AUGUST 25, 2011
National Day of Action against Budget Cuts
Aki Merced, 09322537600, LFS Spokesperson
Vencer Crisostomo, 09224290258, ANAKBAYAN Chairperson
Youth, sectors link arms to protest Aquino’s
calls Aquino ‘budget-slasher’
Youth and students led by the League of
Filipino Students, ANAKBAYAN, Student Christian Movement of the
Philippines, KARATULA, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, and the
National Union of Students of the Philippines joined migrants, women,
urban poor and health workers, and marched to the House of Representatives
today to protest Benigno Aquino III’s proposed 2012 National Budget as
part of the National Day of Action against Budget Cuts on Education and
The groups called the 2012 National Budget ‘anti-people’, calling Aquino
“Aquino is blatantly abandoning the people. Budget allocations for
education, health and other social services received hefty cuts and remain
well under what is needed while debt servicing, military, dole-out
programs like the Conditional Cash Transfer, the President’s unprogrammed
funds and legislators’ pork barrel budgets were increased. This and last
year’s budget allocation is a very clear indicator of Aquino’s
priorities.”, said Aki Merced, spokesperson for the League of Filipino
Merced continued that the numbers say that the allocation for social
services increased as a whole, but these increases were ‘mainly to
increase private profits, boost fake anti-poverty gimmicks like the CCT
and focused on implementing Aquino’s anti-development Philippine
Development Plan ‘.
“Aquino’s fiscal policy is focused on worsening the import dependent,
export oriented character of our economy instead of boosting the
agricultural sector and local industries. It focuses on guaranteeing the
profits of big private business, while the people are left hungry and
wanting.”, said Merced.
Merced said that the Aquino government is steadily decreasing subsidy for
direct social service. The budgets for education and health remain at very
low levels with the education budget at just 2.4% of the GDP instead of
the UN recommendation of 6% and the health budget at a very pitiful 0.5%
instead of the UN recommendation of 5%.
Meanwhile, ANAKBAYAN Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said that the budget of
State Universities and Colleges again received cuts after getting a
whopping 1.1 billion peso cut last year. Of 112 SUCs, 51 received an
accumulated cut of P583.69 million in the 2012 National Budget, pushing
these SUCs to further ‘commercialize’, Crisostomo said.
“This is what Aquino wants for the future of the Filipino youth:
inaccessible tertiary education and a rotting basic education system. The
Department of Education budget only increased because of the legislated
salary hike for teachers but there is no significant increase for building
new classrooms, acquiring new chairs, hiring new regular teachers and
improving schools’ water and sanitation facilities.”, said Crisostomo.
He continued in saying that with the rate Aquino is going in funding our
people’s education, the education crisis is set to worsen.
“For every 100 students who enter grade school, only 66 finish grade 6. Of
this 66 who enter high school, 43 graduate. Of the 43 who enter high
school, only 14 finish college. This can be accounted on the dwindling
support of the government when it comes to educating our youth. It refuses
to fund public education and at the same time, lets the private
educational institutions increase their fees as they please. Seems what
Aquino said about education being his priority is purely sweet-talk.”,
Tin Valerio, Chairperson of the Student Christian Movement of the
Philippines, calls the 2012 National Budget of Aquino a
“Despite the human rights violation-laden record of the Armed Forces of
the Philippines, the Defense budget got one of the biggest chunks from the
national budget and even got funded under items in different agencies like
DepEd and DSWD. CCT in armed-conflict areas under the PAMANA program will
be used to justify the militarization of these communities. After more
than a year in office, the Aquino regime has incurred human-rights
violations comparable to that of Arroyo and Marcos.”, said Valerio.
Valerio said Aquino failed to recognize the root cause of the insurgency,
which is vast landlessness and poverty, and instead resorts to massive
attack and deception of the people. “The Aquino regime has always been
biased to big landlords, big business and foreign corporations, resorting
to armed force if the people gets in the way of their profit interests.
Because of the increasing resistance to a government that is deaf to the
need of the people, Aquino and his real bosses devised the 2012 National
Budget that provides fake solutions to the poorest of Filipinos and
militarizes their communities to suppress unrest. This, together with
filling his own pocket with unprogrammed funds—virtually pork barrel, is
why we are in protest!”
