I recently revisited the seminal piece written back in 2003 that describes the real challenge that faces a society so pyramidal in structure that it makes the target of an effort to reform so obvious:
The sad reality of the rot that exists within the supposed leaders (both accidental and deliberate) of our society is described in such elegant succinctness here:
If among the Elites, only a very small minority achieve a high level of enlightenment and ability to think things in a critically rational way, whilst the majority of the Elites are unenlightened or pseudo-enlightened, then the Elites will end up divided and will not be able to agree on proper policy. More importantly, the viewpoint of the truly enlightened Elites ends up muted (due to their limited numbers amidst a vast sea of ignorance) and their proposed course of action, neglected. Discussions, arguments, and debates on policy thus become a matter of sophistry (trying to “APPEAR CORRECT” through the use of rhetorical techniques) rather than genuinely weighing pros and cons and studying the feasibility of the stated options through logic and inquisitive reasoning.
… but then …
True rationalists and enlightened people, on the other hand, given the same amount of knowledge and evidence, are often likely to reach the same conclusion, even when working independently of each other. They may sometimes differ on a few specifics, usually because one party knows a little tidbit of information that the other doesn’t know yet, but once that bit of information reaches the other one, and he verifies it to be true, he then makes adjustments, and revises his view. The end result is that their conclusions end up the same or highly similar, despite having been independent of each other. Because of the adherence to true objectivity, there is no need to coerce each other to subscribe to the same view. The empirical evidence as processed through proper use of logic and reasoning often speaks for itself.
And in the context of the above, the situation that grips a largely ignorant population can be summed up thus:
Bigger potential dangers are likely to arise from the pseudo-enlightened or “half-enlightened” Elites.
Putting it a bit more poetically:
(1) It’s the ELITES/EDUCATED ONES who are DANGEROUS when they’re stupid.
(2) Stupid masa types often harm themselves as individuals, but stupid elites HARM EVERYONE.
(3) Ultimately, it is elites who fight other elites, and the stupid elites fool members of the masses who then unwittingly become their pawns.
Sounds all-too-familiar, doesn’t it?
What is worse is that some less-than-enlightened elites also successfully FOOL members of the middle classes. Clearly there is a trend in our society that needs to be arrested.
(a) On one hand, the elites (enlightened or not) exercise undisputed control over the information dissemination infrastructure of Filipino society. This justifies a strategy of getting the real deal to the masses via a focused effort to enlighten the elites (I think that is the Jesuit strategy as well — flawed as some of its execution may be — where their education investment is focused on exclusive private education);
I’m kinda inclined to the above Item (a) — the “chain reaction” billiard-ball analogy. Hit the most balls with the least strokes.
…on the other hand…
(b) much of the pseudo-enlightened elite have minds that are too far imprisoned by their own formal education. So there is also some merit in exploring how we hit the grassroots bottom-up approach.
Take the eminent Filipino demagogue Abe Margallo and his recent FilipinoVoices.com piece “Debating what to debate“. The article which seeks to downplay any need to pressure politicians to be more upfront about their political platforms and personal vision for our society is no more than a long-winded (in his trademark pompously verbose) appeal to the classic bahala na-ism that Pinoys have become world-renowned.
To spare yourself the excrutiating experience of slogging through Margallo’s pained blurb, just rest assured that the following excerpt fully encapsulates gramps’s flawed thinking…
Contrary to [benign0]’s simple-minded pretext, mainstream politicians in the Philippines, presidentiables or not, invariably all stand for something, i.e., for conserving “market” and (procedural) “democracy.” Indeed, they are not expected to question the legitimacy of the dominant segment of the system in place or press for radical change of the current resource distribution. They debate, sometimes ferociously, but only within the range framed by their superordinates. Contained debates of such nature reinforce the system in place and ultimately are damaging to a people’s emancipatory project.
…basically a blanket apology for a general absolute lack of any published categorical positions on relevant national issues among the politicians vying for public attention as evident in The Matrix. Ironically his citing of the limited range of politicians’ debate, one that is “framed by their superordinates” which leads to damage to “a people’s emancipatory project” all the more emphasizes the need for a lot more transparency in what they and their political “parties” stand for.
Of course Filipino politicians do debate “ferociously” among themselves. Any moron can see that they differ on many things amongst one another. But the question is (which describes the point missed by Margallo) is this:
How do the voters who sit outside those exclusive circles — and the debates that rage within — differentiate one politicians from another?
Look no further beyond this little corner of the Filipino blogosphere we inhabit. While we see ourselves as so “ferociously” different in the views we take among ourselves, we take it for granted that the masa see our kind as all the same — a stereotyped (in many instances unfairly) private school and university educated gated-subdivision-raised bunch of “armchair” activists who have no place in the “real struggle” of the lumpenproletariat.
So too how we who sit outside the corridors of power and the closed-door wheeling and dealing that goes on among politicians in their country clubs and cocktail parties see these bozos as just an amorphous blob of trapos (traditional politicians).
They are all the same.
Indeed they are. Just as all birds fly and all fish swim. When you are outside looking in, they are indeed all the same.
Abe Margallo unwittingly makes the ironic assertion that all but reveals his comprehensive missing of the whole point of the brilliant and groundbreaking New Deal between the voters and their politicians — Platform, plez™ :
[…] mainstream politicians in the Philippines, presidentiables or not, invariably all stand for something […]
No arguments there, gramps. They all do — amongst themselves and within their circles, that is.
The objective of an election though is to CHOOSE ONE OF THEM (are those letters big enough for your reading glasses, gramps?). That means it is our job as voters to pit them against one another and evaluate them against the other. And to do that la difference that is known amongst politicians needs to be made available to a broad audience.
Indeed, the whole point of an election and the politics that surround it is quite simple. It does not need an “expert” blurb of exceeding verbose pomposity to describe it.
Sometimes we just need to step out of our little square and allow simple logic to guide us in our efforts to find The Truth.