Monday, October 23, 2017

Dutertism: Imperial Economics Collide With Post-Imperial Politics


Counterpunch |  History may have come to an embarrassing end in the centres of the Empire but not in it’s remote regions. As the great Egyptian analyst Samir Amin points out in a recent Monthly Review essay: it is in the periphery of the global system where the great political and social storms occur.

Why? Because history is still fluid there. The battle for and against the transformation of the system still resonates there. Whereas the stagnant centres of the system are dealing with the pathetic aftermath of modernity – on the edges: modernity is still being born and still being strangled.

In other words, the weakest links in the global chain of capitalism best reveal what the hell is going on. And what’s going to happen next. Therefore if you want to gauge the system forget about New York or London or Paris and head to places like the Philippines.

Before Rodrigo Duterte was elected Filipino President last year no one gave a damn about the country. It was just assumed to be an American puppet. Another one that is full of poverty. But overnight this perception changed. A significant political storm emerged from within the Filipino archipelago that forced the world to adjust its vision.

Within days of Duterte’s election the Empire was forced on the back foot, as he insisted on Filipino sovereignty. Ironically he did this by acknowledging China’s position in the South China Sea. Refusing to take the American bait (war on China) the new President of the Philippines quickly defused one of the world’s most dangerous confrontations.

For this diplomacy alone, Duterte deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. However the Empire and even some Filipino progressives, like Walden Bello, were frustrated by this outbreak of peace in the South China Sea.

For committing “the crime of peace” on the international stage Duterte became a figure of hate for liberal imperialists everywhere. And on cue, liberals suddenly cared about life in the Philippines. From being an ignored entity before the advent of Duterte – Filipino life became front page news in New York, London and Paris. Liberal cynicism went into overdrive and felt the need, for geopolitical reasons, to demonise yet another Third World leader.