Friday, February 15, 2008

When old men call for revolution.

About three years ago the writer and Magsaysay laureate Frankie Sionil Jose (of Rosales novels fame) gave a speech at the UP College of Arts and Letters in which he called for revolution. Sionil-Jose's lecture has been published as an essay entitled " Revolution and the University of the Philippines" Today former UP prez and now Prof Emeritus Dodong Nemenzo (of academic research in the Pen with the Trillanes fame) called for the same thing in his UP centennial lecture.

There is something interesting when our greybeards (ooops that's a term used in England for eminent old men!) or grey balding heads (that's the better adjectival phrase!) call for revolution. No one in their sane minds would accuse the two men of being naive, hopelessly idealistic or lacking in wisdom. So we have to incline our ears.

Both Sionil- Jose and Nemenzo have the thesis that the revolution that will lop off the ruling corrupt elite together with the social system that breeds them is necessary if not inevitable. But while Sionil-Jose would like that someone from the universities will lead the Revolution, Nemenzo has pinned his hopes with Magdalo and the Trillanes. Sionil-Jose and Nemenzo however agree that the army may have to be in the vanguard of the change.

Let me comment on this. While Nemenzo says that Trillanes and company have become radicalized, I don't think that Trillanes and company will succeed however radicalized they have become. They are but a product of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) mistah culture. PMA cadets lack enough liberal education background that will enable them to weigh,consider and eventually create the ideology for revolution . They need that to consolidate the revolution. Sionil-Jose may be right. The revolutionaries should come from the universities.

Lenin came from Law School. Trotsky came from a German college. Stalin came from the Catholic Seminary! Nemenzo left seminary so he says.

The leaders of the Russian Revolution from Kerensky to Lenin were from the universities and had some form of citizen's military training. It was not the professional officer corps that made the armed component of the revolution succeed but citizen soldiers.

So I think Nemenzo has given up on the UP as the seedbed for revolutionaries. When I heard some of the questions of weblinked audiences from the various UP campuses nationwide, I have to agree. The questions lacked ideological punch and this really had Dodong irritated.

Dodong and Frankie agree that new technologies can be the tool that will make the revolution succeed.

Too bad I never had Dodong as a professor. I would have liked to debate with him on why Marxism is a flop since it never took Darwinian concepts seriously.

And speaking of flops, Marxism and it's variants like the ideology of the Man from Utrecht are truly flops according to Sionil-Jose. Our hope lies in having our own brand of ideology.

And the closest we have was none other than the ideology created by the Great Apo Ferdinand of Batac!

Reading about his New Society tracts, if the Steel Butterfly had been swatted early on (figuratively of course!) then this Ferdinandist revolution could have succeeded in reforming Philippine society.

The Ferdinandist revolution had an ideology. We couldn't say that of the Coryist one. The Sainted Cory had a revolutionary government but without a clear ideology. Nemenzo says that it just brought back the oligarchy. Nemenzo uses media as an example of how this oligarchy has sustained the corrupt system we have.

FYI, the Great Apo is the greatest alum of the University of the Philippines High School, the University of the Philippines College of Liberal Arts and the University of the Philippines College of Law.

The Saint Cory on the other hand never attended the UP.

Need I say more?

It's no use to ponder on "what ifs?" when Revolutions are the craze.

So the question is what kind of Revolution?

Sionil-Jose and Nemenzo leave that to us.

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