Thursday, February 21, 2008

Civilising Philippine Politics

Since we have inherited a Western political system and our consciousness, our ways of life, our identity is tied to the State, so must we look back to its history to see where we are going wrong. Where some are obsessed about the idea of adhering to what has been written in the highest law of the land - well, because we must obey the "rule of law," they seem to miss the big picture in favour of the details.

From the earliest Anglo-Saxon political philosophers, such as Thomas Hobbes, all the way to the continental ones - the State, that construct, is supposed to be a metaphorical and physical space where its inhabitants can live safely from "the state of nature," where its literally every person for herself.

The State is a social contract. It is a promise between those who give up some of their rights and privileges to the Leviathan - the State - that entity which has the legitimate and supreme authority of to kill and tax. The State is a promise to its people that they can live civilly with each other - that there be absence of violence within its borders and that there be security of life and livelihood.

It is the task of civil society - all of us - to hold accountable our State to this promise. That there be security for all who live within its jurisdiction. That there be justice for all. That the letter of the law be applicable to everyone - and not only those who can afford it.

Given these simple concepts, how has the Philippine State fared? In recent history, has it guaranteed security for all of us? Has it guaranteed that physical space where we can live civilly with each other? How has it used its exclusive power to maim and to tax?

Given these simple concepts, what must we, civil society, do?


Cocoy said...

what must we do? make the law stick. heck even simple things like jaywalking or beating the red light are broken each day by ordinary citizens. that among a lot of other things, iThink is a way can we strengthen our democracy.

sparks said...

i am all for obeying the law. but what do we do if those who are supposed to enforce them are the first to pervert them?

institutions are not immovable, unchangeable things. institutions are supposed to serve a function, this is why we bother to set them up. but what if they no longer serve this function? worse, what if they serve only the few?

Jose Rizal said...

The Philippine state, or whatever our intersubjective understanding of it is, has miserably failed in keeping its citizens secure in life and livelihood. What kind of perversion is it that when a person speaks the truth, he gets killed? When a person seeks to rectify a social evil, the perpetuators of evil rise up and band together for the sole purpose of silencing the one seeking good. Is it simply all about money?