The Rainbow Rebellion, a crowd-sourced opposition
By Joe America
Let us suppose that the Philippines is engaged in a to-the-death battle between two very different value systems. One is the old ‘me-first’, tribal system of favor and power. The other is democracy with its attempt to engage everyone equally and fairly.
Tribal values have the edge in the Philippines today because it’s patrons currently head government, much of the legislature is tribal, and the government has deployed an army of loyalists to keep the needful masses properly aligned behind its programs. The opposition has no organized leadership or funding. So democracy is on the ropes.
Do democracy advocates give up, figuring that they are a minority? Their big problem is that the democracy leaders are not popular. The tribes have destroyed them. Furthermore, many people think it is up to someone else to wage opposition. So those who do have a passion for democracy have a weak support group.
That’s where my musings begin, not as a rebel myself, but as a musing guy, a ponderer, a scribe who drops off ideas crafted to provoke hearty discussion open to all earnest ideas.
And so I ponder, and wonder . . . and write . . .
Crowd-sourcing is a fascinating modern method of development made possible by advances in technology. It engages all who want to get engaged in the design and building of a system or product. It takes the idea that two heads are better than one and extends it as far as it can go, as far as technical skill and enthusiasm for the system or product can reach.
A company sponsoring crowd-sourced systems and products can make money because the design and building are cheaper and the quality can be better. They just manage the integration of ideas, marketing, and distribution.
I ponder and wonder if rebellion can be crowd-sourced. I muse that democracy itself is actually a crowd-sourced method of governing.
Duterte’s organized propaganda machine
I am fascinated as well by the organized propaganda that is disseminated today under the guidance of the Duterte Administration’s ideas about communication. Truth has no bearing on what loyalists do. Winning is what matters. Manipulation is the method and control is the goal. To democracy advocates, the people surrounding the President are viewed as the biggest pack of manipulators outside of Washington DC. It is galling to them that there is a trolling effort funded by their tax dollars.
It is also enlightening how gullible people are to the manipulations, both among uneducated and educated people. Emotional needs trump reason. Dignity is irrelevant. Believing fake stories is fun, a real high.
It is a powerful, successful model. The tribes are good at what they do, good at power.
The fractured, unorganized opposition
The opposition to the tribal, authoritarian methods is not organized and so is not so powerful, and not so successful. Now it seems to me that the opposition is growing. More and more prominent people are speaking their objections to killings, political jailings, gifting of sovereignty to China, and coddling of drug lords and plunderers. But legislators are still toeing the line, placing their own advantage ahead of any idea about national well-being and human rights.
Most legislators in the Philippines are tribal.
The most principled opposition, that of the Liberal Party, cannot muster much support because of the bitterness of Philippine political battles. The Duterte, Binay, and Poe presidential candidacies all painted President Aquino as some kind of villain, and it seems like they actually believe their own political spiel. As I said earlier, emotions trump reason even among educated people.
Furthermore, legislators and LGU heads who have dipped into tax money cannot risk separating from Duterte, lest they get drawn and quartered by Duterte loyalists. Or tried and jailed by the courts.
So opposition comes from individuals and a few organizations here and there, none big enough or strong enough to have much influence.
That leads me to muse about how the opposition might crowd-source a rebellion, not AGAINST the State, but FOR the State and against policies that undermine the State’s civility, sovereignty, Constitutional mandates, and human rights. Such a principled rebellion would basically require that someone define the product. It would require that each person recognize what his or her technical skills are, and apply them, as individuals. They don’t need to belong to any political group or be of any color to join. They do have to have a passion for what they believe is best for the Philippines.
All God’s creations have names. The Rainbow Rebellion is the name that popped into my head to specifically remove the color yellow from prominence and provide a place for everyone. Democracy is a rainbow form of government, after all. Plus I like the RR alliteration, having been brought up in a peculiar conjunction of marketing and poetry.
The Rainbow Rebellion, a mass movement for democracy, sovereignty, human rights, and civility.
