[Marxism] On the Phiippines

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Nov 4 12:31:17 MST 2009

Neoliberalism as Hegemonic Ideology in the Philippines
by Walden Bello

Paper delivered at the plenary session of the 2009 National 
Conference of the Philippine Sociological Society held at the PSSC 
Building on 16 October 2009

Why does the ideology of neoliberalism still exercise such 
influence in the Philippines despite the challenges it has faced 
from both the Asian and now global financial crisis?

This paper seeks to shed light on how an ideology achieves 
hegemony, how this hegemony is maintained, and what happens when 
the claims of an ideology are contradicted by reality.  I will use 
neoliberalism in the Philippines as a case study.

Neoliberalism is a perspective that champions the market as the 
prime regulator of economic activity and seeks to limit the 
intervention of the state in economic life to a minimum. 
Neoliberalism in recent times has become identified with 
economics, given its hegemony as a paradigm within the discipline, 
that is, its excluding of other perspectives as legitimate ways of 
doing economics.  Since economics is regarded in many quarters as 
a hard science, much like physics -- being, for instance, the only 
social science for which there is a Nobel Prize -- neoliberalism 
has had a tremendous and pervasive influence not only in academic 
circles but in policy circles as well.  While the University of 
Chicago became the font of academic wisdom, in technocratic 
circles the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were 
seen as the key institutions that translated this theory into 
policy, to a set of practical prescriptions that were applicable 
to all economies.

It is often surprising to realize how relatively recently 
neoliberalism has become a hegemonic paradigm.  As late as the 
latter half of the 1970s, Keynesian economics, which promoted a 
good dose of state intervention as necessary for stability and 
steady growth, was the orthodoxy.  In what used to be known as the 
Third World, developmentalism, which specified Keynesian economics 
to economies that were still insufficiently penetrated and 
transformed by capitalism, was the dominant approach.  There was a 
conservative brand of developmentalism and there was a progressive 
one, but both saw the state, rather than the market, as the 
central mechanism of development.

In the Philippines, neoliberalism first came in the form of the 
structural adjustment program imposed by the World Bank in the 
early 1980s, in the latter's effort to strengthen the economy's 
capacity to service its massive external debt.  Structural 
adjustment helped trigger the economic crisis of the early 1980s, 
its contractionary effects being magnified by the onset of the 
global recession.1  The crisis was the country's worst since the 
Second World War, but the role of neoliberal economics in 
precipitating it was shrouded by its coinciding with the deep 
political crisis triggered by the Aquino assassination in August 
1983.  To most Filipinos, Marcos was the cause of both crises.

full: http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/bello051109.html


Harper's, Nov. 2009
New Books
By Benjamin Moser

Nowhere is the national forgetfulness as complete as it is with 
regards to our involvement in the Philippines at the turn of the 
twentieth century, a long and bloody colonial war that, Alfred W. 
$29.95), would have enduring consequences for both nations. “The 
few American observers who crossed the Pacific were often 
surprised to discover a police state quite unlike anything back 
home,” McCoy writes of the government that emerged once the United 
States—whom the Filipinos first saw as allies in their long 
struggle to free themselves from Spain—crushed the nationalist 
rebellion, which erupted when the Filipinos realized that the 
Americans were intent on replacing one foreign occupation with 

McCoy focuses on the principal institution of the American 
occupation—the police, and the ultramodern methods they deployed 
to gather and collect data: a “colonial panopticon.” From Manila 
to Baghdad, the American empire, he argues, has always relied on 
coercion and a carefully dribbled dosage of scandal to keep the 
local elites in line, and it is the control of information—not the 
“water cure” for torturing dissidents, nor the mouthings-off of 
the inevitable racists, nor the use of empire to strengthen 
domestic political and commercial interests—that is the real 
hallmark of America’s overseas adventures. McCoy traces the decay 
of civil liberties back home, including the internment of Japanese 
Americans and the Hollywood blacklists of the McCarthy era, to 
their origins in the Philippines.

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