“As bureaucracies accumulate power they become immune to their own mistakes. Instead of changing their stories to fit reality, they can change reality to fit their stories. In the end external reality matches their bureaucratic fantasies, but only because they forced reality to do so.” Yuval Noah Harari, “Homo Deus.”
One that has accumulated so much power is Philippine bureaucracy. Filipinos generally have allowed it to run the country without serious question, hence without any significant attempt to correct its bias towards owners of land and capital who lord it over the bureaucracy.
With the reins of government exclusively in their vise-grip, they control the political, economic and cultural discourse in the country. They decide on the plots of stories they want a dominated people to believe in and live by without a whimper.
Are we not living out now (and reaping the consequences of?) President Bongbong Marcos’ fantasy that his late father’s dictatorship was the best to ever happen to this country?
So, how real is the baseline data of his administration’s five-year development plan that put only 18 percent of Filipinos below the poverty line? Independent surveys put it higher, some as high as over 50 percent of the population.
He also claims the price of rice is now at P25 per kilo, closing in on his campaign promise of P20 per kilo. Is that reality or fantasy? And what of the much ballyhooed campaign for integrity and competence in our national police the bureaucracy is regaling us with? Myth or reality?
Is Department of Agriculture 7’s policy to cull pigs a genuine concern for people’s reality or pure bureaucratic imposition?
Or, take the Singapore-like fantasy of Mayor Mike Rama of Cebu City. It’s okay to dream but should the dream come true, which by the way is not likely, on which side of the dream will the urban poor be? Even as Mayor Rama dreams, the urban poor are waking up to the nightmarish reality of their houses being demolished, some with only token disturbance fees but all without any provision for relocation, temporary or permanent.
How many stories are we told that actually exist only in the minds of over-zealous bureaucrats? How many are in fact bureaucratic fantasies meant to lull us into believing we don’t need to change the system that allows them exclusive control of stories Filipinos are to submissively live by?
And so on with many other stories that do not match reality but force reality to match bureaucratic fantasies.
From lack of either critical thinking or boldness or both, we have allowed bureaucrats to fit our external reality into their fantasies without compunction. To paraphrase professor Harari, instead of coming up with appropriate solutions to change our grim reality, they consider that reality solved just because they think so and say so.
How much longer shall we allow bureaucratic fantasies to run our lives? When do we get real? Just asking.
March 21, 2023
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