Posted tagged ‘civil society’

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Continue to stimulate growth through the ‘physical economy’

March 4, 2015

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Continue to stimulate growth through the ‘physical economy’

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

This writer strongly argues that the greatest driver of the economy must be the ‘physical economy’. By ‘physical economy’ we refer to the combination of (a) agriculture, (b) manufacturing, (c) infrastructure, (d) transport and (e) science & technology (S&T) whose results further induce ‘production possibilities’ in the sectors a-d. An economy that is prematurely driven by the service sector, growing at the expense of the physical economy, will create imbalances in the long run, failing in the end to meet the needs of the population. A premature service-driven economy would be subject to manipulations by predatory financiers, who would do everything to destroy the national currencies and consequently the physical economy of the nation as well. An economy driven by derivatives and every kind of speculative pursuit is a ‘virtual economy’ such as what has dominated the USA since the era of Reaganomics.

I would hazard the thesis that our national economy moved to a service-driven phase prematurely. Look at all the fiasco after our ‘physical economy’ had rapidly declined in GDP contributions since the early 1990s, as the service economy advanced in its stead! Relatedly, the over-hyped Ramos-era ‘Philippines 2000’ economy was largely a ‘bubble economy’ driven by speculation and portfolio capital, and was more in kinship with the ‘virtual economy’ than any other one. We have not fully recovered from the bursting of that bubble, even as we are now threatened with another bursting of sorts—of the debt bubble, leading to fiscal crisis.

It pays to learn our lessons well from out of the immediate past experiences. And the clear message sent forth is: get back to the physical economy and re-stimulate the concerned sectors, while simultaneously perfect those services where we have proved to be competitive, e.g. pre-need sector, retail, restaurant/f&b. We should also strive to learn some key lessons from other countries’ positive experiences such as China’s, whose economy continues to grow enormously, and grow precisely because it is the physical economy that primarily drives it up and lead it—at an enormously rapid rate—towards development maturity, permitting China to outpace the USA’s economy on or before 2014 (using GDP Purchasing Power Parity indexing).

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

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NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Promote synergy with civil society in the development path

February 5, 2015

 

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Promote synergy with civil society in the development path

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

In the old formulations, development was an exclusive endeavor of state and market players. That is, the directions of development were largely the handiworks of political, bureaucratic and corporate elites. There should be an admission that this structural formulation was a factor in generating the crisis-level ailments of mass poverty, large-scale unemployment, low wages, sluggish growth and dependence. So why retain a formula that had failed us miserably?

The current context, where a dynamic and colossal civil society operates, points to the ever-growing recognition of the potent role of civil society in co-determining the compass of development. At the grassroots level, development efforts will be accelerated to a great extent by involving civil society formations acting as ‘social capital’ base, as studies have positively demonstrated (citations from Peter Evans’ works on ‘state-society synergy’). Insulating the state from grassroots folks, as the same studies have shown, have produced dismal if not tragic effects, e.g. India’s non-involvement of ‘social capital’ in the erection and maintenance of irrigation facilities resulted to program failure in the end.

Building and maintaining ecologically sound, clean cities can likewise be effected through the tri-partnership of state, civil society and market, as demonstrated by the Puerto Princesa case. Under the stewardship of the dynamic city mayor (Mr. Hagedorn), the tri-partnership was galvanized. Businesses have since been conscious of operating on clean technologies and environmental responsibilities, city streets sustain hygienic images, traffic is well managed as motorists exude discipline, and civil society groups constantly monitor the initiatives that saw their hands dipped into their (initiatives) making. All we need to do is replicate this same Puerto Princesan trilateral partnering at all level and in all communities to ensure better results for our development efforts.

The ‘state-society synergy’ in our country had just recently been appreciated and grasped by many state players. Being at its ‘take-off’ phase, it is understandable that synergy is only a lip-service among many state players, notably the local officials. State players still regard civil society groups with ambivalence, while civil society groups are suspicious of state players whose sincerity can only be as low as their Machiavellian propensities would dictate. Such local state players desire to subordinate civil society groups, and many politicians have constituted ‘government-initiated NGOs’ or GRINGOS as cases of non-authentic subordinated groups. On the other hand, local-level volunteer groups can at best perceive domestic politicians as ‘Santa Claus’ providers, and utilize them largely as gift-giving patrons. Strengthening state-society synergy has a long way to yet, but it is not exactly starting at ground zero in this country. It is, by and large, a core variable in developing citizenry and constituencies, and must be advanced beyond its current take-off phase.

