Head, Body and Feet; or, what I've been doing with my life

I'm pretty sure only one person will really appreciate this (and you will very quickly know who you are, my friend) but since I've been too busy and burned out to do any extra-curricular writing these last few days, I figured I'd post this:


One of the most common critiques of Rizal’s narrative of nationalism comes from left-leaning academics, who charge Rizal with elitism. Renato Constantino, for example, argues that while Rizal spoke in good faith about human rights and human dignity and used the language of universal ideals, he was essentially “voicing the goals of his class.”[1] He may have condemned the exploitation of peasants at the hands of encomenderos and friars, the argument goes, but did not question the underlying morality of social stratification.  A close reading of Rizal’s annotations in the Morga supports this analysis.  He seems genuinely outraged by the exploitation of peasants at hands of encomenderos and friars; yet while he decries the “tyranny of the oppressor” against the “poor class,” he does not question the existence of class itself. [2] Most tellingly, when de Morga explains the traditional constellation of Philippine classes as principales, plebians and slaves, Rizal simply concurs. “This is the eternal division one finds, and will find (in the future) everywhere, in all kingdoms and republics: ruling class, productive class, and servant class: head, body and feet.”[3]  It is, to say the least, difficult to imagine Rizal aspired to a sense of deep horizontal comradeship with someone he describes as being, eternally, a foot.



[1] Renato Constantino, Dissent and Counter-Consciousness (Quezon City: Malaya Books, Inc., 1970) p.135.

[2] Rizal-Morga, p. 300, referring here to Catholicism’s failure to liberate the poor.

[3] Ibid, 297, n. 2. “Esta es la division eterna que se encuentra y se encontrara en todas partes, en todos los reinos y republicas: clase dominadora, clase productora y clase servil: cabeza, cuerpo y pies.” In other notes, Rizal gives considerable attention to the question of slavery, generally condemning the practice, but noting that slavery in the Philippines was benign compared to European systems, and could more accutately be described as debt-bondage. (see footnotes p. 294.295)

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I should note, also, that I got a chance to slag off Ileto, although I had to confine it to a footnote.  Let's just say I have convincing evidence that he never read the Morga. 

Did we ever have lives?