Sunday, September 19, 2021

Carvajal: A step or two short

Break point

IF YOU think I have an obsession for structural change, you are right and this piece is another proof of it.

In fairness, all our past Presidents, with one glaring exception, moved our country forward. But of them all, I’d say the late President Benigno Aquino III moved us the farthest forward politically, economically and culturally. The lone exception, Marcos, moved us backwards.

But with all the forward strides our Presidents have taken, why are we still not in step with our Asean neighbors? Why instead have we been passed by latecomers like Korea and Vietnam? Why are we languishing in the stinky basement of socio-economic development?

The answer lies in that past Presidents moved us only as far forward as the oligarchy they belonged to would allow them. Thus, they all stopped short of restructuring a system that inherently marginalizes the greater number of citizens but guarantees the elite a monopoly of power, wealth and privilege.

Because until now the political system is elitist, elected high officials stop short of giving the farmer-worker sector a chance to form its own party to be its effective voice in government. They all stop short of reforming an election system that declares someone a nuisance candidate who does not have the loads of cash to underwrite sky-high election campaign expenses.

Because the economic system is exclusive, high officials, who are either big businessmen or their proxies, stop short of legislating for living wages, profit sharing, and stock or ownership options for rank and file workers.

Finally, because the cultural system (education and religion) is colonial, officials stop short of turning education into a means of waking people up to the reality of their domination by, and consequent dependence on, their elite rulers.

This culture of domination and dependence is propped up by a religion that continues to preach the Christ of the friars that made us submit to the King of Spain and now makes us meekly accept the unfair political and economic decisions of the country’s ruling oligarchy.

Early on, President Duterte floated the idea of federalism but quickly abandoned it because it soon became clear the country’s oligarchs would not allow him to take that extra step which has the potential of loosening their grip on the country’s wealth and power.

The oligarchy, and that includes the Dutertes, will always go no farther than a step or two short of giving people effective participation in government and a fair share of the country’s economic resources.

Only a people’s initiative can bring about needed structural change. The problem is how to wake people up to it when an essentially colonial culture is efficiently keeping them asleep.


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