Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Depoliticisation of the Filipino and Marketisation of Everything

It begins with the Self - the subject at first born free then subsequently shaped and subsumed by its environment. The political is born of the bargaining of conflicting desires of individual selves. The political dies in the event where all desires are harmonised. Anti-politics it is called. While conflicts remain in the realm of the real - manifesting in actual wars, in petty crimes, in the overburdened justice system - they take a backseat to the realm of the unreal, that seething mass of collectivised desires, fed by the basest insecurities of our ego.

The siren call of self-realisation is impossible to resist. The call is heeded in those gigantic structures that litter the urban landscape. In these sanctuaries of hyperconsumption we engage in highly ritualized masturbation. The Self abuses the commodified body - that blank canvass to adorn, to modify, to pamper. To satisfy the self-perpetuating hunger for ego-stroking, the Self must sell its labour to the market, earn enough to reproduce itself its life and its lifestyle, then quickly return to the leisurely activities with which to prop its ego.

Individualised selves comprise this atomised urban society. They are in general young, hip and cosmopolitan. Now a good majority are plugged in to the globalised economy, their body clocks ticking in disharmony from the local, their id swimming in deterritorialised tastes and norms. For this class of selves, the facade of the public are inconvenient barriers that must be transcended, for collectivised desires always reside in the realm of individual private consumption. The public sphere is an anomaly, a paean to a collective identity, an anathema to the autonomous Self.

This, however, does not preclude social relations between Selves. However these relations can only be mediated by market relations. Friendships, loves, kinship are entangled in the web of monetisation. Social relations are at base motivated by the need to quench the thirst of the fragile ego, which can only be satisfied by the currency of money, that symbol of power and capacity in this late stage of modernity.

In the peripheries and interstices of urban centres, there reside masses of bodies unrecognsible. Undifferentiated, inconsequential, eking sustenance from the dregs of the urban centres' wealth-creating machine. These non-Selves are unable to self-articulate and are thus rendered mute. Like garbage and stray animals on the streets or politicians on television, they are background decoration of the public. To avoid seeing the often ugly morass of these bodies and the facade of public institutions - the articulated Self rarely ever ventures in the public sphere. It prefers to inhabit the private sanctuary of its labour and its leisure. It prefers to extenuate social relations with other Selves similarly bent on satisfying collectivised desires of consuming mass-produced objects and mass produced culture, to realise its increasingly mass-produced Self.

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