Recently someone in class wielded that useful canard – inflation – to explain the rise in tuition fees worldwide. Inflation is an abstract concept turned into a worn-out excuse by economists and politicians to evade the real issues.
The professor’s reply was in response to concerns raised by student parties campaigning at our university, which are often compelled to shrug their…
Artwork from the Economist
A quick look at how economists and politicians brutalize the English language, beating Orwell each time. Not to be taken too seriously, seriously.
1. Consensus – (n.) a decision of the majority.
*What it really means: a decision of the minority, made to look like a decision of the majority.
2. Consultation– (v.) to have an open and public debate between rival interests…
A shorter version of this article appeared on Rappler earlier this month
Kids these days aren’t what they used to be. Their values are gone, replaced by the worship of the Self. Politics is passé.
Once at the forefront of the People Power struggle, young people everywhere have beat a hasty retreat into their self-centred spheres, turning to drugs, crime, or the latest pop fad in a bid to…
Everything seems frozen in place. Every tree, every branch, every root sticking out from the ground, stretches out toward an unseen horizon as though reaching for a sun that will never come, or shine as bright as it once did. The trees are twisted out…
They are Hitler, We are Not
When I heard Aquino comparing the Chinese leadership to Hitler (1), I could only laugh: 21st…
This article will come out in the next issue of THE GUILDER, published by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (http://www.cegp.org/2014/01/college-editors-join-blackout-protests-vs-power-rate-hikes/)
Soaring prices, falling living standards.…
“Public” Services: Who pays when the government won’t?
This article will come out in the next issue of THE GUILDER, published by the College Editors Guild…
We are all born to find our destinies tied to the size of our bank accounts. Those penniless…
A lot of people won’t be having much of a Christmas this year. For tens of thousands, broken candles and long-overdue donations will be their Noche Buena. Amid the ruins, there will be little left to help them sort through the fragments of their lives; nothing left to anchor the past to hopes of a better future. There will be prayers, of course. Prayers that will drift up to an austere heaven - each bead representing a lost loved one - before they descend, unheard, on the banquets of kings.
In Manila these same kings have banned hammers from malls (but not profiteering or tax evasion by the owner of those malls) - and to make way for the malls, the families of bus drivers, who earn less than minimum wage for a 19-hour work day, will see their homes demolished. Demolished, like farmers’ attempts to plant their own crops in Hacienda Luisita this week, which added another page to the chronicle of landlessness and dispossession that are facts of life for three out of every five Filipinos for whom a decent life exists only in ABS-CBN teleseryes. Demolished, like the communities of Eastern Visayas.
Thinking through these scenes one is reminded, again and again, of just how much the tyranny we live under - which masquerades as democracy - values life. That is, not at all.
Indeed, resistance to injustice is met with impunity and truth is silenced through murder (of no less than four journalists and an indigenous rights activist in a little over two weeks… and, five days before Christmas, a city mayor and an 18-month old child).
Worst of all, at the end of the day, we will be expected to believe this is all normal, and that we can go on with our lives guilt-free. Perhaps we will recognise the horror for what it is only when it is too late.
At the heart of the insanity is a society where, as Mandela noted, private property takes precedence over human rights, and where peace and order for the minority are more important than justice for the majority. Which explains why the President and his entourage rushed to SM North a few days ago to personally oversee the thorny issue of the Martilyo gang, when much bigger thieves have yet to see justice, and when so many other issues ought to occupy the head of state. Ultimately, of course, jewelry and personal reputations are more important than human lives.
Ours is a tyranny all the more terrifying because it is left unsaid, masked by the rhetoric of reform and promises of better standards of living for all - within a system that invests more in arms and profits than education and health care.
The question we should be asking ourselves is not why this is all happening - we know why - but how could we have believed otherwise? How could we have stayed so silent and so stupid (or rather, so afraid) for so long? Are the lies simply worth believing in, or is the truth too painful to contemplate, or are the solutions too difficult to bear? As Christmas approaches, how do we reconcile our faith with the reality of a world where the cries of the child who slept in the manger are the same cries we hear every day?
And above all, what is to be done?
For tens of thousands, rage and disappointment will be their Noche Buena. But amid the ruins, there will also be resistance. And hope.
Globalization: Inequality in the Global Plantation
"Capitalism is a system that is inherently based on exploitation, and from its beginnings in Western Europe it has been forcefully expanded to cover the entire world. In this process of capitalist globalization, which should be understood as imperialism, the core nations have became wealthy and developed by exploiting and underdeveloping the peripheral countries of the Third World…
The initial links of globalization were thus connected as shackles binding the exploited periphery to the imperialist core.”
Not the WTO: Building on and Beyond Bandung
"The outcome of neoliberal ‘free market’ policies is well-established: profits and riches for a few along with underdevelopment for the majority of the people. The search for alternatives to the WTO has only become more urgent eighteen years after its establishment and especially with the global economy having entered into a protracted depression and its worst crisis in a century."
Philippine loses from new WTO deal: Gov’t should have rejected Bali package
“The Philippines will not gain from the deal reached by the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the conclusion of its 9th ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia. According to research group IBON, it will worsen the country’s rising merchandise trade deficit and make it even more difficult to create the domestic conditions for local agriculture and industry to develop.
The group added that the Philippine government should have rejected the Bali package because this goes against national interest. ”
Martin Luther King, Jr. on America and Empire
"I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today - my own government…
This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death… Somehow this madness must cease.”
On Poverty and Inequality
"Why are there 40 million poor people in America?
When you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy… but one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring… you see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, “Who owns the oil?” You begin to ask the question, “Who owns the iron ore?”
