After more than five years of authoritarian rule, rent-seeking, and a kind of ‘gangster’ neoliberal economic policies, the strongman rule of Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte has begun to unravel as the Philippines gears up for the national elections in May 2022. Realignments of social and political forces are beginning to reconfigure the political landscape amidst the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. Progressive and traditional social forces are drawing their political lines as the mounting opposition against Duterte expands. This conversation with Joel Rocamora, a renowned author, political analyst, and progressive governance practitioner, seeks to examine the rise of Duterte’s authoritarian governance, the reconfiguration of the Philippine elite and other social classes, the political/ideological debates within the Philippine Left, and the political realignments towards the Philippine presidential elections in 2022.
“My decision was firm since I left my university in mid of February. My aunts are now giving me pressure to go back to my professor job. After seeing atrocities and mass killing of the junta, I no longer want to be part of the system they are ruling.”
Even though the current crisis astonished most of us, it also came as no surprise. During the last decade, we have witnessed a densification of what Alex Demirovic calls “crises of denormalization”, i.e. crises that profoundly undermine the hegemonic neoliberal security dispositive. From the financial crisis in 2008–9, through to Europe´s so-called “migrant crisis” (in fact, a momentary collapse of Europe´s inhumane border regime), up to the climate crisis, world capitalism seems ever more prone to destroying its economic, social, and natural basis, and less and less capable of dealing with the consequences.
The COVID-19 crisis has put our whole lives on pause. Not because life has stopped or ended but because our world as we knew it seems to be coming to an end. We are at the beginning of a new era. This is a capitalist crisis, not a health crisis. This is the latest crisis in the era of capital; the Capitalocene has put us on the verge of annihilation. This crisis has hit us hard and in multiple ways. The resulting global financial crash is hitting every territory, country, and city in a different way. Changes abound in our way of living and working. Social reproduction as a whole is changing and so are social struggles.
For the past few years, platform capitalist companies such as Rappi, Uber, 99taxi, Loggi, Ifood, and James have been gradually infecting Brazil’s largest cities. By connecting consumers, workers, and products through digital apps, these companies have been responsible for further entrenching the Brazilian neoliberal restructuring of labour that has been going on since the 1990s.