Posted tagged ‘nation-state’

RIZAL: MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

June 19, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

Visionary genius, patriot, martyr for Philippine independence, Gat Jose Rizal was a man too far ahead of his own time. So titanic was the luck that came upon this blessed archipelago, the Philippine islands, for the embodiment among its humble people of this encyclopedic mind, Dr. Jose Rizal. He is impeccably a ‘man for all seasons’. And he is the national hero of the Philippine nation.

Most nations declare among their top patriots a warrior or military leader as their ‘national hero’. But for the Philippines, ours’ is a genius, an intellectual giant, a mind capable of engaging in issues so recondite and subjects so diverse that, in so short a span, he was able to pen an enormous variegation of topics that befit, in their totality, an encyclopedia. At the age of 35, he was terminated by the demonic imperial forces of Spain, but he never died in vain. On the contrary, his death continued to inspire libertarian patriots here and in other Asian lands, an inspiration that continues for our youth till these days.

Mystically gifted, little did people know that he was actually transformed into a spiritual guru before his death. His guruship was unique, in that he mentored his fellows on the wisdom of nationhood and patriotism. One of his avowed readers if not disciples, Mohandas Gandhi of India, followed in his steps and became, upon his transformation into a spiritual master, a mentor of nationhood and patriotism just like Rizal.

So mighty a mind Rizal possessed, without doubt, that till these days his works overshadow the combined works of his own fellow patriots, including those who’ve gained double doctorate degrees and published widely in academic circles. Rizal’s following is solid, he need not further articulate nor gesticulate thoughts in the vogue of a desperate social marketing campaign, for even long after his death, youthful and scholarly minds read him, try to follow his ethical precepts, and emulate his exemplary patriotic behavior.

He was the first Filipino. Before his time, the term Filipino was bestowed only on those Spaniards born and raised in the Philipines. The Malayan natives were pejoratively called Indios; Chinese, Sangleys; Aetas and IPs, negritos and montanosas; and Muslims, Moros. With scathing indictment of arrogant racism of  Spaniards most especially the friars, Rizal declared, with his mighty pen, that from this day on everybody born and raised in the islands will be called Filipino. That was how we islanders were to be bestowed with the name Filipino, a term that will stick till way into the distant future when a ‘Filipino race’ will evolve from out of a mere nationality today.

In his thoughts he pre-empted the political philosophy of Antonio Gramsci, the eminent Marxist leader of the Italian Left. Rizal mentored his fellow patriots that it will prove unwise to wage an insurrectionary campaign and seize political power, at a time when the ideas of nationhood haven’t permeated the private sphere yet. The most fitting strategy for that long-term goal—of building nationhood—is education. Build the new world’s ideas first till they become hegemonic, after which winning a revolution will be more facile as it was in the French revolution. That’s Rizal, and that’s Gramsci as well, but Rizal preceded Gramsci, let the world be made aware of this fact.

In gender relations, Rizal was no less ahead of his time. He scorned the ‘Old World woman complex’ so deeply that he chose to bury this woman in catacombs of history, which he did by killing Maria Clara, the Old World’s embodiment, in his novels. He advanced the idea of Modern Woman in the figures of the ‘women of Malolos’, even as he championed women who were civic-minded, actively engaged as co-partner in shaping the modern world, intellectually adroit and well-schooled. The Filipino nation he likened to the figure of Sisa in his novels, a nurturing mother who no matter under dire duress will never self-destruct but will stand out firm, tall and well-esteemed by fellows.

Amid Rizal’s liberalism, he never had any fondness for anarchism. Following Zola’s novel-writing tradition (e.g. Germinal), Rizal embodied the anarchist in the young bourgeois creole Ibarra who, at the end of his novel scripts, self-destructed. Anarchism can never be a substitute for prudent authority that should follow the Enlightenment principles of reason, progress, fraternity, and scientific verity. He was a true-blue liberal nationalist, never an anarchist.