The groups say that protests will continue as the budget is heard in
congress, the senate, until it gets to the bicameral conference up to the
“We refuse to let this president use public funds to the benefit of the
few, while perpetuating the people’s poverty and suffering. It is not true
that this kind of spending will benefit everyone ‘in the long run’. The
people have suffered decades of abandonment, it is time we take matters
into our own hands,” said Merced.
High schools, colleges and universities are set to stage massive boycotts
and strikes on the third week of September, while under the multi-sectoral
Kilos Na Laban Sa Budget Cuts!, youth groups are joined by different
sectors in launching massive protests nationwide against budget cuts.###
To our esteemed journalists and friends in the
Below is a statement of the Alliance of
Concerned Teachers on the recent Congressional hearing on the budget of
State Universities and Colleges.
Teachers, education workers, students, health workers, public servants and
other government employees condemn the State's abandonment of the people.
We hope that you will allow us space in your esteemed media outfit.
Thank you very much.
National Campaign Coordinator
Alliance of Concerned Teachers
09184186439 or (02)4539116
For reference: Ms.France Castro, ACT Secretary General, 09178502124
Mr.Benjie Valbuena, ACT Nat’l Vice Chairperson, 09182399222
Tutulan, Labanan ang Patuloy na Pag-aabandona ng rehimeng Noynoy Aquino sa
mga State Universities and Colleges (SUC’s)!
Ipaglaban ang Mas Mataas na Budget sa Edukasyon, Kalusugan at Serbisyong
Pahayag ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)
7 Agosto 2011
Mariing tinututulan at kinukondena ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)
ang muling pagkaltas ng rehimeng Noynoy Aquino sa pondo ng mga State
Universities and Colleges (SUCs) sa budget proposal nito sa Kongreso para
sa susunod na taon.
Ang lubhang kapos na pagpopondo ng rehimeng
Noynoy Aquino sa mga SUC’s ay tiyak na magpapalubha sa masahol na ngang
kalagayan sa pagtuturo at paggawa ng mga guro at kawani ng mga SUC’s at sa
masahol na kalagayan sa pag-aaral ng ating mga mag-aaral at kabataan.
Nangangahulugan ito ng paglala sa kakapusan ng mga guro, kawani at
mahahalagang batayang pasilidad at pangangailangan sa mga SUC’s.
Patuloy na pagkaltas sa pondo ng mga SUC’s, pag-abandona ng gubyerno sa
mga kabataan at mamamayan
Sa P1.816 trilyong pondo para sa 2012 National Expenditure Program (NEP),
P21.8 bilyon lamang ang ilalaan para sa mga SUCs na mas mababa sa P22.03
bilyong naipasa noong 2011. Lubhang malayo ito sa P49 Bilyon proposed
consolidated SUC’s budget ng Commission on Higher Education (CHED) na
hinalaw sa kongkretong kahilingan ng mga SUC’s.
Matapos kaltasan ng mahigit P1 bilyon ang
operations budget ng mga pamantasan noong nakaraang taon, 50 SUC’s ang may
pinagsama-samang kaltas na P569.8 milyon sa kabuuang pondo nito para sa
Apatnapu’t-limang paaralan ang kinaltasan ng
maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) na may kabuuang halaga na
P250.9 milyon. Mayroon namang 58 SUC’s ang kinaltasan ng budget sa
kanilang Personal Services (PS) na aabot sa P403.3 milyon. Kabaliktaran
ito sa dapat ay pagtaas ng kanilang budget sa PS para sa taong 2012 dahil
sa pagpapatupad ng 4th and last tranche ng dagdag na sweldo ng mga kawani
ng pamahalaan na naaayon sa Salary Standardization Law 3.
Ang Philippine Normal University (PNU), na
kung saan pangunahing pinagmumulan ng mga mahuhusay na guro, ay kakaltasan
na namang muli ng P12.835 million sa budget nito para sa taon 2012.
Matatandaang kinaltasan na ng P91.35 million
ang PNU para sa budget nito sa taong 2011. Ang ganitong patuloy na
pagpapaliit sa pondo ng PNU ay lubhang makakaapekto sa tungkulin nitong
mag-produce ng mga de kalidad na guro para sa mamamayan at malilimitahan
ang pagtugon sa lumulubhang kakulangan ng mga guro sa ating bayan na
umaabot na ngayon sa 101,612 regular teachers.
Ang mga SUC’s na bahagyang tumaas ang
alokasyon ay napakaliit naman ng idinagdag. Sa karamihan, ni hindi
mababawi ang kinaltas na pondo noong nakaraang taon at napakalayo din sa
aktwal na pangangailangan ng mga pamantasan.
