Why we can not & # 39; continue & # 39;

The children of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos – namely his namesake Ferdinand & # 39; Bongbong & # 39; Marcos Jr. and his eldest daughter Imee Marcos, whose respective political career has received a special impetus under the presidency of Duterte – have repeatedly admonished the critics of their father to stop wasting time talking about Marcos' martial law.

When the nation signed August 21, 1983, the murder of the late Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., Imee told the press: "The conflict between the Marcoses and the Aquinoes has happened a long time ago. long to hate, it's not our way, we just have to continue. "

Her brother, Bongbong, is buzzing for another forum: "The country faces so many problems, why are we going to waste time here?" It's over. "

Imee, who is the incumbent governor of Ilocos Norte, recently joined forces with the party of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. At the last Sona she was seen on stage and the election of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was celebrated as a home speaker. Bongbong, who ran for vice-president in 2016 and lost to Leni Robredo, asks the presidential electoral court to speed up the resolution of his electoral protest and declare him the true winner in the vice-presidential race. Their mother, Imelda Marcos, is in the House of Representatives as representative of Ilocos Norte, a living relic of faded glory. Even if Bongbong waits to be proclaimed vice president, President Duterte has chosen him as his ideal successor.

The martial law regime was overthrown in 1986. The patriarch is dead. No Marcos is in prison. Most of the wealth of the family is intact. It is clear that the descendants of the Marcos family have all gone further. So why can not the rest of the country stop talking about the crimes committed by the state of siege? Why can not we "move on"? Why do we remember that?

The reasons are many, but in the absence of space we can only mention two of them. Firstly, because the clash between remembering and forgetting can not be reduced to a feud between the Marcoses and the Aquinos. The issue is between a repressive regime that benefited from the desire of the people for a better life, and a nation that set its hopes on the charisma and political will of a strong man. The main conflict is between dictatorship as a form of rule and the feasibility of democratic governance in a young nation like ours.

Secondly, we can not go any further because dictatorship is not something of the past. It still remains alive, feeding on the desperation and resentment of a gullible audience. It thrives on every area of ​​modern governance where the astonishing complexity of social problems does not permit easy solutions and where the exercise of authoritarian political will takes the place of a reflective and rational planning.

In a clever essay from 1995 entitled "Ur-fascism", the Italian novelist and public commentator Umberto Eco warned that the defeat of German Nazism and Italian fascism did not necessarily eradicate the conditions they made possible. These include "a way of thinking and feeling, a group of cultural habits, of dark instincts and unfathomable urges."

They also take the form of "language habits" or general phrases that surround reality for many people. I would like to mention examples of our own empirical statements such as: "All politicians are corrupt"; "Filipinos are lazy and stubborn, they need someone who can impose discipline"; and "Government officials lack competence, integrity and political will."

In view of the fact that such statements never go out of fashion, Fascism becomes completely possible again under various forms. All that is needed, writes Eco, is that a whole system of rules & # 39; solidifies & # 39; around one of the following characteristics or elements: the cult of tradition, the rejection of modernism, the cult of action for the sake of action, intolerance of disagreement, fear of difference, the appeal to a frustrated middle class, obsession with conspiracies, the exploitation of feelings of envy and humiliation, "an Armageddon complex", a disdain for the weak, "the cult of death", "machismo," "selective populism"; and an impoverished vocabulary.

Depending on which of these elements are emphasized, fascist regimes can take many forms. Eco says Hitler & # 39; s Nazism was very different from Mussolini's fascism. The first had a well articulated program and philosophy based on the delusions of a superior Aryan race and a German will. The latter was a jumble of contradictory themes & # 39; s held together by a charismatic leader.

In the same way one can say that the authoritarianism of Marcos was very different from that of Duterte. Marcos had a long look at his place in the history of the nation and a broad program of what he wanted to achieve, while Duterte can not go beyond his war on drugs and crime.

But what binds them is the easy recourse to the means of state violence they share – to a point where both actions seem to compare with the ability to make and maintain decisions, where fear and intimidation are the preferred weapon. Many have died and many have suffered because of the self-righteousness with which state violence has been used.

"What else do you want?" The young Marcos asks those who choose not to forget. Here is Eco's answer: "When reconciliation means compassion and respect for all who have fought their own war in good faith, forgiveness does not mean you forget it. [B]I can not say: "Okay, come back and do it again." We are here to remember what has happened and solemnly say that & # 39; She & # 39; do not have to do it again. & # 39;

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