Today’s isolating ‘pseudonationalist governance’
Randy David’s view, in “Nationalism then and now” (6/9/19), on the vast difference between the nationalism of the past and of today, is critical — nay, of great significance in the current political atmosphere, especially ours.
With the rise of autocrat leaders like US President Donald Trump and, in our country, President Duterte, a new kind of “nationalism” is very evident in their rhetoric and policies.
Historian Lisandro Claudio stated that the victory of Mr. Duterte was from the fertile ground of the “Filipino electorate’s id: a nostalgia for strongman rule, a low regard for human rights, and a disdain for the norms safeguarded by institutions like the Church and elite universities.”
These factors were what allowed Mr. Duterte to rise following the failed rule of elitist leaders in past administrations, as he harnessed mass anger and normalized his unorthodox governance based on authoritarian populism. This unorthodoxy is seen in his disregard for decency and universal human rights, by claiming the latter are just a Western concept.
It is clear that populism creates a dangerous distinction of “us vs them.” In the US, this dichotomy is used on immigrants as the “them” under Trump’s “America First” policy.
This idea is also prone to ultranationalist inclinations — a mindset that will root solely for the interests of one’s people, hence becoming a breeding ground for fascism.
An example is the anti-Semitic Adolf Hitler, who ordered the Holocaust that resulted in the state-sponsored killings of 6 million Jews during the Nazi regime. His murderous premise was that the Jews were an inferior race, and that the superior Aryan (German) race should be cleansed of them. Millions of Jews died, while a few were able to flee and migrate to safe countries.
As mentioned by David, then President Manuel Quezon III recognized the human rights of the Jews (despite the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was still nonexistent) and opened the Philippines’ doors to these refugees despite that time being marked by divisive racial beliefs.
In the Philippines at present, there is much hatred from the Duterte base for the opposition like the Liberal Party, labeled “dilawan.”
Those who exercise their democratic right of active citizenry by criticizing the administration experience vicious online treatment, while Mr. Duterte’s partisans treat him as an infallible being.
While constrained by its standard column length, David’s opinion piece did not fail to champion the liberal and true notion of nationalism — that it is subjected not only to the proposition of “ours” as Filipinos, but also to “ours” as one humanity.
The fact that we are one of the original signatories of the United Nations, and that our history includes Quezon’s humanitarian action, show that nationalism can go way beyond our troubled shores.
However, those days are long gone, with the pseudonationalist governance we now have that has isolated our nation from the international community.
LUIS ANTONIO A. BONIFACIO