Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On Elections

Paul Collier is a professor of economics at Oxford. His most recent book is Wars, Guns, And Votes. Crammed with facts and statistics, the book assigns monetary values on coup costs, corruption leakage from foreign aid, per capita income threshold that provides consciousness to the masses, and a host of other political realities we all have a vague idea of but somehow never had the chance to quantify.

His research focuses on the billion poorest people on earth, hence the title of his earlier book “The Bottom Billion”. He criticizes the West’s insistence upon democratic elections when our very own Marcos discovered a long time ago that these “performances” are the easiest to achieve. Staging electoral exercises is an inexpensive method of acquiring democratic legitimacy. Even our very own middling professional politicians are very accomplished in this ritual.

He argues however that the means employed to pull off these cyclical stunts do not always redound to the common good. When you employ vote buying, violent intimidation, outright fraud towards the perpetuation of political power, poor governance invariably ensues. More attention needs to be devoted to the pillars of democracy (effective dispensation of justice, freedom of speech, respect for human rights) rather than focusing on the easily rigged electoral process.

As a captive people however, our options are very limited. The oligarchy dominating every aspect of our society is profoundly entrenched and we cling to the hope that elections might provide a sliver of opportunity from which we might be able to break away from the very same democratic institutions that have been perverted to exclusively serve the plutocracy.

The 2010 elections are crucial. If we are to aspire for peaceful, revolutionary change, we must be able to frame this exercise as a battle between professional politicians and citizen-patriots willing to sacrifice for one term only. Since tens of thousands of Filipinos thrive in this corrupt structure, revolutionary change will not come easy. More than ever, we must not break ranks, we must completely unite behind a single slate of candidates if we hope to have a fighting chance.

The immediate challenge is to hold a Congress which will establish the rules for a nominating process; create a committee that will draw an encompassing platform that respects the disparate dreams of the dispossessed and obsessively work towards the common good. When our coalition is formed, we raise funds and we raise consciousness. Critical mass will be rapidly reached. Then we will have more than just a fighting chance.


azron said...

Democracy can only happen if there are mediating institutions which teach and practice democratic principles. The Catholic Church should be a mediating instution, however, it fails because it is hierachical in structure and models and teaches allegiance to the man on the top of the pyramid.

I would encourage you to read Religion in America by Huston and Corrigan (7th ed) to understand how democratic institutions in US were rooted in a church/religious culture that practiced and modeled democratic principles.

Religion in America (7th Edition) by John Corrigan and Winthrop S. Hudson

Anonymous said...

Go Panlilio