It has only been weeks yet it has already been weeks is how relative and subjective time was, is, and might be, due to uncertainties brought upon by the virus and the government’s public health response, or lack thereof. Every day seems like a slightly modified déjà vu, as nothing substantial seems to happen, yet there are ups and downs of heightening anxieties and grueling boredom.
The lockdown disrupted our pre-pandemic routines and in its place came emerging patterns and permutations: undisguised “well-meaning” threats, enhanced fortified quarantines, task force briefings insisting on corrective measures, mass arrests not mass testing, overemphasized achievements versus pandemic, underreported cases & casualties, VIP treatments, asymptotic (i.e. approaching but not really) “flattening” of the curve, drawing the line against “leftists” (i.e. anyone disagreeing with the government), arbitrary rules, selective compassion, trumped-up charges for the destitute & their counsel, blockades or delays of aid, militarized “health” responses and other bureaucratic nightmares concluded by late-night press conferences featuring ill-willed, unspirited, quasi-Joycean brain-fart on-air of father figures, as if news fatigue and noise pollution aren’t enough health hazards to suppress just and righteous national outrage.
Unfortunately, this “new normal” takes time to sink in, especially for some academics. Despite (or, due to?) being bombarded by briefings and many sorts of notifications, some teachers long for their ground: the profession of teaching that gives them and their students a (sense of) purpose to literally be on the same pages meant to be discussed, dissected and integrated into the abstract pool of knowledge that universities are supposed to update and uphold. If pre-pandemic “normal,” by design, excluded students from poverty-stricken families in order to maintain class society and rationalized widening the gap between classes to enrich the already-rich, the current “normal” aggravated the situation further, ensuring that only those with economic (or any other type of) headstart succeed and thereafter save the (capitalist) economy from its long-overdue collapse.
Class requirements, a double-entendre exhausted previously, are indeed requirements of social classes to hold place or surpass hindrances toward upper mobility: the middle-class fantasy to maximize talent, skill and “diskarte” (approximately “scheme”) to rise above all the challenges that hold them back: the “pasaway” (approximately “stubborn”) poor. In this hostage situation, the middle class rather than the lower class is more likely to develop Stockholm syndrome by (1) identifying with the upper ruling class; (2) acting as informants of quarantine violators’ whereabouts and/or as class police themselves; (3) listing the noisy and standing (for others); (4) cheering on the sergeant-at-arms to oversee the class situation; and (4) feeling good about themselves as hard-working and law-abiding class-mates with moral high ground.
While briefings like broken records remind us of social distancing and staying at home that in effect cast a bad light upon quarantine “violators” who either breach checkpoints (on foot) to help themselves or help others (read: needs), guilt-free private vehicle owners with impunity are somewhat blessed with the freedom to cater to their cravings (read: wants). Satisfying one’s longings then depend on one’s class. Press conferences preach discipline as if memos and IRRs apply to all; in pre-pandemic “normal,” such was not the case in a class society where the privilege of the few weighs way more than “overpopulation”; now more than ever, the comprador and landlord classes hoard not just resources (natural and manufactured), but also rights to get through the day.
These days, different classes and sectors long—or desire—for a new order arising from this chaos: The compradors and landlords, despotic as this class has always been, would opt for tyranny—even one with a human, democratic face. The bourgeois and professionals, as vacillating as ever, would do anything to return to pre-pandemic “normal”. And, finally, the peasants and workers if uninfected by the consciousness of the first two aforementioned pairs would never long for anything experienced in the past, which is a mere take-off point to synthesize the present and to seize the future from the oppressors. Instead of clinging to the past, we ought to learn from it and pave the way for the future; rather than nostalgic tripping, utopian visions.
Ever since the belated epiphanic national alarm of the coronavirus, relief operations (like Sagip Kanayunan) have oftentimes been stalled by supposed law enforcers and its volunteers, detained (including recently released former Sagip Kanayunan 6). People’s organizations have been addressing food security issues by directly selling affordable farm products to city-dwellers (called “Bagsakan”); farmers’ sales earn them a living and also a chance to distribute goods to those in dire need. Besides sustaining the campaign for agrarian reform (long-term), such efforts address the immediate needs of the famished (short-term). Similar causes have been understood by the police and the military as destabilization plots to make the government look bad. By simply serving their constituency, a number of local government unit officials take risks of inducing the wrath of father figures running the press conferences, which are as successful as the national government’s handling of the national public health emergency. Lockdown without an elaborate medical plan seems nothing short of a hostage crisis. The death of a mentally-challenged, traumatized ex-soldier in the hands of cops energized by this regime’s culture of violence is a recent example of how state-sanctioned men in uniforms handle hostage situations: shooting perceived threats dead—something that is being done even before the intervention of COVID-19.
The stuff of desultory briefings that we either encountered raw in audio-visual or filtered by news agencies in textual form should hopefully elucidate our longings: Is a rambling figurehead escorted by “tiktoking” officials and martial-law-mongering (ex-)generals our best shot, not just out of the pandemic, but out of neck-deep crises most classes have been enduring since Aguinaldo’s regime? (davaotoday.com)