Friday, April 29, 2016

Jessica Zafra | Of course you love Duterte. He is your id.

Of course you love Duterte. He's the cool guy. Of all the presidential contenders, he's the one you want to have a drink with. Think of the stories you would hear, stories that you can repeat at every drinking session for the rest of your life. He's the average-looking guy who can bag the babes. He's the guy who barely got passing grades in school, but still gets to be the boss. He rides a Harley. Woo-hoo! 

He's always ready with a snappy retort. While other candidates are still thinking of their answers and considering the issues, he already has you doubled over with laughter. He says the things you wish you could say out loud—the things you stop yourself from saying because you don't want to offend your friends and colleagues. He's The Punisher, only real. What movie stars pretend to be, he is. Kill the criminals. Kill them all. That corpse is hot. He doesn't care how many people he offends. In fact, the more people he pisses off, the higher his ratings get. The louder you clap, the harder you laugh. He is not just your idol. You wish you were Duterte. He makes the other candidates look like wimps. 

You wish you could point to the criminal scum and order them to be shot. Someone cuts ahead of you in traffic? Bang! You wish you could make rape jokes. They're just words, right? Why don't these wimps get how funny it is to say you want to violate a woman? Your mother, your wife, your sisters, your friends: why don't they get it? 

Clearly, Duterte has struck a vein in the Pinoy psyche. He is the figurehead of a genuine people's movement. As a social scientist would put it, his rise is based not on a political machine, but on Keynes's "animal spirits". That this unpredictable outsider may soon be president of this republic speaks to how well the candidate and his campaign team understand the deepest, most primal fears and needs of the Pinoy. 

Duterte's words are not calculated to impress the voters. He doesn't have to calculate. He's just saying the words that are already in your head. He is your walking, talking, preening, strutting id. The id is the part of your personality that contains your most basic instincts. It is where your needs, wants, desires, impulses, sex drives, aggressive drives come from. It is not affected by reality, logic, right or wrong. It only has one master, and that is the pleasure principle. It wants immediate satisfaction, it does not care how. 

The id is your infant self, your inner monster, before civilization got to you. Before culture, rules, morality and playing well with others. Naturally you want to give in to your id. You can't. You are no longer an infant. You are a thinking human being, coexisting with other human beings, and no matter how you feel about these others, you have an obligation towards them. If you give in to the monster inside you, you unleash chaos. You have this power.

Yes, right now you are entertained. Your own impulses are vented and gratified vicariously. You are pleased. You hear the words you wish you could say coming out of the mouth of an important person. But would you let your id lead a nation? I want to believe that you would not.

I understand the appeal of Duterte. I have used some of the same mind-tricks. Fan the anger. Say the things "nice" people can't bring themselves to say. Break out the expletives. These are easy. Running a country is the opposite of easy. Being the leader of a nation requires that you be more, way, way more than your basic, instinctual self. It demands that you be better than you are. The fact that previous leaders have not fulfilled this demand does not make it pointless. On the contrary, it accounts for your current mindset.

You are looking for a hero, someone who will make things right and make your life wonderful. Well, you're looking in the wrong direction. This is not entertainment. No one is going to swoop in, terminate the villains and ensure your happiness. Only you can do that. It begins by seeing that no matter how insignificant you may feel, you have power. Don't run to the cool guy because you hope his coolness will reflect on you. Don't side with the cool guy in the hope that he won't torment you. You have power. Have a little faith in yourself.

- Jessica Zafra of
The Online NewsPortal of TV5

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