On Reform and Revolution
"The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit… I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin to shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-centered" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered..
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast between poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.”
It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.”
The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.
A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world. There is nothing, expect a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood and sisterhood. We still have a chance today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.”
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight…
The whole structure of American life must be changed. For years I laboured with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of society, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values… the possible nationalization of certain industries, a guaranteed annual income, a vast review of foreign investments, an attempt to bring new life into the cities.
This is why the civil rights movement has to restructure itself, in a sense to gear itself for an altogether new phase of struggle… until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort and the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice.”
Disasters and the dire state of economic, socio-cultural rights in the Philippines
"IBON Features—This year’s commemoration of International Human Rights Day finds the Philippines challenged with the devastation wrought by supertyphoon Yolanda in the Visayas one month ago. While the nation continues to grapple withrelief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, the country constantly reels from the man-made plague of backwardness and underdevelopment, the very same symptoms of the present bleak state of economic, social and cultural rights.
The country’s weak capacity to adapt to the impact of disasters is a result of years of state neglect and its adherence to economic policies that ensure profit above people’s welfare. Like disasters, these policies have devastating effects on the country: persistent poverty and inequality, record unemployment, and declining productive sectors, among others. This situation lies behind the repeated violations of the people’s economic, social and cultural rights…”
This has been the story of BS Aquino’s governance for the past three years: year in and out, hundreds of billions of pesos in damages to infrastructure and livelihood, thousands of lives are lost and millions are adversely affected as politicians from the local governments up to the President himself continue to coddle environmentally destructive projects, pilfer public coffers, and condemn their constituents to chronic poverty and its consequent vulnerability.
Read the full article here:
In the Name of Development
At least 175,000 people in Tacloban have nowhere to rebuild their homes. A barbed wire fence now…
History can’t move without us
“The only appropriate way to honor the legacy of the iconic freedom fighter is not to beatify the…
The real Madiba…
Public Power in the Age of Empire
"In 1987, the United States was a staunch ally of apartheid South Africa. The African National Congress and Nelson Mandela were listed as "terrorists"…
Time and again we have seen the heroes of our times, giants in opposition, suddenly diminished. President Lula of Brazil was the hero of the World Social Forum in January 2002. Now he’s busy implementing IMF guidelines, reducing pension benefits and purging radicals from the Workers’ Party. Lula has a worthy predecessor in the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, who instituted a massive programme of privatisation and structural adjustment that has left thousands of people homeless, jobless, and without water and electricity. When Harry Oppenheimer died in August 2000, Mandela called him “one of the great South Africans of our time.” Oppenheimer was the head of Anglo-American, one of South Africa’s largest mining companies, which made its money exploiting cheap black labour made available by the repressive apartheid regime.
Why does this happen? It is neither true nor useful to dismiss Mandela or Lula as weak or treacherous people. It’s important to understand the nature of the beast they were up against. The moment they crossed the floor from the opposition into government they became hostage to a spectrum of threats - most malevolent among them the threat of capital flight, which can destroy any government overnight. To imagine that a leader’s personal charisma and history of struggle will dent the corporate cartel is to have no understanding of how capitalism works, or for that matter, how power works….
Radical change cannot and will not be negotiated by governments; it can only be enforced by people. By the public. A public who can link hands across national borders.
So when we speak of public power in the Age of Empire, I hope it’s not presumptuous to assume that the only thing that is worth discussing seriously is the power of a dissenting public. A public that disagrees with the very concept of Empire. A public that has set itself against incumbent power - international, national, regional, or provincial governments and institutions that support and service Empire.”
Don’t Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He’s Honored Now, But Was Hated Then
Now that he’s dead, and can cause no more trouble, Nelson Mandela is being mourned across the ideological spectrum as a saint. But not long ago, in Washington’s highest circles, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Unless we remember why, we won’t truly honor his legacy.
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan placed Mandela’s African National Congress on America’s official list of “terrorist” groups. In 1985, then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted against a resolution urging that he be released from jail. In 2004, after Mandela criticized the Iraq War, an article in National Review said his “vicious anti-Americanism and support for Saddam Hussein should come as no surprise, given his longstanding dedication to communism and praise for terrorists.” As late as 2008, the ANC remained on America’s terrorism watch list, thus requiring the 89-year-old Mandela to receive a special waiver from the secretary of State to visit the U.S.
From their perspective, Mandela’s critics were right to distrust him. They called him a “terrorist” because he had waged armed resistance to apartheid. They called him a “communist” because the Soviet Union was the ANC’s chief external benefactor and the South African Communist Party was among its closest domestic allies. More fundamentally, what Mandela’s American detractors understood is that he considered himself an opponent, not an ally, of American power.
And that’s exactly what Mandela’s American admirers must remember now…”
"Marxism’s call to revolutionary action was music to the ears of a freedom fighter. The idea that history progresses through struggle and that change occurs in revolutionary jumps was similarly appealing. In my reading of Marxist works, I found a great deal of information that bore on the types of problems that face a practical politician. Marxists gave serious attention to national liberation movements, and the Soviet Union in particular supported the national struggles of many colonial peoples. This was another reason why I amended my view of communists and accepted the ANC position of welcoming Marxists into its ranks."
(A Long Walk to Freedom)
"(We) fight for a world where there will be no unemployment, no poverty and starvation, disease and ignorance. In such a world there will be no capitalists, no imperialists, no fascists. There will be neither colonies nor wars."
- Nelson Mandela, in his handwritten Manuscript ‘How To Be A Good Communist’.