It seems to me the “product” could well be respect for, and allegiance to, the Philippine Constitution. The Constitution is meant to bind us. But re-writing the Constitution would likely not be the goal. Being true to its ideals would.
Subordinate goals: Separate and co-equal branches of government. Independent agencies. For and by the people. Human rights and due process. Sovereignty and good international reputation. Transparency and free speech.
The ultimate, long term goal of the rebellion might be to win decisively and defeat tribalism once and for all. That is, to rid the government of those who, by self-dealing, choose not to serve the people and the nation. An extreme view of this aim might be to remove from office most of today’s House of Representatives and a lot of senators . . . and judges and administrative officials and LGU officials.
But the design of the effort would ultimately be shaped by the participants.
Musing . . . musing . . . this rebellion would probably be peaceful and blood-free. Guns and bombs are not needed. The force would arise from ideas and allegiance to laws . . . and, through them, votes or legal actions.
Here is an idea about the different roles people might pick for themselves:
- Content generator
These are not mutually exclusive. Any one person could be a contributor to any or all roles, depending on skill and inclination. He could be a recruiter today, a content generator tomorrow, and a distributor always.
Let me elaborate a little on the roles:
Recruiter. A recruiter would set out with the goal of bringing more people into the ‘rebellion’. He or she might visit colleges or join on-line forums or talk it up among friends, or in other ways inspire people to BELONG . . . to find inspiration and brotherhood by helping to build a better, kinder, fairer Philippines.
Content generator. This person would be adept at crafting powerful messages. There are a number of them poking away on Facebook or Twitter today. They likely just don’t see themselves as fulfilling a technical role right now. Under the natural gravitational pull of crowd-sourced ideas, I suspect the content generators would soon develop themes around current events, or specific goals. They might begin to coordinate their messaging. Examples of content generators on Twitter today are Edwin Lacierda, Alan Robles, Vice President Robredo, Jim Paredes, and Senator Hontiveros. There are others.
Distributor. This is a person who would follow content generators and select the messages to send out to his own following. He would work diligently to expand his base . . . joining groups, engaging in discussions, and contacting new people. He would strive to stay relevant rather than mindlessly trolling on every topic. Jim Paredes would be a superb distributor, as he has more than a million followers. There are others.
Infiltrator. The rebellion’s mischievious troll, generating fake accounts, joining Duterte groups or following Duterte trolls. The aim is to weaken, not defeat, so direct confontation would be rare. More like “I love the way Duterte has shaken things up, BUT . . . I’m bothered by . . . the killings . . . the congestion . . . not defending our islands . . . the attack on Catholics . . . the sleazy people surrounding him . . . the death penalty . . . being looked down on when I travel or as an OFW . . . the pork . . . or the vulnerability of the day . . .”
Lawyer. A lawyer can actually get things done. Lawsuits, TROs, defense of those being persecuted, making visible the deceits or abuses of government . . . I think of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) as an example of a group of attorneys who are actually out to do good rather than seek advantage. The more who join the effort, the better. In a law-based society, attorneys can move mountains.
Star. The Philippines is what it is, and that is emotional, superstitious, joyful, celebratory, and admiring of stars. Every Filipino stepping up to the karaoke machine is attuned to the nation’s playful, inspiring style. The best way to capture headlines is to create stars or star moments. A star can already exist (Jim Paredes) or be created from circumstances (Leila De Lima). The more, the merrier . . .
Open sourcing has its own peculiar magic. It is fueled by the passions of individuals who inspire themselves and others by just being involved. They figure out ways to move forward outside of any pro-forma structure.
People who need to coordinate do so because it is natural. But mainly, individuals are busy doing their own thing, generally with the pride that comes from being engaged and finding success in small accomplisments.
Barriers are opportunities, relished for the challenge. Set-backs are a reason to get up and try again. Defeat is not an option.
With enough individuals applying themselves, the noise would soon approach that of a great national cry for fairness, decency, and civility.
Those are my musings on the subject.
I’d welcome yours.