Saturday, January 28, 2017

Group think and linear thinking

Or why PHL isn’t synonymous to innovation. “Pinoy abilidad” is classic linear thinking and inside-the-box thinking?

“President Duterte has a valid point. He has the support of many Catholics, especially those who have grown tired of toothless pastoral messages that hardly anyone pays attention to nowadays.” [Can local clergy do more to combat the drug menace (?), Atty. Joey D. Lina, Former Senator, Manila Bulletin, 23rd Aug 2017]

The writer [who as some would know was expatriated to their company’s headquarters three decades ago] has to read on Atty. Lina because he remembers that he was an activist, an out-of-the-box thinker? “We protested against ‘fascismo’ (fascism), ‘militarismo’ (militarism) at ‘asawa mo’ (your wife, referring to the dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ profligate wife, Imelda) . . .

“Despite his years of activism however, Lina’s animosity against Imelda melted away when she attended his concert and praise him for his talent.

“‘Ngayon, kaibigan ko na siya (Now she’s my friend),’ Lina admits with a smile, proving that the adage ‘music gets people together’ is true. ‘In fact, we had dinner a few weeks ago.’” [Dreaming the Impossible Dream in an evening with Joey Lina, Simeon G. Silverio, Jr., Publisher & Editor in Chief, Asian Journal San Diego, Our Life & Times, 3rd Jul 2016]

All’s well that ends well.

Yet, if Juan de la Cruz is to lift himself up from poverty, he has to learn how to think outside the box. With due respect to Senator Lina, what body of knowledge would support Du30’s war on drugs? More to the point, nations tried and failed to combat this menace and the one singular success story – and has become the model and best practice – as far as the UN is concerned is that of Portugal. And which the blog has discussed before.

But our streets feel safer? Like a police state feels safer because tyranny appropriates the rule of law, to paraphrase Garry Kasparov, considered the greatest chess player of all time. And why he became an activist and a symbol of opposition to Putin. Tyrants are accountable to no one yet Juan de la Cruz loves tyranny that he submits himself – first to Marcos, and now to Duterte?

In a police state there is no drug problem. [The writer and wife experienced what a police state is like during their earlier visits to Bulgaria. Within 48 hours of arrival, they report to the police where their dossiers are updated each time.] In Portugal, dictatorship insulated them from the drug culture. Until freedom descended. And freedom is what freedom is – the freedom to experiment . . . be it politics, economics, hard drugs and then some . . . It’s the human condition. Recall how Christ embraced prostitutes, usurers, drug addicts and beyond. It is about growth and development.

But let’s come back to PHL. Because of group think and our hierarchical instincts, we swear by Du30’s war on drugs? And so we view everyone that does not toe the Du30 line as unpatriotic? We like to talk history yet easily forget history? Do we need to be reminded of where a cult of personality can lead? 

“Both Hitler and Mussolini built their empires on a cult of personality with themselves at the center. In Leni Riefenstahl's 1934 film of the Nuremberg rally Triumph of the Will, Hitler proclaims to the assembled masses, ‘Ein Volk, Ein Fürhrer, Ein Reich!’ Under Hitler's leadership, the German fascists added an additional rallying cry--Volksgemeinschaft: a racially pure community purged of decadence. This appeal to the unity of the folk is at the heart of the fascist concept of nation. It conjures up a utopian image of rebirth and regeneration.

“To reach a wider social spectrum, German fascism directed different messages to different audiences: the middle class were told that communism and the Bolsheviks threatened German financial security; the working class were promised jobs and manual labor was elevated to the heroic. This sustained propaganda effort required a complex and coordinated bureaucratic machine--what Ellul calls an ‘apparat’--with full control of the mass media. (According to Ellul, there would be no modern propaganda without mass media and technology.) The Nazis availed themselves of public address systems, radio, cinema, print, and large public spaces (such as sports stadiums) to promote their vision of a regenerated German people.” []

Yet even the well-informed among us would be forwarding trolls and fake news, wittingly or not, spreading propaganda? It’s called group think and/or our hierarchical instincts?

Let’s get back to the Portugal experience.

“As diplomats gather at the United Nations in New York this week to consider the future of global drug policy, one Portuguese official, João Goulão, will likely command attention that far outstrips his country's influence in practically any other area. That's because 16 years ago, Portugal took a leap and decriminalized the possession of all drugs — everything from marijuana to heroin. By most measures, the move has paid off.

“Today, Portuguese authorities don't arrest anyone found holding what's considered less than a 10-day supply of an illicit drug — a gram of heroin, ecstasy, or amphetamine, two grams of cocaine, or 25 grams of cannabis. Instead, drug offenders receive a citation and are ordered to appear before so- called "dissuasion panels" made up of legal, social, and psychological experts. Most cases are simply suspended. Individuals who repeatedly come before the panels may be prescribed treatment, ranging from motivational counseling to opiate substitution therapy.

“‘We had a lot of criticism at first,’ recalled Goulão, a physician specializing in addiction treatment whose work led Portugal to reform its drug laws in 2000, and who is today its national drug coordinator. After decriminalizing, the first inquiries Portugal received from the International Narcotics Control Board — the quasi-judicial UN oversight body established by the UN drug convention system — were sharp and scolding.

“‘Now things have changed completely,’ he went on. ‘We are pointed to as an example of best practices inside the spirit of the conventions.’ Indeed, Werner Sipp, the new head of the board, said as much at the UN's Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna earlier this year.

'It was the combination of the law and these services that made it a success. It's very difficult to find people in Portugal who disagree with this model.'

“Though often narrowly assessed in reference to its decriminalization law, Portugal's experience over the last decade and a half speaks as much to its free public health system, extensive treatment programs, and the hard to quantify trickle down effects of the legislation. In a society where drugs are less stigmatized, problem users are more likely to seek out care. Police, even if they suspect someone of using drugs, are less likely to bother them. Though at least 25 countries have introduced some form of decriminalization, Portugal's holistic model and its use of dissuasion panels sets it apart.

‘Usually the focus is on the decriminalization itself, but it worked because there were other services, and the coverage increased for needle replacement, detox, therapeutic communities, and employment options for people who use drugs,’ said Fuertes. ‘It was the combination of the law and these services that made it a success. It's very difficult to find people in Portugal who disagree with this model.’

“In the run-up to the UN General Assembly's special session, Goulão cautioned that countries had to consider their own domestic environments first in learning from Portugal's experience.

‘‘We don't assume that this is the silver bullet, but in my view it has been very important because it introduced coherence into the whole system,’ he said. ‘If our responses are based in the idea that we talking about addiction, that we are talking about chronic disease, talking about a health issue — to have it out of the penal system is a clear improvement. It was really important for our society because it allowed us to drop the stigma.’” [; 20th Apr 2016]

The blog’s consistent theme speaks to how we as a people and a nation have yet to learn to be forward-looking to undo linear thinking, think beyond “Pinoy abilidad” and overcome group think. We are the regional laggard for a reason, to think outside the box and beyond the cult of Du30's personality?

“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]

“National prosperity is created, not inherited. It does not grow out of a country’s natural endowments, its labor pool, its interest rates, or its currency’s value, as classical economics insists . . . A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade.” [The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business Review, March–April 1990]

“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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