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Rizal's Political Views

Rizal's Political Views



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Published by Steve B. Salonga

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Published by: Steve B. Salonga on Aug 09, 2012
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1RIZAL'S POLITICAL IDEASRIZAL'S POLITICAL ideas are scattered through his published and unpublishedworks ; the two novels, the annotations to Morga, newspaper articles, pamphlets, letters.They occur for the most part in fragmentary form as partial studies, occasionalreflections, obiter dicta: yet they seem to spring from a fairly consistent body of doctrinewhich he had worked out in his own mind, though he never found the time to get thewhole of it on paper.Various attempts have been made to reconstruct this body of doctrine. The mostobvious method has been to cull from Rizal's writings all the "political" passages and tocombine them in the manner that seems to make the most sense to the compiler. The greatweakness of this method is that while the resulting synthesis may be eminentlysatisfactory to the one who constructs it, we cannot be at all sure that it would be so toRizal himself. For the pieces of this puzzle can be assembled sembled in a number of different ways ; by simply changing the relationships between them we can make Rizalout to be a radical or a moderate, a liberal or a conservative, a reformer or a revolutionary.Now he obviously could not have been all these at once, and so our differentreconstructions may indeed throw light on our own political opinions, but not necessarilyon those of Rizal. They will embody more -or less neatly the political philosophy whicliwe imagine or wish Rizal to have held, not necessarily that which he did hold.It is not enough, then, to pluck the political ideas scattered through Rizal's work andweave them into a garland the strands of which are of our own devising. We must look forsome clue to the structure which these ideas took in his mind and the relative valueswhich they had within that structure. Where shall we find it? Our first instinct is to turn tothe novels. Of all Rizal's works they are unquestionably the most elaborate and mature.Yet one consideration must give us pause. These are works of fiction, and in a work of fiction the author speaks for the most part not in his own person but in that of hischaracters. With regard to certain passages we may have a strong suspicion that while theface may be the face of Ibarra or Elias or Padre Florentino, the voice is that of Rizal. Butwe can never be quite certain, and Rizal in one of his letters explicitly warns us not to be.
The Background of Nationalism
1965 By Horacio de la Costa, S.J.
2What then? I suggest that we turn to the essays. One in particular seems to present atleast the base lines of the structure we are looking for. This is the study entitled
"Filipinasdentro de cien a
which appeared in four parts in La Solidaridad, September 1889 toJanuary 1890. I believe that if we use these base lines as a frame of reference we canorganize the rest of Rizal's known political views into a consistent body of doctrinewhose internal relationships will approximate those intended by Rizal himself.The concrete starting point of Rizal's thought was the contemporary situation in thePhilippines. That situation called for a fundamental change in the relationship which hadhitherto obtained between the colony and the mother country, between the dominant andthe subject people. This change was inevitable. It could not be stopped and it was uselessto try to stop it. However, the change could be directed. There were two alternativedirections in which the change could take place, and it was still possible to choosebetween them. To choose rightly it was obviously necessary to understand the situationthat called for change; and to understand that it was necessary to understand the causesthat produced it.Thus, it is with history that Rizal begins. Spanish rule was imposed on the Philippinesby conquest. Before the conquest Filipinos had their own culture. They had developedtheir own forms of economic and social organization. They were governed by their ownrulers under their own laws. They worshipped their own gods. They spoke and wrote intheir own languages. They had the beginnings of a native literature and a native art. It wasall admittedly primitive. But it was all in process of normal development; did not allpeoples begin thus? Certain aspects of it were full of promise: left to itself, what might itnot have become?But it was not left to itself. The Spanish conquest surprised it in mid-career andoverwhelmed it. The Filipinos were forced to abandon their own for an alien culture, aculture which they never completely understood or assimilated. The result was that theylost their nerve. They lost confidence in their past, faith in their present, hope in theirfuture. Rizal describes this uprooting of the Filipino cultural heritage in the followingterms :The Filipinos now entered upon a new era. Little by little they lost theirancient traditions, their memory of the past. They forgot their own system of writing, their songs, their poetry, their laws, in order to learn by rote alien
The Background of Nationalism
1965 By Horacio de la Costa, S.J.
3ideas which they did not understand, an alien code of conduct, an alienconception of beauty, all far removed from those inspired in their race by theenvironment in which they lived and by their native genius. They sank in theirown estimation. They became inferior beings even to themselves. They beganto be ashamed of what was their own, of what was native to their country.They began to admire and praise whatever was foreign and beyond theircomprehension. They lost heart, and became a subject people.The Fiipinos remained in this state of subjection for three centuries. During thosethree centuries the Spanish colonial government not only deprived them of their ownculture but imposed upon them heavy burdens and exactions of every sort. Yet theyoffered no effective resistance. They remained passive and apathetic. Why?The answer usually given today, in line with our aggressive and somewhat uncriticalnationalism, is to deny the supposition. The Filipinos did resist; they did not remainpassive and apathetic; and the proof of this is the almost unbroken series of conspiracies,uprisings and revolts which stretches from one end of the Spanish colonial period to theother.This was not Rizal's view. He pointed out that the revolts cited were limited, local,isolated and easily put down. They were outbursts of rage against this particular exaction,that particular
or official. They were not movements of resistance of Filipinos as such against Spanish rule as such. They were not national for the simplereason that Filipinos were not yet conscious of themselves as a nation.By Rizal's time, however, by the latter part of the nineteenth century, this was nolonger true. Filipinos were conscious of themselves as a nation. And this made all thedifference. This, in Rizal's view, was what gave the contemporary situation its particularcharacter of urgency.What had happened to rouse the Filipinos from the sleep of centuries? What shock  jarred them into this new consciousness of themselves as a people? Rizal's answer to thisquestion is curious and characteristic.He attributes the change not to an economic or political or social cause but to apsychological one. What did it was that the Spaniards added insult to injury. During the
The Background of Nationalism
1965 By Horacio de la Costa, S.J.

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