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Kristine Marie Reynaldo
obsessive reader, compulsive annotater
obsessive reader, compulsive annotater

Kristine Marie's posts

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"Any situation in which some individuals prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence. The means used are not important; to alienate human beings from their own decision-making is to change them into objects" (Freire 85).

This is an excellent PDF copy of the 30th anniversary edition of PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED:

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"The victims’ bodies are found on sidewalks or bridges, their heads wrapped in packing tape, their hands bound with rope. Some are left lying on the streets, bathed in blood, or splayed on the shaky wooden floors of shacks in shantytowns along the river, the shoreline of Manila Bay, or further inland, in the densely packed warrens inhabited by the city’s poorest and neediest. ...

"Duterte has compared drug addicts to animals worthy of slaughter, so the reporters try to humanize them in their work, they told me. But readers don’t seem to care. Those on the night shift have been attacked viciously on social media, accused by the president’s supporters of being paid hacks and of making up stories and faking photographs. Most Filipinos, they said, have chosen to avert their gaze from the slaughter.

"'I think I’ve aged, my soul has gotten old," photojournalist Dondi Tawatao said. 'But I feel I am stronger now because I’ve seen the worst. ... What else could happen that I haven’t yet seen?'"

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"But what is enlightenment? For me the enlightened state is the realization of the oneness of life. And the proof is in the pudding: Are you functioning that way? Are you helping others? ... the depth of a person’s realization can be seen by their service to people. To humankind. Or to the planet. It’s an endless process. To me, the extent to which you understand the oneness of life is the extent to which you are enlightened. ...

"I don’t even know exactly what 'social action' means. When you look at the bigger picture, it’s just taking care of the things that need to be taken care of. Taking care of the aspects of oneself that need to be taken care of. Maybe what people call social action is taking care of the other. But, in fact, we don’t have an 'other.' ...

"If I look at my body—say I’m terribly ill, I have cancer, and I consider everything that’s going wrong with every cell in my body—I could say, 'Well, Christ, it’s hopeless, I’m going to die.' Yeah, it’s true, but my only choice is to do the best I can to better the situation as much as possible. It’s the natural response; it’s our own body. And if we really grok ourselves as the whole universe, how do you pollute yourself? You wouldn’t. You’d start looking at it. You’d start taking care of it. And it’s back to the faith that out of that realization of oneness you’re going to do the best you can, with no expectation of a cure. ...

"I have no hopes of a better world; I don’t know what that means. I mean, the world is what the world is, and I will work in the best way I can to do the healing I can, to take loving actions."

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"...the only thing students tend to know about the Aztecs is that they engaged in human sacrifice. But before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, the Aztecs had a philosophically rich culture ... Like the Greeks, the Aztecs were interested in how to lead a good life. But unlike Aristotle, they did not start with the human ability to reason. Rather, they looked outward, to our circumstances on Earth. ...

"The Aztecs had a saying: ‘The earth is slippery, slick’ ... What they meant is that the Earth is a place where humans are prone to error, where our plans are likely to fail, and friendships are often betrayed. Good things only come mingled with something undesired. ‘The Earth is not a good place. It is not a place of joy, a place of contentment,’ a mother advises her daughter, in the record of a conversation that has survived to this day. ‘It is rather said that it is a place of joy-fatigue, of joy-pain.’ ... the Earth is a place where all our deeds and actions have only a fleeting existence. ... What the Aztec philosophers really wanted to know was: how is one supposed to live, given that pain and transience are inescapable features of our condition?

"The answer is that we should strive to lead a rooted, or worthwhile life. The word the Aztecs used is neltiliztli. It literally means ‘rootedness’, but also ‘truth’ and ‘goodness’ more broadly. They believed that the true life was the good one, the highest humans could aim for in our deliberate actions. This resonates with the views of their classical ‘Western’ counterparts, but diverges on two other fronts. First, the Aztecs held that this sort of life would not lead to ‘happiness’, except by luck. Second, the rooted life had to be achieved at four separate levels, a more encompassing method than that of the Greeks.

"The first level concerns character. Most basically, rootedness begins with one’s body – something often overlooked in the European tradition, preoccupied as it is with reason and the mind. The Aztecs grounded themselves in the body with a regimen of daily exercises, somewhat like yoga ...

"Next, we are to be rooted in our psyches. The aim was to achieve a sort of balance between our ‘heart’, the seat of our desire, and our ‘face’, the seat of judgment. The virtuous qualities of character made this balancing possible.