We Filipino nationalists will continue to be inspired by Gat Jose Rizal. And his thoughts, the most treasured jewels of Asia during his time, will continue to inspire us, diadems that we magnanimously share to all enthused Fellows of the Planet, thoughts that mentor and serve as balm on the soul, like unto those writ by the most sagely personages. For these are the thoughts of a man no less sagely than the wisest of the days of old, thoughts that long after they are gone will continue to make waves into the minds of men and women of many generations yet to come.

Hail Gat Jose Rizal! Glory, genius, grandeur!

[12 June 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila] 

PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE: ASIA’ BEACON OF HOPE

June 12, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Philippine solidarity to all Fellows on Planet Earth!

On the 12th of June 1896, as the sun was rising, the Philippine Flag was raised for the first time in Kawit, Cavite. The Philippine National Anthem was also played, in the genre of classical marches, putting it alongside the French Republic’s anthem. Emilio Aguinaldo, first president of the new republic, declared the independence of the Philippines from Spain and the official birthing of the Philippine nation-state.

That moment of victory, no matter how short-lived it was as the American forces soon snapped off the flame of liberty in the islands, was of gigantic significance to all Asia. For the first time, a modern republic was born, forged from out of the struggles and blood of the Filipino people, who fought arduously against the mighty empire of the Spanish Crown. Over three (3) centuries of Western imperial cruelties, demonic calumnies and abominable barbarities were officially ended that day.

All of Asia watched the unfolding events in the islands then. The young patriarch of the nation, Dr. Jose Rizal, was terminated by the Spaniards in 1896 yet, but his ideas of nationhood spread like wildfire across the archipelago after that infamous moment of his execution. With the founding of a new republic, the Asians realized that nationhood ideas, typified by the thoughts of Rizal, were viable. No matter how mighty an evil empire would be against a colonized people of Asia, the latter will be able to forge collective might and will, terminate imperial rule and build a new sovereign nation-state.

Thus were our fellow Asians emboldened to study the path of national liberation, build the patriotic ideas and revolutionary movements that will serve as their executor vehicles, and wage libertarian campaigns to the finish, even if it will take thousands to millions of martyrs to conclude the national liberation project. Gandhi, Aung San, Sukarno, Sun Yat Sen and leading patriots from fellow Asian lands, who read and digested Rizal’s writings well, stood out among our great leaders in Asia, and the rest was history.

Modern nationhood in Asia started in my beloved country. This is an established fact, though seemingly ignored and forgotten. Because it started here, let it be the duty and obligation of all fellow patriotic Filipino to continue to spread goodwill and good faith unto all the peoples of Earth, whether from developing or developed states. For in today’s context, there are those powerful predatory forces that aspire no end to snuff out the nation-states in the name of their ignominious greed, lust for power, and tyrannical might.

Back home, here, we nationalist patriots continue our struggle against the pro-colonial forces in all spheres of life. Rizal’s dream here hasn’t completely galvanized yet, as the pro-colonials and the oligarchs they serve are ensconced in all terrains of social, cultural, political and economic life. We nationalists are in the margins, while the pro-colonials and pro-oligarchs are hegemonic, and so we will continue with our struggles until the destructive dragons of colonialism and oligarchism will be effectively slaughtered here.

Let the world remember this heraldry, that on the 12th of June 1896, nationhood and the values that underpin it (sovereignty, liberty, brotherhood, patriotism, prosperity) were born and planted in the Philippines as the first instance of nationhood in all of Asia. This being the sublime narrative, we patriotic Filipinos shall continue to bear with us the flame of liberty, and will defend the values that forged nationhood to the last instance of our breaths and energies. That which was first will be the last to fall, and will, with the blessing of Divine Hierarchy, never fall in spirit and wisdom to pursue the grand mission of helping other nations build their own narratives and practices of nationhood.

Hail the Philippine nation! Glory, genius, grandeur!

[12  June 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila] 

FAIR TRADE AND THE NATION-STATE

April 28, 2008

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

[Writ 23 March 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

In a recently written book by me titled Fair Trade and Food Security: Framework and Policy Architecture (Kaisampalad, 2004), I was able to gather clear evidences of the failures of free trade policies. Not only free trade but the whole policy regime of economic liberalization—that paved the way to globalization—had downgrading effects on our currency, agriculture, and industry here in my home country.