 

 

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

 

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Shift intervention from the ‘provider state’ to the ‘enabler state’

January 28, 2015

 

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Shift intervention from the ‘provider state’ to the ‘enabler state’

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

The failure of neo-liberal policy regimes does not mean that the state should go back to a full interventionist role, performing a guardian regulator and ‘provider’ for all sorts of services. The problem with the excessive ‘provider’ role is that it had (a) bred rent-seeking on a massive scale among market players, (b) reinforced dependence among grassroots folks who have since been always expecting for a ‘Santa Claus state’ to provide abundant candies, (c) produced new forms of rent-seeking, with civil society groups serving as the beneficiaries, and (d) further reinforced graft practices in both the public and private sectors. Thus, the ‘provider state’ further reinforced the patron-client relations in the various spheres of life (‘feudalism’ is the term used by Maoists for clientelism), consequently dragging all of our development efforts into a turtle-paced sojourn.

In the new intervention mode, the state, armed with a leaner organization and trimmed down budgetary purse, performs a superb catalytic role. It engages various stakeholders in the growth & development efforts, challenges them to directly embark on development pursuits, and demonstrates unto them how welfare can be accessed to through alternative means other than through the state’s baskets. As the state continuously engages the stakeholders through dialogue and cooperation, institutions will also become strengthened along the way. The state will gain its esteem as an ‘activist state’, while at the same time receive acclaim as a truly ‘modernizing state’ as it propels society gradually away from clientelism towards a context marked by rule-based (modern) institutions, citizenry and dynamic/autonomous constituencies.

However, within a transition period from ‘maximum provider’ to ‘maximum enabler,’ the state should continue to perform a provider role in such areas as education, health and such other human development concerns that are, in the main, crucial to building national wealth. Combining state regulations and at the same time giving ‘fiscal autonomy’ in tertiary education and vocational-technical level would remain to be a fitful strategy of ‘minimal enabler’. A similar strategy will have to be applied to some other economic sectors to be able to advance gender equity, by recognizing rights of marginalized gender to education, employment, representation in managerial positions and other related concerns.

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

ECHOING THE NEO-NATIONALIST THEME

December 5, 2014

ECHOING THE NEO-NATIONALIST THEME

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

This paper echoes the emerging discourse referred to as New Nationalism. Note that various writers have formulated theories anchored on New Nationalism. Their theories out-rightly impact on public policy and development practice, such as the framework articulated by Robert Reich (see The Work of Nations). Here at home, economists such as Emmanuel De Dios have begun to echo themes of harmonizing nationalism and globalization.

The framework base of this paper will be (a) political economy combined with (b) institutionalism. The current approach of comparative political economy had proved to be a very instructive one, this being the most central framework in development studies and public policy studies, with its analytics carried out through cross-national methodology. This approach will also be integrated with the emerging cross-disciplinal trend of institutionalism, a framework that was actually started by sociologists, and is particularly strong in studies on civil society & development, state-society synergy and organization theory.

Being an Asian, this analyst will also liberally subscribe to core tenets of Asian thinkers, notably Mahatma Gandhi’s. New Nationalism should as much as possible integrate the Eastern and Western theoretical streams to be able to find meaningful anchorage in the whole of the Asian continent.

It is hoped that the article will be of use to various end-users for reflective purposes, particularly to advocacy groups and state agencies that are in the process of rethinking paradigms & issues revolving around public policy.

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

PORK BARREL SCAMS’ ADDRESSING IS POSITIVE SIGN FOR GOVERNANCE

November 20, 2013

PORK BARREL SCAMS’ ADDRESSING IS POSITIVE SIGN FOR GOVERNANCE

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Pork Barrel talk has become outlandishly stylish a gibberish of sorts for all stakeholders in the Philippines. Public outrage has been relentless since the scam involving a certain Janet Napoles’ and her politician beneficiaries’ plunders via the pork barrel were exposed to the light of day.

