JoeAm’s short and sweet State of the State Statement

Marawi 2017 [Photo by Bulit Marquez, Associated Press]

By Joe America

I am for the Philippine Constitution and its affinity for democracy, human rights, civility, laws, ethics, responsibility, and integrity. That’s the point of view from which this State of the State Statement is made. If you have a different value-foundation, you are likely to disagree with my assessment, and are free to state your disagreement in the discussion section that follows the article.

Here is the troubled Philippines that I see:

  1. Widespread human rights abuses, particularly the killing of thousands of Filipinos without due process
  2. The encroachment of China into Philippine seas, commerce, and political processes
  3. Erosion of economic health: inflation, increased poverty, weakness of the peso, large debt increase
  4. State propaganda that divides and denigrates Filipinos; harassment of the Vice President, opposition legislators, and journalists; political jailing of Senator De Lima.
  5. State cooperation with drug lords and thieves; enduring entitlement and corruption
  6. Incompetence: transportation, policing, customs, passports, rice importation, other state services; failure to consult locals in Marawi and Boracay
  7. Failure to respect and defend the Constitution: Chief Justice impeachment; harassment of independent agencies; ‘captured’ House of Representatives; abuses of due process; demonizing Philippine citizens
  8. Federalism – a way to balkanize regions of the Philippines and undermine national strength and unity; a path to dictatorship

There is little to cheer about. Little uplift or inspiration. Little achievement. The nation has retreated from international respect and leadership, offers more red tape, more wang wang, more impunity and nonsense, more strife, and a dim future.

It is apparent that the Philippine State is increasingly controlled by an authoritarian domestic axis of power: the Duterte family, China, the Marcos family, and the Arroyo family. It is backed by people with ambition that supersedes their loyalty to the Constitution and the values it represents: fairness, equality, security, due process, and the right to speak. Even Supreme Court justices appear ready to betray the nation, in favor of benefactors.

The broad population is more comfortable with a strongman leader than democracy. Most Filipinos have never felt the benefits of democracy or learned to think in terms of responsibility and sacrifice for the betterment of society. They attach hope or a desire to “get even” to a strongman who gives them satisfaction by striking down people who are arrogant for their wealth or ideas (the ‘elite’).

Unrest is rising. The growing NPA, Muslim extremists, transportation unions and workers, commuters, Marawi residents and indigenous peoples whose lands are being eroded, political opponents, Boracay workers, fisherfolk pushed out of fishing grounds by China, the poor hit by tax-induced price increases, AFP officers who still view China as the enemy, decent police and barangay workers who are uncomfortable when told to draw up lists of accused or meet arrest or kill quotas, university students whose future is being limited, and others.

The Administration greets criticism with insults, threats, and intimidation. Martial law is a permanent fixture rather than an emergency practice. We see the traditional authoritarian demands for loyalty and obedience. Objection is considered destabilizing and unpatriotic. The State’s methods are thuggish rather than inclusive and uncivil rather than respectful.

The 2019 elections will largely define the course of the nation, particularly the composition of the Senate. If the Senate is captured by the Duterte/China/Marcos/Arroyo power bloc, it is pretty much ‘game over’ for democracy.

That’s the State of the State on April 6, 2018.


141 Responses to “JoeAm’s short and sweet State of the State Statement”
  1. gd says:

    I am weeping as I read this. But hey, there’s a rainbow after the rain (in this case, heavy, heavy rain).

  2. ec says:

    Youir observation of the current Philippine situation is the same as mine. Yet, I believe the nation and its democratic ideals will outlive these emerging power bloc, however long it may take. It took us 17 long years to oust a dictator. The ouster may not be complete as one generation has passed and still we are trying to grapple with the offsprings. This generation may not achieve it, as the beacon of democracy, the USA is also grappling with its own demagogue. Democracy is threatened worldwide, but historically, any dystopian society will fail, sooner rather than later.

    • Keen observation. Both history and democracy run through self-correcting cycles when there are aberrations.

    • perci says:

      It’s human nature to take for granted what they have until they lost it. Democracy is being taken for granted by the present generation who were its recipients.

      • Micha says:

        What we had is an approximation of democracy at best. It’s an indirect form through representation where, as it happens, people’s representatives work to pass laws and rules not so much to reflect the will of the people but, often times, the will of the privileged few.

  3. madlanglupa says:

    Offtopic somewhat: Aguirre resigns, but I’m betting my left kidney that he’ll be given a reassignment or he’ll run for Senator to pack the legislature with more rubber-stampers.

    • Aguirre as a senator would confirm that Filipino citizens do not have values that are essential for democracy to survive. There must be a demand for ethical propriety, otherwise it is just games.

      • madlanglupa says:

        Offtopic: And that REMF called dela Rosa is out of uniform, but also high probability he’ll be given another high Cabinet position or run for public office to take advantage of the supposed popularity of his patron.

    • chemrock says:

      From the rumour mill — Aguire is going to chair the SSS. Good luck to your retirement funds.

  4. Jov Quio says:

    The true and real state of our nation now.

  5. chemrock says:

    That about sums up the status.

    There are clear signs that cracks are appearing on Malacanang walls. CPI has already gone up significantly. Pain is coming for everyone. Those out buying rice and sugar feels it deep in their pockets. They say inflation comes in 4 waves. Wave #1 is already hurting. 3 more to go.

    BSP has admitted to the need to reassess what action they need to take in the face of high inflation. They may need to increase interest rates. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. If they do, higher interest cost pushes business cost up and effectively cost of products go up.If they don’t, because they think the inflation is a transitory effect which will pass by 2019, then they will use market operations to support the peso and 2 years of that will hurt their foreign exchange reserves seriously.

    They thought they could get away with releasing the drug lords Peter Lim, Kerwin, Peter Co, etc. What were they thinking of anyway? When it’s apparent the political damage is way too high, they needed a scapegoat. To save his skin, the president has his sacrificial lamb in Aguire.

    I think the rest of the gang are too dumb to see a leader who is ready to throw any lieutenant under the bus to save his own skin when he faces critical threats. When there was uproar over the discharge of drug lords, Aguire gets the chop…. and the blame. When rice buffer is gone and there is no NFA rice in the warehouses, he is going to chop Evasco and NFA Council….who gets the blame. When he gets to the ICC, guess who he is going to blame?…. a stupid stone.

  6. Tancio de Leon says:

    Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?
    1. During the previous administration, inequality that gave rise to unrest such as NPA and Muslim insurgency, suffocating traffic mess, subtle invasion of China, wide-spread corruption, joblessness, labor contractualization, etc., was highlighted by oppositionists as the source of all the frustrations of the confused broad-based electorate.
    2. This resulted in the rise of the strongman rule now threatening our long-cherished constitutional democracy. Hence, unrest is again rising.
    The growing NPA, Muslim extremists, transportation unions and workers, commuters, Marawi residents and indigenous peoples whose lands are being eroded, political opponents, Boracay workers, fisherfolk pushed out of fishing grounds by China, the poor hit by tax-induced price increases, AFP officers who still view China as the enemy, decent police and barangay workers who are uncomfortable when told to draw up lists of accused or meet arrest or kill quotas, university students whose future is being limited, etc., etc.

    • Regarding point 1, I think it is important to recognize the problems that have been deep and troubling long before the ‘prior administration’, and assess whether your perceptions of ‘cause’ are correct, or are just a reflection of the same frustrations and misplaced blames assigned to President Aquino by the brainwashed masses. NPA has been around for decades. And ranks declined under Aquino. I think they are now growing again. Also, the Bangsamoro Basic Law was an Aquino initiative undermined by then Senator Marcos. Aquino blocked China with arbitration win, but Duterte refuses to respect what that win means. Poverty is deep, and unfair, but can’t be cured in six years. Aquino made progress by not raising taxes. Today, tax-induced inflation is aggravating the problem.

  7. chemrock says:

    The sex came first. Politicians and Filipinos were copulating since the first admin. It’s same O same O with this admin.

  8. Bill In Oz says:

    An important interview re weaponisng Facebook & other social media in the Philippines.

  9. 9. Destroying people’s homes and livelihoods: Boracay and Marawi, what comes next?

    • karlgarcia says:

      If Boracay will foul up, they must think twice before threatening the rest.
      Gina Lopez was not confirmed because they cared for the livelihood of the farmers, it is because of the Congressmen who are involved in mining.

      So will anti dynasty work when the lobbyists are memembers of congress?

  10. karlgarcia says:

    The NPA acitivity has indeed increases so more pace talks to come.

    The end of endo is a broken promise and I think it will stay that way.

  11. josephivo says:

    I always wonder how the economic elite, the 20 wealthiest Filipinos, are interwoven in this? What their long term visions are, expanding the cake or getting a larger share. And how know this kind of administration supports their strategies. Or do they live in a parallel universe?

    • That’s a very interesting question. They seem not to care about the style of governance or Chinese incursions.

    • Most except Ayala, Razon and Villar are of Chinese origin. Post WW2 migration according to Ninotchka Rosca, not the old migrant families that have deeper roots in the Philippines.

      There are Chinoys who Sinicize their names upon moving to Taiwan – what will they do?

      • There are three aspects to postwar Chinese migration to the Philippines:

        1) seems many were fleeing from the Communists. One of the major Chinese schools in the Philippines was or is the Chiang Kai-Shek High School – obviously Nationalist Chinese.

        2) there was a mass naturalization of Chinese in the Philippines in 1975, but also forced assimilation. Marcos decreed that Chinese schools had to teach Filipino to all and main teaching language English, not Mandarin which was relegated to an optional course.

        3) One wonders why the level of commitment to the Philippines developed seems not as strong. Was it discrimination from the Filipino side, was it the refugee mentality of always hoping to be able to return, or both? Or was postwar Philippines simply too messy a place?

        A country with a clear sense of identity and confidence causes people to want to become part of it – the USA has that kind of attraction to its migrants. Even regions with a strong identity attract newcomers. One of the major Tausug families in Sulu are the Tans.

        • Francis says:

          If I’m not mistaken (and correct me if I’m wrong—just basing this off what I think I caught a little while skimming elsewhere) the Chinese community in the Philippines has historically experienced discrimination, and that this discrimination was particularly evident until my grandparents’ and parents’ time (speaking as a millennial, with parents in their fifties onwards).

          The Filipino-Chinese been through rough patches. Spanish (if I’m remembering correctly) purged them more them once. Our “nationalist awakening” during the immediate post-war era brought about “economic nationalization” that brought about some degree of friction. The “mass naturalization” (as noted above) confirms my gut observation above; Filipino-Chinese were only fully absored into the body politic and considered as citizens very recently.

          My personal observation with acquaintances and friends (young people) who are Filipino-Chinese is that, while they maintain strong ties to Chinese culture, they’re (save for the issue of marriage, I suppose) not quite different from any other Filipino. We have the same fears, the same gripes, the same dreams—my gut says that class would be a greater distinguishing factor in accounting for differences (and similarities) in the behavior of Chinese-Filipinos with varying segments of the Filipino society.

          Younger generations (after 1975) have a much, much stronger sense of identification with the Filipino identity—and consider themselves as primarily Filipino, in contrast to their ambivalent parents and their staunchly Chinese grandparents. The fact that the local Chinese community has moved from “Overseas Chinese” and “Filipino Chinese” towards “Chinoy” as a label of identification speaks volumes regarding this integration [1].

          Which is why I feel that, in this time of agressive actions coming from the CCP-led government of the People’s Republic of China, we must tread carefully.

          Thankfully—in recent times, at least—we’ve avoided the anti-Chinese pogroms and riots that have charactetized some of our neighbors.

          It is imperative that we should aim towards a nationalist critique of Chinese aggression that primarily focuses the blame on the selfish, power-hungry and arrogant authoritarian government that seeks to brutally homogenize everything—from Xinjang Muslims and Tibetans to Cantonese Hong Kongers seeking to their basic liberal democratic rights—under a “Party and Han Chinese are one” rhetoric. We must say no.

          And how can liberals say no:

          Not just mere nationalism, mere “us” versus “them” but something weightier, more cosmopolitan:

          Because we are not an authoritarian regime—but a proud democracy. Because we do not subsume ourselves to an oppressive and bland unity—but take pride in our inherent diversity, which is our strength. Because we do not base our nationality on blood, on some ideal of purity—but acknowledge and take pride in the fact that we are the bastard, the mullatto of East and West, Spanish, Chinese, Malay, American and whatever else: hell our very label for our identity, Filipino, was a label that our indio and mestizo approriated from the dominant Spanish colonizer.

          We stand against China’s overly aggressive actions on these grounds, these principles and assert our right to self-determination, our right to live freely as one nation born from many peoples—all free and ensured rights in their individual, family and corporate lives.

          • Francis says:



            The link above points to an interesting paper on Chinese identity in the Philippines. The section on changing attitudes among first, second and third generation Chinese is particularly worth focusing on.

            • The relative tolerance of the Philippines is definitely better than the attitude in Malaysia which is close to being segregationist, or Indonesia where at least half a million of Chinese origin were killed in the mid-1960s and many of those surviving took on Malay names.

