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On ideas (with P.N. Abinales)
13 Oct 2005



[Exchange between benign0 and Patricio Abinales a.k.a. P.N. Abinales on this PCIJ blog topic]

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According to P.N. Abinales:

Much stranger is your forgetting how much of American and European growth was funded by resources — human and natural — from the Third World (remember colonialism?).
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Much stranger yet is this notion that “Third World resources” are valuable in themselves.

Don’t forget that all the oil sitting under those desert kingdoms and all those rubber trees growing in Brazil and Malaysia, and all the labour coming from overpopulated countries like the Philippines would have been all worthless if not for the invention of the technologies, machinery and equipment, and business models that consumes and applies these resources PRODUCTIVELY.

If labour supply and natural resources is what you think makes the Third World great, then how come a Third World country like the Philippines that is abundant in labour and rich (at least we once were) in natural resources is such an utterly poor country?

It’s IDEAS that drive human progress, dude. And ideas is something Philippine society is devoid of.


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P.N. Abinales said:

“It’s power — not ideas — that drives human progress”
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Mr. A, hope you don’t mind if I isolated the above statement of yours because it seems to be the cornerstone of your rather wordy argument.

You say it is power that drives human progress? Step back further and think of where power REALLY comes from:

It is still IDEAS that CREATES and drives power.

For example:

The idea that God shall punish sinners and reward obedience is where religion derives its power.

It’s the idea that royalty is born with the right to govern is where a monarch derives his/her power.

It’s the idea that people are entitled to determine their destinies is where democracy derives its validity.

And it’s the idea that a leader “has the people’s mandate” that lends crediibility to the leaders of a democratic society.

Kung baga, a people who SUBMIT themselves to an idea become subject to the people who create and propagate said idea.

Hitler created the notion that Jews should be exterminated. He derived his power from people who latched on to this idea.

THINK Pinoys, think.

Wag lang sayaw nang sayaw.


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P.N. Abinales said:

Now as to your idea that IDEAS create and drive power, two things: it is the political and economic contexts in which individuals live in and respond to that ultimately lead them to conceptualizing ideas about life, etc. The “idea that God shall punish sinners and reward obedience is where religion derives its power” is one way in which societies tried to police their ranks as they dealt with hostile environments (the Ten Commandments, my dear Kano, was as much as set of morals as a set of regulations necessary to keep the 12 tribes of Israel bonded as a unit as they went around the desert). The “the idea that royalty is born with the right to govern is where a monarch derives his/her power” was a way of justifying aristocratic rule in a region littered with many fiefdoms and peasant communities, while ” the idea that people are entitled to determine their destinies is where democracy derives its validity” was a way in which colonized communities legitimized their rebellion against their colonizers who had been exploiting them.
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Precisely my point. You simply added a bit more detail to the underlying principle I described — that ideas, and their being embraced by people, is what creates the power wielded by our leaders.

To cite an example from your post above:

” ‘the idea that people are entitled to determine their destinies is where democracy derives its validity’ was a way in which colonized communities legitimized their rebellion against their colonizers who had been exploiting them.”

You simply cited another example of the point I made: the colonised communities used the idea to “legitimise” their rebellion. So the rebellion derived its power (i.e. its legitimacy) from said idea.

Same bannana.

You also cited my take on religion to state that it is “one way in which societies tried to police their ranks as they dealt with hostile environments”. And the act of “policing” requires some degree of power, doesn’t it? And where did this power to police come from? You said it yourself by quoting me that “idea that God shall punish sinners and reward obedience is where religion derives its power”.

Same bannana. Just a bit wordier.

You should be in politics, dude.


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P.N. Abinales said:

See, Benny Boy, too much MacDo really is no good for those grey cells of yours. I said the context determined the ideas and not the other way around.

The ideas would not have worked if the context was not conducive for it to flourish (Hitler would be simply dismissed as a looney had there been no economic crisis plaguing Germany, had World War I not shamed the German elite, and had the communists and socialists began agitating the masa).
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Whatever the case whether the idea created the context or the context created the idea, the principle still remains the same:

Power is derived from ideas.