Sa kabila ng bulok na mga gusali, pasilidad at
napakaraming mga hindi na ma-accomodate na mga mag-aaral sa mga SUC's,
nanatiling wala kahit isang kusing na inilaan ang gubyerno para sa capital
outlay o paggawa ng bagong mga gusali at mga klasrum.
Ang panibagong pagkaltas sa pondo ay
pagpapatuloy ng patakaran ng gubyerno sa pagpapaliit ng pondo ng mga SUC’s
at pag-aabandona ng gubyerno sa tungkulin nitong pag-aralin ang kanyang
mamamayan. Kasabay ng pag-aabandona ng gubyerno sa ating mga SUC’s ay ang
ganap na pagsusubo din ng gubyerno sa ating mga mag-aaral at kanilang mga
magulang sa iba’t ibang commercial scheme sa mga SUC’s at sa mga profit
oriented educational corporations and institutions, at gayundin sa mga
nagpapanggap na mga non-profit educational institutions. Patunay sa
ganitong kalagayan ang samu’t saring income-generating-projects (IGP’s) at
tuition and other fee increases sa mga SUC’s at private higher education
Rehimeng Noynoy Aquino, walang makabuluhang pinagkaiba sa rehimeng kanyang
Simula pa noong 2001, bumaba na ang tunay na halaga ng alokasyon ng
gubyerno sa mga SUC’s mula P15.6 milyon tungong P14 milyon noong 2010. Sa
kabila ito ng paglaki ng mga mag-aaral sa SUC’s at pagdami ng mga programa
sa mga SUC’s. Nasa mga SUC’s ang mahigit 40% ng mga estudyante sa kolehiyo
dahil na rin sa napakataas nang matrikula sa mga pribadong paaralan.
Sa nakaraang mga taon, pababa ng pababa ang bahagdan ng inilalaang pondo
ng gubyerno para sa pagpapatakbo ng mga SUC’s. Noong 2000, 87.74% ng pondo
ng SUCs ay galing sa gubyerno, nasa 66.31% na lamang ito ngayong 2011.
Dahil sa papaliit na pondong inilalaan sa mga
SUC’s, papatindi ang pagpapatakbong tila negosyo sa mga ito. Tumataas kada
taon ang kinikita ng mga SUC’s mula sa tuition and other fee increases sa
mga mag-aaral at sa iba’t ibang mga income generating projects. Mula sa
kabuuang P1.5 billion isang dekada ang nakararaan, aabot ito sa
mahigit-kumulang P7.7 billion sa 2011, ayon sa projection ng gubyerno. Ito
ay bubuo sa mahigit 22.1% ng kabuuang budget ng mga SUC’s mula sa 8.3%
lamang noong 2001.
Matatandaang noong 2006, nagtaas ang tuition
fee ng UP nang 300%, na umaabot na ngayon ang matrikula sa mahigit P40,000
kada taon, mas mataas pa sa ilang malalaking private schools. Dagdag pa
dito ang mga iskema ng komersyalisasyon at pagtataas ng matrikula gaya ng
STFAP. Kaya naman kahit sa 3,826 na nakapasa sa UPCAT ngayong 2011, 1,300
o nasa 1/3 ay hindi nakapag-enroll sa UP Diliman.
Kasabay na itinulak ang pagtataas ng mga bayarin sa iba pang mga SUC sa
buong bansa. Noong Marso 2010, tinangka ng administrasyon ng PUP na
magtaas ng matrikula ng mahigit 2000% na pinigil ng mga protesta ng mga
Itutulak ng higit na pagtataas ng mga bayarin
ang pagdami ng mga hindi makakatapos o makakatungtong man lamang sa
kolehiyo. Lalo nitong ipagkakait sa mas maraming kabataan ang karapatang
makapag-aral. Ngayon pa lamang, 14% lamang ng mga pumapasok ng elementarya
ang makakatapos ng kolehiyo.
Ang programang ito ay itinulak mismo ni Aquino sa kanyang budget message
para sa 2011: “the government aims to gradually reduce subsidy to SUCs...
(to) push them toward becoming self-sufficient and financially
Kung tutuusin, labag ito sa nakasaad sa Article XIV, Section 1 ng
Konstitusyon ng Pilipinas na nagsasaad na “The State shall protect and
promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and
shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.”