              There is however a real danger that the gains of that tolerance will be destroyed if Chinese from the Mainland come to places like “New Marawi” and “Boracay Megacasino” and treat “natives” like a Hong Kong woman recently treated a Filipina maid in a viral video.

          • The Spaniards kept the Chinese within a cannon’s reach of Intramuros in the Parian, now Binondo. Occasionally the Malay Filipinos (often from Tondo) rioted against the Chinese. The Spanish either instigated such race riots when needed or didn’t do much against them.

            When the English came and went, the Spanish expelled the (pure) Chinese for siding with them. Chinese mestizos gained in importance from then on. Even Rizal was partly one, so was Aguinaldo. The Propaganda wanted to do away with racial labels. “All are Filipinos”.

   – the USA defined Filipino citizens in a similar way – more on the basis of allegiance than of race:

            Section 4. That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands continuing to reside therein who were Spanish subjects on the eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, and then resided in the Philippine Islands, and their children born subsequent thereto, shall be deemed and held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands and as such entitled to the protection of the United States, except such as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain signed at Paris December tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight.

            Elections to the first Philippine assembly in 1908 had a discussion on Filipino citizenship of one Spanish mestizo candidate. The Philippine Organic Act of 1902 was also quoted in discussions about the Filipino citizenship of Fernando Poe Jr. during the 2004 election.

            Chinese and Chinese mestizos there until April 11, 1899 were therefore Filipino citizens during the American period. The 1935 Constitution defined Filipino citizens as those whose fathers were Filipinos. Quezon even said something about limiting Chinese migration to preserve the “Western identity” of the Philippines. There were others who wanted a more Asian identity for the Philippines – an entire spectrum from Ricarte who came back with the Japanese in 1942 to Recto who saw Japanese occupation as a chance to “Asianize” more.

            A lot of Spanish mestizos left after the war, and a number during Marcos times when there was a certain pressure against oligarchs. Sorianos and Ayalas were once the richest. The Sorianos had family members with Spanish citizenship, looks like they have moved there. Ayalas have committed to the Philippines. Rumors about Marcos being the illegitimate son of a judge of Chinese origin abounded during Martial Law – possibly some did not like his mass naturalization of Chinese migrants. Obviously all post-1899, if one looks at the law.

            On the other side, some Marcos loyalists noted how Cory spoke to a crowd in Hokkien when she visited China with Kris Aquino to “show her our roots”. Prof. Vicente Rafael of Seattle mentions in his book “Motherless Tongues” how his Hokkienes neighbors taught him swear words in Hokkien and he taught them Filipino swear words – he is in his 60s, roundabout. A somewhat Chinese-looking Filipina – now 50ish once said to a foreigner “there are two kinds of Filipinos, small and dark, whaddaya call them, Malays, and the Chinese-looking ones”.

            The idea of “Chinoy” seems to have come up in the 1990s. Probably a later effect of the Filipinization of Chinese schools, who knows. Ateneo (once considered a school for mestizos of all sorts) came up with its own version of Filipino nationalism, different from UP. There are Chinoys/Chinese-Filipinos who openly go against Xi Jinping’s call for all abroad to unite (Bernard Ong openly did that on FB, but he is known to be anti-Duterte) and there are those who are openly for the new Chinese alliance. The question of allegiance is therefore more important at any point than race. Of course there is the conflicted question of what Filipino identity is, anyway – is it Western or Eastern? Easternization is being forced again.

            The CIA is being painted as a potential culprit if Duterte’s plane should crash, is said to be behind Rappler, and Duterte even has parroted the Chinese narrative about the Opium Wars and about Western powers. But haven’t Filipinos ALWAYS been a bit of parrots? Copying whatever the ruling (post-)colonial power did. So will the future of the Philippines have a lot of women trying to look Chinese and ending up looking like Persida Acosta? When will the Philippines define itself as itself and not pro- or anti- whatever great power?

            The first encounter between Chinese and Spanish ships is said to have happened in Mindoro when Legazpi’s ships encountered Chinese junks trading with the Mangyans. Finally the Philippines would not have existed if not for silver from Potosi, Bolivia which was a huge mine had been traded for Chinese goods in Manila. All Chinese traders in Manila were considered “pirates” by the Manchu dynasty, as they wanted all trade with the West to go via their exclusive partners, the Portuguese in Macau. The reactionary Yuans/Manchus had officially closed all other Southern Chinese ports. The Philippine identity was formed by what was before 1571 and what happened after. But I guess it has to become stronger, not always having to lean on a powerful nation, just like Filipinos like to lean on strongmen (and as we have been seeing recently, prove their “strength” by swearing all the time) because they lack individual confidence. The unity of different kinds of Filipinos is still too fragile, and the Chinese may use Bong Go and others like him to push a colonial and racist agenda.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Philippine Life, 1850-1898
            by Edgar Wickberg

            The development of overseas Chinese communities, economically powerful, socially and culturally resistant to assimilation, and tied in many ways to China, has been a significant phenomenon in the modern history of Asia. During the half century from 1850 to 1898, the Chinese population in the Philippines increased drastically from 5000 to perhaps 100,000, and penetrated every part of the archipelago. Liberalized Spanish immigration laws and their own superior business methods enabled the Chinese to profit from the development of an export crop economy, which involved the exchange of Philippine raw products for foreign manufactured goods, and caused a shift in the emphasis of Chinese enterprise – from small-scale retailing to a virtual monopoly of raw material collection and import distribution. Their increased economic power gave impetus to an anti-Chinese campaign in the latter years of the century, and the Philippine Chinese, for the first time, developed community institutions to resist assimilation and turned to China for aid. The purpose of this study is to describe the position of the Chinese in the Philippines as of 1850 and to determine how it was affected by the ensuing economic and social changes of the next four decades.


            We all know if that intsik beho tulo teases, but duscrimination of Chinese against fellow Chinese is exemplifed by the story of SM and Mercury Drug.

            Mercury Drug people did not allow Henry Sy to have a stall in their pharmacy and told him that his business model sucked, Sy held a grudge and that gave rise to Watsons.

            Again the Tuason or SonTua family related to Mike Arroyo was said to be the richest Chinese-Filipino family before until the first BPI opened and the rest is history.

  12. edgar lores says:

    1. As I look at the eight items that describe the state of the State, I discern that all can be attributed to the Sovereign.

    2. Foreign Affairs Alan Cayetano used the term to defend Duterte’s use of disrespectful language. In so many words, Cayetano said presidents, being sovereigns, can be excused for making disrespectful statements but ranking officials of international human rights bodies cannot.

    2.1. In other words, the King can do no wrong. In Latin, “rex non potest peccare.”

    2.2. But the doctrine of the divine right of kings has gone the way of the monarchy, which may be said to have ended at the end of the 18th century, more or less coincident with the birth of America.

    3. The truth of the matter is the Philippines is not a monarchy, and Duterte is not a Sovereign. He is neither king nor rajah.

    3.1. In a democracy, the people are sovereign. And the president is a servant of the people.

    4. Until Cayetano stops… until public servants stop…. until the public stops thinking that Duterte is sovereign, the state of the State will continue to decline.

    • The true Constitution of the Philippines is different from the written one.

      Not even rule of law is really believed in – just ‘sabi kasi ni Meyor’!

    • Micha says:

      Yes Du30 is not a king but he sure as hell behaves like one – a strong man and a Rajah taking off from the absurdity and perversion of his Ilocano idol, the Malakas and Maganda royal couple out to rule an oriental kingdom.

      Democracy in this part of the world is an illusion.

      We don’t have it now, never had, and, the way things are going, probably never will.

      • Micha says:

        Madeleine Albright has just sounded the alarm on the rise of fascist despots around the world specifically mentioning those in Hungary, Philippines, Turkey, and Poland.

        Among the reasons she cites in fueling the environment for the ascendancy of fascism are : “terrorism, sectarian conflicts, vulnerable borders, rogue social media and the cynical schemes of ambitious men”.

        I don’t know if it was by deliberate omission on her part to leave the most obvious and common reason why fascists and autocrats of today get legitimated by their own people, which is economic pain and alienation.

        What I know is that she was Bill Clinton’s secretary of state. And Bill Clinton was the most anti-worker, pro-corporate, pro-capitalist, pro-wealthy class son of a bitch that was ever elected president of the US in modern history.

        And they wondered why voters in rustbelt states went for the orange haired populist bigot.

        • The Clinton presidency is still with the nation in ways that make it difficult to draw sound judgments about its lasting historical legacy. However, scholars are beginning to focus on some aspects of his administration in which Clinton’s historical importance might be significant. For example, Clinton managed to remake the image and operations of the Democratic Party in ways that effectively undermined the so-called Reagan Revolution. His “New Democrat” Party co-opted the Reagan appeal to law and order, individualism, and welfare reform, and made the party more attractive to white middle-class Americans. At the same time, the reborn party retained traditional Democratic commitments to providing for the disadvantaged, regulating the excesses of the private market place, supporting minorities and women, and using government to stimulate economic growth. Moreover, Clinton capitalized on growing dissatisfaction with far right-wing extremism within the Republican Party. Nevertheless, Clinton’s claims to a lasting, positive legacy for the Democratic Party have been severely undermined by two realities: the shift in control of Congress to the Republican Party on his watch and the loss by his would-be successor, Vice President Al Gore, in the 2000 presidential election. Thus, Clinton’s partisan legacy remains complex and uncertain.Additionally, the Clinton presidency will certainly be studied and evaluated in terms of its major domestic success: eliminating the federal deficit and overseeing the strongest economy in recent memory. Although there has been some partisan debate about the extent to which the 1990’s boom can be attributed to Clinton, the mainstream interpretation now tends to give great credit to Clinton and his economic team, especially Robert Rubin of the National Economic Council and later the secretary of the Treasury, for uncommon fiscal discipline in 1993. These efforts fueled a period of confidence in the financial markets. What is unclear is whether this great economic success will weigh very heavily in the judgment of future historians, who tend to evaluate Presidents more on enduring programs than on the quality of their budgets; a new national health care system would have been just such a program. Clinton’s failure to win that battle may thus loom larger in the judgment of history than the economic successes that benefited Americans of his era. This may be especially true in Clinton’s case, since his successor as President, George W. Bush, took steps which reversed the nation’s fiscal position, from one of exceptional surpluses to one of exceptional deficits. In terms of foreign policy, the Clinton record is also mixed. One of Clinton’s core missions as President, he often said, was to prepare Americans for a world in which global economic forces failed to respect national boundaries. Perhaps his greatest accomplishments, then, came in the area of economic globalization-—establishing several new regimes of free trade, with NAFTA and GATT. Moreover, he and the Rubin Treasury Department, with the important assistance of Treasury Deputy Secretary Lawrence Summers, headed off a number of economic catastrophes in the developing world. But the complexities of the currency problems in Mexico and East Asia may deprive the administration of some of the credit it rightly deserves for resolving these problems. Not many Americans understood, or understand, exactly what was at stake in these arcane currency interventions. Those who watched carefully, however, often claim that the exercise of creative, unilateral executive power in the Mexican peso crisis, when the congressional leadership refused to provide legislative support, was one of Bill Clinton’s brightest moments.The President’s success in the Balkans will undoubtedly resonate well historically, as the administration helped end a conflict that threatened both the security of Europe and the viability of transatlantic cooperative arrangements. But the failure to act in Rwanda, in particular, seems likely to loom large in future historical evaluations. Clinton’s overall management of the immediate post-Cold War environment will certainly endure great scrutiny.Finally, it is probably the case that few Clinton historical retrospectives will get very far before noting that this was only the second American President to suffer the disgrace of impeachment. It is evident from the presidency of his successor that any harm Clinton did to the institution of the presidency was, all things considered, rather meager, as the younger Bush has amassed an extraordinary degree of power in that office. But the damage done to Clinton’s place in history is far more pronounced and probably permanent. Future historians will likely evaluate not just what Clinton did, but also what he did not accomplish, because he was tied-up in a second-term struggle for political survival. It is this consideration of “what might have been” that may be Clinton’s greatest obstacle to gaining historical stature.

          “The Miller Center is a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in presidential scholarship, public policy, and political history and strives to apply the lessons of history to the nation’s most pressing contemporary governance challenges”

          • Greatest presidents
            Abraham Lincoln
            George Washington
            Franklin Delano Roosevelt
            Theodore Roosevelt
            Thomas Jefferson

            Least great presidents
            Donald Trump
            James Buchanan
            William Henry Harrison
            Franklin Pierce
            Andrew Johnson

            Ranking recent presidents
            Donald Trump – 44th
            Barack Obama – 8th
            George W. Bush – 30th
            Bill Clinton – 13th
            George H.W. Bush – 17th
            Ronald Reagan – 9th


          • Micha says:

            Thanks for the link Joe.

            Right off the bat, the article indicted Clinton on his rightward march :

            His “New Democrat” Party co-opted the Reagan appeal to law and order, individualism, and welfare reform, and made the party more attractive to white middle-class Americans.