Hitler like any other politician or leader or ideas broker benefited from good timing. His ideas took root in a society that was in crisis — just like the idea of an Erap for president took root at a time when Pinoys were looking for an alternative type of politician.

Same bannana.

In either case, it was still the idea that created the power.

You are running around in circles, dude.

Step back and get your bearings back.


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P.N. Abinales said:

Am in politics, my friend. In fact…been into to it for so long now.
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Hmmm. No wonder you think the way you do.

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P.N. Abinales said:

Need to retire and write that damn novel about illiterate Kanos and hopeless Pinoys.
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Typical Pinoy. Talking about something before actually doing it.

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P.N. Abinales said:

Keep those calories down, my good friend but keep them ripostes coming. But this time, put in some substance.
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I think you better direct that piece of advise to our chicharon-eating and beer-happy compatriots.


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P.N. Abinales said,

O sya, Benny Boy, it appears na hindi talaga tayo mag-budge sa posisyon natin. You prefer living in that Hegelian world where you think ideas govern the universe. Us in this earth, think the other way around. I suggest we move to another topic since it does appear that you will continue munching on your McDo and live your fantasy about ideas as the origin of everything. But this time please, let’s be more concrete historically and politically. Your rhetoric is fine and I surmise you probably were a good debater in high school. Pero, naman, my Kano friend, how about some real stories this time ha? So far kasi wala ka naman ipinakitang malaman na argumento.

By the way, you never did say anything more about how messed up your country is. Oh well….wala tayong magagawa dyan. Tsk, tsk, typical Kano ka talaga — ayaw tanggapin na sabit din yong bayan mo. Keep have fun with those McDo and check out the latest American idol — baka in that show lies your future. Salud
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What makes you think I am American?


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P.N. Abinales said:

Benny boy, Benny boy…now you’re plunging to an all-time low. Denying even your citizenship to try to extricate yourself from a failure to come up with a good riposte on how your president George is messing up your country. I am disappointed.
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You didn’t answer my question dude.

What makes you think I’m American?

The reason I ask is this: Note how many paragraphs in your posts here are based on this assumption of yours than I am an American.

Is this a habit of yours? To build entire dissertations on an assumption?

And you tell me my posts lack substance.

Kinda like the pot calling the kettle black, wouldn’t you think?

Tsk tsk.

If I recall right, the discussion was about the origins/sources of power. Then out of some bizarre twist of logic you make it about how George W. Bush is “making a mess” of the U.S. And on top of that you post paragraph after paragraph of text articulating a whole argument (if you can call it that) that is built on YOUR assumption that I am an American (an assumption that you apparently cannot SUBSTANTIATE even when challenged to do so).

I raised valid views/ideas on what constitutes power — a topic that it seems you cannot further progress (which you then proceed to muddle by making assumptions about my citizenship and bringing up the quality of US governance).

Remember that the original post that spawned this discussion was an observation made by an insightful fellow:

“I enjoyed the company of Filipinos for their humor and the reminiscent qualities I’ve lost touch of. I realized I don’t want the other qualities I associate with my people. I view Filipinos as [de]void of any intellectual enjoyment. I like reading philosophical books that are stimulating, but the people I know and see lack any commitment to any intellectual pursuits. This is not to be patronizing, but there seems to be a limit [to] which some Filipinos apply themselves intellectually. I have yet to encounter one who has taken interest in any cerebral activities, it seems as though they have no inclination towards art, humanities or education in general. As a result, I see Filipinos as irrational and illogical. Any argument on any issue … is either avoided or seen as an attack on their ego. I find a more stimulating conversation with individuals from other ethnic groups.”

Tsk tsk. The way you have conducted yourself is a pretty good cross-section of how the Pinoy mind works.

No surprise that you happen to be a politician by profession, and that Pinoys continue to dance to the sound of politicians’ singing.

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