Thursday, July 06, 2006
Reaction to The road from Collevecchio
FROM THE AUTHOR ALAN ATKINS:
July 4, 2006
Another beautifully-written article and it filled me with envy. Red, you know I love you like the brother I never had. My envy was not your writing style, but rather that you are such a fucking dreamer, while at my age, I believe I am a realist. You believe firmly in the possibility of Utopia, while I advocate Animal Farm. You rant against oil use, yet the thousands of gallons attributed to your air travel this year does not count. In my own country that has legislated for 10 percent of all electricity generation to be sourced from renewable means, there is now outrage at the once-beautiful skylines being ruined by wind generators and their whop-whop-whop noise.
You dream of everybody being brothers, but in my short life time never a day has passed without their being a war fought somewhere. You blame World Bank and similar institutions for the woes of the people, yet these institutions were set up with good intentions, but were corrupted by the receiving governments, including those of the Philippines. You will probably know the Spanish author who wrote: “A country need not have foreign rulers to be a colony; it can be a colony run by its own people.”
Yes. I agree with you. Capitalism is the biggest enemy we have. Democracy doesn’t exist – and it may shock you to know – it never did. General Motors has a bigger budget than the Philippines. Our lives are governed by board rooms in Europe and the United States. Who voted for these people? A few with money at their disposal. That is life. The one chance the human race had – the 1918 Russian revolution was blown – because as Orwell correctly predicted – when it comes to power, nothing changes. The Philippines had a great opportunity in 1986 – but what was it really? Just a family quarrel over who should hold the reins of power and money – and the Philippine people lost again. But at least we have monuments to mark this folly – both the EDSA monument and Our Lady of the Cockroaches – for that is surely what is depicted climbing up her back. The Philippines can still build monuments. There is a massive monument to corruption – called NAIA 3, I pass it every day.
The only solution is not sat in a courtyard in Italy – but education, education and education. The distorted power of the priest is only dissipated with personal wealth. The Church thrives upon keeping people illiterate and poor, and always has. Educate the people and they become discerning and probably make money. If they make money, the power of the priests and their dreadful superstition is gone – witness Eire. This is not to say that I am not a Christian – far from it. Jesus spoke eminent sense, but any relationship between Christianity and Catholicism is purely coincidental. The salvation of the people in this country, whether you like it or not, is mining and its down-line industries, (plus pills, UIDs and condoms, of course). The Philippines has so much wealth under the soil. The only problem is equitable distribution of the wealth – this is the basic problem. Our knowledge allows mining sites to be restored. Witness Ipoh in Malaysia.
I am now writing in a small fortnightly journal, Philippine News Explorer, and would be happy to debate you in this forum.
Genuine best regards,
July 4, 2006
Hello Alan. My thanks again for your candor. From your letter, I fear your longing for the brother you never had has more to do with being deprived of someone to whom you can give a regular Indian burn...
I don't believe in the possibility of another world. In fundamental disagreement with many in my 'ranks', I know that such a world already exists, though always on the interstices, and never more than a passing moment. But it is there. It is here, however ephemeral. Everyone keeps looking for the distant thing, or a different planet, or a time gone by or a world that can be built all over again. And so they miss what is in front of them, what they wake up with, the things that make them feel they are more than just automatons. The thing is to make these things grow. And yes, of course, education fuels that search, creates the necessary disonnance, shows that this is not as good as it gets. But then where does education begin and where does schooling end?
Whop whop noise -- debatable -- vs. ugly stationary behemoths that are like scars on the ground which produce radioactive waste that will remain dangerous to everything living for millions of years at the cost of billions of pounds of taxpayers money without which none of the nuclear stations would be built, and similar costs and scale of consequences for oil as well as coal. This is the choice you are asking me to consider? I am of course surprised as well that an individual Filipino's travels -- and attempts to broaden his mind -- is being put at par with the industrialized world's consumption of the global commons.
You advocate Animal Farm? Ah, my friend, I cannot support you - I would rather stick a spit and grill the beef and poultry and pork; why waste good meat just to ponder over cattle oratory?
But it's hard enough confronting indifference and brutal regimes without big banks continuously giving loans that sustain the brutalities. I refer to Nigeria today, and the Philippines during the time of Marcos. If the support from the hypocritical global institutions and governments of big nations was not extended so generously and fawningly, likely the dictator would not have lasted as long as he did. As for present day Philippines in relation to the Spanish author you quote - I would buy the Spaniard a beer because he is right...
Regarding 1918 and other variations, in the context that you have provided, these are reminders that it is folly to keep waiting for the thunderclap of revolution, to forget that everyday is subversion. That is why education itself is so subversive. Education makes people easy to lead but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave. But are you referring to education or schooling? What do you mean by education? And why hold it against the simple folks who, because of their education, found it meaningful to share their experiences and learn from each other? You speak of Rizal frequently. Are you saying he came out of his mum uttering already the language - and values - of Cervantes? That he did not break bread and try to learn from others as well? To listen? At least he wrote down - in his own way - the things he believed in so that others may learn and be educated as well. But then, I seem to remember that I have acquired this terrible itch to write and write and that I thankfully am able to scratch the itch often. Others in the courtyard had the same itch too...
Your proposal for a debate regarding these things and mining as the rocket ship that would take the Philippines out of Planet Misery I welcome but cannot take up seriously. I do not have the time right now to reciprocate the seriousness of this exchange. If we exchange places, and you still say yes despite knowing the uncertainty of being able to respond adequately and in a timely fashion, I would take it against you.
But send me a copy of what you write, for Chrissakes, or at least tell me when an issue comes out which carries something you've written, and where I can get a copy of the PNE.
You bring up the Catholic Church in vain. Whatever bile you have, or rage, I will top it. [editor's note: Red here is referring particularly to the Church's position and clandestine and aboveground operations regarding the issue of women and reproductive health]
I have to rush. I am going by bicycle tomorrow to Batangas, while you will use some fossil fueled vehicle to reach your destination, but I won't take it against you because you said you'll buy me plenty of beers. And I hope you noticed I made the bubbly offer plural.
Warm regards, as usual.
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Photos by Red, taken from his Nokia. Corridors of time from a temple in Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 2005.