I was surprised to read that one of my favorite bloggers, big mango, wrote a foreword to an e-book by benign0 (who may be familiar to some as one of the most enthusiastic hecklers of the politically-passionate). So I went through the benign0 tract, and while I can’t endorse it uncritically, I do think it is worth a download and further discussion. There are some assumptions that, I think, represent breathtaking leaps in logic, but in general, his observations are thought-provoking (always good), generally shrewd (always a remarkable thing), and the style very readable and far less conducive to high blood pressure than his on-line heckling. I find myself agreeing with some of his observations and arguments more easily than I expected, though there is plenty to quibble with in other respects.
Some of his more interesting points are (as I see them)
1. Do we have a kind of linguistic apartheid, in which the benefits of a national language haven’t materialized, and instead, produced a substandard level of intellectual involvement for the majority, while maintaining the hegemony of an English-fluent minority? And is the Filipino language, in itself, fatally flawed as far as encouraging a modern, dynamic and competitive society is concerned (he asserts, for example, that there is no Filipino word for “efficiency”).
2. Filipinos do not understand democracy, freedom, etc. in substantive but only in the most superficial and self-defeating manner; that the Filipino family is not just the bedrock of society, it is one of the root causes of the country’s moribund state; it might even be asked, is Philippine society by its very nature, unjust? Also, that Filipinos seem congenitally incapable of the hard work (and by extension, unwilling to demonstrate a basic requirement of maturity, delaying self-gratification).
3. Un unhealthy contempt for intellectual effort; unwillingness to innovate; refusal to engage in critical thinking or to confuse partisan sniping for critical thought; pride becomes a substitute for achievement.
So, what I do unhesitatingly do, is recommend Benign0’s book for reading and discussion. It’s interesting that the most provocative works in the past twenty years were produced by one American (James Fallows), and two Filipino expatriates (Benign0 and David C. Martinez).
From the Lionel Giles translation of the Analects of Confucius:
Duke Ai asked, saying: What must I do that my people may be contented? – Confucius replied: Promote the upright and dismiss all evildoers, and the people will be contented. Promote the evil-doers and dismiss the upright, and the people will be discontented.
Chi K’-ang Tzû asked by what means he might cause his people to be respectful and loyal, and encourage them in the path of virtue. The Master replied: Conduct yourself towards them with dignity, and you will earn their respect; be a good son and a kind prince, and you will find them loyal; promote the deserving and instruct those who fall short, and they will be encouraged to follow the path of virtue.
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