            I don’t know if that party attraction from white middle-class Americans still holds true but like Reagan, he undermined labor unions, weakened Social Security, and caused a schism between the progressives and the Wall Street wing of his Democratic Party.

            Achieving a federal budget surplus has often been touted as his great accomplishment but a federal surplus has a negative effect on the overall economy. On the heels of every budget surplus, historically and without fail, will follow a recession.

            Then of course there’s his economic team of Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, all Wall Street alumni, prescribing pro-corporate policies from GATT to NAFTA and the most destructive of all, the abolition of Glass-Steagall Act which enabled the abuses of Wall Street banks and precipitated the Great Recession of 2008.

            • ISK says:

              @ Micha on 2008 US economic/financial crisis

              It seems that these GSEs (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) contributed to that mess.

              • Micha says:


                The scheme employed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were vulnerable to abuse and corruption but it was the predatory instincts of Wall Street sharks and crooks that contributed to the blowing up of the crisis to unmanageable proportion.

                And if the Glass-Steagall Act was not repealed by the blue dog, firms like JPMorgan, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and other shadow banks would not have been able to dip their crooked hands into the muck of risky financial engineering.

            • Ah, I see your objection now, and herein appoint you The Society of Honor’s Ambassador of Leftward Thinking (ALT), a title you are free to accept or toss into the dempsey dumpster. I posted the quote because I wanted readers to understand that judging a president is complex, and your harsh view of Bill Clinton is a personal simplification. But at least now I grasp the principles that lead you to that judgment.

              How do we each personally not become social media gunslingers, I ask myself, as I whip out tweet after tweet oversimplifying the complex and being unfair for the doing of it. I think I need to write a blog about it to debate with myself and get the ideas of others.

    • The distortions of values are crazy-making, that intelligent adults, schooled in law, have become so manipulative and lacking in the kinds of values that under pin human rights and ethics. Power is the currency of this administration and deceits are the main language spoken, I fear.

  13. Sup says:

    Sought for their recusal are Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam. All of them testified against the Chief Justice in her impeachment case pending before the House of Representatives.

    If i was Sereno i would add one extra name..

    Duterte breaks ice between Alvarez, Arroyo at dinner concert
    For weeks, speculations about the VIP-only gathering organized by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco

    Lord is the son of SC Velasco….

  14. karlgarcia says:

    Duterte has not reneged on his promise of uding a jet ski to go to WPS. 😜

  15. karlgarcia says:

    I hate my self when I say bad things about our country and some of its leaders andpeople.
    I cringe when the likes of Harriot Hamhocker calks the Philippines a shithole.

    But sometimes you got to voice out your observations and as long as you listen to people other than your self, everything would be AOK.

    • Me, too. Such harsh judgments are so easy, and so unfair to a lot of decent people. I don’t hang with foreigners because I tire of their easy judgments. Yet, I make a lot of those judgments, too, telling myself that they are enlightening. I don’t know. Social media is a knowledge base that is an accumulation of millions of easy, ignorant, unfair comments. It’s like a brain that collects garbage and calls it knowledge.

      • karlgarcia says:


        • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

          This looks PLAGIARIZED (though I claimed
          not–they are mine) of two guys who
          know NOT they are c poets.

          first c-poet

          I hate my self when I say bad things
          about my country and some
          of its leaders and people.

          I cringe when the likes of
          Harriot Hamhocker calls
          the Philippines a shithole.

          But sometimes I got to
          voice out my observations
          and as long as I listen to people
          other than myself, everything
          would be AOK.

          Says the second c poet:

          Me, too. Such harsh judgments
          are so easy, and so unfair
          to a lot of decent people.

          I don’t hang with foreigners
          because I tire of
          their easy judgments.

          Yet, I make
          a lot of those judgments, too,
          telling myself that they are enlightening.
          I don’t know.

          Social media is a knowledge base
          that is an accumulation of millions
          of easy, ignorant, unfair comments.
          It’s like a brain that collects garbage
          and calls it knowledge.


          Don’t ask me about the “c” letter
          to ID a poet. c is in the dictionary. Eh.

          The two pieces pack a wallop
          like poets’ left hook
          no wonder many TKOs
          are best remembered
          than essayists’
          count of eight.

          • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

            when essays got galvanized
            into beauteous poetry
            readers start to bite
            every word for meanings
            like a child inside
            its mother’s womb kicking
            for meanings of the sounds
            coming from the outside world.

            So, POETRY is a flower bloomed
            like: infancy, seeds of thinking
            over and over life’s
            billion things.

            • Yes, although I think poetry in the age of socialized media is rather a wildflower, high on a mountain, overlooked from below.

              • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

                Oh yes TSoH, jasminum zambach sp. (Sampaguita) our national flower came from its mini wild ancestor the pitimini. While In Cambridge garden (not the Kew in London) one will find planted the metamorphs of the English Roses bred by nature from the wild humble gumamela (hibiscus rosa sinenses sp.

                I think socialized media is in its primeval stage of beastialization, hibernating, waiting for its age of reason, more time must pass before revelation, reformation, then restoration, then enlightenment, ending in renaissance, Socialized media knows “whom God wishes to destroy He first made mad,” but socialized media doesn’t know how God will do i,t if whom He likes to destroy are already mad. The world only has Europe to discern the long evil-good cycle of history.

            • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

              Huwag sanang pagkamalan
              ang poetry ko dito eh tulad
              ng kilala ninyong pangulo na
              sa madlang publiko lumalabas
              na pang gulo.

              • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

                Oh God, so sorry there guys and TSoH, my memory neurons got it all wrong. Pitimini is our mini rose flower, not an ancestor of Sampaguita which I remember was a lucrative product of San Pedro Laguna in mid to the late fifties. I knock my head for that and many others faux pax which went unchecked TSoH

              • Faux pax away, o’ poet of human dimensions, add to the patina of error that is scattered across these pages like snow on the upper ranges.

              • karlgarcia says:


                Not that I don’t care of my exponentiial faux pas, but as the walking, talking, breathing captcha check guy here(among other duies), I can assure you Popoy that you are not a robot.

              • Hahaha, spilt my mango juice

          • Nice empowerment of top-of mind remarks, c3

          • karlgarcia says:

            👍 That is the only thousand word icon I can think of

  16. karlgarcia says:

    Gatchalian and his advisers want us to believe that Train is not the cause of inflation.
    He said wait a few more months.
    My crystal ball says it will still be the same.

  17. edgar lores says:

    In South Korea, former president Park Geun-hye has been formally convicted and sentenced to 24 years in prison.

    She was impeached on 9 December 2016. The impeachment was upheld by the judiciary on 10 March 2017, and she was removed from office.

    She was arrested on 31 March 2017. It has taken just one year to find her guilty.

    Apart from the sentence of 24 years, she was fined ₩18,000,000,000 (US$16,798,683 or P873,531,516).

    Now, if only the Philippine judicial system had the boldness, uprightness, and swiftness to do this, then our culture of impunity would be soon gone.

  18. karlgarcia says:

    We will be the worst hit with this escalating trade-war, what economc policies do you suggest?

  19. Francis says:

    I sincerely don’t mean to offend, there is something that has prickled my mind so to speak.

    It is about TRAIN and the (moderate/yellow/reformist) opposition to TRAIN. The strident tone has…confused me.

    TRAIN—for all the bartering of interests that have watered it down—is a bill that is particularly centrist in intent: it aims to back increased government intervention and spending (increased role of the public sector more associated with the center-left) with a regressive taxation system that follows the logic that, while poor people do pay more now as a result—it’s more efficient for the government to make everyone pay via simplified, inescapable means (that, in the case of consumption taxes, disproportionately affect the poor) rather than try to hunt down rich tax payers who would evade it anyway (a preoccupation with efficiency, with imitating the efficiency of firms in the free market, that is often tied to the center-right).

    Yes, TRAIN is…criticized now. But TRAIN has emergred from the same centrist, technocratic ideological hinterlands that have been key in every other administration; it is an ideological cousin of policies liberalizing the Filipino economy and of future proposals to abolish restrictions on foreign ownership.

    I hate to say this, but one can easily see a similar bill under a different administration causing roughly the same effects we are experiencing now—i.e. inflation.

    • I can’t see why anyone would take offense to that comment. The TRAIN issue is material mainly in the context of other acts that pit authority against the poor, most prominent the drug enforcement that targets the poor but lets drug lords roam free to profit from creating more state criminals by selling them drugs, but also jeepney wipe-out, er, phase out, and anger from the opposition that would cause people to pounce on any issue, that anger in part derived from from the authoritarian policy of hunting down critics from De Lima to Sereno to Ressa, and even non-critics useful to stoking anger (Aquino, Robredo) as if there were an opposition, which I fear there is not much of one. That the Admin claims credit from Aquino projects coming to completion illustrates that the whole dialogue has been politicized. So it does not matter much if TRAIN will launch the Philippines into a new era of prosperity (which I doubt), it would be criticized for the short-term pain, trying to get people to wake up from their brainwashed stupor.

      • NHerrera says:

        Re TRAIN: you may add that the poor, more perceptive than we credit them for, know enough of the connection of TRAIN to repay the not-low-interest loan from China — the untrusted big power country (ref, surveys), but which the Admin embraced in replacement of the more trusted ones [no vulgar words used for that country, when practically all of the traditional PH friends have been insulted] — to finance the ambitious BBB Program and thus engender some slow-burning rage, but not able to vocalize or reason out this emotion.

    • karlgarcia says:

      😡😡😡 Joke only😜

      We tried all sounds good at the moment until blank legislation.
      The EVAT law was supposed to shoulder our revenue shortfalll because we already though that since every body consumes, everyone will pay.
      but Hudas nat pay and BIR and Customs had holes in their pockets.

      So why not another sounds good at the moment legislation.

      But the dreaded oil prices and fluctuation of exchange rate was the reason and still id the reason for price increases.

      We tried the oil price stabilization fund, but we all know how that turned out.The Solution became the problem so another solution was needed and that was the oil deregulation law.

      Smuggling made oil prices low in the interim, but we all now that it is not how we are supposed to do things.

      Now here we are still at the mercy of oil prices and exchange rates.

      • Re VAT: most stores in the EU have cash registers that not only create a cash receipt – they also have a non-tamperable number for each transaction including VAT taken, to create a tabulation at the end of the day. Of course VAT can be a source of cheating, that is clear.

        The major issue in the Philippines are still the extreme bank secrecy laws, of course. Financial authorities can do more if they can investigate accounts – or even shut them down which is what German authorities do if you have a significant delay in paying any major tax. Of course people will try to settle outstanding taxes in such case, because a blocked bank account means you can’t even get money for yourself, much less do any real business. Probably the measure is to prevent crooks from running away with taxes they owe.

        In the Philippines of course the biggest crooks are in charge of running things. Parts of the EU also have that – I have read reports of Mafia SUVs parked in front of Mayor’s office in Bulgarian towns – but the legit groups are (still, hopefully) stronger. Unlike in maybe Ukraine.

    • chemrock says:

      An excellent point, Francis.
      It is worthy of being addressed properly. I would like to try to poke a bit more into this and put it out in a separate blog. Its a drab and dreary topic but it got my attention because of a tax issue that has been at the back of my mind. I’ll try to work on it this lazy Sunday afternoon, since my wife is out of town.

  20. Sup says:

    Could the PH. government cancel their passports for insulting and ridiculing the duly elected vice President of the Philippines?

    Duterte supporters protest VP Robredo’s presence at London school
    Published April 7, 2018 8:33pm

    A pack of Filipinos gathered outside the London School of Economics campus in the UK on Friday to protest the presence of Vice President Leni Robredo at the school.

    Seen in a series of livestreamed videos on Facebook group, Uk-Dds Activities, protesters stood in front of the LSE building until dark holding up placards with phrases “Fake V.P. Leni Robredo” and “Leni lugaw.”

    • It was a remarkably small group. I have seen comments on Twitter that the crowd that protested in front of BBC for not interviewing Sasot was bigger – which is true! The funny conclusion being – that BBM has less supporters in the UK now than Sasot had then..

      • There were DEFINITELY much more people when Jolibee recently opened in Milan.

        I might check that place out the next time I get to go there, just 7 hours away by train.

        • Sup says:

          Why? Just add 15 tablespoons sugar in your homemade spaghetti…same as Jollibee…… 🙂

          • NHerrera says:

            Sup, huwag naman 15 kutsarang asukal — sa isang serving? Pero tama ka, matamis ang spaghetti ng Jollibee. 🙂

            • My memory of Jolibee is that the burgers have a lot more flavor than McDonald’s which is indeed bland if you eat the standard hamburger. Cheeseburger is OK.

              Though I read somewhere the the Philippine McDonald’s hamburger has a somewhat different flavor than elsewhere, worldwide – possibly a concession to local taste as well, similar to the less sweet Coca-Cola in Germany?

          • I definitely will not eat Pinoy spaghetti in Milan, Italy. But possibly just try the burgers. Back in 1985, the almost only McDonald’s in Italy was the one near the stairs at Piazza Navona, Barbarian food for the Italians. But I ate there! I like KFC, so I might also try Chicken Joy.

