Friday, June 26, 2009

The Philosopher who would be King

I know Randy David to be an excellent writer and scholar and I have memories of him from his talk show, Public Forum, when I was much younger. While I ‘know’ him from what he has written and said on TV, I have only met him once. Shortly after the Hello Garci scandal broke, I heard him speak in a little powwow along with some people from Akbayan. He did an excellent summation of how the Marcos era destroyed many of our institutions and why we seem to have been in a permanent state of crisis since. Given his audience, he outlined the role of the civil society and of the middle class. For this he admitted he remained a singularly bourgeois scholar. He spoke for well over an hour without notes, without pause. I was impressed. It may well have been any one of his lectures of the past few decades but he delivered it with the surety of one who professes only truth as he saw it.

People who produce knowledge, scholars such as Professor David, are tasked by their vocation to be critical of the status quo. It is the culture of the academe, especially in the social sciences, where all concepts are in a constant state of contestation. This culture of critique, by nature, is questioning. Ideas are an academic’s currency. And ideas are only upheld for as along as they can be convincingly defended. These debates are done in a collegial atmosphere, where truth and malice would be bed partners aberrant.

Today the good professor proclaims his intention to run for public office – an arena where malice is a constant. In politics there are no truths, no ideals. There is only what is pragmatic. And while Professor David is no tyro in the public eye, I worry that he has not the skills to fight the dirty fight in a battle with the most powerful person in the land. He would contest a most skilled politician with an incumbent’s financial and political resources. Asked where he would get the resources to campaign, he blithely replied if he runs maybe it would come.

My admiration for Professor David is not new, and I am ecstatic he has strongly expressed interest in running for Congress in 2010. It is perhaps the natural evolution of one who has over the decades tirelessly described this patch of the world. Frustration after frustration, inutile at the sidelines, he has probably realized the time is ripe to change it.

I would donate P500 pesos to support Professor David as he embarks on an impossible quest to slay a monster. Imagine if there were thousands more of you who would do the same.

No comments: