Loaded dice-A A +A
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
HAS Edsa I been an agent of social change? Apparently not. People power has overthrown a dictator but it has not led, in any significant way, to genuine social change. After 27 years, one can still see, hear and smell poverty anywhere one turns one’s head in the country.
So, why has Edsa I not led to significant social change?
First, it was not meant to because, as Sun.Star’s Monday editorial correctly put it, it was not the beginning of the struggle to reform structures but the culmination of the people’s struggle to end a dictatorship. It was only the euphoria of Edsa I that made us expect some genuine social change. It was a wrong expectation because…
Second, Edsa I was a revolt of a group within the Marcos clique that another group in the same clique threatened to perpetually exclude from the elite circle of power. It was a revolt to save their necks and, once done, to begin to restore the old social order where different factions of the oligarchy peacefully took turns wielding power and controlling the country’s economy.
For one fateful day, two groups with clearly differing long-term objectives shared one common immediate objective, namely, the toppling of the dictatorship. This brought about a spontaneous and utilitarian temporary alliance between the elite and the masses.
After Marcos was gone, the original plotters took over power and proceeded to work from behind the throne to restore, with a few cosmetic changes, the pre-martial law political structure that inherently led to the concentration of wealth and power in a few and the marginalization of many. They were ready to push this but the masses were not to stop it and were, therefore, excluded.
That is why there has not been any social change worthy of the name. Traditional ruling families, now joined by upstarts, continue to scheme at every election to keep this power circulating within their elite circle. That is why there is no difference in the honey-coated promises of the Liberal Party and UNA in the hustings.
For as long as the direction of the country’s economy is dictated by a few dynasties, the economic dice will always be loaded in their favor. Dynasties simply have to go if genuine social change is to alleviate the misery of millions below the poverty line. They have ruled us far too long and look where we’re at.
A new kind of people power is needed to topple dynasties. This time people must mass not bodies but votes against traditional political families. (That would be a fair definition of dynasty in the absence of a legal one). Voters will just have to reject all candidates that belong to a long-time political family if we are to realistically expect genuine social change.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 28, 2013.