 

I argued right then for a policy reform in the direction of fair trade. The totality of policy change should be the re-crafting of the entire policy architecture, which if commensurately followed can become fitful guides for foreign policy and diplomacy.

 

In the light of the massive acceptance of liberalization policy frameworks in the 80s and 90s, I gave their advocates a chance to prove the potency of free trade and laissez faire in general. In the long run, free trade is unsustainable, and can only be perpetuated, as shown by the experiences of the previous centuries, by imperialism.

 

Autarchy, which was experimented in the Hapsburg empire, is more of a hermitage option that can work only if, as the Hapsburg had fittingly shown, the domain for intra-trade exchange and distribution is large enough. The option, even for nationalist economics, is for the conduct of overseas trade. But whether his has to be a free trade option is contentious.

 

The British Empire, which calls itself by the euphemy British Commonwealth of Nations, is still alive today. That empire was built precisely because it is the only way by which Great Britain, or England, can sustain its trading edge through the power of the ‘stick’. But this empire, the last among the ancien regime formations, is now crumbling, and cannot hold water for long as the member nations continue to assert their sovereignty.

 

Globalization based on free trade had already crumbled, as we can see. Unless there is another perception out there. It had failed. What I am arguing for now is that globalization can succeed only if it takes into consideration the interests of nations and marginal sectors within them rather than be based on the interests of a chosen few of financier oligarchs and their TNCs.

 

The contention from the article New Nationalism is shown en toto below.

 

Let ‘unbridled free trade’ give way to ‘fair trade’.

 

In the international trade scene, the President had declared it emphatically: “no to unbridled free trade!” Fair trade should be the game in trade, not free trade. This does not mean a full return to protectionism, which proved counterproductive in the past. Protectionism had only served rent-seekers, who did not engage in full-scale S&T innovations that could have propelled us to advance in product development, achieving world-class standards in many of our articles of industry & trade quite early. Returning to a regime of protectionism is surely out of the question.

 

Permit articles of imports to come in, employ this strategy to meet ‘commodity security’ and keep prices at competitive rates, while minimizing the possibility of shocks. This should also challenge domestic market players to become more competitive, precisely by engaging in dynamic research & development or R&D, resulting to higher-level product innovations (intended for the domestic market). Meanwhile, continue to institute a regime of ‘safety nets’ and strengthen those that have already been erected. However, where ‘infantile enterprises’ are barely out of the take-off stage, e.g. petrochemicals and upstream steel, provide certain tariff protection, but set limits up to that point when dynamic R & D have made production more cost-efficient, permitting thereafter competitiveness in both the domestic and global market. The latest move of government to provide the greatest incentives on upstream steel, for instance, is a right move, as it will entice market forces to install our long-delayed integrated steelworks.

 

THE STATE IS NO ‘BIG MAMA’ BUT AN ENABLER

April 28, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

[Writ 22 March 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

To continue, in the same article on New Nationalism, this author took up the contention about the shift from ‘provider state’ to ‘enabler state’ model. I agree to a large degree with Peter Evans regarding the matter in his elucidations on synergism and development.

 

While I argue strongly for a dirigist paradigm of development, I do not at all go for maximum state intervention such as the ones experimented on in socialist states and welfare states. Government is no Big Mama nor Santa Claus that provides everything for its citizens.

 

There should always be room for private initiatives, social spaces for people to think creatively and innovatively to provide for their own needs. State and civil society can come in to do enabling tasks when needed, but not to role-play as the Big Mama Forever of her infantile clientele who are forever dependent on ‘milk from mama’ (dole-outs, essentials of life).

 

Unfortunately, many experts today, including those with PhDs and advanced studies, haven’t gotten away with the ‘provider state’ model of development. To my own shock, I found out lately that my close friends in the academic and development fields still bear the old fogey mindset of a Big Mama state model. The rugs have already changed under their feet!

