Posts Tagged ‘Political Science’

A number of theoretical approaches had been proposed by scholars since the 1950s aimed at understanding Philippine politics.

Particularly, these approaches seek to illuminate the apparent disconnect between modern democratic practices and pre-modern political behavior of leaders and followers alike.

Lande on Cory

Professor Carl Herman Lande

Professor Carl Herman Lande

Some of these approaches–patron-client framework and factional politics (Carl Herman Lande of Yale University; 1924-2005), and weak state-strong social groups (Paul Hutchcroft of the University of Wisconsin-Madison)–retained their appeal specially given recurrent scandals over the alleged misuse of public funds by legislators and other public officials.

Professor Paul Hutchcroft

Professor Paul Hutchcroft

On the other hand, the “machine politics” (Kit Machado of the California State University-Northridge; deceased) and bossism/warlordism (John Sidel of the London School of Economics) frameworks had lost part of their theoretical allure largely because of their limited scope.  Nonetheless, Sidel’s framework is apropos for the Ampatuan goons (involved in the infamous Maguindanao massacre) masquerading as LGU CEOs in Muslim Mindanao.

Professor John Sidel

Professor John Sidel

All of these approaches however suffer from an apparent shortcoming. They are too self-contained since they analyze Philippine politics in isolation from international currents and developments.

For example, none of these frameworks take the role of the United States into account notwithstanding the prominent role that the global power plays in determining Philippine local politics and foreign policy.

American imperialism in PH

In addition, none of these approaches take institutions like the branches of government seriously given the default “weak state” perspective.

Sealing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) in 2014

Sealing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) in 2014

They also do not make explicit references to the Philippine economy’s increasing insertion into the global capitalist division of labor. If there is a semblance of such a framework, it is articulated outside the academe by leftist circles under the rubrics “imperialism” and “neoliberalism” albeit to an extreme.

Asian EPZs

Examining the possibility of formulating a robust and more comprehensive theoretical approach and the implications for political analysis (and perhaps policy making) is thus a worthwhile undertaking.

Research on the Political

A confession is needed right away.  I dropped out from the graduate program of the UP School of Economics (UPSE) decades ago.  Which may not surprise some since I also dropped out earlier from the electrical engineering program of the same school.

Why I dropped out from these programs are two separate stories.  I left engineering program as I dropped out from school to join the underground anti-dictatorship movement.  Why I left UPSE is more complicated; perhaps, another blog entry next time.

Nonetheless, my interest in economies and economics remained and had in fact strengthened since then.  Prior to the short stint at the UPSE graduate school, I was employed by a merchant bank.  There, I learned the rudiments of financial markets and goods.   Of course, the markets then were not as complicated and overpowering as they are now. However, the principles of making money on money remain fundamentally the same.  

After earning a bachelor’s degree in social sciences (economics and history), my mentors at UP Manila convinced me to lecture there.  Before I knew it, I left my job with the merchant bank (perhaps I didn’t like the commute to Makati) and became a full-time instructor.  I handled courses in introductory economics, macroeconomics, money and banking, development and research methods.  It is known that one really starts learning when one teaches.  One can never over-prepare for class; one is always on the lookout for the curveball–the question that stumps you.

I did learn much from teaching the courses mentioned above.  However, one notable course–History of Economic Thought–made me first realize that economics is a living discipline.  More important, there are more than one economics contending with each other since the French Physiocrats and Adam Smith until today.  Especially today when a particular economics holds sway.  An economics which prescribes, in my opinion, that almost all aspects of human and public life be determined by market forces.

As professor of political science, the knowledge of economies and economics have become necessary.  In my case, I had to continue upgrading my reading lists.  In addition, I also read blogs of economists–famous and obscure. I have taught international political economy since 2004 and the readings ante crisis were quite different since the US and European crisis and the BRICs phenomenon.  I find it a continuing and creative challenge to make students without formal training in economics understand these issues.

I will share another secret. I never forget that they are political science students.  One must choose the proper ‘hooks’ like the riots in Greece, the probable return of Silvio Berlusconi as Italian prime minister, and the Democrat-Republican post-2012 election showdown on the fiscal cliff.

A well-chosen hook always works.