Pagtalikod din ito ng gubyerno sa kanyang
constitutional duty to promote social order: Article II, Section 9 ng
Konstitusyon ng Pilipinas na nagsasaad na … the government has a
constitutional duty “to promote a just and dynamic social order that will
ensure the properity of the nation and free the people from poverty
through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full
employment, a rising standard of living, and improved quality of life.”
Ang probisyong ito ay niri-require ang gubyerno na lubos na suportahan at
i-sustain ang mga SUC’s upang mahusay na maisakatuparan at maipagpatuloy
ang kanilang mga aktibidad at operasyon.###
ACT Now for greater state subsidy for SUC’s!
No to budget cut in SUC’s!
No to continuing state abandonment of public tertiary education!
ACT Now for greater state subsidy for education, health and social
Magkakaroon ng mga kilos-protesta sa mga sumusunod:
· Agosto 9--Committee hearing ng Health budget, 1 pm, HOR
· Agosto 22-- Committee hearing ng Department of National Defense budget,
1 pm, HOR
· Agosto 23--Committee Hearing on DSWD budget (kasama ang CCT), 1pm HOR
· Agosto 25--Committee Hearing on Department of Education Budget; Unang
araw ng plenary budget deliberations sa HOR -- Pambansant Araw ng Protesta
para sa Dagdag na Pondo sa Edukasyon--big multisectoral mobilization
Demythologizing the Fetish of Academic Excellence
By Professor Gerry Lanuza
The first aspect to be emphasized is that
educational practice is a dimension of social practice,” says Paolo Freire.
Schleiermacher in his “'Occasional Thoughts on the German Conception of
the University” viewed the notion that "a scientific person could live
shut off by himself in solitary labors and undertakings” as a "sheer
delusion." " However much he appears to work alone in the library, at his
writing desk, or in the laboratory, his learning processes are
inextricably interwoven with a public "community of investigators" (Peirce).
Pierre Bourdieu the Jurassic Marxist in French sociology called for
academics to become public intellectuals. But committed scholarship, for
Bourdieu, does not mean limiting politics, pedagogy, or social change to
the world of text or the narrow province of discourse. Nor does committed
scholarship and pedagogy provide an excuse for those intellectuals who
often “mistake revolutions of the order of words, or texts, for
revolutions in the order of things, to mistake verbal sparring at academic
conferences for interventions in the affairs of [public life].” According
to Bourdieu, academics had not only to engage in a permanent critique of
the abuses of authority in the larger social world, but also address the
deadening scholasticism that often characterised work in the academy. This
was not simply a call for them to renounce an all too common form of
political irrelevance rooted in the mantra of professionalism that
inveighed against connecting higher education to the public realm or
scholarship to larger social issues, but also an attempt to convince
intellectuals that their own participation in the public realm should
never take place at the expense of their artistic, intellectually
rigorous, or theoretically inclined skills. In this instance, the meaning
of what it meant to be a public intellectual could not serve as an excuse
to substitute a celebrity-like, public-relations posturing for the
important work of collective struggle and intervention.
As neoliberalism penetrates deeper the uncommodified spaces of our
society, schools can become the alternate heterotopias that can resist the
omnipotent power of capital. Schooling under neoliberal capitalism
purports to produce a mass work force which does not think for itself, but
should accept without question the rhetoric and orders of the ruling
economic, political, and social elites, who have amassed a concentration
of economic and political power. As Henry Giroux, a critical pedagogue,
says, “The time has come for intellectuals to distinguish caution from
cowardice and recognise that their obligations extend beyond
deconstructing texts or promoting a culture of questioning. These are
important pedagogical interventions, but they do not go far enough. We
also need to link knowing with action, learning with social engagement,
and this suggests addressing the responsibilities that come with teaching
students to fight for an inclusive and radical democracy by recognising
that pedagogy is not just about understanding, however critical, but also
provides the conditions for addressing the responsibilities we have as
citizens to others, especially those who will inherit the future.”
As member of the academe, I have to face the painful truth of my own
complicity with the dominant ethos of neoliberal philosophy of education.
Again, Giroux is right: “But for educators to recognise the urgency of the
crisis that links youth and democracy they will have to betray those
dominant intellectual traditions that divorce academic life from politics,
reduce teaching to forms of instrumental rationality that largely serve
market interests, and remove the university from those democratic values
that hold open the promise of a better and more humane life.” Allow me,
then, to “betray” --as the highest act of love and fidelity according to
Zizek—the dominant traditons I was socialized.
