Evolution of Order

Ramses ii statue-london-england-british-museum

Pharaoh Ramses II

Order is a problem in the Philippines. Seems people have different ideas on what order is about. Some seem to have no idea of order whatsoever to others, some too much. This is why I have looked at how order has evolved in the human race, to get some order into my own mind on this:

  1. Bands: Khoisan, Agta
  2. Villages: kraal, barangays
  3. Warlords: Nebuchadnezar, Ampatuan
  4. God-Kings: Pharaoh, Duterte
  5. Rebels/Prophets: Moses, Dagohoy
  6. Moral lawmakers: St. Paul, Mabini
  7. Secular lawmakers: Justinian, Quezon

The different stages

Some explanations on how these different stages looked like:

Stage 1) Bands: hunter-gatherers like many Agta before. Fedor Jagor, German-Russian businessman and amateur ethnologist, wrote that the Agta in Bikol hunted together, and those who were able-bodied but did not join the hunt did not get their share of the food. Fair enough. But anthropologist Jared Diamond noted that this way of life needs a lot of space to be sustainable.

Stage 2) Villages: agriculture is more efficient in sustaining larger groups, but once people have more you need to regulate property. Conflicts were settled by going to the chief, a role the barangay captain has until today. Germanic tribes had primitive versions of today’s American juries – trial by councils, and simple forms of democracy with village assemblies.

Stage 3) Warlords started in places where there were many people around big rivers that made large-scale agriculture possible.  They controlled the people who worked the fields by fear and took their surpluses. Nebuchadnezzar was Babylonian, in the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. These often shifted their course, causing fertile areas to change, with numerous conflicts as a result. The epic Gilgamesh and the movie 10000 BC show the shift from villages to warlord-run cities.

Stage 4) Pharaohs and Chinese Emperors were the first God-Kings. Pharaohs maintained control of both the upper areas of the Nile and the lower areas and controlled water and harvest distribution. Cats were holy in ancient Egypt because they guarded the granaries. The novel Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer shows how Pharaoh Ramses was head of the harvest and fertility cult of Egypt. Women adored him. He even shows his erection at a harvest festival. God-Kings also made final decisions, literally over matters of life and death, war and peace, by themselves.

Stage 5) Prophets were rebels. Moses led slaves out of Egypt, the Pharaoh pursuing him. The idea of one God kept people together for a while. But when the Jews were in the desert, they started to worship idols. Moses went up the mountain, and had to come back with the Ten Commandments. Pirates were also rebels. Greek democracies had their origins in mercantile city-states, but it is clear that the Greeks started as pirates. Troy was simply a pirate raid on a rich city run by warlords. Pirates in the Carribean also had some form of democracy. Vikings also did.

Stage 6) Moral lawmakers. Moses became a moral lawmaker with the 10 Commandments. St. Paul of course was a more prolific moral lawmaker, his Letters to different Greek and Roman cities were lectures on how to behave correctly. Common morals are useful to keep large communities together without having to resort to fear which God-Kings and Warlords did, or rely only on faith in God. Bonifacio with his Kartilya and Mabini with his Dekalogo also tried to give Commandments to the Filipino people. One of Bonifacio’s Commandments was to respect women.

Stage 7) Secular lawmakers. Roman Emperor Justinian was one of the first to codify laws. His “Roman law” became the basis for later laws in Europe. The nice thing about secular law is that it is logical and clear, and does not depend on what God you believe in, or what morals you have. Of course it depends on justice and police that are not corrupt, so the foundation of morals is important for it to function as well. Quezon said he would prefer a country run like hell by Filipinos than one run like heaven by Americans. Did he believe too much in Filipinos?

The Philippine situation

Because in the Philippines, you have almost no more people in Stage 1, but many in Stage 2-4. Barangay captains are little datus. Mayors are often little rajas. Mayors and governors are not warlords as often anymore, but in some places they still seem to be. Duterte talks like a God-King who decides who is bad and who is good, just by himself. Let us look at history:

Stage 1) Isolated groups of foragers. Agta, but also remontados or Cimarrones during Spanish times, who wanted to escape forced labor and impunity. There are Agta-Cimarrones in Tiwi, Albay.

Stage 2) Barangays. But the barangay system was coopted by the Spanish and the datus became the principalia. It became the barrio system under the Americans and was revived by Marcos. Aguinaldo started as a cabeza de barangay and even as a President had that mentality.

Stage 3) Warlords. Raja Mangubat of the teleserye Amaya comes to mind.  They consolidated several barangays into areas they controlled. Also most generals of Aguinaldo were de facto warlords. Many postwar Filipino politicians were warlords, until President Marcos became the supreme warlord with an army that was enlarged and recruited many Ilocanos. The NPA and the different Muslim insurrections produced new warlords of different types, masquerading as revolutionaries.

Stage 4) God-Kings. President Marcos was a God-King to some extent, at least to his followers. Legendary figures like Handyong, King of Ibalon or Bikol who may have ruled from near Naga, or proven historical figures like the Kings of Tondo, all ruled economically prosperous regions like parts of the Manila Bay area or the estuary of the Bikol river.

Stage 5) Rebels/prophets. The Colorums or Pulahanes were often rebel prophets. Dagohoy was a rebel and a prophet, restoring native religion in the mountains. Felix Manalo was a prophet in the days after Aguinaldo’s failed Republic. His INC followers use a Tagalog that is remiscent of Bonifacio and Mabini to this day. Corazon Aquino was a bit of a prophet against a God-King, helped by military warlords who made problems for her later. But also a lawmaker and institution-builder: Local Goverment and Family Codes, the Ombudsman and the 1987 Constitution.