            Regarding sugar – Coke in Germany has less sugar than anywhere else in the world, as it was adjusted to local taste. Polvoron from Madrid is way less sweet than Filipino polvoron. Andalusian desserts are sweeter due to Oriental influence, they might taste more similar.

          • Haha, You should have seen the look on my wife’s face when, early in our marriage, we ate the spaghetti with the real Italian sauce that I bought. She hated it. So being a dutiful husband, I learned to love Jollibee spaghetti. 🙂

          • edgar lores says:

            Sugar? No, no, no. Evaporada condensada is the secret ingredient.

            • Sup says:

              ”Jollibee spaghetti now with free diabetes.”… 🙂
              Good am to all…….

              • karlgarcia says:

                I still like the carinderia jufran/mafran or ufc ketchup spaghetti, it not only offers free diabetes, those places with only a pail of water to wash plates and utensils also offers me free hepatitis. Who says it is the location, it is the promo offering.

              • Free hepatitis… what are the health regulations for restaurants in the Philippines?

                Probably avant garde, ahead of the rest of the world in theory, non-existent in practice?

       – some more sorted thoughts..

                But I didn’t know how ineffective for example the Boracay LGU was, or most Phils. LGUs.

                But then again implementing everything through separate Departments (instead of delegating to the LGUs like in Germany) is very hard work over an entire archipelago. Probably also just as ineffective, depending on which Department and which Region.

                Just thinking about the rotten DSWD rice in the time of Dinky Soliman, or today’s NFA.

              • karlgarcia says:

                To be a little fair, the street vendors uses disposable,plates, sporks, and cups; and those squid ball vendors offer you a small paper plate for the sauce so you would no longer dip in the jar.
                The thing is, they are do compliant with DENRs recycle and reuse they re use the disposed off plates utensils and cups, you may have hepa, but you save the environment.

  21. Francis says:


    The discussion here on this blog on economic issues make me think of whether a 20th century “national” welfare state is even viable in this “Wild West” 21st century.

    Below is an article that I think is very interesting, as it bucks the trend of this whole “we must co-opt nationalism” sentiment among moderates and reformists, in response to the sheer vitality of populism that brought Trump into power and Brexit into the history books.

    Maybe the answer lies in not compromising with nationalism but envisioning a new order of things.

    Attached alongside the article is my comments on the article posted on another forum. Too lazy to write an entirely new comment hahahaha.

    The demise of the nation state
    Rana DasguptaLast modified on Thu 5 Apr 2018 18.08 BST
    What is happening to national politics? Every day in the US, events further exceed the imaginations of absurdist novelists and comedians; politics in the UK still shows few signs of recovery after the “national nervous breakdown” of Brexit. France “narrowly escaped a heart attack” in last year’s elections, but the country’s leading daily feels this has done little to alter the “accelerated decomposition” of the political system. In neighbouring Spain, El País goes so far as to say that “the rule of law, the democratic system and even the market economy are in doubt”; in Italy, “the collapse of the establishment” in the March elections has even brought talk of a “barbarian arrival”, as if Rome were falling once again. In Germany, meanwhile, neo-fascists are preparing to take up their role as official opposition, introducing anxious volatility into the bastion of European stability.

    But the convulsions in national politics are not confined to the west. Exhaustion, hopelessness, the dwindling effectiveness of old ways: these are the themes of politics all across the world. This is why energetic authoritarian “solutions” are currently so popular: distraction by war (Russia, Turkey); ethno-religious “purification” (India, Hungary, Myanmar); the magnification of presidential powers and the corresponding abandonment of civil rights and the rule of law (China, Rwanda, Venezuela, Thailand, the Philippines and many more).

    What is the relationship between these various upheavals? We tend to regard them as entirely separate – for, in political life, national solipsism is the rule. In each country, the tendency is to blame “our” history, “our” populists, “our” media, “our” institutions, “our” lousy politicians. And this is understandable, since the organs of modern political consciousness – public education and mass media – emerged in the 19th century from a globe-conquering ideology of unique national destinies. When we discuss “politics”, we refer to what goes on inside sovereign states; everything else is “foreign affairs” or “international relations” – even in this era of global financial and technological integration. We may buy the same products in every country of the world, we may all use Google and Facebook, but political life, curiously, is made of separate stuff and keeps the antique faith of borders.

    Yes, there is awareness that similar varieties of populism are erupting in many countries. Several have noted the parallels in style and substance between leaders such as Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Viktor Orbán and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. There is a sense that something is in the air – some coincidence of feeling between places. But this does not get close enough. For there is no coincidence. All countries are today embedded in the same system, which subjects them all to the same pressures: and it is these that are squeezing and warping national political life everywhere. And their effect is quite the opposite – despite the desperate flag-waving – of the oft-remarked “resurgence of the nation state”.

    The most momentous development of our era, precisely, is the waning of the nation state: its inability to withstand countervailing 21st-century forces, and its calamitous loss of influence over human circumstance. National political authority is in decline, and, since we do not know any other sort, it feels like the end of the world. This is why a strange brand of apocalyptic nationalism is so widely in vogue. But the current appeal of machismo as political style, the wall-building and xenophobia, the mythology and race theory, the fantastical promises of national restoration – these are not cures, but symptoms of what is slowly revealing itself to all: nation states everywhere are in an advanced state of political and moral decay from which they cannot individually extricate themselves.

    Why is this happening? In brief, 20th-century political structures are drowning in a 21st-century ocean of deregulated finance, autonomous technology, religious militancy and great-power rivalry. Meanwhile, the suppressed consequences of 20th-century recklessness in the once-colonised world are erupting, cracking nations into fragments and forcing populations into post-national solidarities: roving tribal militias, ethnic and religious sub-states and super-states. Finally, the old superpowers’ demolition of old ideas of international society – ideas of the “society of nations” that were essential to the way the new world order was envisioned after 1918 – has turned the nation-state system into a lawless gangland; and this is now producing a nihilistic backlash from the ones who have been most terrorised and despoiled.

    The result? For increasing numbers of people, our nations and the system of which they are a part now appear unable to offer a plausible, viable future. This is particularly the case as they watch financial elites – and their wealth – increasingly escaping national allegiances altogether. Today’s failure of national political authority, after all, derives in large part from the loss of control over money flows. At the most obvious level, money is being transferred out of national space altogether, into a booming “offshore” zone. These fleeing trillions undermine national communities in real and symbolic ways. They are a cause of national decay, but they are also a result: for nation states have lost their moral aura, which is one of the reasons tax evasion has become an accepted fundament of 21st-century commerce.

    More dramatically, great numbers of people are losing all semblance of a national home, and finding themselves pitched into a particular kind of contemporary hell. Seven years after the fall of Gaddafi’s dictatorship, Libya is controlled by two rival governments, each with its own parliament, and by several militia groups fighting to control oil wealth. But Libya is only one of many countries that appear whole only on maps. Since 1989, barely 5% of the world’s wars have taken place between states: national breakdown, not foreign invasion, has caused the vast majority of the 9 million war deaths in that time. And, as we know from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria, the ensuing vacuum can suck in firepower from all over the world, destroying conditions for life and spewing shell-shocked refugees in every direction. Nothing advertises the crisis of our nation-state system so well, in fact, as its 65 million refugees – a “new normal” far greater than the “old emergency” (in 1945) of 40 million. The unwillingness even to acknowledge this crisis, meanwhile, is appropriately captured by the contempt for refugees that now drives so much of politics in the rich world.

    The crisis was not wholly inevitable. Since 1945, we have actively reduced our world political system to a dangerous mockery of what was designed by US president Woodrow Wilson and many others after the cataclysm of the first world war, and now we are facing the consequences. But we should not leap too quickly into renovation. This system has done far less to deliver human security and dignity than we imagine – in some ways, it has been a colossal failure – and there are good reasons why it is ageing so much more quickly than the empires it replaced.

    Even if we wanted to restore what we once had, that moment is gone. The reason the nation state was able to deliver what achievements it did – and in some places they were spectacular – was that there was, for much of the 20th century, an authentic “fit” between politics, economy and information, all of which were organised at a national scale. National governments possessed actual powers to manage modern economic and ideological energies, and to turn them towards human – sometimes almost utopian – ends. But that era is over. After so many decades of globalisation, economics and information have successfully grown beyond the authority of national governments. Today, the distribution of planetary wealth and resources is largely uncontested by any political mechanism.

    But to acknowledge this is to acknowledge the end of politics itself. And if we continue to think the administrative system we inherited from our ancestors allows for no innovation, we condemn ourselves to a long period of dwindling political and moral hope. Half a century has been spent building the global system on which we all now depend, and it is here to stay. Without political innovation, global capital and technology will rule us without any kind of democratic consultation, as naturally and indubitably as the rising oceans.

    Presidents Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Vladimir Putin of Russia in Ankara. Photograph: Reuters
    If we wish to rediscover a sense of political purpose in our era of global finance, big data, mass migration and ecological upheaval, we have to imagine political forms capable of operating at that same scale. The current political system must be supplemented with global financial regulations, certainly, and probably transnational political mechanisms, too. That is how we will complete this globalisation of ours, which today stands dangerously unfinished. Its economic and technological systems are dazzling indeed, but in order for it to serve the human community, it must be subordinated to an equally spectacular political infrastructure, which we have not even begun to conceive.

    It will be objected, inevitably, that any alternative to the nation-state system is a utopian impossibility. But even the technological accomplishments of the last few decades seemed implausible before they arrived, and there are good reasons to be suspicious of those incumbent authorities who tell us that human beings are incapable of similar grandeur in the political realm. In fact, there have been many moments in history when politics was suddenly expanded to a new, previously inconceivable scale – including the creation of the nation state itself. And – as is becoming clearer every day – the real delusion is the belief that things can carry on as they are.

    The first step will be ceasing to pretend that there is no alternative. So let us begin by considering the scale of the current crisis.

    Let us start with the west. Europe, of course, invented the nation state: the principle of territorial sovereignty was agreed at the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. The treaty made large-scale conquest difficult within the continent; instead, European nations expanded into the rest of the world. The dividends of colonial plunder were converted, back home, into strong states with powerful bureaucracies and democratic polities – the template for modern European life.

    By the end of 19th century, European nations had acquired uniform attributes still familiar today – in particular, a set of fiercely enforced state monopolies (defence, taxation and law, among others), which gave governments substantial mastery of the national destiny. In return, a moral promise was made to all: the development, spiritual and material, of citizen and nation alike. Spectacular state-run projects in the fields of education, healthcare, welfare and culture arose to substantiate this promise.

    The withdrawal of this moral promise over the past four decades has been a shattering metaphysical event in the west, and one that has left populations rummaging around for new things to believe in. For the promise was a major event in the evolution of the western psyche. It was part of a profound theological reorganisation: the French Revolution dethroned not only the monarch, but also God, whose superlative attributes – omniscience and omnipotence – were now absorbed into the institutions of the state itself. The state’s power to develop, liberate and redeem mankind became the foundational secular faith.

    During the period of decolonisation that followed the second world war, the European nation-state structure was exported everywhere. But westerners still felt its moral promise with an intensity peculiar to themselves – more so than ever, in fact, after the creation of the welfare state and decades of unprecedented postwar growth. Nostalgia for that golden age of the nation state continues to distort western political debate to this day, but it was built on an improbable coincidence of conditions that will never recur. Very significant was the structure of the postwar state itself, which possessed a historically unique level of control over the domestic economy. Capital could not flow unchecked across borders and foreign currency speculation was negligible compared to today. Governments, in other words, had substantial control over money flows, and if they spoke of changing things, it was because they actually could. The fact that capital was captive meant they Governments could impose historic rates of taxation, which, in an era of record economic growth, allowed them to channel unprecedented energies into national development. For a few decades, state power was monumental – almost divine, indeed – and it created the most secure and equal capitalist societies ever known.

    The destruction of state authority over capital has of course been the explicit objective of the financial revolution that defines our present era. As a result, states have been forced to shed social commitments in order to reinvent themselves as custodians of the market. This has drastically diminished national political authority in both real and symbolic ways. Barack Obama in 2013 called inequality “the defining challenge of our time”, but US inequality has risen continually since 1980, without regard for his qualms or those of any other president.

    The picture is the same all over the west: the wealth of the richest continues to skyrocket, while post-crisis austerity cripples the social-democratic welfare state. We can all see the growing fury at governments that refuse to fulfil their old moral promise – but it is most probable that they no longer can. Western governments possess nothing like their previous command over national economic life, and if they continue to promise fundamental change, it is now at the level of PR and wish fulfilment.

    There is every reason to believe that the next stage of the techno-financial revolution will be even more disastrous for national political authority. This will arise as the natural continuation of existing technological processes, which promise new, algorithmic kinds of governance to further undermine the political variety. Big data companies (Google, Facebook etc) have already assumed many functions previously associated with the state, from cartography to surveillance. Now they are the primary gatekeepers of social reality: membership of these systems is a new, corporate, de-territorialised form of citizenship, antagonistic at every level to the national kind. And, as the growth of digital currencies shows, new technologies will emerge to replace the other fundamental functions of the nation state. The libertarian dream – whereby antique bureaucracies succumb to pristine hi-tech corporate systems, which then take over the management of all life and resources – is a more likely vision for the future than any fantasy of a return to social democracy.

