The cause of peace

By Raymund Fernandez |April 12,2016 - 09:49 PM

The end result of freedom is chaos.” This is a continuing topic of discussion in the class of art history I am teaching. It is a continuing discussion, of course, because the veracity of the assertion cannot be absolutely resolved. One can immediately see the indeterminacy of the statement from the words themselves.

“End result” is indeterminate unless we fix it into a particular expanse of time. If this expanse of time is open-ended, then “end result” can stretch from the time you read this until the time of the end of man.

And what of “chaos”? What does that mean? Is chaos what we have now? Is what we have now as much order as can be conceived by and for man given human nature? Is order possible among free people? Or is this simply an empty dream? Is relative chaos the ideal we must strive for? Can chaos be modulated between the extremes of absolute chaos and absolute order?

But it is “freedom” which is more problematic term for its complexity. Before it can be put it into an argument, it must be reduced to its most material form. What form freedom? How much of it do we mean? Is there a modulation of it stretching between absolute and none at all?

A good reference for this is Jean Jacques Rousseau’s “The Social Contract,” which I haven’t read for quite a while. But if I remember correctly, Rousseau explains here the necessity of modulating individual freedom to such an extent that a functional order might operate. Clearly, the social order requires a level of sacrifice of individual freedom for the state to operate. But in what way is this achieved? Where do we draw the line between the freedom of the individual and the requirement of the common good? How is this line established, by whom and in what manner?

The context inside which this discussion operates is important to understand. The course was Art History and the issue at hand was the discussion of the historical transitions which brought about the shift from Modern to Post-modern times. Thus was mentioned here the concept of the “emancipation of the individual” as one of the projects of Modernism along with representative government, industrialization, and liberal capitalism. For the Philippines, these “projects” have come into question. This questioning results as a natural consequence of anti-colonialism and the post-colonial mind set that now establishes itself quite naturally among our people.

It goes to follow that if a concept of the “Social Contract” as envisioned by Rousseau is to be established here, it must be reassessed and made “appropriate” for our own peculiar situation. But who will do this for us?

Throughout our history, this contractual order between us had been imposed by our colonizers. Only later was it imposed by the local oligarchies. Has there ever been in our history a rereading of this social contract between us?

Every round of elections should be precisely that sort of rereading. The fact of oligarchies is inevitable in the process of transferring and diffusing power. We should ideally be diffusing power away from the oligarchic centers and more to the middle class, the working class, to people in general, and especially more so to the poor.

Indeed, we have been moving precisely in this direction.
And yet, there is still the core question of how this is done and how quickly. Should it be done as quickly as possible, risking even violence and the enforcement of a

fascistic order? Or are we better off, staying along the course we are set now, ensuring above all else the relative peace we have established between us. More than most of us realize, this is really what we are deciding in the coming May elections. The end goal of every election is also relative peace.

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