How Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte Is Ushering In A Postmodern Imperial-Populist Presidency


“Vox populi, Vox Duterte, Vox dei.”

The current year is monumental in every single way; we are currently seeing the beginning of the end of the Faustian spirit to the point that it is on the edge of killing itself completely. Disillusionment with the financial system, the political establishment and the continuing indifference both by the elites and the press has exploded in such a way that the conflicts long hidden from the public eye once again become relevant and important. From the mountains of Appalachia to the tip of Argentina, to the stormy seas of Britannia, from the rivers Rhine and the Danube, the Dardanelles and Syria, to the seas of East Asia and within the vast lands of the African continent, every place has been engulfed by the rising tide of dissent.

The revolt of the middle class felt threatened by the working class who are in turn felt threatened by the immigrants and the continuing neoliberal policies being imposed upon them, there is only one thing in common between them; for they represent wildly divergent but congruent revolts all to be reduced as the revolt of the mass. The mass is the same as the crowd; it is not a plural category but rather a singular entity, an entity which depends on vitality and the myth of action as a way to advance their interests and their purported common vision. Nothing can beat the vision that the supporters of Duterte have long clamored; the vision of a carceral state represented by the Trinity of God, the Leader and the Hangman.

They demand a state which is both disciplinarian and assertive in stature; no longer would the vile nature of politics — dominated by financial and personal interests — interfere with such a goal, for the State is a giant prison in which all of its citizens are condemned and that a Warden with his overseers would take care of distributing the fangs of justice among the guilty.

This vision of the state is nothing but a legalistic regurgitation of the Law personified and dignified in spite of its contradictory and vague nature. In order to implement this hunger for retribution, a justification is needed, a casus belli must become convincing in order for the plan to become a fact. The Leader needs to play the rhetoric of a man willing to lead a crusade against the so called “parasites” and undesirables of the society, with the punishment for those who would dare to oppose this plan of cleansing as death and the eventual desolation of one’s family. He needs polish his calls for tougher measures at the height of national and social alarmism; and such measures for the eyes of the many are effective indeed, so effective that Duterte now has sealed the trust of the bourgeoisie and their longing for stability. On the other hand, the lower classes has been won by his no holds barred approach to the political establishment and such a man would mean that they would be no longer marginalized by their fellow countrymen.

However, Duterte’s leadership is not national; he derives from an Imperial prerogative which as his former professor stated has come from God. His rule of personal and his disdain for the apparatuses of bureaucracy is a testament of that fact. While rulers before him would try to imagine their powers as limited and sovereign, Duterte’s Authority is eternal, transcendental and even Immaterial for he holds such a vast power that he can still exercise both effectively. The difference between the notions of National and Imperial are both simple; Julius Evola writes that the empire should not be confused with the kingdoms and nations which constitute it because it is something qualitatively different, prior to and above each of them in terms of its principle. It expresses a system of supra-national territorial hegemony, “the old Roman notion of imperium referred to the pure power of command, the quasi-mystical force of the auctoritas.”

Alongside with his talks of ideological collaboration, of federalism and reform, we may and may not see these changes for as we know, Duterte’s politics and his method of clinging into it is some form of a theater, in which he no longer views itself as a person, but rather a parody, a caricature, a social and a cultural artifact.

Even the Left has been swayed to play the game, from Maoists to Social Democrats; it seems that everyone wants to grasp the opportunity given by the Leader on a silver platter. There are still skeptics however, but they are too few and many of them would rather take us back to the previous status quo in place of the current one we have.

Why is there such popular sentiment for a man of contradictions? The answer is simple; our society has got cynical to the point that we prefer to bring people who shall lead us to our so called salvation. Everything around us has become aloof and detached; we are spectators rather than actors of life; and we need an actor in order for us to remain this way. Why such apathy and a lack of interest in civic duty?

Maybe it is because of our system and our History, memories which we try to cope up by succumbing into the passions of escapism. Our cities have been structured that way, isn’t it? We can have killings of drug suspects and others but they cannot interfere with our open desire for more hedonism. The argument of safety already comes out of it; we know that the system has become so dysfunctional and broken but we prefer to not let ourselves be bothered by it. This is a world-historical phenomenon nowadays, a revolt of urges, passions and unreason against the forces of Reason. Hence, the speed of the Overturning is even becoming faster.

The atmosphere of alienation, confusion, misplaced anger which we cannot direct to emancipatory causes and our sense of cynicism and uncertainty has led us to this mess. We cannot even contemplate or release these energies within us in a very radical way; we chose to represent it falsely on some figure which tries to present oneself as if the person is aligning with our sentiments. The effects of global capitalism and consumerism have even robbed us the ability to escape from it; no less to think and transcend beyond it. We therefore have become the most perverted and basest of our inner narcissistic selves.

The end of democracy is democracy itself; the end of liberalism is liberalism eating itself. It acts as if it is a reality check to these two concepts. The institutions that we have today is the one responsible for erecting the pedestal for a Caesar to govern and lead us; as we direct our inner fantasies unto him, we have become nothing more but detached even from ourselves; this detachment leads to more bouts of confusion and the worshipping of the self.

Spengler was correct when he foresaw that each Civilization would reach the stage where an Absolute Ruler would rise from the opulence and decadence of the preceding ones; a single Individual which shall overturn everything and turn anything into his own purpose. The figure also shall display a detestation of the intellectuals, the laws which the liberal society had assumed that would regulate human conduct and the overall “hypocrisy” of the machine itself; hysteria and terror would become our excuse for Order; thus the call for elimination of such foundations which will be distinctively paid in Blood, the only instrument which could firmly challenge Money on a toe to toe control for decisive dominance. Spengler is wrong in this state however; two historical figures have already emerged from our consciousness that have captured the inner expression of our collective superego. The first one was a tragedy, and the current one unfortunately will become a farce.