"At a third level, one found rootedness in the community, by playing a social role. These social expectations connect us to each other and enabled the community to function. ... These rites were a form of moral education, training or habituating people to the virtues needed to lead a rooted life.

"Finally, one was to seek rootedness in teotl, the divine and single being of existence. The Aztecs believed that ‘god’ was simply nature, an entity of both genders whose presence was manifest in different forms. Rootedness in teotl was mostly achieved obliquely, via the three levels above. But a few select activities, such as the composition of philosophic poetry, offered a more direct connection.

"A life led in this way would harmonise body, mind, social purpose and wonder at nature. Such a life, for the Aztecs, amounted to a kind of careful dance, one that took account of the treacherous terrain of the slippery earth, and in which pleasure was little more than an incidental feature."

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'Born in 1912, Milton Friedman was part of a postwar generation of business observers who departed sharply from the likes of Keynes and Young in their vision of capitalism. Harrowed by the existential struggles with communism and fascism, these individuals combined a reflexive distrust of collective intentions with economic insights that suggested such instincts were actually commercially counterproductive. Whether it was Joseph Schumpeter’s lionization of the individual entrepreneur as the agent of creative destruction and, therein, economic development; Eugene Fama’s assessment of government intervention as inimical to market efficiency; or Michael Jensen and William Meckling’s reinterpretation of the firm as nothing more than a “nexus of a set of contracting relationships among individuals,” all of these contentions served to revitalize individual self-interest as the key instrument of industrial advancement.

'On their face these proposals were no more hostile to a sense of public-spiritedness than Adam Smith’s original argument on behalf of self-interest, but the rhetoric that accompanied them often seemed to indict altruistic intentions. Consider the opening salvo of Milton Friedman’s landmark 1970 New York Times Magazine essay “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.” Reflecting on what, for him, was an annoying tendency among executives to conflate commercial aims with the common good, Friedman claimed that “businessmen believe that they are defending free en­terprise when they declaim that business is not concerned ‘merely’ with profit but also with promoting desirable ‘social’ ends,” such as “providing em­ployment, eliminating discrimination, [and] avoid­ing pollution.” In fact, he said,  such businessmen were actually “preach­ing pure and unadulterated socialism” and making themselves “unwitting pup­pets of the intellectual forces” that undermine free markets and a free society.'

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"A regime or economy of violence would be a pattern of approved and disapproved violent and peaceful acts and responses characteristic of a particular social system. As such, economies of violence are intertwined with political, cultural and productive/distributive patterns. Taking our cue from Deleuze and Guattari's work, we can seek to understand such regimes not merely through a 'classical' focus on the state versus those considered its others (criminals, foreign enemies, et cetera), but also through a more philosophical anthropological lens."

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Long read, reductive summary:
Decentralization CAN be furthered without shifting to a federal form of government or changing the constitution. Aside from the great procedural difficulties and demands on resources that such a change would entail, the possible results of a failed experiment with federalism are disastrous, and could even lead to the dissolution of the Philippine state.

Federalism serves the "double protection" of individual and minority rights, especially in the governance of a very large country of continental extent comprising several states with distinct cultural identities. 'No one, however, has advocated federalism as a cure for the concentration of powers per se [which is the charge hurled against "Imperial Manila"].

'The truth is that we don’t really have a fully centralized unitary government, but one with a decentralized system of local governments. Local autonomy is a constitutional policy and decentralization a constitutional mandate. Both are rights of local governments which cannot be taken away from them. ...

'Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr. argues that a federal state would enable Moros to run their government according to their customs and traditions. The Constitution already provides for autonomous regions in the Cordilleras and Muslim Mindanao with recognition of the fact that the people of these regions have a different historical and cultural heritage and different economic and social structures. Autonomous regions have their own organic acts, their own government, consisting of an executive department and legislative assembly, and special courts with personal, family and property law jurisdiction. No reason has been shown why these provisions for autonomous regions are inadequate to address the Mindanao problem.

'The argument that federalization will promote local development and encourage citizen participation in government is precisely a policy argument for decentralization. In 1967 Congress enacted the Decentralization Act (R.A. No. 5185) granting “local governments greater freedom and ampler means to respond to the needs of their people and promote their prosperity and happiness and to effect a more equitable and systematic distribution of governmental powers and resources.” ... If then there is still excessive concentration of power in the central government, it is because constitutional and statutory provisions for decentralization have not been fully implemented.

