Thursday, July 27, 2006

Constitutionalising 'Authoritarian Liberalism': The Political Economy of the Charter Change Now Agenda

The Political Economy of the Charter Change Now Agenda

(Full text at Bonn's blog,

A deeper logic underlies the Charter Change Now agenda. It is the logic of providing the fundamental institutional framework, with constitutional effect, that would guarantee the global and domestic rights of capital. At the heart of the project is to constitutionalise 'authoritarian liberalism' as the de facto state form that promotes a (neo)liberal economy in an authoritarian political framework....

GMA's Head-in-the-sand Politics

Gloria's Irrational Exuberance, Palliative Economics

Governance in a Neo-liberal World

Market-led Development Through Market-driven Social Relations
[a] 'Market! Market!': The Institutionalisation of Capitalist Ethos
[b] The Neo-liberal Offensive: An Ideological Assault to the Workers
[c] Neo-classical Economics Redux, Neo-liberal Policies Institutionalised
[d] A Project for Capitalist Modernisation

A Strong Republic, But Not Democratic
[a] Public Sector Reform for and with Markets
[b] Parliament for Markets
[c] Republicanism Against Democracy


The Consultative Commission's proposed Constitution must be given the seriousness it deserves. It may be harder to reveal than to conceal the exploitative nature and the opportunistic character of GMA's Charter Change agenda, or even to capture it in theory. But the overarching idea of the agenda is already spelled out in the reamble: that the sovereign Filipino people are to ordain and promulgate a Constitution not anymore 'to build a just and humane society' but simply 'to establish a Government that shall embody our ideals'.

The proposed Charter targets to reverse the 1987 Constitution, which forces of elitism and capitalism regard as a burden and threat to their hegemony. The project aims to get legitimacy for the great transformation it seeks to institutionalise for the Philippine society, one that would guarantee the right of the market forces to be
the sole director of the fate of human lives. The proponents are brazen and unapologetic about their capitalist and elitist stance.

This could have not been done in most European and Latin American states where neo-liberal projects must in the first instance be embellished with 'populist' appeal because the project that would put life in the market, hence the corruption of life in its entirety, hardly gets legitimacy from the people. As always, the structural
condition upon which the incumbent regime depends its survival is through its brazen promotion of chronic mendacity. In this case, the mendacity that Charter Change is panacea for social ills. To constitutionalise requires constitutional lies.

The Charter Change agenda is indeed overly ambitious, seeking a kind of social change that simultaneously and systematically restructures the political, the economic, and the cultural spheres to catch up with capitalist development. But it is real. This is not an easy task especially under the auspices of an elite political class like GMA
whose economics ends when her politics begins.

GMA's regime uses the Charter Change project as a response to the crisis of the political system. While her critics think that the political system as a whole is in crisis and that a systemic change is most urgently needed, GMA only regards it as a crisis of her popularity and that an alternative is still available within the system. But whichever way one may regard the crisis – systemic, institutional, or popularity – GMA exerts every effort to make the crisis functional to her as well as to the entire elite system. With her disruption and indeed 'creative destruction' of the failing 'EDSA institutions', GMA is doing a favour to both the capitalist and
elitist systems.

All social institutions are to be oriented toward the survival of GMA's regime in particular, and the preservation of elite rule and capitalism in general. GMA may leave her post soon but she is making sure that the neo-liberal institutions and its associated elitist institutions are in place.

The proponents of Charter Change are even using state power, resources, and institutions to shape the will of the multitude, rather than the latter shaping the former. Hence, the Charter Change agenda constitutes the reconfiguration of new institutions that are more likely, and could better, secure the conditions for elite and capitalist reproduction in the Philippines.

But the Charter Change project at the present conjuncture offers an imperfect response to the burgeoning crisis of the system. Even if the proposed Constitution is to be ratified – either through by-pass of existing institutional procedures or through successful deceptive campaigns among the Filipino electorate – neo-liberalism in a framework of a strong republic is inherently unstable and crisis-ridden.

The reorientation of capitalist reproduction through the promotion of competitive capitalism on a national scale and the preservation of elite reproduction through a shift to parliamentary form of government at this time would not only perpetually reproduce capitalism and elitism in the Philippine society. Above all, they will
generate the reproduction of social antagonisms across the Philippine geography.

These are social antagonisms directly resulting from the heartless assault to democracy, the workers, and the masses constitutive in the proposed Constitution. These are social antagonisms that spring from the very logic of 'authoritarian
liberalism' itself.

The Charter Change Now project is to be confronted head-on by a democratic will to power. To be for democracy. To be for the workers. To be for the masses.

1 comment:

newloghere said...

Keep up the good work. thnx!