Red-tagging issue is about state power, not ideology | Inquirer Opinion

Red-tagging issue is about state power, not ideology

/ 05:01 AM December 10, 2020

A citizen in any liberal democracy should never be afraid or constrained to speak his or her mind on what he or she believes in. The problem is, we may be a liberal democracy in intention, but assassins of all stripes roam the land, and people who offend or step on other people’s toes justifiably fear for their safety. The “offenses” may not even be ideological but personal or business or professional, as witnessed by the recent spate of killings and attacks on lawyers and judges.

There is the issue of “red-tagging,” with many progressive thinkers being stymied or made fearful as a result. If society can accept and even take pride in a rainbow of gender preferences, why has red become so hot? What is wrong with being a communist? Do we not trade hugely and interact extensively with China, the world’s largest and most eminently successful communist country? Why do we encourage the Chinese to invest in our country? Their money is good but their ideology is not? Don’t our high government officials deal directly with communists? Has not President Duterte visited China — six times so far, the most visits compared to any other country in his past four years in office?


We know very well the issue is not ideology, because in the end we are all the same and we can do business with each other no matter our personal beliefs. History is replete with many instances of groups or nations of different mindsets getting together against a common enemy. I have heard high-ranking military officers, graduates of the Philippine Military Academy, say that out in the field, as they got to know their enemies and reflected on the nature of their communist foes, they realized that they were very similar and were actually fighting for the same ideals: equality, justice, development.

The issue is power. State power, personal power, and economic power. Power is the exercise of self-interest, the safeguarding and promotion of self-interest, to one’s benefit, in accordance with one’s ideology or worldview or, quite often, simply because of plain contingency or as the situation requires.


There is nothing wrong with being a Marxist, a Christian, a Muslim, or a Buddhist. But there is everything wrong with stealing the people’s money and deceiving other people and not treating other people fairly. The power of ideology or religious faith can never be underestimated. That is why there are martyrs, saints, and heroes, people who rise above their circumstances and seek a better life for others. People who give of themselves, whether through the force of arms or the force of ideas. I am reminded of lines from Robert Stone’s “Dog Soldiers”: “In the end, there were not many things worth wanting, for the serious man, the samurai. But there were some. In the end, if the serious man is still bound to illusion, he selects the worthiest illusion and takes a stand.”

There lies the irony. The power of belief is the greatest power of all.

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TAGS: Ideology, Letters to the Editor, red-tagging, Rex Toledo, Roderick Toledo, state power
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