- NOTE: I originally posted parts of this as a Facebook note.
A Facebooker named Bryan Gabriel, who described himself as an International Trade Law and Economics student at Busan National University in South Korea, posted a Facebook note titled“The Philippines a Fooled Nation”. Interestingly, Mr. Gabriel’s post was able to draw– or fool– thousands of Facebook ‘likers’ and supporters.
While I strongly agree with the mini-article’s title (that we are a fooled nation), I strongly disagree with its premise, unsupported assertions and content. Yes, we are a fooleld nation that’s why we allowed the passage of a protectionist, oligarchic, fascistic Charter in 1986, which I think is the biggest scam ever played on the Filipino people. This political document, described by its statist adherents as a historic social contract, is actually an insult to the intelligence of some Filipino citizens who understand and value reason and individualism.
We are a fooled nation, Gabriel claims. By whom? His article says: by the West and by the Wall Street people who feared our late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. According to him, some unidentified people of the “West” had to “stop” Marcos because they were afraid our country “will take over Wall Street”. At the end of the day these unnamed people won, as the 21-year long Marcosian dictatorship was peacefully overthrown in 1986, and because of this we didn’t live happily ever after. I am not making this up. It’s here… read it.
Here let me tackle some of Mr. Gabriel’s fallacious, utterly erroneous assertions.
Gabriel: “Professor once said that one of the economic models of East Asia as well as the South during the post war era particularly in the 1960’s are based on Japan and the Philippines. He added that the Philippines is one of the richest nations next to Japan in that time and also once envied.”
Did his professor explain to him why the Philippines was somehow economically stable in the 1960s? Obviously no.
Gabriel: “What struck me the most is when my professor asked me, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR COUNTRY?”
That’s a very good question. However Mr. Gabriel’s article shows his answer is full of conspiracy theories.
Gabriel: “I know Marcos cared for his country a lot that he wanted to put it on the map.”
Yes, every misguided nationalist in the past century “loved” his own country. Hitler, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Mao Tse Tung, Benito Mussolini, Polpot, and many other uber-nationalist tyrants “loved” their nations that they did not only ‘put them on the map’; they either led their nation to war or to a state of self-inflicted poverty and famine.
“Love of country”… that 20th century tribal invention. Misguided nationalism should be considered immoral, evil and impractical if it is based on flawed ideologies or philosophies. Nationalism without individual rights is bogus! It is, by definition, dictatorship.
Inward, ethnocentric nationalism is a form of tribalism. In the not-so-distant past, tribes fought with each other to keep and preserve their primitive traditions, culture and tribal practices. Each tribe thought it was superior to others, so each preserved its own backward, irrational culture and traditions ruthlessly, violently. The tribal leaders rejected outsiders and considered their subjects as property of the whole tribe.
The uber-nationalists of the past century were all modern-day tribalists. But they introduced a more improved tribalist scheme, as they replaced the tribe or the tribal leadership with the State. Under the role of the 20th century tribalists the State became the all-powerful, omnipotent entity that owned the lives and property of all its subjects. This new revered god or deity– the State– became the voice of the people, and the most crooked, the most corrupt tribalist who managed to amass political power, either by vote or by force, became the State.
The will of the people? That’s a puerile fantasy. Under any form of dictatorship– whether it be socialism, fascism, or welfare statism– the will of the people is simply the will of the Dictator.
Gabriel: “He even bought properties at Wall Street at that time because he wanted the Philippines to be known and dominate the world market.”
But did Marcos use his own money? Seriously, does this guy really believe Marcos was the State? It’s like he’s saying the State had a shopping spree in New York and the purpose is to buy ‘global dominance’. Does this economics student really think it’s that easy to purchase market or economic dominance? By simply going to New York and buy things? Anyone who did that before 2008 would have seen his lifetime investment quickly devoured by the housing crisis!
In the real world, there’s this modern-day tribalist that actually did just that. This man, who has 18 doctorates, believed he could suspend the law of supply and demand and of economics. So, he printed tons and tons of paper money to ‘buy’ wealth. Instead of creating wealth out of nothing, the man’s voodoo tricks caused hyper-inflation that wiped out the savings of his subjects. This guy’s name is Robert Mugabe, the People’s Dictator of Zimbabwe.
Gabriel: “He also initiated a group of powerful south East Asian nations (SEATO) and is believed to have been headed by the Philippines and some countries to strengthen their economic relations further which is also one of the models of economic integrations (G2, G3,G7, ASEAN, and so on) these days.”
Oh my! A lot of dictators do that. And he also gave “free” condoms and candies to the poor?
Gabriel: “Another international diplomatic accomplishment of Mr. Marcos was the joint effort of Japan and the Philippines to form the Asian Development Bank in 1966 with headquarter in Mandaluyong.”
So? What’s the point?
Gabriel: “Some say that it somewhat became just like the world bank of Asia and its sole purpose is to give foreign aid to poor countries at that time.”
Give foreign aid? At whose expense? Does he really think one can simply create money out of out thin air?
Gabriel: “Unfortunately, the Philippines is the ones receiving aid nowadays.”