Stage 6) Moral lawmakers: Spanish Catholic priests. Bonifacio and Mabini. Noynoy Aquino with Daang Matuwid. Some of his actions in the beginning: Arroyo and Corona – may be seen as arbitrary or not, while the actions of the Ombudsman recently show that the fight against corruption seems to be picking up. President Aquino, both mother and son, have made the mistake of trusting their people too much. Cory the Cojuangcos. Noynoy trusted his sisters too much who supported Binay. He also may have trusted people like Abaya and Purisima way too much.

Stage 7) Secular Lawmakers: 19th-century Spanish administrators. 20th-century American administrators. Filipinos supporting them, including Manuel Quezon, afterwards postwar lawmakers. Mar Roxas has been an institution-builder as DILG Secretary. The modernization of the PNP and the enabling and monitoring of LGUs picked up under him, continuing Jesse Robredo’s work.

The Presidential Candidates


Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (source: Telegraph)

No wonder the Philippines is so disorderly. Many different levels in the evolution of order coexist. Let us look at the presidential candidates:

Jejomar Binay: in the book “Raiding, Trading and Feasting”, Laura Lee Junker shows how datus used to consolidate their power. Those with economic power gave a share of the spoils to allies. Sounds like Binay’s sister cities program. Binay is in Stage 2.

Rodrigo Duterte: he is clearly in Stage 4. He acts like a Pharaoh in the Egyptian fertility cult, with women on his lap on stage, the Mocha Girls endorsing him and followers nearly worshipping him. Davao today is also an economically prosperous area. Duterte’s vice-mayors are from different tribes, like God-King Alexander the Great delegated his regions to satraps. Duterte federalism might be similar.

Grace Poe: she wants to fix the Philippines, but has no idea how to. She is definitely in Stage 5. More than Cory Aquino ever was.

Miriam Santiago represents law, meaning Stage 7. But Miriam Santiago has teamed up with Bongbong and is not healthy. Miriam Santiago is for the law and has implemented it, usually as bombastic micro-management. She may also have been in the Senate too long.

Mar Roxas represents modern order, meaning Stage 7 as well. Mar Roxas has done good work so far, but in some parts in may have been effective, in some not. Parts of the PNP may still be doing things the old corrupt and/or brutal way. Many LGUs are not compliant, the worst example of this may have been Tacloban during Yolanda. The famous video where he says “bahala kayo sa buhay ninyo” is only his reaction to the Tacloban mayor. Filipinos are often non-compliant, “pasaway” and need micro-management, even by motorcycle.

Choices and Consequences

Finally people will vote for the candidate who is at the stage they are themselves. Stage 7 is much better. It is logical and organized. I have seen it work over here. But of course it only works if the people implementing it have internalized Stages 6 and 7. Daang Matuwid had its difficulties in forcing Stage 6, sometimes using people who still were partly in Stage 5 or even below. Those that are modern and compliant would make a Roxas presidency successful. Those that have to be motivated by fear and guided by micromanagement will be looking for a Duterte presidency.

Mayor Duterte is a lawyer. His mind was educated for Stage 7, but his guts act more like Stage 4. Has he understood Stage 6 in his heart? I don’t know. He is popular among those who have not yet fully assimilated Stages 6 and 7 – moral and legal. His satraps who have not understood this will be a danger. And after Alexander the Great died, the satraps formed their own kingdoms. There is a clear danger that the Philippines would Balkanize after Duterte dies, which is likely within the next years.  Unless he is as virile and strong as Pharaoh Ramses II, Shelley’s Ozymandias:

Defaced Marcos bust (Photo: AP)

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Conclusion and Perspectives

Finally, Filipinos will choose the President that they deserve at this stage of their social development.  The difficulties of Daang Matuwid, and of Roxas not being popular, show that the Stages 6 and 7 have not yet reached enough people. Of course the leaders who have been taking the country forward are from richer families. They passed through the other stages earlier and had the possibility to learn things that others did not have. It was like that in all of human history.

The Agta that Fedor Jagor observed near Tiwi in Albay were the 1870s. That is hardly 150 years ago. Europeans and Americans had centuries to go through similar developments. Children learn attitudes from their parents and their environment. Hopefully they improve on their parent’s attitudes. But a rest of old attitudes always remains.

Racism took long to be removed in American attitudes. Democracy took long to take root in Germany. And still you will find people in both countries that have the old attitudes, or make others slide back into them. I really hope the Philippines finds its way. Because today the world is more interconnected, and sliding back means losing to others. Merry Christmas to all readers.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, 11 December 2015, München

P.S. I am taking a break until after Christmas, but will be answering comments for a few more days.

5 thoughts on “Evolution of Order

  1. This blog-installment is, like-wow, Irineo!! What a panoramic picto-text graphic of the march of human civilization through history. All I keep seeing is a grid to use and write a definitive narrative on the anthropology and sociology of any given human settlement from origins to order and civilization. The grid I see can give coordinates & axes to explain leadership, individual behavior, nationalism, politics, technology, authority and most of the ingredients that go into making order & civilization. Kudos (as usual)! 🙂

    • I believe that all happened because a large part of Filipinos were left behind by elites and educated middle classes. That they have another concept of order is a given. And that they choose a leader who sees the Constitution as a piece of paper is not truly surprising to me, sadly.

    • Thanks – a lot of it is conjecture based on history and the Bible, but the main premise remains: the larger human communities become, the more sophisticated the mechanisms need to be to maintain a certain smoothness of interaction – I wonder if research can prove/disprove parts of this.

      The basic equipment of human being is such that we only “know” (are able to properly remember) around 100 people, something like the size of a Stone Age community. So for orderly interactions above that, forms of abstraction like hierarchy (villages), morals and laws were needed.

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