 

Consider for instance a musician friend in the University of the Philippines. He felt bad that state funds for musicians have dried up in the Philippines, but has been flowing like honey for sports. I had to explain to him that the music industry is already very mature here, that musicians and industry leaders themselves can produce and propagate music without any further state assistance, that the ‘music sector’ is in fact a model sector of an industry that had already reached a very mature level of development.

 

The same pal is as old as myself (late 40s) and has simply been accustomed to old habits. The Martial Law regime here (1972-86) was particularly very supportive of music, and the former 1st Lady Imelda Marcos took on the cudgels for state support for the culture industry including music and theatre. But that was long ago!

 

The music industry was then in its high growth state, and badly needed state support for that steep climb to glory. But eventually, the musicians and industrialists like the Jacinto family who went into musical instrument manufacturing (one of the Jacintos is s musical giant here) took upon themselves the duties for lifting up the sector. The airwaves were reformed, so that 50% of the time the radio stations should air Filipino music. And Philippine music succeeded stunningly!

 

Today the industry had matured to meteoric heights. But many musicians feel and think like it’s still the infantile days of the sector. Look at how dependency can blind people including university-based experts such as the professor of music that I’m citing here (name withheld).

 

For further elucidation, let me quote entirely the excerpts from the essay, to note:

 

Shift intervention from the ‘provider state’ to the ‘enabler state’.

 

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.

RE-ECHOING BASIC NEEDS

April 28, 2008

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

[Writ 22 March 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

“Go back to basic needs,” I declared in the same article on New Nationalism.

 

Sometime back, the ‘basic needs’ framework rang strong bells in the development field as a potent framework for development. Having started with the defunct Ministry of Human Settlements in 1981 as a community development specialist, I still recall then how brilliant and exquisitely crafted was this Ministry’s adoption of the ‘basic needs’ framework as its guiding light.

 

“Higit sa lahat, Tao!” is the core premise of the Ministry’s development paradigm. Roughly, this translates as “man precedes everything else.” Meaning, man should be at the core of all development efforts, and not the objects of a synthetic (infrastructures, industries) or physical nature (raw materials, livestock, plants).

 

Till these days, the powerful Ministry premise had stuck with me. At that time too, the same Ministry already recognized ‘ecological balance’ as among the 11 Basic Needs of Man, and organized ‘ecology brigades’ in advancement of this contention. That was a time when environmentalism wasn’t even born in the country but was just being planted.

 

It need not be overstressed that meeting the basic needs of peoples is a fundamental yardstick for addressing development problems leading to further cooperation and peace among diverse communities. I therefore find it still a potent discourse to re-echo the ‘basic needs’ premise.

 

The excerpts from the article are entirely quoted below.

 

Go back to basic needs.

 

“Spend for your needs but save as much as you can!” would be an apt idiom that could  encapsulate the need to build up national savings within the context of an increasingly consumer-driven economy. It is argued that moderate consumption would be a most fitting behavior in today’s context, while under-consumption and over-consumption are out as they could burn us all out in the process. Consumption saved the day for us in the aftermath of the Asian crisis in 1997, so there is no reason to be morally repulsive about consumerism—provided that it should be a moderated consumerism. Low consumerism brings us back to export-driven strategies, our aggregated wealth production subjected to the vagaries of external markets that are beyond our control; high consumerism, contributing further to high debt levels, as the credit card culture entice people to acquire more articles of consumption through debts, perennially driving our economy to ‘bubble bursts’.

 

The emerging situation should have taught our market players the appropriate lessons at this time. The era of omnipresent and omnipotent markets—for goods of relatively ageless utility, stored in large inventories—is now a foregone era. What we have now is fragmented markets (chaos economics explains this well; see Tom Peters’ works), so the adjustment would be in the form of market niches. Market players should veer away from storing large inventories of a broad array of products, as obsolescence and changing consumer taste undermine the profit-gaining side of such a practice. Rather, they should be sensitive to emerging demands, and customize services and/or tangible goods based on such demands. We Filipinos particularly change taste so often, “madaling magsawa” as we  say it in the vernacular. Which means that fixed products, based on fixed ideas, are simply out of context and out-of-date, and must be reformulated towards more flexible product mixes matrixed with constantly  emerging ideas.

