Moral Politics in the Philippines: Inequality, Democracy and the Urban Poor
“The people” famously ousted Ferdinand Marcos from power in the Philippines in 1986. After democratization, though, a fault line appeared that split the people into citizens and the masses. The former were members of the middle class who engaged in civic action against the restored elite-dominated democracy, and viewed themselves as moral citizens in contrast with the masses, who were poor, engaged in illicit activities and backed flawed leaders. The masses supported emerging populist counter-elites who promised to combat inequality, and saw themselves as morally upright in contrast to the arrogant and oppressive actions of the wealthy in arrogating resources to themselves.
In 2001 the middle class toppled the populist president Joseph Estrada through an extra-constitutional movement that the masses denounced as illegitimate. Fearing a populist uprising, the middle class supported action against informal settlements and street vendors, and violent clashes erupted between state forces and the poor. Although solidarity of the people re-emerged in opposition to the corrupt presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and propelled Benigno Aquino III to victory in 2010, inequality and elite rule continue to bedevil Philippine society. Each group considers the other as a threat to democracy, and the prevailing moral antagonism makes it difficult to overcome structural causes of inequality.
Faithful to Secularism: The Religious Politics of Democracy in Ireland, Senegal, and the Philippines
David T. Buckley
Religion and democracy can make tense bedfellows. Secular elites may view religious movements as conflict-prone and incapable of compromise, while religious actors may fear that anticlericalism will drive religion from public life. Yet such tensions are not inevitable: from Asia to Latin America, religious actors coexist with, and even help to preserve, democracy.
In Faithful to Secularism, David T. Buckley argues that political institutions that encourage an active role for public religion are a key part in explaining this variation. He develops the concept of “benevolent secularism” to describe institutions that combine a basic division of religion and state with extensive room for participation of religious actors in public life. He traces the impact of benevolent secularism on religious and secular elites, both at critical junctures in state formation and as politics evolves over time. Buckley shows how religious and secular actors build credibility and shared norms over time, and explains how such coalitions can endure challenges from both religious revivals and periods of anticlericalism. Faithful to Secularism tests this institutional theory in Ireland, Senegal, and the Philippines, using a blend of archival, interview, and public opinion data. These case studies illustrate how even countries with an active religious majority can become and remain faithful to secularism.
Filipinas Everywhere: Essays in Criticism and Cultural Studies from a Filipino Perspective
E. San Juan, Jr.
In this epoch of disastrous neoliberal globalization, E. San Juan’s critique seizes the crisis in neocolonial Philippines as a point of intervention. As current Philippine President Duterte’s timely war on drugs and corruption rages, San Juan foregrounds the facticity that Filipinos are once more confronted with the barbaric legacy of U.S. domination, legitimized today as ”civilizing” humanitarianism. This wide-ranging discourse by a Filipino radical scholar interrogates the apologetic use of postcolonial dogmas, Saussurean semiology versus Peircean semiotics, Kafka’s allegory on torture, Edward Said’s use of Gramsci, and the postconceptual view of photography. The author also diagnoses the symptoms of nihilistic neoliberal ideology found in media discourses on diaspora, terrorism, and globalization.
His critique of academic postcolonial studies sums up the arguments elaborated in his previous books, Beyond Postcolonial Theory (St. Martin’s Press), After Postcolonialism (Rowman & Littlefield), and especially US Imperialism and Revolution in the Philippines (Palgrave Macmillan). Overall, San Juan seeks to deploy a historical-materialist perspective in elucidating the dialectical interplay of contradictory forces symbolized in art and diverse cultural texts. In the process, he delineates the contexts of events with the end view of generating revolutionary transformations in the Asian-Pacific islands marked by the prevalence of U.S. imperial hegemony in the global system.
Rebecca Tinio McKenna
In American Imperial Pastoral, Rebecca Tinio McKenna examines the design, construction, and use of Baguio, making visible the physical shape, labor, and sustaining practices of the US’s new empire—especially the dispossessions that underwrote market expansion. In the process, she demonstrates how colonialists conducted market-making through state-building and vice-versa. Where much has been made of the racial dynamics of US colonialism in the region, McKenna emphasizes capitalist practices and design ideals—giving us a fresh and nuanced understanding of the American occupation of the Philippines.