Philippines: Walden Bello on fighting fascism

Bello, Walden
Date Written:  2017-08-25
Publisher:  Links: International Journal of Socialist Renewal
Year Published:  2017
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21161

Walden Bello at the National Anti-Dictatorship Conference, University of the Philippines, outlines the key elements of an anti-dictatorship program.


Excerpt: Fascist dictatorships are popular, at least at the beginning. The approval rating of this president remains at around 83 per cent. My sense is that even if he were to move towards formal dictatorial rule, Duterte would maintain a high degree of popular support. This is not unusual. Hitler was popular until the very end, and not even the allied invasion of Germany in 1945 could induce the Germans to revolt. While Duterte is popular across all classes, he is most popular among classes ABC, the elite and the middle class. Again, this is not unusual. The base of previous fascist regimes has been the elite and the middle class, and in the latter we include downwardly mobile sectors that are objectively workers but whose consciousness remain middle class and are resentful of their changing fortunes. It is from Duterte’s middle class followers that he draws his most fanatical disciples. These are the cyberbullies, like those who recently urged the execution of two female journalists and the “brutal rape” of one of our women senators. As with the Nazi Brownshirts or the SS, there is no reasoning with these people; they are hopelessly irrational.

While we must not give up on the middle class, it is mainly Duterte’s supporters in classes D and E that we should be concerned about. Unlike Duterte’s middle class base, whom we might characterize, using Gramsci’s terms, as exhibiting “active consensus” behind Duterte’s authoritarian rule, the lower classes that support the president might be said to be marked by “passive consensus.” We cannot understand why they have swung behind Duterte unless we take into consideration the spectacular failure of what I have called the “EDSA Republic” to meet their expectations during its 30-year reign. Instead of democracy, the EDSA Republic gave them oligarchy and massive corruption. Instead of security, it generated rampant criminality. Instead of providing opportunity, it deepened poverty and inequality. Instead of affirming the dignity of the poor and marginalized, it robbed them of it. The hypocritical democracy of the EDSA Republic is the principal reason why they are willing to give Duterte’s authoritarian project a chance.

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