Excellent read, this piece “A millennial considers the new German Problem after 30 years of peace”. Its author, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and German millennial Ulrike Franke, laments how her demographic “struggle to think in terms of interests, we struggle with the concept of geopolitical power, and we struggle with military power being an element of geopolitical power”; specifically German millennials “think of international politics in terms of values and emotions rather than interests.”
There is a feeling of moral superiority that comes with the rejection of power politics, of realpolitik, and of national interests. We are so good at coming to terms with history and so mature not to be so nationalist, not to be seduced by demagogues. Yes, we screwed up massively in the past, but no one has learned the universal truth lessons better than us. Geopolitics, interest politics, and realpolitik, therefore, are things left to other less enlightened ones.
The same can be applied in the Philippine context where millennials are mostly “woke” and think that realpolitik doesn’t exist in their side of the political fence. It does. Woke and cancel culture have been adopted without the benefit of critical and strategic thinking. Why is this so? It’s due to the brainwashing which occurred since 1986 putting all the blame on one man — former President Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos, dead and buried persists as the bogeyman for all that is wrong with the country. Look at how no leftist-liberal-militant will bother to do an analysis of what happened to the reforms promised during the “Edsa Revolution.” The promises weren’t made good.
Democracy isn’t enough for nation-building. It is only one component. What is of equal importance is discipline and adherence to acceptable standards of governance. A leader of the likes of current President Rodrigo Duterte comes along and all of a sudden we are under an authoritarian fascist dictatorship even if we are not. This is political dysfunction at its best because at the core of the problem is that the Filipino still cannot decide if he is Asian or Western. The lack of national identity is the root of the problems of the country. An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) is, in effect, a chameleon who can easily adapt to any environment because of the necessity to support his family. OFWs represent the most striking disconnect in how the Filipino will follow rules and regulations of his host county but will not do the same when he is back home.
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Another example is how the South China Sea dispute is treated as a simple problem. The President kowtows to China therefore he is a traitor. Nowhere does the fact that oligarchs protecting their vested interests are actually the traitors because they are just after the profits to be made. The whole process is a rent-seeking activity. The real reason why the issue becomes simple is the lack of a principled stand. There is confidence in numbers and better employment opportunities in the corporate world if you are on the “correct side” of the political fence. The social caste system also comes into play because those who attended UP, Ateneo and La Salle are expected be on the “correct” side of the political fence. The masa who attend state colleges and universities are consigned as cannon fodder for the leftist-militant groups.
Franke writes in closing…
I have doubts that we can count on the next generation of German foreign policy thinkers and makers. We have a generation of Germans that have taken things for granted and struggle to answer challenges. Secretly, my generation hopes that all will go back to our normal soon and that we can move on from this unenlightened power politics to address real challenges like climate change. But the world is unlikely to do us that favor. To be up to this challenge, my generation will need to train its strategic muscle — and fast.
Indeed, here too in the Philippines we need better millennials who can be the leaders of the future other than the present crop who are mentally and intellectually weak. Formal education combined with experience and street-smarts are needed if the Philippines is to be set on the right path.
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