Monday, April 20, 2009

Fiction of the Lumpenbourgeoisie

We all create fiction to help ourselves sleep soundly. Amidst the squalor and abject poverty of the inhabitants of this city, the lumpenbourgeoisie have convinced themselves they have no part, and certainly no fault, in the state of things. While many profess absolute disgust for politics – that arena where the dregs of Philippine society congregate, they pay no mind to inhabiting this sorry excuse of a city. They pay no mind to paying taxes that oil the dirty machinery running this country. They pay no mind as long as they can afford luxuries of comfort denied everyone else. The luxury of education, the luxury of healthcare, the luxury of justice.

While they can afford it, they retreat to their enclaves – their little cliques, their venues of entertainment and consumption, their gated villages, their gated schools, their gated consciousness.

Most are too polite, too well-bred to air what they believe in private. Once in a while though, you come face to face with one who has the audacity to speak her mind. This weekend I had the (dis)pleasure of meeting such a creature, so bold in her socio-political and socio-economic analyses of what is wrong with this country, and why Filipinos are poor.

A powerful bourgeois myth is that of the self-made man. As if all one needs in the battle of life is one’s wits and god-given talent. If god had a hand in determining our fate, well he must be one selective son of a bitch. While this myth may hold true as our personal goals are met according to how we navigate the terrain in which we live, an individual’s own ingenuity will only yield results subject to the limits of what is called – reality. The limits of having been born of a mother who suffers from malnutrition, the limits of having to compete with 6 other siblings for meager resources, the limits of having to excel in a classroom of fifty, the limits of having to walk two hours to get to school, the limits of having no money to pay for books and school supplies, the limits of subsisting on kangkong for baon – puts a damper on the myth of the self-made man. A man sprung out of the nowhere – fully-formed, naturally endowed with skills, perhaps by the almighty, to make of this world as he wills.

It is a convenient fiction the lumpenbourgeoisie tell and re-tell, to convince themselves they have no obligation to those who do not enjoy the same standard of living as they do. God only helps those who help themselves, and this absolves this economic minority of their sins of omission. I do not understand how any of them can be so proud, so-called leaders of this basket case of a society.

Our betters, the useless bourgeoisie. What a sorry excuse for superiority.

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