[OPINION] Caesar through Digong: Why we need to be political
I have always been a political apostate who views politics either as a tool to reshape the world, or as a technique of those in power to maintain their stranglehold. Since childhood, I have developed a keen interest in history, particularly world history and the tragic picture it paints upon mankind. As such, I do exhibit a cynical view of established parties and personalities. My view of politics is influenced by my view of the Philippines still subsuming to the perils of vices, of a heritage of smallness and our penchant for despots.
The 2016 elections was my first time to vote, though I never considered voting as the pinnacle of politics. The frenzy over Duterte was all-year-round. I never shared the enthusiasm of many, but I understand it. Years of elite rule have made the masses of people hopeful – too hopeful – for a man to save this country from its corruption.
Even if I already had doubts and misgivings, I kept silent for the first year and a half. I watched my news feed explode over the issues of the day: EJKs, the Marcos burial, banal comments, etc. I was too careful not to toe the party line. Opposing Duterte on the grounds of human rights was, back then, too elitist and liberal. I thus became a fence-sitter, and an unofficial enabler.
That same year, I kept thinking to myself that we were witnessing a gigantic ripping of the world’s social fabric. For me, this confirmed my numerous forays into radical social philosophy. I was caught under the spell of the elusive Oswald Spengler, author of The Decline of the West. Proposing a theory of cycles in civilizations, Spengler argued that we as societies have limited lifespans, always ending in Wintertime, or the decay of society. The most important characteristic of this Wintertime will be the erosion of public norms and hopes, that will be channeled by a Caesar, who shall become the supreme arbiter of life itself. I characterize Duterte as this Caesar in our miserable Republic.
My fence-sitting was challenged when I started my undergraduate thesis on the Sakdalistas. The Sakdalistas were a group of proletarians who once demanded a truly independent Philippines. On May 2, 1935, some 60,000 of them rose up to oust Quezon. The response of the State was horrific. The affair, still obscure to a lot of Filipinos, will forever remain as one of our shameful episodes, and by that merit, suppressed in our official textbooks.
My thesis affected me personally, emotionally, and psychologically. I could have written about the monotonous nature of bureaucracy instead. But the first topic was intensified by current events; it seemed that history was coming full circle. I was on the verge of breaking down. I was too afraid to voice out. Too afraid to move.
But that was me back then. I was once a man whose thoughts were clouded. I was once indecisive. The administration had disappointed those who entrusted to them the mantle of leadership, save for believers either too reluctant to wake up, or outright apologists.
The problem with us Filipinos is not that we lack discipline or love for our country. The problem with us is our lack of self-esteem due to decades of mismanagement. Our pessimistic attitude is a by-product of our lack of confidence in those who rule us. This is reciprocated by the rulers who tower over us; the ones who are the kings and queens; the barons of this sullen land.
No longer silent, I and a growing number of youths are no longer standing idly by. Spengler, the morose Spengler, still pin his hopes on the people to redeem themselves. Life may be cyclical, but we are responsible for bringing it to existence, and also for its cure and renewal. It is therefore our task to break the endless cycle of betrayal. Our response is to resist the temptations of apathy, and become political. – Rappler.com
Allen Severino is the pen name of Allen Gumiran, a BA Political Science graduate of the De La Salle University-Dasmarinas. He is currently taking up his Masters in Philippine Studies at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. He aspires to become a scholar of revolutionary movements, the philosophy of technology, urbanism, literary criticism, mass culture and the sciences.