While it is correct to say that a vote for Trillanes is not necessarily a pro-coup vote in the strictest sense-- a coup which means the overthrow of a government by a section of the state, often by a fragment of the repressive apparatus of the state, replacing high-level leaders without the explicit support of the people, however, it doesn't also automatically equate that a vote for Trillanes is not a vote for extra-constitutional change.
The man was undoubtedly a symbol--a symbol of a form of rebellion which can clearly disrupt and stir the seemingly managerial tranquility of the ruling clique, a symbol of change outside the parameters of "convenient and acceptable" social norms if not of ruling laws. Joker Arroyo, the self-styled "defender of the constitution" even branded him as the poster boy of rebellion. People know this and yet, they voted and even campaigned for him. Trillanes was therefore an innovative if not a revolutionary concept and idea in an otherwise dreary political life under the GMA regime. An idea which the people evidently understood and identified with.
This only proves that the people were not just simple admirers of his convictions and courage (or his good looks); the truth of the matter, they were clearly becoming more open in changing society outside the limited options of our capitalist democracy or what is being offered by our American-styled constitution. Trillanes without doubt symbolizes this.
In here, the role of the progressive movement must be examined. Will our movement pour cold water to the potential radicalizing sentiment of the populace by insisting on the "acceptable" and "legal" means of change within the scope of formal democracy? Will the progressive movement push the people back towards social myopia by saying that their acceptance or mere interest in a coup is a no, no and therefore all aspiration for change via the extra-constitutional track must be abandoned? Or is it the role of the left movement to lend much needed political clarity and direction by insisting on our own version of an extra-constitutional road for change--a change that is systemic, democratic, participatory and yet radical when all else fails within the bound of this current social model?
Why are we so afraid of a people-supported military coup? Is it not much better than a classic military coup devoid of any people participation and involvement reducing the people as mere passive audience and pawns? Or of a veto coup, suppressing the majority will of the people through violent means? Is a coup still a coup when it involves the participation and commitment of a fighting populace out to dislodge an illegitimate regime? Or is this just a matter of branding, the same way the powers-that be label a genuine people's revolution as terrorism when that revolution failed in its quest for state power. I wonder what we will be calling the February events if it succeeded. Do we honestly believe that there is a neutral army in the first place?
But for the sake of argument, if we do unite ourselves in disagreeing with a military coup, people-supported or not, then so be it! However, we should never close our doors to extra-constitutional change. Hindi lang naman kudeta ang kabuuan ng extra-constitutional frame even if Trillanes is associated with it.
The people who voted for Trillanes may not exactly agree with a kudeta but it doesn't mean they will not entertain other forms of radical change. Ito ang mas importante. What is important is that people are beginning to appreciate more the political logic and relevance of achieving change outside the parameters of elite democracy--a form of democracy which unfortunately never championed the interest of the exploited and marginalized.
But the question remains, if people are beginning to become open to radical change, then why is GMA still winning in the congressional and local government elections? Why is GMA seemingly succeeding in reducing the progressive PL groups to negligible presence?
My reply is; aren't we expecting too much from the people in this particular moment, our people who are heavily oriented if not still fascinated with the spectacle of trapo elections? Does it automatically mean that just because they cannot articulate or budge their desire for change in the elitist, confusing and truly limiting numbers game of congressional, PL and LGU elections that they do not want change at all outside the restriction of bourgeois democracy?
How do we truly account for the awful performance and people's distrust of Garci, Paquaio, the Josons, the Atienzas, Pineda and the showbiz-crap wannabe politicians epitomized by Richard Gomez and Cesar Montano? Are these not significant strides in the peoples' political maturity? Are we going to dismiss these exceptions from the dominant charade that characterized the 2007 Mid-term elections as ho-hum?
Lastly, this brings us to the subject of heroes. I don't believe our people are merely looking for heroes instead of clamoring or seeking fundamental reforms. I believe they direly thirst for both. Personally, heroes are like symbols. People give them power, relevance and legitimacy. Symbols and heroes, in and by themselves are deemed powerless, but with enough people behind it, these can radically change things.
If the symbol or a hero reflects the desire for fundamental reforms without resorting to uncritical admiration or hero-worship, then I guess there is nothing wrong with it.
As David Bowie puts it, "we can all be heroes".
May 26, 2007
"And I knew the meaning of it all
And I knew the distance to the sun
And I knew the echo that is love
And I knew the secrets in your spires
And I knew the emptiness of youth
And I knew the solitude of heart
And I knew the murmurs of the soul
And the world is drawn into your hands
And the world is etched upon your heart
And the world so hard to understand
Is the world you can't live without
And I knew the silence of the world".
-Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins