What do we do after the orgy?*

As we wake up to a series of price hikes, education budget cuts, ever-worsening corruption and human rights abuses, things begin to look a bit too much like an orgy.

The orgy in question was the euphoric moment when the messianic promise of change that came with the new Chief Executive captured our imaginations and held us captive.

Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s electoral campaign promised to follow the straight path. A number nostalgically associated Aquino’s image to the memory of his parents.

We were fed illusions of change which many desperately accepted after nine long years under the brutal, corrupt and abusive Arroyo regime.

Pseudoprogressive social democratic grouplets like Akbayan and the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) unashamedly carry this empty promise to deceive the unsuspecting.

This was the orgy, a grand and ecstatic spectacle that effectively blinded many from the unresolved controversies that undermined the new regime.

Unheeded Challenge

For our part, we iskolars ng bayan along with other critically-minded individuals and groups gave the new regime the benefit of the doubt.

During Aquino’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA), we mobilized to challenge his regime to prioritize the education sector and social services after decades of government neglect.

We also pushed for the scrapping of the Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) which was criticized by human rights groups as the blueprint behind the military’s perpetration of 1,208 extrajudicial killings and brutal violations of human rights under Arroyo.

We educated ourselves through discussions and forums, wrote manifestoes, held successful black shirt days and formed broad alliances to express our stand and unity.

From the start, we have pursued every avenue to put across our advocacy for real change. However, Aquino has recklessly driven full speed with his new Porsche along a crooked path.

The Crooked Road

Despite election promises of redistributing the Hacienda Luisita to the farmworkers, Aquino has keep mum on the issue once in power and instead he coddled the big landlords in his Kamag-anak, Inc.

After extending OBL for six months, Aquino has now unveiled the U.S. Counterinsurgency Guide-based Oplan Bayanihan which is practically a continuation but for the name.

Following the dictates of imperialist institutions of the Washington Consensus (International Monetary Fund-World Bank-World Trade Organization), the Aquino regime has slashed spending for education in particular and social services in general to pay more for onerous foreign debts. It pushed for the privatization of these social services under the rubric of “public-private partnerships” which makes the already impoverished people prey for big business profiteering.

Faced with our massive protest actions, the Aquino regime denied the budget cut in order to mislead and divide the opposition to its anti-people budget. This brazen lie redirected attention away from the regime’s increased spending for pork barrels, Private-Public Parternships (PPP), Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) dole outs, military expenditures, and foreign debt servicing.

Unmasking Aquino’s Reformism

Now that we are fast liberating ourselves from the euphoria of an individual messiah’s handing over national salvation to the people on a golden platter, we are confronted collectively by the question: what do we do after the orgy? What do we do now when the myth of “tunay na pagbabago” has been unmasked?

We seek a better understanding of the present social condition by situating the Aquino regime in a long history of struggle between the elite ruling classes and the ruled toiling masses.

The domination of foreign powers in the country’s economy, politics, and culture as well as the concentration of land, wealth, and power in the hands of a few ensures that the same anti-people policies will be implemented whoever is in power.

As long as this unjust system lingers, there can be no hope of a thoroughgoing change for the majority of the Filipino people no matter who sits in Malacañang.

So-called Change

These are the realities that the social democrats like Akbayan and SCAP seek to hide. They peddle vague promises of individual transformation and superficial solutions as an “alternative” in order to prevent us from waking up from the orgy. SCAP’s devious advocacy for a flawed Magna Carta for Students, for instance, is anchored on diverting the students from uniting to assert their rights and interests.

In practice, these so-called “reformists” are zealous protectors of the unjust status quo. They talk of “change” in order to distort objective social contradictions and preserve the privilege of the elites to inflict systematic violence and exploitation against the masses.

As these groups hide behind glittering slogans of reformism, they always serve the rotten system by posing obstructions against the awakening and the collective action of the masses.

For their services, the social democrats, like Etta Rosales (Commission on Human Rights), Joel Rocamora (National Anti-Poverty Commission), Rolando Llamas (Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs) and Dinky Soliman (Department of Social Welfare & Development), among others, have been awarded offices as prize for deodorizing the stench of the Aquino regime’s rotting acts and policies.

After the Orgy

With the continuous exposing of the falsehood of Aquino and the social democrat’s promises, we are left with no choice but to organize and mobilize in order to advance our rights and interests.

As our successful mass actions against the budget cuts last November and December 2010 have shown, our collective action and our linking arms with other sectors is a formidable force for achieving change.

This is the lesson of the massive youth protests during the First Quarter Storm of 1970 as well as the first and second EDSA uprisings that toppled Marcos in 1986 and Estrada in 2001.

This is the very same lesson that groups like Akbayan and SCAP obfuscate in order to keep us from getting over the orgy.

But as the hangover of the orgiastic euphoria over a false messiah retreats into the background, our challenge now lies in enacting the “festival of the oppressed” of a social transformation that will shake the foundations of a rotten ruling order. ■

* With apologies to Jean Baudrillard, “After the Orgy,” The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena, tr. James Benedict, London: Verso, 1993, p. 3-13

Note: Published as the Editorial of the January-February 2011 issue of Pagbutlak, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines Visayas College of Arts and Letters

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6 thoughts on “What do we do after the orgy?*

  1. JMS The Aquino regime is the latest of regimes servile to US imperialism .. The Aquino regime is fundamentally a continuation of the Arroyo regime.

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