“The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as society itself, as a part of society, and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is ostensibly the focal point of all vision and all consciousness. But due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is in reality the domain of delusion and false consciousness: the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of universal separation.” – Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
If Marx was alive in the 21st century, he would have lamented our seemingly eviscerated populace. Alienated, differentiated, stratified, and commodified, apathy has become endemic and systemic, which extends to the nature of student politics. Stripped of its lofty rhetoric and ideological pandering, student politics is the basest form of manifesting the apathy of the studentry, which has no enthusiasm to this venture whatsoever with the exception of those who are in the clique. Why this lack of enthusiasm?
To perdure into this morass of our present predicament, it is perhaps necessary to assume that student politics is similar to the current state of our national politics. With this in mind, similarities would emerge out of the woodwork. Political parties in our Congress, for example, is simply a set of fluctuating alliances (this rarely applies to the parties of the Left), akin to how a political animal in our university can shift his allegiance to a rival clique without noticeable consequences. Why this sudden shift? It is because there is nothing to lose from this shift. Politics is only a well-run casino, where anyone has a chance to gamble their choices, though it is already known that the ones who run the game behind the scenes have already called it quits.
In the lexicon and jargon of Political Dynamics and Comparative Government, this phenomenon is known as “transformism,” derived from the Italian “transformismo.” It was a tactic favored by Italy’s most veteran politician Giovanni Giolitti, considered as one of the architects of the Risorgimento—the unification of the Italian lands under the helm of the Sardinian dynasty, with its jackboots controlled not by its king, but concentrated on a cabal of unscrupulous industrialists, corpulent landowners, and robber barons. Once the realization that the rule of the fossilized Hapsburgs (which lasted for more than four centuries) was over through a series of successive wars of liberation, all energies were then redirected to the new State’s reorganization.
Partially to avoid any confrontation with the radical specters of Italian society, and partially to stave revolutionary tendencies, Giolitti sought an intricate methodology to keep the status quo secure from these threats. With the help of elder statesman Agostino Depretis, they pulled the strings from behind the scenes; the only way to keep the status quo they said is to marginalize the parties whose programs are meant to shake and overthrow the coveted positions they held so dear. A combination of political repression, co-option of the demands of the parties they intended to marginalize and informal cohabitations among the bourgeoisie politicians of the Left and the Right, transformism succeeded on erasing any commitment for decisive changes in favor of a sulky and a calculated pragmatism; a pragmatism reminiscent to the feudalism that they claimed to have moved on from. In short, the objective of transformism is this; utilize as many avenues as possible to stay as relevant as possible. The political parties of our university are keen to exploit such avenues, only to abandon such avenues at the end of the election period. This is neither an anomaly nor a black swan inhibitive to how the system functions; for this is how the system functions, which is the naked pursuit of power in pursuit of some favors from the ones who actually benefit from that power.
No matter how colors change, the system remains the same; if we are even to recall the platforms of our political parties, we cannot see any desire for genuine emancipation or to genuinely represent the student population. What we see is saturated verbiage of empty promises and a boulevard of crooks lining to the pedestal of instant gratification. Politics is metamorphosed into a parody of its own—in which its end is no longer the end, in which the masses are nothing more but quantified cattle and where even the ones who make careers out of this deception are deceived.
This is not a problem that could be fixed outright. This is not a crisis that is by nature, both temporary and dependent on circumstances. This is merely the natural cycle of the democratic process; as principles fade out into the ether of nothingness, apathy is the only virtue that a society can possess. The synchronized cadences of the demagogues and the howls of the desperate population looking for a savior only show a society’s decay into a wretched state according to the Hobbesian principle of “bellum omnium contra omnes,” or the war of all against all we once held sacred with an ironclad will.
All which is left for us is the spirit of resistance. To overthrow the exploiters who benefit from the system, the system must be categorically dismantled. We need not only a new politics in this University, but a politics that negates the very notion of politics, and to desist itself from all the established parties. What we need, therefore, is anti-politics in hopes of ushering in an epoch where we can start all over again.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions of student contributors for Witbread do not represent the views of The HERALDO FILIPINO.