I USED to engage in intellectual jousts with friends when I was in younger. The last time I did that was during the UP Writer’s Workshop in Tacloban years ago when fellow Cebuano writer Ven and I would spend the night talking about any topic we would fancy. Discussing theories, of course, doesn’t have much of an impact on the practical. But for some it refreshes and sharpens the intellect.
In intellectual jousts, I always look for connections in seemingly disjointed occurrences. One time when I talked with a friend years about the Marcos dictatorship, I questioned why at that certain stage of the world’s history, tyrants sprouted everywhere and rose to power in many countries. Was Ferdinand Marcos merely a product of those times?
Or was it mere coincidence that after the 1986 Edsa People power uprising that ousted Marcos and restored in the country the status quo ante, our version of bourgeois democracy, the toppling down of tyrants in other countries also began, peaking with the disintegration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)? Was our Edsa uprising merely a product of those times?
I raised the same question with the recent ascendancy of President Rodrigo Duterte in the country and the assault on democratic institutions and neo-liberal principles and values he is instigating. Is it just mere coincidence that in the United States Donald Trump won the presidency and is now assaulting neo-liberal principles and values in that country? And that in Britain Brexit triumphed?
What causes these shifts that occur globally in certain periods in our history? In intellectual jousts, we come up with arguments culled from our readings, meaning from our limited knowledge of science and philosophy, even meta-science. I remember one theory about sunspots probably affecting the movement of human history. Then there was this talk about the alignment of stars and planets.
My viewpoint would change when I embraced materialist dialectics and related theories. This school of thought provided me with a different perspective that saw material development sparking the sociopolitical and moral shifts in society. I found logic in that, the reason why I could not shake it off my mind.
One time, I wrote a column about the sweeping changes in the economic sphere that current advances in technology has instigated. This change has not only affected media, the print media particularly, but other industries as well and, more importantly, the working class. This is an offshoot to recent advances in technology and the practice of science.
The world is in the cusp of radical change that could bring us to an age that a century ago only science fiction could imagine. Robots are starting to replace workers, genes are being tampered and human clones could be created. I say that current global socio-political and moral shifts that led to Duterte, Trump and Brexit could just be a reflection of the radical changes that characterize the third industrial revolution.
Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you about me indulging in intellectual calisthenics.