    US president Donald Trump in Washington. Photograph: AP
    Governments controlled by outside forces and possessing only partial influence over national affairs: this has always been so in the world’s poorest countries. But in the west, it feels like a terrifying return to primitive vulnerability. The assault on political authority is not a merely “economic” or “technological” event. It is an epochal upheaval, which leaves western populations shattered and bereft. There are outbreaks of irrational rage, especially against immigrants, the appointed scapegoats for much deeper forms of national contamination. The idea of the western nation as a universal home collapses, and transnational tribal identities grow up as a refuge: white supremacists and radical Islamists alike take up arms against contamination and corruption.

    The stakes could not be higher. So it is easy to see why western governments are so desperate to prove what everyone doubts: that they are still in control. It is not merely Donald Trump’s personality that causes him to act like a sociopathic CEO. The era of globalisation has seen consistent attempts by US presidents to enhance the authority of the executive, but they are never enough. Trump’s office can never have the level of mastery over American life that Kennedy’s did, so he is obliged to fake it. He cannot make America great again, but he does have Twitter, through which he can establish a lone-gun personality cult – blaming women, leftists and brown people for the state’s impotence. He cannot heal America’s social divisions, but he still controls the security apparatus, which can be deployed to help him look “tough” – declaring war on crime, deporting foreigners, hardening borders. He cannot put more money into the hands of the poor who voted for him, but he can hand out mythological currency instead; even his poorest voters, after all, possess one significant asset – US citizenship – whose value he can “talk up”, as he previously talked up casinos and hotels. Like Putin or Orbán, Trump imbues citizenship with new martial power, and makes a big show of withholding it from people who want it: what is scarcer, obviously, is more precious. Citizens who have nothing are persuaded that they have a lot.

    These strategies are ugly, but they cannot simply be blamed on a few bad actors. The predicament is this: political authority is running on empty, and leaders are unable to deliver meaningful material change. Instead, they must arouse and deploy powerful feelings: hatred of foreigners and internal enemies, for instance, or the euphoria of meaningless military exploits (Putin’s annexation of Crimea raised the hugely popular prospect of general Tsarist revival).

    But let us not imagine that these strategies will quickly break down under their own deceptions as moderation magically comes back into fashion. As Putin’s Russia has shown, chauvinism is more effective than we like to believe. Partly because citizens are desperate for the cover-up to succeed: deep down, they know to be scared of what will happen if the power of the state is revealed to be a hoax.

    In the world’s poorest countries, the picture is very different. Almost all those nations emerged in the 20th century from the Eurasian empires. It has become de rigueur to despise empires, but they have been the “normal” mode of governance for much of history. The Ottoman empire, which lasted from 1300 until 1922, delivered levels of tranquillity and cultural achievement that seem incredible from the perspective of today’s fractured Middle East. The modern nation of Syria looks unlikely to last more than a century without breaking apart, and it hardly provides security or stability for its citizens.

    Empires were not democratic, but were built to be inclusive of all those who came under their rule. It is not the same with nations, which are founded on the fundamental distinction between who is in and who is out – and therefore harbour a tendency toward ethnic purification. This makes them much more unstable than empires, for that tendency can always be stoked by nativist demagogues.

    Nevertheless, in the previous century it was decided with amazing alacrity that empires belonged to the past, and the future to nation states. And yet this revolutionary transformation has done almost nothing to close the economic gap between the colonised and the colonising. In the meantime, it has subjected many postcolonial populations to a bitter cocktail of authoritarianism, ethnic cleansing, war, corruption and ecological devastation.

    If there are so few formerly colonised countries that are now peaceful, affluent and democratic, it is not, as the west often pretends, because “bad leaders” somehow ruined otherwise perfectly functional nations. In the breakneck pace of decolonisation, nations were thrown together in months; often their alarmed populations fell immediately into violent conflict to control the new state apparatus, and the power and wealth that came with it. Many infant states were held together only by strongmen who entrusted the system to their own tribes or clans, maintained power by stoking sectarian rivalries and turned ethnic or religious differences into super-charged axes of political terror.

    The list is not a short one. Consider men such as Ne Win (Burma), Hissène Habré (Chad), Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), Mengistu Haile Mariam (Ethiopia), Ahmed Sékou Touré (Guinea), Muhammad Suharto (Indonesia), the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Muammar Gaddafi (Libya), Moussa Traoré (Mali), General Zia-ul-Haq (Pakistan), Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), the Kings of Saudi Arabia, Siaka Stevens (Sierra Leone), Mohamed Siad Barre (Somalia), Jaafar Nimeiri (Sudan), Hafez al-Assad (Syria), Idi Amin (Uganda), Mobutu Sese Seko (Zaire) or Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe).

    Hungary’s president, Viktor Orbán. Photograph: Laszlo Balogh/Getty Images
    Such countries were generally condemned to remain what one influential commentator has called “quasi-states”. Formally equivalent to the older nations with which they now shared the stage, they were in reality very different entities, and they could not be expected to deliver comparable benefits to their citizens.

    Those dictators could never have held such incoherent states together without tremendous reinforcement from outside, which was what sealed the lid on the pressure cooker. The post-imperial ethos was hospitable to dictators, of course: with the UN’s moral rejection of foreign rule came a universal imperative to respect national sovereignty, no matter what horrors went on behind its closed doors. But the cold war vastly expanded the resources available to brutal regimes for defending themselves against revolution and secession. The two superpowers funded the escalation of post-colonial conflicts to stupefying levels of fatality: at least 15 million died in the proxy wars of that period, in theatres as dispersed as Afghanistan, Korea, El Salvador, Angola and Sudan. And what the superpowers wanted out of all this destruction was a network of firmly installed clients able to defeat all internal rivals.

    There was nothing stable about this cold war “stability”, but its devastation was contained within the borders of its proxy states. The breakup of the superpower system, however, has led to the implosion of state authority across large groups of economically and politically impoverished countries – and the resulting eruptions are not contained at all. Destroyed political cultures have given rise to startling “post-national” forces such as Islamic State, which are cutting through national borders and transmitting chaos, potentially, into every corner of the world.

    Over the past 20 years, the slow, post-cold-war rot in Africa and the Middle East has been exuberantly exploited by these kinds of forces – whose position, since there are more countries set to go the way of Yemen, South Sudan, Syria and Somalia, is flush with opportunity. Their adherents have lost the enchantment for the old slogans of nation-building. Their political technology is charismatic religion, and the future they seek is inspired by the ancient golden empires that existed before the invention of nations. Militant religious groups in Africa and the Middle East are less engaged in the old project of seizing the state apparatus; instead, they cut holes and tunnels in state authority, and so assemble transnational networks of tax collection, trade routes and military supply lines.

    Such a network currently extends from Mauritania in the west to Yemen in the east, and from Kenya and Somalia in the south to Algeria and Syria in the north. This eats away the old political architecture from the inside, making several nation states (such as Mali and the Central African Republic) essentially non-functional, which in turn creates further opportunities for consolidation and expansion. Several ethnic groups, meanwhile – such as the Kurds and the Tuareg – which were left without a homeland after decolonisation, and stranded as persecuted minorities ever since, have also exploited the rifts in state authority to assemble the beginnings of transnational territories. It is in the world’s most dangerous regions that today’s new political possibilities are being imagined.

    The west’s commitment to nation states has been self-servingly partial. For many decades, it was content to see large areas of the world suffer under terrifying parodies of well-established Western states; it cannot complain that those areas now display little loyalty to the nation-state idea. Especially since they have also borne the most traumatic consequences of climate change, a phenomenon for which they were least responsible and least equipped to withstand. The strategic calculation of new militant groups in that region is in many ways quite accurate: the transition from empire to independent nation states has been a massive and unremitting failure, and, after three generations, there needs to be a way out.

    But there is no possibility that al-Shabaab, the Janjaweed, Seleka, Boko Haram, Ansar Dine, Isis or al-Qaida will provide that way out. The situation requires new ideas of political organisation and global economic redistribution. There is no superpower great enough, any more, to contain the effects of exploding “quasi-states”. Barbed wire and harder borders will certainly not suffice to keep such human disasters at bay.

    Let us turn to the nature of the nation-state system itself. The international order as we know it is not so old. The nation state became the universal template for human political organisation only after the first world war, when a new principle – “national self-determination,”, as US President Woodrow Wilson named it – buried the many other blueprints under debate. Today, after a century of lugubrious “international relations”, the only aspect of this principle we still remember is the one most familiar to us: national independence. But Wilson’s original programme, informed by a loose international coalition including such diverse visionaries as Andrew Carnegie and Leonard Woolf (husband of Virginia), aimed for something far more ambitious: a comprehensive intra-state democracy designed to ensure global cooperation, peace and justice.

    How were human beings to live securely in their new nations, after all, if nations themselves were not subject to any law? The new order of nations only made sense if these were integrated into a “society of nations”: a formal global society with its own universal institutions, empowered to police the violence that individual states would not regulate on their own: the violence they perpetrated themselves, whether against other states or their own citizens.

    The cold war definitively buried this “society”, and we have lived ever since with a drastically degraded version of what was intended. During that period, both superpowers actively destroyed any constraints on international action, maintaining a level of international lawlessness worthy of the “scramble for Africa”. Without such constraints, their disproportionate power produced exactly what one would expect: gangsterism. The end of the cold war did nothing to change American behaviour: the US is today dependent on lawlessness in international society, and on the perpetual warfare-against-the-weak that is its consequence.

    Just as illegitimate government within a nation cannot persist for long without opposition, the illegitimate international order we have lived with for so many decades is quickly exhausting the assent it once enjoyed. In many areas of the world today, there is no remaining illusion that this system can offer a viable future. All that remains is exit. Some are staking everything on a western passport, which, since the supreme value of western life is still enshrined in the system, is the one guarantee of meaningful constitutional protection. But such passports are difficult to get.

    That leaves the other kind of exit, which is to take up arms against the state system itself. The appeal of Isis for its converts was its claim to erase from the Middle East the catastrophe of the post-imperial century. It will be remembered that the group’s most triumphant publicity was associated with its penetration of the Iraq-Syria border. This was presented as a victory over the 1916 treaties by which the British and French divided the Ottoman Empire amongst themselves – Isis’s PR arm issued the Twitter hashtag #SykesPicotOver – and inaugurated a century of Mesopotamian bombing. It arose from an entirely justifiable rejection of a system that obstinately designated – during the course of a century and more – Arabs as “savages” to whom no dignity or protection would be extended.

    The era of national self-determination has turned out to be an era of international lawlessness, which has crippled the legitimacy of the nation state system. And, while revolutionary groups attempt to destroy the system “from below”, assertive regional powers are destroying it “from above” – by infringing national borders in their own backyards. Russia’s escapade in Ukraine demonstrates that there are now few consequences to neo-imperial bagatelles, and China’s route to usurping the 22nd-richest country in the world – Taiwan – lies open. The true extent of our insecurity will be revealed as the relative power of the US further declines, and it can no longer do anything to control the chaos it helped create.

    The three elements of the crisis described here will only worsen. First, the existential breakdown of rich countries during the assault on national political power by global forces. Second, the volatility of the poorest countries and regions, now that the departure of cold war-era strongmen has revealed their true fragility. And third, the illegitimacy of an “international order” that has never aspired to any kind of “society of nations” governed by the rule of law.

    Since they are all rooted in transnational forces whose scale eludes the reach of any one nation’s politics, they are largely immune to well-meaning political reform within nations (though the coming years will also see many examples of such reform). So we are obliged to re-examine its ageing political foundations if we do not wish to see our global system pushed to ever more extreme forms of collapse.

    Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Photograph: AP
    This is not a small endeavour: it will take the better part of this century. We do not know yet where it will lead. All we can lay out now is a set of directions. From the standpoint of our present, they will seem impossible, because we have not known any other way. But that is how radical novelty always begins.

    The first is clear: global financial regulation. Today’s great engines of wealth creation are distributed in such a way as to elude national taxation systems (94% of Apple’s cash reserves are held offshore; this $250bn is greater than the combined foreign reserves of the British government and the Bank of England), which is diminishing all nation states, materially and symbolically. There is no reason to heed those interested parties who tell us global financial regulation is impossible: it is technologically trivial compared to the astonishing systems those same parties have already built.

    The history of the nation state is one of perennial tax innovation, and the next such innovation is transnational: we must build systems to track transnational money flows, and to transfer a portion of them into public channels. Without this, our political infrastructure will continue to become more and more superfluous to actual material life. In the process we must also think more seriously about global redistribution: not aid, which is exceptional, but the systematic transfer of wealth from rich to poor for the improved security of all, as happens in national societies.

