Authenticity deconstructed

By Antonio P. Contreras

Contrary to popular belief, there are many virtues in politics. Far from being a world for the corrupt and a vocation for the corruptible, politics in fact, and ideally, like teaching, is a noble profession.

In its ideal form, politics is about sacrificing one’s own interest to serve the greater good.

In fact, the ideal of politics is loaded with moral norms and ethical considerations, a far cry from economics, where the fundamental ethical basis is selfishness, and where the pursuance of the common good becomes only an outcome, albeit unintended, of individuals maximizing their self-interests.

Read on…



  1. A young Middle eastern female staff of a Muslim embassy once told me there are 7 capital sins we must avoid which I remember 3 most important:
    1) religion without sacrifice
    2) business without conscience
    3) politics without principle

    of the 3, Philipines seems to commit the most glaring sin. If Pinoy, seems to loose his authenticity, it is because the political system and its environment has time and again produce a synthetic leader who must compromise his principles to gain the greater good, regardless of how sincere the character of our leader. While we expect Pinoy to be a perfect hybrid of a hero because of the lineage of his parent, we are frustrated because class loyalty is the dominant determination of how Pinoy reacts and the direction of his political ideology. When can we have the true mark of a sincere leader without prejudging his social class belonging and economic behaviour?

  2. I fear that Dean Contreras has succumbed to the negativity of a compilation of misguided presumptions. The idea that economics is founded on the selfishness of greed is one of them. It is founded on the wholly healthy, deeply inbred drive to improve our conditions and ourselves, and without it, we would still be lost in the woods in loincloths searching for the woolly mammoth to slay, behaving much as the next animal up or down the food chain. As to the “horror” of Mr. Aquino visiting McDonalds and a gun shop, give me a break. The Dean turns this simple, refreshing bit of common-man humanity inside out and upside down to use it to declare that the President is an elitist. Huh?This basically proves that the Dean is compiling a lot of words that mean nothing at all, except they sound academic.

  3. manuel buencamino

    “In its ideal form, politics is about sacrificing one’s own interest to serve the greater good.”

    Dean Contreras confuses politics with public service.

    Politics is about power relationships between and among states, nations, non-state groups, and individuals. It is about acquiring power or influence over others. Public service is but one of many different ways one can acquire influence over others. So politics and public service are not one and the same thing.

    As to “principled politics”. Principle is defined as “a rule or belief governing one’s behavior”. Dean Contreras may consider his politics as principled politics but that would only be his opinion of his politics. Someone else might consider his politics inane.

    For example, there is that National Transformation group formed by Kit Tatad, Norberto Gonzales, Fr. Archie Intengan, Carmen Pedrosa, and several Mitsubishops among others who believe they are engaged in principled politics. Those who oppose them can also claim they are also engaged principled politics. Principled politics means nothing without context. Those who believe in democracy will judge who is practicing principled politics in the context of democratic processes while those who believe in other forms of politics will judge who is practicing principled politics in the context of the processes within their form of politics. Democratic centralism is principled politics as far as Leninists are concerned, separation of church and state is principled politics as far as secularists are concerned.

    “it is very problematic to me when someone incessantly posts, tweets and shouts in social media one’s condemnation of martial law, and emphatically declares “never again” as a political mantra, and yet in the same breath actively defends the megalomaniacal tendency of one who is afflicted with a messianic complex.”

    Dean Contreras is once again confused.

    “Never Again” refers to dictatorship. It does not apply when the people exercise their sovereign will to change constitutional term limits or any other constitutional provision.

    One can say “Never Again” to dictatorship and say Yes to changing term limits without being inconsistent if the means used to effect the change are in accord with democratic processes. (The drawback of a system based on the sovereign will of the people is a demagogue can come along and convince the people to choose dictatorship over self-governance.)

    To dress bitching in academic robes is like putting lipstick on a pig. The problem is one can begin to believe that the pig with lipstick is not a pig and end up kissing it.