I am not really convinced that Filipinos and Americans wanted change when they voted for Duterte and Trump respectively. I also do not think that their electoral successes are about the voters' rejection of the oligarchs and the political establishment and denunciation of the corrupt and the powerful. Duterte or Trump is not the epitome of clean politics and ethical leadership.
The political backers of either Duterte or Trump include traditional politicians and oligarchs, who are part of the establishment and even corrupt and yes, powerful. Gloria Arroyo and Rudy Giuliani are not outsiders who are new to the political rodeo. They are not politically innocent and pure either. Like Filipinos, Americans have also been politically exploited and manipulated.
I do not think this trend--voting as a protest--is about the bad economy that pushes many into poverty. It is difficult to classify the voters of Trump and Duterte as poor and economically marginalized. Duterte’s overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and middle class supporters are definitely not penniless. Trump’s voters too are the same—employed middle class and successful professional immigrants.
What we have been witnessing, I think, is the effect of postmodernity—the people are angry, hateful, desperate, and hopeless, and their emotional feelings stem from their imagined persecution and internalized alienation. Modernity has no longer pulled people towards progress and advancement. The strangeness of the postmodern has alienated and pushed them away.
When postmodernism plagued the literary world from the eighties to the early twenty-first century, readers were alienated and turned off. They went back to the classic, the local, and the popular. They could not move forward, so they went backward to regroup, belong, and embrace the familiar and the comfortable. I have also observed that in politics and elections these days.
The alienated people in the postmodern political climate and economic landscape have refused to accept new ideas and rejected progressive thinking. Legalization of vices, gay marriage, and even advanced technology have repulsed them. They have found comfort in the old worldview and mentality and embraced the realities and irrationalities of the old folks.
Filipinos have gone back to paternalism—submitting to a leader who can use his authority to control them like children who are restrained and disciplined by a father, which is provincial and ancient. Americans have done the same thing—but to the one who will make America great again. Such worldview goes against the tenor of the foundation of modernism—individualism.
So good to hear from you again. There is much wisdom in what you write. Have you seen Mark Carrigan's take on Sociological Imagination [http://sociologicalimagination.org/archives/19142?utm_source=feedbu...]?
Thank you, John, for the welcome. I just read it. This is interesting: “Life under authoritarian rule in such situations looks a lot like life in a democracy.” Perhaps I need to explore Arendt's "banality of evil" again.
I find the sentence you quote particularly poignant having, in recent years, made several visits to China, where the middle-class academics with whom I usually interact carry on with their lives in a manner visibly similar to their counterparts in the USA and EU, and a growing middle class in major urban centers enjoys the benefits of consumerism, even vibrant club and art scenes, while, of course, China remains very much a one-party state and one whose leader has been taking steps to consolidate his power.
Eh? (I am not sure what Cecilia's"fine!" is intended to convey)
That what you said is very closed to the reallity...