Leonora C. Angeles, University of British Columbia
Using key ideas of classical Frankfurt School Critical Theory, I examine how Asian populist authoritarian regimes, such as the Philippines under its President Rodrigo Duterte, seize the COVID-19 pandemic context for regime maintenance and power consolidation. I demonstrate how the pandemic unravels in the Philippines, highlighting three aspects in the political economy of development to contextualize the State’s response to COVID-19: (1) the pursuit of neoliberal economic policies that charted phenomenal economic growth rates without addressing structural socio-economic inequality; (2) the predisposing conditions of failed political promises, increased opportunities for rent-seeking and corruption, and increasing inequalities under constricted liberal democracies that gave rise to populist authoritarian leaders; and (3) combined forces of neoliberalism and populist authoritarianism, setting the stage for conflictual and contested government and public responses to the pandemic and conveniently merging pre-pandemic imperatives for power consolidation and regime maintenance. I highlight how populist authoritarianism persists during pandemics through three significant connected elements of fear-based ideologies propagated through mass media, the hetero-patriarchal family, and educational system.
CCSEAS Conference 2021 | firstname.lastname@example.org