Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Question of Legitimacy

I've been planning to write about the question on the legitimacy of the Arroyo administration. Fortunately, the martian beat me to it. My efforts would not be as readable or enlightening as his. I have not even thought of Gramsci.
"I believe it was Antonio Gramsci who dissected state power into two basic components: the ideological and the repressive aspects. In quite simple terms, the state inspires allegiance and obedience from people either by convincing them about its legitimacy and the righteousness of its actions, or by threats or the actual use of force. Institutions, like the family, the schools, the media, and religion, have a large role to play in legitimizing state power by molding us into "good citizens", convincing us not to get involved with state affairs, or by simply doing nothing to interfere with the state's business. In "normal" times, threats to use force or even "mild" force are enough to make people obey laws and are therefore much evident in our daily lives.

Now here's the interesting part. Gramsci's theory tells us that when the ideological processes of the state lose their efficacy, it is compelled more and more to rely on its repressive instrument. It replaces the carrot with a stick, so to speak, to make recalcitrants dance to its tune. Thus, if people continue raising questions regarding the credibility of the last elections and the legitimacy of the country's elected leaders, despite the President's admission on national television of "lapses in good judgement" in talking to an election official at the height of the counting of votes and her assertions that this act does not constitute cheating, the government is forced to employ measures that are more drastic than harassing or maligning some of the supposed witnesses in the case. And with persisting rumors of coups or military personnel switching over to the other side, the government declares a state of national emergency."
Check the complete post here.

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