Though the use of the double entendre “2020 vision” has been a dime a dozen in the first quarter of the year, please allow a reiteration of how blurry and bleak the future is at this point; hence this attempt at a “re-vision” (perhaps an exhausted turn of the phrase, but who isn’t exhausted these days?). All the elements had its share of devastation, from water and air (Typhoon Ursula) to fire and earth (forest fires, earthquakes, and Taal Volcano eruptions); from disturbances that damage concrete structures and conclude with macroscopic aftermaths, to viruses that trigger governments across the world to enforce lockdowns, quarantines, and other measures of containment.
Such natural phenomena and microbial covert operations affirm doomsayers of the end of the world that humanity pays its due as nature exacts revenge from “our” excesses; such events also encourage the academe to make necessary adjustments by utilizing online platforms and modifying syllabi.
Doomsters and educators oftentimes miss important factors in the process of “re-visioning.” For the former: imperialism and class. The human race as a whole should not take the toll because those who wield political power and those who control key industries should be held accountable for facilitating the distribution (read: plunder) of resources and capacity-building (read: taking advantage) of weaker economies and sectors to withstand environmental disasters (read: charity as “humanitarian” work). For the latter: still, imperialism and class. In any circumstances, the “best and brightest” professors, researchers, and students shall live up to their alma mater’s name and its world rankings. The university delivered, amid this state of public health emergency, and developed cheaper coronavirus test kits after going through all the bureaucratic labyrinths and achieved FDA approval.
Now we are in the process of reconfiguring classes that shall inevitably highlight the long-overdue disparity among social classes. So-called corporate social responsibility and foundations serve as legal tax-evading measure of sorts, while disaster capitalism saves the faces of actual enemies of “humanity”—if the term pertains to majority of our kind. BP’s mission-vision: “Reimagining energy for people and our planet”; while Chevron claims that their “greatest resource” is their “people,” whose “ingenuity and creativity have met the complex challenges of energy’s past.” Along with Shell, ExxonMobil, and others, these energy corporations engage in philanthropic activities such as relief operations, after disasters that were actually consequences of their monopoly of this planet’s resources. What does this have to do with the classroom?
Oil price hikes affect all commodities since raw materials and processed products have to be transported to designated markets. Rising prices of basic commodities affect living conditions of families, especially in “third-world” countries such as ours. Despite the “free tuition” policy for state universities and colleges, some (if not most) scholars cannot make ends meet. In UP, high-quality (read: expensive) highschools that trained takers of its entrance exams somehow determine success of entry; later, UP students’ acclimatization skills with the competitive academic environment ascertain their triumphal exit.
Without the coronavirus issue, less fortunate students already need extra steps to keep up; with it, they face new challenges—which are temporarily solved by class suspension. Or, perhaps not. Preventive measures (most of which are basic needs) against the disease are within the reach of the well-off. One needs healthy food and water, clean living environment, social distance, among others. Underprivileged students have to make do under “normal” circumstances, from waking up, to preparing for and commuting to class, to completing requirements; now, another hurdle: internet connectivity. An alternative: a network of schoolmates with access to it.
With best efforts, class might remain in operation amid the health emergency—but not for all, as some have been sinking deep under class society’s weight. As I have begun, I shall end with double entendres that are far from new (and might be a case of self-plagiarism to emphasize what I’ve been pointed out elsewhere; it is almost impossible to come up with something totally new when we are still mired in the old order of things). To be in synch with planetary crises in macro (international) and micro (university) levels, classes shall not just be suspended but eventually be abolished. If cancel culture has (still?) been trending lately, how come its justice exempts class society? Despite causing the shared demise of all nations and its peoples and species, how come classes aren’t canceled yet even in the brink of our extinction?
Short answer: dialectics. Another hint at a longer one: modes of production. Comprador- and landlord-led Congress recently passed a bill allowing foreign ownership of electricity, transportation, and telecommunication—which shall bury the rest of us deeper in debt and keep the local powers-that-be afloat; the latter’s class act in cahoots with imperialism, a treachery contra solidarity with the former. In the worst case that Senate approves and the president signs it into law, how are we supposed to respond then to disasters and epidemics? Our brilliant legislators cut funds for disaster risk management and health services, yet wonder why designated departments respond inefficiently.
Though wavelengths vary depending on one’s class, bourgeois despotism proves more contagious than any virus. Consider tendencies to hoard as small-scale survival cartels that boost compradors’ sales and endanger people’s lives. We must keep ourselves checked, else such cancerous ruling-class thinking synch undetected into our own thoughts. Going berserk, some of us secure our safety by panic-buying with no regard for other socio-economic class-mates, instead of sharing notes, looking after each other, struggling for a better world together.