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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Responsible Parasitism

The taxing, toxic talk of taxes being squandered on students of state universities who would rather attend rallies than their classes has been a staple spiel of state nationalism’s apologists. Under the current regime, the presumed free tuition makes matters worse because subsidized scholars are supposed to thank Tatay Digong, as if his divine powers transmute the budgetary resources ex nihilo, to bless his loyal subjects and to deliver them from the evils of ignorance, propagated by the likes of Rappler and its foreign masters.

Makes sense. Students who opt to remain in the classroom are prone to trust bite-sized oft-repeated government-sponsored “truths.” Or, they can be driven to confusion to the point of inaction, and end up focusing on their studies, finding job opportunities; then later, frustrated and fed up to the point of also blaming the reklamadors or the activists who have been trying to painstakingly explain why and how the authorities systematically divide and conquer, and what the aggrieved sectors ought to do.

Students who are allergic to the parliament of the streets can easily be convinced of a nationalism that serves the interests of the state, which labels critics and activists as enemies that divide the nation into warring factions making it vulnerable to foreign investors of Rappler. A certain “concerned writers of LuzViMinda” that will later brand itself as “writers for sovereignty” exude nationalist rhetoric against Rappler. The fight of writers for sovereignty exempts from scrutiny foreign mining corporations that plunder ancestral domains, displace indigenous peoples, and violate human rights; Rappler’s money is the root of all evil.

The struggle of such writers for recognition takes a weird turn, which is a bit desperate and pathetic, when probably one of the youngest in their coterie takes the opportunity to interview older writers so they can expand their readership in an effort to maximize their ride in the waves of controversy that began with their collective applause for a government that persecutes a liberal platform that hosts articles advocating different causes, including anti-poor ones that shame Kadamay and red-tagging column articles.

Not bad for a career move, oh, great concerned sovereign writers, thou art light-bringers in the dark times who tell the ignorant populace that Rappler, China, Dengvaxia, drug addicts, dilawans, communists, students are parasites complaining since time immemorial, wasting tax-money, fault-finding, nit-picking and pre-empting nation-building through Tatay Digong’s Federalism that shall salvage us all.

Students worth their salt shall try to understand issues critically; beyond binaries such as black and white, red and yellow, male and female, oppressor and oppressed, as there exist layers, grey areas, shifting spaces for negotiation, containment, resistance. Beyond analyses are actions, or lack thereof.

Commentators in social media worth their salt shall walk the talk and stop talking as if rallies are walks in the park and kampuhans (camps) are sleepovers and revolutions are pajama parties, as if these recreational activities are solely meant to make the government look bad. Beyond laptop or iPhone screens are life-and-death situations and struggles that are beyond the comprehension of fence-sitters and free-loaders who will also benefit once reklamadors win the fight for education, press freedom, housing, wage increase, land reform, and other rights guaranteed by the constitution that the actual (usually unwitting) parasites wanted to change.

Dreamers of a better society worth their salt shall engage in praxis to find out that adjectives such as “irresponsible” and “indolent” describe neither the student-activists nor the so-called “squatters” (sometimes euphemised as “informal settlers”), who stage demonstrations and seize spaces, and to realize that nouns such as “leech” and “parasite” correspond neither to the workers nor the peasants. Organized sectors collectively design campaigns, execute programs that shall later be assessed and be taken into consideration for the succeeding plans of action—far from the matapobre’s (approximately, “elitist’s”) picture of a whining bum who waits for blessings and complains upon receiving and asks for more.

How to know if leeches are worth their salt? Osmosis.

Digong suggested giving to bright Lumad the slots in UP that shall be taken from iskolars ng bayan (scholars of the people) who waste tax money. A few months ago, Lumad students camped at UP Diliman, because Digong, succumbing to rightist paranoia and militarism, threatened to bomb their schools in Mindanao. The President’s accomplices intensified the campaign to paint the militant youth and progressive sectors as parasitical scum that hinders the growth of the nation. Common trolls and proud citizens flash their figurative tax-payer card to discredit mass movements and to imply that studying inside the classroom and participating in protest actions are mutually exclusive.

Had there been taxes wasted on parasites, these are spent on services for yes-people who enthusiastically clap and affirmatively nod to this regime’s anti-people policies that they mistake as just mere disciplinary measures, or some sort of birth pains before the rise of a new Filipino society that reminds us of the national destiny promised by Marcos and Hitler to their respective subjects (and objects). Had there been parasitical scholars, they are those who remain uncritical and unfazed by blood drenching asphalt streets and ancestral domains.

These “apolitical intellectuals,” as poet Otto Rene Castillo called them, may reconsider taking responsibility for their [in]actions by stepping out of the university, for good, so they can employ themselves in click farms, which are also owned by the government and/or opposition politicians who lost in the previous elections—hence also profiteering from the people’s treasury, remaining as parasites, albeit responsible ones who are true to themselves in their natural environment: dignified surfs working on digital fiefs. But of course, in a democracy such as ours, students and teachers can decline the click-farm offer and continue to school themselves in isolation from pressing issues and position themselves as centrists, especially if they prefer delusions that feed on others’ nightmares over dreams that emancipate. (davaotoday.com)

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