A assessment of Joel Rocamora’s ‘Unimaginable is Not So Simple: A Life in Politics’


Let me begin with the title – Unimaginable shouldn’t be really easy: A life in politics. I believe it’s a useless giveaway that the e-book’s writer is Joel Rocamora. The phrases are very elegantly laid out. Unimaginable shouldn’t be really easy. Very elegant. But mapapaisip ang reader: Ano {raw}? Ano {raw} sabi? Unimaginable shouldn’t be really easy? Ano ‘yun? Paano ‘yun?

I believe the title is a good match not only for Joel’s elegant prose (this magnificence, by the best way, is obvious in all of the pages of the e-book). It’s also a match for Joel’s politics, i.e a politics that’s without delay pessimistic and optimistic, without delay life like and idealistic. Within the title alone, we are able to sense each frustration and dedication. Within the chapters, we’re handled to narratives that minimize throughout idealism and realpolitik – or ought to I say narratives that grapple with idealism and realpolitik.

So, what’s Joel’s politics? Maybe it’s someplace in between these two.

However I’m right here to assessment Joel’s e-book, not Joel’s politics or his life in politics (though I may do this if you need, hehe.) Maybe now could be the time for full disclosure. Joel was the Govt Director once I was in IPD, he was an Execomm member once I labored full-time for Akbayan, and we’re cousins – on the Veloso aspect of our households. Joel’s Lola Biyay and my Lolo Ayong are siblings, so our moms are first cousins and we’re second cousins. Pareho mi na bisdak, bisayang dako. Kaya mas maayos ang Ingles namin kaysa sa Tagalog namin.

Listed here are my ideas on Joel’s e-book.

  1. I believe Joel shouldn’t be apologetic about this being a “non-book” (to borrow Benedict Anderson’s time period) simply because it’s a assortment of essays. I believe a e-book is a e-book if it has achieved cohesion and I consider Joel’s e-book has achieved that. The cohesion is felt by the reader as a result of the e-book talks of a “political challenge” on the onset. And this political challenge could be readily gleaned in all of the articles. It’s straightforward for the reader to see that the political challenge has one thing to do with reforming authorities and remodeling society alongside the traces of fine governance, native improvement, various and non-patronage based mostly public service supply, poverty alleviation, and establishment constructing.

  1. The e-book is cohesive additionally as a result of it reveals the continuation and recurrence of social and political issues throughout political regimes. In different phrases, the e-book factors to structural points and given this, the essays, whereas seemingly disparate, truly contribute to a complete.

  1. The e-book clearly engages the reader to probe the historic beginnings of ongoing Philippine issues. These historic roots are defined from various vantage factors – from the Left, from civil society, and from reformers in authorities. Mentioned various factors enrich the reader’s understanding of longstanding points in Philippine politics and governance.

    Truly, I like greatest that the e-book attracts on these numerous views: leftist, reformist, outdoors authorities, inside authorities. These views are generally in battle with one another however that is exactly why the e-book is attention-grabbing. The e-book raises necessary questions like, “Can a reformist be thought-about a leftist or a revolutionary? Can good folks thrive in dangerous governments? Isn’t decentralization doable solely with a robust nationwide authorities?” And if I could add: Can Marxists stay Marxists as soon as aligned with oligarchic forces? These stress factors are revealed in Joel’s e-book and prod the reader to learn on and on. Actually, I learn the e-book in its entirety not simply because I used to be requested to assessment it but additionally as a result of I used to be genuinely inquisitive about what Joel needed to say about these stress factors.

  1. As a political scientist, I can respect the e-book additionally as a result of it claims that political regimes matter. I agree with this declare. Structural points haven’t been addressed exactly as a result of political regimes, although assorted over time, have probably not remodeled the buildings that want altering. I believe Joel drives residence this level very clearly in all his chapters: the political regime issues; authorities issues. (READ: [OPINION] Duterte is weak)

  1. The e-book is related and well timed as a result of it discusses Duterte. Actually, it begins with Duterte. I agree with Joel’s characterization of Duterte as a populist however I’ve but to be satisfied of Joel’s assertion that Duterte is a demobilizing populist. To cite Joel: “Digong might deliver the {popular} medyo bastos into political discourse, however he doesn’t deliver residents into formal processes of political participation. In distinction to populists who mobilize folks, Digong like Estrada is a demobolizing populist.” (READ: Rodrigo Duterte: Sure, I am a womanizer)