What is happening today is that the neoliberal logic has opened up the
schools for corporate branding and because of its tendencies to commodify
everything even the notion of active citizenship had been reduced to mere
individualistic pursuit of academic excellence. The meaning of academic
excellence has been hijacked by liberal oligarchs and their children in
order to create a new mythology distinct from the way it was defined in
the past by radical students and their mentors. It has become a badge of
success for students to enter the corporate world while it serves as a
perfect the whipping stick of teachers to castigate erring students who
fails to parrot their own pedagogical creeds. Neoliberal philosophy of
education has failed to enable students to translate pedagogy into
publicly relevant topics. This resulted into social apathy among
student-citizens as education is now defined as private rather than public
goods. Many students and teachers have followed unwittingly Allan Bloom’s
conservative idea of reading as pure pleasure and disconnected from social
good. Thereby criticizing critical pedagogy in university along Bloom’s
description: “speech overflowing with pious platitudes , the peculiar
vocabulary of a sect of coven”.
The followers of neoliberal school reforms would like us to believe that
that solution to dwindling funds and academic deterioration, inflation of
grades, is to raise academic standards and focus on mastering the basic
skills of fundamental subject matter. The fashionable mantra of today’s
“captains of higher learning” (read: CEOs) is the dreaded slogan of
anarchist gurus in the sixties, Ivan Illich: “de-schooling” now
cannibalised as “life-long learning”. Yet despite the ingenuity that such
slogan connotes, many teachers have become so engrossed with pedagogical
techniques and teaching effectiveness that they abstract education from
the wider social democratic processes. This naiveté leads to the creation
of what Giroux aptly calls as the “pedagogy of the depressed” in which
students are subtly programed to believe that getting better grades and
mastering the skills are the be-all and end-all of education, and where
teachers are reduced to mere bodies without organs of the teaching–war
machines diligently preparing students to live the in nucleus of
Christopher Lasch’s “heartless world”. Hence both mainstream teachers and
students see critical pedagogy as relics of the past whose relevance is
passé. For those who still manage to read “critical” works, they attempt
to smuggle in critical spaces within the classrooms only to tell their
students just like peddlers of educational plans: “Study now, engage
later!” Rallies can wait, teachers cannot!
What we need to dismantle in our classrooms is the motto of the neoliberal
guru that that good life is all about making profits and that the essence
of democracy is profit making. Academic excellence is the passport to the
good life. What kind of students do we breed? In ‘Rectify the Party’s
Style in Work’, Mao wrote: ‘They proceed from a primary school of that
sort to a university of that sort, they take a diploma, and are regarded
as stocked with knowledge. But all that they have is knowledge of books,
and they have not yet taken part in any practical activities, nor have
they applied, in any branch of social life, the knowledge they have
acquired…their knowledge is not yet complete. What, then, is comparatively
complete knowledge? All comparatively complete knowledge is acquired
through two stages: first the stage of perceptual knowledge and second the
stage of rational knowledge, the latter being the development of the
former to a higher plane’. Furthermore, ‘the most important thing is [to]
be well versed in applying such knowledge in life and in practice’.
For those who prefer “real” pedagogues, should go directly to Mortimer
Adler who proposed the Peidia: “[T]hey [students] may be memorizing
machines, able to pass quizzes or examinations. But probe their minds and
you will find that what they know by memory, they do not understand. They
have spent hours in classrooms where they were talked at, where they
recited and took notes, plus hours of homework poring over textbooks,
extracting facts to commit to memory. But when have their minds been
addressed, in what connection have they been called upon to think for
themselves, to respond to important questions and to raise them
themselves, to pursue an argument, to defend a point of view, to
understand its opposite, to weigh alternatives? There is little joy in
most of the learning they are now compelled to do. Too much of it is make
believe, in which neither teacher nor pupil can take a lively interest.
Without some joy in learning–a joy that arises from hard work well done
and from the participation of one’s mind in a common task – basic
schooling cannot initiate the young into the life of learning, let alone
give them the skill and the incentive to engage in it further.”
Is this what academic excellence today amounts to?
