Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Calling our social scientists

If in fact ours is a damaged culture, does it come from the left, from the right or both?

“What we have had so far are plenty of squandered opportunities. The modern country of the future was already believed to have within grasp at the start of the Philippine Revolution in 1896, but perhaps true independence was not yet meant to be. Of course, the executions of Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and Antonio Luna come to mind, as well as the rise of Emilio Aguinaldo.” [Another chance at greatness, Marvin A. Tort, Static, Business World, 6th Apr 2016]

Have we been running around in circles? We don’t like unsolicited advice yet haven’t kept pace with the rest of the world? Calling our social scientists? We can’t do the natural science (and be competitive R&D-wise, for example, or even economy-wise) if we don’t get a fix on the social science – and address Juan de la Cruz?

Should we weep the fact that instinctively we would search high and low to find excuses for our follies? When we invoke history, for instance, is it to protect our bruised ego too? How far should we go back in time – to Adam and Eve being driven out of Eden? Man has been tested under fire – and will be – and we can’t run away from it!

But we have supposedly leftist elements talking up the ideology of the left? Because socialism is the be all and end all? The writer is in the heart of Eastern Europe (Sofia, Bulgaria) composing this posting. And these people know a bit about socialism yet chose to hear “the ideology of capitalism” from the writer. Instead of choosing to shoot him. They did with the pope before.

What is our hypothesis when we talk up whatever ideology we spout? Do we begin with the end in mind? Have we produced a visionary leader committed to community and the common good – and had a clear path to traverse as a nation – like a Lee or Mahathir or Deng? A leader who can articulate a hypothesis and test it as he or she leads the people is what we sorely need? But our leaders come from our ranks?

But that is getting ahead of ourselves. Until we come to terms with who we are, we will be clueless how to move forward? The last century says it all? Leader or follower Juan de la Cruz is Juan de la Cruz!

“Asked if the masses fully get the idea of economic growth, Former Akbayan representative Walden Bello said the problem is how the present administration is delivering this supposedly good news to the people.

“‘People get really angry when the administration boasts of record economic growth but they feel that their situation either has not improved or become worse….’ Bello told Business Bulletin. ‘[Economic growth is] of course not inclusive. That’s the problem, it’s only been exclusive to the top one percent of our population,’ he added.

“For Bello, one of the indicators that economic growth started to become more inclusive is when the government is able to thin the gap between the rich and the poor. ‘We need improvements in the Gini coefficient, the key measure of inequality. We need complete agrarian reform program and passage of the Security of Tenure Bill. The administration failed on the first and failed to support the second,’ Bello said.

“‘[An inclusive economic growth can happen] but only if we change the macroeconomic strategy from one that focuses on export-led, foreign investment-fueled growth to one that expands the domestic market by increasing local consumer demand by promoting a better distribution of income.’ Bello said.” [Middle class looking for inclusive growth, Madelaine B. Miraflor, 8th May 2016]

“‘Foucault is right that in saying that we must recognize the events in history, ‘its jolts, its surprises, its unsteady victories and unpalatable defeats.’

“One of Walden Bello’s lasting insights is that the interest of the Filipino people will never become part of a neoliberal, capitalist economic agenda. Trade liberalization policies are often to the disadvantage of poor nations, who do not have the resources to be competitive. Our laws do not give enough incentives for innovation, while the subsidies provided by Western governments to their farmers deny our own of any fighting chance. To this day, we have remained the laughingstock of the world!

“Indeed, the truth these days seems to be a mere fabrication of fanatical and unending discussions. But the truth of our lives as Filipinos has remained the same. The oligarchs control this country, including our destiny. The state, with its massive bureaucracy, conspires with the elite in exploiting the people. The poor majority toils in this forsaken land, but it is the ruling class that divides the spoils. Their vested interests, as always, come prior to everything.

“Perhaps, our young generation can master chance and defy the gods of old and new!” [The gods of old and new, Christopher Ryan, 2nd May 2016]

Sadly from the right we couldn’t care less – and would simply immortalize our cacique hierarchical system and structure? “Senator Grace Poe, who has been in politics for just three years and fashions herself as a lily-white poster image of change and probity, has been widely rumored to be backed by taipans Eduardo Cojuangco and Ramon Ang.

“They are in charge of San Miguel Corporation, one of the nation’s biggest conglomerates. Cojuangco was one of dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s cronies until the 1986 ‘People Power’ revolution sent the strongman into US exile.

“Cojuangco fled on the same plane but returned three years later and kept building his business empire, while also running a political party that today is backing Poe. When asked by AFP to confirm that Cojuangco and Ang were funding her campaign, Poe spoke only in general terms that there was nothing wrong with taking money from people linked with Marcos.

‘All candidates have support from both sides of the fence. If they say they don’t have any they’re lying,’ Poe replied. She said her backers and their donations would be revealed after the election, as per the law.

“Marcos’s son and namesake, who is seeking to cement a remarkable political comeback for the family by being elected vice president on Monday, also referred only to his legal obligations, when asked by AFP in an interview to disclose his backers.

“Ferdinand Marcos Jr., whose late father was accused of looting $10 billion from state coffers during his two-decade rule, rejected the notion that he would be beholden to his secret donors. ‘That would imply that you bought a politician. I don’t think I would allow that to happen to myself,’ Marcos Jr. said.” [Business titans secretly fund Philippine presidential bets, inquirer.netAgence France-Presse, 8th May 2016]

And the following is one hypothesis that we ought to test? It would be a major accomplishment if indeed we can emulate the achievements of our neighbors. But the reality is we can only run in circles – i.e., between the “insular” and the “crab mentality” in us, there is no force that can impel us forward?

“There are two priority areas in economic development for the next president: infrastructures and agricultural productivity. To learn some lessons from an emerging market in the ASEAN, the next president should make a state visit to Vietnam as early as possible in his term. We can learn some valuable lessons from what can now be considered our non-identical twin (as Thailand was in the 1980s but which country left us far behind by the end of the last century). The populations and resource endowments of Vietnam and the Philippines are quite similar. Unfortunately for the Philippines, Vietnam has been much more successful in reducing poverty than we. Its poverty incidence is only 17% compared to our 25%. How did this happen?

“The main answer can be found in Vietnam’s focus on agricultural productivity.” [Vietnam model, Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas, Manila Bulletin, 5th May 2016]

And here is what our social scientists may want to figure out. And then edify the rest of us including the new president? “The consequences of believing that intelligence and personality can be developed rather than being immutably engrained traits, Dweck found in her two decades of research with both children and adults, are remarkable. She writes:

“For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.

“Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.” [Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives, Maria Popova,, 29th Jan 2014]

This blog has discussed growth vs. fixed mindset before. But the writer was reminded once again by a Bulgarian colleague who forwarded the above. He had heard the writer speak about the topic, and in a cover note said: “maybe I should have paid more attention earlier but better late than never.”

Maria Popova is Bulgarian; and her blog has one of the most (in the millions) followings in the US. Well-known American journalists would even quote her. Should we Pinoys be surprised that these people aren’t talking about socialism anymore? While we remain fixated – whether from the left or the right?

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

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