Monday, December 2, 2013


I taught the subject, Rizal for two semesters in the Presbyterian Theological Seminary located at Dasmarinas, Cavite. I forgot the exact year. After surveying the available textbooks in our library, I decided to use Constantino and Abaya. I don't like Agoncillo and Zaide. My goal that time was not to give too much attention to Rizal, but to challenge the students to think, and somehow to arouse their spirits towards nationalism or patriotism. I was clueless about the difference between these two terms. 

Reading just now, "The Last Betrayal of Dr. Jose Rizal" from Vincenton, the blogger mentions about the difference between the terms. He wrote that "Rizal was a PATRIOT, not a 'nationalist'." For him, nationalism is a recent invention and those who fail the distinction between these two words are "politically and philosophically CLUELESS." That describes me. 

The Vinceton article is well-thought and written. I stumbled with four new additional insights. They include the evil results of ignorance of our rights, an important distinction in relation to human rights and happiness, a libertarian way to see Rizal's political book, and correcting altruism. 

The evil results of man's ignorance of his rights are taken from an important line contained in France's Declaration of the Rights of Man: ". . . the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man are the sole cause of public calamities and of the corruption of governments . . ." This statement is old (1789), but its message is most relevant in a day where the growing power of the State is causing "public calamities" and "corruption". 

Another insightful distinction is made by the blogger. This time it is between "the right to happiness" and "the right to pursue happiness". I thought they're the same. 

The writer claims that Rizal does not believe that man has basic right to happiness simply because he exists. Instead, what man has is the right "to pusue" happiness. This distinction is so important particularly in understanding socio-political issues today. 

Concerning Rizal's political book, Noli Me Tangere, here's what the owner of Vinceton has to say:

"There must be some more profound reason why he titled his first novel 'Noli Me Tangere' (Touch Me Not). It sounds almost the same– or it almost has the same import– as the French’s 'Laissez-nous faire' (Let us be or Leave us alone). This reveals Rizal’s not fully articulated understanding that government is force, a political idea first expressed by America’s founding fathers, particularly George Washington, who wrote that 'Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.' ”
"Rizal’s Noli was his political protest against the Spanish theocratic BIG GOVERNMENT. In France, the term 'Laissez-faire' was French businessman M. Le Gendre’s protestation against his economically restrictive/intrusive French BIG GOVERNMENT."
And finally about altruism:

"Rizal was NO altruist. While he treated the indigent for free, he charged his wealthy patients, both locals and foreigners, for his medical services. His wealthy patients paid handsomely for his excellent services. In other words, he could afford to help the poor, and this is NON-SELF SACRIFICIAL. Take note that ALTRUISM means self-sacrifice or putting the welfare/interest of others above your own."


Note: In the Introduction of Omnipotent Government, Ludwig von Mises clarified the distinction between nationalism and patriotism.