Muddling Through Flamboyant Flatland Economics?
By Felix Zamar
There is a price to be paid for each growth in consciousness. New capacities, new potentials, new insights are opened – but new terrors and responsibilities follow in their wake. And nowhere is this more evident than with the emergence of the mental-egoic structure. Wilber 1981:189
The list of subjects offered in the doctoral program of ASI’s Applied Cosmic Anthropology like “Mediated Economy and Mediated Culture in the Context of a Globalizing World” sounded trite and ominously flatland jargon. The first time I saw the list of lectures and the initial assignment, I had this sour, sinking feeling in my gut tucked with a dismal thought that probably I made a grave mistake enrolling in the subject. These subjects in the hands of a professor simply going through the motion of furtively passing puerile knowledge could be a tedious, depressing affair for all parties involved.
I was chided by my classmates (I initially felt I was hoodwinked to share part of their misery) that I had no choice; the subject was organic to the doctorate program and must be taken like a bitter pill when suffering dis-ease. One consolation was the fact that I just had an interesting discussion with the professor who would handle the subject and he seemed to be a person of depth and substance. Though, on second thought I have not really experienced attending a class of Dr. Dejillas. Past memories trotted and jumped like white sheep in my mind of friends and comrades (probably it is politically correct not to mention names) who were dyed in the wool Economists. Practically all of them were effectively potent tranquilizers in front of a podium. I appealed to the benevolence of the universe that Dr. Dejillas would be an exception or else I will be forced to shell out precious money to buy a cheap but good enough prop of deception dark glasses.
The gods must have been propitiated; probably the result of the morning threshold of beauty sacredly fiddled regularly by Maryknoll Sister Ann Braudis every beginning of our class in Creation Spirituality. Poignant memories of lively thought provoking ASI intercourse during the 70’s participated in by witty scholars/nerdy students coming from various disciplines and different countries of origin wafted back into my addled mind like sweet holy marijuana smoke laced with potent uppers.
I could still vividly remember during those thought provoking intellectual safaris of the 70s the clanking sound of very old ceiling fans blowing warm air mixed with the leaded fumes of exhaust pipes of cars and jeeps passing by Leon Guinto St. In the new millennium, the steady drones of two classy air conditioners have replaced these derelict electric fans of the past. I could still see the lowly overhead projector dejectedly lying at the corner of some lecture rooms (the Sin Room we were using have upholstered chairs complete with a board room table). The professors have opted to use the more sophisticated power point projector where well prepared, snazzy outline of the topics at hand were presented; indeed my intellectual appetite became whetted to make me ask for more servings.
The first significant learning that made its mark on me by Dr. Dejillas: focus on what is being asked. Life is simple and easy if students simply look for answers related to what is being asked rather than being overwhelmed by jargon. The subtle purpose of the initial assignment was to find out how students reacted to technical papers replete with mathematical hieroglyphics and were forewarned that it belongs to the esoteric realm of physics. I confess guilty as charged. I immediately had an irrational dislike for the first assignment the moment I saw the complicated mathematical formula prominently shown in several pages of the article. Since I was a late enrollee, I did not reflect much on the questions being asked; instead I was inadvertently reacting to the whole process of muddling through a paper that I considered as too technical for my right hemisphere oriented mind.
Dr. Dejillas was able to immediately pounce on the obvious weakness/dislike of most of us students and effectively led us dramatically to safer more enticing waters of Mediated Economics. He was successful in seducing our interest on the subject sans the initial discomfort/dislike. I knew I was hooked for I look forward to attending his class even though he told me that I didn’t have to attend if it is not to my liking. I find his introduction of the Yahoo cycle very refreshing. By making us aware of the stages experienced by people from confusion to breakthrough, he was able to provide us with an effective handle how to cope with new information, concepts and constructs pertinent to the cryptic realm of mediated economics.
Being true to what he professes, Dr. Dejillas manifested a world-class level of objectivity when he explained globalization in simple terms relating its impact on production, trade and finance. Similar to a medical surgeon serene, emotionless, with nerves of steel accurately slicing through cancerous cells of a patient, he was able to conjure a distressing postmortem of controlled global economics. He managed to paint a sinister image of globalization using neutral words like decontrol, deregulation, devolution, decentralization and democracy. I was amazed how he was able to create a deep sense of disharmony within me. In the process of explaining how the IMF, WB, WTO, UN, etc wangled their way through States and nations of different culture and political aberrations to adapt the banal policies to address the alleged need for transparency, harmonization through tariff deregulation and standardization.
They sounded innocuous and scientific but nonetheless I could feel a deep sense of foreboding being conveyed. Dr. Dejillas was able to present a very objective analysis why an underdeveloped country like the Philippines is in deep economic shit. He did not allow any emotions to interfere with his presentation of data and facts. They were cold, impersonal. Indeed, he wielded a powerful tool of intellect to present a stark, anthropocentric reality of flatland economics sans pathos, Atma, Eros, or the salvific grace of a merciful God!
