Prints & Traces
Don Pagusara

The Making of the Anti-Socials

Nganong ang gikan sa  mga kabus ra man gyud ang ginabansagag mga anti-sosyal nga  elemento?  Ug busa, sila ra maoy nagpunsisok sa mga bilangguan? Makuli ka kakitag mga dato dinha sa prisohan!

[Why is it the poor are called anti-social elements? And so, they are thrown into crowded prison? You rarely see rich people in jail!]

In the first place, the managers of our society come from the wealthy.  The government is peopled by bright individuals who have been schooled in first rate educational institutions. Some of them have taken graduate studies in prestigious universities abroad, such as Harvard in the US or Cambridge in England.  A few may have also gone to the Sorbonne in Europe.

These brilliant minds in government are the ones who preside in the policy-making processes of government.  They are the ones who make legislation. Certainly, the philosophy and theoretical premise that prop up and sustain these policies and legislations invariably favor the economic interests of the affluent classes in society.  This privileged position can only be sustained if the status quo as the essential framework of society’s prime interests is maintained and protected.

In short, the affluent classes in society may be considered “the owners” of the country.  As owners, it is their will that shall be done as far as managing the affairs of the State is concerned.  Logically, foremost in their will is how to protect and preserve their wealth — otherwise called property.

The cardinal system of laws that govern the protection and preservation of the economic elite’s properties is the Civil Code which defines the property relations of people.  One of its essential contents is the section on Property Relations.  Another significant system of laws is the Corporation Code which is practically copied from the US Corporation Law.

Through this legal system the properties of the rich are assured protection assisted by the other instruments or apparatuses of the State, such as the courts and the prison houses.  Of course, the police and other security forces of the State are the principal agents in carrying out the injunctions of the laws.

Here there is a convergence of personalities, philosophical props, material resources and instrumentalities to entrench the economic interests of the owners of the country.  Or what are known as the propertied classes.

Now, what becomes of the vast majority of society’s population who are poor and property-less?   Well, the commanding intent of the propertied classes is naturally to see to it that these property-less are not able to trespass their properties.  This commanding intent is enshrined not only in the books but, most especially in the mentality — in the outlook and philosophical orientation — of the owners of property.

The Divine Law “Thou Shalt Not Steal” is made to flower into the complicated language of the secular laws of the State.  Incomprehensible to the ordinary man in the street, this State commandment prohibits covetous thoughts among the poor and disallows the property-less access to any property of “the owners,” in whole or in part.

But the poor and property-less need to have food and shelter.  They need to live like the propertied ones.  They need to have comforts like the propertied ones.  Where do they go?  Since they are deprived intellectually and materially, they scrounge for the crumbs and other left-overs thrown away as wastes by the fortunate property owners.   They gather whatever are available in the garbage heaps to be sold and be able to earn a few pesos to buy food.

But the odds are too formidable and insurmountable.  Everything seems to stand in the way for them to be able to tide over their difficulties in order to survive. The harsh realities in society work against all their efforts.  Their dreams, if they have time for sleep and for dreams, are impossible figments of the imagination as effervescent as the vapors in the Smokey Mountains.

Now, they may be unable to scavenge at all!  And they begin to think of the necessity to steal — to steal and be able to survive.  But in so doing they commit unlawful acts and deeds.  Petty thievery, at first, but soon the temptation for bigger goods — just as capitalist profiteering is limitless — is irresistible.  And soon they become habitual unlawful offenders, or felons, and they are called anti-social elements.

There are some who may not be as helpless and desperate as the garbage scavengers.  And yet they also steal and rob. They form syndicates to conduct all sorts of illegal or anti-social activities.  These elements have been prodded by the rage to get rich — and get rich quickly. They are a big headache to property owners. They defy not only the laws against property, but also the very existence of the property owners.

But why is it that some are obsessed by the compulsive urge to get rich quickly?

Behold the lifestyles of the rich and the powerful!  Are you not filled with envy? For, after all, these very rich and powerful who have made heavens of their existence on earth, are they not also guilty of stealing and robbing the people?

In exploiting the labor power of the workers and employees, are they not in effect stealing and robbing the working people of their worth as humans and what are due them as creators of surplus value which the propertied classes appropriate greedily unto themselves as “profits”?

And worse, the rich and powerful politicians who are corrupt officials of the government, are they not guilty of stealing and robbing the people’s money in the national coffers?  Are they not the worst kind of anti-social elements?   They have been entrusted and have assumed the public trust to render service for the welfare of the people, yet they have turned out to be the thieves and robbers and the figurative “berdugos” of the citizenry?   But have any of them been called anti-social? No. They’re called honorables.

Under this “free enterprise” set-up of our society, where the widening and deepening divide between the rich and the poor is the incumbent state of affairs, it is only natural that all sorts of anti-social acts and deeds would prevail.  We have said it before, and we say it again. All the ingredients of indecency, immorality, illegality, criminality and etceterality are in convergence in the entrails of society as viruses that operate for its own self-degeneration and self-destruction.

Don J. Pagusara is a ative of Mindanao, a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.

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