The Rhetoric of Anti-Intellectualism: Facebook Pages in Duterte’s Propaganda

  • Orville B. Tatcho


This study considers how anti-intellectualism is weaponized by the bloggers and pundits in former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte’s propaganda machine while attempting to nuance our understanding of anti-intellectualism, which is commonly defined as an attack on the intellect. In the Facebook pages or blogs of Mocha Uson, RJ Nieto, and Sass Sasot, anti-intellectualism serves a two-fold function: (1) to attack perceived opponents of the Duterte administration labeled as “elitists” to muzzle criticism and (2) to promote an alternative epistemic regime that endorses knowledge that is arguably practical, commonsensical, and politically expedient. The rhetorical cues of anti-intellectualism in the Facebook thus include populist anti-elitism, opinion leadership through punditry, and spreading falsehoods. I advance the arguments of this paper through James Martin’s rhetorical political analysis (RPA) as a method and Christian Kock and Lisa Villadsen’s conceptual frame of rhetorical citizenship. This paper concludes with suggestions to improve the rhetorical practices of citizens who engage with and encounter Duterte’s propaganda machine.