 

I may have been silent about the matter in my own blogs, as I preferred to write more positive developments about the sciences and technologies over the last two (2) years. My acquiescence however shouldn’t be equated to being apathetic about public issues concerning good governance. On the contrary, I was ever a social activist since my youth days, and I do silently support the tax payers’ crusade to ax those found criminally liable for diverting tax monies to their own pockets.

 

First of all, the Philippines is blessed with a Strong Civil Society. Social activism and dynamism for nigh three decades past already have been coming forth from civil society. The constant, sustained engagement of civil society with the Philippine state has in fact been a hallmark of good governance measures. Many economic and social reforms of a national character did spring off from civil society formations, and those reforming tasks continue till these days in order to solve problems of marginalization and mass poverty.

 

Contrasted to the Strong Civil Society, which renders it among the exemplars for studies internationally in political science and sociology, is a Weak State. Patrimonial interests of diverse natures continue to wield power and influence over the Philippine state and its purses which continues the history of ‘bureaucrat capitalism’ or ‘crony capitalism’ in the Philippine context.   

 

Albeit, in fairness to state players, reforms of governance institutions have been ongoing for over a decade already. For instance, the tax bureau, audit commission, justice system, and public works department have undergone reforms. The results of such reforms paid off as the Philippines’ credit standing, global competitiveness, and related indicators zoomed up very significantly as of late.

 

Now here comes the pork barrel scam centering on this obnoxious evil figure Napoles, even as another brewing scam investigation involves a shadowy ‘Madam Arlene’. Napoles engaged legislators and local government officials, while Ma’am Arlene engaged the Supreme Court and justice system. The Napoles-centered scam is now being addressed, while state bureaucrats search the Earth for the shadowy Arlene.

 

As of this writing, the Supreme Court already decided 14-0, declaring henceforth that the Philippine Development Assistance Fund or PDAF, pork barrel in layman’s term, is unconstitutional. This is truly a landmark decision, thanks to the civil society groups that lobbied the Supreme Court to rethink its earlier decision on the matter. So even the judicial branch of state is addressing the pork barrel issue, brooking no quarters with its added declaration that those state officials who personally benefited from pork barrel over the last 20 years are liable for criminal offense and should be penalized thereof.

 

Which brings us to the conclusion: the Pork Barrel Scam is a positive thing for good governance. The scams are being properly addressed, and it doesn’t need a sophistical mind to see that any social problem that is appropriately addressed is a positive thing. A social problem that remains un-addressed is a negative thing, such as many crime cases that remain unreported or unresolved.

 

Being a positive thing, the moment that the criminal cases will begin to show progress, as one by one the involved politicians will be incarcerated for their indubitable evil, the rating of the Philippines in the global competitiveness indicators will move up again. I have no doubt about this development. Napoles is in jail, and before her there was the corrupt former president Erap Estrada who spent 7 years in jail, so it should be clear to intelligent observers that it is a different time in the Philippines today as big fishes are getting criminalized and jailed for their heinous or sordid crimes, therefore the competitiveness of PH will go up along the way.

 

Eradicating graft in itself takes a long time to execute, and nothing can eradicate graft completely. The sociologist Emile Durkheim said in his classic books over a century ago that there shall always be criminals, as there shall always be deviants in society, for we are not a people who are complete saints but rather ones who have to deal with our own ‘insatiable desires’ that propel us to commit deviations (‘sins’ in church language) such as crimes.

 

Society and its institutions can only progress step by step towards desired ends. So will it be for instituting reforms towards good governance that will hopefully lead to a Strong State in the future. Civil Society is really strong in the Philippines, while the business community is nearly a Strong Market as corporate governance reforms were instituted over the last 2 decades. Witnessing the transformation of the Philippine state into a strong one isn’t far-fetched, but this will proceed on parri passu basis and not as an overnight phenomenon.

 

[Manila, 20 October 2013]

HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY TO PHILIPPINE PEOPLE POWER REVOLUTION!

