families who flew abroad or retreated into their provinces to resurface and take back what was theirs in the first place. Backed by the Lopezes, Cojuangcos, and other business elites whose properties were seized by the regime as well as the US’ foolhardy turnaround,

THE SWORD

25


the pieces were in place; victory was inevitable. What better way to show the necessity of democracy than a dramatic display of people power on the streets? Indeed, this is what set the four days of February 1986 apart from the so-called Dark Ages. Confetti was flown from above, civilians were smiling and giving roses to military men. Most importantly, there were photos, songs, and yellow ribbons to show for it. The strategy of nonviolent protests worked, not just because Marcos refrained from ordering the military to attack, but because those four days only served as a smokescreen to an already elite-engineered demise. No evidence of this comes closer to the series of elections following the restoration. Of course, the names we see on our ballots are a lot more than the Rolex 12. But have you seen them before? One look at our list of Presidents and Senators before 1972 would certainly teach us a thing or two about the supposed regime change Because the who of democracy will tell us that power was not restored to the common Filipino in February 1986. EDSA I was an image of elites pushing each other off the tower while the people watched from below. The real Thrilla in Manila was fought between the Cronies vs. Oligarchs but its victors would have us believe it was Good vs. Evil. And we all know that once this is invoked in Philippine politics, the people were always on the losing side without our knowing it. Of whose laughter and forgetting?

These aren’t the stories we are usually told this time of year, not only because of our (mis)education of facts and figures under Martial Law, but because of the one-sided narrative that is perpetuated by luster and lack: the well-edited documentaries and programs on the struggle of EDSA I shoved down the people’s throats by mainstream media as well as the absence of any version of a truth commission not only on Martial Law but the revolution as well, as certain academics would suggest. The latter was of course impeded by the fact that the Cory Aquino administration was fraught with as much compromise with the elites and the military that a truth commission would topple the fragile balance necessary to stabilize the administration. Setting the narrative straight on human rights violations and demanding accountability on collabora-

26

THE SWORD

tion with Marcos before these personalities switched sides would have marked an important milestone in transitional justice, but the resulting democracy was to be protected. Whatever skewed form it took and no matter how excluded the people turned out to be mattered less. There runs a joke that ABS-CBN owns EDSA I, and this may just well be the case. Whoever has the power over what the people should remember gains power over the structures that depend on these narratives to be legitimized. If people could choose their leaders and speak freely against the government; the rising cost of electricity and the sorry state of our transport system due to semi-privatization would be a secondary concern. In 1986, they tell us the story of how freedom was won by the people. Since then, it was these elite families’ responsibility to demand remembrance and gratitude because as they would put it, the democracy the people fought for is a work in progress. In no way am I suggesting that life was better during Martial Law and the democratic gains of EDSA I were to be disregarded altogether. But perhaps, it is high time to rethink the nostalgic triumphalism that envelops this period of history. The reason why young people are demanding for alternatives to this system is not so much because of willful ignorance. It is because they are frustrated by the realization that they It is high time to cannot find their so-called rethink the nostalgic democratic gains anywhere triumphalism that on empty dinner tables and envelops this period meager paychecks from conof history. tractual jobs. It is not surprising that a familiar line could encompass this: if this is what democracy looks like, then I’d rather not have it. If EDSA I was neither bloodless nor a true revolution, where does this leave us? We’ll have to be braver in our remembrances to reclaim its consequences. No, restoring elections has not made the country a genuine democracy, and the powers behind February 1986 took the chance from the people to fashion it according to their needs and vision. The system in place had relegated the silenced struggles of those twenty years to the sidelines. And once every three and six years, elites don’t lose the chance to use their control of resources, methods, and resources to make us believe that they are the


only choices we have. Let’s not fall into the trap of the standards they tell us to look for. Experience, track record, and personal values only tell us one thing: that they are adept at operating in the very status quo that has left our democracy as far as possible from our everyday realities. It is not good governance from messiahs above that will save us but governance by the people from below. This is what genuine democracy looks like. Let this vision not be robbed by threats of impracticality and unsustainability from a patrimonial minority who will do everything to prevent the rise of true people power bold enough to prioritize rights over their privilege. It is perhaps an advantage that we know the least about Martial Law and EDSA I because this may mean that we have the greatest power to accommodate the narratives we are made to forget and resist the only ones we are forced to remember. This is the only way our everyday realities of prevailing human rights violations and massive inequality can make sense. Democracy in this country was never truly in the people’s hands. Perhaps what Garcia-Marquez had in mind applies to us best: “what matters is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” Say #NeverForget to Martial Law and EDSA I, but say #NeverAgain as well not just to the Marcoses but to the political economic arrangement we call a democracy now that has never been decided for and by the people

