Carvajal: Ambushed

Orlando Carvajal

BESIDES the corruption and incompetence of self-serving political leaders that only serve to perpetuate the poverty of millions, one cultural prod for a Revolutionary Government (RevGov) is the Asian psyche’s incompatibility with American-style democracy. Like other Asians, Filipinos would seem best united and energized into patriotic action by a strong leader. (By patriotic, I mean the quality of being able to put the common good above family and tribal interests.)

Japan and Thailand have their emperor and king, respectively, to weld them into one nation. Without Mao, China would not be what it is today, self-sufficient and sovereign. Chiang Kai Shek founded Taiwan’s republic with less than democratic leadership. So did Park Chung-Hee of South Korea and Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore. Finally, Vietnam would not be developing faster than we are if not for Ho Chi Minh.

All these leaders used non-democratic or less than democratic means to lead their respective countries towards political and cultural unity and, consequently, economic progress. I do not mean to advocate for any method, least of all Mao’s armed struggle that the local communist party is aping. I am only saying that because we are Asian, like our neighbors we need a strong leader to lead us out of the cultural prison of our colonial past whence sprang our modern-day divisive political and economic opportunism.

We never had anybody strong and patriotic enough to lead us. Instead we had leaders (Aguinaldo and the ilustrados, Marcos and his cronies, and the current crop of corrupt and incompetent politicians) who ambushed our democracy and then configured it (like with a sham election system) into a democratic façade behind which they imposed their will on a helplessly divided Filipino non-nation.

Ideally, a RevGov should be by people’s initiative. But how, when a non-critical, colonially traditional education system keeps people unenlightened and politically immature. How, when the principal religion, whose leaders are members of society’s elite, still works by the medieval theory of the “divine right of kings” which makes leaders into the voice of God that must be heeded.

Like victims who cozy up to kidnappers to lessen the hardships of captivity, we adapted, got cozy with ambushers, and became loyal to factions of the latter that we hope would give us the most favors. Instead of uniting to organize an escape, we fight one another in a very divisive effort to get our faction into power so we get exclusive rights to the crumbs from our faction’s table.

I am certain we need a strong leader to lead us (peacefully I can only hope) out of the tight fix we are in. Otherwise, much as I hate to admit it, we are so doomed.