The capacity to memorize and pass exminations, comprehensive examinations
with flying colors, but students are bereft of any sense of social
justice? Can we therefore, as teachers, blame students if they mount a
massive resistance to our everyday life in the campus and transform our
classrooms into jungle for their protracted guerrilla warfare –absenteism,
dropping, LOA, MRR, cheating, vandalism, grafittis, texting, yawning,
making fun of our mannerisms, and even pornographically fantasizing about
Do we need another “quick fix ideology”? What all this suggests is that
the real crisis in education is one that stems from the failure of this
society to develop a public philosophy that is capable of defending
schools as public spheres committed to performing a public service
informed by emancipatory and democratic principles. The important point
being that it has become increasingly what is at issue here is not just
academic excellence but the very future of our university.
But is this realistic? Sooner or later one has to confront the “heartless
world” and sell her soul to the highest CEO bidder! You demand realism?
Then you should heed Murray Bookchin, the libertarian socialist, when he
argues that “the highest realism can be attained only by looking beyond
the state of affairs to a vision of what should be, not only what is”.
John Holloway proposes a socialist philosophy of NO rather the capitalist
YES! In Holloway’s spirit, we should turn around the question: “what is
academic excellence?” to the more genealogical mode: “When will you stop
wanting it?” And the false dilemma: “Is activism anathema to academic
excellence” into a negation of the dilemma: “When will activism be a form
of academic excellence?” We need Bourdieu’s “reasoned utopianism”: “being
both against ‘pure wishful thinking (which) has always brought discredit
on utopia’ and against ‘philistine platitudes concerned essentially with
facts’; it is opposed to ‘the—ultimately defeatist—heresy of an
objectivist automatism according to which the world’s objective
contradictions would be sufficient in themselves to revolutionize the
world in which they occur’ and at the same time to ‘activism for its own
sake’, pure voluntarism based on an excess of optimism.”
John Sargis, who combines Adlerian pedagogy with radical democratic
critique, names the culprit: The implicit frame is egocentric education:
“Egocentrism is built into the system upon the accumulation of desires
that are never satisfied in obtaining its objects of desire, and, as a
result, seeks more and more gratification in more and more consumer
objects.” He adds, “Socialized into the world by mass consumer society and
carried into adult life by a variety of cultural industries inflating
ego-centrism, students are a captured audience for economic exploitation.
Indeed, they become so captivated that their own lives become enmeshed in
the pursuit of false dreams of monetary success. This miseducation leads
students away from democracy and equality and into a society of economic
exploitation, totalitarianism, hierarchy, and inequality. A student’s fund
of knowledge is displaced by a fund of fashionade consumerism, as the
students themselves are initiated into an inner subjective standard wholly
inscribed as a consumer.”
But the old Leftists who had seen the horrors of the past are simply
chanting: “I have seen it, don’t do it again.” “No, it will not happen to
my child.” They are like Sisyphus, the cultural hero of Camus and
existentialist rebellion in the sixties, who kept on pushing a boulder to
the top of the mountain. But they do not have the guts of Sissyphus. They
got bored so they just left the Left. Others have become nostalgic that
they seem to follow the monumental view of history as if they were the
“last radicals” and the current young radicals as mediocre and
inexperienced. Others on the other hand, while maintaining the utopian
vision simply lack the desire to carry on. On the extreme side, are those
who, after immersing themselves in dialectical materialism have chanced
upon reading postmodern gurus from Paris and so they now disavow and
recant all the follies they committed when they were young. They become
pernicious in dismissing the clamors of the youth since they are totally
convinced that they have mastered and transcended Maos’ Red Book. They
have reached Nirvana and reached the peak of Mt. Olympus. Looking down at
the youth’s pilgrim whom they consider as their mirror-images they hope
these young people will get old soon to realize their own follies and
mistakes. So, in the end, Nietzsche for them is right: everything is just
an endless and meaningless repetition of irredeemable past mistakes. Only
this time, they are braver: I will it thus! Amor fati!
