I do not have a confession to make. Or rather, I will derive a confession from a not-too-personal or catchy subject—my current reading. The past days I have been getting a slight fever—not a yellow one—reading Borges. Thankfully, it does not feel like a disease yet. There is no need yet for incubation for me to recover. Back to Borges, there was a rumor that he has “a certain distance towards both ‘Nazism’ and ‘dialectical materialism’ based from his “notorious” Postscript to the story “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.” He lumped together the two as having “symmetry with a semblance of order” (17), a symmetry that will soon be debunked. Decades later, Borges’ indiscriminate juxtaposition of Right-wing and Left-wing tendencies in the political sphere will be echoed by a seemingly insincere but actually very fitting apologist of liberal democracy.
The Left and Right as Authoritarian and Liberal Democracy as the Prettiest Choice
Duterte’s rise to the presidency has put liberal democracy on the defensive. With his main projects such as the War on Drugs, his favorable take on ex-dictator Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and even his own pronouncements, Duterte has been tagged as a closet champion of dictatorship and hence a top enemy of liberal democracy.
His ‘alliance’ with the National Democratic (ND) Movement, stalwarts of the Philippine Left, is similarly used by liberal democrats, as Claudio did in this article, to decry Duterte’s regime. Others such as CJ Chanco make mention of that alliance in order to question the stance of—or more optimistically, rouse— the Left.
While Chanco is at least less sweeping in picturing what he sees as the ‘ironic’ alliance between Duterte and the Left—he spoke of the latter being “at once at the fore of the struggle against authoritarianism” but also of its “refus[al] to break away from Duterte even after his endorsement of Marcos’ hero’s burial”—Claudio is just plain lazy, perhaps all too typically liberal. By pointing out the ongoing peace talks between Duterte’s administration and the Left, Chanco depicts them in negotiation mode. On the contrary, Claudio collapses the two, speaking of “hard-headed Dutertians and their communist allies” without delving into the bases, and more vitally, the limits of such alliance.
The Lazy and Obfuscating Rhetoric of Liberalism
Aside from his oversimplification, what sap Leloy’s arguments is his selective silences. In talking about the Hacienda Luisita, a salient smear on the Aquino legacy, he only speaks of PNoy’s “inaction.” Why was there no mention of the equally bloody Hacienda Luisita Massacre?
Again, unsurprising is the way Claudio upholds the liberal rhetoric. At the same time that he likens Dutertians to communists, he distances himself and tacitly proclaims himself as better. He is “comfortable with changing [his] mind,” he is not “hard-headed.” This paves the way for his final sweep of grandeur and supremacy: he declaims pride in being a “yellowtard,” he prizes change, a “slow” one–obviously one that prizes “due process” and likely blind to the crookedness of the mechanisms of such process—not like Duterte’s bloody version. Finally, as a proud yellowtard, he licks “basic democracy” and “basic decency” before attaching these to himself.
Against the bloody, the autocratic and the oppressive options that is the political Right represented by Duterte and the Left embodied by the ND Movement, Claudio heralds liberal democracy as the lesser evil. (Maybe to his credit or just another index of the weakness of his arguments, Claudio also sees faults in PNoy’s (Benigno Aquino’s) administration, the most recent exponent (and quite literally) of liberal politics: “While PNoy was, indeed, elite, and while the inaction in Hacienda Luisita was elitist (reflective of the broader cowardice of Aquino’s Department of Agrarian Reform under the pygmy Gil de los Reyes), there is nothing more elitist than a drug war that systematically targets the poor”). But how exactly does he account for the “evils” of the previous liberal administration?
Aside from his oversimplification, what sap Leloy’s arguments is his selective silences. In talking about the Hacienda Luisita, a salient smear on the Aquino legacy, he only speaks of PNoy’s “inaction.” Why was there no mention of the equally bloody Hacienda Luisita Massacre? Why is there no mention of the Massacre which undeniably exemplifies the “basic democracy” and “basic decency” Leloy was gaga about?
Look at this video which documents the massacre of the farmers by the Cojuangcos. What a very decent thing to do.
So, no, do not be a proud yellowtard like Leloy. Do not fall into that gimmick of claiming a derogatory tag and employing it as an empowering appellation. Do not be a yellowtard at all. Do not be a yellowtard because for it, basic democracy means relying on institutions we all know have long been corrupted, even irreparable in itself, and basic decency means killing farmers who simply want a more humane compensation than the P9.50/day (in some cases, per week) they were getting.
 Days ago, a news article about the formation of a Kabataan Partylist (KPL) Katipunan Chapter in Ateneo published by the school’s student publication came out. In the article, Leloy was quoted as saying that “KPL endorses the perspective of CPP” which is not different from the typical act of branding progressive organization as communist fronts. When this article was widely shared by my friends in Facebook, I chanced upon a comment by Sir Kenneth Guda. He said something like, As a liberal, Leloy should be welcoming the entry of KPL Katipunan in “the marketplace of ideas” (or politics?) instead of condemning it. At first glance, Guda’s comment hits the spot; nothing else can be said. But I hazard to add, taking off from his comment: Do we not see in Leloy’s seeming betrayal of the liberal ideology (free competition, marketplace of ideas) the exact captivation of this ideology? Liberal ideology does not really welcome and embrace all. It only welcomes and embraces what attunes with and reinforces it at the most and what is harmless to it at the least. Liberal ideology as a free-for-all ideology is a sham; it is also oppressive. And the fact that it hides its shunning of certain things makes it the most oppressive of ideologies.