THE SWORD

27


VOTES FOR SALE Vote Buying and the ‘Bobotantes’ Vienne Rose G. Delmonte

Vote Buying has been rampant every election in different provinces in the Philippines and has been perhaps an open secret – everyone knows but no one tells. According to COMELEC Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, the automated elections has seen a decrease in cheating – as avenues for such practices decrease – but accompanied by more vote buying incidents.1 The ‘seller’ is commonly perceived as a voter swayed by monetary gifts or any particularistic benefits in exchange for his/her vote while the ‘buyers’ are usually politicians or parties vying for a seat in the elections. These ‘sellers’ are usually condemned for selling votes and are tagged as ‘bobotantes’, not thinking of the long term consequences of such actions. However, in the age of automated election and secret ballots, how do these ‘buyers’ ensure that they get what they paid for? Do voters vote for the candidate with the highest bid or do they still vote according to platforms and credentials? Is there really such a thing as a bobotante? To answer these questions, it is perhaps better to understand first the how to’s of the transaction itself. Vote buying doesn’t come as a two-way process; networks of patron-client ties are usually involved. The head patron – a politician or a party – has clients who are also the patrons – usually called ‘leaders’– of other clients. During the campaign season, leaders roam around their barangays to talk to their families, friends and neighbours, and ask for support for their politician. They will later on pass a list of names to the politician. The politician’s staff will then check the names in the COMELEC’s list

28

THE SWORD

of voters. In some small towns where everyone knows everyone, it is easy to remove the names of those known as supporters of their opponent; this is associated with ‘Turnout Buying’ and ‘Rewarding Loyalists’ strategies. In the former, parties or politicians reward “unmobilized The ‘seller’ is supporters in exchange for commonly perceived showing up at the polls”.2 as a voter swayed by Thus, they are more focused monetary gifts or any on monitoring whether particularistic benefits their supporters voted rathin exchange for his/ er than who voted for whom. her vote while the The opposite of this can also ‘buyers’ are usually be used by the other parpoliticians or parties ty where they pay their opvying for a seat in the ponent’s supporters to not elections. show up on the Election Day. The latter focuses on rewarding supporters both inclined to vote and not.3 Both of course assume that a candidate has enough support bases to win the election. Some include even the supporters of their opponent with the hope of swaying their votes towards them; this is associated with strategies like ‘Vote Buying’ – whose focus is on indifferent and opposition voters inclined to vote – and ‘Double Persuasion’ – similar to vote buying strategy but focuses on those who aren’t inclined to vote.4 Most of the time, combination of these strategies are employed to secure votes in the election. After validating the lists, the team attach the money (or any other good thereof) to a flyer or a sample ballot. Some politicians distribute the ‘gifts’ separately – one envelope


per politician – while some do it by group – one envelope containing ‘gifts’ from different politicians, usually in the same slate. The distribution is usually done a day up until hours More than finger before the election. In some pointing, there should places, during the election be a continuous effort itself, some supporters hand to understand the out sample ballots which reasons and different are sometimes attached to a ‘chicklet’ – a bill packed like perceptions leading to this phenomenon. a bubble gum – in front of the precincts. The amount depends on the position the politician is running for and on the standard of living in the locality. With all these sophisticated processes of buying and selling of votes, it begs the question: How do these leaders and politicians check who voted for whom? Monitoring is much easier in small towns where family bloc voting is prevalent. In these areas, it is easier to track who accepted money from whom and consequently, who likely voted for the opponent. These candidates usually have eyes and ears in different barangays to know who are the supporters (mobilized or not) of the opponent. Some, however, relies on the poll watchers to verify to the extent that threatening and coercion are used. This trade of benefits for votes is usually condemned but cannot be do away with. Fingers are pointed to both ends of the deal and both may face sanctions. Candidates, on the one hand, may face charges and disqualifications. Vote sellers may also face charges and are usually seen as ‘bobotantes’ who think only of short term outcomes and do not consider the grave corruption these politicians will engage into to get their money back. But does voting the highest bidder automatically make a person ‘bobotante’? Are they really irrational voters? Some people sell their votes depending on the pool of candidates. If the people view all candidates the same, corrupt politicians, then voting any candidate wouldn’t make any difference. People vote and support for the politician with the highest bid not because of the money per se, but because they have the highest chance of winning; thus, getting patronage will be more probable. Others accept the money and/or goods from candidates but vote for their preferred choice. And there are still those who deliberately refuse to accept the so-called dirty money. Concluding that these ‘bobotantes’ will vote for the candidate because of and for money alone is an over simplification of the underlying reasons

for such actions and is discounting instances where candidates win without resorting to vote buying over candidates who do. Those involved in such illicit activities should, of course, face charges; but perhaps, more than finger pointing, there should be a continuous effort to understand the reasons and different perceptions leading to this phenomenon

THE SWORD

29


IS DUTERTE THE ‘TRUMP OF THE EAST’? Mareane Mabel Chavez

The year 2016 is crucial year for both Philippines and United State since this year will mark who will be the next leaders for both countries. One of the important observations from this election period is the notable characteristics of the leading figures/ candidates vying for the presidency – both are popular for their tough-talk. Donald Trump and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte – the latter being an inch away to electoral victory – both made misogynistic, offensive, and ridiculous remarks against other political figures and issues during their campaign. Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party in the US Presidential elections, is notorious for his loud-mouth populism whereby the candidate left ridiculous remarks including that women who seek abortions should be punished, and that Mexico should pay for a wall at the U.S. border. Despite his unabashed political shaming, Trump has risen as the front-runner candidate of GOP. On the one hand, Duterte, dubbed as ‘the punisher’ has thrown misogynist remarks on the Australian nun rape victim in 1989, called the Pope a ‘son of a bitch’, kisses his female supporters among others. However, his blatant demeanor served no obstacle to his meteoric rise to power as he topped the Philippine presidential polls. Amidst their penchant with tough-talk and their popularity, is Rody Duterte comparable to Trump? Or to be more precise, can we appropriately call Duterte as the ‘Trump of the East’?1 Both presidential aspirants are self-proclaimed political outsiders who are fed up by mainstream politicians and the tiresome rules of

30

THE SWORD

the game. The image of a political outsider might be true in the case of Trump but not for Duterte − who has been the father figure of Davao’s political clan for more than two decades. Interestingly, some critics would proclaim that both Both presidential figures are projections and aspirants are selfembodiment of the majority proclaimed political of the voters’ frustrations in outsiders who are fed state of society that they are up by mainstream in. Duterte, however, does politicians and the not easily fit Trump’s shoes. tiresome rules of This local politician comthe game. ing from the poorer region of the Philippines tells us a story that goes far beyond his obscene comments and rape jokes. After decades of elections studded with traditional –often landed – politicians, elites, and celebrities, here comes a ‘strong man’ candidate with a relatively clear platform. Tired of the embellished rhetoric of your ‘same old’ politicians, a common Filipino voter could potentially pinpoint that this mayor from Davao has brought quite concrete platforms in the table – suppressing drugs, criminality, and corruption within six months of his rule. The use of street language and the ‘strong man’ image that he projects strengthen the point that this man could deliver. No doubt that this avid supporters and followers hold on to the belief that with Duterte’s leadership, ‘change is coming’.2 Compared to Trump, the rise of Duterte as exhibited by his massive following and supporters tells us that there is yearning for an authoritarian, iron


hand style of leadership in this illiberal democracy who is facing widening poverty amidst economic growth. Interestingly, the next president of the Philippines is able to consolidate his appeal and support from the broad political spectrum. He proclaimed that he is the first “Left President” of the Republic and has the support of Moro rebels. On the one hand, Duterte’s “the punisher” image and his style of leadership appeals to a right-wing strand of politics.3 Duterte extends far beyond the idea of a “Donald Trump of the East”. Some critics claim that the Philippine leader is far worse.4 However, the 14 million votes garnered by Duterte in the recent presidential elections hints us the idea that millions of Filipino might be searching for this ‘hero’ figure or the ‘last card’ that could salvage the country from social inequality stemming from widespread corruption and criminality. The triumph of Duterte calls for Filipinos to be more vigilant in the next six years as swift justice to be delivered by ‘the punisher’ threatens the democratic institutions and processes that we have struggled and cried for thirty years ago

THE SWORD

31


32

THE SWORD


THE DEMANDS OF MULTILATERALISM The Case of APEC

Maria Elize H. Mendoza

Today’s globalized world calls for an “enduring need” for multilateralism and multilateral institutions.1 Multilateral institutions are seen as vital mechanisms to ensure cooperation given the world’s anarchic setup. However, there is a tendency to treat multilateral institutions with much idealism that one fails to look beyond the cooperative opportunities that they present. Given the two usual forms of multilateral institutions i.e. security and economic multilateralism, this paper will specifically tackle economic multilateralism. This paper argues that while some multilateral economic institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) exhibit success,2 the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is an illustration of what Ruggie calls a ‘demanding’ institutional form due to its complexities.3 Moreover, it has not been very effective in delivering outcomes and progress despite its more than 25 years of existence. This paper seeks to analyze the complexities of APEC by looking at its accomplishments, issues, and concerns by looking at the different measures of effectiveness for multilateral institutions and how these apply to APEC as a multilateral institution.

nized patterns of behavior or practice around which expectations converge”.5 Institutionalists espouse the belief that institutions can promote peace and achieve cooperation. HowevThe Asia Pacific er, Ruggie asserts that there Economic Coopermust be an assessment of ation (APEC) forum the qualitative or substantive is an illustration of dimensions of the concept what Ruggie calls a that goes beyond the num‘demanding’ instituber of actors involved in the tional form due to its coordination process.6 For complexities. Ruggie, what makes multilateralism distinct is not just the number of actors that coordinate policies, but it is that their actions are based on generalized principles of conduct.7 By ‘generalized principles of conduct’, these are principles that ignore particularistic interests of any state involved, but rather are principles that “specify appropriate conduct for a class of actions”.8 From these definitions, Ruggie derives his argument that “multilateralism is a highly demanding institutional form” – first, pursuits must be an indivisible whole (e.g. trade) and second, there must be reciprocity.9 The complexity of multilateralism

MULTILATERALISM AND MULTILATERAL INSTITUTIONS Defining multilateralism

Multilateralism is often understood according to its nominal definition: “the practice of coordinating national policies in groups of three or more states”.4 Institutions are broadly defined as “recog-

While it cannot be denied that an open multilateral economic system is necessary due to globalization and the increased interdependence among states at present, Krueger’s simplistic view on the role and necessity of economic multilateral institutions lacks an analysis of the greater dynamics of the said relations.10 For a ‘well-functioning multi-

