Saturday, October 20, 2007


"People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people." - V

Do you remember the years before 9/11? The world was at relative peace. People came and went, travel was hardly difficult. Then came Aircraft used as missiles that took out New York's Twin Towers and travelers around the world have had to let go of things they would normally carry aboard aircraft because logic dictated potential terrorists could use those to take over the plane or create bombs from those. 9/11 has had such a notorious impact. It changed the world and not for the better. Our relative peace went da-da-da-DUM like fate knocking on the door, perhaps telling us that our relative peace was a lie and we all had to wake up to the fact the world was less peaceful than we thought.

Post 9/11, in the Philippines for some insane reason, every entrance to a shopping mall, you've got to go through guards and metal detectors. We laugh at the futility of it all. If bomb makers were such great innovators that they could use different tools to carry out explosions, what stops them from buying the stuff from the mall and building it from there? For that matter, what stops any person from simply picking up a knife at your friendly neighborhood mall and start holding people hostage? Do you see how fear can just grip you?

DJB's Whodunit and What It Could Mean is an excellent read, though I'm reminded once more that leftists in the Philippines call themselves "liberals". I cringe at how they pervert that term. The so called "Liberals" in the Philippines are Communists and Socialists following the holy writ of Marx. They've got as much to do with Liberalism, which has its roots on individual liberty and the Age of Enlightenment as Catholics are to saying they believe in Buddha and ancestor worship. I have long since wondered why the Government of the Philippines continue to hold "peace talks" with the so called Communist Party and the Moro extremists in the South, when most of the time they are more than bandits and less and less like Rebels with a mission and ideology.

While we're on the topic of political correctness, there was this article on the New York Times Opinion page on Questions You Should Never Ask a Writer. This work by Ms. Lessing appeared on the Times' Op-Ed way back when on June 26, 1992 (an excerpt):

The phrase “political correctness” was born as Communism was collapsing. I do not think this was chance. I am not suggesting that the torch of Communism has been handed on to the political correctors. I am suggesting that habits of mind have been absorbed, often without knowing it.

There is obviously something very attractive about telling other people what to do: I am putting it in this nursery way rather than in more intellectual language because I see it as nursery behavior. Art — the arts generally — are always unpredictable, maverick, and tend to be, at their best, uncomfortable. Literature, in particular, has always inspired the House committees, the Zhdanovs, the fits of moralizing, but, at worst, persecution. It troubles me that political correctness does not seem to know what its exemplars and predecessors are; it troubles me more that it may know and does not care.

Does political correctness have a good side? Yes, it does, for it makes us re-examine attitudes, and that is always useful. The trouble is that, with all popular movements, the lunatic fringe so quickly ceases to be a fringe; the tail begins to wag the dog. For every woman or man who is quietly and sensibly using the idea to examine our assumptions, there are 20 rabble-rousers whose real motive is desire for power over others, no less rabble-rousers because they see themselves as anti-racists or feminists or whatever.

A professor friend describes how when students kept walking out of classes on genetics and boycotting visiting lecturers whose points of view did not coincide with their ideology, he invited them to his study for discussion and for viewing a video of the actual facts. Half a dozen youngsters in their uniform of jeans and T-shirts filed in, sat down, kept silent while he reasoned with them, kept their eyes down while he ran the video and then, as one person, marched out. A demonstration — they might very well have been shocked to hear — which was a mirror of Communist behavior, an acting out, a visual representation of the closed minds of young Communist activists.

Again and again in Britain we see in town councils or in school counselors or headmistresses or headmasters or teachers being hounded by groups and cabals of witch hunters, using the most dirty and often cruel tactics. They claim their victims are racist or in some way reactionary. Again and again an appeal to higher authorities has proved the campaign was unfair.

I am sure that millions of people, the rug of Communism pulled out from under them, are searching frantically, and perhaps not even knowing it, for another dogma.
The Communist and the Socialists in the Philippines, and people in general--- I think, have forgotten the world has changed. Communism as the CPP believed in is dead. China's Economic Puzzle, for instance is being rethought by China's Politburo. And in the recent party meeting of the Chinese Politburo, President Hu had this to say:

In defining “scientific development,” Mr. Hu discussed the growing gap between rich and poor. He said that the economy relied too much on investment and not enough on consumption, and that the leadership should do more to protect the environment.