For my part, Duterte is a mobilizing populist – as evidenced by his mobilization of a piece of society that hitherto has not been heard: the DDSs and the Tulfos and the Mocha Usons of this nation. Actually, this stage of social mobilization is what differentiates Duterte from the earlier dicatorship: Marcos relied closely on “armed” forces whereas Duterte depends closely on “social” forces (whereas persevering with to “court docket” the armed forces, in fact). Even the “supermajority” in Congress usually are not simply rubber stamps of Duterte, they’re “energetic supporters.” One can see this in how the Congress Representatives actively advocated for the dying penalty regulation, for instance. Or for martial regulation. Or for the brand new Division of Abroad Filipinos. So, that is the place I disagree with Joel. I believe Duterte has actual energetic supporters inside and out of doors of presidency and their participation in politics is consequential, not simply symbolic. (READ: Paranoia drives Duterte’s politics)

That Duterte mobilizes social forces makes his populism appropriate with democracy. Democracy, in any case, values consent, particularly large consent. In fact, everyone knows that consent could be manipulated. Nonetheless, the notion that “the folks” “consent” to Duterte’s governance legitimizes Duterte and this consent truly yields outcomes – not simply by way of Duterte with the ability to keep in energy but additionally by way of public coverage. Whether or not we prefer it or not, the very fact of the matter is, insurance policies that we ourselves help, just like the Bangsamoro Primary Legislation, the subsidy for tuition charges in State Universities, the Common Healthcare Legislation, the Expanded Maternity Act, pension enhance, wage enhance for nurses, wage enhance for troopers and police personnel – all these turned legal guidelines beneath Duterte’s watch. Not beneath PNoy’s watch, or GMA’s or Estrada’s or Ramos’ or Cory’s. (READ: Duterte calls Arroyo ‘true dwelling icon in Philippine politics’)

Thus, within the minds of “the bulk,” the DDS’s and the Tulfos and the Mocha Usons are the a lot wanted “new voices” in Philippine politics and so they point out that Philippine democracy is alive, not useless. Similar goes for all of the “new entrants” within the political and enterprise scenes: Bong Go, Bato, Dennis Uy, Ricky Razon. We might not like their faces or their language or their conduct – and by no means thoughts that they don’t seem to be totally “new” – however these “new entrants” are touted to be the brand new lobbyists and subsequently deemed essential contributors of our democracy {today}. Or so the Duterte camp asserts.

Duterte’s politics is mass-based and I believe that is why he continues to be legit and to be {popular}. If we settle for that, we might have to just accept as properly that we have to work doubletime on constructing a mass-based politics that may match Duterte’s. A mass-based politics that may persuade “the folks” that the darkish aspect of Duterte’s populism far outweighs – and in reality, negates – the advantages of his populism. For positive, we, or maybe most of us on this room, are already satisfied of this cost-benefit evaluation. Siguro naman, pagkatapos ng four na taon, kumbinsido na tayo na talagang karumaldumal ang rehimeng ito! However can we persuade others? Or have we simply turn into an echo chamber?

  1. I believe Joel’s e-book could be divided into thinkpieces meant to impress and people meant to persuade. Though in fact scary and convincing usually are not mutually unique. The items on Duterte are clearly meant to impress whereas the items on federalism are supposed to persuade. And that is good as a result of I believe that is the best way that individuals be taught: training, particularly political training, isn’t simply in regards to the thoughts, but additionally in regards to the intestine and the center.

  1. I discover it commendable that the e-book is written as a memoir. The truth that it was written by a political participant offers a depth and tone that most likely wouldn’t have been displayed if the writer had been simply a tutorial. I say that to not trivialize tutorial work however to argue that there could also be many sources of political information, and as confirmed by Joel on this e-book, political {engagement} is a sound and essential supply. I believe Joel’s memoir calls us to be each political actors and thinkers. It reminds us that essentially the most thought-provoking political concepts come from reflection borne out of political motion.

Congratulations Joel. I believe lots of people will be taught out of your e-book. I personally realized quite a bit. And I’ll undoubtedly suggest your e-book to my college students. I hope you proceed writing about politics. Rappler.com

Unimaginable shouldn’t be really easy: A life in politics is a group of essays by Joel Rocamora, former Chairperson of the Nationwide Anti-Poverty Fee (NAPC) beneath the PNoy administration and former Govt Director of the Institute for {Popular} Democracy (IPD). This assessment was delivered by Carmel V. Abao on the e-book launch of Rocamora’s e-book on February 26, 2020 on the Fee on Human Rights (CHR) Bulwagang Ka Pepe Diokno. Abao is an Assistant Professor on the Ateneo de Manila College (ADMU) Division of Political Science. Joel Rocamora’s e-book is revealed by the ADMU College Press.

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