THE SWORD

33


lateral international economic system’ to prosper, there needs to be compliance among member-states when it comes to their negotiations and agreements. Touval recognizes the fact that multilateral negotiations are often ambiguous which increase the tendency for mixed consequences.11 This paper argues that in relation to the complex and often ambiguous nature of multilateral institutions and cooperation, APEC does not subscribe to the requirements of a well-functioning economic system due to its ineffectiveness, thus justifying the claim that multilateral arrangements cannot be simply reduced to agreements between three or more states, rather they are both complex and demanding in that much is expected from the member-states who form the multilateral institutions. ASIA PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION FORUM AS A MULTILATERAL INSTITUTION

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is a multilateral institution in the Asia-Pacific formed in 1989 by twelve founding members; namely: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and the United States.12 At present, APEC has 21 member-economies. The formulation and objectives of the APEC forum

APEC was formed alongside the rise of multilateral institutions following the end of the Cold War. The APEC forum did not originally intend to create a free trade area.13 The motives for the formulation of the APEC forum were declared in the Seoul APEC Declaration: “to promote growth and development in the region through economic cooperation, and specifically to enhance trade liberalization in line with the principles of the multilateral system”.14 Underlying motives are to counter the development of European and North American blocs and to set up “an informal economic dialogue to help coordinate trade issues”.15 It was not until the Bogor Declaration in 1994 when APEC’s commitment to trade liberalization was intensified. The Declaration stated the APEC’s paramount goal to implement free trade and investment (i.e. complete removal of trade barriers) by 2010 for the developed member-economies and 2020 for developing

34

THE SWORD

members.16 The complexity of APEC: issues and concerns

Diversity in membership The diversity in APEC’s membership is in terms of its member-economies’ differences in economic priorities and interests. As a regional institution, APEC is supposed to exhibit unity, cooperation, and coordination in its policies and priorities, yet this has not been the case. Thus, the diversity of its membership has been one of the factors that have contributed to APEC’s inefficiencies and policy failures. A concrete example is the Early Voluntary Sectoral Liberalization (EVSL) proposal, which aims to “accelerate the pace of trade liberalization within the group”.17 The negotiations to implement the proposal involved the United States with its neoliberal agenda and Japan with its desire to protect its agriculture sector. The EVSL proposal did not concretize because of – but not solely due to – the differences between APEC’s members; with one side advocating the dismantling of national barriers (the United States) and the other defending national autonomy (Japan).18 Organizational setup Another major problem underlying APEC’s inefficiencies is its organizational setup. First and foremost, APEC decisions are reached through consensus and without formal voting. Second, the implementation of negotiations is non-binding and voluntary.20 This means that members enjoy no penalties for non-compliance: members are not compelled to take action and the institution itself lacks the mechanisms to compel them to do so.21 This kind of setup for APEC is problematic for it does not provide states any incentive to stick to their negotiations. It is only in theory wherein members share the same goal and each In reality, the lack of are determined to work tobinding mechanisms wards that goal.22 However, in APEC makes the in reality, the lack of bindcommitment to the ing mechanisms in APEC goals of the institution makes the commitment to a political and not the goals of the institution a legal one. a political and not a legal 23 one. Moreover, there are stark differences in the degrees of interest and commitment for the APEC processes.24 Ultimately, this kind of setup poses a


grave problem to APEC’s goal of a completely free and liberalized trade and investment relations in the region for again, it would be difficult to compel members to comply in the absence of strict and binding mechanisms.25 Uncertainty of purpose With the failure of the EVSL process to concretize, trade liberalization appears out of APEC’s agenda. Only two of APEC’s pillars remained: (1) trade/ business facilitation and (2) economic and technical cooperation. Thus, APEC went into a search for its agenda. The expansion of the scope of issues being covered by APEC is another problem. Aggarwal and Lin notes that APEC is now dealing with issues away from trade and investment liberalization to others such as “infrastructure, the environment, women issues, and other social problems”.26 While this is not entirely negative, it is unfortunate for APEC to undertake new objectives while its original goals remain unaccomplished. Probably the most pressing criticism of APEC thus far is the question of redundancy which attacks the existence of the institution itself. Beeson notes that “APEC has been steadily undermined by developments on both the bilateral and multilateral fronts.27 At a multilateral level, APEC appears increasingly irrelevant”. Regarding trade liberalization, he also argues that APEC seems redundant due to the existence and stability of the World Trade Organization which performs the same function as APEC.28 Moreover, what gives the WTO an edge over APEC is that “its members are subject to legally binding commitments, has effective monitoring procedures, and a dispute mechanism process that can actually impose sancThese supposed tions” – all of these are abredundancies have sent from APEC.29 In light of given the APEC other organizations which are an image of being able to accomplish the same merely “talk shops” things APEC is vying for, – all talk and barely questioning the existence of any action. APEC is not an unreasonable thing to do. Moreover, these supposed redundancies have given the APEC an image of being merely “talk shops” – all talk and barely any action. Beeson recognizes APEC’s attempts to contribute in areas such as economic infrastructure, human

capital, technology and business development, however, he regards these efforts as “a triumph of process over substance”.30 Moreover, this goes back to the earlier argument that although there is nothing wrong with APEC pursuing these contributions, it still has to address the gaps in its own original agenda. Accomplishments of APEC