“We must adopt an enlightened approach to development that results in expanded production, a better life and sound ecological and environmental conditions,” he said.

Why then, do we still insist on the CPP, as rebels and not as bandits and by extension, Muslim Extremists when clearly, the only way to improve people's lives is through sound economic development and not through any War or Jihad?

Going back to the horrible tragedy that gripped our nation, perhaps, being away from it all has me shocked at the level of distrust people have for the Arroyo government. Like this post from the Four-Eyed Journal saying this is tragic but a bit suspicious. Djb also had this to say this:

Prof. Roland Simbulan an avid admirer of Che Guevara and sympathizer of the CPP-NPA meanwhile appeared on ANC's Crossroads program in order to spout out the Party line that a small group of professional operators and extra-judicial killers "might" have been responsible. A nice old lady from the Social Welfare Department smilingly averred that Simbulan's assertions were "absurd and ridiculous." I agree.

Then there is Alberto Lim of the Makati Business Club who claimed on television that it was either the Palace who did this or the Opposition, though I think his main expertise is on the likely ill effects of the Makati blast on his stock portfolio.

For many people who won't go as far as Trillanes and Simbulan in these incredible accusations, but who genuinely wish that President Arroyo would either resign or be impeached and removed, I guess it is but natural to:

(1) suspect that it is the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo trying to create a diversion from the deep doo doo she is in from the ZTE scandal and the massive bribery at the Palace last week; and,

(2) be reluctant to consider the possibility that Jemaah Islamiyah and its local allies have indeed carried out the most devastating attack yet on what Maria Ressa (author of the Seeds of Terror) calls JI's "Holy Grail" -- Manila.

Speaking with Ricky Carandang and Pia Hontiveros during yesterday's live coverage of the Makati mall blast, and assessing video of the blast area, Maria Ressa concluded that whoever did it were "highly trained" in deploying a bomb or explosive of this nature.

She says there are only "two umbrella groups" in the Philippines capable of this type of operation: Jemaah Islamiyah or the Philippine Military.

Is our country that deeply divided? Is it so pissed at the Arroyo Government? Is the level of distrust so great for our Government and Military that the first thing people think about is that this is either an action of Islamic Militants or a scheme by the Philippine Military and that the Arroyo Government automatically has to reassure the public that no state of martial law shall exist?

Yesterday, Jon asked this over Jaiku: "wondering who's behind this one, and when idiot fundamentalists realize killing people brings them to HELL, not HEAVEN". The short answer to that is Osama bin Laden's ideology. According to Wikipedia cites Osama bin Laden to believe this:

Probably the most controverisal part of Bin Laden's ideology is that civilians may be deliberately killed in jihad. Bin Laden did not originally argue this, in fact in a 1998 interview he alleged that in fighting jihad "we differentiate between men and women, and between children and old people," unlike hypocritical "infidels" who "preach one thing and do another."
On that note, Jehane Noujaim did a story on both sides of the Iraq war for her film, Control Room. In it she showed provocative clips from Al Jazeera journalist Sameer Khader and US Press Office Josh Rushing, telling both sides of the equation, she did it because she believes that this is an idea to get people to understand each other. This is her tedtalk:

I post this because I believe that we must understand the other side of the picture. We see with Catholic eyes, but our Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist brothers and sisters do not necessarily see it the way we do nor do they subscribe to our way of thinking.

A few days ago, {caffeine_sparks} wrote about looking back to see the future, because she stumbled upon a paper that validates her suggestion that "Filipinos were the first Iraqis." I asked: "doesn't it all boil down to leadership that uses power for power's sake and personal interest?" Sparks replied with these reasonable questions: "to put a context to your question, how did the leadership gain its power? how does it self-perpetuate? and lastly, what is the leadership for?"

