Rodrigo Duterte is the ‘antifragile’ presidential candidate

Former Davao City Mayor turned presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte continues to baffle critics and political rivals alike. Despite lacing his miting de avance speech with expletives, bragging about his womanising, cursing Pope Francis, and, again, vowing to kill suspected criminals, Duterte continues to attract a growing following. What is the source of his seeming immunity to public indignation and the moralising admnonishments of the Philippines’ powerful political and religious establishments?

Renowned intellectual and risk management guru Nassim Nicholas Taleb has long espoused the concept of the “antifragile” – people and systems that “gain from disorder”. He goes further to define the concept, saying that “Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.” An example of an antifragile system is our immune system. The more our immune systems are exposed to pathogens (viruses and bacteria that cause diseases), the stronger it becomes.

A fragile system on the other hand may create the illusion of stability. But this stability is held together by tightly-woven interdependencies between elements within such systems which makes it prone to catastrophic failure if one of those key elements goes astray. For example, an approach to avoiding disease and infection that relies on keeping yourself medicated with a cocktail of antibiotics and cocooning yourself in an artificial environment sustained by airconditioners with surfaces and implements kept clean with antiseptic solutions is unsustainable. Failure of even just one of these artificial measures can spell serious trouble for your atrophied natural immune system.

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Stepping up to a more macro level, think of how a dictatorship such as the one overseen by the late former President Ferdinand Marcos was held together by a tight alliance of mutual back-scratching cronies and oligarchs. Though the Marcos regime was sustained as the Philippines’ “normal” state of affairs for two decades, it rapidly unravelled within three years of the assassination of Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr in 1983 then all came crashing down in 1986 when just two key Marcos henchmen — then General Fidel Ramos and then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile — defected.

Today is no different to the Marcos years, except that the unholy alliance amongst the Philippines’ supposedly rival political groups and clans is held together by a less visible glue — money. Indeed, the pork barrel scam that erupted in 2012 following the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona revealed how politicians of different camps colluded to the tune of tens of millions of pesos in public funds dangled before them by President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III. This too proved to be a fragile stability which quickly shattered political alliances when the money supply dried up as increased public scrutiny bore down on the budget appropriation process as a result of the scandal.

Now, several senators are in jail and many others are scrambling to one-up and slander one another in the all-too-familiar public relations contests that typically characterise lead-ups to national elections. Indeed, no less than President BS Aquino is likely to be fearful of the prospect of being thrown into jail himself if he fails to install a trusted ally in Malacanang after 2016! Not only is President BS Aquino culpable for the porky use of funds illegally-appropriated thanks to Budget Secretary Butch Abad’s creative accounting expertise, he is also the mastermind behind a treasonous deal made with the terrorist Moro Islamic Liberation Front to carve out a chunk of Mindanao into an “autonomous” Bangsamoro “nation”.

It is onto the backdrop of these shenanigans of the Philippines’ traditional political establishment of crooked oligarchs and clansmen that Rodrigo Duterte walks in. Duterte has (perhaps shrewdly, if he had planned it this way) styled himself the Antifragile Presidential Candidate. Because Duterte embraces both good and bad publicity and lays it all on the table before the public, warts and all that is good and bad about his character, he grows stronger as more controversy surrounds him. He is the antithesis of the pretentious ‘pagmamalinis’ hypocrisy of traditional politicians in that he wears all the ugliness of what he stands for in public for all to see.

This is what makes Duterte impervious to the traditional political mudslinging of Philippine election campaigns. Being himself muddied enough by his own track record of unapologetic in-your-face misogyny, xenophobic drumbeating, contempt for due process, and the all-around buffoonery in the way he conducts himself (all of which he’s packaged into his campaign platform), any further mud slinged at him by rivals and critics merely adds to the mystique of his character. It’s like how in the movie The Empire Strikes Back, Princess Leia tells Han Solo about the times he actually comes across as charming… “Occasionally, maybe… when you aren’t acting like a scoundrel,” on which Han Solo quizzically reflects, “Scoundrel? … Scoundrel?” Then with a smile confirms to the Princess, “I like the sound of that.”

