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Monday, October 17, 2011

Third World Occupy Perspective

My father once said, that "it is easier to be poor and then to slowly become rich than it is to be rich and to suddenly find yourself in the doorsteps of poverty. Life is a cycle, know how to ride it with grace."


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  • My personal third world stance on the Occupy movements
  • Why I think that it's wrong to not have an agenda
  • Greed as the impetus for capitalistic society
  • Could there possibly be a hidden end goal?

I usually don't touch politics on this blog but since it is already becoming pervasive as world news, I'd like to offer my perspective from the third world (developing nation if you must). Living in the third world has somewhat baffled me as to the impetus of these Occupy movements. Don't get me wrong, I am sympathetic to the plight of the first world dissident even though their lack of cohesive agenda save for quite possibly "bringing down the system" makes me averse to their position.

Even here in the third world, social dissent usually has some end goal or collective agenda in order to be successful or even recognizable as legitimate. The over variety and the "seeming" lack of direction of these protests is alarming for it may indeed herald what the conspiracy theorists have been peddling all along. But I will save my conspiracy theory post for later when I've gone nuts.

What Exactly Is Occupy's Position? What Exactly Do They Want?
If I have a clue I'll tell you. For the moment, let's try to cull it from various sources on the web.   
"Cities from east Asia to Europe and north America saw rallies on Saturday denouncing capitalism, inequality and economic crisis, but riot police were busy only in Rome. (Reuters, 2011)"
"Social movements spring up not to achieve narrow policy goals but to shift the broader public debate, mobilizing public will toward change. Polls show this movement's message against corporate greed not only has wider support than either political party in Washington but wider support than the tea party. - What will victory look like for Occupy Wall Street? (CNN, 2011)"
Photo Credit: CNN
"Social movements spring up not to achieve narrow policy goals but to shift the broader public debate, mobilizing public will toward change."

Precisely! What Change Exactly!?

This is why the question needs to be addressed more. What kind of change does everyone want to achieve?
  • The abolition of the banking system?
  • The abolition of capitalism? If yes, what will replace it?
  • Politicians denouncing corporate greed? 
  • No more bailouts for the banking sector, big businesses and governments. Let banks fall and the government of Greece to collapse and default. 
  • Do they want to end corruption in America? If yes, then ask yourself who "we" is in this case.
  • Or is it simply the proverbial turning back the hands of time when daily partying was the rule of the day? 



When Excess Drives Societies Not Everybody Has a Party
The now global phenomenon that is the "Occupy Movement" is the natural end result of societies in excess and not merely the big corporations. Every system runs like clockwork and no individual component is big enough to drive it contrary to popular claims. I will try to pick my words carefully here, even though I know that I'll still run the chance of being misunderstood.
Let me put it this way, before our colonial overlords arrived here in the islands of the Philippines more than 400 years ago, life was simple. 
When we've gotten our independence in 1946 and have been exposed to the wonderment of "civility", "civilization" and a "proper education", that concept of a simple life or a "Simpleng Buhay" evaporated and became a lust for everything that is not us and a lust for all things that are not from here. 
And yes I am being a hypocrite. Admittedly, I am at the very least, a hypocrite who wants to enlighten rather than mislead if only to show my own weakness. I did not create this game, nor did I have a hand in crafting the rules. I merely play by it whilst speaking against it.
This lust for everything that is not simple, came to us in the guise of "betterment" and "personal and socio-economic development". Hence, the concept of living a life that is "stateside" became prevalent. Through poverty, we have lost out identity and have become willing purveyors of all the cultures of the world and their niceties. There's a Filipino in every continent of the world doing the bidding of another culture and when they come back, most of them become cultural hypochondriacs. 
Then when relative wealth strikes us, we go back here and then bask glowingly at the wonderment of our "ignorant" fellowmen who should emulate so and so culture because this culture is disciplined, we should emulate this so and so culture because they are rich and therefore progressive, we should emulate everybody else, except ourselves. 
I am merely a product of this shift. Regardless of this historical fact, I am now a part of this change and going back is no longer possible specially with the advent of the concept of the global village.

Now back to Occupy, these slogans and causes would just as easily dissipate and everything will go back to what they used to be once prosperity returns. And it will return- eventually. Except when the proper dominoes have been toppled paving the way for a bigger global economic cataclysm that could lead to an altogether different society.

The First Domino is the Illusion
As a Filipino father, one of the things that I've learned is that rebellion should be kept within the walls of our own houses. This particular idea is very difficult for me to explain without being politically incorrect but having seen rebellions of various shapes and sizes, two things are universal: the rebellion could either win or lose.

If the state is the father, the state must enforce its rule. If it cedes power, then the rebels then become the new rulers who will then enforce their own rules. This rule cannot be subverted as economic reality plays a huge part in determining who gets the scarce resource.

Even Anarchists Have Their Own Rulers
They claim to be the voice of progressive agenda and yet hide behind the masks of anonymity. Yet, mark my words, once they have used the populace to their own ends and have toppled the state and the pillars that support it - their rule will just be as tyrannical as the one they have brought down. You would see this even from their actions now. The problem is, a lot of well meaning people are being caught in this agenda.

Their leverage is raw human fear.

I have experienced having someone dear to me confined to the hospital with huge medical bills and absolutely no cash to pay for it. For me, the realization of this stark truth was one of the things that gave me one of the biggest scares of my life. I was able to surpass that moment through sheer humility and some humiliation too.

But the fear that lingers that such could happen again is real. Multiply this fear on a national level and then multiply it exponentially on an International level and you have yourself a global movement - the next domino that will topple.

In a Consumer Oriented Society and a Consumer Driven Economy - Everyone is Greedy
In such a system, the impetus for living is to live in gain at the expense of the other. It is always like that. One of the things that I've learned is that there are no absolutely altruistic acts. Oftentimes, charity is even a demeaning acceptance that it is the only option and the only thing that can be done. Oftentimes, charity is merely a way to assuage the guilt of knowing that what has been taken is more.

I will not go too far in mentioning specifics, but if you are acute enough then you would know exactly what I am saying.

Conclusion
It is still too early to say what the future will hold for all of us now that this thing has taken on global proportions. If all things revert back to the way it was, the least fundamental change that could happen will only be a slight redistribution of wealth via the contraction of the bigger economies. Multinational corporations are expected to benefit from this specially if they are not geographically hindered and are able to maximize the economic advantages of each of the world's geographical units.

The workers of developing nations still stand to gain from the advantage of the unwillingness of workers in first world economies to bring the cost of production down to third world level.

A worker who can produce the same output at a lower price and live relatively comfortable with lower costs of living face better prospects than a worker who demands more wages, and who is accustomed to living in a location with a high cost of living.

It sounds overly simplistic but think of it this way, what's happening now?
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