It is in this climate of ideological struggle and myth-making that any
talk about academic excellence becomes a loadstone that quickly draw
violent and emotional reactions. This is all the more true for professors
who dare to speak against the tabooed topics of radicalism in the academe
–branding them as recruiters to the “lost causes” and brainwashers of
students. The sleight in this acrimonious debate is that the so-called
liberal protectors of university against leftist extremism ignorantly
subscribe to the Weberian liberal understanding of academic public space
while fully subscribing to the postmodern deconstruction of liberal
narrative! It follows form these that professors who in any way,
transgress the limits of liberal democracy are punished and warned: “Toe
the line or else!” which amounts to the same thing: be a liberal or
else…!” This imperative excellently demonstrates the postmodern superego,
the superego under global capitalism:” Yes, you may rally, yes you may
join student organizations, yes you may discuss these things BUT…” What is
this big BUT? It should be voluntary, it should be free, it should be with
consent and no coercion. Put crudely, radicals are put into a double-bind:
you can be radical without being radical! Fantastic, isn’t it? It’s like
having coffee without caffeine! Liberal professors, traumatized by the
Gulags under local socialism, and mindful of industry of literature
discrediting the totalitarian Stalinist logic of any revolution, see
extremism as leading to mass destruction. How ironic! For they have to
inculcate their liberal principles to students and faculty in the most
liberal way: free consent, with permits, with transparency, and
accountability! All humanistic values championed by the bourgeoisie. And
for those whose Machiavellian adventurists who threaten the liberal fetish
for order they are considered as insolent, students who devalue
academics”, and mediocre!
This should not lead to pessimistic conclusion that the University is a
liberal public space using subtle forms of coercion and brainwashing and
ideological interpellations. Neither do we have to insist that UP is a
Gulag or Alcatraz created by liberal utopians. We are closer here to
Foucault: the school is also a place for contestation. That is why, when
academic excellence is raised what radical professors should do is to
contest the definition: who is defining it? For what? For whom? Why now?
In the field of ideological struggle, any question is suspect. This is the
exact meaning of radicalism!
So how do we deal with the liberal space of the university? The most
ruinous strategy here is to follow Zizek’s injunction to follow the Law to
the letter. Go ahead, fire student leaders who are disqualified under the
Law. But only under one condition: disqualify all other students fail to
be academically excellent! But then: Why stop with students? We should
demand that to all professors and administrators! The vendors, jeepney
drivers! We are supposed to be excellent. Everyone in the University
profits from the taxpayers money. Hence there can never be a state of
exception, including the President and the Board of Regents! This is
reduction ad adsurdum! Definitely, there will be a lot of turnovers in the
University; thereby fulfilling the corporate mandate of neoliberal
philosophy championed by Hayek, Friedman and Misses! Let there be a
witch-hunts against the academically stupid and mediocre. There are rules?
Here one touches the aporia between Law and Justice. Derrida argues that
an infinite, irreducible “idea of justice” haunts every decision and
necessarily haunts it in order for it to be a decision and not merely the
application of a rule. In the face of this undecidability, though, Derrida
also insists on the ongoing urgency of the decision, since incalculable
justice requires calculation—it requires that the decision on what is just
and right be made at any moment. Given that the rules disqualify certain
teachers and students, is that JUSTICE?
Jean François Lyotard, the father of French postmodernism, in his The
Postmodern Condition, criticized the fact that universities and
institutions of higher learning have become victims of the logic of
performativity under capitalism. The business of universities should have
been the creation paralogical knowledge that breaks the “normal”
configuration of society. The clamour for excellence has become the lame
excuse for most of us in submitting ourselves to the standardization of
performativity-driven post-industrial capitalism. Higher standard, tougher
rules, better performance! More output, more publications, more
international publications the better. These are not neutral standards.
They are, as Habermas, would argue in his The Idea of a University,
definite product a social configuration in late capitalism.
As a teacher of UP, my only regret, and here, I would like to face up to
Nietzsche’s critique of the “slaves” who could not accept their past- is
that I have not given enough for my nation and the university. I was also
a victim of this liberal fetish for academic excellence and I forget the
most important thing: not grades, not awards, not distinctions but
solidarity with the wretched of the world! Second, I also regret not
having cared for students who sacrificed their academics for the sake of
organizing students and actively fighting in behalf of the mainstream
apathetic students. In the age of academic mythologization and the general
upsurge of student apathy it is worth reminding ourselves of the school
failures of Einstein, Lincoln, Edison, and others. These great individuals
could have been given the chance have they been taken cared off by the
guardians of academic excellence, guardians who have not changed the
world! Activist students are not Einsteins, Lincolns nor Beethovens. They
have minute chances of surviving in the market that creates a “heartless
world”. For that reason alone we should be more caring for them. To break
the privatizing ethics of neoliberal capitalism, we must show solidarity
with these students rather than ostracise them for failing to live up to
what we expect of them –the supposed philosopher-kings and guardians of
academic excellence! ‘
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(Editor's note: Professor Gerry Lanuza teaches at the University of the
Philippines at Diliman Department of Sociology. This article has been
uploaded with his permission).