March 1, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good evening from this side of the planet!

It is the 25th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution—the people power revolution that overthrew the dictator Ferdinand Edralin Marcos—as I write this note. Completely attuned to the celebratory mood of this special event, I hereby greet my fellow Filipinos a Happy Anniversary to our People Power Revolution!

As I’ve been saying these couples of years in my blog articles, I was among those youth who constituted the generation of political activists at the time that Martial Law was enforced throughout the Philippines archipelago c. 1972-‘86. Though never incarcerated for my political convictions, I suffered nevertheless from the military-police brutalities during protest rallies and the paranoia caused by constant surveillance by military intelligence operatives.

I still recall well how many of my own fellow activists—those with whom I directly associated with and/or worked with—were detained, with some of them mercilessly tortured. Some advanced level activist cadres decided to join the insurgent New People’s Army, inclusive of couples of my Brothers in my campus fraternity.

In my campus theatre group U.P. Repertory Company, our very own theatre director Prof. Behn Cervantes would be in and out of prison for his political beliefs. Being among his disciple thespians who were advocates of social realist theatre, I and my fellow actors were politicized along a Left radical bent. Every now and then, couples of our leaders and members in the UP Rep would land in detention cells for their political convictions.

In September 1977 did we activists launch the Batas Militar Ibagsak or BMI Rally at the Avenida in old Manila. From then on, series of protest actions were protractedly launched and sustained, each time reaping for us new advocates and recruits. On the 1st semester of school year 1978-‘79, a close core activist whom I worked directly with was detained, forcing me to go into hiding for fear that I would be next in line for detention. I was compelled to take a leave from studies that semester just to stave off potential arrest.

Along the way, many of my fellow activists died in the hands of torturers. Some others who joined the insurgents were killed during encounters with army troops, inclusive of a fraternity brethren who decided to get active in the Manila-based urban guerilla unit. A fellow thespian in the UP Rep, Bong Medina, was summarily executed, his body later found floating in the polluted Pasig River in the early ‘80s.

If there was any great thing that Martial Law did for us, it was its eventual politicization of many Filipinos along distinct ideological lines. The same politicized compatriots swelled the ranks of mass movements, thus helping to form base formations for direct action that would become the forefront of an autonomous civil society.

The forging of a strong civil society was the hallmark of Philippine political life altogether since the heydays of the dictator Marcos. It was the terrain where dissent gelled, enabling bolder moves to overthrow the dictatorship. Special events such as the martyrdom of Ninoy Aquino did catalyze the swelling of ranks of dissenters, but such events do not make strong civil society.

With democracy re-established right after Marcos’ overthrow, civil society continued to strengthen all the more. The Philippines thus became a model for democracy across the globe due to its strong civil society. State-society synergy (to use the lingo of neo-Weberians) found greater avenues for expression, and civil society compensated for democratic governance amid a weak state.

A full quarter of a century hence, governance institutions in this country remains to be weak, a situation that factors in the wide income gaps between rich and poor, large poverty incidence, and endemic graft & corruption. Yet civil society remains strong, and this world of volitional associations provides the foundations of mutual trust that can get people together to dialogue with state and market players for the sake of threshing out issues and solving problems.

The continuous reconstruction of democracy and a strong civil society are the granite-rock legacies of EDSA Revolution to the whole world. Many other 3rd world dictatorships closed shop due to mass risings that followed the ‘Philippine way’, thanks to a new legacy of strong civil society. This legacy is available for the young generation of the day who aspire to build better world via democratic governance, notably the Arab youth.

Still carrying the flame of the EDSA Revolution with me, I do hereby commiserate with my fellow Filipinos who wish to build a strong state, and to the Arab young ones who clamor to overthrow their perpetual presidencies and archaic royalties in order to build a better world via democracy and respect for civil liberties.

Mabuhay ang Filipino! Mabuhay ang Inangbayan!

[Philippines, 25 February 2011]

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ARAB TURMOIL DERAILS WORLD WAR III AGENDA OF GLOBAL OLIGARCHY

February 22, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Arab social turbulence has been rocking the world news straight for many days now. Let’s continue our reflections on the subject, and see how the turmoil dovetails on the agenda of the global financier oligarchs to wage a World War III by pitting a Sunni-Israel alliance versus Shiite Iran.