According to Bisley, the APEC was able to deliver benefits for trade facilitation.31 Trade facilitation often refers to “a wide range of bureaucratic and administrative measures that help reduce transaction costs of international trade”.32 True enough, APEC was able to facilitate the lowering of tariffs and the easier entry of imports across its member-economies, thus making trade among APEC members one of the biggest in the world – and this is supported by the fact that APEC’s membership consists of powerful countries such as the United States, Russia, China, and Japan. Bisley added that APEC also has contributions in politics and security.33 Due to its annual leaders’ meetings, APEC was able to provide an arena for different world leaders to engage in political dialogues. Aggarwal and Lin also credit APEC for the creation of the Economic and Technical Cooperation (Ecotech) as one of the main pillars of the APEC’s structure. Such measures are important components towards full liberalization.34 EFFECTIVENESS OF MULTILATERAL INSTITUTIONS Measures of effectiveness

Doran provides two seemingly simple measures for effectiveness: the first stage is successful multilateral negotiation; and the second stage is demonstration that what has been negotiated is a success in terms of output, production, or fulfillment of purpose.35 In short, Doran’s measures for effectiveness rests on the delivery of outcomes and fulfillment of goals. Aggarwal and Morrison provides an additional criterion for assessing institutional effectiveness: “the ability to affect national actions to achieve common objectives”.36 This notion of effectiveness is related to the common expectations for multilateral institutions – that they are instruments for cooperation to achieve common goals, and this is usually

THE SWORD

35


peace. Assessing the APEC forum’s effectiveness

(a) Given Doran’s measure of effectiveness in terms of successful multilateral negotiations, APEC may have had successes but it still falls a little short.37 According to Aggarwal and Lin, APEC members have expressed their commitment to multilateralism but still continued to engage in bilateral trade negotiations.38 Moreover, after the EVSL incident, Ravenhill notes that the members’ behavior of signing bilateral trade agreements led to the loss of credibility of the Bogor Declaration goals (free trade for all by 2020), and this action was also an indication that some of the member-economies were not wholly committed to the Bogor Declaration goals.39 (b) Next, in assessing APEC on its ability to successfully translate negotiations into tangible outcomes, it is important to pay attention to the premise of the measurement. Since the first stage of measurement requires successful multilateral negotiations, the second stage is presumably concerned with the outcomes of those multilateral negotiations. However, as argued above, APEC has fallen short of successfully sealing multilateral negotiations but are instead proceeding to trade agreements in a bilateral manner. Therefore, it cannot be answered with certainty whether APEC was able to fulfill the second measurement since there are two types of negotiations involved in the process when it should have only been just the multilateral form. (c) Lastly, Aggarwal and Morrison looks at effectiveness as the institution’s ability to shape national actions towards the achievement of common goals.40 For this measurement, given the case of EVSL and the Bogor Declaration goals, APEC also does not meet the requirement. On the case of EVSL, one of the primary reasons behind its abolishment was due to the United States’ and Japan’s different national priorities – the former was for full trade liberalization, the latter was concerned with its domestic industries. As for the Bogor Declaration goals, the apparent lack of commitment of member-economies to pursue and meet the

36

THE SWORD

Bogor deadlines show that member-economies are not united as expected of other multilateral institutions. There are many more measures to effectiveness, yet the paper chose to restrict its measures to just these three. After an assessment of the given measures, APEC as a multilateral institution has not been very effective. To end this section, the author cites Beeson’s stark claim: “For an organization that began with such high hopes, APEC has achieved surprisingly little.”41 CONCLUSION

The discussion is centered on the author’s agreement with Ruggie when he said that multilateralism is a demanding and complex institutional form.42 This paper attempted to illustrate this ‘demanding’ and ‘complex’ nature of multilateral institutions through the example of APEC. APEC as an institution is filled with complexities ranging from its membership, to its organizational setup, and up to its purpose. Even though complexities in the case of APEC have inhibited its growth and success as an institution, it is still necesTo reap the benefits sary to critically assess othof cooperation, there er multilateral institutions needs to be a genufor their own complexities. ine sense of unity in Furthermore, after an assessment of APEC for its ef- achieving one’s goals. fectiveness as a multilateral institution, the paper’s observations are on the negative side. According to the three measures of effectiveness employed, APEC has not achieved much given its more than 25 years of existence. This paper is not calling for the abolishment of APEC. It sees the merit of APEC as an institution that can potentially successfully promote trade liberalization in the Asia Pacific region for the benefit of each of the member economies. Rather, it agrees with Bisley that APEC needs reforms.43 APEC as an institution is handicapped by having member-economies with different priorities and levels of commitment. To reap the benefits of cooperation, there needs to be a genuine sense of unity in achieving one’s goals


TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP Redefining Sovereignty Ryan Ralph X. Nicolas