I had asked because awhile back, Al Gore wrote a book entitled "the Assault on Reason". In it he wrote about the weakness prevailing in America. That there is an erosion of reason, that people are no long thinking things through, that "there is a trend in U.S. politics towards ignoring facts and analysis when making policy decisions". Before the Iraq War started, hardly any Senator or the general public debated the merits in great detail, Mr. Gore argued. Then he called on the Conservative Right Wing of the Republican party and their zealot-like assault on reason and that the way this Wing of the Republican Party uses power, is for its own sake.

The cliche is that America is basically an idea, a liberal one at that. I say that because when the Colonies declared their independence they wrote:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
Isn't that the basic idea of America? These words outline the general philosophy of government and it justifies revolution when government harms natural rights.

To answer sparks, having never voted in an American election (since i am not a citizen), I can not judge their election nor their politics. But I remember that Hitler himself won the Chancellorship through a Democratic election. I have long since thought (1), that leadership, regardless whether or not it is a democracy derives its power from those they govern. If people turn a blind-eye to the oppressions of their government, they give their consent. Second (2), the most successful nation and/or company on Earth, regardless whether it is a Democracy (The US, UK, etc.), a communist regime (China) or a city-state (Singapore) has a leadership that puts those self-evident Truths therefore, their people, first, becomes successful. And yes, China--- though Communist, clearly today they learned the lesson of the USSR and that they are striving to raise the living conditions of their people and for the most part, their people are content with that.

At the end, at the core of it all--- doesn't it hold true that these jihadis, these militants and every man, woman on Earth, regardless of country, race and political ideology, fight for and want their own variation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

On October 19, 1987, America saw the Dow Jones plunge 22%. It was such a terrible day that they called it "Black Monday." On October 19, 2007, we saw two bombings--- in Pakistan and one in the Philippines, killing so many lives. The American Markets also fell on economic worries (see this Reuters video), and many markets around the world followed suit:

For such a bleak day, can anybody say, Black Friday?

Many cower in fear and avoid the malls and government will institute tighter security. Jon called it "the barn door effect", some could argue "fortress world" like. More restrictions on our "freedoms" for our security and our protection, some would argue. More x-rays in malls, and more guards looking for things in our personal possessions, and dogs and lots of mirrors looking under cars. A lot of good this kind of security has done for us. Bombs, still went "boom!" Obviously, such action is a failed policy. The other side of the picture is that, for the most part, Militants arise because of desperation. Gripped with this, they lash out in violence. And so the only answer is economic development and nation building.

I think this is apt, more so today. A few days ago, I ran through this post over at Maria Ressa a recent recipient of the Towns Award said: "For two decades now, my friends and I have had an ongoing debate: why isn’t our country doing better? First, it was because we didn’t have democracy. Then it was because we had too much democracy. Now it’s because our democracy is too mangled and torn by vested interests – often distorting truth and shattering certainty. What can we believe in? Where do we find hope?" She goes on to say, "So what hope do we have as a nation? It comes from each of us. Hope is not something other people give you. We take responsibility for our patch, our areas of influence. That is our individual commitment and our contribution to nation-building."

Her words are very JFK, but it is true. What else can we do fight terror or for that matter every bit of trouble this nation finds itself in than by building a better nation and by being responsible for our part? We can not run from our fear. We can not stand down when terror looks at us straight in the eye. We can not be frightened. We can not lock down our country. Just equally, we can not blame every Muslim.

While it is self-evident that life, liberty and happiness is a truth, I fear another truth is that some men can not be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. They just want to see the world burn. When faced with such opposition, what is our just and reasonable response? The Japanese Musashi Miyamoto right out of Kendo and Zen termed "Ai Uchi," which is roughly: "cut the opponent just as he cuts you. It means lack of anger. it means to treat your enemy as an honored guest. It also means to abandon your life or throw away fear". In the same vein, if you prefer Frost (and I do): "for destruction, Ice is also great and would suffice".

*image is from V for Vendetta.

(UPDATED: broken link to tedtalk video fixed)