Exorcising Communist Specters and Witch Philosophers: The Struggle for Academic Freedom of 1961
In re-discovering the scholars who pioneered in the practice and teaching of Philosophy in the Philippines, this paper unravels the story and character of UP Philosophy professor Ricardo Pascual in the context of the witch hunts of 1961. While indicted for his alleged communism, the real issues that led to Pascual’s trial were his professed agnosticism and his advocacy of secular liberalism, which was a response to the sectarian aggression threatening academic freedom in the 1930s, and again, in the 1950s. Pascual was, however, not the only one at that time to have fallen prey to this insidious tactic of misrecognition. The anonymous 1946 manuscript entitled The Peasant War in the Philippines, which sought reparations for a group of peasant rebels woefully defamed as “bandits and communists,” also found itself ironically condemned of treason, providing, as this paper explores, important resonances to and intersections with Pascual’s case. While Communism had conjured an image of itself as a specter, the fear and paranoia which it effectively produced was used not only to misrecognize every form of resistance as an assault against the State, but to suppress hauntings of other kinds. In Pascual’s case, it was in conjuring the spirit of Logical Positivism and the memory of the Filipino hero, Jose Rizal that he asserted the importance of a philosophy that was constantly and consciously critical of the constraints and obscurantist tendencies of religion and its institutions.