Munich (2)

Published by rudy Date posted on April 16, 2011

This week we read about a confidential administration report, prepared by the National Intelligence Coordination Agency, that warned of a “looming rice crisis” as part of a broader economic debacle caused by rising global food prices. This food price inflation—as my fellow columnist Ric Saludo warns in another broadsheet—is likely to be the real culprit behind the statistics about rising hunger that has the President so perplexed.

But wait a minute. Isn’t this the same administration that pilloried its predecessor for allegedly importing too much rice last year—conveniently failing to mention the two super-typhoons in 2009 that devastated so much cropland? Aren’t they the same guys who spoke scornfully about rotting rice in the warehouses—without bothering to prove if this waste exceeded the normal level of wastage that one might expect from any inventory of perishable crops?

To think that these people haven’t even had to deal with their own super-typhoon yet.

Now we’re hearing that the NICA report may have been just a set-up to provoke panic buying of rice abroad by the government, all to the benefit of a local rice cartel. If this is true, though, I don’t know which would alarm me more—a rice crisis, or the thought that a super-sensitive intelligence agency like NICA could be compromised so easily by mere businessmen. Either way I look at it, someone in this administration is dropping the ball—again.

More recently, NICA’s boss, the President, has been declaring that he’s waging war against the Ombudsman. He’s raising his war cry everywhere, even in the most inappropriate of venues—such as graduations, where one would have hoped that the kids would hear inspirational talk instead of the vindictive ramblings of the Chief Executive.

The Palace legal eagles should remind P-Noy that in an impeachment trial like this one that will pit Congress against the head of an independent Constitutional body, the President has absolutely no role to play. His usual logorrhea might just be illegal, as well as impolitic and improper. He doesn’t need to prove his anti-Merci fervor anymore to his true believers—those “zero pork” text messages of his to the congressmen have already seen to that.

***

Last time, I wrote about how the government panel at the Oslo peace talks may well be delivering us into our version of a Munich-style appeasement treaty with a ferociously committed foe—one that continues to call for people’s war even as it is ostensibly suing for a negotiated peace.

Today let’s look beyond this foe at a much broader coalition that shares what I shall call a common vocabulary of radical rebellion—one that is malleable enough for them to enlist the support of traditional politicians, religious leaders, even military officers who’re enamored of coup-plotting. It’s a coalition that’s flourishing under a President who has given unprecedented access to so many representatives of one of its leading groups, another radical—if still nonviolent—faction of the Left.

I refer of course to Akbayan, a party-list that has successfully transitioned from party-list politics in the House to power-sharing right in the heart of the Executive. Their representatives occupy three Cabinet level seats, with a fourth one coming up after the one-year moratorium ends for one of the President’s losing senatorial candidates. They also sit on the boards of government financial institutions like Land Bank, SSS, and GSIS.

Most importantly, they’re extremely well-networked with their non-Left colleagues in P-Noy’s ruling coalition—presenting a fascinating study in the practical workings of Left-liberal ideology, with implications for national security that I’ll discuss more fully in the last part of this series.

It used to be that I welcomed the presence of Akbayan, not only because I have quite a few friends there, but also because I thought it was much better for the radical Left to be engaged in parliamentary politics rather than a shooting war with government. These days I’m no longer as sanguine, having been advised by sources about something called the “broad Left”—a fairly new aggrupation led by Akbayan—and their reported tactical alliance with the violent Left.

The new inspiration for these two groups is said to be the recent Maoist takeover in Nepal, where the traditional Maoist theory of protracted struggle in the countryside was replaced in practice by limited urban insurrection, accompanied by an infiltration strategy of “taking over the system from within”. This was a success story of quick revolutionary victory that must be enormously appealing to the aging leaders of the Maoist movement in the Philippines, who would only be human if they wanted to see the victory of the revolution in their own lifetime.

It may be that the issues that used to divide these two factions—whether or not Jose Maria Sison should lead, whether or not to wage armed struggle now in the countryside—were simply differences over organization and (one of many) political lines that have now been overwhelmed by the commonality of vocabulary and old age. I do hope this is something that the people I know—and respect–in Akbayan will be able to clarify.

***

Outside the radical Left, there is an assortment of other political groups with whom the Left has also formed tactical alliances. Among them, I’m not interested in the traditional politicians like the Liberal Party—who, like any other trapo, will go to bed with anyone for the right price—or in the military coup plotters—whose messianic arrogance has convinced them, mistakenly, that they can safely ride the communist tiger.

What is fascinating to me are the so-called “soc-dems”, who seem to have found a number of common platforms they can share with their traditional rivals among the “nat-dems” of the Left. This political persuasion traces its ideological provenance to the welfare-state socialism in the prosperous countries of Europe, like Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Their captivation by the revolutionary ethos of the radical Left is a sad commentary on the long slide over the decades down into intellectual decadence and appeasement politics of the Europeans, who are now increasingly estranged from their longtime protectors in the United States.

One platform shared by the welfare-statists and the proletarian-statists is a visceral distrust for the “animal spirits” of capitalism—its ruthless competition, its creative greed, its single-minded focus on markets and the consumer. This distrust is the source of new rubrics like “growth with equity” and “corporate social responsibility”, which attempt to tame these animal spirits in the name of some higher social welfare that, of course, only the welfare-statists can define for the rest of us.

Another shared platform is a disregard for the strictures of republican democracy and the purity of such principles as “one man, one vote”. It’s no accident, for example, that party-lists are exclusively a European invention—you certainly won’t find them in the US. It’s no longer enough for voters to be residing somewhere within the body politic; now they have to belong to some civil society persuasion as well. Through party-lists, the NGO’s of civil society—many of whom are Left-liberal in orientation—have suddenly been given customized seats at the electoral table.

A third platform is a common animosity towards the United States, and—in this country—towards former President Arroyo. The welfare statists of Europe—which enjoyed so much postwar prosperity under the American security umbrella—openly disdain their barbaric and militaristic cousins across the Atlantic. And here at home, it’s no coincidence that a President who’s been going after Mrs Arroyo hammer and tongs is also the same fellow who’s been selling out principle and knuckling down to China, time and again, in its anti-American diplomacy. –Gary Olivar, Manila Standard Today

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