The United States government, through the efforts

of President Obama, is currently railroading the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), arguably one of the most controversial trade agreements of late. Despite the announcement from participating countries that the partnership intends to enhance trade and investment in a globalized economy, many sectors criticize and protest against the deal. Besides the fact that it is secretly negotiated among the participating states, it contains controversial provisions, from enabling corporations to sue states for their losses to the creation of arbitration bodies that will rule on these cases, decisions of which can overrule decisions of national courts. Is TPP a justifiable response to the challenges posed by globalization? The Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement is a trade agreement among Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the TPP will produce the following results:1 (1) support the US export industry, (2) enforce fundamental labor rights, (3) promote strong environmental protection, and (4) help small businesses with the increased trade. However, many sectors point out the flaws in the trade agreement, citing the lack of transparency in the proceedings,2 the possibility of creating a loop-

hole that would incentivize currency manipulation,3 the enforcement of copyright laws that could restrict import of intellectual property, and the new rights it gives to corporations that could allow them to circumvent existing and future environmental protection laws4. Where TPP touches on sovereignty

The most controversial provision of the trade agreement is arguably the one called the “Investor-State Dispute Settlement� (ISDS). The provision would allow foreign companies to challenge national laws of member countries or sue governments without stepping inside the courts of those countries and even gain payments for The necessity of the damages, which would of ISDS provision is course be paid for by taxpayquestioned as TPP ers. The provision enables member-countries are companies to sue governments for losses incurred hardly developing nor due to public policies like do they have unstable environmental laws. An ex- political environments. ample: if a member-country decides to ban chemicals usually mixed in petroleum products because of their harmful effects to the environment and the ban would cause a petroleum company to incur losses, that company could sue the government. And if the company won in the arbitration, the decision cannot be challenged in national courts.5 The justification for the creation of ISDS is the experience of corporations with unreliable and weak legal systems that exist in developing countries atop

THE SWORD

37


unstable political environments that posed strong threats to their investments.6 However, the necessity of the ISDS provision is questioned as TPP member-countries are hardly developing nor do they have unstable political environments. If anything, it only weakens the power of states over multinational corporations. The challenge on the proponents of the agreement is then big. They have to prove that Westphalian norm of sovereignty should be deliberately violated for the alleged benefits of TPP. Sovereignty in the age of globalization

TPP is not an isolated “attack� to sovereignty. In 1994, a similar treaty, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), was agreed upon. Changes in the global political landscape brought about by economic globalization saw the rise of such kind of international agreements. While TPP seems to have been created to ultimately favor multinational corporations, the argument for the creation of such free trade agreements and rules and mechanisms that override national sovereignty have their merits. The increased mobility of capital has rewarded disregard for fundamental labor and environmental rights and penalized doing otherwise. It has made the playing field uneven by giving states who In an era where violate labor rights and perthere is high capital mit excessive damages to the mobility and climate environment unfair advanchange is a pressing tage, such as in the case of issue, Westphalian China, which has become a sovereignty should global manufacturing powbecome obsolete. erhouse at the expense of the rights of its people and the degradation of its environment. These are some pressing issues that trade agreements like TPP intend to address. If we are to level the playing field in a globalized economy, protect labor rights, and protect the environment from extensive damages, some kind of mechanism that, to some extent, infringes on national sovereignty should be created. Therefore, in an era where there is high capital mobility and climate change is a pressing issue, Westphalian sovereignty should become obsolete. Conclusion

World leaders’ efforts to address issues brought

38

THE SWORD

about by globalization are appreciated. However, using them to covertly favor multinational corporations at the expense of the rest of the society is a grave and unforgivable attack to national sovereignty intended to protect the people. Diminishing sovereignty is not in itself wrong. Instead, I even argued that it is needed. But what the people should do is be keen on the provisions for mechanisms that intend to ameliorate international problems by stealthily intending to favor only a few, as in the case of TPP


ENDNOTES POWER POINT: Why Power is the Point of Politics? 1

The editor may be guilty of assuming that feminists are united in emancipatory goals, as opposed to liberal and postmodern feminists.

2

Though earlier works reveal that, in the sense of the Hobbesian state, power is repressive, Foucault had changed his stance (1980).

3

Mao Tse Tung, concluding speech at the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s Sixth Plenary Session, November 6, 1938.

4

As warned by Dr. Jorge V. Tigno in my Introduction to Politics (POLSC 11) class.

COLLECTIVES, THE STATE, AND POLITICS 1 Michel Foucault, “The Subject and Power,” Critical Inquiry 8, no. 4 (1982): 777-95. 2 Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards Radical Democratic Politics (London: Verso, 1985). 3 Andrew Heywood, Political Ideologies: An Introduction (Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). 4 Foucault, The History of Sexuality Volume I: An Introduction (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981), 89. 5 Jacques Rancière, “Ten Theses on Politics,” Theory and Event 5, no. 3 (2001). http://www.egs.edu/faculty/jacques-ranciere/articles/ten-thesis-on-politics/. 6 Rancière, Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy, trans. by Julie Rose (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2004). 7 Oliver Davis, Jacques Rancière (Cambridge: Polity, 2010). 8 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil (New York: Penguin, 1982 [1651]). 9 Michel Foucault, “Right of Death and Power over Life,” in The History of Sexuality Volume I: An Introduction, trans. by Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon, 1978 [1976]). 10 Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. by Daniel Heller–Roazen (California: Stanford Univ. Press, 1998).

