Political parasites

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

THERE are those whose politics is defined by conjunctures. Riding on the crest of changing political winds is their ploy.

And they have played this game to the hilt. It has been a wild ride to claim political importance without a mass base to speak of. They have long let go of the model of organizing sectoral formations as base for political legitimacy. They have instead invested in creating alliances among those they think will bring them to power. And the gamble has certainly paid of. They are at present one of the blocs that have exclusive access to the adamant ear of the president. Many of their known figureheads are now well placed in the cabinet and undersecretary positions of the present administration after casting their lot with the scion of the landed family from Tarlac.

This is because they have been useful in providing the veneer of a left-of-center character for this administration with many among their ranks having strong civil society backgrounds from both social democrat and former national democratic persuasions. Their cunning approach has endeared them to the powers-that-be, deodorizing the culture of patronage of the political elite that is now presented as a brave and trailblazing brand of reform. The current bravado of the executive in challenging the power of the judiciary can be traced to their growing influence within this administration. It is certainly a brave stance to regard the highest judicial branch as not infallible and equally tainted with the ills of corruption.


One thing that binds these groups together is a commitment to a brand of reformist politics that seek to transform government from within. To their mind, their entry to the top echelons of power and influence in government will redound to a messianic overhaul of national and local politics.

But it is ultimately their shared disdain for what they consider to be an archaic form of left politics that unites them. It is the bogey of the dogmatic left that they have used to seek funding from international donor organizations as well as gain support from once unlikeliest of allies – the landed aristocracy and a section of bourgeoisie comprador class. They have become the effective mouthpieces of the government’s sustained anti-left campaign and they never fail to brandish the trump card of the left’s excesses of a time when they were still part of it.
They are, in other words, political parasites who have fed upon the mainstream left for their own political survival. Without the ghost of left adventurism and excess, they would have no political capital to speak of. So they mine this and raise the specter of the communist bogey for as deep and as long as they can for otherwise these groups of a few personalities and NGOs would fall into obscurity.

At present, the death toll is ringing for these groups in the face of their failed experiments for reform. Brimming with confidence over their capacity to fulfill this mission, they have plunged head on into the murky political waters of horse-trading and patronage but in the process, have made themselves indistinguishable from the politicians and the political system they seek to change. The current brouhaha over the DAP and how they have come to its defense has been the ultimate proof of this failure.

What do you call these once stalwarts of activism now conscripted as members of a lapdog audience during the president’s notorious speech wherein he defended his DAP which is nothing but a system of political patronage disguising itself as economic stimulus? It was a sorry sight witnessing these contemporaries who once presented themselves as the great white hope among the university studentry now applauding the president and in effect reveal that they are hanging on to dear life in terms of political relevance. And there seems to be no way but down for this set of opportunists as the gamble they placed on this administration seem be just that, a poor gamble.

The problem with this set is that they believed so much that they were the missing key to turn around these so-called societal conjunctures towards meaningful social changes. Not a mass base, not painstaking political work, and theoretical rigor. It is the height of hubris for them to trust themselves as the so-called messiahs that would transform this nation trapped in a cycle of structural inertia.

Reformists do not necessarily devour its children, unlike their revolutionary nemesis they like to say. I think it is because they don’t get that far. They themselves are eaten by the system early on.


(Arnold P. Alamon is an Assistant Professor IV, Sociology Department, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology.)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 29, 2014.


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