    Second: global flexible democracy. As new local and transnational political currents become more powerful, the nation state’s rigid monopoly on political life is becoming increasingly unviable. Nations must be nested in a stack of other stable, democratic structures – some smaller, some larger than they – so that turmoil at the national level does not lead to total breakdown. The EU is the major experiment in this direction, and it is significant that the continent that invented the nation state was also the first to move beyond it. The EU has failed in many of its functions, principally because it has not established a truly democratic ethos. But free movement has hugely democratised economic opportunity within the EU. And insofar as it may become a “Europe of regions” – comprising Catalonia and Scotland, not only Spain and the UK – it can help stabilise national political upheaval.

    We need more such experiments in continental and global politics. National governments themselves need to be subjected to a superior tier of authority: they have proved to be the most dangerous forces in the nation-state era, waging endless wars against other nations while oppressing, killing and otherwise failing their own populations. Oppressed national minorities must be given a legal mechanism to appeal over the heads of their own governments – this was always part of Wilson’s vision and its loss has been terrible for humanity.

    Third, and finally: we need to find new conceptions of citizenship. Citizenship is itself the primordial kind of injustice in the world. It functions as an extreme form of inherited property and, like other systems in which inherited privilege is overwhelmingly determinant, it arouses little allegiance in those who inherit nothing. Many countries have made efforts, through welfare and education policy, to neutralise the consequences of accidental advantages such as birth. But “accidental advantages” rule at the global level: 97% of citizenship is inherited, which means that the essential horizons of life on this planet are already determined at birth.

    If you are born Finnish, your legal protections and economic expectations are of such a different order to those of a Somalian or Syrian that even mutual understanding is difficult. Your mobility – as a Finn – is also very different. But in a world system – rather than a system of nations – there can be no justification for such radical divergences in mobility. Deregulating human movement is an essential corollary of the deregulation of capital: it is unjust to preserve the freedom to move capital out of a place and simultaneously forbid people from following.

    Contemporary technological systems offer models for rethinking citizenship so it can be de-linked from territory, and its advantages can be more fairly distributed. The rights and opportunities accruing to western citizenship could be claimed far away, for instance, without anyone having to travel to the west to do so. We could participate in political processes far away that nonetheless affect us: if democracy is supposed to give voters some control over their own conditions, for instance, should a US election not involve most people on earth? What would American political discourse look like, if it had to satisfy voters in Iraq or Afghanistan?

    On the eve of its centenary, our nation-state system is already in a crisis from which it does not currently possess the capacity to extricate itself. It is time to think how that capacity might be built. We do not yet know what it will look like. But we have learned a lot from the economic and technological phases of globalisation, and we now possess the basic concepts for the next phase: building the politics of our integrated world system. We are confronted, of course, by an enterprise of political imagination as significant as that which produced the great visions of the 18th century – and, with them, the French and American Republics. But we are now in a position to begin.

    Rana Dasgupta is the author of two novels and a non-fiction portrait of twenty-first-century Delhi. His next book, After Nations, will appear in 2019.

    It was interesting coming across this article in the Guardian; everyone has been usually talking about the “return” of nationalism and how nationalism is just this untameable force and how the center-left must co-opt nationalism and become nationalism-but-without-the-icky-racist-parts.

    And to certain extent, that point of view is correct—if you’re assuming that the nation-state is the only possible avenue for the center-left.

    The center-left is caught between two rival groups—the right and centrist free market libertarians and technocrats, who are okay with respecting minorities (freedom of labor to move across national boundaries is good for business!) and gender rights (women and members of LGBT community can be capitalists too!) but not so okay with welfare-state (efficiency first!) and the far-right Bannonite economic nationalists who are very much in favour a welfare-state (populism! the little guy needs help!) but only for the “deserving” which coincidentally runs along racial and heteronormative lines.

    Consider the way the center-left shifted to the center in the 80s onwards (i.e. New Labour, Third Way Democrats). Consider the criticism of the Left towards the “social liberalism” and “identity politics” of the center-left.

    The center-left looks a lot like a “right-lite” : free-market small state plus respect for all genders and minorities (who will anyway suffer just the same the feeble welfare state) so it is not a surprise to observe the crisis, the implosion of the center-left.

    In order to calm the white working class and at the same time extend rights to people of all races and genders—you need a big ass welfare state, with much more resources.


    There’s also the fact that welfare is now scarce, at least on a national level: an aging population, coupled with the freedom of capital to go elsewhere (less taxes to just keep them here), traditionally well-paying jobs in sectors like manufacturing outsourced abroad (less taxpayers to pay for the welfare state) replaced with not-so-well-paying service sector and gig economy jobs (the taxpayers left can hardly pay anything) which will all be likely hit by automation (who will pay now?) and the surge of migrants and refugees (more people, more “competition” for resources).

    The mechanisms national welfare-state is becoming increasingly unviable or increasingly impossible to actually implement; in this era of NAFTA, OBOR, TPP, GATT, WTO—how can you even have tariffs and subsides to protect your workers and local capital, how can you lock capital to your own shores, how can national governments have the sufficient bargaining power against international capital.

    You’d have to be BIG. Like China. And not all nations are just BIG like China, so that means supranational cooperation is a must. Like the EU.

    You need global social democracy.

    If you want the guys in Appalachia to ease their insularity—perhaps, it would be a good sell to suggest that, unlike the center-right who just want to make free trade happen but leave you with not much of a safety net—the center-left can promise you (!) that we will funnel money from London, New York, Paris, Berlin, etc. to all everyone in need via a global welfare state; if there was “no tax without representation” perhaps maybe: “no free trade without welfare equal in scale” meaning if national free trade (freedom of goods within national borders) necessitates national welfare state to address market failures on a national scale then international free trade should likewise necessitate a welfare state equally international in scope to address market failures equally international in scale.

    I mean, it’s either global social democracy…or…we all become closed nationalistic hamlets slowly turining into creepy corporate (if Western) or government (if Chinese) surveillance states…

    …or communism/socialism wins, which “your mileage may vary” on that.

    • Fascinating read. A world of (1) corrupt capitalistic tyrants, (2) rebels, and (3) large innovative nation states that belong to a network of like-minded states that are able to capture some rents from global companies and redistribute wealth better than now. I would ordinarily ask for a synopsis rather than a complete article, as there are copyright issues. I hope there are none with this one, as it is a fascinating read.

      I also took note of this remark: “Citizenship is itself the primordial kind of injustice in the world.”, as I think citizenship does little to recite one’s obligations to a particular state. It is a piece of paper used to restrain and intimidate. The proof is in how many Filipinos claim I am a better Filipino than a whole lot of papered Filipinos.

      • edgar lores says:

        Francis, thank you. This is a good read.

        I think the announcement of the demise of the nation-state is premature. A world system is just not yet viable. The world is splintering rather than coalescing.

        It would take some great need for the world to come together — nuclear war, a large meteor strike, a devastating plague, aliens.

        Perhaps what is dying is the democratic form of government.

        • chemrock says:

          A world order is in play but whether it can be a reality is questionable. But it does seem there are some shadowing hands working towards a one world currency, under their control, of course. For conspiracy afficiondos. July this year is supposedly a critical time. The IMR will launch some form of blockchain ledgers for SDRs. This will take away the need for US$ in international settlements. That is the gameplan which actually IMF has actually announced on a few ocassions but the mainstream press has not picked it up. There have in fact been some SDR bond issues by the private sectors. One recently concluded was by Standard Chartered bank.

          • China seems to want to create an IMF alternative – just like they seem to want to create parallel world institutions, a new China-centric world order even.

            Become “All Under Heaven” again after that old illusion was destroyed by “barbarians”?

            • karlgarcia says:

              A few years ago, we talked about futures based on movies. Mad Max, Tron, Hunger Games, Planet of the Apes, soylent green,etc. What we all end up playing virtual realty games like in Ready, Player one?

              • Some years ago I liked to play “Mafia Wars” on Facebook. A lot of other Pinoys also did.

                So the language of trolls is not new to me. And the idea of getting a sense of power by belonging to a “strong gang”, which many Pinoys had. Only online and unreal of course.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Mafia wars in virtual reality? Would you like to have a Don Corleone type avatar?

            • Francis says:

              PRoChina for now lacks the maturity.

              If the Americans are already considered too “arrogant” most of the time, I wonder how the world will like dealing with PRoChina.

              It is easily observed from PRoChina’s track record, that PRoChina has an awfully thin skin; the moment someone says even the slightest criticism of China—bam, you get harassed!

              Or worse. Kidnapped.

              America—as a democracy—knows how to play subtle and has (well, depending on who you ask: actual or lipservice) restrictions on its ability to play hard ball. Simply put, America won’t harass you for protesting about America—or if they do, they have a much higher threshold of tolerance.

              Imagine how stuff like the Battle of Seattle would happen if the WTO was run by China.

              And China doesn’t realize that money alone isn’t enough. America dominated the world so much during the postwar era because the whole world was in ruins except for America. America (and to a lesser extent, the USSR) literally got a blank slate with which to reshape the world.

              Barring war—China cannot reshape the world that easily.

              This ain’t postwar, Bretton Woods and Warsaw Pact anymore. This ain’t a world filled with poor, agricultural developing countries and a tiny developed minority.

              This is a world filled with middle-income nations and many more potentially major players i.e. India, Japan and EU. This is a world that won’t accept taking orders that easily.

              A person tweeted details of a talk on China—some tweets are interesting to consider (

              “However, 2 factors impede translation of agenda setting to get SEAsian countries to accept their asymmetrical disadvantages wrt China. Ths is perhaps the most imp takeaway that while China can successfully set agendas, SEAsian nations keep options open, nt too dependent on Ch”

              “10) 2 factors :
              1.players like Japan, regarded as superior in tech business and HSR are now upping their game( see slide to left)
              2. countries in SEAsia are “keeping their options open” , infact even Laos with low bargaining power asking for investment from Jap,Europe to bal Ch”

              • Laos balancing China inspite of low bargaining power – while the Philippines only balances a little with Japan and otherwise gives China everything. The EU part only survives because EU Ambassador Jessen and European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippine Representative Günter Taus keep up the engagement with mid-level people including Cusi and Pimentel – seems both Jessen and Taus are married to Filipinas, are more committed. Strategically stupid, maybe just personally beneficial to a number of decision makers.

            • Francis says:


              If the world is going to be increasingly multi-polar and dominated by groupings of nation-states i.e. EU, perhaps that could mean the emergence of a more streamlined “UN-like” forum where supranational unions can interact and formulate policy together.

              • I was (contractual) staff in an ASEAN-EC ministerial meeting in 1988 – it was interesting. Since then the EC has become the EU, and has continued helping ASEAN get stronger.

                There is the old Macchiavelian adage that small should ally with small, small allying with big just get eaten. The Philippines is very stupid at present in that regard. Regional groups are real federalism and democracy taken one step higher, while empires are dictatorships.

              • AND what I also think is: if one has to ally with a big power, better one that is far away.


                1) Russia: life was miserable for most Warsaw Pact countries, in fact Russia tended to raid their resources often. East German factories after the war, scientists they found there. In contrast, Cuba and Vietnam were pampered as promising outposts, Cuba the most.

                2) USA: life was not too nice for Central American “banana republics”, basically run by United Fruit Corporation. Cuba under Batista was a paradise for American Mafiosi (the Italian-American sort) like a pro-Chinese Philippines will be for Triads. The Philippines was pampered as an outpost against Communism, especially after Vietnam – LBJ (Lyndon Johnson) was lenient with Marcos because of that, but Marcos was a thief and raided the money from World Bank loans,finally Carter admonished him, Reagan dropped him.

                3) India I have heard can be nasty to its immediate neighbors. Could be one reason why Sri Lanka and Pakistan are close to China – although Sri Lanka messed that up big time. India and Vietnam teaming up on the South China Sea makes sense – common enemy.

                4) China and Tibet, China and Vietnam. China is of course extra nice to its African clients. Not too nice to Cambodia. As newcomers to the imperial game, they are playing too rough.

                5) EU and Africa: the food surplus from the EU, sent to Africa, is said to have destroyed food security in many a country there. Especially France has shown a certain continuity in its imperial politics in Africa, sending Foreign Legion and other troops to various places. EU is nice to Cuba since Russia is hardly taking care of it anymore, is nice to most of Latin America which doesn’t like “Yanquis” but will prefer those who speak the same language(s) – Spanish and Portuguese. EU in Asia is trying to compete with the Chinese for trade and for manufacturing sites. The Philippines WAS, I say WAS, a candidate for more factories I think, but that is over for now. Seems Germany was having issues with China for theft of intellectual property and other secrets. And China was getting expensive. So much for that.

                Nothing cynical, just an analysis based on the laws of power which don’t really change.

        • Francis says:


          “I think the announcement of the demise of the nation-state is premature. A world system is just not yet viable. The world is splintering rather than coalescing.”

          I disagree with you, and I agree with you at the same time.

          “I think the announcement of the demise of the nation-state is premature.”

          I disagree with you, in the sense that I do firmly believe that the demise of the nation-state is happening now. I understand skepticism regarding the demise of the nation-state, in that similar things were said regarding the heady days of early internet and the dawn of 21st century-style hyperglobalization during the 80s and 90s—when the Berlin Wall fell, the “End of History” was evident and the New Left, NGOs and Transnational Companies burst into the gap left behind by the end of the superpower rivalry that had marked much of the latter 20th century.