POLITICS IN THE MUNDANE: The Ideal Relationship 1 Aristotle, Politics, trans. by Benjamin Jowett (Oxford: Clarendon, n.d.). Plato, The Republic, trans. by Benjamin Jowett (Miami: Colonial, n.d.). 2 I agree that there is, in fact, arranged marriage. However, this fails to be a romantic relationship in its primordial stage, since there exists no self-actualized link between the people involved.

THINKING OUTSIDE THE IDIOT BOX: Political Activism in the Digital Age 1 For the purposes of this essay, the term “clicktivism” implies the act of clicking various social media buttons to share, propagate, and disseminate political opinions and commentaries within this realm. 2 D.S. Brown, An Educational Primer for the Majority Student (Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2011). 3 Basically, “idiot” box is a term for a television. In the context of this critique, it will be used as any electronic device that delivers and receives electronic signals and displays them on screen. 4 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punishment (New York: Vintage Books, 1995). 202-203. 5 Louis Althusser, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Lenin and Philosophy and other Essays, trans. by Ben Brewster (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971). 162. 6 Simone Chambers and Jeffrey Kopstein, “Civil Society and the State” in Dryzek, J., Honig, B. and Phillips, A. The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006). 370. 7 The millennials are defined as “those born in 1982 and approximately the 20 years thereafter.” 8 Tom DiPrete as cited byPhilip Bump, “Here is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts.” The Atlantic. (2014). http://www.theatlantic.com/ national/archive/2014/03/here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/359589/ 9 Ibid. 10 Shakira Sison, “The trouble with Filipino fanaticism.” Rappler. (2015). http://www.rappler.com/views/imho/107612-trouble-filipino-fanaticism 11 Colin Hay and Michael Lister, The State: Theories and Issues (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). 11. 12 Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: The Will to Knowledge (London: Penguin Books, 1998). 100-101. 13 Christopher Nolan, dir. Inception. Warner Bros. Pictures. 2010. Film. 14 Michel Foucault as cited by Didier Eribon, Michel Foucault (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1991). 282. 15 Seymour Martin Lipset, Political man: the social bases of politics (New York: Doubleday, 1960). 432. 16 Peter Bachrach, The theory of democratic elitism: a critique (Massachusetts: Little Brown, 1967). 109.

THE SWORD

39


CLICKING OUR WAY TOWARDS POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT? 1 The digital voice-command assistant in iPhones. 2 Berin Szoka, “Toward a Greater Understanding of Internet Activism”. Cato Unbound. (2012). http://www.cato-unbound.org/2012/05/07/berin-szoka/to ward-a-greater-understanding-internet-activism. 3 “Everything is connected; Can internet activism turn into a real political movement?”. The Economist. (2013). http://www.economist.com/ news/brief ing/21569041-can-internet-activism-turn-real-political-movement-everything-connected. 4 Berin Szoka, “Toward a Greater Understanding of Internet Activism”. Cato Unbound. (2012). http://www.cato-unbound.org/2012/05/07/berin-szoka/to ward-a-greater-understanding-internet-activism. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid. 7 Evgeny Morozov, “Why Social Movements Should Ignore Social Media”. New Republic. (2012). http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112189/social-media- doesnt-always-help-social-movements. 8 Moya Mason, “Foucault and His Panopticon”. (2015). http://www.moyak.com/papers/ michel-foucault-power.html.

VOTES FOR SALE: Vote Buying and the ‘Bobotantes’ 1 “Ex-Comelec Exec on 2016 Polls: ‘Vote-buying Now Is Just Crazy’.” Rappler, 2016. http://www.rappler.com/nation/politics/elections/2016/132187-ex- comelec-larrizabal-2016-vote-buying. 2 Gans-Morse, Jordan, Sebastian Mazzuca, and Simeon Nichter. “Who Gets Bought? Vote Buying, Turnout Buying, and Other Strategies.” Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, 2009 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid.

IS DUTERTE THE ‘TRUMP OF THE EAST’? 1 Chan, Melissa. 2016. “John Oliver Calls Rodrigo Duterte the ‘Trump of the East’”. Retrieved from: http://time.com/4322636/john-oliver-duterte-trump-of- the-east/ 2 Chao, Steve and Loz Gooch. 2016. “Rodrigo Duterte: The Donald Trump of the Philippines?”. Retrieved from: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/fea tures/2016/04/rodrigo-duterte-dirty-harry-philippine-politics-160410072246097.html 3 Heydarian, Richard. 2016. “The Folly Of Philippines’ Autocratic Nostalgia”. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-javad-heydarian/philip pines-troubled-demo_b_9791610.html 4 Rauhala, Emily. 2016. “The ‘Trump of the East’ could be the next president of the Philippines”. Retrieved from:https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/ asias-version-of-donald-trump-may-be-the-philippines-next-president/2016/05/06/f2c30f12-120b-11e6-a9b5-bf703a5a7191_story.html