14 Replies to “Rodrigo Duterte is the ‘antifragile’ presidential candidate”

  1. He’s using Reverse Psychology.
    Being honest about his ugly character makes him better than the rest because everybody has ugliness on the inside except they’re just not letting it show.

    1. A good person. People will have doubt about his goodness.
      Show ones badness in the open people will have no doubts.
      Again=Reverse Psychology

  2. Well of course – he’s the IRON RODy!
    The more you pound on it and the more you subject it to heat – the more the malleable material slowly turns into something resembling a lethal weapon.

    It is very frustrating to go head-to-head against this kind of foe – coz conventional rules and tactics don’t apply.

    I recall one character played by Kevin Bacon in the X-men series, where the more you fire at him, the stronger he gets. He absorbs all the energy and fires it right back at you. Just how do you defeat such a guy?

    Funny – if DU30 wins this election, I think books will be written trying to analyze and unravel this simple-looking yet complex persona that has just entered the national political landscape.

    This article by Benign0 is just the start of a whole new science that will try to demystify just what we’re dealing with here. When I listen to the man I am sometimes spellbound by what I hear – he can’t be saying that on national TV. This guy is very unpredictable – which makes him a bit entertaining, or ever thriller scary.

    Anyway, I like to call him the RESET BUTTON for lack of a better word. Again with a warning: your entire hard disk may get REFORMATTED if you press it. The question I have to the Filipino people is – are you ready for such a radical change? If not, play it safe with the usual movie stars, trapos, and clowns – coz I don’t think people know what they are getting themselves into with the mystery man of the hour.

    1. Zax, I really hope you’re right but I noticed that a lot of the same people supporting him are really not that different from Noytards.

      I hope you’re right Zax, I really do. 🙁

      1. I also noticed that most of this supporters behave like Noytard zombies. Try to browse their FB comments and you will see how they behave and think

  3. Failipinos in the Failippines always think they know what truth is, like it was toilet paper and they’ve got a supply of it in their closet.

    But what they learn as they get older is that there is no truth, there’s only bullsh*t. Layers of it. One layer of bullsh*t on top of another.

    And what Failipinos do in life is pick the layer of bullsh*t they prefer, and that’s their bullsh*t.

  4. We will be electing a True Scoundrel, not a Hiding Scoundrel like: Aquino, Mar Roxas, that thief: Abad, De Lima and her driver/lover, etc…

    Good, if Duterte will use vigilante justice on these people…

  5. Can’t even spell Filipino or Philippines right. Gessshhh google it buddy! I am proud Dutertard, lived in Davao City and other parts of the country so I would know how beautifully different Davao city is compared to other major citieshas been lead, managed and governes by Duterte. With a lesser budget compared to major cities in the country, how is it able to come up with a free and state of the art 911 service. What about Makati, Quezon city, Cebu? They have far bigger revenues and yet they dont have that? 3 other canditates already spent close to a billion pesos in their campaign- do you think they would spend that much or their billionaire business backers they wont get something out of it? ROI- return of investment? One is tainted left and right with corruption issues which up to now the defense black propaganda, another one cant handle the pressure of big time problems with one media boo boos one after another just a publicity disaster, one who wants to be prexy of this country but renounced Filipino citizenship and live outside the country for a huge of her life and conveniently reneges on her American citizenship when there was big chance of being powerful via politics and talks about continuing the so called legacy of his father which only existed in the cinemas or the movie industry.

    Now you have a man telling the entire country what his weakneses are and his whole objective is to serve his country his country even at the expense of of life or limb. His money is miniscule compares to these 3. He shows who he is and speaks his mind and heart. How about the big 3?

    Yes he is an antifragile and thats our beloved country needs the past 2 decades our country has fallen way behind our Asian neighbors. Is there progress the past 2 decades? Yes there is! But the question is how fast or how significant is the progress?

  6. People are simple. They realise the root of our problems is lawlessness. He showed proof of his solution. Everything else is politics or the price we have to pay. We dream of Lee Kuan Yew. Here’s the rough version.

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