Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tokyo Rush

Music starts at 0:40.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Middle Class Revolt Against Democracy

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the Philippine Middle Class has served as the bellwether for two trends, the first being the advance of democratic reforms in the 1980's and 1990's, while the second is its subsequent retreat a decade later. The original EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986 which ended the Marcos dictatorship, heralded similar pro-democracy movements notably the Revolutions of 1989 that resulted in the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.

On the other hand, the second such People Power movement in the Philippines (aka EDSA Dos), while retaining the superficial characteristics of its predecessor, toppled a genuinely elected President, and is therefore considered by many as a reversal of democracy. Whatever the merits and demerits of EDSA Dos, the subsequent silence and rationalizations for inaction by the Philippine Middle Class when confronted with the reality of Electoral Fraud by the incumbent further validates its retreat from previous democratic aspirations. As this featured article observes, this Middle Class-led retreat from democracy is now a worldwide trend.

I believe that the main drivers for such a reactionary turn has been the ability of the poor to assert their numerical superiority to vote in their chosen candidate into Office, as has happened in Latin America's Electoral Revolutions. Unfortunately for the relatively fewer Middle Class, these chosen leaders either do not have their respect (as in the case of the late FPJ) or advocate policies that are perceived to be contrary to Middle Class interests (as in the case of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez or Bolivia's Evo Morales). What makes it easier for the Middle Class to turn away from democracy is the unfortunate fact that many among their ranks are afflicted with an Elitist Mindset and do not consider the poor as equals when it comes to the exercise of democratic rights. In Thailand, this sense of superiority has become the basis for the Thai democracy activists' logic as described by Randy David:
"What Thailand’s democracy activists say they are fighting for seems to be something more. They see the pursuit of democracy as the protracted struggle to organize the poor as empowered political subjects, to wean them away from their subjection as an army of docile voters activated purely by money and patronage. They are determined to keep at bay the traditional politicians that have preyed upon the ignorance and vulnerability of the Thai masses—by constitutional means if possible, or by extra-constitutional pressure if necessary."
These rationalizations are as self-serving as they are familiar. Over here, i expect that similar plans are underway to make the Philippine 2010 elections the last one that formally adheres to the principle of one-man/one-vote.

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Monday, September 01, 2008