We have had a broad discussion on the unfortunate consequences of neoliberalism as the main weapon of imperialist countries in their goal to dominate the global economy. We delved into the workings of the neoliberal policies adopted by our government which redounded to the aggravation of impoverishment, curtailment of workers rights and blatant violations of human rights of Lumad peoples.
We have pinpointed the three main instruments by which the imperialist countries led by the United States of America have tried to achieve their hegemonic goals. And these are the policies which must need be pu rsued and enforced in the entire community of nations through their respective governments, namely liberalization, deregulation and privatization.
We have likewise mentioned in our earlier discussion how the doctrine of neoliberalism has pushed the imperialist countries to build geo-political formations and regional alliances among countries around the globe such as the WTO, the NATO, the SEATO, ASEAN and APEC, with the IMF and World Bank as the bankrolling agencies adept in deceptive salesmanship.
It is good to remember that the theoretical foundation of liberalism stems from capitalist rage for profit. In the realm of capitalist consciousness this serves as an endless and ever-increasing desire for money and more money — a driving force that transcends even the need for personal comfort or luxury. It is an obsessive urge, a madding sense of acquisitiveness for its own sake that knows no bounds and regards everything else as secondary. Social responsibility is not part of its prime concerns. The common good or social benefit, if it happens at all, accrues only as incidental to its profit-making preoccupations. In plain language capitalism thrives on a bottomless fountain of greed and power.
These earlier discussions were however confined to political and economic imperatives, leaving out the workings of neoliberalism in the cultural domain to be laid out in the foregoing discussion insofar as it shows its stark features in our own social experience.
The need to render the populace in a state of perpetual docility and apathy in the neoliberal policies pursued by the government. There is a kind of synergy between the political and economic thr usts and the kind of cultural menu fed to the citizenry. All the cultural institutions and all the media for mass communication are orchestrated to promote the kind of mentality that reinforces self-serving pursuits or what may be considered as the essence of individualism.
At the heart of neoliberal modes of thought is self-centeredness or exclusive concern for personal self-interest. What is flaunted are values that engender a person’s preoccupation that amounts to an acquisition of material benefits aimed at elevating one’s station in the social environment. The “crab mentality” is just one of the most common behaviors that gives high premium to personal-self-aggrandizement at the expense of everyone else. As a microcosm of the capitalist value of competitivenness, each member of society strives for some kind of perfection in an area of human endeavor for no other purpose than that this may elevate his status in the social orbit of his society, in limited or wide extent in the local or national level.
Witness the constant proddings of the prevailing social superstructure to engage every member in the race to get rich. All the advertising outlets of the mass media exhibit products that push for the whitening of one’s skin, whetting one’s desire for excellent physical appearance as required for a career directed at some luck in beauty pageants. Every other marketable commodity is attached to the body of a woman, usually in scanty covering showing an obvious form of enticement to sex, as though there’s nothing more valuable in the world but an investment for physical pulchritude in order to get ahead. Nothing is hailed with salivating interest than the sexy body of a woman attached to a newly invented product.
Neoliberalism cultivates that kind of culture through a constant raining down on the consciousness of every member of society with “commercials” of goods and commodities that whet appetites for the baser pursuits in life. Every capitalist good or commodity fresh from the anus of a factory is peddled in the mass media as a promo for the “swerte-swerte” chance in a performance competition. The rage for wealth and fortune is one in a million chance achievement, but it is dangled in the mind of every young boy and girl as something achievable through a stroke of luck in a dance or singing competition or a life-and-death journey in a boxing career.
All these pursuits via the proverbial needle-hole of competitiveness becomes the mindset for one’s getting ahead in life. The higher forms of human endeavor such as education are likewise geared in this direction. The general paradigm for success is the advancement of personal excellence in some trade or art for no other purpose than the acquisition of advantage towards getting rich or some other self-serving goals. The glib politician even unwittingly popularizes the core phrase for this brand of mentality in his “bahala kayo sa buhay nyo!”
Indeed, neoliberalism as a cultural mantra to glorify capitalism—and thereby imperialism– is at the bottom of practically every conceivable activity of the members of society. It romanticizes the possession of one’s talent that can shoot him to fame and wealth, such as a singing prowess or a pugilist agility. Oh yes, even a mere possession of a pretty face, a fair skin, or a well-carved physical form can be utilized as a competitive commodity for one’s “success” in life. The individual is exploited as an object of romance or self-serving glory. And therefore one must cultivate his competitive advantage in physical form or physical strength or his gift of voice or terpsichorean ability. Who says one’s complexion or beautiful face is “not a talent”? These can be invested for the much ballyhooed “world-clsss’ competitiveness!
Verily, one harnesses these innate appearances or potentials with the limits of one’s time and energy towards building a capitalist good for himself rather than for the rectification of social injustice and iniquities around him. He fights tooth and nail to achieve competitive headway for his get-rich-quick ambition and even bullies, maims or kills just to get ahead of every one else! That is the only objective of one’s life. Never to the uplift of the plight of the masses in dire poverty. Or if there’s such vague notion of social awareness, it is in the realm of the abstract or universal motherhood phrase extracted from capitalist eternal promise of “trickle down” effect of economic growth and development to the masses. But even the venerable Pope Francis does not believe in this “kingdom come” formulation of capitalism.
It is to the giggling celebration of neoliberalism that the present regime of President Noynoy Aquino is an avid endorser—no! A yelping puppet of US imperialism which is the chief driver of the neoliberal policies throughout the globe.