'We have reduced the President’s power over local governments to “general supervision.” We need to do something similar to Congress’ powers over local legislation to implement fully the constitutional policy of local autonomy. ... In addition, the share of local governments in the internal revenue collection should be increased from 60-40, in favor of the national government, to 30-70, in favor of local governments given the increased responsibilities that they will now shoulder.

'This is not the same as federalizing the government. Power will not be granted to the local governments as independent entities but simply delegated to them as political subdivisions of the state. National policies will still be determined by the central government, but local governments will be given broad discretion to make variations to adapt them to local conditions.

'All these can be done without changing to a federal system and without having to amend or revise the Constitution, which is problematical because of controversy in the interpretation of its Amendment Clause.'

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'For Laclau and Mouffe, the trouble with the socialist left began with the German Social Democratic Party, which was the dominant socialist party in Europe before the First World War. Its chief theoretician was Karl Kautsky. His theory of revolution, derived from Marx and Engels, assumed that the capitalist stage of history was driven by the struggle between an ever expanding working class and a small, but enormously powerful, capitalist class. Eventually, the working class, facing immiseration and chaos from growing economic crises, would take over the state and establish a socialist society. The role of revolutionaries, Kautsky and his comrades believed, was to ride this wave of history.

'As Laclau and Mouffe recount, Vladimir Lenin rejected this theory of revolution. Lenin accepted that the development of the working class was essential to a socialist revolution, but he maintained that well before it had become a majority, an insurrectionary socialist party—representing the working class’s interests as well as those of the peasants—could seize power. Kautsky’s model of revolution was rooted in economic determinism; Lenin’s in the example of the French Jacobins.

'But, as Laclau and Mouffe noted, neither theory brought its desired result. Kautsky’s induced a passivity that aided the militarism of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the rise of Mussolini and Hitler. Lenin’s party-led “dictatorship of the proletariat” degenerated into a dictatorship of the party, and then of a single individual—Joseph Stalin.

'For Laclau and Mouffe, Antonio Gramsci was the first theoretician to grasp the failure of both Kautsky’s and Lenin’s approaches. Gramsci, an Italian Communist who died in one of Mussolini’s prisons, insisted that the party had to establish a “historical bloc” composed of the Southern Italian peasantry as well as the Northern Italian working class. He rejected Lenin’s Jacobinism. Socialism would require a “war of position” in which a  Socialist or Communist party would seek to achieve hegemony by establishing counter-institutions and a counter-worldview to those prevailing under capitalism. The capitalist class, Gramsci argued, doesn’t just enjoy a monopoly of force but also of persuasion and has to be challenged on that front.

'In Hegemony, Laclau and Mouffe incorporated Gramsci’s ideas of hegemony, war of position, and historical bloc. But they rejected the residual idea of the political primacy of the working class to which he still adhered. Instead, the couple argued that a left must build a historical bloc out of diverse classes—the white-collar as well as blue-collar working class and the small business sector—and diverse struggles (including feminism, anti-racism, anti-war, and ecology) that can’t be reduced to a struggle between classes.   

'They also rejected the underlying framework of Marx’s theory of history. They rejected his assumption that the attempt to abolish capitalism and establish socialism was and would be the driving force behind historical change. Instead, they argued that the ideals of democracy, liberty, and equality, articulated by the French Revolution, provided a framework—they use the term “imaginary”—for a left-wing politics that extends the struggle for democracy from the political to the economic to the social realm. They didn’t reject an anti-capitalist politics aimed at an “end to capitalist relations of production” but merely saw it as a “dimension” along with the demands of social movements in a struggle by a historical bloc for “radical democracy.”

'In Construir Pueblo, Mouffe sums up their approach:

Our main standpoint was that we had to reformulate the “socialist project” in terms of a radicalization of democracy. That enabled us to break simultaneously both with the Jacobin tradition and with economic determinism; because you cannot speak about the radicalization of democracy without recognizing that there are different forms of subordination that might give rise to a variety of antagonisms, and that all these struggles cannot be viewed simply as the expression of capitalist exploitation.

'In describing what “radical democracy” was, and how to achieve it, Laclau and Mouffe fell back on reiterating their rejection of the older socialist strategy. The final chapter of Hegemony is largely a web of abstractions. If the struggle for socialism and against the capitalist class were no longer the unifying principle of left-wing movements, what would take its place? How would the proponents of radical democracy define themselves and how would they define their adversaries?' 
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