Lenin said something to this effect: “You learn more about fascism spending a minute fighting the police out in the street than spending a year reading about it in books.”
What the great Russian leader sought to stress is the primacy of practice over theory.
There really is no substitute for concrete learning. Theory in Marxist reckoning is nothing but the perceptual stage of knowledge, still to be verified by actual application, which then becomes the process for transforming perceptions into concepts, the truly qualitative learning.
People power as a tool for social change had been a glorious heritage of the Philippine nation, from the uprisings of natives in the entire 400 years epoch of Spanish colonization, onward to the subsequent American aggression in the archipelago in the first half of the 20th century, and up until the aggregate total period of popular revolt against the two-decade rule of the Marcos dictatorship.
In all these stages of Philippine history, people’s rebellion had been physical. People had an outcry to yell, they poured out into the streets braving all sorts of fascist instruments, batons and bullets, torture and forced disappearances, to sum it up, atrocities, just to make true that one shining sample of serving the people.
Heroes, oh, how immense their numbers are. It really amounts to a sheer exercise in superfluity to repeat a litany of names that, after all, may no longer be denied their place in eternal glory. History has caused some names to stand out over the rest, but whether celebrities or the nameless multitudes, the one single great common denominator is that all proved their bravery with their warm bodies.
So pronounced is the necessity of being physically present in a moment of social unrest that such terminology, “warm bodies,” has come to be equated with a readiness to suffer police brutalities, get maimed, even shed blood and get killed for the cause.
But between the Mendiola Massacre of 1987 (quite early on in the Cory reign after Marcos was overthrown) and this her son’s stint at the Aquino dynasty, there appears a yawning chasm in people’s outrage getting expressed by “warm bodies” pouring out into the streets.
The youth have particularly been absent on occasions that traditionally would have jolted them into rage and violence as was characteristic of that period in the ‘70s when with clenched fists punching the air they ceaselessly, fearlessly wracked towns and cities with the singular chant “Marcos! Hitler! Diktador! Tuta!”
Something’s happened here. Very early in the Aquino administration, it committed a terrible affront to democracy by defying the Supreme Court Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the travel ban on former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Under normal circumstances – “normal” meaning the ferocious youth acting as traditionally it should – students would have lost no time exploding in rallies and demonstrations, slamming Aquino for his anti-democratic act. The revolutionary vanguard, the organized section of the proletariat, would have taken up the cause as well pronto.
But no, Aquino had a heyday demolishing democratic principles unhampered by elements that proved to be the nemesis of Marcos. What an easy time he had fabricating criminal charges against GMA in order to get her imprisoned indefinitely. It is not an issue in this regard that the lady president had been corrupt in her rule. Due process can take its course. What is most loathsome is that here we have a president toying with democracy at will and getting away with it.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona was on the right track when he appeared to be making his counteroffensive against Aquino’s impeachment moves by resorting to people power. That seemed to be the foreboding of the court holiday timed for the filing of impeachment charges against him. With the “Malaking Pamamahayag” attended by a mammoth throng of two million conducted by the Iglesia ni Kristo as the Corona impeachment trial was crescendoing to its climax, he seemed to enjoy the numbers, the “warm bodies” for a confrontation with Malacañang. Corona’s chief counsel, former Secretary of Justice Serafin Cuevas (now deceased) was a reputed INC member. And that day Corona was to take the stand at the impeachment trial certainly did have the looks of a D-Day. A noisy motorcade presaged his travel to the Senate, surely a prelude to something big. The moment he abruptly rose from the witness stand, that appeared to be it. But his intended walkout was aborted by Senate President Enrile’s timely order to close all exits from the Senate building. It became obvious, whatever was planned for the occasion just went pfft – at best delicious feed for an ever hungry social media.
So finally this piece comes to its final reckoning. Social media has grown to be such an enormously powerful medium and yet so easily reachable by all classes of the people that at an impulse it gives release to a spontaneous mass outpouring of emotions.
Outcries against such grievous events as government neglect of the Yolanda victims, the mishandling of the Zamboanga siege incident, the Napoles pork scam, the Mamasapano SAF 44 massacre, a lot more, no longer merited great mass street protests but simple posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
At a click of the computer mouse, you get to post all your rage without fear of being bashed or bludgeoned or arrested or imprisoned or tortured. So why bother about spilling out into the streets when you can do it from your armchairs, in the case of one, in the safety of the Netherlands?
In any case, the good old Tagalog adage applies: “Kung makukuha sa santong dasalan, bakit dadaanin pa sa santong paspasan.”
Years ago, a blogger friend from the United Kingdom wrote: “The revolution will be tweeted.” So very apt description of how revolutionaries do it in this generation.
But the country’s problem today is that we have a president who has bastardized democratic institutions, prostituted processes of the constitution, and executed a grand display of supreme callousness, apathy and arrogance toward the poverty and misery of the people.
How do you bring down such a despot? Facebook it? Twitter it? Youtube it? Instgram it?
Take it from Lenin. There is no substitute to warm bodies.