THE DEMANDS OF MULTILATERALISM: The Case of APEC 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

40

Anne Krueger, “An enduring need: multilateralism in the twenty-first century”. Oxford Review of Economic Policy 23(3): 335-346. Jiro Okamoto, “Trade Liberalization and APEC”. Trade Liberalization and APEC (London: Routledge, 2004). John Ruggie, “Multilateralism: the Anatomy of an Institution”. International Organization 46(3) (1992): 561-598. Ibid. Robert Keohane (1990). John Mearsheimer, “The False Promise of International Institutions”. International Security 19(3) (1994-1995): 8. Ruggie 566 Ruggie 567 Ruggie 571 Ruggie 572 Krueger 355 Saadia Touval, “Negotiated cooperation and its alternatives”. International Cooperation: The Extents and Limits of Multilateralism, eds. I. William Zartman and Saadia Touval. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010). 85. Ian Taylor, “Neo-Liberal Globalism And Multilateralism: The Asia Pacific Economic Co-Operation Forum (APEC) as a Terrain of Struggle” Working paper no.99. (2003). 3. Akiko Yanai, “Characteristics of APEC trade liberalization: a comparative analysis with the WTO”. Trade Liberalization and APEC, edited by Jiro Okamoto, (London: Routledge, 2004). 9-32. Nick Bisley, “Australia and APEC in the twenty-first century: Love, lost and found”. APEC and the search for relevance: 2007 and beyond, edited by Lorraine Elliott et al., (Canberra: Australian National University, 2006). 27. Taylor 3-4

THE SWORD


16 John Ravenhill, “From poster child to orphan: The rise and demise of APEC”. APEC and the search for relevance: 2007 and beyond, edited by Lorraine Elliott et al., (Canberra: Australian National University, 2006). 4-15. 17 Taylor 3-4 18 Ravenhill 9 19 Ibid. 20 Richard Feinberg, “Seeking Balance: Two Decades of the APEC Forum”. Global Asia 3(1) (2008): 66. 21 Vinod Aggarwal and Charles Morrison. 1999. “APEC as an International Institution”. Paper prepared for the 25th PAFTAD meeting, Osaka, Japan, June 16- 18, 1999. 22 Ibid. 23 Ibid. 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid. 26 Vinod Aggarwal and Kun-Chin Lin. “APEC International Assessment Network (APIAN) Issue Report: APEC as an Institution”. Prepared for the APIAN Execu tive Committee for the First APIAN Policy Report. (2001). 3. 27 Beeson, Mark. 2009. “APEC: bigger, but no better?”. Institutions of the Asia-Pacific: ASEAN, APEC, and beyond (New York: Routledge, 2009). 50. 28 Ibid. 29 Ibid. 30 Ibid. 31 Bisley 28 32 Ibid. 33 Ibid. 34 Aggarwal and Lin 3 35 Charles Doran, “The two sides of multilateral cooperation”. International Cooperation: The Extents and Limits of Multilateralism, eds. I. William Zartman and Saadia Touval, (New York: Cambridge University Press: 2010). 55. 36 Aggarwal and Morrison 22 37 Doran 55 38 Aggarwal and Lin 2 39 Ravenhill 11-12 40 Aggarwal and Morrison 22 41 Beeson 54 42 Ruggie 572 43 Bisley 28

TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP: Redefining Sovereignty 1 “Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),” United States Trade Representative, accessed May 4, 2015, https://ustr.gov/tpp. 2 Zach Carter, “Alan Grayson On Trans-Pacific Partnership: Obama Secrecy Hides ‘Assault On Democratic Government,’” The Huffington Post, June 18, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/18/alan-grayson-trans-pacific-partnership\_n\_3456167.html. 3 Howard Schneider, “From WikiLeaks to the Tea Party, Obama Trade Pact Weathers a Tough Day.” Washington Post, November 13, 2013, http:// www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/for-controversial-trade-pact-fire-from-the-left-the-right-and-wikileaks/2013/11/13/118e5d28-4c9a-11e3- ac54-aa84301ced81\_story.html. 4 “Press Release: Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) - Environment Chapter,” Wikileaks, last modified January 15, 2014, accessed May 4, 2015, https://wikileaks.org/tpp-enviro/pressrelease.html. 5 Elizabeth Warren, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership Clause Everyone Should Oppose,” Washington Post, February 25, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost. com/opinions/kill-the-dispute-settlement-language-in-the-trans-pacific-partnership/2015/02/25/ec7705a2-bd1e-11e4-b274-e5209a3bc9a9\_story.html. 6 Ibid.

THE SWORD

41


University of the Philippines Political Society (UP POLSCi) www.uppoliticalsociety.com | uppoliticalsociety@gmail.com | facebook.com/up.political.society | twitter.com/up_polsci Kanlungan Tambayan Complex, East Wing, Palma Hall, University of the Philippines–Diliman

Profile for The Sword UP Political Society

The Sword: The UP POLSCi Review of Political Science  

Academic Year 2015-2016 "Exploring the Core of Politics"

The Sword: The UP POLSCi Review of Political Science  

Academic Year 2015-2016 "Exploring the Core of Politics"

Advertisement