 

Since the 3rd quarter of of 2010 yet, the Israeli forces have begun large scale trainings and preparations for a frontal attack on Iran. That secret training was being done in Romania, probably with echo trainings elsewhere. The war should happen within months’ time since inception of preparations, which means the first semester of 2011.

 

I’ve already written articles last year concerning that Sunni-Israel alliance going to war versus Iran. My analysis was that ancient racial memories, long dormant in the collective unconscious, are awakening again, and those memories revive the old hatreds between the Semites and the Persians.

 

However, the recent social turbulence in the Arab republics—whose presidents seem to be chief execs for life—has become a new ‘flavor of the year’ for the Arabs. The turbulence could have brought enormous alarm bells on the Anglo-American-European financiers who may have been caught unprepared by the turmoil incidence.

 

Thus, in the event of sustained widespread social turmoil among Arab republics, the global oligarchs’ options for solidifying a Sunni-Israel alliance will be short-circuited. The oligarchs will be forced to rely on the sheikhdoms & emirates, the bastions of archaic political cultures, as base for the Sunni counterpart of the alliance.

 

The sheikhs & emirs were actually integrated into the power orbit of the global oligarchy and form a part of the intricate web of elite networks led by the Northern/Western financiers. Saudi Arabia’s nobles have in fact prepared well for a larger conflagration with Iran, as evidenced by the voracious arms purchases worth hundreds of billions of dollars that they have been undertaking.

 

In the event of an all-out war between the Sunni-Israel or Semitic Alliance versus Shiite Iran (Persia), the same elites will cash in gargantuan sums out of speculative & portfolio finance that will be moving out of the region during the hot confrontations alone. Then, when war will be over, they will buy estates and wrecked enterprises in Iran and contiguous countries at cheap dirt prices. They did that in Europe after the 2nd world war, and in the Eastern European countries after the collapse of the Stalinist states in 1989.

 

But here now comes the social turbulence, and we can only surmise what thoughts the same oligarchs have about the events there. Chances are that they are being challenged to cash in on the turbulence right away, by moving ‘smart money’ in and out of the affected Arab region during the turbulence.

 

Another X event that could happen is when the turmoil will engulf the sheikhdoms & emirates as well. With such internal political fires taking their toils on the archaic Arab states, a World War III will become less feasible. Israel will be compelled to go it alone versus Iran, and that is a terribly suicidal option.

 

The only option left for the global oligarchs is to engineer the prepositioning of their organized forces inside the Arab states, both republic and archaic, notably the Sunni fundamentalist sects. The Muslim Brotherhood, to recall, was constituted decades ago yet by the British intelligence, for purposes of advancing their polarity agenda.

 

The fall of the Arab republics into the hands of Islamic groups will surely be a boon to the global oligarchs. The next challenge for them will be to get the new Islamic theocracies to crystallize a tactical alliance versus Iran, and enjoin them in the Zionist war versus Shiite Iran.

 

But to manipulate Arab politics so as to install Shiite theocracies into power is “suntok sa buwan” as we say in Filipino. That phrase translates to “punch the moon,” or next to impossible. The option is high stakes gambling, and that is outside the agenda set by the oligarchs a long time ago now (see notes about the American freemason Albert Pike, whose 19th century agenda of war pre-defined the larger conflagrations of the 20th and 21st centuries).

 

Let us all continue to watch the unfolding events in the Arab region as a whole. As of this writing, the stock markets and petrol trade across the globe are being rattled by the social turbulence.

 

[Philippines, 18 February 2011]

 

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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs anytime!

 

Social Blogs:

IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com

 

Wisdom/Spiritual Blogs:

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com

 

Poetry & Art Blogs:

ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com

 

Mixed Blends Blogs:

@FRIENDSTER: http://erleargonza.blog.friendster.com

@SOULCAST: http://www.soulcast.com/efdargon

 

Website & Mixed Blogs:

MULTIPLY: http://efdargon.multiply.com