It was good that we had Creation Spirituality in the morning and part of the afternoon. The students had the opportunity to soar and feel good in the vast wonders of the cosmos with Sr. Ann. In the late afternoon when our defenses were down and we were somehow exhausted by the very rich fare of the previous subject we got to plunge into the pits of dispassionate, merciless gauntlet of globalization with Dr, Dejillas. As a result I was inspired to create a short story about globalization combining the wisdom generated by the two subjects. Below is what I thought was my earth shattering magnum opus:
Once upon a time people thought that the world is flat and if they go beyond a certain unknown they will fall into an endless abyss. But human curiosity and search for new frontiers goaded men (probably also women - to show my gender awareness) to stretch the unheard of and finally realized that the world is round. Man concluded that the vastness of the earth created an illusion of flatness and people did not fall because of the pull of gravity.
For centuries, travel was slow, dangerous and wearisome. People tended to be parochial; their worldview limited to the clan, tribe or race where they were born. A discernable global perspective took shape when transportation became faster and communication more instantaneous. People from different cultures, lands, ideologies, religions, business enterprise and monkey business readily interacted in such a way were traditional borders of cultural differences, historical animosities, economic competition, racial prejudices and religious antipathies gradually diminished. These phenomena happened within a very short period of time during the last 5 decades of the 20th century.
This opening up of the world frontiers to the many races and nations on earth did not only create vast opportunities and immense bounty to those who have the vision and wherewithal to make them happen. Alas, it has also created extreme and profound sufferings to those who could not cope with the rapid changes brought about by globalization.
Filipinos are one of those races who are caught willy-nilly in this phenomenon of globalization. As a nation, its myopic leaders simply rode the tiger unaware of the danger of being swallowed whole. A weak industrial base and a doubly weak agricultural economy could not compete with stronger, more competitive and aggressive nations thus rendering millions of productive Filipinos jobless when small, struggling industries and farms collapsed. Individual Filipino families had to bite the bullet facing years of separation. Parents had to abandon their children to search for jobs overseas.
This Filipino Diaspora is repeated in other countries, nations and races faced with a bleak economic forecast. How this will unfold in the coming years to come is something worth looking into by modern shamans. What possible signs of breakthrough could be discerned from this phenomenon of widespread separation of families across vast oceans and continents? What kind of New World Order could be established in this more widespread creation of a tower of Babel?
Is Globalization a clear design by God to create eventually a sense of global citizenship among fractious nations and races? Can mankind finally transcend the deadly animosity of Abel and Cain? Is there hope in going back to the integrity of creation or is mankind facing a bleaker, more heartless fall/redemption cycle waiting for a new St. Augustine?
For me, I firmly believe that the ultimate choice is in the hands of the individual. With the collapse of institutions bought or co-opted by globalization, the epiphany is in the hands of each person that made the decision to survive within the eye of the storm. For where can the individual find solace or a sense of security amidst the mounting multiple crisis of mother nature taking revenge against the stupidity of man, constant threat of the mushroom cloud, faceless terrorism, asymmetrical warfare, unabashed greed of oligopolies and religion sans the mystery of the cosmos?
Indeed the paradoxical solution to globalization is the power of one. The will to go on is in each one of us. Give an inch and you are a potential candidate to oblivion. Ones fate: a statistical cipher in a nihilistic, necrophilic, postmodern, post structural cul de sac.
In the subsequent lectures, Dr. Dejillas gave a thorough, seamless debunking of myths and half truths propagated by those who advocate the economics of scarcity. He was scathing in his utterances, not mincing words that I had been expecting to hear in his previous lectures. Indeed, when he started to use the word greed, again it was really world class. He did not go half cock. When he enumerated the reasons why the Philippines and other developing countries are in terminal economic rigor mortis, he painted the most accurate picture of sheer greed from certain sections of humanity perpetuated by anonymous people in anonymous positions in a shady world bureaucracy.
It is not surprising that works of fiction that delve on mysterious cabals and conspiracies like the Da Vinci Code are gobbled up by gullible people hungry for answers to questions why they feel so puny and helpless in a world gone berserk. He narrated the evolutionary path of the Garden of Eden (GE) economy. His narrative interpretation of how greed and jealousy came into the picture of GE was well thought out, there was no room for doubt how mediated economics, just like God coming into man’s history, became fait accompli.
Indeed Mind Creates reality. The content, direction and process of globalization can be reshaped only when the laws and principles of the cosmic economic system are allowed to operate freely. It cannot be a mindless bureaucracy or people drunk in the belief that they are in control of the situation who can free the system. It cannot be those who have amassed great wealth, cornered the best real state plum in the plushest enclaves of the elite, or someone who is the commander in chief of the only remaining super power in the world. They themselves are prisoners of their fate in the long run.
The fire and passion within the individuals who were marginalized, deprived, and dehumanized by the process of globalization, be they anger, compassion or love will be the inexhaustible fuel that will ignite the inexorable chaotic change in the world. This I believe is beyond the control of those who consider themselves powerful for they themselves will be consumed by the heat of the conflagration. Just like any empires of old, those who held on to power for too long will have to give way to new forces beyond their ken. New consciousness and new levels of interaction will come to pass. The unleashed power of individuals who have seen the power of darkness will be taking over. Those who bask in the misleading allure of light will eventually have to give way to the solace and comfort of total darkness in the womb of God.