          In those days, the nation-state seemed to weather all doubts.

          Of course, the internet was still young, nascent—and not mobile. China had yet to be fully opened, or was just opening. The bulky post-war welfare states had yet to be caught up in the “neoliberal” frenzy towards “efficiency” to supposedly imitate the competence of the private sector, or if they were caught up—it was still ongoing i.e. Thatcher and Reagan. Automation was a futuristic thing.


          The internet has come of age. Google, Apple, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu are now the big dogs—akin in stature to US Steel and Standard Oil during the Robber Baron days. Smartphones are cheap and everywhere—apps have led to the “disruption” of traditional industries like taxi services and hotels i.e. Uber and Airbnb. The welfare state has been “hollowed” and the results are…mixed at their best…and have only worsened increasing inequality at their best. China (and India) opened its economy and outsourcing ensued, further hollowing out an already declining manufacturing sector. Automation is near enough that self-driving cars are being tested, self-driving trucks are probably on the drawing board, and rapid enough that the lowest quality BPO jobs (considering that BPO itself is an extremely young sector that barely existed before the internet) will be automated away within the next decade, if I can correctly recall the details of a certain hearing at the Senate.

          The nation-state cannot simply cope. It is too much. It is in terminal condition. Trump—and the populist wave now slamming Europe—is proof of that. People are angry; the elite are speechless, for they know that they ultimately have no answers and can only mumble the words of lessons past which are utterly inapplicable in today’s context.

          “A world system is just not yet viable. The world is splintering rather than coalescing.”

          I agree with you. A world system—a fully united global system, a world government in the proper and fullest sense—is impossible.

          I think it is impossible for us to leap from nation-state to world-state in one go. There has to be transitory period, a transitory state of affairs.

          I believe that this transitory state of affairs will be the increasing dominance of regional unions, such as EU and the AU; the only nation-states likely to survive with significant influence would be those nation-states big enough to be like regional unions themselves, i.e. China, India, United States (maybe; NAFTA may lead into something…but that is a pipe dream, I suppose).

          It’s worth noting that when it comes to regulating the mighty internet and its effects on our privacy—only the supranational EU could tell Silicon Valley to shut up and follow regulation.

          I suppose that businessmen would call this time for nation-states…a time for lots of M&A: Mergers and Acquisitions.

          Go big—or be eaten up by somebody.

          I pin my hopes on the ASEAN. Faintly.

          • ASEAN is easily undermined by China. Contrast that to the EU where there are only two countries that could be easily influenced by Russia – Bulgaria and Cyprus.

            Of course it is an open secret that Russia is trying to help the populist groups in Europe, including Germany’s AfD. Russian-Germans form an important voting block for the AfD, since their values are strongly anti-Muslim by default and their ideas of nation less liberal.

            Of course a breakdown of the EU can mean that Russia eventually regains its old sphere of influence or more – this time over an alliance of authoritarian, not communist countries like back then. The suspicion that Russian trolls helped push Brexit fits into that picture.

          • Micha says:


            Considering the finite spherical shape of our planet, humanity has no choice but to coalesce.

            But it’s not ready yet. Major and significant kinks have still to be ironed out.

            Like this one

            • Micha says:

              Sorry, the link is here

              • Poland and Hungary.. what has happened is not surprising.

                1) Eastern Europe was over-enthusiastic in going orthodox neoliberal, meaning the social safety net was dismantled from being formerly all-encompassing in communism.

                2) Industries were 10-15 years behind the Western standard. Exposed to direct competition, they folded up, the better ones were bought up. Poland is a major BPO destination now. Hungary has factories for Western firms – a huge one for Audi in Györ, for example.

                3) Not enough jobs at home and bad social security net (catastrophic if parents got sick or there were suddenly loans to pay) led to massive seasonal and permanent migration West. The uglier part was human trafficking and other criminal activities using Eastern Europeans.

                4) Not used to migrants at home. Some places like Czechoslovakia and East Germany had Vietnamese and Cubans (“workers from socialist brother countries”) but they were more like the workers in Saudi, kept in barracks and isolated from the general population.

                5) Communists were hypocrites about racism. Believing they were better than the West, Eastern European leaders never strove for the kind of enlightenment of people that was done over here. So the old daily racism of 1945 stayed alive and never really changed.

                6) Possibly jealousy towards successful migrants in the West. They had the feeling they would immediately have the living standard of Western Europeans, saw it took longer and saw migrants who already had it. A sense of failure and resentment can lead to extremism.

                7) Democracy could not have been that important for most. They may have mostly wanted to have the standard of living and the consumer goods that the West had to offer. Garish consumerism, braggart attitudes including leaving the ignition on while the car is waiting.

                8) Possible negative effects of migration. Some German papers theorized that with the best leaving to stay in the West for good, the net effect is a less liberal remaining population. This could also apply to the Philippines BTW, including resentment against those who “made it”.

              • My anecdotal knowledge is that the German social security system is better than most systems in Eastern Europe now – even though it has been cut down since the mid-1990s. Trouble is that Eastern Europe cut down nearly everything and thought it would go well.

              • Micha says:

                Ireneo, thanks for the on the ground perspective. Liberal democracy only succeeded in segregating people, especially in economic terms, and that’s the sad part.

              • edgar lores says:

                Is it liberal democracy itself or only certain liberal democracies?

                Some liberal democracies have incorporated not socialist structures but socialist concerns in their policies to rebalance private wealth. The Nordic countries. Canada. Australia.

              • Micha says:


                Which is to say true democracy can only thrive in a more socialist setting. Capitalism’s propaganda have constructed the notion that democracy can only be compatible in a free market system but a closer scrutiny would invalidate that.

          • edgar lores says:

            I think we must not confuse the failure of nation-states to govern well with the demise of the construct of the nation-state.

            There is no construct to replace the nation-state as yet.

            There is no world system. Regional coalitions are infirm. EU is the most viable. But ASEAN is not even a thing.

            The behemoth nation-states — either by population or land size — like America, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Australia, and Argentina are not going away soon. There are natural barriers — seas, oceans, mountains, deserts — among nations. If these were not enough, there are or will be walls.

            There is also the unbridgeable divisions of ideologies, religions, cultures, and histories. And time-consciousness.

            • Micha says:


              A tentative model (or construct) for world governance is of course no other than the U.N. but it’s far from being currently viable considering the ideological and political differences of the superpowers.

              It will take time (a hundred, a thousand years?) to iron out those differences but the evolution towards greater global cooperation and oneness is both inevitable and inescapable.

              In order to survive, humanity has no choice but to cooperate and to embrace the Other.

    • Francis says:


      The article enclosed in the [QUOTE][/QUOTE] came from The Guardian:

    • Francis, many thanks.. the article is VERY comprehensive.

      I was half expecting it NOT to mention the EU, which is discounted as a goner by many.

      In reality the EU has been influential in shaping regulatory norms due to its sheer size.

      Recent example:

      Facebook has told the EU that 2.7 million EU citizens are among the 87 million people who may have had their data breached. EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova is to call Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg “early next week.”..

      ..Facebook revealed the extent of the data breach in the EU in a letter on Thursday that responded to questions from EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova.

      Nobody can really afford to ignore EU rules, even if there are those who would LOVE to.

      Also, a lot of money laundering places within the EU sphere of influence are closed now. Panama Papers it the proof that Switzerland, Austria, Luxemburg, Austria are “too near”.


      Recently my favorite German columnist (Heribert Prantl of Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung, the journalistic heavyweight that is responsible for the Panama Papers) wrote something about the EU being a “legal space” and about a deceased postwar Austrian philosopher of law who shaped the EU with his ideas, derived from his knowledge of the Austro-Hungarian empire as a “legal space” = Rechtsraum. This is a strong concept, a European one.

      Because the Holy Roman Empire that predated the Austro-Hungarian one may have been neither Holy, nor Roman, or an Empire (Voltaire said that) but I have been surprised to read about how it was anything but disorderly, inspite of so many small fiefdoms and an elected Emperor who often was the weakest compromise, as the larger fiefdoms did not want a real Emperor to rule over them. But there were rules that bound all, some worked out in a very long process. For example “Landfrieden”, the late 15th century “land peace” as a legal idea. Before the Landfrieden, noble families (especially the smaller ones) carried out blood feuds. People were tired of this. The term “disturbance of the peace” comes from this very old law prohibiting any form of disturbance in public places. Set duels replaced them. With rules.

      Of course there was the 30 years war, the Turkish siege of Vienna (that brought coffee to Europe) and the French Bourbons wresting the Spanish throne (a cash cow with all the colonies!) from the Austrian Habsburgs, who turned their energies to Eastern Europe. Before the German version of the Holy Roman Empire there was the dream of Charlemagne, the Frankish tribal leader who wanted to reunite Europe after centuries resembling the Middle East of today – Lombards, Burgundians, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Franks, Saxons, Vandals. Since he had three sons, each got one part, one developed into France, one developed into German, the one in the middle became Benelux, Italy, Switzerland and the areas that went back and forth between France and Germany – Alsace, Lotharingia, Rhineland. And there was the faint memory of the Roman legal order, the Codex of Justinian which was known as Roman law throughout the Middle Ages. Different from Germanic tribal law of course. But both influenced the later development of legal thinking in Europe, made for similarities.


      The point being that law is always a countermeasure against what I call “social entropy”. European developments show that clearly. Roman Empire, tribalistic chaos, tribal forms of Federalism, slowly developing into legal spaces, sovereign states, Empires once more (Napoleon was another important EU precursor, imposing the metric system and a common civil code was a major step in modernization), groups of states that are semi-imperial (Warsaw Pact, USSR), the EU now, trying to build its own army within the NATO umbrella.

      Turkey is in a very difficult situation. Their Sultan was the last Muslim Caliph. Something like a mixture of Holy Roman Emperor and Pope. Islam was clearly the force that filled the social vacuum created by the collapse of the Roman Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire was in a long period of decay until the Turks took it over, even controlling wide areas of Southeastern Europe (which have their own postcolonial problems, Ottoman or Austro-Hungarian or both) and most of what Alexander the Great once held. Now they have those who want to be the new “Caliphate” (ISIS) trying to eat into their system. The EU/NATO both need the Turks to keep everything else out of their sphere of influence. The Turks feel like junior partners. Germany tells the Turks they will not get the parts to upgrade their Leopard tanks (which they manufacture by themselves, licensed by Germany, painted in desert colors) but can’t stop them from using them in Syria – they are the ones one sees in the news. Most Pinoys who served in the German army were in such tanks, as they prefer smaller recruits for that.

      As for the modern age – everything flows and moves more quickly. Data flows very fast. Outsourcing and BPO make billions for countries like Romania, Philippines and India. People can move faster. Not only Boracay was overcrowded. Venice is groaning. The residents of Barcelona regularly demonstrate that they need sleep, not only tourists. Cheap flights are a pain for cities like Berlin and Munich, bringing in for example young Englishmen who crash in cheap hostels and drink themselves silly over the weekend, hardly spending enough €€€. Mass tourism and refugee flows are two results of our times. Capital is basically data today, so it flows to all sorts of places. The EU (again) has pretty strong anti-money laundering rules and strict monitoring in place, even within the EU. But there are Panama Papers and the Bangladesh Central bank heist which chemrock reported on. Rich Russians buy citizenship in places like Cyprus which is an EU member, one hears. Greeks who stole from their government allegedly are big in the some property markets. Italy wants to make ALL cash transactions above €2000 illegal to prevent money laundering – for example if Mr. Konstantinos Corruptis buys a Lamborghini. Ferrarinas has “better” ways to deal with that. Italians, BTW, pioneered the “Ricevuto Fiscale” system to control VAT collections. No purchase without a receipt, and if the finance police catch you with an espresso in an espresso bar without il Ricevuto, it can be that you pay “una molta” (ano kayo iyon?). And the owner of the cafe becomes a tax evasion suspect (Karl referred to problems in collecting EVAT in the Philippines, guys you should have asked the Italians for advice). As for electronic trade, the EU is working on a law that taxes international firms in the place they make business. Today FB and others for example pay low Irish taxes and sell stuff to high tax places like Sweden and Germany. And the EU tries to stabilize partner countries abroad, partly in its own interest – unlike the USA we have no Atlantic Ocean to keep refugees out. The alternative is indeed chaos. Just some unsorted, rambling thoughts on Sunday morning.

      • World order: the first attempt at a universal world order was the League of Nations, an idea of Woodrow Wilson. Guess who hated that body passionately – Adolf Hitler. Tanginang UN!

        The UN was the League of Nations rebooted with some additional mechanisms like the Security Council. That idea comes a bit from the “Concert of Powers” mechanisms that controlled Europe in the years after 1648 – the Peace of Westphalia. Major powers met regularly to settle things, at times it worked at times it didn’t. Additional institutions like the G8 and G20 are Concerts of Powers on a global scale. A mere council like the League of Nations is ineffective. Tthe EU also needs its Commision to work, not just a Parliament.

