Althusser on the RH Bill

The Philippines, as a state, is a site of many state apparatuses. Indeed, like media, it has pierced into the lives of multitudes of Filipinos and as we are speaking right now, it continues to effect its power on us. Whether good or bad, its influence has played a big part in our everyday living, which can be seen in the most basic form of it all, the family. Everything starts at home, and thus, making us seem to be proned to helplessness and powerlessness. Though this may be the case, there is a way to escape such inescapable ordeal, and the best way is through determining these driving forces.

As Althusser (1971) said in his article, state apparatuses (SA) consist of the government, the administration, the army, the police, the courts, the prisons, etc which can be identified as either Repressive or Ideological State Apparatus. The term ‘Repressive’ suggests that the state apparatus in question “functions by violence” while ‘Ideological’ connotes a certain number of realities which present themselves to the immediate observer in the form of distinct and specialized institutions. Below are some of the ISAs that are present in every society:

Religious ISA (system of the different Churches)
Educational ISA (the system of the different public and private schools)
Family ISA
Legal ISA
Political ISA (the political system, including the different parties)
Trade-union ISA
Communications ISA (press, radio and television, etc.)
Cultural ISA (literature, the arts, sports, etc)

All and all, according to Althusser, there is one (Repressive) state apparatus, while there is a plurality of ISAs.

To distinguish more RSA from ISA, Repressive State Apparatus belongs entirely to the public domain while on the other hand, much the larger part of the Ideological State Apparatuses are part of the private domain. In addition to this, the repressive SA functions “by violence”, whereas the ISA function “by ideology”, though there is no such thing as a purely repressive nor ideological apparatus. RSA functions massively and predominantly by repression while functioning secondarily by ideology. Same thing goes with ISAs, functioning massively and predominantly by ideology, but they also function secondarily by repression. Thus, schools and churches use methods of punishment, expulsion, selection, etc., to “discipline” not only their students but also their teachers.

As an example to these existing state apparatuses, the much talked-about Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008 [] has not only seeped through classrooms and religious institutions, but also in families as well. Both sides of the matter have already been presented and that the institutions are the ones responsible for the promulgation of information in communities. Through this example, one may see that the principles of the RH Bill are being established and brought out by different institutions which have a large impact in our society nowadays. Such institutions are the Catholic Church, the education systems and the government as well. These institutions make use of ideas, instead of violence, in promoting and advocating their side regarding the issue of the RH Bill. Their influence as an institution affect the opinions of the individuals under them.

To better understand what this bill is, here is another clip from GMA's Reporter's Notebook, explaining what this bill really is: []

Below is a link showing Roilo Golez, one of the leading oppositors in the House against the Reproductive Health Bill or RH Bill, asking Cong. Edcel Lagman, the author of the said bill, about whether children should be taken as an asset or as a liability. Golez argues that with the right family and government support, every child can grow up as an asset to the nation: []

Another link showing the stand of the Church and their refusal to help the Senate in developing the said bill:

Still another link showcasing the Church's stand regarding RH Bill: []

Given the fact that the “ruling class” in principle holds state power, this same ruling class is active in the ISA as it is ultimately the ruling ideology which is realized in the ISA. No class can hold state power over a long period without at the same time exercising its hegemony over and in the ISA. Also, an ideology always exists in an apparatus, and its practice, or practices.

Still according to Althusser (1971), there is no ideology except by the subject and for subjects. It means that there is no ideology except for concrete subjects, and this destination for ideology is only made possible by the subject, by the category of the subject and its functioning. Indeed, the category of the subject is only constitutive of all ideology insofar as all ideology has the function (which defines it) of constituting concrete individuals as subjects. In the interaction of this double constitution exists the functioning of all ideology, ideology being nothing but its functioning in the material forms of existence of that functioning.

It should be interested to note that you and I are always already subjects, and as such constantly practice the rituals of ideological recognition, which guarantee for us that we are indeed concrete, individual, distinguishable and irreplaceable subjects, thus making us conscious of the practices we are undergoing. Furthermore, all ideology hails or interpellates concrete individuals as concrete subjects, acting and functioning in such a way that it recruits subjects among the individuals or transforms that individuals into subjects by interpellation or hailing, thus, making him/her a subject as he/she recognizes that the hail was really addressed to him/her, and that it was really him/her who was hailed.

Another clip is shown to emphasize the role of Filipinos in the passing of the said bill. A concert was put up to promote the RH bill: []

The existence of ideology and the hailing or interpellation of individuals as subjects are one and the same thing. Thus, ideology has always –already interpellated individuals as subjects, which amounts to making it clear that individuals are always-already interpellated by ideology as subjects, which necessarily leads us to one last proposition: individuals are always-already subjects. Despite the influence of the existing institutions, Filipinos are entitled to their own opinions and that their individuality is being respected as their right is being regarded. Individuals who are made to realize their importance in the passing of this bill are regarded to be unique and their differences from each other must be taken note of in lobbying for this said bill. Below is a link that showcases the recent survey regarding RH Bill:

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