Leftie-A A +A
Wrapped in Grey
Friday, August 30, 2013
IMAGINE this: an MRT train in a burst of smoke and dust is about to leave on that Sunday afternoon taking with it a motley crue of participants in the just concluded One Million People March –- the tax-paying citizen, the thinking class heckler, and the ex-activist now government functionary.
While the leftie remains at the platform, refusing to board while holding on dearly to the philosophical luggage of historical materialism and other similar archaic beliefs.
As the train gathers steam, they taunt the leftie for being left behind. From the moving train, they shout their criticisms about the leftist’s belief in what seemed to be her unchanging modes of analysis and forms of struggle in a fast-changing political landscape.
The tax-paying citizen chides: “We are the new political class and we have found our voice in the pork barrel scandal. We can press government particularly our anti-corruption aspirations with this new found political power emanating from this new identification. The working class is hopeless. In fact, owing to their class position they are as guilty in perpetuating corruption since they elected these crooks to office. While we have the education and the resources to see our agenda through for reform.”
The leftie responds: “By your strange fixation to your tax-paying capacities, and one that cloaks itself under the porous identification of an exclusive and newly-invented category of the ‘tax-paying citizen,’ you have also established the motivations behind your kind of politics. Like a consumer, you imagine yourself as availing the services of the State much like engaging the services of enterprises in the free market. You feel so wronged when the State failed to deliver its promises given the amount of taxes you paid. When you belatedly find out that the State is earning private profits from your payments, you are so scandalized that you wish there was another provider who can deliver the services offering more value for your money. You wish that the services you paid for and its resources are exclusively yours and not to be shared with those who need them. At the heart of your politics is really a creeping infusion of neoliberal beliefs and practices where the State and its services are like products in the stores of a mall -- something that you pay for, and narcissistically enjoy.”
As the train chugs through, the thinking class heckler sticks his head out of the window and shouts: “We are in a new era of middle class politics whose conduit is the net. Gone are the days of violent protests on the streets because the new media is the primary platform of political discourse nowadays. Mobilization can occur from unorganized individuals coming together through Facebook threads, memes, and tweets. From these processes, a new movement is born that is distinct from the ways of old. It is now possible to see political formations that are non-ideological. You don’t get this because you are fixated with the capture of State power.”
The leftie shouts back: “That is precisely the problem with these new forms of postmodern resistance, they are temporal and shallow. What kind of political discourse and unities will you be able to arrive at with a 140-character tweet? And when has the middle class been able to effect widespread and sustained change? Note that the angry middle class netizens had to leave the net and come out in the streets to force this administration to at least performatively scrap the pork barrel for congress. But given the weak unities so far, where is the One Million People activity to lead? To preserve the gains it must organize and mobilize, and consequently go beyond middle class politics of reform in order to address the systemic problem of corruption in our political system. The challenge is to transform the movement beyond its middle class roots to one that is political and necessarily ideological, that is the lesson of the August 26 activity.”
Lastly, the ex-activist turned government functionary gives his own speech on the last car of the train as it left the terminal. “All these would not have happened if it were not for the anti-corruption drive of this President. Many interested sectors want to hijack the people’s anger and direct it against this administration. We are anti-corruption and we admit that it is also a systemic problem that must be addressed in various fronts. The PNoy administration is our best platform for change so far.”
The Leftie, now left behind, retorts at the top of her voice as the train sped away toward Daang Matuwid, “How can this President, whose clan represents patronage politics at its worst and whose own government cannot seem to operate without the largest amount of political largesse ever to have been assembled in the history of politics in this country, be our saving grace as a people?”
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 30, 2013.