 

On a macro-scale, there is the continuing need to ensure ‘food security’ and its expression in other sectors as well. We should continue to be sensitive to the needs of the larger economy, such as the need for capital goods. We should design ‘vital & strategic commodity security’ frameworks and policies through a combination of domestic production of such goods as well as importation strategies. The continuing absence of strategic industries such as integrated steel could prove degenerative for development efforts such as it has done to our country, while completely shutting us off the international markets for some other goods could likewise be deleterious in the long run since domestic producers would be exercising rent-seeking, pricing articles way beyond five hundred percent (500%) of their opportunity costs as amply demonstrated by industrial chemicals (before the country began importing from China). As current experiments in grain & livestock management show, with appreciable success, the strategy should be to combine domestically produced goods with imported articles, the proper mix of which should be the subject of continuing eco-scanning and constant studies. In the end, all of our individual, community and national needs will be met, building stability and security amid a ‘chaotic’ or turbulent global condition.

BUILD STRONG NATIONS AMID GLOBALIZATION

April 28, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

[Writ 22 March 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

In my meaty article on New Nationalism, I advanced fourteen (14) contentions in substantiation of what neo-nationalism is.

 

The first basic contention is that the nation-state can thrive and grow amid globalization. In other words, globalization shouldn’t lead to the destruction of nation-states. The trend since the start of massive implementation of liberal reforms leading to global integration of markets has been, in fact, the destruction of nation-states. This trend has to be stopped now.

 

There is really no reason to destroy the nations just so that our global community can be integrated. In the Philippine experience, nationalism has been a positive, progressive force that had united close to 100 ethno-linguistic communities. The Philippine nation had just lately crystallized, with a national identity now in shape though in moderate level, a phenomenon that took over 200 years to build.

 

There is no way that we can allow the massive destruction of nations today just in order to whet the appetites of the global oligarchy and their transnational corporations or TNCs for control over the world’s resources and labor. The conservation of nations must be a pre-requisite to building the ‘peace condition’ nationally and globally, guided by the principle of ‘dialogue of civilizations’.

 

On the other hand, amid the failings of globalization, we simply cannot go back to the past and destroy the integration efforts altogether. We can still move on towards a more progressive globalization that serves the interests of nations rather than the global oligarchy. Nations can derive benefits from integrated markets, we can’t overstress the risk-side of globalization at the expense of the benefit-side.

 

Somewhere along the line, the striving for stronger nations must cohere with the collective efforts for integrated markets. Later on, nations would compose an integrated political entity, the global state with its own global institutions.

 

Below is the excerpt from the New Nationalism article regarding the nation-state.

 

Strong nation can thrive & grow amid globalization.

 

The nation can continue to exist, even become strengthened, while it sails deep into the middle of the ocean of globalization. The two are not necessarily contradictory. Nationhood can continuously be pursued, patriotism can move ahead while paddling astride the powerful waves of globalization. For as earlier stated, globalization holds the promise of growth through the vast opportunities it has opened. Nations must strive to concur cooperation with other nations to extend the scope and limits of the opportunities, while at the same time build internal opportunities to further optimize inducements for investments.

 

Just recently, our entrepreneurs and professionals made waves through the international awards they respectively received, such as Tan Caktiong (top entrepreneur) and F. Palafox (the only ASEAN architect to make it to the world’s Top 200 architects), signifying the high level of competitiveness our compatriots are capable of achieving. Such sterling achievements surely inspire us to continue to strengthen nationhood and to forge new areas of cooperation and growth-inducing endeavors. While forces exist that work to tear the nation asunder, forces are likewise growing that lead to the nation’s strengthening. We should all work hard to make sure that the latter forces prevail, while neutralizing and diminishing the potencies of those forces that destroy nationhood.