Yes, unfortunately you don’t even know that aid came from America’s taxpayers, comrade!
Gabriel: “For me, I think Marcos is the best president the Philippines ever had.”
That’s what you think. I respect your opinion.
Gabriel: “During his time the economy was at its peak, unemployment was low, peso against the dollar was at its lowest, poverty rate is not that high (compared today), in short the Philippines was at its finest.”
Did our history start during Marcos’s time? Did he actually consider that would not have been possible without America’s help and trade partnership?
Gabriel: “But, not until the West came to realize that the Philippines will grow strong and powerful as time goes.”
Holy Gangnam Style!
Gabriel: “Some say they were afraid it will take over the Wall Street as it already started buying properties and putting up state owned investment firms on its soil. One, thing is for sure, that they should stop this.”
Wait! I don’t think the guy understood what he just typed.
“For me, I think Marcos is the best president the Philippines ever had. During his time the economy was at its peak, unemployment was low, peso against the dollar was at its lowest, poverty rate is not that high (compared today), in short the Philippines was at its finest. But, not until the West came to realize that the Philippines will grow strong and powerful as time goes. Some say they were afraid it will take over the Wall Street as it already started buying properties and putting up state owned investment firms on its soil. One, thing is for sure, that they should stop this. Then it all began. They had their plan of destroying Marcos’ reputation and putting him down using the media and some manipulated social and political entities whose dark aim is to privatize Mr Marcos’ nationalistic legacies. The sad part is they succeeded.”
I think Mr. Gabriel is just another ‘fooled’ Marxist-sounding conspiracy theorist.
The guy clearly has an externalist view on what went wrong after Marcos. So, it’s the West or America’s fault again. What this schooled prospective academic doesn’t know is that the Failippines was slightly economically freer from 1950s to 1970s.
The main reason why we were somehow economically stable before and during Marcos time is two-fold:
1. USA was our main trading partner in Asia. But this trade partnership ended in 1974 when Marcos allowed the expiration of the Bell Trade Act that guaranteed the parity rights policy, which gave the Americans equal ‘economic rights’ in the country. We had Parity Rights because our protectionist 1935 and 1972 Charters protected our local cronies and oligarchs against foreign competition.
2. Due to the Parity Rights policy and America’s economic influence, the Failippines was, in effect, one of the freest economies in Asia before and during the Marcosian era. During those years (1960s), South Korea, with the help of America (both economic aid and political support), started reforms.
But what went wrong? We retained our protectionist policies. And this is why I’m no Marcos fan or loyalist… Despite having control of both the rubber stamp Congress and the military, he didn’t exert any political effort to embrace radical economic reforms. First, he allowed the Parity Rights to expire. Second, his 1972 Charter maintained our protectionism, 60-40 law, and oligarchic policies.
What went right in South Korea? The S. Koreans chose a different path… A radical path. Instead of limiting foreign investment and participation, SK opened its economy to American, Japanese and foreign investors. Although it maintains a Chaebol system, a form of protectionism, the SK government was forced to reform or restructure it. Kia Motor’s bankruptcy revealed the flaws of SK’s protectionist Chaebol system. The SK government allowed foreign auto giants to take part in the country’s auto industry.
As to the urban legend and conspiracy theory that Wall Street took down Marcos because he was leading RP toward absolute economic success. That’s plain BULLSHIT!!! He should stop reading too much Noam Chomsky. No nation has ever achieved economic success through protectionism. Even China had to open its economy to foreign investors. In fact China is economically FREER than RP. This country was like a ticking time bomb during and after Marcos’s time. It was destined to be TAKEN OVER by its economically FREER and MORE OPEN neighbors like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and China.
But let’s just assume that schooled future academic’s Wall Street-Marcos conspiracy theory is correct. The question is, why did the “West” or America allow South Korea to be an economic power in Asia? The truth is, had Marcos remained in power and had nature allowed him to live 20 more years, his protectionism and fascist policies would not have equaled South Korea’s economic achievement. Today Korea is the 34th freest economy on earth. We are 97th…
Furthermore, Mr. Gabriel’s anti-American rhetoric is ironically belied by the fact that South Korea is one of the biggest- if not the biggest- recipients of America’s foreign/economic aid in Asia. Is he trying to argue that the “West” got rid of Marcos because of RP’s inevitable economic rise that could have rivaled Wall Street (the world’s financial hub) only to replace him with a new economic tiger South Korea?
If the “West” really feared new competition, then why it didn’t get rid of London, Hong Kong and Shanghai? I mentioned these places because these are the world’s biggest FINANCIAL CENTERS. And since the term “Wall Street” popped out in his article I assumed the “West” was bent on getting rid of potential rivals in the global financial market. Plus, how can the Failippines become a financial center (I’m using its TECHNICAL meaning) with its protectionism? Some of the obvious characteristics of Financial Centers include openness to trade and investment, high degree of economic freedom, strong financial industry, minimal regulations… This is why Hong Kong is Asia’s biggest financial center…
Who’s the biggest fool? I think it’s the author himself.