        Then of course many post-1990 attempts at ordering things: the ICC, the FATF to prevent money laundering. Most come from the late 1990s, when the US thought its own world order was there. Others came in and proved them wrong. Even want to dismantle ICC etc.

        • The equivalent to the UN in Europe of the Middle Ages was the Pope. Even a Holy Roman Emperor went to the Pope to beg for forgiveness once. On the other hand, the French screwed around with the office, appointing their own Pope in Avignon for a while.

          But there was a common set of values, at least in theory, and an institution to uphold it. Acceptance was by becoming Christian and settling down, like the Magyar invaders did. Defined others were the Orthodox (somehow friends) and Muslims (usually enemies).

          So nothing is really new. It just repeats itself on an ever larger scale and with ever faster (and deadlier) technologies. Will the US revive itself, will there be a Chinese global empire, will there be just warlords all over decaying relics of former states? Nobody knows. Nobody.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Fukuyama or Huntington?
      Who is right?

      “Fukuyama starts off, by mentioning the conflict between the communism and democracy that was present throughout the Cold War . By indicating the loss of communism with the fall of an Iron Curtain, he sees liberal democracy as the winner in this ideological war. He draws parallel to Marx, arguing that while Marx viewed communism as the ultimate and final step in the evolution of government, it would turn on the contrary. Fukuyama sees the final form of government in liberal democracy, saying that it is the only way that would lead a country towards modernization. Therefore he argues that when the liberal democracy will spread in the whole world, conflicts will cease to exist and countries will live in harmony.

      To support his arguments he references Marx, Hegel and Kojeve.He says that the concept of “The End of History” was originally created by Hegel. He explains that for Hegel history ceased in 1806 with Napoleon’s defeat of the Prussian monarchy, while Marx considered that the end of history would come once communism would be successfully manifested. After that he proceeds to express his own opinion on the matter by arguing that the history will reach its final step when all the states become liberal democracies, when all countries will respect and treasure human rights. He then brings up the existence of so called “contradictions” that would usually become the basis of conflicts. However, he says that in the universal homogeneous state, all those contradictions are resolved and all human needs are satisfied.

      Fukuyama, also tries to improve the weak points of materialist theories and support Hegel’s idealism. At this point he states that the role of culture, ethnicity and other aspects are vital in order to understand the economic performance of countries.After which, he references Kojeve, saying that in order to understand processes of history, one must understand developments in the realm of consciousness or ideas. Therefore, he concludes that once the ideological development reaches its peak, the homogeneous state would emerge as the winner in the material world. After that Fukuyama proceeds to talk about ideologies that were posing a threat to liberal democracy.

      He mentions both fascism and communism, two extreme opposite ideologies that have torn apart Europe during the 2nd World War. Fascism was defeated by communism at the end of WWII and therefore the latter became an enemy of liberal democratic ideology. For Marx liberal society posed a contradiction between the capital and labour, and therefore he thought that it would be inferior in comparison to communism. However, Fukuyama argues that this “contradiction” was resolved in the Western society, namely in the US. After that he brings the examples of both Japan and China to show how liberalism has reached and influenced those countries. Though, after examining the changes that took place in the USSR during Gorbachev’s office (mainly his failed attempts to transform the Soviet Union into a more liberal country), he concludes that not all countries can reach liberal democracy at the same level.

      Towards the end of his paper he wonders if there can be any serious challenges to the liberal democracy. Although Fukuyama states that both religion and nationalism can prove to be a challenge for liberalism, he rejects the idea that any of them could seriously oppose it. From his view, liberal societies were born as a result of religious societies being weak, and therefore they would not be able to replace liberal democracies. As for nationalism, while he acknowledges that it could theoretically pose a threat should it evolve into its extreme form (as in case with the Nazi Germany), he neglects the practical possibility of it qualifying as an ideology, unless it has a “systematic form”. Despite saying that liberal democracy will become an instrument that will lead a world towards peace, he admits that ethnicity- and nationality-based conflicts would still appear in future, but they would not evolve into a large-scaled one. In the very last paragraph he says that the new era will be “boring” as all the ideological and philosophical clashes would be replaced by the “economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands”.

      After looking into Francis Fukuyama’s thesis, it is necessary to see the criticism expressed in Samuel Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations?”.In his essay, Huntington argues that after the end of ideological warfare, conflicts will be based on factors that define civilizations. First, he starts by briefly explaining the stages of conflicts, beginning with conflicts between monarchies, followed by the conflict of nationalism, ideological conflicts of XX century and finally the “conflict of civilizations”. This way he indirectly (yet clearly) opposes Fukuyama’s view on the post-Cold War era. Huntington claims that the conflicts of religion, ethnicity, culture and nations will resume and become the final stage of confrontation. He then proceeds to talk about the role of civilizations and its meaning as a concept.

      As author points out, civilizations are based on set of identities, which creates self-awareness within people. He says that a citizen of Rome would have several layers of identity, such as:”a Roman, an Italian, a Catholic, a Christian, a European, a Westerner”. He also uses this example to show that civilizations are dynamic concepts that constantly shape throughout history. Based on those levels of identity, it is possible to see whether the civilization includes several nation states (e.g. Western Civilization) or a single one (e.g. Japanese). In the next section, he explains why conflict between civilizations is inevitable.

      In his essay he points out that the important part about civilizations is that they have basic and clear differences. Those differences being based on historical, religious, ethnical factors are “products of centuries” , that would not cease to exist easily. Furthermore he argues that those factors are much stronger than any ideological or political distinctions, therefore in the new age there would be conflicts that would be far prolonged and brutal than the ideological one. He brings another set of argument to support his view on clash of civilizations. As Fukuyama, he recognizes the importance of globalization, and agrees that the world has indeed become a “small place”. But if Fukuyama sees globalisation as a way of spreading ideas of free market and liberal democracy, that would ultimately bring countries together , Huntington sees them as catalysts that would create sparks of conflict and inequality amongst different cultures. He points out that civilizations will be forced to compete against one another, in order to maintain their distinctive identity.”

      • Two sides to that, as always:

        1) never underestimate how strong cultural influences can be. Why, for example, is the old “limes” (the Roman border in Germania) more or less also the dividing line between Catholics and Protestants in Germany – with notable exceptions. Could be the areas not colonized by Rome had attitudes that made them more conducive to Protestantism. Or they found the Vatican acting strange. There are documents that prove that conflict.

        2) of course a conquering power can completely change the culture of a place. Hawaii is except for some local flavoring an AMERICAN state. France is not Celtic anymore except for Brittany – Julius Caesar and the attractivity of Latin culture saw to that. Latin America is fully Spanish except for some places where native languages are still spoken like Peru. Turks are for the most part not Central Asians, but they speak a language from there, brought to them by a ruling class. Before Islam, most of the Middle East spoke Greek.

        There are attempts to reverse cultural influences also. Iran and Lebanon throwing out their (relatively few) Westernized elites. That might still be the fate of the Philippines quite soon. Spain throwing out Muslims and Jews after the Reconquista. Czechs expelling Germans.

        There are countries on cultural fault lines. Turkey is between European, Islamic and Russian cultural zones. The Philippines is between American, Islamic and Chinese cultural zones. The American zone in the Pacific goes from Hawaii via Guam to the Philippines. Now what else is China wanting to (eventually) occupy the Benham Rise about than trying to push the USA back to Guam, or even further? A culture or civilization’s influence is very dependent on where the fault line is. Japan – South Korea – Guam – Philippines for now.

  22. Move quickly to get your Boracay condo. They are for sale now.

  23. Mike says:

    It was about 2 years ago I shared here how Duterte and his inner circle worked with others to create and utilize a network of tens of thousands of multiple fake accounts online to help him influence voters. Recent headlines showed how Cambridge Analytica’s parent company enabled Duterte to win the 2016 polls. Cambridge Analytica is the company identified as having siphoned off 50 million Facebook users’ data to help Trump’s presidential bid. That number may have been as high as 70 million. Although China hasn’t been mentioned, it is my belief that they were involved because of the software that was unleashed even before the 2016 polls, a technology that is already in use in China to spy on its own citizens on their social media. This spy software was used here to detect anti-Duterte commenters online, identify and neutralize them thru threats, insults, verbal attacks.

    That network was first used win the elections for Duterte. It has since been used to weaponize the internet to stifle dissent. Having ascended to power, they appear to have weaponized the upper and lower houses to neutralize empowered and uncooperative groups or individuals, i.e. the CJ Sereno, the Ombudsman,the Liberal party, Sen. Trillanes, etc.

    The next questions is why? The SC also hears and decides electoral protests as the Phil. Electoral tribunal. Prominent in the news is Marcos, Jr.’s electoral protest. The government has managed to indefinitely sideline the chief justice while an impeachment complaint has been launched against Ombudsman Morales.

    Jumping to another seemingly disconnected topic:

    In China, AI is connected to government computers containing personal data, which is connected to satellite GPS trackers, facial recognition and these are married to a network of CCTVs throughout China. A BBC reporter tested this spy system by offering to feature their capability and after taking his picture, he “disappeared”. From the word GO, they tracked him down in seven minutes.

    All telecoms companies in China are required by the state to “help” the government in this surveillance of Chinese. If you use a public toilet and press the electronic tissue dispenser, your face will be scanned prior to issuing you a 24-inch length of toilet paper. They literally know when you’re wiping yourself.

    Now comes China telecoms, the biggest state-owned telecoms company. This is the company that is going to gain entry into the Philippines’ as the third telecoms provider.

    China has previously grabbed Phil territory and Duterte is letting them geta away with it. We all know the recent events leading up to that. China needs the Phils as a tool to help them tilt the balance of power in Asia against the western bloc or allies, the US, Australia, UK, EU, etc., etc. Having more of their spyware and malware in places like the Phils will, for China’s purposes, help them in their overall goal of dominion.

    On the domestic side, Duterte would want to cede power to Marcos, Jr. as the new vice president, not Robredo. Federalism will help protect that endgame as elections will be held off for about 10 years to allow federalism to take legal foothold. After which they will have the acess to electing themselves ad infiniitum.

    There’s more but that is my conclusion based on past and current events. I’m weary of reading about how hopeful we are that things will turn around, etc. Marcos was deposed after almost 20 years and it took us over 30 years after to finally surface from the negative eeffects of that regime. We swallowed every bitter pill the IMF and WB gave us. We crawled on our bellies eating dust on our way up several mountains and we were in stunned disbelief when this country was hailed as an Asian miracle. From the Sick Man of Asia we somehow morphed into asia’s Rising Tiger. The winningest stock market. One of the top performing currencies. One of only two global economies that survived the US fuel crisis. Moody’s, S&P, Fitch, were singing our credit-ratings praise. For once in a very long time, it felt good to look in the mirror. It felt good to be Filipino.

    But just as quickly as our spirits rose, we fall into this pit of our own making. Or we allowed it.

    How long will it take us to heal and rebuild this nation in a post-Duterte scenario, presuming that even happens? When will it happen?

    I’m a diehard optimist. I’ve been through hell, personally. I believe in a universe that’s made up of rules and if we break those rules, we set ourselves up for payback down the road. If we follow the rulers and make good choices, I believe in good payback. Karma goes both ways.

    On that basis, surely Mr. Duterte has huge, no, Monumental Payback coming to him, sooner or later, and all self-inflicted, as all authoritarian personalities tend to self-destruct.

    I honestly cannot say if I will be sad or sympathetic when that time comes, as it surely will come. My deeper concern is that, like Marcos, the longer Mr. Duterte is in power, the greater the damage that the Filipino people, us, will inherit and suffrer for again. More bitter pills to gulp down.

    When will we learn from history’s lessons so we can rewrite it? When will we get over our inner weaknesses so we can be protective against fraud and manipulation?

    God help us. I mean that in the most sincere and meaningful way. And yes, I believe we will rise again. But to do that we have to stand up and face our fears, and speak up.

  24. karlgarcia says:

    Farid Zakaria coined Illiberal Democracy.

  25. Bill In Oz says:

    Today I discovered these 2 major articles in the Christian Science Monitor by a Filipina journalist

    Very well written, critical, informed and balanced…

    • It is a good article. The quoted Franco Mabanta during the past two days has been loudly criticized for a very obnoxious fat-shaming posting on Facebook. He took it down. He to me represents the total breakdown of civility and compassion that exists amongst the troll brigade. I’m sure if you google his name and fat shaming, you will get to read of him. The troll brigade is also going nuts because Facebook has partnered with Rappler and Vera Files to fact-check various purported news sites that generate fake news. The troll brigade views Rappler and Vera Files as a part of the unpatriotic, destabilizing opposition, which they are not. They just report things that bug the totalitarian administration.

      • The author discloses knowing Mabanta for quite a while, and also quotes Thinking Pinoy. But to read the perspective of some citizens and the ‘why’ is important to being able to address those concerns, not just repeating stuff which is just slogans to most. Let us see.

        On another front, this is an example of a Filipino, possibly ‘born again’, facing issues with churchmates for turning anti-Duterte – is this all just group dynamics, or more?

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