Monday, 27 June 2016

"Still in a state of Occidentosis"

"Still in a state of Occidentosis"

"I say that Gharbzadegi is like cholera [or] frostbite. But no. It's at least as bad as sawflies in the wheat fields. Have you ever seen how they infest wheat? From within. There's a healthy skin in places, but it's only a skin, just like the shell of a cicada on a tree."

These are the words saidth by an Iranian philosopher named Jalal Al-e-Ahmad, whose observations related to the Western "economic and existential victories" paved way to a series of sorts in an eastern perspective, especially after how western technology, and by implication of Western `civilization` itself has displaced that is homegrown, be it in culture, or in industry.

His word, غربزدگی "Gharbzadegi", is variously translated as "Westoxification," "Westernstruckness", "Westitis", "Euromania", or "Occidentosis". Those names seemed to be pseudo-medical in character as to see a country having its own cultural identity lost or suffered after an unbridled adoption and imitation of Western models and Western criteria in education, arts, and culture; paving way to a country's unjust transformation into a passive market for Western goods and even a pawn when it comes to western-oriented geopolitics.

And that same description somehow made this person also expressed same as Jalal's in having that observation, that of having a country and its people, despite being politically independent in the eyes of every nation, remains preoccupied in its westernstruckness. Also thinking how come that nation, as in any other underdeveloped or developing country has been still preoccupied in its westernstruckness despite having a rich culture, heritage, resources, and minds that can able to shape the fate of a nation's destiny. However, it failed to do so knowing that their systems has profited from that westernstruckness, what more of having its own people "enjoyed" ranging from cellular phones, laptop computers, to those of television programs and the use of English language as a mode of communication.

Ironically, in having a country suffering from that malady, it tries to be as patriotic as its own national colours, that it tries to recultivate its heritage, its ideal, its patriotic sentiment as in its beginnings, or even trying to harness its knowledge brought by westernisation to something that benefits its the country the way its neighbours did for years, as what patriotic-minded educators, industrialists, and other concerned sectors insisted to an apathetic order. After all, it is that same westernisation that has also brought ideas such as democracy, civil rights, and tolerance that has been struggled for besides those of national sovereignty.

Yet in actual, the real essence of westernisation does not lie on these ideals brought by the American or French Revolutions, not even human rights as what idealised by some if not most westernisers, but rather crass, unbridled materialism with the ruling order benefited, or rather profited from it and be redescribed as "freedom of choice". Democracy? Human Rights? What everyone sees is a country, rich in resources and heritage been treated time and again as a source of raw materials and manpower for developed countries, a passive market for imported markets (both west and east), worse, a western-oriented pawn with bouts of Cold War hysteria.

People may still disregard it, what more of arguing those who criticise policies that tolerated that socio-cultural malady, that those who criticise US, NATO, or WTO-oriented policies are also using laptops from Japan or eating Pingles from Procter and Gamble, "isn't it that an oxymoron?" as one critic said.
But these critics did assert the need to industrialise the country and implement agrarian reform? To adopt a non-aligned foreign policy? Nope. They are contented in their occidentified mindsets, that industrialisation and agrarian reform is passe in favour of having unjustly skipped to a "knowledge-based economy" as demanded by multinational and transnational companies, that in globalisation comes hopes of progress, that geopolitics means supporting the interests of the United States as a "world policeman" against rouge states or China as a "banker" that brought economic development.

But how about the developing countries such as the Philippines? Will it remain just third world and dependent on the whims of its developed neighbours? No! Having a people who have educated in the ways of the west yet struggled for national independence must gain control over those who speak on behalf of the west, its machines, its knowledge, and become a producer rather than a consumer. If Korea, People's China, Japan had afforded to be that way, then why not those who struggle? Being politically independent will always be in paper as long as the economy, culture, politics remain at the hands of interests, be it the oligarch and its foreign overlord. Manny Pangilinan for example, he has controlled the telecommunications company PLDT and the electric distributor MERALCO, but his company, Metro Pacific Holdings, is controlled not by his but those of an Indonesian named Antoni Salim. Where's the justice? Pangilinan is as same as Cojuangco or Ayala, but, he relied on an outsider named Salim with the latter having Pangilinan represent his interests in the Philippines!

Anyway, despite such ideal to oppose the prevailing neocolonial setting, reality has made those who oppose policies compel to wear Levi's or any other imported yet cheap products since domestic industry had been crippled decades ago (and for sure the concerned asserted the need to revive that sector!), after all, "Grey Pants are Grey Pants before given labels", or do need to quote Mao Zedong that man decides over those things local or foreign yet beneficial?

"Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things that are decisive. The contest of strength is not only a contest of military and economic power, but also a contest of human power and morale. People necessarily wield military and economic power."

And in it lies the need for nationalisation, industrialisation, protection of small and medium scale industries, agrarian reform, the need for patriotic, scientific, and popular education and culture, and an independent, non-aligned foreign policy. True that the tools surrounding everyone's lives be foreign, but with patriotism and the desire for change, lies the need for self reliance.