Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cultural Versus Political Explanations For National Failure

There has been a lot of speculation about the effects of culture on national survival and collapse.  There are also other explanations of that phenomenon.  The Philippines is the subject of this essay.  A popular book has been written which argues that the culture of the Philippines has been an impediment to national progress.  Another explanation, advocated in this essay, is that the political organization of the state is the culprit.  The argument is that the state has been captured by an oligarchy which rules in its own interest.  It also suggests that the Marcos dictatorship was a failed effort to rid the country of an entrenched oligarchy. The new government in the Philippines is the restored oligarchy.

I know little about the history of the Philippines, but it seems to me that culture and political organization are not mutually exclusive.  For example, the oligarchy in the Philippines would certainly have reinforced cultural institutions that  contributed to its hold on political power.  Therefore, cultural factors, and political organization, would both contribute to the lack of social progress in the Philippines.  My guess is that the current oligarchy in the Philippines is very supportive of cultural traditions which contribute to its control of the political institutions in the Philippines.

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