Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Blaming the Victim

Mr. Ike Eslao of Santa Rosa , Laguna wrote to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He was giving his opinion on why our society
"drifts from one tyranny to another."
His answer is because
"Our society with its system of patronage and mendicancy is the generator of a steady supply of tyrants. We fail to look inside out and see that these leaders are a mere reflection of our own incompetence in self-management and our low self-esteem as a people with pre-set ideas on how power should be dispensed. For as long as the gene pool is that of jackasses, one cannot expect to breed winning racehorses."
Inother words, he is saying that we deserve the leaders that we get. And this is just blaming the victim.

No Filipino I know has ever gone to the polls thinking, I would like to vote for somebody who will violate my rights and oppress me. If you think about it, except for the present administration, Filipinos have invariably gone to the polls and voted for change. Cory Aquino won against Marcos, Fidel Ramos won because he projected a non-trapo image, Erap Estrada won because he was the opposite of the establishment. If we believe the opposition, Filipinos voted against the continuation of the present administration*.

To say that our society is to blame for producing tyrannical leaders leads to the conclusion that there is no hope for the country. If our society only produces tyrannical leaders, how can we now produce good leaders? Mr. Eslao's answer will be for our country to produce
active, independent, critical thinking society. But how do you produce these people? Will these people spontaneously appear to save our society from mendicancy? But how can they if our society only produces tyrannical leaders? And so on.

We cannot lay the responsibility for our present situation on our society, the blame should be placed squarely on the people who promised leadership and delivered nothing. Placing the blame on society only gives this people an excuse.

*The opposite conclusion can also be drawn, that Arroyo won as a reaction to the return of an Estrada or Estrada influenced government.


Mark said...

Pathology (from Greek pathos, feeling, pain, suffering; and logos, study of; see also -ology) is the study of the processes underlying disease and other forms of illness, harmful abnormality, or dysfunction. Within biology, it means specifically the study of the structural and functional changes in cells, tissues and organs that underlie disease. When the disease is traced to unsanitary practices of the patient, one is not blaming the patient but is necessary to help him him to avoid such. When the pathology of tyranny points to our underlying incapacity to break the cycle of ignorance and poor self-governance I guess the article is only exposing the root cause, not blaming. Incidentally, taking responsibility of one's predicament is a mark of a well-adjusted personality. The opposite is true if one simply blames others for one's misfortunes. So analysing the pathology of tyranny is not necessarily blaming the victim but instead helping our national consciousness wrestle its own demon.

roy choco said...

Hi Mark,

Thank you sa comment, I have not thought of this form the perspective of pathology.

But I think your analogy fails because history has proved that Filipinos have produced honest and great leaders: Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Manuel Quezon, Claro M. Recto, Raul Roco, etc.

So the cycle of ignorance and poor self-governance is not unbreakable.

My problem with this kind of thinking is that it precisely let the incompetent leaders off. The problem is in the culture so the corrupt leaders are a product of the culture, so they cannot be blamed for being corrupt.

This is cyclical thinking, where do you then begin to solve the problem?

Mark said...

I'm not also for letting the failed leaders off the hook. Far from that. Perhaps what you wanted to say was "circular reasoning" not "cyclical thinking". A circular reasoning is a fallacy in the sense that it uses the very word that it is supposed to define. In the case of our failed leaders, they are the result of the inability of the governed to take control of their future by changing their concept of governance and not relying on the good graces from the leaders they elected. (Messianic complex). The decision to change the people's concept of gevernance is the point of departure where change will start to happen. The ability to break from the cycle is actually the break from a circular reasoning here. So blaming the leader is actually a circular thinking, not the other way around.

roy choco said...

Yes of course, I meant circular thinking, not cyclical.

You said "The decision to change the people's concept of governance is the point of departure where change will start to happen"

But who will change the people's concept of governance? If you argue that our leaders are corrupt because of our corrupt culture how can the corrupt leaders change the people's concept of governance? Will they even have the motivation to do this?

If you say that the people themselves will change their concept of governance, then you are acknowledging that corruption is not a cultural problem because the culture is changing itself. If the culture is changing itself, then you would have to agree that there are elements inside the culture that do not support corruption. And if there are elements inside the culture that do not support corruption, then we cannot entirely blame the culture for producing our corrupt leaders.

The point that I am trying to make is that we should not ascribe to our situation a "root" cause. Root causes can be beguiling because it simplifies the situation.

What is our problem? Our culture. What is the answer? Change the culture. Simple di ba? Pero ganon ba talaga kasimple yon?

Anonymous said...

It's been a few weeks. It's Mark here. I forgot my password.
Anyway think of this: 1. If the problem is just our leaders then we should have replaced them with good ones by now.
2. If the problem is the people who produce these leaders, then we keep on putting bad leaders and tyrants one after the other, which is what's actually happening now.
3. Since we can only have one tyrant after another, ergo the problem must be with the people who continue to produce such tyrants.
4. Since such people find it hard to accept this problem, they blame the leaders that issue from their own loins and behave as victims of their own choices. They refuse to be blamed by behaving as the victims because they think no one is supposed to blame the victim.

roy choco said...

Hi Mark,

Sorry for the late reply.

As I explained in my post, Filipinos have invariably voted against the status quo (at least in the national level). No, Filipino President has been re-elected since the post war period except for FM. And if you believe the stories, FM would not have been re-elected if he did not engage in massive cheating. The cases for Aquino, Ramos, Erap and GMA I have explained in my post.

My conclusion from this fact is that Filipinos do desire good governance and have always voted for good governance. The fact that most of the elected leaders do not live up to expectations is not their fault.

So your first premise is already fallacious, we have time and again replaced bad leaders. And we have had pretty decent leaders (Quezon, Laurel, Magsaysay, Aquino, Ramos), so your whole argument falls.

Anonymous said...

Mark agin here.
1. In your reasoning you stated we " have always voted for good governance. The fact that most of the elected leaders do not live up to expectations is not their fault."
Ergo we replaced them with just about the same kind of failures. - Which is what I said to begin with. As such where is the fallacy?
2. But saying that we have always voted for good governance is not factual. When we voted for actors, gamblers, rapists, coup plotters, kidnappers, it stretches my imagination and your argument too far.
I'd rather stick to my 'fallacy' than ride on a wrong appreciation of facts.

roy choco said...

Hi Mark

The problem with your assumption, "that the Philippines have not produced any good leader" and the reason it is fallacious is that any counter example of a good leader will disprove it.

In my reply, I have provided some names of people I consider "pretty decent" former Presidents. In another post I provide names of people I consider as honest politicians.

I don't know about you but I am not ready to give up on the Philippines.

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